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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!

Thursday, February 5, 2004

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©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Reading the newspaper

It is easy to surf the web, clicking from link to link, without ever reflecting upon the information on our screens. This is what has come to known in common parlance as "the Internet experience." Thanks to the Internet, news is available around the clock from around the world, but what good is this information if we don't really read it.

However, this "experience" of dipping into the news or other information here and there, without taking the time to think about it, is not new. Who has not had the "experience" of hypnotic and automatic clicking from page to page and the subsequent feeling of mental confusion that arises. One feels as if one's brain has been turned into jelly.

We have found one author who was decrying this effect in the 1920s as it applied to the reading of the daily newspaper. This is his account of the long-term effects of newspaper "reading":

The true measure of its possibilities as a thought-weakener is taken when we watch an average newspaper reader in the train. I remember once observing a man on the other side of the aisle between Philadelphia and New York. We both had the Philadelphia Ledger across our knees. I made a few red marks on my copy and then began to notice the gentleman. He read the account of the swimming feat accomplished by some lady in the Hudson River. This was a story of some length which had to be continued on page 6, column 3. But the gentleman was unequal to the effort of turning three big sheets over; he was reading, not exerting himself.

So, leaving the grease-coated nymph, he went to the cross-examination of the Pig Woman in the New Jersey case, and, dazed by the fusillade of irrelevant questions which the Pig Woman herself described in an immortal sentence as "talk, talk, chatter, chatter," he began alternately to fidget and yawn, but he never skipped a line. The whole mortal newspaper was read through in that way, on the brim of disgust or sleepiness, with occasional flickers of energy accompanied by a stiffening of the bust and a falcon glance at nothing through the window. In time the swimming lady reappeared in a corner, and the Pig Woman filled the serried columns again, and there was a presidential message to Congress, and editorials, the news of the corn market, and shipping and sporting intelligence. All this was read with the same unfathomable disinterestedness till we neared the tunnel. Then the gentleman, all fagged and faint, showed a marvelous reflex; he flung down the crumpled sheets, jumped to his feet and felt for his cigarettes. He had been reading.

Imagine the effects, in the long run, of a so-called intellectual process which consists in presenting to the mind a score of different objects in none of which any real interest is taken. If we remember that our most serious attempt at mastering what we read is constantly hindered by adventitious images which we call distractions, leaving possibly two thirds of our consciousness available for what we read, we shall have little doubt that reading, as practised by most people, is nothing but a method of not thinking. Let this go on for several years and the brain will become what is properly termed jellified. Now, this goes on through a whole lifetime with the majority of men and women. They leave school or college at eighteen or twenty-two. At that stage academic necessities have compelled them to read mostly serious books and to read them seriously. As far as education goes they were going in the right direction. The first thing the world and its so-called civilization do for them is to persuade them that masterpieces are tedious, text-books or encylcopaedias boresome, whereas light literature goes along with freedom. Henceforth reading will be one of the destructive forces, arrayed against them. The newspaper, above all, will bewilder them by its desultoriness or weaken them into fainted-hearted common scepticism by its contradictions. They will be the toy of irresponsible head-liners. [Ernest Dimnet, The Art of Thinking, pp. 85-7]

Although written in the 1920s, this perceptive passage is all the more pertinent in a world of sound bites, channel zapping, and staccato editing, all of which serve to bombard the brain with a rapid-fire series of images that override our ability to assimulate, to process, and to remain an observer. The key word is "experience", not "reflection". Add to the broth the fact that the education system has declined to such an extent that Dimnet's description of an education system that compels its students to read serious books seriously is no longer appropriate, and we can see that the population does not even have 18 or 22 years of "thinking" before the jellification of the brain begins. Music videos, television programs broken up into 9 or 10 minutes morsels, and the nightly TV news, reducing world events to a montage of 30 second clips, none of which existed when Dimnet wrote, influence young minds from the earliest age, having replaced the newspaper.

McLuhan's descriptions of the effects of electronic media are relevant. He described the growing tribalization of communities that was occuring due to their influence. Reason, which is able to weigh facts one after another, was being replaced by an information mosaic in which pattern recognition was important. Moreover, the very nature of our perception was changing as the ratio among our senses was shifting from one dominated by the eye, with its "point of view," to one dominated by the ear and the mosaic of the television image. This implies that the reality experienced by the subject was different: the world of the person dominated by the eye was a different world than that of the ear. People whose perceptions have different ratios among the senses create different realities through these perceptions.

The arising of the "point of view," seen in art with the move to visual perspective, reflected the change in social life from the breakdown of the feudal system to the birth of the capitalist market where each individual was a "free" subject, no longer given meaning through his place in the feudal hierarchy, through his or her relationship to the local Lord. The new "free" man was a political and economic unit unto himself, and could freely associate with others as he wished.

We will come back to this shift again in reference to the ideas of Karl Popper on the difference between a Closed Society, which Popper catagorizes as "tribal," and an Open Society, that is, between the opposing conceptions of historical determinism, that Man is subject to laws to which he must submit, where the best he can do is to understand those laws and align himself with them, and the idea that the Man can bring in something genuinely new, can inject something into the environment that will lead to unpredictable change.

To use a model from physics, we could say that determinism is similar to the classical model of the universe as described by Newton, the Universe as a Great Clock set in motion by the Hand of the Creator. Once set in motion, the best we can do is to understand the laws and their movement. Change is linear, stable, and set in the initial conditions. Small changes will produce small results; large changes will produce large results.

The Open model, on the other hand, is an understanding based upon nonlinear models, where small changes can provoke effects far beyond their initial magnitudes. Small changes to the system can produce enormous long-term effects. In such a model, Man is no longer prisoner to a Universe set in motion by the Hand of God. However, because the consequences of his actions have the potential to be catastrophic, his responsibility is increased proportionally. It becomes extremely important to know whether one is aligned with the force of entropy or the force of creation. One might go so far as to suggest that the motor for such a universe is the continual making of a choice between one or the other alignment.

We have discussed before on these pages the question of anticipation, of our need to understand the universe in limitless terms. Our own prejudices and preconceptions, wishful thinking and need for control, can set limits on the ability of the creative force to manifest. Limitation is an alignment with entropy. We will return to this idea in the future.

We leave you today with a way of overcoming the limits of the newspaper, a small act that each of us can implement for ourselves. Given we live in a nonlinear world, who can know what the results of our accumulated change might be?

Dimnet returns to the question of the newspaper later in his book, and, to the question, "How to read the newspaper", he offers the following reply:

Some people treat the newspaper with absurd respect, reading through it as if every syllable mattered. Others speak of it with contempt: "There never is anything in the newspaper; you waste your time reading it." Others again -- few in number -- armed with a red pencil and big scissors sit beside a pile of newspapers which they treat uncerimoniously indeed. Half the sheets are flung aside while the rest are eagerly but quickly gone over, the red pencil every now and then zig-zagging through a column. In less than an hour the seven or eight newspapers have been gone through and the red-marked pages alone strew the table, sofa and piano. Then the big scissors come into play. In a few minutes the clippings are heaped up apart, a neat little sheaf, while the litter of crumpled sheets is kicked aside till the maid can attend to it. Then the reader will be seen slowly going over his clippings, thinking. Nothing can look more different from the ordinary newspaper reader's expression than this pensive brow. A few moments afterwards the clippings will have disappeared, carefully tucked away in various dossiers.

You may see the same man again later in the day, thoughtful and absorbed. His mind is running over the things he has read in the morning. You may meet him again in the evening. A circle of interested but silent listeners surround him. He is an uneffected, lucid and forcible speaker. Every now and then somebody asks him a question, but one of those questions which causes everybody else to wish they could answer it. He does so, in a clear way, bringing in facts which you remember catching a glimpse of in the morning paper, but which you thought immaterial, whereas on his lips they actually give you the key to developments of vast importance: "This man thinks" you say to yourself. [Ernest Dimnet, The Art of Thinking, pp. 141-2]

This is the process we go through daily in preparing the Signs page. With you, our readers, we are able to piece together the various facts of the day, to see them in relationship with one another, to find, as Dimnet put it, "the key to developments of vast importance." The supplements we assemble from time to time from these pages show patterns that might not be visible otherwise: the frequency of fireballs and meteorites in our skies; the strange noises people hear around the world; the issues related to flu and vacination. These pages have also chronicled the growing repression in the US since the events of that September, Bush's march to war, as well as the litany of lies and deceit used to justify it. We have chronicled the growing repression elsewhere, documenting the slide of our world into fundamentalism and intolerance.

Think of how this simple change in looking at the news has given us all a new understanding of the world in which we live, of the growing difference between our perception of the world and those around us who continue read the news, if at all, in the old way. A small act has brought large consequences. In that lies our hope for the future.

New Animal Tracking Solution Developed

Two Upper Midwest companies are pairing their technologies to facilitate unique animal identification and retrieval of pertinent animal health information. The joint marketing initiative pairs the RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology of Digital Angel Corporation, South St. Paul, Minn., with the livestock herd-management software marketed by Herd-Pro Software Inc., New Richmond, Wis. With the new system, livestock producers can use small RFID computer chips from Digital Angel in animals shortly after birth. Using a RFID scanning wand connected to a handheld computer (Palm OS PDA) running software from Herd-Pro Software, a producer can scan an animal's ID chip and instantly see the complete history of the animal on the PDA.


Comment:
So the same technology that is being slowly implemented for the tracking of human "livestock", is employed already to track four-legged cattle. We feel a little vindicated now in having used the term "sheeple" for the masses of humanity...

UK Police pre-emptively arrested peaceful protestors

Vikram Dodd
Thursday February 5, 2004
The Guardian

From the outside it may have looked like any other of the hundreds of red Routemaster double-decker buses that trundle through London's choked streets every day. But inside were 23 bemused anti-monarchist protesters, flanked by more than 40 officers, who for up to two-and-a-half hours took them on a forced tour of the capital.

The Met paid the damages to the 23 anti-monarchist protesters who were plucked out of a pub on the Queen's golden jubilee.

Officers had commandeered the Number 11 bus after flagging it down, then turned it into a prison on wheels, dropping off the protesters at five police stations across east, north and south London.

It all began on June 4 2002, the day of the Queen's golden jubilee. More than 14,000 police were on duty as tens of thousands of people thronged London.

Among them was a small group of anti-monarchist protesters. They had held a peaceful demonstration shouting anti-royal slogans at Tower Hill, before retiring to the Goodman's Field pub in east London for a lunchtime pint. [...]

Trevor Bark, 37, said he was just settling into his second pint of Spitfire bitter, when he saw through the pub window that police in protective clothing had ringed the pub: "They stopped people leaving. When they had enough police they came into the pub and nicked everyone."

Officers quizzed the anti-monarchists one by one about whether they intended to cause a breach of the peace. All answered no, but were arrested anyway.

According to the arrest reports seen by the Guardian, the reason given for the detentions by officers was "intelligence from Chief Inspector Page that the group inside may cause trouble".

The arrest reports said arresting officers were told by their superiors to detain the anti-monarchists whatever answers to questions were given. The arrest report from one constable reads that he was told "all answers are to be disbelieved". [...]

Downing Street in whitewash demo

A group of protesters have been arrested for throwing white paint at the gates of Downing Street.

A spokesman said protesters were concerned about the narrow remit of an inquiry to examine UK intelligence on Iraq's WMDs.

The attack took place at about 0900 GMT and five people were arrested for criminal damage.

Police are considering whether it is in the public interest to formally charge the protesters.

The demonstrators were said to be dressed in judges' wigs and robes.

The Prime Minister's official residence is the subject of protests most days, police said. [...]

Bush: U.S. drawing terrorists into a 'closing net of doom'

At a ceremony Wednesday marking the addition of a Sir Winston Churchill collection to the Library of Congress, President Bush echoed the words of the famous British prime minister, saying the United States is snaring terrorists in a "closing net of doom."

"The outcome of the war on terror depends on our ability to see danger and to answer it with strength and purpose. One by one, we are finding and dealing with the terrorists, drawing tight what Winston Churchill called a 'closing net of doom,'" the president said.

Comment: We should hand it to Bush, he could not have picked a more appropriate man than Churchill to help him in his repeated attempts to convince the public of the reality of the "terror threat". Churchill, afterall , helped stage both the sinking of the Lusitania as a pretext for WWI, and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, as a pretext for America's entry into WWII

That Hell-Bound Train: Why didn’t the administration simply turn back?

Michelangelo Signorile
The New York Press

What a difference a year – and the truth – makes, huh? A measly 365 days ago, if you believed there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, you were a nut-job, a dangerous leftist ideologue and/or on Osama bin Laden’s or Saddam Hussein’s payroll. Perhaps you were one of Andrew Sullivan’s "fifth column" of pundits trying to undermine the president. Or maybe you were one of those traitors who should have been bombed yourself, as Ann Coulter opined back in August of 2002 regarding the supposedly liberal editors and reporters at the New York Times. Much of the rabid right, including the Wall Street Journal editorial page, looked on, snickering and defending Annie on that one. They probably agreed with her when she accused liberals of treason for questioning the war and the weapons claims.

But now, here we have none other than George W. Bush’s own weapons monitor in Iraq, David Kay, stepping down and confirming what experts from former U.N. chief inspector Hans Blix (accused of conspiring with the dreaded French) to Scott Ritter (the former U.N. weapons inspector whom conservatives portrayed as a kook via an all-too-willing media) had said: Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction prior to the war and that the Bushies were "almost all wrong."

It was only last year when Kay was goring Blix and insinuating there were plenty of WMDs to find. But clearly Kay decided he had to save whatever was left of his reputation after falling in with the wrong crowd–he even admitted some of his staff were "almost in tears," saying they felt so badly over not finding weapons–so he hit the talk show circuit and congressional committees. As a rightly smug Blix cracked about Kay’s turnaround last week: "I was beginning to wonder what was going on. Weren’t they wondering too? If you find yourself on a train that’s going in the wrong direction, it’s best to get off at the next stop."

The White House, however, is continuing full speed ahead on the runaway train, with Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney as the conductors, and Colin Powell having sold the one-way tickets for the trip straight into a hellish quagmire. (Think of Bush as a sort of eccentric passenger going along for the ride, sitting up in first class, actually imagining he’s the president of the United States.) [...]

In addition to the "faulty intelligence" ruse, conservatives are also defending Bush by pulling out their old standby argument: "But Bill Clinton…" (Actually, blaming the CIA is blaming Clinton as well, since CIA director George Tenet is a Clinton holdover, and a lot of Republicans in Congress want to get rid of him.) The supposedly faulty intelligence on WMDs in Iraq was the same intelligence used under the Clinton administration, they’re claiming, and foreign governments believed it too. But if you follow the time line in Kay’s remarks, Saddam likely did have stockpiles of WMDs during the early part of the Clinton presidency. Sanctions, U.N. inspections, internal corruption and Saddam’s overall lunacy, however, contributed to Iraq’s dismantling, and/or not proceeding with, nuclear programs by decade’s end. Another thing happened as well: In the mid-90s, according to Kay, a targeted bombing campaign by the U.S. destroyed most or all of Saddam’s chemical weapons.

"The large chemical overhang of existing stockpiles was eliminated," Kay said.

In other words, Bill Clinton, scourge of the right and one of those soft-on-terrorism Democrats, actually can take credit for ending Saddam’s illicit weapons programs. Even if Clinton, France, Germany and others believed right up until the war last year that Saddam still had WMDs, those beliefs were based on intelligence that, rightly, wasn’t solid enough for any of them to support an invasion before more inspections could take place. As Kay told Ted Koppel on Nightline, if you’re going to have a policy of "pre-emption" then the intelligence has to be "pristine." With CIA insiders complaining about intelligence being "politicized," and with Dick Cheney’s hands constantly molding it–he was, according to reports last year, shuttling back and forth between the White House to the CIA–the intelligence was anything but.

Now Bush, who originally dismissed demands for an independent investigation, has announced a commission to look at broader intelligence problems, described by a White House official as focusing on "the global security challenges of the 21st century." That’s perfectly tailored to divert attention and keep the focus off the White House and its misleading claims about Iraq. And it’s so grand that it conveniently can’t be completed by November, allowing Bush to continue to deflect criticism through the eclection.

The White House knows that if we go back now and retrace all the steps, the lies and the shams will materialize faster than any weapons of mass destruction have.

British officers knew on eve of war that Iraq had no WMDs

FRASER NELSON and JASON BEATTIE
Wed 4 Feb 2004

BRITISH intelligence officers learned on the eve of the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein had not assembled his chemical weapons and it was highly doubtful if he could deploy any within 45 minutes.

The Foreign Office yesterday admitted that the joint intelligence committee (JIC) warned in March last year that "the intelligence on the timing of when Iraq might use chemical and biological weapons was sparse".

This disclosure came as a senior Israeli politician claimed that Mossad, its intelligence agency, knew before the war that the 45-minute claim was "an old wives’ tale" - but decided against telling Britain or the United States. [...]

CIA director to defend Iraq intelligence

Powell may have blown lid off debate over war

By Marian Wilkinson, Herald Correspondent in Washington
February 5, 2004

The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has lit the fuse on what may prove to be one of the most explosive political debates in the American election.

Have more than 500 US soldiers died in Iraq, thousands more been maimed and US taxpayers been hit with a massive bill because of an intelligence failure?

It began with a simple question during a meeting of Mr Powell and The Washington Post's editorial board on Monday. If the CIA director, George Tenet, told him a year ago what we now know, that there were no stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq, would he have advised President George Bush to go to war?

"I don't know," Mr Powell said. "I don't know because it was the stockpiles that presented the final piece that made it more of a real and present danger." And, he added: "The absence of a stockpile changes the political calculus."

Democrats were stunned by Mr Powell's blunt response and even some Republicans on Tuesday accused him of trying to walk away from Mr Bush's decision to go to war. [...]

Comment: And what of Cheney's visits with the CIA? What if the intelligence provided to the Bush administration was accurate, and it was the White House's twisting of that information that led to war? But no American president would ever lie, right?

Cheney Designs Commission to Evaluate Cheney

When I heard that Bush was succumbing to the pressure to name an independent commission to look into the mysterious case of Iraq's vanishing weapons, I joked that he might appoint Dick Cheney to head it, since Cheney was probably the biggest hormswaggler of all. Turns out that Cheney, while not heading the commission, is playing an instrumental role in its creation, membership, and mandate, according to The New York Times. [...]

Bush to cut overtime pay

President Bush is about to finalize changes in the laws governing overtime pay that could take away overtime protections from at least 8 million people. His changes will cut paychecks for families, erode the 40-hour workweek and encourage employers to require more overtime work.

America's 26 million veterans are also on the list of those who could be hurt by the Bush overtime pay take-away. Buried in one paragraph in the middle of the proposed new overtime rules is a change that explicitly mandates "training in the armed forces" could be the basis for an employer to decide some workers shouldn't get overtime pay. The text also includes attending a technical school, community college or other intellectual instruction.

RELEASE OF PRESIDENT BUSH’S MILITARY RECORDS PROVE HE IS GUILTY OF MILITARY CRIMES

The American Gulf War Veterans Association can no longer remain silent on the subject of George W. Bush’s military records. FOX NEWS reporter Sean Hannity stated Wednesday evening that this was a question that had been resolved. Guest Howard Wolfson responded by saying that the President should release his records. If the media had been doing their homework they would know that the records have already been released. It is because of the actual content that these military records are not being disclosed.

Joyce Riley, spokesperson of The American Gulf War Veterans Association revealed on air in a two hour “white paper” report yesterday, Feb. 4, 2004, on The Power Hour radio show, (www.thepowerhour.com) that George W. Bush’s military records indicate that he was not present for his entire six year required service to the military. Even more shocking and significant is that he did, in fact, deny a direct order, during time of war, and was suspended from flying. The debate may rage on the major networks about whether or not he was AWOL, however the documentation exists and is available at http://users.cis.net/coldfeet/document.htm

Riley, who has also been a testifying expert in medical malpractice trials for fifteen years states: “There is no question he is guilty of major military crimes and should be held accountable. The military records confirm these accusations. No matter how many of his “buddies” they “pull out of a hat” to say he was present, the records speak for themselves. Thousands of veterans, from Atomic Veterans, Vietnam War, Project Shad, and Gulf War I have been denied compensation because the V.A. and Department of Defense state that their “records” don’t prove exposure to chemicals, biological agents, experimental vaccines and depleted uranium. ( www.gulfwarvets.com/ao.html ), Project Shad and Gulf War victims now suffer and cannot prove their records exist. ( www.projectshad.org.) Mr. Bush’s records do prove without a doubt that he denied a direct order during time of war, and this, by definition is Treason.

The AGWVA will provide FOX NEWS, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC and BBC with copies of these documents by contacting this organization. The millions of prior service personnel who served proudly will be outraged when they read what the present Commander in Chief is guilty of —and is not being held accountable for. Innocent troops that are simply protecting their health and their families from the anthrax vaccine are being court martialed. How can the President stand before them when he is guilty of so much worse? Full reports on the military records of George W. Bush will be available at: www.gulfwarvets.com and www.thepowerhour.com.

International community accused of accepting bribes from Saddam

JAMES HALL
FOREIGN EDITOR

Explosive documents that catalogue Saddam Hussein’s attempts to bribe senior foreign politicians are being kept secret by Iraq’s Governing Council, who fear the international scandal that their public release would trigger, a council member claimed yesterday.

Muwaffaq al-Rubaie told a Kuwaiti newspaper that the information would send shockwaves through the Arab world and beyond.

His comments come in the wake of an Iraqi newspaper report last month, which listed 270 individuals, firms and organisations, and accused them of receiving millions of barrels of oil from Saddam in bribes.

The story was also covered by ABC, the US news channel, who named a British public figure, a senior French official and the president of a Canadian oil company. [...]

The allegations of bribery surfaced last week in the Baghdad newspaper al-Mada, one of the many publications that have sprung up in the wake of Saddam’s overthrow. Under the headline: "Presidents, politicians, journalists and parties accepted millions of barrels of oil from Saddam", the paper listed 270 individuals and organisations from 46 countries suspected of profiting from Iraqi oil sales. The names, it claimed, came from official documents.

ABC News, in the United States, has also printed a list of Iraqi oil contracts awarded to 270 individuals and organisations under "the aegis" of the United Nations’ oil-for-food programme.

The television company said the contracts gave those named the right to buy Iraqi oil at a discounted price.

The people involved could then sell the oil to a legitimate broker without ever taking delivery of it, making millions of pounds in profit from the transaction.

Comment: How deep do the lies and hypocrisy go? We suspect that it is much deeper than any of us can imagine.

US army admits killing Iraqi child

04 February 2004

The US army has apologised for killing an Iraqi child even as the death toll from double bombings in Arbil, the deadliest post-war attacks in Iraq, climbed to more than 100.

Colonel William Mayville acknowledged that his forces were responsible for mortar fire that killed an Iraqi boy during a major Muslim holiday, the Eid al-Fitr, as his family picnicked in the northern oil region of Kirkuk.

Mayville told a meeting with local government officials, attended by an AFP correspondent, that he had ordered an investigation into the shelling that also wounded the boy's mother and two siblings.

He said his troops had opened fire because they suspected insurgents were in the area, but that those responsible for the deadly error would be held accountable.

Family to sue

Mayville added that he ordered the payment of $2500 in compensation for the family of the nine-year-old boy, Basssam Sami Awwad, and $1500 for each of the three injured.

But it was not enough for the grief-stricken family, who told AFP they will sue for compensation in the Kirkuk courts.

"We will never let this matter rest, especially as my child was a boy who had nothing to do with the violence in Iraq. He was just playing with his brothers when it happened," the boy's father, Sami Awwad, 31, said.

Comment: If there ever was confirmation that the US government has a scale of value for human life, this is surely it. Put yourself in the place of this family.

US rethink of 30 June deadline?

By Ahmed Janabi
Thursday 05 February 2004, 13:07 Makka Time, 10:07 GMT

US officials have hinted for the first time that the date of handing power over to Iraqis could be negotiated.

Iraqi Arab Muslims have been rejecting the 15 November, 2003 agreement between the US civil governor Paul Bremer and the then interim chairman of the Iraqi Governing Council Jalal Talabani.

The agreement establishes another appointed Iraqi council to rule the country from June 30, 2003, with general elections pushed back to 2005. Iraqi Arab Muslim Shia want June 30 to be the date when rule is handed over to a directly elected government.

Personal security still a concern

Iraqi Arab Muslim Sunni argue that liberation should be achieved before any election, while Iraqi Kurds (also Muslim Sunni) favour the 15 November agreement, which would enforce their autonomous state.

Blair 'unaware' of WMD threat

Wednesday, 4 February, 2004

Tony Blair has said he was unaware the 45 minute claim over Iraq's WMD meant only battlefield weapons when he urged MPs to vote for war in March last year.

His comments came during a Commons debate on the Hutton report as a former intelligence official said information may have been "misinterpreted".

The September 2002 dossier said Iraq could deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes.

The Hutton inquiry was told the claim referred only to battlefield weapons.

But Mr Blair stood by his decision to join the US in invading Iraq, and emphasised to MPs that the Hutton report had cleared the government of "sexing up" its Iraq dossier.

And he called the BBC report which sparked the Hutton inquiry "100% wrong".

Weapons fears

Fears over WMD were a cornerstone of the government's case for war with Iraq.

But the prime minister said on Wednesday he had not known what sort of weapons were being referred to at the time of the Commons vote on 18 March 2003.

Joint Intelligence Committee chairman John Scarlett told the inquiry the intelligence about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's forces referred only to weapons such as mortars and shells but not long-range ballistic missiles.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said at the inquiry he had known the intelligence only referred to battlefield weapons but did nothing to correct media reports.

But former foreign secretary Robin Cook, who quit the government because of his opposition to the war, expressed surprise about the idea Mr Blair was unaware of the nature of the weapons referred to.

"In my resignation speech I did make the very point that we were considering battlefield weapons and that Saddam probably had no real weapons of mass destruction," he said.

"I find it difficult to reconcile what I knew and what I am sure the prime minister knew at the time we had the vote in March."

Comment:
There is a complete lack of logic in Blair's argument that he advocated preemptive war against Iraq in the understanding that Iraq's weapons were limited only to field artillery. We cannot hope however that this will be discussed or highlighted by the media or general public. It seems that it is enough that Blair merely voice a counter argument, regardless of how nonsensical, in order to quell any dissent.

BBC 'apologised knowing Hutton legally flawed'

KAREN MCVEIGH
Thu 5 Feb 2004

THE BBC’s governors ignored legal advice that Lord Hutton’s report was legally flawed and instead gave Downing Street the apology it had demanded, it was reported today, as Lord Birt, the former director general, condemned "grievous errors" by the corporation which sparked the Hutton Inquiry.

The Independent newspaper listed a number of points it said were contained in a 135-page confidential document.

The newspaper claims that BBC insiders - infuriated by the reaction of senior managers to Lord Hutton’s report - believe the lawyers’ advice could have provided the basis for the corporation to challenge the inquiry’s findings, possibly by seeking a judicial review.

Today, thousands of BBC journalists, technicians and other members of staff are expected to stage a nationwide, union-organised protest at attacks on the corporation and to reinforce the case for editorial independence. Impromptu walk-outs took place across the country last week, amid widespread anger at the Hutton findings and in support of Greg Dyke, who resigned as director general last week. [...]

Revealed: the nationalities of Guantanamo

By John C. K. Daly
International Correspondent

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- At least 160 of the 650 detainees acknowledged by the Pentagon being held at the United States military base at Guantanamo, Cuba -- almost a quarter of the total -- are from Saudi Arabia, a special UPI survey can reveal.

In UPI's groundbreaking and detailed breakdown of the nationalities of the detainees, some arrested far from the 2001 battlefield of Afghanistan, the other top nationalities being held are Yemen with 85, Pakistan with 82, Jordan and Egypt, each with 30.

Afghans are the fourth largest nationality with 80 detainees, according to the detailed UPI survey that has now for the first time established the homelands of 95 percent of the total number of prisoners. [...]

The Pentagon's own list of nationalities detained at Guantanamo may be flawed. Yemeni officials have told UPI they fear more than twice as many of their citizens are held than the Pentagon count. [...]

Divided France debates hijab ban

Thursday 05 February 2004, 6:56 Makka Time, 3:56 GMT

The French parliament is debating the proposed legislation to ban Muslim headscarves from public schools amid noisy protests against the move.

Women in headscarves on Wednesday protested outside the National Assembly, holding banners that read "I do what I want with my hair."

Inside the assembly, former Prime Minister Alain Juppe pleaded for a massive vote of approval for the bill, insisting the planned law was neither a "law of hostility" nor a "law to combat Islam."

"It is not about banning the head scarf in French society. It's about re-establishing spaces of neutrality and peace," in schools, Juppe said.

UMP rallies behind Juppé

PARIS, Feb 4 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac's ruling party stepped forward as one Wednesday to back the decision of its leader, former prime minister Alain Juppe, to fight a graft conviction in a case the European press has labelled "Chirac-gate".

Juppe, Chirac's longtime right-hand man and preferred successor, late Tuesday told national television he would remain in politics pending an appeal of his conviction last week of illegally financing the ruling party, despite previously vowing to stand down.

He said he would stay as head of the conservative Union for a Popular Majority (UMP), member of parliament and mayor of Bordeaux until the challenge was settled - which could take a year.

Juppé touché

Former French prime minister Alain Juppé, loyal party chairman of president Chirac's centre-right UMP party, is at the centre of France's latest corruption scandal.

Chirac's private enemy No 1

He is France's most popular politician; he is permanently in the public eye parading his roster of successes as minister of the interior; he is young, able and ambitious. But Nicolas Sarkozy has one problem: he is on collision course with the president.

New U.S. Saudi ambassador takes up post

Thursday February 5, 10:38 AM

RIYADH (Reuters) - The new U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Texas oil lobbyist James Oberwetter, has taken up his post in the Gulf Arab state, the U.S. embassy says.

President George W. Bush picked Oberwetter for the job at a time when the battle against terrorism is gaining importance in relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally and the world's largest crude exporter.

Bush has also urged the conservative kingdom, an absolute monarchy, to implement democratic reforms.

Saudi-born Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network is held responsible for a series of suicide bombings last year in Saudi Arabia and for the September 2001 plane attacks on the United States, in which most of the hijackers were Saudi nationals.

Oberwetter served as senior vice president for governmental and public affairs at Hunt Consolidated, and as head of a committee of the American Petroleum Institute, an industry lobby group.

Police begin questioning Sharon

Thursday 05 February 2004, 13:13 Makka Time, 10:13 GMT

Police have arrived at Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's official residence to question him about a bribery scandal over which he may eventually face criminal charges himself.

Four policemen arrived on Thursday at Sharon's residence in West Jerusalem.

A businessman friend was charged last month with trying to bribe Sharon in the 1990s. Police sources said Sharon, who has denied any wrongdoing, would be questioned about suspicious real estate deals promoted by the businessman.

Commentators said the case could weaken the former general's hand in any talks with the Palestinians, while critics suggest his announcement this week of a plan to remove Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip - illegal under international law - might aim to divert attention from the affair.

MPs urge sanctions against Israel

Thursday, 5 February, 2004

A committee of MPs is urging the government and European Union to impose economic sanctions against Israel. The Commons International Development Committee says Israeli restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have led to terrible living conditions.

The MPs said they understood Israel's safety fears, and condemned suicide bombings as "morally abhorrent".

But measures such as the West Bank security barrier undermined the chance of a future Palestinian state.

Travel restrictions

The committee spent six months studying the humanitarian situation in the occupied territories.

It said the difficulty of moving goods in an out of the territories, caused by curfews and other travel restrictions, had led to near economic collapse.

The MPs claimed malnutrition in parts of the West Bank and Gaza equalled those of sub-Saharan Africa, while unemployment rates there were a "staggering" 60-70%.

They said that when looking at Israel's approach to security issues "it is hard to avoid the conclusion that there is a deliberate Israeli approach of putting the lives of ordinary Palestinians under stress as part of a strategy to bring the population to heel".

From A QFS Member

In the face of increasing international "shock and awe" at the American mission to rule the world, it seems that it's time to highlight the COINTELPRO, Florence Nightingale type brigades to foster the idea that the US has a "humanitarian" face. And what better arena than Mother Africa's beautiful, battered body? The next two articles are written under the assumption that the US has always had Africa's best interests at heart, or, at the very least, to make the reader wishfully believe that there are some good people who will help the never-ending cycle of "rescue" efforts, thereby "changing the world" Band Aid style. This "call to service" has great appeal to young idealistic people in particular. Meantime, while the right hand feeds a few artificially sweetened crumbs, the left ensures you will live and die with hunger. Classic colonial psychopathy.

The final article is an editorial from Zimbabwe (Daily News). No wonder Mugabe wants to wipe them off the face of the earth.

Record-Level Funding Sought for US Peace Corps

President Bush is asking Congress to provide more than $400 million for Peace Corps operations in the 2005 budget, the largest amount ever sought for that agency. The Peace Corps' operating budget this year is $323 million.

US Military Targets Medical Projects in Africa

While many people know that the U.S. military cooperates with African nations in fighting international terrorism, very few are aware of the broad support the military gives to health care projects on the continent -- from building clinics to supplying ambulances and even hospital beds -- Pentagon official Lorraine Dasch told the Washington File during a recent interview.

Learning Our Future From Past Blunders

[...]Democracy is not aready-made kit which you buy in a supermarket complete with a manual telling you how to use it. It is more than just a set of rules about how to conduct the struggle for power without destroying ourselves.

If we want to work out a suitable form of government for ourselves, one that allows everybody to participate in the public affairs of the country (which is the original meeting of res publica, ie republic), we need a new mindset.

We need to look at our fellow citizens in a new way. What hurts them also hurts us. We must never do to them what we do not want them to do to us.

People are not merely "masses" to be used, abused and manipulated for our interests.

Democracy is based on respect for the profound value, dignity and uniqueness of every person. It is based on respect for profound moral and spiritual values.

Unless we hold those values democracy will be a hollow shell.

Revealed: the gas chamber horror of North Korea's gulag

A series of shocking personal testimonies is now shedding light on Camp 22 - one of the country's most horrific secrets

Antony Barnett
Sunday February 1, 2004
The Observer

In the remote north-eastern corner of North Korea, close to the border of Russia and China, is Haengyong. Hidden away in the mountains, this remote town is home to Camp 22 - North Korea's largest concentration camp, where thousands of men, women and children accused of political crimes are held.

Now, it is claimed, it is also where thousands die each year and where prison guards stamp on the necks of babies born to prisoners to kill them.

Over the past year harrowing first-hand testimonies from North Korean defectors have detailed execution and torture, and now chilling evidence has emerged that the walls of Camp 22 hide an even more evil secret: gas chambers where horrific chemical experiments are conducted on human beings.

Witnesses have described watching entire families being put in glass chambers and gassed. They are left to an agonising death while scientists take notes. The allegations offer the most shocking glimpse so far of Kim Jong-il's North Korean regime. [...]

Comment:These claims will probably be used to justify an invasion, even though the U.S. has a long history of outright endorsement of brutal dictators. See photos: Senior US Officials Cozy up to Dictator Who Boils People Alive as but one example. Also The CIA Commits Over 100,000 Serious Crimes Per Year.

Will we ever know the truth of these allegations? Remember How the public relations industry sold the Gulf War to the US?

Stage May be Set for Bird Flu Pandemic, Says Infectious Diseases Exper

Newswise — The simultaneous existence of bird flu and a particularly virulent form of human influenza circulating this season is the "perfect set-up for something weird and dangerous" to happen on the world health scene, according to a University at Buffalo expert on infectious disease and geographic medicine.

"The worry is that if the two flu viruses cohabitate in the same person they will exchange genetic information and produce an influenza strain totally new to humans that can be passed from person to person," says Richard V. Lee, M.D., professor of medicine at the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

"If that happens, we easily can have a pandemic flu on our hands," he says.

According to Lee and other experts, it probably will take four to six months to manufacture a vaccine to combat a human-to-human form of the bird flu.

In that time, the virus could spread around the world, Lee says.

"Humans have not had to deal with a major flu pandemic for 35 years (since the 1969 Hong Kong flu outbreak). "That could set the stage for something pretty dramatic to happen," he says. [...]

Comment: We have been sounding the alarm over the possible implications of the Flu virus, the US produced Flu vaccine and Bird Flu for many months now. The US government recently revived the Spanish Flu virus of 1918, which killed up to 40 million worldwide. The incubation was conducted using chicken eggs. See our Flu Supplement for more.

Earthquake injures four in Panama

PANAMA CITY, Feb. 4 (Xinhuanet) -- An earthquake measuring 5 on the Richter scale shook several regions in Panama, leaving four injured and causing panic in the western part of the country, authorities said. [...]

Moderate earthquake hits Japan

Floods misery in west but warm down south

By Graham Tibbetts
The Telegraph
05/02/2004

Families were rescued from their homes yesterday as the torrential rain caused floodwaters to rise in Wales and parts of England.

North Wales was again hit by the worst of the weather, with houses swamped and drivers left stranded.

The Environment Agency issued eight severe flood warnings for the area on Tuesday - a step only taken when lives are considered in danger. At one point yesterday there were 126 standard flood warnings for England and Wales, mainly covering North Wales, the Midlands and the North West. [...]

Earth Gets Fatter Thanks to Faster Glacial Melting

Scientists can test Kennewick Man: U.S. court

Last Updated Wed, 04 Feb 2004 19:53:30

PORTLAND, ORE. - Scientists can study the remains of Kennewick Man, despite the objections of some Native American tribes, a U.S. court ruled Wednesday.

Researchers are interested in the 9,300-year-old remains because they make up one of the oldest, most complete skeletons found in North America.

Earlier cranial studies revealed that Kennewick Man looked different than modern Native Americans, setting off a debate over the origin of the American peoples.

Five Native American tribes opposed scientific tests, saying Kennewick Man is an ancestor who they want to rebury.

UNEXPLAINABLE: UFO disappears from northern Norway

Av Therese Olavsrud og Carin Pettersson
04.02.04 13:04

A new, unexplainable phenomenon has surfaced; why are the UFO sightings in northern Norway decreasing?

A number of unexplainable sightings have been made on the northern sky. There were 26 observations of UFOs in northern Norway in 2002, but last year the number decreased to 13.

“Unexplainable,” said Leif-Norman Solhaug, leader of UFO Nord-Norge. “Maybe people are just fed up with the hysteria. The 26 observations that were reported in 2002 were a decrease from the years before. There have normally been a number of observations made in northern Norway, but it has not turned. There is a weak decline in the rest of the country too.”

Unidentified

UFO Norway has still registered a number of unexplainable observations.

Something which looked like a rocket was observed in Finnmark, an object similar to a boomerang of the size of an Boeing 747 was observed in Bodø, while a man in Evenskjer observed two stars which rotated around each other and then disappeared at a high sped in the direction of the Big Dipper.

“These are complicated observations and the Air Force has not registered any explainable activity on the sky, but in total the number of observations in northern Norway has decreased,” Solhaug stated.

Embarrassing

However, he claims that the reason for the decline may be that people have become better at finding natural explanations, but Solhaug cannot guarantee that the natural explanations are logical.

“People think it’s embarrassing to go public with such observations,” Solhaug said. “It is important that we are taken seriously. Many of the observations reported are of a complicated nature and are difficult to explain.”

Regardless, Solhaug has enough to do. Solhaug is off to talk two to persons from Andøya tonight. They claim they saw something they just could not explain Tuesday night as a lighted object flew over the sky, blinking in several different colors and making a horrid sound.

UFOs Abound

Lagos plane crash a hoax – Aviation Minister

[...] Fourth, it could be a case of somebody who saw something, which may not be an aircraft. [...]

Comment: No mention of the fact that there were multiple witnesses.

Priest notes changes in Marian image

Strange happenings surround the image and many believe that the Señora has miraculous power.

Popping Pills in Preschool 

Anywhere else, her revelation might have been a bombshell. But no one flinched when a child psychiatrist told a conference of parents and counselors last month that she had prescribed antidepressants to children as young as 3-1/2. [...]

Pain from a woman will hurt less

Pain hurts less when it is inflicted by a woman, researchers have found.

Secret of homing pigeons revealed

Thursday 05 February 2004, 11:00 Makka Time, 8:00 GMT

The secret of carrier pigeons' uncanny ability to find their way home has been discovered by British scientists: the feathered navigators follow the roads just like we do.

Researchers at Oxford University spent 10 years studying homing pigeons using global positioning satellite (GPS) and were stunned to find the birds often don't navigate by taking a bearing from the sun.

Instead, they fly along motorways, turn at junctions and even go around roundabouts, adding miles to their journeys, British newspapers reported on Thursday.

"It really has knocked our research team sideways," Professor Tim Guilford said in the Daily Telegraph.

Janet's breast makes net history

5 February, 2004

Janet Jackson's breast has become the most searched-for image in net history.

Norwegian black metal band shocks Poland

Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth staged a special concert that made Janet Jackson's breast-baring look like nursery school antics and left Catholic Poland outraged. A police investigation has begun after a show that included dozens of sheep heads on stakes, a literal blood bath and a naked, crucified woman, newspaper VG reports.

Gorgoroth's concert in Krakow was recorded by state TV station TVP and the resulting scandal was the center of attention in Polish media. The band is now being investigated for causing religious offense, which can be punished by two years in prison.

The police are also considering an investigation of cruelty to animals.

"On stage there was blood everywhere. About ten decapitated sheep heads and naked people, alive, on large crosses. Everyone was painted with 100 liters of sheep blood. Also there were Satanist symbols everywhere. One of the hanging female models fainted and an ambulance had to be called," TVP director Andrzej Jeziorek told VG. [...]

Peruvian police investigate possible infant sacrifice to earth god

Feb 05

LIMA, Peru (AP) - A decapitated baby boy found on a hilltop near Lake Titicaca may have been the victim of a centuries-old human sacrifice ritual meant to appease a pre-Columbian earth god, police said Wednesday.

The remains of the infant, believed to have been seven months old, were discovered Tuesday on a peninsula in the Yunguyo region near the Bolivian border, a police officer in the regional capital of Puno told The Associated Press.

Investigators believe the killing may have been a ritualistic sacrifice because the body was found on the hilltop surrounded by flowers, liquor bottles and containers of blood. Highland Indians consider many Andean hilltops to be the homes of earthen deities.

Police were led to the remote rural site by villagers upset by the killing, which took place last week, police said.

Peruvian anthropologist Juan Ossio said that human sacrifices date back to the Chavin culture, which flourished in Peru between 900-200 BC.

Although not as large scale as they were in the Aztec culture, which ruled what is now Mexico, human sacrifices remained an official part of Peruvian cultures until the Spanish conquered the Incas 500 years ago, he said.

"Sacrifices were made for more than a thousand year and it is hard to get rid of deeply rooted beliefs."

Some Christians See 'Passion' as Evangelism Tool

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
The New York Times
February 5, 2004


For years it was an article of faith for many Christians that the most powerful vehicle for bringing nonbelievers to Jesus was a Billy Graham crusade.

Now, they expect it will be a Mel Gibson movie.

Three weeks before the release of "The Passion of the Christ," a graphic portrayal of the torture and crucifixion of Jesus, Christians nationwide are busy preparing to use it in an immense grass-roots evangelistic campaign.

Mr. Gibson, who produced, directed and largely financed the film, has tried to stoke their enthusiasm by screening it the past two months for at least 10,000 pastors and leaders of Christian ministries and media. Many emerged proclaiming it a searing, life-changing experience.

Now those leaders are buying blocks of tickets, encouraging church members to invite their "unsaved" friends and co-workers and producing television commercials that start with scenes from the movie and finish with a pitch for their churches.

"I don't know of anything since the Billy Graham crusades that has had the potential of touching so many lives," said Morris H. Chapman, president of the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination. "It's like the Lord somehow laid in our lap something that could be a great catalyst for spiritual awakening in this nation."

The movie opens on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25, and Christian groups are already distributing merchandise to capitalize on the moment. There are lapel pins in Aramaic, the language of much of the film, and "witnessing cards" to give those who ask about the pin; door hangers for the neighbors; one million tracts asking moviegoers to "Take a moment right now and say a prayer like this," and a CD-ROM for teenagers that features a downloadable picture of a nine-inch nail like those that pinned Jesus to the cross.

Although Mr. Gibson is Roman Catholic and the movie is replete with Catholic touches, like the Stations of the Cross and the centrality of Mary, influential Pentecostal and evangelical leaders have embraced it anyway, seeing its value as a tool in evangelism. Evangelical Christians account for 30 percent to 40 percent of the American population, and many of them have recently been hearing their leaders declare that the nation is primed for a return of the ecstatic Great Awakenings that moved Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries to convert to Christianity in droves.

Mr. Gibson's film company has hired several marketing firms experienced in reaching Christian audiences, including the publicist for the Rev. Billy Graham. But much of the promotion was initiated by an assortment of ministry agencies, churches and individual Christians.

One of these, the American Tract Society in Garland, Tex., proclaims on its Web site that the movie is "one of the greatest opportunities for evangelism in 2,000 years." Daniel Southern, the society's president, said his group had produced two tracts tied into the movie, and expected one to sell over one million copies. The only involvement of Mr. Gibson's company, Mr. Southern said, was in granting permission to use a movie photograph on the cover.

"This is an unprecedented opportunity that the average Christian needs to seize," Mr. Southern said. "You'll run into people at work who've seen the movie, and you can say, `Have you ever thought about why Christ had to die?' And then you can say: `This tract has one take on that and I'd like to share it with you.' And you hand them the tract." [...]

The film is rated R because of the violent scourging and crucifixion of Jesus that occupies much of its two hours. Ron Luce, president of Teen Mania, says children would benefit from seeing it, and the CD-ROM supplies information to persuade parents to allow their children to attend.

"This isn't just violence for violence's sake," Mr. Luce said. "This is what really happened, what it would have been like to have been there in person to see Jesus crucified." [...]

Sex-object with bite

February 4, 2004

A Thai man was mauled when he drunkenly tried to sexually attack a dog that fiercely resisted his advances.

Police in Samut Prakan province, on Bangkok's south-eastern fringes, told the Thai Rath newspaper that Toryip Rawang, 33, had been drinking heavily with friends before Monday's incident.

The bloodied man was questioned by police after residents notified local authorities when they saw him walking along a road.

He told police he noticed a brown female stray dog wagging its tail and "acting sexy" and pulled it into some tall grass by the roadside.

But the dog resisted, biting him on his face, chest and arms before he gave up his attempt and tried to stagger home. Under further questioning he admitted to raping three dogs previously while he was under the influence of alcohol.


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