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Tuesday, February 10, 2004

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Picture of the Day

©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Tyranny. When we think of the word "tyranny", the first thing that usually comes to mind is a brutal dictator such as Adolf Hitler. Hyperdictionary defines tyranny as: "a form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator (not restricted by a constitution or laws or opposition etc.)"; or "dominance through threat of punishment and violence". It seems the most common definition given to this word is the first definition, that of a government or regime ruled by an individual who can essentially do what they please to their unfortunate subjects. In a dictatorship, there are no laws save those outlined by the absolute ruler.

In recent days, many people both inside and especially outside America have suggested, implied, or blatantly declared that George W. Bush is a dictator. We at Signs of the Times have not hesitated to speak out against the fascist policies that continue to be implemented and expanded by the current American president and his Neocon pals. In all fairness, we do not believe that only the Bush administration is to blame for the current state of the Land of the Free. In the column Executive Tyranny, the author summarizes the numerous acts and executive orders that have led to the situation now facing America and the world affected by her culture and politics. Yet for all that America's past and present rulers have wrought, they are few, and the people are many. It is evident that the elite few manipulate the masses - history has repeatedly shown as much. Thus it seems that as in the days of Hitler and WWII, the story today involves more than just a charismatic, psychopathic looney who seized control of a country. For one reason or another, the people are agreeing to be dominated. Naturally, one may wonder what is the source of this agreement. Is it a phenomenon entirely external to the individual? We think not.

We have written before about lies. When one's existence consists primarily of going to the 9-5, feeding the family, playing the good spouse, and even keeping up with the Joneses, there is little room left for reality. We become so engrossed in playing our programmed roles, that we lie to ourselves about the importance of this little drama that we erroneously call "life". Throw a large amount of self-importance into the mixing bowl, and you have a recipe for disaster. All that remains is to toss the culinary concoction in the oven, and out pops a lovely cake of conformity and illusion.

The point is not to completely badmouth the traditional family. We believe that families are a key element of our growth as individual souls. The problem rests in the idea that, by playing our roles so well, by engaging ourselves completely in our own personal illusory worlds, we are all telling lies to each other. Perhaps more importantly, we are also telling lies to ourselves. It is therefore no surprise that, victimized by our own self-delusions, we might also believe the lies of our leaders.

Dresden James wrote:

"The ideal tyranny is that which is ignorantly self-administered by its victims. The most perfect slaves are, therefore, those which blissfully and unawaredly enslave themselves."

There is perhaps one component of the above mentioned "normal life" which we have neglected thus far: religion. On Monday, we covered the following article as an example of thinking that the future is pre-determined using a predictive theory:

Rise Of The Righteous Army

Feb. 8, 2004

Evangelical Christians form one of the most potent forces in American politics and society. They are people who place their faith, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, above everything else in their lives and hope to spread that Gospel to the world.

An estimated 70 million Americans call themselves evangelicals, and their beliefs have already reshaped American politics. In the last election, 40 percent of the votes for George W. Bush came from their ranks, and now those beliefs are beginning to reshape the culture as well -- thanks to a group of best-selling novels known as the “Left Behind” series. [...]

“I don't think the media has really caught on to what's been going on in the last 30 years or so in America. An enormous number of people have come to faith in Christ and consider themselves evangelical Christians. And these are people that are buying, reading and distributing our books,” says Rev. Tim LaHaye.

LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins have written a series of runaway bestsellers known as the “Left Behind” novels. All together, there are 40 million books in print, and another 17 million in spin-offs. Plus, “The Kids” series, audio books and comic books are worth $100 million in annual revenue.

The books give a graphic version of the New Testament prophesy of the end of the world, happening in our time, in which only the righteous are saved. It’s a triumphant tale -- unmistakably Christian, undeniably American.

“I think if you cut us, Jerry and I would bleed red, white and blue,” says LaHaye. “We believe that God has raised up America to be a tool in these last days, to get the Gospel to the innermost parts of the earth.” [...]

Examining the excerpt above, we may wish to view it in another light. On numerous occasions, we have commented on the effects of the Bush administration's fundamentalist Christian slant on American policy. What may not have been so clear is the effects of this same "revival" on the population as a whole. From the February 5, 2004 Signs Page:

Some Christians See 'Passion' as Evangelism Tool

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." [...]

Indeed! Mr. Luce sounds as if he actually witnessed first-hand the crucifixion of Christ! What is most interesting about this New Great Awakening is that it is a revival of the ultimate fear: the fear of the creator. While Bush and his gang are proclaiming that Osama, Saddam, Jong-il, and every other "furriner" under the sun are out to get Americans, the 40% of evangelical Christian Americans are attending church regularly and hearing about a threat even worse: getting left behind! Once again, fear is used as a tool to convince Americans that they must make sacrifices if they want to be safe. The first phase of the New American Fascism involved giving up some civil liberties in return for security. The new phase involves a far more insidious use of fear to subjugate the population.

Here's how the whole process might work: First, install a fundamentalist Christian president. Next, throw in a bit of terror, chaos, and death. Then, if and when some of the people start to question the president's actions, rev up the revival of fundamentalist christian values. In addition to distracting up to 40% of the population from the truth, the new awakening gives them something even more terrifying to worry about - the wrath of god. The "solution" to this terrible predicament is terribly predictable: Accept Jesus! Become saved! As an added bonus, at no extra charge to the powers that be, the evangelists will seek to convert as many other nonbelievers as possible. A huge percentage of Americans will then be "saved", and they won't be worried when their civil liberties are revoked - they'll be ecstatic! If the US is locked down, it must be a sure sign that the forces of darkness are rising, and the rapture can't be far behind, right? Besides, what's to worry about when the president is himself a true believer? Surely no red-blooded Saved American soul would harm another of god's chosen...

In essence, the acceptance of an ultra-Christian ethic is the icing on the aforementioned cake. Perhaps the puppet masters will indeed have their cake and eat it, too. Perhaps not.

In any case, it seems that nonbelievers aren't even safe when they fly. Non-Christians are even being labeled "crazy":

Christian question alarms flight

Monday, 9 February, 2004, 12:55 GMT

An American Airlines pilot terrified passengers when he asked Christians to identify themselves and allegedly went on to call non-Christians "crazy".

Some passengers on the flight from Los Angeles to New York were so worried they tried to call relatives on their mobile phones.

The pilot, whose name was not released, asked Christians on Friday's flight to raise their hands.

He then suggested non-Christians talk to the Christians about their faith.

He went on to say that "everyone who doesn't have their hand raised is crazy", passenger Amanda Nelligan told CBS news.

"He continued to say, 'Well, you have a choice: you can make this trip worthwhile, or you can sit back, read a book and watch the movie'," she said.

The pilot also told passengers he would be available for discussion at the end of the flight. A spokesman for American Airlines said later that the pilot denied using the word "crazy".


Ms Nelligan said passengers had thought the pilot's behaviour was "bizarre" and wondered whether his comments were a threat.

Flight attendants notified ground control.

American Airlines spokesman Tim Wagner said the incident was being investigated.

"It falls along the lines of a personal level of sharing that may not be appropriate for one of our employees to do while on the job," he added.

"May not be appropriate"? How about, "isn't even remotely close to being appropriate, unless we change the name of our company to Saved American Airlines".

Let's take another look at our definition of tyranny: "a form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator (not restricted by a constitution or laws or opposition etc.); dominance through threat of punishment and violence".

While the the most common definition given to this word is the first definition, it is the second definition that is perhaps most appropriate to the current American situation. "Dominance through threat of punishment and violence"... The original threat of violence comes from manufactured terrorism. The bigger threat seems to come from that omnipotent dispenser of death, destruction, judgment - oh, and love. Either you choose to be saved, or you choose to be punished by a violent, bloody death. Doesn't sound like much of a choice, does it? The domination of the masses then becomes a piece of cake, so to speak...

"The ideal tyranny is that which is ignorantly self-administered by its victims. The most perfect slaves are, therefore, those which blissfully and unawaredly enslave themselves."

Choices that aren't choices...

Doctors Who Carry Guns and Make Arrests?

Thursday, Feb. 5, 2004

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) - The General Assembly is considering a bill that would let physicians carry guns and make arrests as members of county homeland security teams.

The bill, sponsored by two Frederick County senators, was proposed by Frederick County Sheriff James Hagy. He said the Maryland Police Training Commission and sheriffs throughout the state support the measure.

Hagy said Wednesday the bill would ensure that someone schooled in biological, chemical and radiological weapons is among the first responders to a terrorist attack.

"He obviously would bring an expertise to the table that we in law enforcement don't have," Hagy said.

Opponents say the proposal would blur the line between law enforcement and medical professionals.

"What will be next? Will our police officers be writing prescriptions for medications?" Frederick Mayor Jennifer Dougherty said. [...]

The measure, Senate Bill 232, would authorize each county sheriff to appoint a physician as the county's medical adviser. The doctors could then take police training, conduct investigations and make arrests in cases involving biological weapons or other "catastrophic health emergencies."

Senate bill gives doctors guns


File Code: Public Safety
Sponsored By: Senators Brinkley, Garagiola, and Mooney
Entitled: Sheriffs - Appointment of Medical Advisors


Authorizing the sheriff of each county to appoint a physician licensed to practice in the State as a medical advisor for that county and to define the role of the medical advisor; granting medical advisors limited authority to exercise specified police powers in connection with catastrophic health emergencies; requiring the Police Training Commission to set standards for the certification of medical advisors and to certify medical advisors; providing for the compensation and employment status of the medical advisors; etc.

Comment: It is good to see that the US is doing something about the deplorable state of its health care system. Now, when millions of Americans are infected by their own government with some lethal virus, the medical attention will be quick and decisive.

Are You On Uncle Sam's No Fly List?

Story originally published by CBSNewYork
February 6, 2004

NEW YORK (CBS) The war on terror casts a wide net and has so far prevented a second September 11th. But is that net too wide? CBS 2 has learned of a top secret government list of Americans who are not allowed on any commercial airlines.

Are they terrorists or violent criminals or something else?

The airport counter: This is as far as Rebecca Gordon and Janet Adams say they are allowed to go at San Francisco International Airport. The last time they checked in for a flight to Boston to visit Gordon's 80-year-old father, an airline employee called the police.

"She came back and said you turned up on the FBI no-fly list. We have called the San Francisco police. We were shocked, really shocked,” recalled Adams.

"We were detained. We were definitely detained. I couldn't even get a drink of water," Gordon remembered.

So why would two women in their 50's, U.S. citizens, San Francisco homeowners and long-time peace activists with no criminal records be on a federal watch list with suspected terrorists?

That's just one of the questions the couple wanted answers to.

An ACLU attorney tells CBS 2 the government won’t even tell them if Gordon and Adams are on the list.

Last April, the ACLU of Northern California filed suit against the Transportation Security Administration and the FBI on behalf of the pair and demanded answers to basic questions, including how many people are on the secret list, who is on the it, how do you get on it and how can you get off it.

This what they got back: hundreds of pages of blacked out text that give them no answers to any of their questions.

"The government has blacked out the information about what criteria they use to place people on these lists. So we don't know how someone gets on the list. How they can get off the list if they're on it incorrectly, we don't know. If the government monitors the list, we don't know if any of this makes us any safer. What we do know is hundreds, maybe thousands, of passengers are being routinely hassled, innocent passengers, because of these lists," ACLU attorney Jayashri Srikantiah told CBS 2.

Civil rights activists don't dispute the governments right to keep a watchlist, but they do have a problem with who's on it and why.

"It's very scary that our government is keeping a list. That's scary," Adams said.

Scary and all too real. The government has admitted it has a secret no-fly list of people who are not allowed to fly. And also has a secret selected list of people who are to be singled out, detained, and questioned.

Both are stored in airline databases and are accessed at check in. The lists allegedly contain thousands of names of passengers who are to be stopped before boarding commercial flights.

The list isn't new. It has been in existence since about 1990 but was expanded after the September 11th attacks.

"It's a no-fly list, it's a list of names gathered through intelligence and law enforcement of individuals who are either known terrorists or have links to known terrorists," TSA spokesperson Mark Hatfied told Fiandaca.

The list is now alleged to include not only suspected terrorists and those believed to be a threat to aviation security but civil rights activists say it also targets people based on their political views. A list that is thought to include members of the Green Party, a Jesuit priest who is a peace activist and two civil rights attorneys.

In Gordon and Adams’ case, the ACLU believes the couple may have been targeted for their work on War Times, a free bilingual newspaper that has been critical of the war and the Bush administration's policies on terrorism.

It’s very scary that two people who pose no danger, who are publishing something, which last time I looked we were allowed to do, are being detained at the airport and having the police called and they won't tell us why," Adams said.

And as of today, Gordon and Adams still don't have any answers from the government but have a court hearing set for April 9th. This controversy isn't likely to go away anytime soon, since the government is planning on implementing a color code system this summer to track passengers and that list too is expected to be secret.

Comment: Slowly, the very things that just a short time ago were unimaginable are becoming a reality. Without doubt there is much more to come, yet it will all be designed to sneak in under the noses of the slumbering masses, taking care not to awaken them.

Hitler's Would-Be Killer Dreams of Dead Friends

Mon Feb 9, 8:56 AM ET
By Kerstin Gehmlich

PARIS (Reuters) - Philipp von Boeselager's sleep is troubled by furtive chats with conspirators, concealed bombs and a desperate horseback ride from the battlefield on the day he and his friends tried to kill Hitler.

In his dreams, the 86-year old baron talks to friends and co-plotters -- high-ranking German military officials -- who tried to blow up Adolf Hitler with a bomb on July 20, 1944 and who were killed or committed suicide when the attempt failed. `

"If you are the only one among some 100 who is still alive, that makes you think. I feel they are watching me and I have a certain responsibility toward them," Boeselager told Reuters in Paris, where he received the prestigious Legion of Honor medal.

"I call on young people to get politically involved, to feel responsible for their country. If that's not happening and if someone like (Nazi propaganda minister Joseph) Goebbels appeared today -- as millions are unemployed -- I would be very scared." In postwar Germany, the July 20 attack has become a famous symbol for German resistance to the Nazi regime, discussed in school lessons and honored in museums.

Army officer Boeselager was only 25 when he was asked to join a secret team of officers who planned to kill the dictator -- and who were ready to sacrifice their own lives.

"We were convinced that even if July 20 had been successful, we would have been hanged because the mass of Germans believed Hitler. They would have said: 'If Hitler was still alive, we would have won the war'," he said.

Boeselager, an elegant man dressed in a dark suit who wears his hair carefully combed back, said the wish to halt the Nazis mattered more to the men than the danger of death.

"Each day Hitler ruled, thousands died unnecessarily -- soldiers, because of his stupid leadership decisions. And later, I learned of concentration camps, where Jews, Poles, Russians -- human beings -- were being killed.

"It was clear that these orders came from the top: I realized I lived in a criminal state. It was horrible. We wanted to end the war and free the concentration camps." [...]

Over the front door of his house in Kreuzberg near the western city of Bonn, a sign reads "Et si omnes ego non -- Even if all, not me."

Comment: The article details a fascinating account of the failed plot, and how they were willing to sacrifice their lives.

St. Paul passes resolution condemning PATRIOT Act

by Mark Connor

The St. Paul City Council recently joined Minneapolis and more than 200 cities that have passed resolutions condemning the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act. The resolution was passed with a 6 to 1 vote [...]

“I think if people really took a look at some of the aspects of the PATRIOT Act and what rights they’re giving up, they would be appalled,” Lantry said, explaining her motivations for signing the resolution. [...]

Jackson Could Become First In State To Adopt Ordinance Against Act

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the city of Jackson to become the first in Mississippi to adopt a resolution that condemns portions of the anti-terrorism Patriot Act. [...]

Uncle Sam's genitals go on display

09 February 2004

RIO DE JANEIRO: Uncle Sam, that symbol of US patriotism, has a front seat on an extravagantly decorated float in the parade of samba schools in Rio de Janeiro's upcoming Carnival.

It won't be a pretty sight though. His pants are down around his ankles, his genitals exposed for all to see, and his outstretched fingers smeared with ink.

And somewhere out in the crowd will be hundreds of Saddam Hussein look-a-likes. [...]

Uncle Sam is also be gagged, symbolising a perceived US clamp-down on freedoms. [...]

Online Search Engines Help Lift Cover of Privacy

By Yuki Noguchi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 9, 2004

Sitting at his laptop, Chris O'Ferrell types a few words into the Google search engine and up pops a link to what appears to be a military document listing suspected Taliban and al Qaeda members, date of birth, place of birth, passport numbers and national identification numbers. Another search yields a spreadsheet of names and credit card numbers. "All search engines will get you this," O'Ferrell said, pointing to files of spoils he has found on the Internet: Medical records, bank account numbers, students' grades, and the docking locations of 804 U.S. Navy ships, submarines and destroyers. And it is all legal, using the world's most powerful Internet search engine. Cybersecurity experts say an increasing number of private or putatively secret documents are online in out-of-the-way corners of computers all over the globe, leaving the government, individuals, and companies vulnerable to security breaches.

At some Web sites and various message groups, techno-hobbyists are even offering instructions on how to find sensitive documents using a relatively simple search. Though it does not technically trespass, the practice is sometimes called "Google hacking." "There's a whole subculture that's doing this," said O'Ferrell, a long-time hacking expert and chief technology officer of Herndon-based security consultancy Netsec Inc. In the decade they have been around, search engines like Google have become more powerful. At the same time, the Web has become a richer source of information as more businesses and government agencies rely on the Internet to transmit and share information. All of it is stored on computers called servers, each one linked to the Internet. For a variety of reasons -- improperly configured servers, holes in security systems, human error -- a wide assortment of material not intended to be viewed by the public is, in fact, publicly available. Once Google or another search engine finds it, it is nearly impossible to draw back into secrecy.

Will Skull and Bones Really Change CEO's
Inside John Kerry's Closet

February 9, 2004

Last month, some ninety environmentalists gathered in DC to consider what to do about the BushCo assaults on our nation's public ecosystems. The group, mostly paid staffers of one group or another, sat through a two-hour long report from the DC greens' "political expert." She regaled the group with strategies necessary "now that Dean has the nomination sewed up."

When told this tale, I thought, "Hey. If someone this clueless can get six-figures for such obviously lame assessments, maybe I should take a stab at it." So, here are my 2004 election year predictions:

1) Unless Skull and Bones desires a change in their CEO, it's Bush in a landslide. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) will get the DLC nomination. And, then his real record will come out.

A friend recently wrote, "I just ran into a woman in (the organic grocery) who's been working on the Kerry campaign for 18 months, when I asked her what his political accomplishments are, she hesitated and said, "Well, I don't know, check out his website."

Save yourself the website search, here's a synopsis:

It's deplorable. Three-hundred-seventeen bills introduced. Seven passed. And four of those were ceremonial ones -- designating special days. Voted for the horrific Telecommunications Act (in fact, led the charge); voted for the illegal war/occupation; voted for the Patriot Act (in fact, helped draft parts of it when it was first drafted under Clinton); brags about voting for class war on poor moms and kids--Clinton's welfare "reform" -- need I go on?

Yes, I will. One of the few Bills he got passed was 1999's Plan Columbia, the phony Drug War's defoliation of the rainforest with toxic chemicals. Since the Plan was launched some 325,000 acres of South America's oldest democracy have been sprayed with toxins, yet there has been no drop off in cocaine imports to the US. In fact, according to the Harvard Political Review, Columbia's cocaine production increased 11%.

The multimillionaire John Kerry, who rails against "special interests" on the campaign trail, got more special interest PAC money than any other senator this last six years! And, he refused to accept voluntary spending limits.
Expect to see this GOP ad: Kerry at the helm of the "Scaramouche," his $750,000 speed boat (he paid cash!), with overdubs of Kerry's pontificating about "millionaires" and "overprivileged."

Then, we'll see ads of Mr. Forbes Heinz skiing at a palatial Aspen spa (they own it!). And, just wait until they trot out the ad with footage of Kerry exhorting Vietnam vets to throw their medals over the Capitol fence and then cut to Kerry's medals framed on his office wall. The creep actually threw fake medals while encouraging others to throw their real ones!

They may not even need to point out his lying over his narcissistic taking of poisonous injections of Botox - a lie not even necessary in these MTV days. When a Boston radio announcer asked him last week: "Can you categorically deny the reports that you have used Botox or other kinds of cosmetic surgery or cosmetic enhancements to your appearance?" Kerry responded, "Absolutely, I've never even heard of it." Very interesting, since his current heiress wife, Teresa Heinz, has been quoted in Elle magazine about her fondness for the stuff.

Speaking of Teresa Heinz, she heads up the Heinz Environmental Defense Fund. The fund's most prominent board members since 1995 is none other than Enron's Ken Lay. Enron's bank, Citigroup, has been a major contributor to Kerry's various campaigns. In 1995, Kerry cast the deciding vote to override Clinton's veto of the very bill used by Enron and Citigroup to conduct their now well-known consumer rip-offs. Can you just imagine if Dr. Judy Steinberg Dean was hanging out with Key Lay? How about Laura Bush?

2) Dick Cheney? The question here is: will he resign BEFORE or AFTER the election? If before, expect to see Rudy Guliani as vice-presidential candidate. If after, expect to see Elizabeth Dole reprise the Gerry Ford role. The other Cheney question is: how long before he is indicted on bribery charges?

3) Colin Powell? Expect to see Powell resign soon after the election for "health reasons." [...]

Top Bush Aide Is Questioned in C.I.A. Leak

The New York Times

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 — President Bush's press secretary and a former White House press aide testified on Friday to a federal grand jury investigating who improperly disclosed the identity of a C.I.A. officer, the press secretary and a lawyer for the aide said on Monday.

The appearances of the press secretary, Scott McClellan, and the press aide, Adam Levine, reflected what lawyers in the case said was the quickening pace of a criminal inquiry in which a special prosecutor is examining conversations between journalists and the White House. [...]

In addition to the grand jury appearances, which are believed to include other Bush administration officials, prosecutors have conducted meetings with presidential aides that lawyers in the case described as tense and sometimes combative. [...]

U.S. Army to keep troops in one place longer

Knight Ridder Newspapers
Mon, Feb. 09, 2004

WASHINGTON - Army officials unveiled plans Monday to keep first-term soldiers in their units for more than twice as long as they do now, a move they say will hone units better for combat while providing more stability for soldiers' families.

Under the plan, called "home-basing," soldiers will remain in their first assignments as long as seven years, if they re-enlist, instead of the current three-year average. That means new privates could expect to stay at the same post until they reach the rank of staff sergeant and serve as squad leaders. Freshly commissioned lieutenants would remain until they make captain and serve as company commanders or equivalents.

It also means soldiers would be in their assignments long enough to purchase homes; they would be able to keep their children in the same schools longer and could establish other roots in the community. [...]

The move comes as the Army faces a possible retention crisis, with 130,000 troops set to return from Iraq over the next few months, and as Army officials plan to lift a "stop-loss" measure next year that has prevented many soldiers who've reached the end of their enlistments from getting out.

The measure also comes as the Army is reorganizing its 10 divisions to boost the number of combat brigades from 33 to 48 over the next few years. [...]

Not Everyone Got It Wrong on Iraq, Russian Envoy Says

By Evelyn Leopold
February 10, 20004

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russia's U.N. ambassador said late on Monday his country was never sure Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, despite assertions from former U.S. arms inspector David Kay that "we were almost all wrong."

The furor over whether Iraq possessed unconventional weapons, a justification for the U.S.-led war, recently flared again after Kay said he believed there were no large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq.

Russian ambassador Sergei Lavrov, at his annual meeting with the press, said that Russian officials repeatedly maintained they did not have enough information.

"We said that we don't have information which would prove that the WMD, weapons of mass destruction, programs remain in Iraq. We also said we don't have information that those programs have been fully stopped," Lavrov said. [...]

Who Has It In For The Coalition of the Unwilling?

One year ago, three countries were leading the opposition to Bush's crusade against Saddam Hussein: France, Germany, and Russia. France and Germany became the overt enemies of the Bush Administration, with Rumsfeld referring with great disdain to "Old Europe." We then saw the "New Europe," the former Russian satellite countries, line up behind Bush in exchange for money and their permission to allow the US to set up new military bases in their countries. The US appears to be setting up a ring around Russia, a ring that will do several things: cordon off Russia from "Old Europe," cordon off Russia from the oil supplies in the former Soviet Republics and the Middle East, and give the US advanced military outposts close to the oil and gas supplies. The US then arranged to destabilize Georgia and put one of its men into power there, a man who wants a US built pipeline running through his country.

Now we see that there is active work to destabilize the three political leaders of France, Germany, and Russia. We have already discussed the recent conviction of Alain Juppé, the protégé of French President Jacques Chirac, for using monies from the Mairie of Paris to finance political work for the old political party of Chirac, the RPR. As Juppé was Chirac's right-hand man at the time, and Chirac was the Mayor of Paris, many people assume that Chirac knew about this financing and believe that Juppé took the fall for his mentor.

We think that this kind of thing goes on all the time, in every political party. What is then important is to understand why a scandal such as this surfaces. If everyone has dirty laundry, then why does one piece get aired while another remains hidden? In France, the politician who benefits from this scandal is the Minister of the Interior, Nicolas Sarkozy, who is Juppé's main competitor to succeeded Chirac as candidate for the Presidency in 2007. Juppé is Chirac's own preferred choice to succeed him, if, in fact, Chirac decides to step down. Sarkozy has made no bones of the fact that he wants Chirac's job, and this has led to an increased tension between the two men. However, Sarkozy is the most popular Minister in the current government of Jean-Pierre Rafarin, and Rafarin believes he needs to keep Sarkozy in government in order to bask in the reflected glory.

Sarkozy, as Minister of the Interior, is the official responsible for the Gendarmerie and the National Police. This is interesting when seen in the light of the accusations made by the judges in the Juppé case that someone was monitoring their computer network in order to find out about their deliberations. But, of course, in the world of politics, little is at it seems and, although Sarkozy wants Chirac's job, it doesn't make sense for him to take the risk of ordering an illegal tapping of the judicial computer network. Would Chirac himself do such a thing? Or is it a "third force," trying to create confusion and give the impression that the entire French government, the government that stood firm against the Bush Administration and their Neocon plans, is corrupt as a whole?

In this context, recent events in Russia and Germany, the other two partners in the Coalition of the Unwilling, give one pause to think:

Speculation mounts in Russia over missing Putin challenger

Posted: 09 February 2004 2209 hrs

MOSCOW : Speculation mounted in Russia over what had happened to a presidential candidate who is backed by an exiled tycoon and Kremlin critic and has mysteriously gone missing five weeks before the election.

Some suggested that the disappearance of Ivan Rybkin, whose campaign is financed by Boris Berezovsky, the controversial self-exiled tycoon and President Vladimir Putin's political foe, was staged as a publicity stunt.

Rybkin went missing after he left his apartment in Moscow on Thursday evening and news of the 57-year-old's disappearance did not become public until the weekend.

On Sunday Moscow police began a search for the former parliamentary speaker who was seen as having little hope of winning the March 14 election.

The story was splashed across the front pages of most Moscow newspapers on Monday, as observers speculated what could have happened to the ally of Kremlin's most vociferous critic.

Some suggested that Rybkin's disappearance was a publicity stunt organized by Berezovsky ahead of the elections.

"I am 99 percent certain that this is yet another political stunt organized by Berezovsky," the Interfax news agency quoted Gennady Gudkov, a deputy from the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, as saying.

Gudkov said that Rybkin had in fact been found and was in a health spa outside the Russian capital.

The health spa itself denied the charge to Moscow Echo radio and Moscow police said their investigation of the deputy's charge has come to naught.

Central election commission chairman Alexander Veshnyakov said in televised comments over the weekend that he had his "own version" of what had happened to Rybkin, but he did not want to publicize it.

The Moscow prosecutor's office said Monday that it had opened a murder inquiry into the case, but in a highly unusual move, withdrew the statement an hour later, saying it did not have enough evidence for such an investigation.

The reversal apparently came at the request of the general prosecutor's office.

"The criminal investigation was opened too early," an official with the general prosecutor's office was quoted as saying by news agencies.

Prosecutors Monday also questioned Rybkin's wife as part of the investigation.

News of Rybkin's disappearance broke after he registered Saturday as one of seven candidates in a presidential vote which Putin is widely expected to win.

Rybkin has an approval rate of about one percent of voters, according to recent opinion polls, and has been a bit player in Russian politics since losing his post as speaker of the State Duma lower house of parliament in 1996.

He currently leads a wing of the splintered Liberal Russia party that has remained faithful to Berezovsky since the party split in 2003.

Berezovsky, a fierce Putin opponent who is wanted on fraud charges in Moscow, has been in self-exile in Britain since October 2001 where he has obtained political asylum.

He created Liberal Russia in 2002 but the party split in a fallout over Berezovksy's policies.

The head of the anti-Berezovsky camp in Liberal Russia, Sergei Yushenkov, was killed outside his Moscow apartment last April.

Six people went before a jury trial for the murder on Monday. Prosecutors charge them with having carried out the murder as a result of a tug-of-war for influence over the party.

One of the suspects has fully admitted his guilt in the case and two have partially done so, news agencies reported Monday.

Both party factions still claim the name of Liberal Russia.

Rybkin's Location Is a Mystery to Police

By Caroline McGregor
Staff Writer

The mystery shrouding the disappearance of presidential candidate Ivan Rybkin deepened Monday, amid conflicting reports of his whereabouts and the abrupt opening and closing of a murder investigation.

There are many possible explanations for this disappearance. The article offers one, that Rybkin is staging this disappearance as a publicity stunt. While possible, we would put a low probability on it. Rybkin would have little to gain if it were to come out that he organised his own disappearance. With Putin's connections with Russian intelligence, it seems unlikely that such a stunt could remain secret for long.

Another possibility is that Putin himself set the process in motion. We are not suggesting that Putin ordered Rybkin's disappearance. That, too, could turn against him if it came to light. We are suggesting something different. Rybkin, with the support of the now London-based Boris Berezovsky, a Russian oligarch who left the country, was stirring things up prior to next month's Russian Presidential elections. He had recently run a full-page ad declaring that Putin, himself, was Russia's most powerful oligarch.

Suppose Putin made the remark to one of his aids that "something should be done about Rybkin." This would not be an explicit command to kidnap him, and that idea might well have been far from Putin's thinking at the time. He simply was wishing that some way be found to silence this irritant. Rybkin was no threat in the elections. Putin has no challenger with any hope of beating him. However, the remark may have been conveyed by an aide to those responsible in Russia for "doing something" about minor irritants. Well-honed in the art of "doing something," they may well have organised a disappearance. In a certain sense, Putin, then, is responsible as he set the process in motion, however, he is not responsible for what actually happened because the decision of what to do and how to carry it out was done by people with no direct connection to Putin.

So that is another possibility, one we would give a greater probability to than the first.

Of course, there is at least one other option, the "third force" we mentioned might be at work in France. Intelligence agencies are in regular communication with each other. They exchange information, and individuals within them may be co-opted to work for another country through various means. Perhaps the disappearance of Mr. Rybkin is the work of another country, another intelligence agency, one that thinks the more confusion in Russia, the better for their own interests. They may either have seized on the hypothetical remark by Putin, seeing how it could be used to their advantage, or they may even have planned the whole operation from scratch, knowing that it would put Putin in a bad light.

Crazy? Perhaps. But recent events in Germany have put the position of the third member of the anti-Bush, anti-Neocon alliance in a tenuous position.

German Press Review: On Tuesday, German editorials continued commenting on leadership changes in the SPD

Editorialists throughout the country also continued to pour scorn on Schröder’s announcement to step down as leader of his the Social Democrats while remaining chancellor.

[...] "What was intended as a new departure has ended in a fiasco," opined the Rhein-Neckar Zeitung. "Not only has Schröder ruined the Social Democrats Party, he now leaves them to savor in their own downfall."

The Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung regarded Schröder’s announcement to postpone a major government policy speech to mid-March as a provocation. "After Friday’s surprise reshuffle, Germans don’t want to wait that long to hear more about new plans," argued the paper.

"Schröder’s junior coalition partner, the Greens, are now left wondering how durable the latest reforms will be," wrote Die Tagespost in Würzburg. "So far, the Greens have always seen themselves as the engine of change within the government. However, their initiatives have often been thwarted by the Social Democrats," the paper noted. "They can’t allow this to continue or else they risk being dragged down with them."

Schröder is embarking upon the same reforms that many of the Western countries have undertaken since Maggie Thatcher made the dismantling of the social net de rigour among neo-liberals in the 80s. These reforms are meeting with a great deal of opposition in the traditional labour base of the German Social-Democratic Party. The man Schröder wants as new party head, Franz Müntefering, is expected to support Schröder's reform program and has been given the mandate of rallying party members behind the reforms. Schröder will try to bring the German population at large behind them.

As cuts backs in unemployment benefits and health care, two main legs of the reforms, have generated vigourous opposition in every country where they have been brought about, it is more difficult to pin Schröder's problems on a "third force." However, it is also possible that the pressure brought to bear on Chirac and Putin has been coordinated in some way so that it occurs at the same time that their ally Schröder is facing his own problems at home.

As to who this "third force" might be, there are two countries who stand to benefit from disarray in the Coalition of the Unwilling: the United States and Israel. They each have connections with the Russian oligarchs, and they each have an interest in the discrediting and humiliation of Chirac. They are also both experienced in this sort of operation, organizing internal opposition and confusion in such a way that the blame falls on parties who have no part in it. We think that Israel is responsible for fomenting dissent within Iraq between rival factions. They wish to see a dismembered Iraq rather than a cohesive Iraq, regardless of the wishes of the US. The US has no desire to see a strong Europe and European-Russian alliance to counterbalance the new American Empire. There are known links between the rebels in Chechnya and the US through the intermediary of Pakistan.

German Press Review: Schröder and Chirac -- a Friendship of Harmony or Delusion?

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung took a look at Monday’s meeting between German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and French President Jacques Chirac. "The two main architects of European integration looked rather weary," observed the paper. "Both are in trouble at home, with Chirac being tantalized by his would-be successor Sarkozy and Schröder having to give up part of his power before it was taken from him by his own rank and file." The FAZ noted that in such a situation "what could be a better option than to demonstrate power in an area where they can count on universal approval in their respective home countries. That’s why they spoke out clearly against increasing EU-expenditures and granting smaller EU members more voting rights," the paper concluded.

Ever since the two heads of state came together during the Iraq crisis, there has been an "abundance of harmony" between Schröder and Chirac, observed the Märkische Allgemeine. One example of this is the French president's request for Schröder to speak in the name of France when talking to acting EU-President Bertie Ahern. The paper cautioned that despite all areas of agreement, "Germany and France are running the risk of downplaying the differences that still exist between them." According to the daily, the primary difference is that a failure to come to an agreement over a new EU constitution would have more serious implications for Germany than for France.

UK and France join forces on combat units

By Judy Dempsey in Brussels and James Blitz in London
Published: February 9 2004 20:20 | Last Updated: February 9 2004 20:20

Britain and France are to take a bold step towards closer defence co-operation, joining forces to create a string of highly trained, rapid-deployment units for combat in jungle, desert and mountain operations.

As the leaders of France, Germany and Britain prepare to meet next week in a three-way summit that could deepen their mutual co-operation, London and Paris have drawn up detailed plans covering the deployment of Anglo-French battlegroups.

[...] The EU originally wanted to create a rapid-reaction force of 60,000, but this has been scaled back because military capabilities would not stretch to the soldiers and equipment needed. Nato is also re-assessing the make-up of its 21,000-strong Nato Response Force.

French parliament to vote on hijab ban

Tuesday 10 February 2004, 9:46 Makka Time, 6:46 GMT

France's lower house of parliament is expected to adopt a controversial bill on Tuesday that will ban Muslim headscarves and other religious symbols in state schools.

This is so, despite opposition from minorities and some international rights groups.

Georgia's new president in Moscow for talks on disputed issues

www.chinaview.cn 2004-02-10 19:05:46

MOSCOW, Feb. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Georgia's newly elected president Mikhail Saakashvili arrived in Moscow Tuesday for talks aimed at resolving disputed issues.

During the visit, his first overseas official trip since takingoffice two weeks ago, Saakashvili and his hosts are expected to discuss regional stability, anti-terrorism, border security, the withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia and the settlement of the Abkhazia issue, Russian news agencies reported.

Energy cooperation will be another topic.

Nasa says 'no' to Hubble reprieve

By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor

Nasa has given a final "no" to requests for it to change its mind and grant a reprieve to the Hubble Space Telescope.

It follows opposition to Nasa's chief, Sean O'Keefe's decision, that servicing missions should be cancelled because of astronaut safety concerns.

New rules, following the loss of space shuttle Columbia last year, do not allow a Hubble visit by astronauts.

The US space agency has said that if it is not serviced, Hubble will probably last only a few more years.

The notorious building lies in a wealthy suburb of Buenos Aires

Argentina plans Dirty War museum

Argentina has announced that a former naval school which became a major torture centre during the country's military rule is to become a museum.

The Navy School of Mechanics in the capital Buenos Aires became a symbol of the 1976-1983 dictatorship.

The move is due to be formally announced on 24 March - the anniversary of Argentina's 1976 coup.

Up to 30,000 people are believed to have been tortured and killed in what became known as the "Dirty War".

The plan is to turn "Argentina's Auschwitz into something that preserves its memory", Human Rights Secretary Eduardo Luis Duhalde told reporters.

Sharon survives confidence vote in Knesset

Last Updated Mon, 09 Feb 2004 18:24:13

JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has survived a confidence vote in parliament, but some of his coalition partners abstained from voting.

With Israeli bulldozers, practice makes perfect

Feb. 5, 2004 AP

"In the picture at left released by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) on Wednesday, military vehicles enter a model of a Palestinian village, during a joint exercise for different army units in the southern Israeli training base of Shizafon. (AP/Roy Tal/IDF)"

According to a Jan. 15, 2004 IDF press release:

"As part of the ongoing war against the Palestinian terror and its infrastructure IDF forces demolished overnight the houses of Hitam Haled Hasin Lawisi, a Tanzim operative who is responsible for manufacturing explosives, for firing at IDF forces in Tulkarm and for the planning a terrorist attack which involves grenades and gunfire inside Israel. Lawisi dispatched two suicide bombers to carry out a suicide bombing on June 18, 2003. The terrorists were carrying explosive belts and were on their way to carry out the attack, however before carrying out the attack, they dropped the explosive belts and went back to Tulkarm.

IDF forces also demolished the house of Tareq Mahmud Ahmed Abu-Raba in the Tulkarm refugee camp. Abu-Raba, a Hamas terrorist, was responsible for recruiting, dispatching and directing a suicide bomber into Israel. The terrorist attack was thwarted by IDF forces on December 2002.

The demolition of houses of terrorists sends a message to suicide bombers and their accomplices that anyone who participates in terrorist activity will pay a price for their actions. The IDF will continue to use all legal means in order to strike at terrorists, their dispatchers and those who provide them assistance."

Comment: As always, one person's "terrorist" is another person's "freedom fighter". But what is remarkable about this report is the shamelessness with which the IDF claim that they are using all "legal" means to combat their chosen "terrorists". The truth is that the actions of the IDF in demolishing Palestinian homes are 100% illegal.

According to Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention

"Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations."

Despite this, the Israelis have a military training facility whose sole purpose is preparation for the regular planned violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Let us also not forget that the very state of Israel is financed to a large degree by US citizens.

Israelis make a point at The Hague with suicide bomb bus

By Toby Harnden in Jerusalem
The Telegraph

The wreckage of a bus in which a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 11 people in Jerusalem is being flown to Holland in an Israeli public relations offensive to justify its security barrier.

The United Nations International Court of Justice in The Hague is due to hear a case about the barrier in a fortnight's time.

Senior Israeli officials are leaning towards boycotting the case if it goes ahead, and instead mounting a propaganda campaign outside the court. [...]

Comment: It's a shame that the Palestinians can't ship a few of their demolished homes for exhibit.

Mel Gibson raises Rabbis' hackles

February 4, 2004

[...] Mr. Gibson also responded to a letter from Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who had requested a meeting and asked Mr. Gibson to consider a postscript that would "implore your viewers to not let the movie turn some toward a passion of hatred."

Mr. Gibson did not respond to those requests directly, writing only: "I hope and I pray that you will join me in setting an example for all of our brethren; that the truest path to follow, the only path, is that of respect and, most importantly, that of love for each other despite our differences."

[...] But Mr. Gibson further raised hackles among Jewish leaders in an exclusive interview by the writer Peggy Noonan published in the March issue of Reader's Digest.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, accused Mr. Gibson of insensitivity when he compared Jewish suffering in the Holocaust to that of millions of others who died in the war.[...]

In a letter to Mr. Gibson, Rabbi Hier wrote: "We are not engaging in competitive martyrdom, but in historical truth. To describe Jewish suffering during the Holocaust as `some of them were Jews in concentration camps' is an afterthought that feeds right into the hands of Holocaust deniers and revisionists."

Mr. Gibson's spokesman, Alan Nierob, denied that the director was looking to further inflame those leaders.

"There's no doubt in my mind that not only does he know the Holocaust and acknowledge it, he has shed tears over it, with me," he said.

Rabbi Hier responded that Mr. Gibson missed a chance to reduce the tension with Jewish groups. "I think he was lobbed an easy question. He could've used the occasion to take us on a different road, instead he marginalized the Holocaust, he diluted its significance, and it's a lie," he said. "Either he is very ignorant of sensitivities in Jewish communities of riling survivors, those who have lost loved ones, or he is doing it deliberately."

Mr. Foxman also protested Mr. Gibson's remark on the Holocaust. "At the very least it was ignorant, at the very most its insensitive. And you know what? He doesn't get that either.He doesn't begin to understand the difference between dying in a famine and people being cremated solely for what they are."

Comment: There is without doubt something very strange about the way in which Jewish leaders and Jewish lobby groups will accept nothing short of 100% acceptance from the world that Jewish deaths in World War II are somehow different from other deaths during that period. The Rabbi above claims that he is not engaging in "competitive martyrdom", yet that is exactly what he is doing by insisting that the deaths of Jews are somehow more significant than the deaths of non-Jews. We have no argument with the claim of some Jewish leaders that they and their people are somehow "special", but it is another thing altogether to attempt to force that opinion upon the world at large.

In the above New York Times article, Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, in making his argument, attempts to distort the truth about the cause of the deaths of 10 million Ukranians by suggesting that they died from famine, yet this is simply not true.

According to a Library of Congress exhibit, the "famine" in Ukraine was really a genocidal "purge" by Stalin:

The dreadful famine that engulfed Ukraine, the northern Caucasus, and the lower Volga River area in 1932-1933 was the result of Joseph Stalin's policy of forced collectivization. The heaviest losses occurred in Ukraine, which had been the most productive agricultural area of the Soviet Union. Stalin was determined to crush all vestiges of Ukrainian nationalism. Thus, the famine was accompanied by a devastating purge of the Ukrainian intelligentsia and the Ukrainian Communist party itself. The famine broke the peasants' will to resist collectivization and left Ukraine politically, socially, and psychologically traumatized.

The policy of all-out collectivization instituted by Stalin in 1929 to finance industrialization had a disastrous effect on agricultural productivity. Nevertheless, in 1932 Stalin raised Ukraine's grain procurement quotas by forty-four percent. This meant that there would not be enough grain to feed the peasants, since Soviet law required that no grain from a collective farm could be given to the members of the farm until the government's quota was met. Stalin's decision and the methods used to implement it condemned millions of peasants to death by starvation.

Can anyone in good conscience attribute a value judgement to the deaths of innocent people at the hands of genocidal madmen like Hitler or Stalin? Is it not true that the segregation of the deaths of innocent people into more, or less deplorable, merely serves to further divide people of differing races and creeds and thereby perpetuate the ethos that caused the deaths in the first place?

Israeli military secrets posted on web

The URL's still a secret, though

By Paul Hales, in Jerusalem

AN ISRAELI TV station reported last night that secret documents relating to the state’s arsenal of 'special arms' have been posted on the web.

Roy Livneh, a spinner at Saifun Semiconductors Ltd said on the privately-owned Channel 10 on Sunday night that he’d obtained access to the documentation 'easily' before alerting the police to their existence.

We can’t post the L’INQ, however, for fear of getting our doors kicked down. Besides, we don’t know it.

Livneh said the documents "deal with special arms, which got Mordechai Vanunu 18 years in prison." Vanunu, is the whistle-blower who fed the Sunday Times details of his experience working at the Dimona nuclear facility in southern Israel, thereby earning himself an 18-year sentence in 1986 for exposing Israel’s nuclear capability to the world. He's due to be released within weeks.

Israel has never officially confirmed that it possesses nukes, although foreign estimates suggest the Jewish state is in possession of around 200 warheads.

Livneh suggested the documents leaked on to the web may have been placed on a personal website by an Israeli military official, believing them to be secure.

The military has opened an inquiry into the matter. Livneh's phone was ringing off the hook when we called it earlier. We guess he's busy.

Israelis Moving To Australia

By Gadi Sharon - Tel Aviv

Hi Jeff,
The Australian Foreign Minister visited Israel last week. He said on the radio that 100,000 to 120,000 Israelis could emigrate to Australia. Since then, all immigration agencies claim that their business multiplied 10 folds!
The fascist/fanatic/religious right wing in Israel are very very angry; as soon they would be the only people left in Israel to massacre Moslems and steal their lands.
Practically ALL the non-religious youth of Israel has already escaped out of Israel and/or are considering emigration. Most popular countries; Australia, New Zealand, Canada.
AUSTRALIA, WE LOVE YOU, HERE WE COME ! I am enclosing Israeli articles..

Astronomers Unravel A Mystery Of The Dark Ages: Undergraduates' Work Blames Comet For 6th-century 'Nuclear Winter'

Scientists at Cardiff University, UK, believe they have discovered the cause of crop failures and summer frosts some 1,500 years ago – a comet colliding with Earth.

The team has been studying evidence from tree rings, which suggests that the Earth underwent a series of very cold summers around 536-540 AD, indicating an effect rather like a nuclear winter.

The scientists in the School of Physics and Astronomy believe this was caused by a comet hitting the earth and exploding in the upper atmosphere. The debris from this giant explosion was such that it enveloped the earth in soot and ash, blocking out the sunlight and causing the very cold weather.

This effect is known as a plume and is similar to that which was seen when comet Shoemaker-Levy-9 hit Jupiter in 1995.

Historical references from this period - known as the Dark Ages – are sparse, but what records there are, tell of crop failures and summer frosts.

The work was carried out by two Cardiff undergraduate students, Emma Rigby and Mel Symonds, as part of their student project work under the supervision of Dr Derek Ward-Thompson.

Their findings are reported in the February issue of Astronomy and Geophysics, the in-house magazine of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The surprising result of the new work is just how small a comet is needed to cause such dramatic effects. The scientists calculate that a comet not much more than half a kilometre across could cause a global nuclear winter effect. This is significantly smaller than was previously thought.

Dr. Ward-Thompson said: "One of the exciting aspects of this work is that we have re-classified the size of comet that represents a global threat. This work shows that even a comet of only half a kilometre in size could have global consequences. Previously nothing less than a kilometre across was counted as a global threat. If such an event happened again today, then once again a large fraction of the earth's population could face starvation."

The comet impact caused crop failures and wide-spread starvation among the sixth century population. The timing coincides with the Justinian Plague, widely believed to be the first appearance of the Black Death in Europe. It is possible that the plague was so rampant and took hold so quickly because the population was already weakened by starvation

Quake in California desert predicted

Scientists expect it by September, L.A. Times reports

A team of scientists credited with getting earlier earthquake predictions right now expects a 6.4 magnitude or larger temblor in the Southern California desert by Sept. 5, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Led by UCLA scientist Vladimir Keilis-Borok, the team has been predicting quakes within certain timeframes and geographic regions. That has led to criticism that their work is not precise enough to be useful, but others see it as significant progress in the science.

The team gained visibility last December, when a 6.5-magnitude quake hit near San Simeon, Calif. That's within the 310-mile stretch of California that the team last June predicted would see a quake of magnitude 6.4 or larger within nine months.

The Times reported Sunday that the team's predictions are based on perceived "chains" of small earthquakes that are comparable to past patterns preceding larger quakes in the same area.

Comment: While on the topic of earthquakes we will take the opportunity to discuss further the Yellowstone fear mongering that we reported on yesterday's Signs page. A big deal is being made how an earthquake in the vicinity was not reported, and is using this as evidence of a cover up of the real dangers for some devious end. But a reader has done a bit of homework:

[Thanks to this link] I was able to see the info on the earthquake. After plotting the location, I see the earthquake was approximately 260 miles east slightly southeast from the eastern border of Yellowstone Park. It was in an open area called Thunder Bush National Grasslands, which is on the opposite side of the state of Wyoming from Yellowstone. The Bighorn Mountains separate the grassland area from Yellowstone.

In my opinion, this earthquake had nothing to do with the caldera/volcano at Yellowstone. Too much distance and too many mountains between the two. I don't understand why they would jump to the conclusion that it was in YNP. That sounds like possibly more fear spreading to me. I know I have tried to contact this Dr. Cornet a couple of times about his Yellowstone articles with some questions, and the emails are always returned undeliverable.

Century May Bring Unprecedented Climate Change To Southern Hemisphere

The new century may bring hundreds or even thousands of plant and animal extinctions to the Andes Mountains of Peru according to new research by Florida Institute of Technology Paleo-Ecologist Mark Bush. Bush's findings, chronicled in the Feb. 6 issue of the prestigious journal Science, result from the study of the first continuous record of Andean climate change during the past 48,000 years. The Andes region of Peru is one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet.

Earth's cloud forests threatened

By Alex Kirby
BBC News Online environment correspondent

Pressures are mounting on one of the Earth's rarest and most distinctive types of forest, scientists have found.

The alert comes from the UK-based World Conservation Monitoring Centre, now a part of the UN Environment Programme.

It says the threats to the world's cloud forests, which shelter thousands of rare species and provide water for millions of people, are increasing.

The centre says the extent of the cloud forests is about one-fifth smaller than scientists had previously believed. [...]

Allergy epidemic could strike Europe - paper

Tue 10 February, 2004 04:49

LONDON (Reuters) - Researchers predict half of all Europeans may have an allergy by 2015, the Guardian reports.

The paper said on Tuesday European scientists would launch the largest-ever study this week to assess the causes of asthma and allergies.

Scientists want to know why rates are rising and why British children have the third highest rate of asthma in the world -- after Australia and New Zealand. [...]

Rebel uprising spreads to 11 towns in Haiti; death toll rises to at least 42

06:18 AM EST Feb 10

ST. MARC, Haiti (AP) - An armed uprising spread to nearly a dozen towns in western and northern Haiti on Monday, the strongest challenge yet to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. At least 42 people have been killed in what the government says is an attempted coup.

[...] The uprising, which began last week in the city of Gonaives, signals a dangerous turning point in Haiti's longtime political crisis. A similar revolt in 1985 also began in Gonaives and led to the ouster a year later of dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier and the end of a 29-year family dictatorship.

[...] Tension has mounted since Aristide's party won flawed legislative elections in 2000 and international donors blocked millions of dollars in aid. Misery has also deepened with most of the country's eight million people living without jobs and on less than $1 US a day despite election promises from Aristide, a former priest who had vowed to bring dignity to the poor.

G7 statement fails to halt dollar's slide

By Alan Beattie in Washington
Published: February 9 2004 21:47 | Last Updated: February 10 2004 0:36

Currency markets on Monday shrugged off the Group of Seven's weekend attempts to fine-tune its message on exchange rates, as all sides tried to claim victory after the meeting.

On the first day of trading since the seven leading industrial nations refined their call for currency flexibility and added a warning about excessive volatility, the euro hit a two-week high against the dollar. Traders concluded there was little in the statement to prevent the US currency sliding further.

Dollar Hits 11-Year Low Against Pound

02/09/2004 23:48

TOKYO (Reuters) - The dollar hit an 11-year low against the pound and fell within sight of a two-week low versus the euro on Tuesday as the market acted on what it saw as a lack of agreement by the G7 on coordinated action to stem its decline. [...]

BP Misses Forecasts, to Buy Back Stock

By Andrew Callus
February 10, 2004

LONDON (Reuters) - BP, the world's second-largest oil company, fell short of market forecasts with a flat fourth-quarter profit on Tuesday but said it would immediately resume share buybacks to support its stock.

Analysts attributed the disappointing quarter to weakness in upstream operations, the core oil and gas exploration and production which generates the bulk of profits.

A BP spokesman said weakness was partly due to an unusual oil price lag effect that prevented the firm from booking Alaska upstream profits late in the quarter.

"It looks as if profitability in exploration and production has been very low," said Tony Alves analyst at Investec. "Other areas are disappointing too, but they've undershot by several hundred million (dollars) on the upstream."

The poor performance underlines investor disaffection in the oil and gas sector after BP's main European rival, Royal Dutch Shell, shocked shareholders last month by slashing its estimated reserves. [...]

Paris Peak Oil Conference Reveals Deepening Crisis

by Michael C. Ruppert
From The Wilderness Publications
Revised June 9th, 2003

PARIS – Research presented on May 26th and 27th at the French Institute for Petroleum (IFP) by a wide variety of experts from varying and often competitive perspectives disclosed that, in the year since the first conference of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) supply, constraints have worsened and the realities of energy depletion are becoming more apparent. A year of violent political history centered on oil and ever-more unforgiving production results have begun to force reluctant political and economic acknowledgement of Peak Oi's threat to civilization. Yet ASPO's founder, Professor Colin Campbell, and his colleagues, retired TotalFinaElf Exploration Manager, Jean Laherrère, and Physics Professor, Kjell Aleklett, have good reason to be pleased with the second-ever ASPO conference.

Two hundred people from more than twenty countries attended this year, doubling attendance for the inaugural event held last May in Uppsala, Sweden. In an acknowledgement of Peak Oi's penetration of official consciousness, the event was partially subsidized by the French Institute for Petroleum, the oil services firm Schlumberger, and the French oil giant, Total. The fact that it was held at a government institution was, according to Campbell, evidence of the fact that Peak Oil can no longer be completely ignored, even by politicians.

Olivier Appert, Chairman of the IFP, bluntly acknowledged that many oil experts have concluded that world oil depletion is between five and ten per cent per year and that 60 Million barrels per day (Mbpd) of new capacity is needed to meet demand. On that basis he concluded in his opening remarks, "It is timely to reopen the debate." Appert however told the audience that he was an optimist basically because he predicted that new technologies would produce new discoveries and better recovery in the future.

But quiet, official support of the conference fell far short of the political and economic mobilization the organizers believe necessary to respond to a crisis that might start grinding national economies to a halt and causing massive dislocations in short order. As one conference organizer told FTW, "The fact that several governments have asked to be kept ‘fully informed,' or that the French government allows us to use their facilities, or that major oil companies and automakers like Daimler-Chrysler come to make presentations is a way of listening closely to what we are doing without having to publicly accept what we are saying. The political and economic ramifications of that are too drastic from their perspectives, but each hour of delay only assures that the eventual crisis will be worse once it has been acknowledged."

IFP Chairman Appert's optimism was belied by experts like Laherrère, whose brutally honest graphs and plots not only mirror the truth of declining discovery and production but also establish scientifically that there are no more major significant reserves to be found. Other experts established definitively that wildly exaggerated hopes for polar or deep sea discoveries, or tar sands production are both unfounded and dangerously deceptive because of the excessive production costs and the investment required to develop what will likely prove to be disappointing yields.

In the end, the most realistic and integrated analyses were delivered by political scientist and author Michael Klare and Professor Kenneth Deffeyes of Princeton, a one-time colleague of the late M. King Hubbert, whose Hubbert Curve predicted today's events with startling accuracy some six decades ago. These two conference presenters gave integrated presentations incorporating real-world current events and showed clearly that Peak Oil is here now.

BBC sets the tone

One of the first presentations of the conference was the screening of a new BBC documentary which aired on March 26, 2003, titled, "The War For Oil." In stark and irrefutable detail the film verified every major aspect of Peak Oil including declining production, vanishing discovery rates, smaller field sizes and increasing demand. It pointed out that worldwide production capacity was stretched to the limit and that the US would be importing seventy per cent of its oil by 2020 and ninety per cent by 2050.

The BBC documentary also quoted oil expert and Bush administration advisor, Matthew Simmons, as stating very clearly that the United States government was very worried about Peak Oil. Simmons should know. He runs a Houston-based investment bank for the energy industry and was an advisor to Vice President Cheney's secretive, 2001, National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG) which has refused to make its records public. He remains a close advisor to George W. Bush.

Confirmation of Peak Oil's role in 9/11

Starting in October 2001 FTW reported, and has continued to maintain, that Peak Oil was the driving factor behind the US government's highly questionable and illegal conduct and what we believe was its actual complicity in the attacks themselves. This was necessary in order to motivate public support for a war which otherwise would not have been acceptable to the American people. Simmons has never deviated in his public support for the Bush administration and his stated belief that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq had nothing to do with oil. Yet Simmons, a CFR member who also contributed to the (James) Baker Institute-CFR energy report released in April, 2001, delivered the strongest and clearest warning about Peak Oil of the entire conference. And, his conference statements provide the first-ever hint at some of the topics that were discussed behind closed doors in the months leading up to the attacks. FTW also got the chance to question him about oil and war.

Speaking at the end of the conference via satellite from his Houston offices, Simmons said:

"Is peaking an important question or issue? First of all, if you start out by saying usable energy is the world's most critical resource then obviously it is an important issue. Without... energy, we have no sustainable water, no sustainable food, and no sustainable healthcare..."

"What peaking does mean, in energy terms, is that once you've peaked, further growth in supply, is over... So is this issue important, I think the answer is an emphatic yes. Why does this issue evoke such controversy? Well, I think for several reasons, first of all, the term "peaking" unfortunately, does suggest a bleak future. It also suggests high future energy prices and neither are a pleasant thought. I think it is human nature, basically, to say that we really like to have pleasant thoughts. The one crying wolf is abandoned unless the wolf turns out to be already at the front door, and by then, the cry is generally too late. And crises are basically problems, by definition, that have gone ignored. And all great crises were ignored until it became too late to do anything about it..."

Simmons pointed out that five-sixths of the world barely uses any energy but that this is where demand is growing fastest. FTW reported recently that auto sales in China jumped 50% in 2002 alone. Simmons indicated that deep water oil was "the last frontier" and then made the not too cheery observation that two thirds of the exploratory wells were turning out to be dry holes. Dry holes were also becoming commonplace in the Middle East on dry land.

Natural gas appeared to be an even more pressing issue. US natural gas supply must come from the North American continent because there are too few LNG ports, tankers, or terminals, and LNG conversion results in significant energy loss. Looking at the North American picture, Simmons observed that in 1990, there was large growth in natural gas production in the US. By 2001, with record drilling, there was no increase in supply, and by 2003, production was in serious decline. These statistics are not surprising to those who have watched gas prices quadruple over the last eighteen months. And, confirming the pattern seen with oil discoveries, Simmons noted, "New Texas [gas] wells decline by eighty-three per cent one year after drilling."

Unlike oil, natural gas production tends to reach a plateau and then fall straight down a cliff because the gas moves quickly from the well until there is no more pressure and then it just stops.

Confirming that the once-hoped-for Caspian Sea oil bonanza had proved to be a major bust, Simmons noted that in 2001, twenty out of twenty-five new wells sunk in the Caspian basin had produced dry holes. That was the same year that Kazakhstan's supposed giant Kashagan field was opened but by 2002, British Petroleum and Statoil had withdrawn from it, and by 2003, the rest of the original major investors also had pulled out. [...]

Seven years for US Taliban volunteer

Tuesday 10 February 2004, 13:53 Makka Time, 10:53 GMT

A former software engineer who admitted trying to fight US troops in Afghanistan has been given a seven-year jail sentence after apologising to a court.

Al-Qaeda plot in Iraq, says USA

US officals in Iraq say they've uncovered an al Qaeda plot to stir up trouble in the country. US forces arrested a former high-level Iraqi official in Baghdad and seized a letter outlining plans to target Shiite Muslims to disrupt the transfer of power in Iraq. The US believes the document was written by Abu Musab Zarkawi, who is wanted by Washington as the alleged leader of a militant group operating in Iraq. The US says the letter confirms Iraqi insurgents are seeking help from Al Qaeda. But independent analysts have expressed their doubts about the letter's authenticity.

Islamic extremists invade U.S., join sleeper cells

By Jerry Seper
February 10, 2004

Islamic radicals are being trained at terrorist camps in Pakistan and Kashmir as part of a conspiracy to send hundreds of operatives to "sleeper cells" in the United States, according to U.S. and foreign officials.

The intelligence and law-enforcement officials say dozens of Islamic extremists have already been routed through Europe to Muslim communities in the United States, based on secret intelligence data and information from terrorists and others detained by U.S. authorities.

A high-ranking foreign intelligence chief told The Washington Times in an interview last week that this clandestine but aggressive network of training camps "represents a serious threat to the United States, one that cannot be ignored." The official said as many as 400 terrorists have been and are being trained at camps in Pakistan and Kashmir. [...]

Al Qaeda sleeper cells are believed to be operating in 40 states, according to the FBI and other federal authorities, awaiting orders and funding for new attacks in the United States. Financed in part by millions of dollars solicited by an extensive network of bogus charities and foundations, the cells use Muslim communities as cover and places to raise cash and recruit sympathizers. [...]

'Al-Qaeda plotting civil war' - US

Al-Qaeda operatives are plotting to disrupt a US power transfer to Iraqis by pitting Sunni against Shiite Muslims and plunging the country into civil war, senior US officials said.

Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations chief for the US-led coalition in Iraq, said a seized memo detailed plans to target Shiite leaders to spark a violent backlash ahead of a June 30 deadline for self-rule.

The charge came as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said a study on the possibility of staging snap polls ahead of the deadline was going "extremely well," although the mission was under pressure to work quickly.

Powell wants to end nuclear smuggling

[...] "I said to President Musharraf that we wanted to learn as much as we could about what Mr. Khan and the network was up to, and it has to be pulled up by its roots and examined to make sure that we have left nothing behind."

"He assured me that that was his objective as well, and that he would share with us all of the information that they came up with."

Powell said he also spoke to Musharraf, a key ally in the US anti-terror campaign about the pardon granted to Khan.

Anti-Cuban history repeats itself in the Grammy case: Apartheid continues

BY PEDRO DE LA HOZ—Granma daily staff writer—

IBRAHIM Ferrer; Manuel Galván; Barbarito Torres; Guillermo Rubalcaba; Moíses Hernández, conductor of the National Concert Band; the youth and veterans of the Ignacio Piñeiro Septeto Nacional, will not be in the U.S. city of Los Angeles on Sunday for the 40th Grammy Awards ceremony. For the State Department they are terrorists.

Allowing sufficient time and in line with requirements, the island’s musicians nominated for the gold disc awarded by the Academy for the Recording Arts and Science, which expressly invited them to the event, applied for entry visas to the United States.

The U.S. Interests Section in Havana has not only communicated that they have been refused visas, but that its decision is based on the Section 22 (f) migratory prerogative applied in that country to terrorists, assassins, drug traffickers and persons seen to constitute a threat to U.S. national security.

Montreal company targeted as Washington cracks down on travel to Cuba

06:18 AM EST Feb 10

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Montreal company was among 10 foreign concerns - most involved in the travel business - linked to Cuba by the Bush administration on Monday and thus forbidden from doing business in the United States.

The Treasury Department's action marks the latest development emerging from President George W. Bush's call for more stringent enforcement of provisions that forbid most travel to Cuba. Under current rules, there are exceptions that cover working journalists, relatives of Cuban citizens, providers of humanitarian aid and others.

"We're cracking down. We mean business," Treasury Secretary John Snow said in a speech to a group Cuban Americans in Miami. "We're cutting off American dollars headed to Fidel Castro, period."

The Fourth Reich

BY IGNACIO RAMONET —taken from La Voz de Galicia—

ALL modern warfare has two fronts: that of the military and that of the media. The latter, in our hyper-informed societies, is almost more important than the first. Because it moves events, suggests ideas, evokes myths, creates consciousness. And because human beings will always have an irresistible passion for symbols.

The long “war against international terrorism” that President George W. Bush has launched began with a tremendous symbolic defeat of the United States. The monstrous attacks of that September 11, 2001, translated into images (the aircraft-bombs destroying the World Trade Center) of a profound humiliation. The symbol of U.S. economic power erased by a spectacular terrorist operation.

Since then, Washington has been searching like a wounded lion for the authors of that infinite crime, but also for an media image that will cause the other one – that of the Twin Towers drowning in a chaos of dust, blood and terror – to be forgotten.

With that purpose Donald Rumsfeld has created in the Pentagon a communications cell specialized in the production of scenes whose purpose is to cause an impact favorable to the United States on public opinion. Its members were the ones who had the idea last March of incorporating journalists “embedded” in the heart of the invasion forces.

Later, when the invaders conquered Baghdad, they came up with idea of felling the giant statue of Saddam Hussein. They also dreamt up the big fraud of soldier Jessica Lynch. Lastly, they staged the announcement of the end of hostilities by President Bush, dressed as a “Top Gun”-style war pilot, on board an aircraft carrier and making the triumphant affirmation: “Mission accomplished.”

But none of those scenes had the symbolic force that was sought. And, in addition, since the resistance has intensified, the counter-images of helicopters shot down and despondent soldiers has brought into doubt the effectiveness of the official propaganda.

That is why a total image was sought after, and bets were placed on that of a captured Saddam Hussein. Foreseeing this, the Pentagon studied the best way of announcing the ex-dictator’s detention. They did not wish to repeat the error committed at the time of the death of Saddam’s sons.

The Pentagon drafted an internal document, High value target nº 1, analyzing the best way of making known the eventual arrest of Saddam. Ex-journalist Gary Thatcher was named to direct that announcement. He contemplated two possibilities: Saddam dead or Saddam alive. In the first case, a DNA identification would be done immediately and in Baghdad. In any case, the announcement should be made by an Iraqi.

In order not to make Saddam a martyr, the preferable option was to trap him alive. To do that, once his hideout was precisely located, gas was fed to him through an air vent system, stunning him and preventing him from using his weapon in defense or to kill himself. Later, Gary Thatcher, with particular care, envisaged the placing of images to be circulated throughout the world.

Saddam was filmed, amateur video-style, without sound, through an invisible mirror. The contrast was accentuated between the ex-dictator – heavily bearded, disheveled, dressed in black – and the white, clinical background, with a bald, lightly bearded doctor wearing a light-colored shirt. The latter looms over the former and manipulates him, delouses him and inspects his mouth wearing white rubber gloves.

In addition to being humiliating – and contrary to what is established in the Geneva Convention – this vision of a surrendered, docile, vulnerable Saddam, with the look of an erratic, lice-ridden vagabond (not a warlord), and being examined like a passive patient, was aimed at Iraqi and Arab public opinion. It is the image that kills the thousands of narcissistic images that the ex-dictator, in his delirious cult of personality, had exhibited in the public spaces of Iraq.

But it is one thing to destroy a symbol of tyranny, and another to end the resistance.

UK 'puzzled' by SA's attitude to Zim

Britain was perplexed by the South Africa government's attitude towards Zimbabwe, senior British parliamentarian Donald Anderson said on Tuesday.

"We are puzzled by the South African government's attitude to Zimbabwe because South Africa is such a successful model of transition," he told reporters.

"We thought South Africa would be in the leading role on human rights," he said, commenting on South Africa's policy of "quiet diplomacy" as a means of dealing with human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Editors unite over Zimbabwe's harsh media law

[...] Sanef said it views the judgement as placing Zimbabwean journalists under direct control of the government, which effectively spells the deathknell of independent journalism in Zimbabwe. This view is also held by numerous international organisations which have also protested against the judgement.

New Technology Brings Hope to Africa's Deserts

[...] "This technology is ideal and working. I have tested it in the Sahel region, Senegal, Niger, Togo and Cape Verde among others," says the don. He adds: "It is demeaning to lose human life through hunger and poverty in the modern world."

Farmers can now warm up to this good news. Referred to as Terracottem, the product, which was born out of an idea of how diapers-technology suspends urine when a child is wrapped in it, will change the whole concept of aridity in relation to agriculture as it will create a new 'Garden of Eden', full of lush green plants and crops, out of the deserts of Kalahari, Sahara, Sierra-Nevada, or the desiccated lands of Egypt, Middle-East and Arabian Peninsula.

Bush Budget Undermines Aids Fight - Africa Action

[...] In his 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush had promised $3 billion per year on an emergency basis to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. Salih Booker, Executive Director of Africa Action, is reported as saying that, "Bush's budget request reveals the misplaced priorities of the current Administration.

AIDS represents the greatest threat to human security in the world today, but while the President requested more than $400 billion for military defense, he asked for less than 1% of this amount to fight the deadly global threat of HIV/AIDS."

ANC to answer questions on Saddam

The Democratic Alliance on Sunday asked whether the government's opposition to the Anglo-US invasion of Iraq last year was really out of concern for the future of the United Nations and a multilateral world system — or whether funding for the governing party played a role.

Reacting to an article in Friday's Mail & Guardian newspaper, DA spokesperson Raenette Taljaard asked whether South Africa's position was based on sound considerations or "whether a crude form of oil-for-diplomatic support and possible financial benefit for the ruling party trumped all other considerations".

The DA also called on Zuma to answer parliamentary questions it had submitted on the issue and said those mentioned in the list of 270 companies, individuals and governments that allegedly received oil allocations from Saddam Hussein's regime had to co-operate with the investigation of the matter announced by the Iraqi Governing Council.

"These allegations have raised serious questions about South Africa's foreign policy towards the former Hussein-regime and the motivations behind the high profile visits of Tariq Aziz, former foreign minister of Iraq, to South Africa in July 2002, and the return visit by deputy foreign affairs minister Aziz Pahad to Saddam Hussein's Iraq in September 2002," Taljaard said.

"Minister Zuma owes South Africa and the world answers... South Africa's foreign policy cannot and must never be seen to be for sale to the highest bidder.

Businessman flees Ross hotel after terror in the night

'Mr Tan came across as a most sincere person. He was genuinely terrified by what happened. .

Comment: A great ghost story - almost cinematic. Since this story has been circulating, business in the hotel has been booming.

Disclosure and the End of History

Why the cover-up of extraterrestrial visitation? Could there be a more valid reason than fear and greed among the powers that be? Has popular entertainment been used to prepare us?

Comment: A good article that asks some good questions, even if it begins by talking about Dr. Steven Greer of the Disclosure Project. From our research, Greer's work appears to be yet another COINTELPRO style campaign. Which is not to say that some useful information can't be separated from the disinfo... For an interesting perspective on Greer, read Dr. Jean-Pierre Petit's commentary: Disclosure: Anatomie d'une Désinformation. (In French and English)

More than 30 years on - is this our greatest UFO mystery?

Presenter: Cherie Beach
Researcher: Fiona Churchman
Tuesday, 10 February  2004 

It was one of those ads you couldn't help noticing as you curled up on the couch and read Darwin's Saturday paper.

It read - In 1972, I saw a UFO at 5am over Darwin airport with 3 other gentlemen. After 31 years I would like to make contact again with the other witnesses. Two were security guards from Darwin airport, the other was 'Fred' whose father was the caretaker at the Darwin German Club. Please contact me...

What UFO? And was this a windup - or was the person who placed the ad serious?

That person is Rodney Jarvis who is writing a book about his strange experiences in Northern Australia and wants to include the story of the night he saw a UFO.

He realises the chances of contacting the other witnesses are slim.

"After more than 30 years, ever since I witnessed this UFO I guess every single week I've thought about it and I just thought well I'll give it a shot, perhaps out of the three other witnesses, one of them or someone who knows one of them might like to contact me just so we can compare our recollections of what actually happened," he said.

Rodney says he was at Darwin airport on that fateful night, sleeping in the car because he was waiting to catch an early flight and at 4.45 in the morning he woke up and looked out the window.

"I saw a very large orange light moving very slowly just above the tops of the houses that I could see in silhouette and as I was watching it the first thing I thought of was a helicopter.

"As it moved across to the left it immediately stopped and reversed back in the opposite direction and I thought well, a helicopter can't manouvre that quickly," he says.

That's when Rodney decided to wake his mate Fred, to show him what was happening.

"He was not sure what it was, we both got out of the car and he was absolutely terrified of it right from the start and as we watched it it continued to zigzag towards us," says Rodney.

"As it came over us it was climbing in altitude and as it passed over the top of us I put my hand in through the open window and flashed the car lights once, and it stopped, immediately above us."

Rodney says he felt then that this was a chance not in a lifetime but in two or three hundred lifetimes to see something like this and he wanted desperately whoever or whatever it was.

"Fred had the opposite reaction, when it stopped, he ran in panic and hid underneath the eaves of a building and he was screaming out get out of there you maniac, you don't know what that is get away.

"And I was thinking I just want to contact this craft or UFO or whatever it was".

AFter about 15 minutes, Rodney says two airport security guards came over to find out why they were flashing car lights at five in the morning, and he says they witnessed the UFO heading straight into the air and over the horizon.

Rodney is sticking to his story and is determined to find those who can back him up. [...]

Comment: Link has audio file of interview with the witness.

Prince George British Columbia Lights

From Brian Vike, Director
HBCC UFO Research

Hi Jeff,

I thought I would send this report along to you. The reason why I thought it important is because I would like people who read the information below to know that we who investigate UFO sightings are looking for the truth and trying to solve cases that come into us. Know matter what the outcome is. Dozens of witnesses in Prince George, British Columbia observed this event I discuss below. Only a very few actually saw what was causing the lights...

On this day in 1951

The Bethune Flight 124 had a near miss with a UFO:

[...] I went back to the cockpit and advised Jones and Kingdon to keep quiet about  what we observed because it might have been our first sighting of a flying  saucer.  During those years when you claimed such a sighting, you were  presumed crazy.  Lieutenant Jones told me it was too late. He had just  reported the object on the radio to Air Traffic Control in Newfoundland, and asked if the object could be tracked by radar. He received no reply to that question, but was told years later that they had seen it on radar. [...] [Sources: The Bethune Flight 124 air miss of 1951 and Bethune Case Update]

Some professors like to communicate with students—others, with aliens.

Physics and Electrical Engineering Professor Paul Horowitz ’65 says he’s convinced that communicating with extraterrestrial life will soon be within scientists’ reach.

Horowitz, who has taught physics at Harvard since 1974, is a leading figure in the official Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI)—a national project devoted to identifying intelligent life outside our galaxy, with hubs at Harvard and Princeton. [...]

Comment: Is SETI just a cover story? Read UFOs and the National Security State Volume One: 1941 to 1973 by Richard M. Dolan and note the thousands of official investigations made by the US government. It is obvious that someone in the US government already knows something is going on, and they probably have a pretty idea just what that something is.

Mysterious Object Floats Away From International Space Station

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. -- In orbit, you don't want to hear someone say, "What was that?!"

Two survive UAE plane crash

A child and another person were the only survivors among some 40 passengers aboard an Iranian aircraft that crashed and burst into flames on Tuesday in the emirate of Sharjah, state television reported.

"Officals said there were about 40 passengers on the plane and that one child and another passenger survived but they are in critical condition," the news bulletin presenter said over pictures of smouldering wreckage of the Kish Airlines plane.

Several dead bodies were shown in dramatic footage of the burning fuselage. One crumpled body lay several yards from the wreck, another lay broken amid smashed seats.

Enraged Egyptian man stabs tourists

Cairo - An Egyptian man who said he was enraged at events in the Middle East stabbed two tourists, an Australian and a Norwegian, in Cairo's historic district on Sunday evening, security sources said on Monday.

The tourists, both men, were taken to hospital and a Norwegian embassy official said their condition was not serious. The tourists were in a group of four strolling in the Ghawriya district of the old city when the man attacked them with a knife, stabbing the Australian in the leg and the Norwegian in the back.

Net sex abuse growing - charity

[...] Internet message boards and chat rooms are being used to sell children for sex, the charity reported.

"These internet sites also say 'how good a purchase' the child is by rating them from one to ten," it added.

Paedophiles are also being informed when and where they can watch a child being abused live online.

"The payment for this activity may involve money but it may take the form of bartering - for example with images or drugs," the report said.

"Evidence is emerging that children, sometimes very young, are being abused in this way by people well known to them - family members, friends of the family and trusted adults such as teachers or youth leaders."

Elders tell HIV man to have sex with virgin

Isiolo - Men in the arid, remote Kenyan town of Isiolo have long had sex with young virgins to purge themselves of afflictions or curses.

Now the age-old custom practised by the nomadic peoples of Kenya's north-eastern province is increasingly being used as a "cure" for HIV and Aids.

Nassir hesitantly admits he slept with a nine-year-old girl because the clan elders in Isiolo, 200km north-east of Nairobi, said it would rid him of frequent bouts of illness brought on by HIV.

Trees marry to appease Indian rain god

Hundreds of people have attended a wedding between two trees in hopes of pleasing the god of rain, United News of India reported on Monday.

To the chanting of Hindu hymns a cleric tied a knot on a neem tree, which was the bride, to solemnise its eternal union with a peepul tree, the news agency said.

The guests, who included a local legislator of India's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, were all invited for a feast after the wedding in a village near the former French colony Pondicherry.

Father pushes five young daughters off bridge

New Delhi - A poverty-stricken villager pushed five of his daughters off a bridge into the swirling waters of the Naramada river in the western Indian state of Gujarat, police said on Friday.

[...] Hussain was on the run while his distraught wife told the police her husband "was fed up with life" as the family could not make ends meet. - Sapa-AFP

Listen up, y'all dirty Infidels in da house

Dubai - Al-Qaeda's newest weapon against the West is a violent English-language rap tune urging young Muslims to wage holy war.

The song is being broadcast on the Internet in an attempt to recruit music-loving youth for the terror network, which is blamed for the September 11 attacks on American cities and other bombings around the world.

Titled Dirty Kuffar or Dirty Infidels, the song is performed by a London group which Islamists said was deeply sympathetic to Osama bin Laden's network.

'I smuggled drugs to help people'

[...] De Bruin said the only thing he was guilty of was trying to help fellow white Africans to start a new life in New Zealand by helping them to get their assets out of South Africa.

[...] At his trial, De Bruin had maintained that the cash he paid for his Glendowie, Auckland, home and notes which police found there, came from the sale of property in Zimbabwe and the "spoils of war" from his time gun-running for the minority white Southern Rhodesia government of Ian Smith.

FF+ bemoans Afrikaans name changes

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder has bemoaned in Parliament the tendency to change Afrikaans names for towns and cities — but colonial English names remain in place.

[...] Pietersburg and Pretoria were named after Afrikaner heroes.

"These names must now be changed, causing anger in Afrikaans circles. Towns named after British colonial figures, like Durban, Kimberley, Queenstown, King Williamstown, are not targeted.

"These British figures came to South Africa, did their damage and left.

"Are we struggling against a new colonial power?" he asked the ruling African National Congress.

Farmer 'feeds troublesome worker to lion'

Police have arrested a Limpopo game farmer and three alleged accomplices after they allegedly fed a "troublesome" worker to lions.

The unnamed men were arrested on Monday at the Engedi game farm near Hoedspruit after recovering 38-year-old Nelson Shisane's skull, part of his legs and bloodied clothing from the scene.

Journal rejects article after objections from marketing department

British Medical Journal
Owen Dyer

A leading nephrology journal has rejected a guest editorial questioning the efficacy of epoetin in end stage renal disease, despite favourable peer reviews, apparently because it feared losing advertising. In a letter to the author of the proposed editorial, the executive editor of the California based journal Transplantation and Dialysis said he had been "overruled by our marketing department." [...]

Comment: Understand that those that seek power and wealth are likely to be corrupted by it. Vast and disproportionate amounts of wealth, and therefore power, cannot be accrued by a small group without a negative fallout for the remaining masses. This is the state of play on our planet at present. To be aware of the truth of this is the first and best step to protecting oneself from those that would sacrifice our well-being in order to benefit themselves.

Flashback: Drugmakers' gifts to doctors finally get needed scrutiny


Christmas trees. Free tickets to a Washington Redskins game, with a champagne reception thrown in. A family vacation in Hawaii. And wads of cash. Such gifts would trigger a big red "bribery" alert in the mind of just about any public official or government contractor. But not, it seems, in the minds of many doctors. They have been raking in jaw-dropping gifts from pharmaceutical firms battling to give their products an edge in an increasingly competitive market.

Bad enough that the practice taints the independence of doctors who are supposed to advocate for patients, not drug companies. But the "marketing" costs are built into skyrocketing drug prices, which have risen more than 15% a year on average since 1999. Those who pay for prescription drugs ultimately foot the generous inducements, including patients, employers and taxpayers, who spend $30 billion for drugs through Medicare and Medicaid. [...]

The need for change is great. An April survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit health-research group, estimated that pharmaceutical companies spent $13.2 billion last year on promotional activities for doctors, more than $15,000 per physician. The survey found that 61% of physicians had received free meals, travel or tickets to events from pharmaceutical salespeople, 13% had accepted money, and 12% had been paid to participate in drug trials. [...]

Flashback: Revealed: how drug firms 'hoodwink' medical journals

Pharmaceutical giants hire ghostwriters to produce articles - then put doctors' names on them [...]

Flashback: Glaxosmithkline chief: Our drugs do not work on most patients

08 December 2003

A senior executive with Britain's biggest drugs company has admitted that most prescription medicines do not work on most people who take them.

Woman participating in Lilly trial hangs self

By J.K. Wall and John Tuohy
February 9, 2004

A toxicology test will determine whether narcotics played a role in the suicide of a 19-year-old woman who was participating in clinical trials for a new drug that Eli Lilly and Co. hopes to launch this year.

Traci Johnson, Bensalem, Pa., hanged herself Saturday night in the Lilly Laboratory for Clinical Research by tying a scarf to a bathroom shower rod, according to the Indianapolis Police Department. [...]

Lilly said Monday it does not believe the drug, duloxetine, was related to the death of Johnson, who was a former student at Indiana Bible College. Toxicology test results are expected in about a month.

Duloxetine is key to future business prospects of Lilly. It is the main ingredient in Cymbalta, an anti-depressant drug, and in a stress urinary incontinence treatment, both of which are moving toward final approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. [...]

Teacher shot at Columbia High School, New York

2/9/2004 10:59 AM
By: Capital News 9 web staff

There's a developing situation at Columbia High School in East Greenbush. That school is on lockdown at this hour.

It appears a student opened fire and shot a teacher. Our reporter, Deborah Garcia, was at the school on an unrelated story when the shots were fired. She was told the suspect -- possibly a junior at the high school -- is in police custody. [...]

Man injured on way to collect safe driving award

13:38 Tuesday 10th February 2004

A US truck driver has been injured in a crash on his way to collect a safe driving award in Montana.

Raymond Mattes had to be presented with his million-mile accolade while lying in a hospital bed. [...]

It's the second time Mattes has been honoured for driving a million miles without an accident in 18 years, says the Missoulian News Online.

Warm approval for a cold end

From AP
February 10, 2004

STOCKHOLM: Rather than bury or burn bodies after death, a Swedish company has come up with a chilling alternative – freezing them in liquid nitrogen, then using soundwaves to smash the brittle remains into a powder.

Concerns about the environmental impact of cremation, where a body is incinerated at high temperature, and burial, in which a body can take many years to decompose, has led Swedish firm Promessa Organic AB to the new solution.

The process involves flash-freezing bodies to – 18C, then dipping them in liquid nitrogen with a temperature of -196C. The bodies, extracted from the super-cold solution, are brittle as glass and broken down with bursts of sound to leave a powder substance.

From there, all water is removed in a vacuum chamber before the remains are moved through a metal screen that filters away any precious metals in fillings or remnants of pacemakers and other implants that may have survived the freezing process.

"The method is based upon preserving the body in a biological form after death, while avoiding harmful embalming fluid," said Susanne Wiigh-Maesak, a biologist and head of operations at Promessa, based in Goteborg, 475km southwest of Stockholm.

She said the authorities in nearby Joenkoeping were ready to start operating its first freeze-drying facility in the next couple of years. She has also applied for a patent for the process in 35 countries.

The remains, she said, could be then cremated or buried in a coffin crafted from corn starch. The small casket could be placed in a shallow grave - about 30cm deep - where oxygen and bacteria would take about a year to break them down and return them to the soil.

"On top of the grave you can set a plant, that is taking advantage of the nutrients in the 'compost'," Wiigh-Maesak said, adding that she herself would very much like to become a white rhododendron.

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