Today's conditions brought to you by the Bush Junta - marionettes of their hyperdimensional puppet masters - Produced and Directed by the CIA, based on an original script by Henry Kissinger, with a cast of billions.... The "Greatest Shew on Earth," no doubt, and if you don't have a good sense of humor, don't read this page! It is designed to reveal the "unseen."
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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

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Life is Fun! Part 2

We received the following from a reader:

What is all of this supposed to mean -- anyway? It doesn't seem as though anyone is doing an uprising, Nor, does it seem that anyone in positions of power are trying to disseminate the "other truth" to the masses. What are people to do once they know the "truth"? I feel I'm on the verge of piecing together something - I don't know what. Yet, I don't understand what we (the people) are to do with the other possible truth. Are we to spread the news as though we are privy to some conspiracy theory? Are we to form groups and start a revolution? What in the hell are we to do?

What are we to do? We will return to this question below.

We have been discussing suffering recently. We focused on the "normal" forms of suffering that we are likely to encounter in our lives from our interactions with others, and what we can do to become aware of our habits and programming in order to learn from this suffering, to learn how to avoid those situations where we are apt to fall into our patterns, and how to recognise the programs when they begin to run.

There exist, however, causes of suffering that seem to be outside of our control: we think of war, for example, or natural disasters such as the recent quake that destroyed the Iranian city of Bam. How does one deal with suffering of this nature? It seems somehow callous and cruel to assign it to karma, or to try and explain it away by saying that the victims chose this or that life lesson. Maybe on some level this is true. We don't know. But it also seems to be true that individuals who understand that Knowledge Protects have more options available to them than those who do not.

In our world, material needs are primary. Our basic drives are sex, food, and fear, the common denominators that we must master to maintain our physical existence. Without food, we starve; without sex, the species dies; fear holds us in the grip of the other two, keeping us preoccupied with our material needs. We are imprisoned within the answers given to us by our education, by the media, and by those around us, that there is no other way to live, no understanding possible of our lot in life.

This received view on our existence would appear to be reinforced by the constatation that "Life is suffering." We are to learn to accept it, deal with it, and make do.

However, as we discussed, we can learn to recognize the patterns and programming that give rise to our suffering. Although we cannot end suffering as new causes will continually arise, we can use it to free ourselves step by step from these programs. But how do we learn to free ourselves from those events over which we seem not to have any control, such as war and natural disasters?

Tragedies such as the earthquake in Bam or war and famine are an integral component of the world. That is the way it is. As obvious as it may seem to those of you who read this page, how many will actually understand what this means?

We say that Knowledge Protects, but knowledge that is not applied is of little value. How can our knowledge be applied to the large scale dramas around us such as the invasion and occupation of Iraq or the earthquake at Bam?

First, one must admit that there can only be individual solutions. Knowledge is individual. Each of us must integrate what we learn for ourselves. No matter the systems, philosophies, or religions that Man has created to improve the world, we have been unable to lift ourselves as a group or species above our animal nature. Why? Because this knowledge or awareness cannot be imposed.

This is not surprising. Life is suffering. It is difficult enough for us as individuals, who are aware of this, to overcome the programming within us that leads to suffering in our relationships with those around us. How then can we hope to save everyone, everywhere, all the time, from war or natural disasters? That is what it means when we speak of the terror of the situation.

Individuals must save themselves.

How does one save oneself? The first step is to learn to read the signs, to acquire knowledge and to act upon that knowledge, to apply it.

In many countries, it is an unfortunate fact that women who are out alone at night are taking a risk. Women who ignore this know that they may well pay the price. It is also an unfortunate fact that the Earth has fault lines where earthquakes are more likely to happen than elsewhere. Let us imagine one such place. We will call it Fredonia. Fredonia is a populous country with a long border on the ocean. Running the length of Fredonia is a major fault line. For years the experts have been saying that at an undetermined point in the future, Fredonia will be subjected to a destructive earthquake because of the growing pressure on the fault. Just as there are women who go out at night alone putting themselves at risk, fully aware of the danger they are facing, there are millions of Fredonians who know that another catastrophic earthquake in their own backyard is just a matter of time. No one knows when it will strike; no one knows exactly where on the fault line the damage will be the worst. Yet these Fredonians accept living under this threat, and not one of them can claim ignorance. It is the lack of precision in the forecast coupled with wishful thinking that keeps them there. They don't believe it will happen in their lifetimes, to them.

No one expects that the entire state, or at least those regions adjoining the faults, will be emptied by a collective decision to move out of the range of danger.

There are, however, individuals who do leave and other individuals who refuse to consider Fredonia as as place of residence because of this threat.

The people who stay cannot claim ignorance. They cannot claim they didn't know or that the government didn't put a large label at the airports or on the highways warning them of the dangers before they moved in. This danger has been discussed for years, movies have been made about it, jokes on TV, and smaller quakes have already hit the area. Those who remain are asking for trouble and are playing a high risk game of chicken. At the Signs page, we don't think the odds of playing chicken with an earthquake are worth the risk. Others do.

People who live in Florida know about the risks of hurricanes. People who live near a volcano or under a large dam are not oblivious to the threat. People who live on the banks of rivers know that rivers can flood. These people all make a choice, then bury the reality under the dramas of their daily lives. "It won't happen to me."

One might argue that people living in these places can't move because they have jobs, family, or other attachments to these places. In that case, they are simply accepting the risk. They are still choosing to stay, putting the importance of family, job, pleasant weather, or whatever else over the need to protect themselves against such "Acts of God."

"But what of the people of Bam?" you might ask. "It is one thing for those called Fredonians to choose to stay in Fredonia, but you can't expect the people of Bam to move."

Why not? What makes them different? It is known that there is a fault line running through Bam. Do you think they are less intelligent than others? Should we apply a different measure to this question for them because they are Iranian and not American? Why? We have already indicated that there are only individual solutions to this problem. It is clear that not all people of Bam will think the danger of an earthquake is worth the effort of pulling up and moving. But individuals can, and do, make this choice. We are certain that people have been moving in and out of Bam for years, since before the New World was discovered by the Europeans who put down their roots there. Isn't the existence of a fault line a reason to consider?

What about war, then? Surely this is something that people have no say in? What about the Iraqis who are suffering now under the boot of the US occupation?

As cold and heartless as this may sound, the war in Iraq was no surprise. Bush was clear for many months prior to the invasion that he would stop at nothing to get his hands on Iraq, their oil, and the man who tried to kill his Daddy. We have already said that mass solutions are not possible -- that is, we will not eradicate war from the human condition. Yes, it was important to march against Bush, to raise our voices against this barbarism, but who believed we would actually stop it? Who believed the Iraqi people would rise up and overthrow Saddam? And if they had, would this have stopped Bush? If it had stopped Bush, would it have avoided great bloodshed inside Iraq as different individuals and communities used the chaos of an insurrection to settle long-standing accounts that might have had nothing whatsoever to do with Saddam?

And if all of this had happened, would it have stopped the next war?

Life is suffering.

Here, too, we look at individual solutions.

Then we must ask, did individual solutions exist in Iraq? Could individuals who saw what was coming have left? Yes. Leaving might have been costly and painful, and might have been paid for with everything one owned and loved, but people have always found ways to flee from the violence of war. Some are able to see in further in advance, some wait for the sounds of the canons and bombs, others until their homes and livelihoods are destroyed.

This may seem cruel to some of our readers. We are not, of course, condoning the violence and destruction. We are simply trying to see things as they are. Only then can you see what options are open to you.

We think, because we have experienced this ourselves, that when you become committed to a path, truly committed to the depths of your being, doors appear that were not available before.

The commitment seems to work as a magnetic force to attract the necessary solution.

However, if you are waiting for someone else to save you, waiting for others to make you safe, rather than doing the utmost within your own power to act responsibly for yourself, you will remain the victim of these forces. You will not be looking for your individual solution. You will have reduced your options to that of facing what others or nature itself choose for you.

We must also understand that even if we are looking for solutions, the solution will most likely present itself in a way one has not imagined, at a time one does not expect. This is why we must keep ourselves open to possibilities, open to many different options. This is related to what we have discussed about living with an open mind in a limitless universe. Those who deny that such solutions are possible will be incapable of seeing them if they appear. Also, if we are fixed upon particular solutions, we will not recognize the solution that doesn't meet our expectations, the solution we didn't anticipate.

Anticipation cuts us off from options, blinds us to solutions that may appear.

The solutions will not happen on their own. One cannot sit around expecting them to just happen. One must apply small amounts of pressure each day, perhaps one day in one direction, the next in another direction, always watching carefully to see where movement is possible. This is part of learning to read the Signs. The Signs are there globally; the Signs are there in each of our individual lives.

There is yet another cause of suffering we have not discussed, a level beyond the individual and beyond that of wars and natural disasters. It is a level that we may have an intuition about, about which we may have discerned certain clues indicating its existence, but it is a level that we do not know as yet have Knowledge about. We do not yet know the truth about it and how it affects us. We lack data.

It relates to the comment and question we received cited above, so let us look more closely at our reader's questions:

What is all of this supposed to mean -- anyway? It doesn't seem as though anyone is doing an uprising, Nor, does it seem that anyone in positions of power are trying to disseminate the "other truth" to the masses. What are people to do once they know the "truth"?

We think that once we really KNOW the truth, the "what to do?" will have a clear answer. We do not yet have this answer, therefore we must continue working to KNOW the truth, accumulating data, and changing our own level of BEing to be able to see answers we cannot yet make out..

I feel I'm on the verge of piecing together something - I don't know what.

Being on the verge of piecing something is not enough. The particular piecing, without the complete knowledge, can be a wrong piecing. Or it can be a piercing that permits to see the next step, but no further.

Yet, I don't understand what we (the people) are to do with the other possible truth.

It is quite possible that even with our deeper understanding, we are still very far from the real truth. It is only by a joint effort and networking that we can come closer to accessing this truth - then it will be clear what to do.

Are we to spread the news as though we are privy to some conspiracy theory?

Our theories are not yet deep enough. We need more data.

Are we to form groups and start a revolution?

It would be bound to fail.

What in the hell are we to do?

Get to the roots and understand them. This is a group effort. No individual can find these answers alone. In working on ourselves, we change, and our change will change our relations with others. In working together, from the ground up, we learn new ways of working, sharing, and helping each other, creating an expanding network of co-linear individuals, that is, individuals who are moving in the same direction, towards the same goal. In a non-linear universe, these small, individual changes can lead to quantum leaps in knowledge and awareness for the group.

The place to begin is with yourself and your own knowledge of the world. The next step is to begin to share and network with others who are posing the same questions, looking for the same answers. Liberate yourself, don't try to liberate others. You'll see how difficult it is. But if you are truly working to liberate yourself, you will see doors opening that will lead you to others pursuing the same work. By sharing experiences with co-linear individuals, we can learn from others and allow others to help themselves.

Bush's Endgame
A Review of "The Sorrows of Empire"

February 17, 2004

If you listen to the Bush Ministry of Disinformation, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly -- and millions of Americans do, every day -- you get the impression people opposed to Bush's plan for endless war are Marxist nutbars and shrill hate-America malcontents.

Sure, some of them are Marxists. But most of them are normal people. In fact, some of them are even former CIA consultants.

Like Chalmers Johnson.

Johnson thought antiwar demonstrators during the Vietnam were naive. He voted for Ronald Reagan. In retrospect, Johnson told John Wilkens of the San Diego Union-Tribune, he was "a spear carrier for the empire."

"If you have a little money, I'd prepare your escape route," Johnson says. "You might want to go up to Vancouver and buy yourself a condo."

I thought about this last year. In fact, I was looking at Vancouver. But I don't have the money for a condo and, besides, I think America is worth sticking around and fighting for. But the way things are going it may be a lost battle.

Chalmers makes it sound bleak.

"I fear that we will lose our country," Johnson writes in his latest book, "The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic."

Bush and the Pentagon are bankrupting the nation, dismantling the Constitution, and leading us down the path to endless war. America is afflicted with the same "economic sclerosis of the former USSR," Chalmers explains in a ZNet interview. But at least Mikhail Gorbachev tried to reform the Soviet Union before it imploded. No such luck with Bush and the neocons. "The United States is not even trying to reform, but it is certain that vested interests here would be as great or greater an obstacle. It is nowhere written that the United States, in its guise as an empire dominating the world, must go on forever. The blowback from the second half of the twentieth century has only just begun."

It's not a good sign when former Generals begin casually speculating on the demise of the Constitution and the imposition of martial law, as Tommy Franks did a while ago.

"I fear that [after 9/11] we are going to get even more militarism," Johnson told Jeff Shaw of In These Times magazine. "That is, more and more functions -- including domestic police functions -- will be transferred from civilian institutions to the military, and the military will have ever greater authority in our society. We know how that will end. We're talking here about imperial overstretch, and the weaknesses of the imperial structure that will ultimately lead to a collapse... If this attack is an attack on our foreign policy, as I believe it is, we should be looking much harder at what our foreign policy is. If the United States is now going to go out and bomb some innocent people in Afghanistan who have already gone through two decades of living hell -- most of it sponsored by our government and that of the other erstwhile superpower, the former Soviet Union. Then you must say, we deserve what we're going to get."

Since there is no way to fight against the enormous military power and technology of the United States, adversaries will increasingly resort to asymmetric warfare, what Bush and the neocons call terrorism. Realizing they have no choice, Iran and North Korea are attempting to build nukes. It may be the only way they can prevent the United States from invading. Or it may give the US an excuse to bomb those countries in "preemptive" fashion, as the neocons like to call it.

Sooner or later somebody will light the Big Candle -- and that will be the end of life as we know it.

"The only hope for the planet is the isolation and neutralization of the United States by the international community," Chalmers explains. "Policies to do so are underway in every democratic country on earth in quiet, unobtrusive ways. If the United States is not checkmated and nuclear war ensues, civilization as we know it will disappear and the United States will go into the history books along with the Huns and the Nazis as a scourge of human life itself."

Johnson explained the "sorrows" mentioned in his latest book in an interview with Steve Dalforno of Z magazine last November.

"I think four sorrows inevitably accompany our current path. First is endless war... As it stands right now, since 9/11, Articles 4 and 6 of the Bill of Rights are dead letters. They are over... Second, imperial overstretch... The third thing is a tremendous rise in lying and deceit... The difficulty to believe anything that the government says any longer because they are now systematically lying to us on almost every issue. The fourth is bankruptcy. Attempting to dominate the world militarily is a very expensive proposition... The United States, for the last 15 years, has had trade deficits running at 5 percent every year. We are on the edge. If the rest of the world decides not to cooperate with us or just the rich people of East Asia decide the Euro is a better currency to put their money in than the dollar, we become a junkyard almost at once. The stock exchange would collapse and we would have a howling recession. All four of those things are likely to prevail... [The United States suffers from an] inability to reform. I think it is quite easy to imagine the defeat of George Bush as president. I do not find it easy at all that any successor to George Bush would make any difference... That leads me to the conclusion that we are probably going to reap what we have sown. That is blowback."

That is scary.

John Kerry or Howard Dean or whatever vanilla flavor of Republican Lite the Democrats throw out there will not make a lick of difference. Don't waste your time voting for them.

Boycott the elections. Go in the street on March 20th. Make a stink. Bang pots like the poor outside the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, when the CIA attempted to overthrow Hugo Chavez. Let them know you're pissed.

Or buy a condo in Canada.

And hope the wind is blowing in the right direction on the day Bush launches the nukes.

Bush Tries to Boost Troop Morale in La.

By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent
Tue Feb 17, 6:37 PM ET

FORT POLK, La. - Snapping a sharp salute before cheering soldiers, President Bush put his credentials as wartime commander in chief on display Tuesday against suggestions he ducked his military duty as a child of privilege during the Vietnam War.

Cheers of "USA, USA" and enthusiastic applause greeted Bush as he took an outdoor stage at this military base that has trained and deployed more than 10,000 troops to Iraq and Afghanistan since America was struck by terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"My resolve is the same as it was on the day when I walked in the rubble of the twin towers," Bush said. "I will not relent until this threat to America is removed. And neither will you."

Bush's appearance provided a TV-ready opportunity to emphasize his national security responsibilities and leadership of the war against terror, a role the White House wants to emphasize with voters as he heads into a re-election battle. [...]

Comment: We have included numerous articles on the Signs page regarding Bush's cutting of benefits for both current soldiers and veterans. Perhaps a more appropriate title for this article would be, "Another Bush Photo Op in Louisiana".

Prosecutor in Terror Case Sues Ashcroft

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department has exaggerated its performance in the war on terrorism, interfered with a major terror prosecution and compromised a confidential informant, a federal prosecutor has alleged in an extraordinary lawsuit against Attorney General John Ashcroft.

The lawsuit by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino is the latest twist in the Bush administration's first major post-Sept. 11 terrorism prosecution, a Detroit case jeopardized over allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.

Convertino was the lead prosecutor on the case, in which the government did not provide defense attorneys a letter alleging that a prosecution witness lied until long after a trial had ended.

In his lawsuit, Convertino says the Justice Department is retaliating against him because he has complained frequently and publicly about "the lack of support and cooperation, lack of effective assistance, lack of resources and intradepartmental infighting" in terrorism cases.

"These concerns directly related to the ability of the United States to effectively utilize the criminal justice system as a component in the `war on terrorism,'" says his lawsuit filed in federal court.

According to the suit, a senior official in the Justice Department's terrorism and violent crimes section informed Convertino that news reports concerning the department's anti-terror efforts were not accurate and that the "press gives us more credit than we deserve." The lawsuit alleges "gross mismanagement" in the terrorism and violent crimes section.

Convertino says he complained repeatedly to the Justice Department in Washington that it placed "perception" over "reality" to the serious detriment of the war on terror.

He is seeking unspecified damages under the Privacy Act for harm to his reputation.

Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo declined to comment.

Convertino came under internal Justice Department investigation last fall after telling a Senate committee of his concerns.

"Whistleblowers put a lot on the line to protect the public," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Tuesday. "They deserve strong protections against intimidation, harassment, demotion or even dismissal for doing the right thing." [...]

Comment: The Bush Regime was not interested in stopping 9/11, they have been deliberatly inciting a rise in Islamic Fundamentalism with a pointless crusade, they have looked the other way in regards to Israeli spy rings, and they are continually threatening war with countries that have little means to defend themselves. The Bush Regime is not interested in hindering terrorism, but in increasing terrorism.

Outlawing dissent

Spying on peace meetings, cracking down on protesters, keeping secret files on innocent people -- how Bush's war on terror has become a war on freedom.

By Michelle Goldberg

[...] "What we're seeing is something much larger in scale and danger than anything that occurred in the 1950s and 1960s," he says. "That's because of computers. Now, instead of having these agencies working in semi-isolation or occasional cooperation, there's the equivalent of the great Alaska pipeline running between them, and the information flows in both directions. In addition, in the 1950s or '60s, it took weeks of pavement pounding and doorknobbing for the FBI or police or military to collect personal information about people, the kind of information you need to put them under surveillance. Today that kind of information can be obtained by a few computer keystrokes. The harassment potential is much greater." [...]

Meet Dudley Hiibel

He's a 59 year old cowboy who owns a small ranch outside of Winnemucca, Nevada.  He lives a simple life, but he's his own man.  You probably never would have heard of Dudley Hiibel if it weren't for his belief in the U.S. Constitution.

One balmy May evening back in 2000, Dudley was standing around minding his own business when all of a sudden, a policeman pulled-up and demanded that Dudley produce his ID.  Dudley, having done nothing wrong, declined.  He was arrested and charged with "failure to cooperate" for refusing to show ID on demand.  And it's all on video.

On the 22nd of March 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether Dudley and the rest of us live in a free society, or in a country where we must show "the papers" whenever a cop demands them.

Another President for the Occupation?

"The Cause of Israel is the Cause of America"

February 17, 2004

Editors' Note: We offer this unfettered pledge of fealty to Israel by John Kerry as yet more evidence that there's scarcely a dime's worth of difference between the major political candidates of both parties on the life-and-death issues of our time. AC/JSC

My first trip to Israel made real for me all I'd believed about Israel.

I was allowed to fly an air force jet from the Ovda Airbase. It was then that Israeli insecurity about narrow borders became very real to me. In a matter of minutes, I came close to violating the airspace of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. From that moment on, I felt as Israelis do: The promise of peace must be secure before the Promised Land is secure on a thin margin of land.

Back on the ground on that first trip, I toured the country from Kibbutz Mizgav Am to Masada to the Golan. I stood in the very shelter in a kibbutz in the north where children were attacked and I looked at launching sites and impact zones for Katousha rockets. I was enthralled by Tel Aviv, moved by Jerusalem and inspired by by standing above Capernaum, looking out over the Sea of Galilee, where I read aloud the Sermon on The Mount. I met people of stunning commitment, who honestly and vigorously debated the issues as I watched and listened intently. I went as a friend by conviction; I returned a friend at the deepest personal level.

As the only true democracy in the Middle East, Israel has both the burden and the glory of a vigorous public square. We as Americans must be the truest and best kind of ally--forthright enough to say what we think--and steadfast enough to stay the course in hard passages as well as easy days.

Herzl's famous words--"If you will it, it is no dream"--signify the promise and the greatest power of Israel--and the hope that a fair and secure peace can be achieved. We must be committed to support Israel in the exacting, essential search for that dream.

I will never forget a moment on top of Masada, when I stood on that great plateau where the oath of new soldiers used to be sworn against the desert backdrop and the test of history. I had spent several hours with Yadin Roman debating whether or not Josephus Flavius was correct in his account of the siege--whether these really were the last Jews fighting for survival--whether they had escaped since no remains were ever found. After our journey through history--which we resolved with a vote in favor of history as recorded--we stood as a group at the end of the cliff and altogether we shouted across the chasm--across the desert--Am Yisrael Chai. And across the silence we listened as voices came back--faintly we heard the echo of the souls of those who perished--Am Yisrael Chai. The State of Israel lives. The people of Israel live.

In this difficult time we must again reaffirm we are enlisted for the duration--and reaffirm our belief that the cause of Israel must be the cause of America--and the cause of people of conscience everywhere.

MKs compare rabbis' attacks on PM to Rabin killing prelude

By Nadav Shragai
Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service

Senior lawmakers of Labor and Meretz charged Wednesday that hard-line rabbis' verbal onslaughts on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon this week recalled the run-up to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

Several hundred right-wing rabbis from the West Bank, Gaza and Israel convened in Jerusalem on Tuesday to denounce Sharon's proposal to remove settlements from Gaza as part of a "disengagement" plan. [...]

Comment: At the trial of the Jewish law student, Yigal Amir, he told the judge that he assassinated Rabin to halt the Middle East peace process. Interesting, since Sharon is anything but a man of peace. He announces he is evacuating a few illegal settlements and the hype is on. The next article from the Israel newspaper, Haaretz, gives an idea what is going on over there. Which is not to say that Sharon is safe from the extreme right.

'Hebron's H-2 area is being cleansed of Palestinians'

By Arnon Regular

"The activity of the settlers and the army in the H-2 area of Hebron is creating an irreversible situation. In a sense, cleansing is being carried out. In other words, if the situation continues for another few years, the result will be that no Palestinians will remain there. It is a miracle they have managed to remain there until now." [...]

"There are roadblocks in the area all the time. Once there were more than 100 days of continuous curfew, with only brief interruptions. The markets are closed, the roads are closed, and if you're a Palestinian who does not appear on the lists, you can't enter. The settlers go out almost every night and attack those who live near them. They break windows, cause damage and effectively force the Palestinians to leave the area. [...]

Syria says Israel does not want peace, benefits from US occupation of Iraq

Mon Feb 16, 4:24 PM ET

DAMASCUS (AFP) - Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Naji Otri accused Israel of not wanting peace with the Palestinians and charged that the Jewish state was the sole beneficiary of the US-led occupation of Iraq.
"Israel, backed by the United States, is opposed to peace and remains a source of instability in the region," the official Sana press agency quoted Otri as saying at a meeting of the joint Syrian-Iranian high committee.

"Israel is the only one who benefits from the US-British occupation of Iraq... which has become a source of ongoing concern and is unacceptable," Otri said.

He called on "Arab and Muslim states, especially Iraq's neighbors, to coordinate their efforts to find a resolution that will put an end to the suffering of the Iraqi people and to the occupation, and that will allow the Iraqis to exercise their democratic rights and form their own government." [...]

Iran train explosion kills 182: state TV

February 18, 2004

TEHRAN (AFP) - A total of 182 people were killed and 350 injured in northeastern Iran when runaway rail wagons loaded with sulphur, petrol and fertiliser derailed and exploded, a top provincial official told state television.

Mohammad Maghdori, a deputy governor general of Khorassan province and chief of emergencies, was revising his earlier statement that between 50 and 60 had died.

"Up to now, accurate reports say 182 people are dead and 350 injured," Maghdori told the television.

Earlier the head of Khorassan province's disasters unit, Vahid Barakchi, told the state news agency IRNA that the death toll stood at "more than 200". [...]

At least two dead in attack on Polish base in Iraq

Wednesday February 18, 4:42 PM

At least two Iraqis died and eight coalition force members were wounded in a double car bomb attack on a Polish base at Hilla south of Baghdad, a Polish military spokesman said on public radio in Warsaw.

The two dead were apparently the drivers of explosives-laden cars which drove towards the base, while the injured were six Polish troops, one US national and one Hungarian, according to a Polish military statement.

Spokesman Robert Strzelecki said only one of the two cars, which approached the base at around 7:15 am, had exploded.

The second had been stopped when troops at the base shot its driver dead, he added. [...]

Mbeki takes swipe at world's bullies

The Star

President Thabo Mbeki has vowed to keep up the battle to prevent "powerful countries and civilisations" from doing what they want to smaller countries.

Mbeki was replying yesterday to the credential handover speech by incoming Iranian ambassador Mohammad Ali Ghanezadeh Ez Abadi at the presidential guesthouse in Pretoria.

The president promised that South Africa, with Iran, would fight against the tactics of larger countries to interfere with less powerful nations.

"The lesson to be learnt form Iraq is that dialogue must come first - but not dialogue based on some countries being more equal than others," he said.

Mbeki referred to the issue of nuclear weapons, stating that South Africa was against the creation of such weapons and wished other countries to follow suit.

Iran resumed relations with South Africa in 1994.

Oil harvest will change our destiny - Jammeh

By Todd Pitman
February 17 2004 at 04:54PM

Dakar - Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has announced the discovery of "large quantities" of oil in his tiny West African nation, saying the offshore find would eliminate poverty and hunger, Gambian media reported on Tuesday.

An unnamed Western company made the find while studying 500 square kilometers of Atlantic seabed off Gambia's coast, The Independent reported on Monday.

"I now have the open duty to announce that the results of the study are very positive. There exists oil in the Gambia in very large quantities," the paper quoted Jammeh as saying. [...]

West Africa's Gulf of Guinea supplies the United States with 15 percent of its oil imports, and analysts say that share could grow to 25 percent by 2015 as the US explores alternatives to the volatile Middle East.

East Africa urged to pool intelligence

February 16 2004 at 07:57PM

Addis Ababa - United States Central Command chief General John Abizaid urged east African nations on Monday to share intelligence information to defeat any attempts by militants to operate in the region.

Abizaid was speaking after meeting Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and top defence officials in the Horn of Africa country, which Washington views as a key ally in its war on terrorism. [...]

French intellectuals attack 'war on intelligence'

More than 20,000 French artists, thinkers, film-makers, scientists, lawyers, doctors and academics have signed a petition accusing the centre-right government of "waging war on intelligence" and instituting "a new state anti-intellectualism". [...]

Two Russian ICBMs misfire in war games overseen by Putin: reports

MOSCOW (AFP) Feb 17, 2004

Technical faults prevented two Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles from being fired Tuesday during training exercises in the Barents Sea observed by President Vladimir Putin, news agencies reported.

The missiles' launch was blocked by satellite following an unspecified fault during massive war games stages by Russia's Northern Fleet and oter branches of the military, the Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies quoted military sources as saying.

Meanwhile the Gazeta.ru Internet news site reported that a test intercontinental ballistic missile misfired during a launch from a nuclear submarine as the Russian president watched on from the deck of another submarine.

It was not immediately clear if the conflicting, unconfirmed reports were referring to the same incident.

The Gazeta.ru report said the ICBM exploded shortly after takeoff. It did not mention any casualties and the navy press office refused to confirm the report. [...]

He went off into the Barents Sea -- where the Kursk nuclear submarine sank in August 2000 and killed 118 seamen just months into Putin's first term as president -- Monday evening to oversee what have been advertised as some of the largest war games staged by Russia in recent years.

News reports said they included six submarines carrying nuclear weapons. Tu-95 strategic bombers were due to test fire cruise missiles Tuesday over the Kola Peninsula on the northwestern edge of Russia near the Finnish border.

ITAR-TASS reported that the games -- which were expected to last several weeks -- would involve some 5,000 servicemen.

Dutch parliament approves expulsion of thousands of asylum seekers

Tue Feb 17, 1:40 PM ET

THE HAGUE (AFP) - The Dutch parliament approved a controversial bill calling for the forcible expulsion of 26,000 asylum seekers, many of whom have lived in the country for years, despite strong opposition from the public and human rights groups. [...]

The new law will cover all asylum seekers who arrived in the country before April 1, 2001, when refugees from Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan topped the list of nationalities applying for asylum.

Many of those who will now see their applications turned down are likely to come from those countries and several African countries, a spokesman for the Dutch ministry of justice said. [...]

'Sugary alert' closes Metro

08:34 Wednesday 18th February 2004

A Brussels metro station was closed for two hours after staff mistook sugar from a Danish pastry for a poison.

The security alert closed Schuman station after the white powder was spotted by a cleaner near a telephone box.

Officials ordered trains not to stop at the station in the district where the EU is based reports the Daily Mail.

A spokesman for the metro operator said: "It turned out to be a whole lot of fuss about nothing. But we were concerned so we took all the relevant precautions."

Comment: Ah, hysteria...

US is trying to overthrow me, says Venezuelan leader

By Alexandra Olson in Caracas
The Independent
18 February 2004

The Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, yesterday angrily accused the United States of being behind a 2002 coup and of helping continuing opposition attempts to overthrow him.

Mr Chavez said the US Government was providing millions of dollars to Venezuelan groups. "The Government of Washington is using the money of its people to support not only opposition activities but acts of conspiracy," the President said.

A visit to Venezuela on Monday by Peter DeShazo, US deputy assistant Secretary of State for western hemisphere affairs, was part of the campaign "to try to destabilise Venezuela", Mr Chavez said. The US official urged the election authorities not to use technicalities to invalidate petitions demanding a recall referendum that could lead to a new presidential election. [...]

Comment: It would not be the first time the US has overthrown a democratically elected government.

Haiti Uprising Spreads As PM Seeks Help

Feb 17, 9:14 PM (ET)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Haiti's prime minister warned Tuesday of an impending coup and appealed for international help to contend with a bloody uprising that has claimed 57 lives. But the United States and France expressed reluctance to send troops to put down the rebellion.

Aid agencies called for urgent international action, warning Haiti is on "the verge of a generalized civil war." The U.N. refugee agency met with officials in Washington to discuss how to confront a feared exodus of Haitians. [...]

The lawless society where terrorists are driving teenage boys to kill themselves

By Thomas Harding, Ireland Correspondent
The Telegraph

The latest young man to die in a series of apparent suicides linked to paramilitary intimidation and violence in a small area of Belfast was buried yesterday.

Two years ago Barney Cairns made the mistake of getting into an argument and "squaring up" to a member of the Irish National Liberation Army.

The revenge of the small republican group, which broke away from the IRA in the mid-1970s, was swift. Within hours the teenager, then 16, was abducted and shot in the legs. But it was not the physical scars that led to his death. He became mentally unstable as a result of the assault.

It appears he "snapped" after the funeral of his friend Anthony O'Neill, who also committed suicide last week. Like Mr Cairns, Mr O'Neill is said to have become depressed after suffering an INLA "punishment attack". [...]

Mozambique appoints first woman prime minister

Euro Makes New Record Above $1.29

Europe's big five agree on sky marshalls, but quibbles remain

Tue Feb 17,12:52 PM ET

GARMISH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (AFP) - Europe's five biggest states agreed a raft of proposals to step up the fight against terrorism and organized crime, including the possibility of sky marshalls on board passenger planes.

The interior ministers of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain agreed in principle on the use of armed marshalls to deter potential hijackers.

But they would not be employed every time nor on every plane, according to French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking on behalf of the so-called G5 countries. [...]

German Interior Minister Otto Schily said he and his colleagues also agreed to accelerate the use of biometric screening data, such as iris identification and fingerprint technology, to step up airport security.

Other proposed measures include strengthening the Europe-wide police force EUROPOL and giving it responsibility for tackling counterfeit euro notes, and adopting a joint strategy on the deportation of unwanted refugees. [...]

Japan, US security officials to discuss arms control

Tuesday February 17, 3:00 PM

US arms control envoy John Bolton is scheduled to arrive in Japan to meet with his Japanese counterparts for arms control and nonproliferation talks, Japanese officials said.

He will lead the US delegation for the seventh Japan-US Commission on Arms Control, Disarmament, Nonproliferation and Verification, which will be held Wednesday morning in Tokyo.

"It will be a forum to discuss global arms control issues, not just about certain regions," said a Japanese official with the foreign ministry's arms control section, when asked if they would discuss the North Korean nuclear crisis.

The agenda for the forum includes strengthening of the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), aimed at interdicting air and sea shipments of weapons of mass destruction, as well as administration of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the foreign ministry said. [...]

Dengue fever has killed 91 in Indonesia since last month

Bioterror simulations back targeted treatment


A bioterror attack on the US should be tackled though containment and targeted treatment rather than mass vaccination, according to new computer simulations. [...]

Mass vaccination would in some ways be the simplest approach. But the existing live smallpox vaccine can cause complications that would kill one in a million recipients and cause serious illness in 10 times as many cases. [...]

The AIDS Debate

The Most Controversial Story You've Never Heard

by Liam Scheff  

[...] Ninety-four percent of all AIDS-related deaths in the US occurred after the introduction of AZT, according to CDC statistics through the year 2000. And according to the University of Pittsburgh, the No. 1 cause of death in US AIDS patients today is liver failure, a side-effect of the new protease inhibitors. [...]

Alert as faulty baby test kits are recalled

Thousands of women may have been wrongly told they are not pregnant because a testing kit used by the National Health Service has been found to produce too many false negative results. [...]

School Puts Lid On Bathroom Breaks

LAWRENCE, N.J. (AP) [...] Some middle school students are avoiding soft drinks, water and other liquids during school hours for fear of an urgent need to answer nature's call.

Under a new policy at the Lawrence Middle School, seventh- and eighth-graders are allowed to leave class for the bathroom a maximum of 15 times a month. As a result, some are afraid to use up their bathroom passes too quickly and end up with a full bladder and nowhere to go. [...]

3 puppies set on fire

ARVADA - Two puppies are dead and a third seriously burned after a burglar broke into a Colorado Humane Society shelter, took the dogs, bound their paws with duct tape and set them ablaze. [...]

Counting the old-fashioned way

The electronic voting machines in the House of Representatives malfunctioned Tuesday, forcing legislators to postpone a vote on the amended fiscal year 2004 budget. [...]

Alleged Child Abuse Caught On Neighbor's Wireless Cam

A neighbor with a new wireless camera accidentally caught an alleged case of child abuse at a foster home in Milwaukee where the children were forced to hold their hands in the air for more than an hour.

The neighbor, who did not wish to be identified, bought a wireless surveillence camera for his home security. After he installed it, the camera ended up getting a signal from a different wireless camera in a nearby house.

The man saw two young children holding their hands in the air for more than an hour. He then put a tape in and began recording as a woman entered the room and hit one of the children in the chest. [...]

Fight begins over Stonehenge tunnel scheme

By Cahal Milmo
17 February 2004
The Independent

Campaigners have accused the Government of planning to scar one of the world's most valuable archaeological treasures by building a tunnel on the site of Stonehenge.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said proposals to build a 1.3 mile-long road tunnel within the World Heritage Site containing the prehistoric standing stones were an "alien intrusion" into a site that rivals the Great Pyramids and the Great Wall of China as an artefact of human endeavour.

The claim is at the centre of dozens of objections which will be aired over the next four months in the Georgian splendour of Salisbury's Guildhall, where a public inquiry into a £192m road scheme to circumvent the famous megaliths opens today. [...]

From Space, a New View of Doomsday

New York Times

[...] "Theorists admit they are at a loss. Perhaps, some of them now say, Einstein's theory of gravity, the general theory of relativity, needs to be modified. "

"It sounds wacky," he said, referring to phantom energy, "but I think we're in a situation where we're going to need a really new idea. We're in trouble; the way out is going to be new imaginative things. It might be our ideas are not wild enough, they don't question fundamentals enough." [...]

Comment: A three page article that discusses the "Big Rip". It is quite possible that the real truth is even more wacky than their concepts of wackyness. And if general theory of relativity needs to be modified then perhaps the catastrophe may be ten years from now rather than ten billions years? This particular NYT article is silent about parallel and colliding universes in a five dimensional world.

Two Comets in 2004

Is it a bird, a spaceship or meteorite?

Presenter: Leon Compton
Wednesday, 18 February  2004 

Just what exactly was it that people saw in our skies Tuesday morning? Albury based astronomer David Thurley believes it was most likely a meteorite

ABC Goulburn Murray was inundated with calls from people who saw a strange occurrence in the sky early Tuesday morning, we got calls from witnesses in Albury, Corowa, Benalla, Berrigan and the Buckland Valley..
Some called it a space ship, while others thought it had to be a meteorite - So what was it exactly? ABC's Leon Compton thought he would chat to Albury based astronomer David Thurley to see if he could put any light on the mystery..

"It does sound like a meteorite then, and they can be all sorts of colours. Like you can get reddish and orange sometime even green"

David explained the colour of the meteorite depends on how fast they are going.. "The faster they are going, the brighter the colour they will be, the more they will burn up very fiercely. So if they are a slow moving one - they might just glow red or yellow. And really going fast they go blue, green white sort of colours.." [...]

Europe's weather could flip annually between extremes


Europe's weather could flip from droughts to floods every year as climate change kicks in, according to scientists who have modelled the mechanisms behind the continent's most recent bouts of extreme weather.

In the summer of 2003, an intense heatwave across Europe was responsible for the deaths of up to 35,000 people and dried up many rivers. Yet in 2002, central Europe was awash with water after a massive river burst its banks.

Both events have been attributed to a peculiar phenomenon in which a "planetary wave" pins a particular weather system in one place. The drought in 2003 was triggered by trapped high pressure, while the flood of 2002 happened after a region of low pressure became pinned.

Planetary waves are gentle pressure oscillations in the atmosphere, set up by the rotation of the Earth. They usually roll gently around the planet, carrying weather systems with them.

But when the wavelength of the planetary wave fits an exact number of times around the circumference of the Earth, the peaks and troughs of the pressure oscillation overlap on each revolution, so they are fixed in place and grow in strength.

This "resonance" will become more frequent if the wavelength of the planetary waves shortens, as is expected to happen as the planet warms, warns Vladimir Petoukhov, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

He fed predictions of the Earth's future temperature into a computer model of the waves. While resonance now is rare, he calculates that within two decades, it could happen as often as every year.

"Europe could flip between flood and drought conditions in alternate years," says John Schellnhuber, research director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Norwich, UK, and a former colleague of Petoukhov.

Although the results are preliminary, Petoukhov says that the effect might occur in other continents too. [...]

On this day in 1950

In Copenhagen, Denmark, farmer Christian Sandersen and his wife claimed to have seen two flying saucers over their farmhouse. One saucer stayed airborne while the other landed and disintegrated into thousands of brightly glowing sparks. [Source: UFOs AT CLOSE SIGHT]

Pilot UFO Sighting Reports

Alien country: Earthlings welcome

By Mike Fink
CNN Headline News

[...] Roswell, New Mexico, is considered by many to be the "mothership" of alien adventure; one of the most famous UFO "crashes" occurred here in 1947. Since then a whole culture of alien-awareness has grown. But the city hardly holds a monopoly on extraterrestrial excitement. In fact, there are several alternatives to this mainstream alien hot spot.

One of them is Dreamy Draw, a recreation area near Phoenix, Arizona. As the story goes, a UFO crashed there in 1947, just three months after the Roswell incident. The remains of two 4-1/2-foot passengers were reportedly taken from the crash site and kept in a local's freezer until the military took them away. True believers say that shortly after the crash, the Army Corps of Engineers built a dam at the site to cover up the evidence. According to the city of Phoenix, the dam wasn't built until 1973. Decide for yourself.

If you'd like the opportunity to see a UFO, head out to the "UFO Watchtower" in Hooper, Colorado. Judy Messoline, a former cattle rancher, opened the observatory in 2000. Since then, she has played host to thousands of visitors and claims to have documented numerous sightings.

A cemetery in Aurora, Texas, supposedly features an alien pilot's burial site. A nearby state historical marker tells the legend of a spacecraft that crashed there in 1897. However, the exact location of the pilot's grave is unknown. If you can't make it out to the cemetery, rent "Aurora Encounter," about the alien's visit.

Aliens must like Wisconsin. It's home to three UFO "Capitals of the World." First there's Dundee, where every summer believers and nonbelievers alike gather to celebrate extraterrestrial visitations. They call it UFO Daze. Coincidentally, several UFOs have been reportedly sighted on nearby Highway 67.

Wisconsin's second "UFO Capital of the World" is Elmwood. UFOs allegedly started visiting the area in the mid-70s. Since then, residents claim to have seen anywhere from 30 to 50 strange-looking objects in the sky. Every year the town holds a festival that includes a group "UFO Watch."

And then there's Belleville, which holds its annual UFO celebration the last Saturday in October. [...]

Does God Exist? Yes, Mathematician Says

Close Encounter yours for $1.3m

Blimey they don't half sell some old rubbish on eBay, eh? The latest extraordinary item to come to our attention is a close encounter video apparently shot in 1998 by someone called "Sargel18". [...]

Comment: The concept of extraterrestrials is accompanied by so much madness and insanity. Why is that? It is obiously not something that can be discussed and examined rationally for most people.

'Zombie machine America' needs smelling salts

The estimated 40% of broadband users who don't use a firewall wind up acting as spam relays or bus stations for the latest worms. [...]

Are we alone?

Extraterrestrial life may not just be the stuff of science fiction. Based on scientific principles alone, the possibility of other worlds teeming with life is plausible.

The scientific search for extra-terrestrial life is known as astrobiology. It entails finding organisms and conditions similar to those that evolved on earth, and not little green men. [...]

Lead dust prompts DIA tests on trains at Denver Airport

By Jeffrey Leib
Denver Post Staff Writer

Denver International Airport officials today plan to test lead levels in train cars that ferry passengers to airport concourses.

The tests follow release of a report showing elevated lead levels in the train tunnels and at the rail maintenance facility below Concourse C.

"Sample results in the train tunnels revealed substantial amounts of lead in surface dust," said a report from Bombardier Transportation, the Canadian company that maintains DIA's automated people- mover. [...]

Comment: The article does not speculate where the lead dust originated. Lead is used as protection from nuclear radiation.

Family lives alone for 20 yrs

17/02/2004 22:39  - (SA)   Theunissen - Cut off from the rest of the world, with only veld and animals for company, a husband and wife and their four children have spent the past 20 years all alone on a remote Free State farm.

The four children - aged 26, 22, 18 and 14 - have never had contact with the outside world and their behaviour is so animalistic they can't even communicate in an understandable language. One of them walks on all fours, almost like a monkey.

An assortment of healthcare experts have been ordered by the Free State department of health to assess the woman and her children, who are now in the care of the state. [...]

Cow saves woman from raging river


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