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Friday, February 20, 2004

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Picture of the Day

©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Empathy. We do not know ourselves. How often do we really know why we think or do something. We may tell ourselves that we know, we may "feel" the need to do something, but can we be certain that these excuses or reasons we give ourselves are the real reasons?

Moreover, even if or when we do have a good understanding of our motivations, how often when we begin something, a work that will take time to accomplish, are we able to see this work through? We have taken New Year's Resolutions as an example before. At the beginning of the New Year, we may sit down, and after some reflection, decide to change certain habits that we have identified as detrimental to our development. However, we are rarely able to follow through with the Will necessary to realize these decisions. We are then forced to constate that we are incapable of DOing anything if it will take longer than the length of time of our current subjective awareness, or that we are unable to put ourselves back into the same state where the need for this change was so clear to us. Some people may go for a number of hours, some for a few days, some, perhaps, for several weeks. But how many of us are able to commit to ourselves and follow that commitment through over months or the complete year? How often do we find other excuses arising into the flux of our associative mentation, excuses that appear as well-reasoned and as necessary as those that prompted our initial resolution?

New Year's Resolutions made for oneself are one thing. They do not affect another. Unable as we are to follow through, subjected to our own multiple subjective states, what we call the multiple 'I's of our personalities, we can easily find another part of ourselves to excuse our failure. With lesser or greater amounts of remorse and affirmations we claim that "next time it will be different." Fooling oneself in this way, or lying to oneself, is a serious matter, but at least it does not affect another person.

What happens when we have made commitments to another person?

In this case, we find ourselves having to confront the person in front of us with the same set of sorry excuses that we accept ourselves. These justifications may not seem as urgent or as necessary to the person we have hurt. They may easily see through our attempts at self-justification. They may be willing to give us the benefit of the doubt once, or twice, but if they see that we continue to fall back on these self-justifications again and again, they will be forced to look more deeply and may arrive at the point where they realize that they must break with us in order to protect themselves from our self-lying.

Or they may take pity upon us.

Pity. L pietas 1. sorrow felt for another's sufferings or misfortune; compassion; sympathy 2 the ability to feel such compassion ... pity implies sorrow felt for another's suffering or misfortune, sometime's connoting slight contempt because the object is regarded as weak or inferior [he felt pity for a man so ignorant]

Compassion. L com-, together + pati, to suffer. sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another or others, accompanied by an urge to help; deep sympathy; pity

Empathy. G einfühlung <ein in + fühlung feelin> Gr empatheia, affection, passion <en-, in + pathos, feeling ... 1. the projection of one's own personality into the personality of another in order to understand the person better; ability to share in another's emotions, thoughts, or feelings. [All definitions from Webster's New World College Dictionary]

Pity, compassion, and empathy are often linked together in the automatic associations that arise in one's mind. Pity, as the definition illustrates, has an aspect of contempt towards the object of pity, indicating there is a separation between the person touched by pity and the person who is being pitied. We often say "Pity those who pity," because they can be manipulated by the "pitiful" person. In understanding that pity carries with it the notion of separateness from its object, as well as judgment, the person who pities tries to make up for this separation by fixing the pitiful state of the other, hoping it will fill in this separation.

Often, the person being pitied is only too happy to allow another to continue pitying them. They may even manipulate another to ensure that they remain an object of pity. As long as the pity continues there is no requirement to fulfill the initial commitment.

In reality, the person who pities is unable to help another because it is the person who is suffering who must learn to overcome the causes of their suffering and lack of will to DO. The person who is manipulating is seeking to avoid the responsibility of having to change. This creates a nasty spiral leading either to a break or to a co-dependent relationship where they each play a role in maintaining the dependence.

If we look more closely at pity, we notice that there is no real feeling involved on the part of the person pitying. Pity is linked with judgment. Any energy that might be associated with feeling is quickly usurped by our intellect. Judgment is an intellectual activity involving weighing, measuring and calculation. However, because the initial seed may have been emotional in origin, we mistake the intellectual processes that take over for a manifestation of feeling. The judgment may lead to a need to DO if this energy is picked up by the motor center. We have then passed from a short burst of emotion that is usurped by the intellect and then fed to the body, without ever having a true feeling, a true emotion.

Compassion may seem a more honourable feeling than pity. Aren't we admonished to be compassionate towards others? Is not the Bohdisattava a compassionate being? We know that compassion can slide into pity, if the emotional spark is taken over by the intellect. Boris Mouravieff, author of the Trilogy, Gnosis, writes:

It is evident that to reach this stage man has to know how to discern these influences. This is easy in certain cases. It is altogether different when the action of the General Law manifests itself in the form of temptations, of prelest. 14 In this form, 'A' [material] influences offer a whole gamut of variations starting with seduction in its classical manifestations: money, women, ambition. If we resist these successfully, then prelest takes more and more refined forms, parallel to the 'B' [esoteric] influences, one might say. These forms vary infinitely, because they are related to personal cases. Among the most refined nuances on the emotional plane we can find considerations full of nobility, charity and compassion. [B. Mouravieff, Gnosis, Vol I, p. 158. For more see our article Boris Mouravieff and the Cassiopaeans or: The Way of Love]

14. Otherwise said in Russian, prelestchenic: charm, attraction. In the Tradition, the Doctrine of Temptation is developed in detail. It is divided into two parts: Temptations of God's friends, which are good, and Temptations of God's enemies, which are wicked. We find in this practical and particularly suggestive clues.

Why would Mouravieff consider compassion to be a prelest or temptation? His description paints it as taking on the form of what he calls the 'B' influences while actually having as its content the 'A' influences. The 'A' influences are those influences that come from the material world. The 'B' influences are those that come from the spiritual world, from our higher selves. So Mouravieff is saying that compassion is an 'A' influence masquerading as a 'B' influence, a material response that takes itself for a higher response.

To understand this, let us look at the distinction between compassion and empathy. Compassion is "com-, together + pati, to suffer", so it is "suffering together." Empathy is "en-, in + pathos, feeling", or "the projection of one's own personality into the personality of another in order to understand the person better; ability to share in another's emotions, thoughts, or feelings." The difference is that with compassion, we remain separate from the other, with empathy, we are able to put ourselves in her or his place. To do this, one needs to know the other person, to know the causes of their emotions, thoughts or feelings, not from the outside, but from the inside because we recognize them within ourselves. This knowledge enables us to understand them and to put ourselves in their shoes, knowing what they are feeling or thinking because we can recognize the same things in ourselves. With pity or compassion, we may not wish to recognize the trait within ourselves, whether it is there or not, so we remain separate. With empathy, having recognized the trait within ourselves, this changes our relationship to the other person.

Compassion maintains this difference from the other person because the emotional energy feeds the multiple 'I's, our false self. We do not feel what the other feels, instead we feel "sorrow" for the other person, we are sad for them, upset for them. Here the focus becomes our own emotion, our sorrow or our sadness. That is why Mouravieff says that compassion is an 'A' influence.

The consequence is that we cannot put ourselves in their place. We remain squarely in our own place. Unable to understand.

If compassion doesn't carry with it any sense of judgment, that is, if it doesn't slide into pity, it may pass the energy directly to the motor center pushing us to DO something for the object of our compassion. But without any real understanding of the other person, there is little chance that our DOing will have any benefit. Success is left to chance.

Let us return to the example above of a broken commitment which can lead to us being an object of pity. The cycle can be vicious. What if the initial commitment, the one that was broken, inspiring the subsequent pity or compassion, was also made of "pity"? For example, a husband sees that his wife is suffering. He makes a commitment to her to change himself, if the cause is within, or to change the world so that it conforms to her desires. In both cases, this decision is illusory. If the cause is within the man, and he is still the subject of his multiple 'I's, it is unlikely he will have the will to effect the change. If the cause is in the world, then it is the woman who needs to change her relationship to the world. The man may be able to facilitate this, but the woman must take the responsibility. However, if she is evoking pity in her husband, then she is not yet at the stage where she is able to undertake this work herself.

The cycle can continue indefinitely, leading to disastrous consequences for all involved.

Empathy lights up the same parts of the brain as personal injury

20 February 2004

The more they care, the more he'll feel what she feels.

The ability to appreciate other people's agony is achieved by the same parts of the brain that we use to experience pain for ourselves.

When we encounter a painful stimulus, such as an electric shock, signals travel from the site of the stimulus up to the brain. This is then translated into both a physical and an emotional response. [...]

But psychopaths would probably show no emotional response at all, she adds. Psychopaths don't experience empathy, she says, so they have no understanding of how much pain they are inflicting on other people. [...]

Pentagon Preps for War in Space

By Noah Shachtman  
02:00 AM Feb. 20, 2004 PT

An Air Force report is giving what analysts call the most detailed picture since the end of the Cold War of the Pentagon's efforts to turn outer space into a battlefield.

For years, the American military has spoken in hints and whispers, if at all, about its plans to develop weapons in space. But the U.S. Air Force Transformation Flight Plan (PDF) changes all that. Released in November, the report makes U.S. dominance of the heavens a top Pentagon priority in the new century. And it runs through dozens of research programs designed to ensure that America can never be challenged in orbit -- from anti-satellite lasers to weapons that "would provide the capability to strike ground targets anywhere in the world from space."

Space has become an increasingly important part of U.S. military efforts. Satellites are used more and more to talk to troops, keep tabs on foes and guide smart bombs. There's also long been recognition that satellites may need some sort of protection against attack.

But the Air Force report goes far beyond these defensive capabilities, calling for weapons that can cripple other countries' orbiters.

That prospect worries some analysts that the U.S. may spark a worldwide arms race in orbit.

"I don't think other countries will be taking this lying down," said Theresa Hitchens, the vice president of the Center for Defense Information . [...]

However, Hitchens said, "no U.S. president has authorized the deployment of a space weapon, at least in the white (unclassified) world."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, on the other hand, long has advocated sending arms into orbit. Just before taking office in 2001, he chaired a commission on space and national security that warned that the country could face a " space Pearl Harbor " in the years to come. This calamity must be avoided, the commission declared, asserting that the best way to do that is to "vigorously pursue the capabilities ... to ensure that the President will have the option to deploy weapons in space."

But pursuing such a strategy may actually put the United States in greater jeopardy, argues David Wright, with the Union of Concerned Scientists .

"You're opening a door you might rather not have opened," he said. [...]

Comment: Or rather, they are opening a door that we would rather they had not. We wonder do our readers realise what is happening? Can you see the prospects for a "quiet, peaceful, normal life" slipping away? In truth, did you ever have one? Is it not true that up until now you were merely able to maintain the veneer of normality, fooling yourself about the true nature of our world and those that control it? We all do it. It seems clear, however, that the options for a "normal life" are fast receding. Increasingly, world events will interject into all of our personal and collective reality, forcing us to choose between facing the truth or immersing ourselves further and further into illusion. The choice, as always, is for each to make. In making the choice, perhaps it would be wise to keep in mind the following concept:

"Life is religion. Life experiences reflect how one interacts with "god." Those who are asleep are those of little faith in terms of their interaction with the creation. Some people think that the world exists for them to overcome or ignore or shut out. For those individuals, the worlds will cease. They will become exactly what they give to life. They will become merely a dream in the 'past.' People who pay strict attention to objective reality right and left, become the reality of the 'Future.'"

Eyes Wide Open

By Chris Floyd

Last week we noted that the American mainstream media has finally starting taking a closer look at some of the manifold lies, crimes and misdemeanors of the Oval Oligarch -- albeit after three years of happily gulping down tons of steaming sewage from the Bushist PR factory. This welcome development has been driven largely by Bush's nosedive in the polls, which convinced the media mandarins that they will not necessarily lose market share by practising journalism rather than genuflection.

But there is of course another factor at work: the emergence of Senator John Kerry as the likely Democratic nominee. Kerry is the quintessential "safe pair of hands," with a solid record of hauling heavy lumber for elite interests -- especially elite media interests. His new prominence -- helped in no small part by kid-gloves media coverage while his opponents were raked with withering fire -- made it safe to give Bush a little bruising. For the mandarins, it's a win-win situation: Replacing one multimillionaire Skull-and-Bones Yalie aristocrat with another is not likely to upset too many profitable applecarts or usher in a more egalitarian society.

Check out the lumber. Kerry voted for Bill Clinton's destruction of the United States' already-anaemic welfare system, plunging millions of the poor into greater hardship. He cast a crucial vote -- this time overriding a Clinton veto -- to gut safeguards on the securities market, green-lighting Enron, WorldCom and other corporate predators into a frenzy of unprecedented global corruption. He was a staunch supporter of the liberty-shredding PATRIOT Act and voted to give Bush a blank check to invade Iraq whenever he wanted. Although he now repudiates those latter two positions, which have grown increasingly unpopular, the security organs and war profiteers know that Kerry was there for them when it counted -- when actual votes were on the line.

'Bomb threat' grounds plane in US

A Morocco-bound plane has been diverted to a US airport after receiving a bomb threat, US authorities say.

The Boeing 767 had left New York when a passenger made "a bomb threat to the aircraft" during a phone call, said a transport security official.

However, other sources suggest the flight was aborted when the FBI discovered that someone they considered a security threat was on board.

[...] Meanwhile, Eddie Rizzo, a private investigator trying to trace high-profile missing investment banker Zubair Ghias, told AP Mr Ghias had called his family from the plane.

Mr Rizzo quoted Mr Ghias as telling his wife: "I'm on flight 201 to Morocco.

"I've been captured by al-Qaeda, they want me to do something for them. I love you, I just gotta do this."

Mr Ghias's disappearance from Chicago last Saturday has attracted much press speculation, including reports he had been seen in New York on Thursday.

Russia Tests New Wonder Weapon 

Associated Press

MOSCOW -- Russia has successfully tested a hypersonic anti-Star Wars weapon capable of penetrating any prospective missile shield, a senior general said Thursday.

The prototype weapon proved it could maneuver so quickly as to make "any missile defense useless," Col.-Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, the first deputy chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, told a news conference.

He said that the prototype of a new hypersonic vehicle had proved its ability to maneuver while in orbit, thereby making it able to dodge an enemy's missile shield. [...]

Letter Bomb Explodes in Police Station in Italy

February 20, 2004

ROME (Reuters) - A letter bomb exploded at police headquarters in the central Italian city of Perugia on Friday, injuring several people, police said.

"There was an explosion, there is still a lot of confusion. There are injuries, including one more seriously injured person," a policeman said.

The bomb was the latest in a wave of explosive packages sent to Italian police stations and to Italian and European politicians and journalists over the last few months.

Police suspect nebulous groups of Italian-based anarchists are behind the campaigns. [...]

Scientists say US government distorts scientific facts to serve policy purpose

Friday, February 20, 2004

Over 60 influential scientists have accused the Bush administration of systematically distorting scientific facts to serve its policy goals on the environment, health, biomedical research and nuclear weaponry at home and abroad, The New York Times reported Thursday.

The scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, made their accusations in a statement released on Wednesday. The accusations were discussed in a conference call organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists, an independent organization that focuses on technical issues, which also issued a 38-page report detailing its accusations.

The two documents accuse the administration of repeatedly censoring and suppressing reports by its own scientists, stacking advisory committees with unqualified political appointees, disbanding government panels that provide unwanted advice and refusing to seek any independent scientific expertise in some cases.

"Other administrations have, on occasion, engaged in such practices,but not so systematically nor on so wide a front," the statement from the scientists said, adding that they believed the administration had "misrepresented scientific knowledge and misled the public about the implications of its policies."

Kurt Gottfried, an emeritus professor of physics at Cornell University who signed the statement, said the administration had "engaged in practices that are in conflict with spirit of science and the scientific method."

Gottfried, also chairman of the board of directors at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the administration had a "cavalier attitude towards science" that could place at risk the basis for the nation's long-term prosperity, health and military prowess.

John H. Marburger III, the science adviser to President George W. Bush and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House, said it was important to listen to "the distinguished scientific leadership in this country." But he said the report consisted of a largely disconnected list of events that did not make the case for a suppression of good scientific advice by the administration.

The scientists denied that they had political motives in releasing the documents as the 2004 presidential race began to take clear shape. The report, Gottfried said, had taken a year to prepare, much longer than originally planned, and was released as soon as it was ready.

According to the report, theBush administration has misrepresented scientific consensus on global warming, censored at least one report on climate change, manipulated scientific findings on the emissions of mercury from power plants and suppressed information on condom use.

Comment: We included an excerpt from the above article in yesterday's Signs page. We include more of it today, since it serves well to clarify the situation. Indeed, could it be any more clear? We urge our readers to really read and consider the "Signs" on today's page. Having scrutinised daily the events on our planet for the last two years, it is our opinion that something is very definitely coming "down the pipe", so to speak.

Evangelicals frustrated by Bush

By Ralph Z. Hallow
February 20, 2004

President Bush left several million evangelical voters "on the table" four years ago and again is having trouble energizing Christian conservatives, prominent leaders on the religious right say.

"It's not just economic conservatives upset by runaway federal spending that he's having trouble with. I think his biggest problem will be social conservatives who are not motivated to work for the ticket and to ensure their fellow Christians get to the polling booth," said Robert H. Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute.

"If there is a rerun of 2000, when an estimated 6 million fewer evangelical Christians voted than in the pivotal year of 1994, then the Bush ticket will be in trouble, especially if there is no [Ralph] Nader alternative to draw Democratic votes away from the Democratic candidate," added Mr. Knight, whose organization is an affiliate of Concerned Women for America (CWA).

Their list of grievances is long, but right now social conservatives are mad over what many consider the president's failure to strongly condemn illegal homosexual "marriages" being performed in San Francisco under the authority of Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Top religious rights activists have been burning up the telephone lines, sharing what one privately called their "apoplexy" over Mr. Bush's failure to act decisively on the issue, although he has said he would support a constitutional amendment if necessary to ban same-sex "marriages."

"I am just furious over what's going on in California and over what the president is not doing in California," a prominent evangelical leader confided. "He says he's 'troubled' — he should be outraged. If he's troubled, he should pick up the phone and call [California Republican Gov.] Arnold [Schwarzenegger] and tell him we want action against the rogue mayor who is breaking the law."

"They can't possibly guarantee a large turnout of evangelical Christian voters if he does not do what is morally right and take leadership on this issue as he did on the war" in Iraq, said CWA President Sandy Rios.

She echoed other conservative leaders in blaming White House political advisers and not the president himself for the failure to move forcefully against San Francisco's civil disobedience. But the veteran activist and radio host said Mr. Bush could pay a steep price in November for following his strategists' bad advice.

"The strength of this president is in his convictions, but our people do not admire his indecision and lack of leadership on an issue so basic as the sanctity of marriage," Mrs. Rios said.

Religious conservatives helped Ronald Reagan win the presidency in the 1980s and helped Republicans retake the House and Senate in 1994, but complain that they have little to show for their loyalty to the GOP. [...]

Religious right leaders say their constituents aren't likely to defect to the Democrats.

"What is at issue here is, will our folks be AWOL when it comes time for the election because they are just not energized and motivated?" said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. "Social conservatives coalesce around strong leadership. That's what motivates and energizes them. And on their core issues, the leadership from the White House is not there right now."

Conservative Christian concerns with White House leadership extend beyond homosexuality, pornography and abortion to issues of art, education and law.

Sadie Fields, a Bush supporter and Christian Coalition activist, says she's heard grumbles that Mr. Bush stood aside while the man he nominated for a federal appeals court appointment, Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, prosecuted that state's popular chief justice, Roy Moore. Mr. Moore was forced from office after defying a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of Alabama's State Judicial Building. [...]

White House Predicts Bigger Tax Refunds

February 20, 2004

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration predicted Thursday that a record number of taxpayers can expect a refund this year, and that the average tax refund check will be $300 bigger than last year.

The Treasury Department credited the most recent round of tax cuts, passed in May, with fattening this year's refunds.

As a result of the summer's tax cuts, the Treasury Department expects the government to mail $195 billion in tax refunds this spring, a $37 billion increase over last year.

The predictions also were an election-year reminder to voters of the tax cuts passed during President Bush's time in office. [...]

Comment: Meanwhile, the national debt recently passed $7 trillion, unemployment is still high, more jobs are being moved overseas, and everyone and their dog is terrified of any white powder they see.

Halliburton Falling Short in Iraq-Pentagon

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
Thu Feb 19, 3:21 PM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Oil giant Halliburton is falling short in its billion-dollar commitments to supply U.S.-led forces in Iraq and rebuild the country's oil industry, a senior Pentagon official said on Thursday.

"There is no doubt that more needs to be done. We have to make sure that we can provide the services as quickly as they are needed," Dov Zakheim, under secretary of defense and the Defense Departmant's comptroller -- chief financial officer -- told Reuters.

Halliburton, mainly through its Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) subsidiary, is the biggest contractor for the U.S. military in Iraq with more than $8 billion in deals covering everything from doing laundry, building bases and providing meals to repairing oil infrastructure. [...]

CIA reportedly removes top officer in Baghdad

Friday February 20, 07:57 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The CIA has recently removed its top officer in Baghdad because of questions about his ability to lead the station there, the Los Angeles Times has reported.

U.S. intelligence sources also told the newspaper on Friday that the spy agency has also closed several satellite bases in Afghanistan because of security concerns.

Some current and former CIA officials, who requested anonymity, told the daily the agency was stretched thin as it searches for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, confronts insurgency in Iraq and tries to cultivate ties to warlords in Afghanistan. [...]

Guantanamo Britons to Go Home, May Walk Free

By Mike Peacock
Thu Feb 19, 3:18 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Five British citizens and one Dane held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, without trial for two years are to be sent home, officials said Thursday.

The Britons could walk free on their return but four of their compatriots will remain locked up at the base. [...]

"Five of the British detainees will return to the United Kingdom," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told reporters. "These men will be flown home to the U.K. in the next few weeks."

He would make no predictions about the likelihood of their facing trial. The anti-terrorist branch of the police said it would consider the case of each man individually. [...]

"Even the British government is not able to make final commitments on behalf of what the prosecutors may eventually decide," he told reporters.

Under British law it could be difficult to try the suspects since evidence obtained while they were held without access to lawyers would generally not be admissible in court. [...]

No rights, no charges, no lawyers...life in the Cuban camp beyond the law

[...]There have been at least 28 suicide attempts among the 680 detainees. The International Committee for the Red Cross, which has limited visits to the detainees, condemned the regime at Camp Delta, saying detainees suffered "extreme stress and anxiety.

"The uncertainty these internees face as regards their legal status and their future does have a very adverse impact on their physical and mental wellbeing," said an ICRC spokeswoman, Antonella Notari. "A lot of them are pushed to despair."

Officially, the US has given no information about the British detainees. But some guards gave details to the Guardian about the lives the Britons lead. Sergeant David Keefer said: "I'd say they fare better in this environment because the connection is easier for us with them [because of the shared language], and for us to facilitate their needs."

He added that they were "helpful, if they are in a good mood", acting as unofficial interpreters. The guards speak no Arabic or Urdu and many inmates speak no English.

"They want to talk about football, they want to know the scores, what club is strong or about the Cup."

Another guard, Private Jennifer Bartlett, said the Britons were suffering. "Some get angry and do not want anything to do with anyone. Some sit there and talk about their family, tell you about their kids - it helps them cope with it."

Their apparently endless detention depresses them, she admits.

"It's just the duration of the time they have spent here, not knowing what's going to happen, when they are going home.

"They will sit and read a letter from their family, and they are frustrated, sometimes they get down. Sometimes they cry after reading their letters."

When they receive them, that is.

Bush feared court judgement, lawyers claim

[...] "We're pleased to see some of our clients are getting out," said Michael Ratner, head of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, which is representing the detainees before the supreme court. But he added: "The United States government really only started acting when the supreme court began to look into that case. What they're trying to say to the court is trust us, trust us, trust us. The reason the government is acting is to a large extent due to the judicial review."

The supreme court shocked the government by agreeing in November to hear the detainees' case. If it rules against the government, and declares Guantanamo Bay under the jurisdiction of US courts, it would destroy the basis on which the detention centre was built, over two years ago, as a means of holding prisoners in the "global war on terrorism" indefinitely without any of the restrictions and safeguards of the US court system.

"It raises a concern that it is an opportunistic act to remove two plaintiffs on the supreme court case," said Gareth Peirce, a solicitor for the British detainees. She also argued that the release of the British detainees reduced pressure on the Blair government to push harder for the release of the four other British prisoners.

Some legal experts have argued that, if Mr Rasul and Mr Iqbal had remained plaintiffs in the supreme court case, the Blair government would have been obliged to lodge a formal objection to the Bush administration's actions on their behalf.

The release follows intensive negotiations between the British attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, and the Pentagon, and between the British ambassador, Sir David Manning, and the US national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice.[...]

Americans Urged to Leave Haiti

By GEORGE GEDDA, Associated Press Writer
February 20, 2004

WASHINGTON - All non-government Americans in Haiti should leave while transportation is still available, the State Department said Thursday, citing the violent uprising.

Peace Corps personnel are being withdrawn, and the government has authorized the departure of family members and non-emergency employees of the U.S. Embassy on a voluntary basis, the department said. [...]

Oil Up as Supply Worries Nag

Fri Feb 20, 7:37 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil prices pushed up within sight of 11-month highs on Friday after a build in U.S. crude stocks did little to ease concerns about supplies. [...]

Jail for man who forgot gun was in bag

A Norfolk father-of-two was jailed for four months today for trying to board an aircraft with a ball bearing gun in his bag. Property agent David Burrows said he simply forgot the gun was there as he attempted to board the flight to Alicante at Stansted Airport. Burrows's lawyer said an appeal was being considered and that the sentence was “unnecessary and harsh”. But police welcomed the judge's decision, saying the sentence would act as a deterrent.

Big fines for banned items at airports

Bad attitude could raise fines

Anyone trying to sneak a knife onto an airplane could be fined $250 and a passenger with an explosive could get as much as $10,000 under new guidelines. Thousands of airline passengers board planes every year carrying banned items such as cuticle scissors, box cutters and guns.

The guidelines list aggravating factors, such as "attitude" and "artful concealment," that can bring a heftier fine.

Comment: Recently a correspondent wrote to us about his treatment at the hands of US officials on his return journey to the US from Europe.

"Only one thing of significance to note on my travels back to the United States. In Amsterdam, before passengers could board the plane headed for the U.S., we were all "interviewed" by "security officials". My "interview" turned into an interrogation and I was beginning to get very nervous about whether they would let me on the plane or not.

There was a team of these officials with one guy in a suit who looked very important and all the other security guys (who were in uniforms) were consulting with him whenever a flag was raised with any passenger. Apparently I raised several flags for them because the security official had to consult with the "head cheese" three times in my case. They asked me all kinds of questions about where I had been, why I had been where I had been, who I was with, what relation did I have to the people I was with, and didn't it seem odd that I would be travelling without my wife, and a bunch of personal questions, and wasn't it expensive to reschedule my flights to extend my stay, etc., etc. Only two or three other people out of two hundred were "interviewed" as long or longer than me and one was an Arab looking guy. All the other passengers stared at me while they watched the interrogation. It was humiliating.

And it was damn scary. I did not face anything even remotely like that going into either France or the Netherlands. Then when I got back into the States, there was a long Customs process where I had to fill out a bunch of stuff and get my bags inspected and I had to go get my checked in bag and bring it to the Customs desk and then re-check it back in with the airline for continuation to my final destination and I had to answer a bunch of questions again about where I had been and what I was doing, etc. I did not face that in either France or the Netherlands. It's absolutely outrageous. I felt like a criminal just trying to get back to my country of birth, the "land of the free"."

The implementation of control measures such as the above is in no way related to "security" or "terrorism". The real reason can be seen by simply looking at the results of these actions. People are slowly being conditioned to feel fear at every turn. Fear results in the incapacitation of independent or objective thought and encourages the "savior complex" in those in whom fear is induced. There is little we can do without being reminded of the ever present "terror threat".

At this point in our evolution, the goal of government is to herd the population to a much finer order of control. Such severe restrictions on liberty of thought and movement are not imposed without a definite reason. By reading this particular "sign", we may conclude that the US and other governments are preparing for serious upheavals of a global nature in the near future, be they man-made, or natural or made to appear "natural". Reference the "war on terrorism", impending cometary impacts, earthquakes, volcano eruptions and the likelihood of deliberate disbursement of a deadly strain of flu virus.

Never before in recent history has humanity stood so close to disaster. Consider the image of a sleepwalker teetering on the edge of an abyss, completely unaware of the extreme danger of his situation, and you have an idea of the present state of humanity.

An elderly Indonesian woman covers her nose as a health department worker sprays pesticide in a slum area in Jakarta February 17, 2004. At least 77 people have died in the last month on the island of Java from an outbreak of the dengue fever virus,
which is transmitted by mosquitoes

Pesticide Testing on Humans Is Ethical, Science Panel Says (US)

It is ethical to test pesticides and pollutants on human volunteers in order to determine whether environmental safety standards can be lowered, a top panel of scientists said yesterday in an opinion that is expected to strongly influence government policy. The pesticide industry has vehemently supported such tests for years, arguing that current regulatory limits on exposure to environmental toxins are overly cautious.

Environmental Groups Decry Pesticide Report

Environmental groups responded with dismay on Thursday to a report from a panel of government advisers that says it might be OK to test pesticides on people if the strictest care is taken. The Natural Resources Defense Council called it an "appalling suggestion" while the Environmental Working Group said the chemical industry could not be trusted to follow government testing guidelines.

Black Death vaccine developed

Thursday, 19 February, 2004

UK researchers have made a crucial breakthrough in the development of a vaccine against the 'Black Death'.

The bubonic plague, which killed millions in Europe in the Middle Ages, is now one of the most deadly agents available to terrorists. Researchers at the Ministry of Defence's Porton Down laboratory say a vaccine could be licensed "within one to two years".

Around 2,500 cases of plague occur naturally each year across the world. It is caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium that can infect rodents. It is usually transferred to humans by fleas.

After someone has been infected, symptoms including fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and swollen lymph nodes which ooze blood, develop within two to eight days.

If it is untreated, bubonic plague kills around 60% of victims.

A vaccine could be used to protect troops against the dangers of biological warfare, and to protect people living in areas where the plague is rife

Terrorist capability

Porton Down researchers, led by Professor Rick Titball, recently carried out safety tests of the vaccine in humans.

They showed the vaccine produced no side-effects, meaning larger scale trials can go ahead.

A spokeswoman for Porton Down said: "This is a crucial stage, in that we have had one successful step to show the safety of the vaccine. Now we can move onto larger scale trials."

Professor Titball and his team identified two harmless proteins on the surface of plague bacteria which were capable of triggering an immune response against the disease.

He said work on a vaccine was even more significant now, as international terrorist organisations such as al-Qaeda could try to use non-conventional forms of attack, such as chemical or biological weapons.

Professor Titball warned a terrorist with a degree in microbiology would be capable of constructing a device using plague bacteria.

He said it was "one of the bio-terror agents about which we are most concerned."

Scientists at Porton Down have been working on a vaccine for bubonic plague since the 1991 Gulf War, when it emerged that Iraq had been developing stocks of chemical and biological weapons including plague, anthrax and botulinum toxin.

Troops fighting in the 2003 Gulf War were given a vaccine against anthrax.

Other scientists around the world are also working to develop a plague vaccine.

But Professor Titball said: "The Americans are very keen on our programme because we are well in advance of any other research projects developing a vaccine elsewhere in the world."

Mild bird flu found on B.C. farm

Thu, 19 Feb 2004

OTTAWA - A mild form of avian flu has been found on a farm in British Columbia, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said on Thursday.

The H7 virus found is the same low-risk strain that was discovered last week in the United States.

It is not the same H5N1 strain of bird flu that has ravaged Asian poultry stocks and led to the deaths of 22 people.

Thailand reports bird flu in cats

Scientists in Thailand have confirmed the first cases of bird flu in cats.

The deadly H5N1 virus was found in at least two domestic cats and a white tiger, veterinarian Teeraphon Sirinauemit announced in Bangkok.

The discovery is significant because every time the virus jumps from one species to another, it increases the risk of more cases occurring in humans.

Bird flu found in cats, leopard

Friday 20 February 2004, 11:59 Makka Time, 8:59 GMT

The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has been detected in a leopard, a tiger and two domestic cats in Thailand, experts said on Friday.

"This is the first time in the world that we have found bird flu in cats and tigers," said Therapol Sirinaruemitr from Bangkok's Kasetsart University which tested the animals. "We found the H5N1 virus in the samples."

"One clouded leopard has already died and one white tiger is still alive and has recovered," he told a press conference, referring to animals kept at a private zoo east of Bangkok.

Drug effective against avian flu

A drug used to treat flu has been shown to be effective against the avian strain of the disease sweeping Asia.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia tested the drug, Relenza, on a sample of the H5N1 virus.

The virus has killed 22 people in Asia, and infected millions of chickens.

The tests showed the drug was as effective at stopping H5N1 from multiplying as it was against other strains of flu that affect humans.

[...] Professor John Oxford, an expert in virology at St Bart's Hospital, London, urged the international community to stock up on supplies of Relenza and Tamiflu.

He told BBC News Online:"If the virus begins to spread from human to human we could be totally dependent on these drugs."

Comment: Our research into the flu virus shows that there is a distinct possibility that the US government is engaged in efforts to manufacture and disseminate deadly strains of virii among the population. The evidence also points to the likelihood that they have already done this in the past. See our Signs Flu Supplement for more.

Israel's security chiefs welcome arrival of new F-16I jets

By Haaretz Service and Reuters

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon were in attendance Thursday as the first two in a new fleet of U.S.-made warplanes arrived at a air base in the southern Negev desert.

The two F-16I jets are part of the biggest military purchase - at $4.5 billion - in the history of state. All told, 102 jets are to be delivered by the decade's end.

The F-16Is would upgrade Israel's advantage over Arab foes and extend its reach over much of Iran, whose atomic development program is seen by many in Israel as an existential threat, although Tehran denies having hostile designs. [...]

Comment: Israel took receipt of these jets even before the US military had access to them. They were "paid" for with a loan from the U.S., guaranteed by the U.S., that Israel doesn't have to repay

Anti-Zionism And Anti-Semitism

Azmi Bishara Al-Hayat 2004/02/19

Official Israeli "propaganda" and certain Zionist organizations are desperately trying to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism in the West, in addition to accusing Islam of having a hostile disposition towards Judaism. These classifications were clearly reflected in the Israeli Knesset on the day of observance of anti-Semitism. The discussion focused on new forms of anti-Semitism of which speakers competed in accusing Islamic fundamentalism, the European Left and pro-Palestinian groups to be its perpetrators. Sharon said in this context that Europe should acknowledge that the anti-Semitic virus has reawakened and is spreading at an alarming level. He added that hostility towards Israel and criticism of its policies are merely justifications for the destructive and violent anti-Jewish attacks from universities and governments.

The liberal Zionist claims that anti-Zionism is the same as anti-Semitism on the grounds that it is a denial of the Jews' right of self-determination (that is of course, if we have already established that anti-Semitism is in fact hatred of Jews and not of Semites). A simple proof of the difference between the two concepts is that the majority of Jews in the past, and a large number of them today, are not Zionists and do not support the Zionist movement. Conversely, some anti-Semites do not oppose Israel. Furthermore, many of those who oppose Israel also oppose other occurrences of racism and occupation, including anti-Semitism. In fact, anti-Zionism as a theoretical and theological position is a Jewish phenomenon, and hence, cannot be a form of anti-Semitism. Palestinian or Arab enmity of Zionism is a reflection of a political struggle and is in the context of the relation between the occupier and the occupied, while anti-Semitism stemmed from hatred targeting Jewish minorities.

The Jewish religious establishment views Zionism as a secular theory of emancipation and has been accused of preaching for a "false messiah" and "intervening in God's work." All these terms are taken from the concept of Jewish anticipation of being saved from the "pains of Diaspora" with the return of the awaited Messiah. Therefore, Zionism was considered to be a secular movement that is trying to secularize the Jewish faith and remove the quality of "the chosen people" from the Jews. The Jewish orthodox establishment has never truly adopted Zionism, though it has adapted to Israeli interests and political reality, including its close ties with the Right as well as its support of the occupation.

Ayoon wa Azan (New Anti-Semitism)

Jihad Al Khazen Al-Hayat 2004/02/17

In two days, the European Commission will hold a conference on the increase of anti-Semitism in Europe in cooperation with the World Jewish Congress and the European Jewish Congress. The EC canceled the conference last month because of a dispute with the Jewish side; the former was accused of "moral betrayal" and "intellectual dishonesty." EC President Romano Prodi said he was surprised by the stance of both Jewish congresses. While Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress and Cobi Benatoff, president of the European Jewish Congress, sent a joint letter to the Financial Times in which they stated that anti-Semitism could be expressed in two ways; action and inaction. What is strange is that the EC is guilty on both accounts.

There is no argument that anti-Semitism increased in Europe. There is no argument that Arabs and Muslims are accountable for some of it. However, the anti-Semitism wave is being exploited by Israel's supporters to divert attention away from its crimes, which reached the extent of Israelis themselves started admitting them and refusing to participate in them.

Bronfman and Benatoff are practicing inaction, for they are not indicating anything Israel commits. The reason for anger is that the EC conducted a poll, which indicated that the majority of Europeans consider Israel a threat to world peace - the U.S. is not too far off. However, there was another poll that showed that much of anti-Semitic practices are perpetrated by Arabs or Muslims. The EC, at first, tried not to publish this poll in order not to kindle the dispute between the different ethnicities. However, Israel's supporters considered it a cover up, especially because the poll that accused Israel was published.

I do not think that Thursday's conference would succeed in fighting anti-Semitism. I fear it would start a new wave; for the U.S., which incites Israel to kill in the Palestinian territories and protects it from punishment, is provocatively standing by Israel's supporters. The U.S. ambassador to the EU, Rockwell Schnabel, alleged recently that anti-Semitism in Europe has reached the same level Europe witnessed in the 1930s. This is an exaggeration by a responsible diplomat, for it definitely did not reach 1930s levels. Moreover, there is a fundamental difference between them, because government practiced old anti-Semitism, which led to disaster. Current anti-Semitism is practiced by individuals, the majority of them being on the margin of the society and it is impossible for them to rule one day.

Regardless of the source of new anti-Semitism, it should be denounced, and excuses should not be found for those who practice it, or use it to cover up Israel's crimes, for the supporters of war criminal Ariel Sharon's government never see what he is doing; they say that criticizing Israel is allowed, since it is a democratic practice, but…

However, this would make every person who criticizes Israel anti-Semitic. Israel's supporters, who do not want anyone to talk about its crimes, go from anti-Semitism accusations to demanding limiting others' freedom of expression. The Simon Weisenthal Center is campaigning to issue laws against 'hate talk' i.e., talking about Israel. An interview published in the Denver Post said that criticizing Israel is acceptable, but it is not acceptable to single it out and demonize it, while ignoring other countries that violate human rights. Hence, other countries violating human rights justify Israel's violation of human rights. George W. Bush himself was criticized; Israel tried last June to assassinate Dr. Abdulaziz Rantissi - it killed a three-year old child, a woman and wounded 27 others. Bush said that this action does not serve Israel's security. Tom DeLay (Republican) went to Bush's office and threatened him to drive the Congress to issue a decision that unconditionally supports Sharon, should he say such words again.

We heard, in an international conference about anti-Semitism, Jean Kahn, president of the Central Consistory of the Jewish Communities in France, suggesting the banning of Al-Jazeera, and there is a campaign to suspend Al-Manar TV. Moreover, Jewish groups are calling for banning web pages that attack Israel.

How could a commentator, or writer, criticize Israel without being accused of anti-Semitism, especially that its supporters claim that criticism is permissible?

Israeli peace activist Yuri Avneri wrote an article in which he asked: is every person who criticizes Israel anti-Semite? He answered: Of course not; one cannot be considered anti-Semite for criticizing Israel's behavior. However, if one hated Israel because it is the state of the Jews, then one is an anti-Semite. Avneri added that saying that all Israel's critics are anti-Semites is wrong and has negative repercussions; one can be against Zionism without being anti-Semitic since Zionism is a political movement.

According to Avneri's definition, the reader and I are clear of anti-Semitism charges. However, I read an opposing viewpoint written by Emanuel Ottolenghi, professor of Israeli Studies at Oxford University. He wrote an article entitled: Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitism. He raised old charges about the worst cases of anti-Semitism; the Jewish conspiracy to control the world, the Jews' money, and control of the media. He repeated the allegation that the world is judging Israel in a condescending and idealistic manner, which it does not use with other countries.

This is untrue. Judging Israel is based on the crimes of the extremist right-wing Israeli government. Furthermore, new anti-Semitism has been caused by Israel's crimes. Anyone saying otherwise is either lying or in denial since one cannot admit that Israel is a Nazi-like state. This last accusation is not mine it is the Europeans'. I will continue tomorrow.

Ayoon wa Azan (New Anti-Semitism 2)

Jihad Al Khazen Al-Hayat 2004/02/18

I continue where I stopped yesterday concerning the increase of anti-Semitism in Europe.

Within the intellectual debate of what is allowed, or not, in terms of criticizing Israel, Louis De Berniere wrote for the Independent that Israel is practicing methods that remind of Nazism. The Guardian's Emmanuel Ottolenghi answered by saying that equating between the victim and the killer reminds of the Holocaust, since it gives an excuse of counter-effect; if there were villains among Jews, then perhaps they deserve what happened to them.

This is a word of truth used outside its context. Campaigns undertaken by De Berniere and others do not target Jews everywhere, but only those in Israel. In fact, they are not against Israel even, which name is used metaphorically; they are against the extreme rightist Israeli government, which practices some Nazi methods.

I personally accused the Israeli government of Nazism. I wrote in this column, and in private e-mail replies to Jewish readers, that 14 centuries of massacres between Arabs and Jews do not equal an afternoon in Auschwitz or Treblinka. Thus, the exaggeration reflects despair from reaching peace with this Israeli government.

Today, there is a significant increase of anti-Semitism throughout Europe. Denying it will make it last longer, but acknowledging it is the first step towards the resolution. Moreover, admitting its reasons is a step of equal importance.

Last week, Israel killed 28 Palestinians, including two children, and injured 60, among which 33 children. The majority of those were civilians. As for the Racism Wall, we could talk about it incessantly. The reader knows it was built on Palestinian territories in order to destroy peace; he knows how it separates the farmer from his land, and the young student from his school. In Qalqilyah, which the Wall encircles, the sun sets at 3 p.m. nowadays. Israel is carrying out ethnic cleansing in Rafah, illustrated by the gradual destruction of the city. Up to last week, Israel had destroyed 1,643 houses, leaving 16,000 of its residents out on the streets. During last week only, it destroyed 31 houses, expatriated their 400 residents, and killed a 12 year-old in an air raid.

The Israeli crimes became immense to an extent that Israelis themselves revolted against them, condemning and rejecting them. During the Refuseniks Revolution, five military servicemen among them were sentenced to one year in prison, for refusing to serve within Palestinian territories. Around 1,000 military service candidates signed a letter objecting to the service. This issue is not about young people only, as prominent military men holding key positions in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), like pilots and generals, also refused to serve against Palestinians. Moreover, 13 soldiers from MaTKaL unit, the elite unit of IDF, announced their rejection to serve against Palestinians; three of those spoke publicly, stating their fear for the future of Israel as a democratic country; they feel they have crossed the limits of defending a just cause, and started afflicting another population.

This does not mean that the Israeli government's activities could excuse the new anti-Semitism in Europe. I noted them for the purpose of explaining. The Arab or Muslim who follows what Palestinians suffer from, and watched it on television on a daily basis, might lose his temper. He must be take this into consideration in tomorrow's conference against the spread of anti-Semitism in Europe, in case he really wishes to fight the disease, and not use it in order to generalize Israel's crimes.

The Arab or Muslim citizen in Europe, watches news that feeds his hatred towards Israel. This news does not necessarily come from Arab sources. I was gathering information for this subject, when I fell on a report issued by the Department for International Development (DFID), which represents the various parties of the British House of Commons. It states that malnutrition in Gaza and some parts of the West Bank is now similar to the bad situation in the South of the African Sahara. It adds that the Separation Wall is destroying the Palestinian economy, and spreading poverty.

These are the words of elected British officials, and not of an Arab advertisement against Israel. I know from membership in the Committee of Advisors of the International Bank of the Middle East and North Africa, that three years ago, the per capita income in the West Bank, was the third among non-oil-producing Arab countries. It was third behind the per capita income in Lebanon and Tunisia. Today, three years after Ariel Sharon's coming to office, the Palestinian citizen reached the level of poverty, and the level of hunger.

The World Jewish Congress led by Edgar Bronfman, and the European Council of Jewish Communities (ECJC) led by Cobi Benatoff want to fight the increase of anti-Semitism without dealing with its reasons. This is strange, coming from Bronfman who was subject to a campaign last year, after criticizing the Israeli government. As for Sir Stanley Kalms, Chairman of Dixons Group PLC, he objected Dr. Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth and leader of Britain's Jews, and asked for his isolation, because of not supporting Israel enough.

Dr. Sacks supports Israel very much. But its allies do not bring it much benefit with their silence in the face of the crimes undertaken by its government. The conflict is essentially not with any Arab or Muslim in Europe. It is with Europeans themselves, and the Israelis who refuse to take part in their government's activities. I talked about those, and will continue tomorrow with Europeans.

The five: a bone in the throat of the military prison

Report by Adam Keller

Early morning at one Tel-Aviv's main arteries. On one side the Twin Towers of the Azrieli Commercial Center. On the other side, a monster of concrete and glass being constructed to house the expanding Ministry of Defence. In between, a group of demonstrators holding up the placards "Release the Prisoners of Conscience". Leaflets were handed out to the big stream of mostly rear-echelon soldiers on their way to the morning shift.

At nine, not far from there - in the courtroom of the Military Appeals Court - a surrealistic scene - the testimony by Colonel Major Ochana, Deputy Commander of the Israeli Military Police Corps. "Ever since these five arrived at Military Prison-6, in January, their presence is completely undermining discipline and good order in the prison. The prison commandant and the entire staff are mainly concerned with them, and have no time and energy left for the rest of the five hundred prisoners. They are political activists with their own agenda, completely unfitting for the conditions of a military prison, governed by military discipline. Therefore, we demand that they be forthwith be transferred to a civilian prison." He was addressing the committee concerned with such prisoner transfers, convened at the Appeals Court hall.

Persistently questioned by advocate Avner Pinchuk appointed by the civil rights association ACRI to defend the five, Colonel Ochana could mention no other example than Shimri Tzameret publishing a prison blog on the internet "in contravention of prison regulations." The military authorities had been quite tardy in stamping upon this dangerous subversive activity which Tzameret maintained with the mediation of his grandmother. It had gone on for nearly a year, and in fact during the five's court martial the prosecutor had extensively quoted from the blog in his speeches. "There is much more, but I can't disclose it right now for fear of compromising intelligence sources" was the Colonel's way of saving his face. In fact, the committee obliged him by holding a session in camera, expelling the five, their lawyer, and the entire audience of supporters and family members. The five, Noam Bahat, Matan Kaminer, Adam Maor, Haggai Matar and Shimri Tzameret, seemed rather amused, as they sat in the sun on the lawn outside the courtroom, surrounded by parents and girl friends. Their good spirits were undampened by their being handcuffed two by two (the sixth one being a non-political transfer case). "The prison intelligence officer does maintain a network of spies and informers, and tries to give the prisoners the impression that he knows everything. But I doubt that they have anything real on us to say in there", said Haggai Matar.

One by one, the five were called back in, to give their own testimony and state their position towards the possibility of going to a civilian prison. Each in turn repeated the position which they had agreed upon: "We consider the intention of transferring us to a civilian prison as part of the campaign of harassment by the military authorities." Colonel Elisha Caspi, presiding judge grew impatient: "Why do you persist in throwing out this abstract principles? Do you have no personal preferences? No practical considerations?" The five did not oblige him. "But why?" exclaimed the military prosecution representative, Lieutenant Colonel Inbar. "You don't want to be soldiers. You don't accept military discipline. Why then are you trying to stick to the military prison? Would you not rather move to a civilian prison where you will not will have to get up at 5am, stand at roll calls the whole day, and address every guard with 'Sir', and where you will have a much better chance to have your term reduced for good behavior?"

"If we are not fitting for a military framework and military discipline, then the army really should send us out of the military prison, not to a civilian prison - but home. After all, our entire court martial turned on the issue whether or not we are to be soldiers, and there the army firmly insisted that we should. The civilian prison is a place for people who have done something wrong in civil society. We have not committed a light traffic offence."

This was followed by a speech of adv. Pinchuk. "The military system is exhibiting a completely irrational hysteria towards these five guys, as if they carry in their pocket atomic bombs, ready to explode. The claim of "secret intelligence material" is void of any substance. They are not on trial here, they have already been tried and sentenced. They are not here because of any activity on their part, but because of their very essence as refusers, as people who follow the dictates of their conscience. Their integrity and courage to refuse is perceived as a threat."

Lieutenant Colonel Inbar addressed an identical question to each of the five in turn: "If you stay in Prison-6, would you be willing to oblige yourself to the prison commandant to adhere to military discipline without exception?" The answers were very much alike: "In the month and half that we are in Prison-6 we have obeyed the orders given to us, but we can't give a blanket promise for the future. If we get an order contradicting our conscience, we will not obey."

Colonel Ochana pounced upon this answer. "You see! They are not willing to abide by the most basic obligation, keeping military discipline in the prison. For example, we have started a project of taking prisoners out to do work on the Security Fence. Do you think that if we ordered these five to do it, they would obey?" The faces of some of the other officers present showed some consternation. To threaten imprisoned refusers with being sent to work on the very disputed fence, due next week to be on the agenda of the International Court in The Hague, that seemed to be going a bit far for them.

The members of the military committee remained closeted for more than an hour, to come out and announce that the decision will be given on an other day.

On March 3, the next act is due on the same place: the appeal prepared by adv. Dov Chenin against both the conviction of the five and the length of their term.

Comment: Although the government of Sharon and its supporters around the world are doing all in their power to declare as anti-Semitic any opposition to Israel's policy of genocide, there are Jews the world over who show this is not the case. Young Israelis are refusing to participate in Sharon's war crimes, as the example of these five demonstrate. It is only going to get nastier. Those like Sharon have shown they will stop at nothing to get their way.

Barrier Reef just 50 years from death

By Phil Dickie and Susan Brown
February 21, 2004

Trouble in wonderland . . . a new report warns that coral bleaching will devastate the Great Barrier Reef's tourism industry. Photo courtesy of GBRMPA

The Great Barrier Reef will lose most of its coral cover by 2050, inflicting billions of dollars in damage on Australia's tourism and fishing industries, a study on coral bleaching has warned.

The authors, the head of Queensland University's Centre for Marine Studies, and his father, an economist, predict, at best, reefs will have about 5 per cent living coral cover by the middle of the century, a predicament that would take the reef 50-100 years to recover from.

They blame rising water temperatures for the problem and warn it could end up costing the economy $8 billion and more than 12,000 jobs by 2020. Even under favourable conditions, they said, tourists would only be able to experience real corals in reef "theme parks" in places as far off as the Whitsunday Shire [...]

Petition Drive Begun to Fight Military Draft

A Libertarian candidate for president says the Pentagon is planning on bringing back the military draft – to include women – but won't introduce it until after the fall elections. So convinced of that is Aaron Russo that he has begun an online petition drive to alert lawmakers and President Bush of Americans' opposition to it.

Years Of FBI Agent Crimes Detailed

An internal FBI report kept under wraps for three years details dozens of cases of agents fired for egregious misconduct and crimes, including drug trafficking, attempted murder, theft, misuse of informants and consorting with prostitutes.

The report, released Wednesday by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, found that about one in 1,000 agents was dismissed for serious misconduct or criminal offenses by the FBI during the period examined, from 1986 to 1999. The average was between eight and nine per year.

Judge rebuffs suggested safeguards for e-voting

By Dion Nissenbaum

Saying there is no evidence that California's primary election is in danger of being manipulated, a skeptical Sacramento County judge Wednesday rebuffed an attempt to impose new safeguards on 19 counties that use electronic-voting equipment. [...]

Rybkin Denied Right to Take Part in Debates

The Associated Press

Communist Nikolai Kharitonov debating with independents Sergei Glazyev and Sergei Mironov on Channel One on Thursday.

Election officials said Thursday that Liberal Russia's Ivan Rybkin would not be allowed to participate in televised presidential debates.

Rybkin, who decided to stay in London for the duration of the election campaign because of alleged security threats at home, will not be able to participate in the debates with other presidential candidates via a television linkup from London, a spokesman for the Central Elections Commission said.

Russia resumes gas deliveries to Belarus

MOSCOW, February 19 (Itar-Tass)

Trans Nafta and Belarus’ gas transportation company Beltransgas signed a contract for the resumption of exports on Thursday.

“It is expected that Gazprom will resume the deliveries within the nearest hour,” Trans Nafta’s director general Vladimir Kondrachuk told Itar-Tass.

He said the “contract has been signed for 640 million cubic metres of gas at the previous price, 46.68 dollars for one thousand cubic meters”.

“This amount must be enough for Belarus until the end of this month,” Kondrachuk said.

Gas pipeline explodes in Novorossiisk

20.02.2004, 14.05

NOVOROSSIISK, February 20 (Itar-Tass) -- An explosion happened on the gas pipeline in Novorossiisk on Friday.

The Krymsk-Novorossiisk-Gelendzhik pipeline exploded near the oil terminal Grushovoye, a city administration official told Itar-Tass. Repair teams and rescuers of the regional Emergency Situations Ministry have gone to the incident scene.

Pressure has been shut down in the gas pipeline.

UK 'unapologetic' at joining Franco-German block

BERLIN, Feb 19 (AFP) - Europe will have to get used to Britain, France and Germany meeting for three-way talks, German officials said, as analysts warned Thursday of the risk of alienating disgruntled EU partners.

At a summit here Wednesday where they agreed a series of proposals to spur the European Union economy, the leaders of the bloc's big three insisted they were acting in the interests of all and not trying to impose their views.

Afterwards, German government sources said, they agreed to carry on meeting at regular intervals, despite stinging criticism from some of the leaders not invited to Berlin.

"You're going to have to get used to this format," a senior official said, both at ministerial level and the level of heads of state or government.

He said the leaders felt such summits were "fruitful and that strengthened dialogue in this format should continue in the future."

Wednesday's talks in Berlin, hosted by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, involved British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac as well as a handful of ministers from each country.

"We're not trying to dominate anyone, let alone Europe," Schroeder said in response to the criticism.

"I don't think we need to be apologetic in any shape or form," Blair said [...]

Haiti rebels declare independence and Americans leave

A rag-tag band of rebels who have seized more than a dozen towns in northern Haiti yesterday declared themselves an independent country and named a government and president.

The rebels, who include gang members and former soldiers from the country's disbanded army, declared themselves the rulers of the independent country of Artibonite, named after the region around the city of Gonaives, where the rebellion against the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide broke out two weeks ago.

Some 20,000 people watched in the main square of the city as rebel leader, Buter Metayer, arrived for a rally, after the insurgents named him their president.

Wearing a white suit and gold glasses, he led the swarming, cheering crowd in chanting, "Alone we are weak, together we are strong, together we are the resistance." [...]

Ageing Mugabe shows no sign of mellowing

Harare - President Robert Mugabe, one of Africa's most combative and enduring rulers, shows no sign of mellowing with age as he turns 80 on Saturday.

In the days before his birthday, Mugabe spoke mainly of war - war against the alleged efforts of Britain and the United States to topple his regime, and war against "economic saboteurs" at home.

Mugabe's fighting talk was accompanied by deepening state repression. Last week, he signed a presidential decree authorising detention without bail for up to four weeks for political and economic offenses.[...]

Cost of 'quiet diplomacy'

It is probably true that President Thabo Mbeki awaits in trepidation news about the latest antics of his counterpart across the Limpopo, Robert Mugabe. Visualise a Zimbabwe "crisis desk" in the Union Buildings where the ministry of foreign affairs is located - a desk that largely informs the president's policy of "quiet diplomacy" and has a hotline to Harare.

In recent times, with almost daily developments propelling our hapless neighbour on the road to perdition, it has become a busy "desk".

Before passing judgment on South Africa's stance on Zimbabwe, let's ponder Mbeki's dilemma.[...]

Rwanda to release genocide suspects

Kigali - Rwanda is to release a large number of prisoners accused of participating in the country's genocide in 1994 who have confessed to their roles in the massacres that claimed the lives of up to a million people, the chief prosecutor said Wednesday.

Jean de Dieu Mucyo told AFP that "several tens of thousands" of prisoners have made confessions while in preventative detention but declined to say how many of them would be freed.

The release is set to coincide with the commemoration of the 10th anniversary in April of the 1994 genocide where members of the country's Tutsi minority and Hutu sympathisers were killed by Hutu extremists.[...]

Skulls show brutal Khmer Rouge executions

Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Some prisoners were smashed in the face with machete blows and died in agony, while some died quickly from a single bullet shot to the head.

These are among the forensic findings about execution methods of the Khmer Rouge who terrorised Cambodia during their 1975 to 79 rule. They go on display next week in the form of 10 skulls in hopes they will provide evidence at a trial of surviving Khmer Rouge leaders and help educate the public.

Youk Chhang, director of a centre documenting Khmer Rouge atrocities, said language is inadequate to explain the cruelty and violence that the fanatical movement inflicted on its own people.[...]

Soweto's Scarlet Pimpernel escapes forever

Franz Fanon once observed that "each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it".

In a reversal of Fanon's remark, the children of Soweto were discovered by history.

A whole generation of black youths was thrust into the front pages of history. Tsietsi Mashinini and Khotso Seatlholo were placed at the head of the resistance. Both vowed not to betray it, both expected to live short lives, and they both did.

Mashinini died under mysterious circumstances in exile, weeks before he was due to return to South Africa in the early 1990s. Seatlholo died last week in Johannesburg, aged 45.

Mashinini and Seatlholo's contribution to SA's liberation has been systematically erased from popular consciousness over time.

In the new South Africa, Seatlholo watched with disbelief the de-politicisation of the youth. He watched with horror the distortion of the political nature and significance of the Soweto uprising.

He spoke against it, of course, but in the last few years he refused to grant interviews to reporters, who only wanted a few quotes every June 16. Seatlholo saw this as an insult to the memory of those who had died so that we might be free.[...]

From rebel to saviour of children

Civil wars come to an end. And with all their mental scars, child soldiers become adults. But what on Earth is the former commander of thousands of such boys doing as a school principal and a part-time consultant for "Save the Children"?

Deng Dau Deng answers philosophically. The towering man with the boyish face is still an officer in Sudan's rebel movement SPLA, which only reluctantly admits mistakes of the past.

"In life you can have a ceiling of thinking - but also an opening when interaction with others is high," he says.

We are sitting in "New Site" - a partly tented village from where the leadership of Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) is preparing to rule South Sudan when a planned peace settlement has ended the oldest civil war in Africa. Deng is the principal of the new school.

War trauma triggered as man takes 18 months to report brother's death

[...] Psychiatrist Joan Smithies told the inquest that Herbert Silver suffered from a dissociative disorder, which meant he had cut off knowledge and feelings of the event in his mind.

Smithies said she found Herbert Silver had suffered from an unspecified trauma during World War 2. This had caused the dissociative disorder and it was again triggered when the brother died, Smithies said.

"I think losing George was another overwhelming traumatic experience for Bert, and his mechanism was to cut off from events. That is why Bert was not aware of the death, when most other people would have been," she said.[...]

'I don't want to live, I lost everything'

Dehnow - Bulldozers digging graves in this tiny Iranian village drowned out the wails of mourners waiting to bury loved ones killed when a runaway train derailed at more than 145km/h and exploded, killing 320 people and injuring hundreds more.

"I don't want to live, I have lost everything," a sobbing Hossein Ghassemabadi, whose son and daughter-in-law were killed, said on Thursday. "She was pregnant. I was waiting to see my grandchild."[...]

Zoo devastated by mysterious animal assassin

Sao Paulo, Brazil - Pain, anger and sadness are etched on the face of Vicente Lucas Soares as he reminisces about Baira, the female elephant he cared for ever since she arrived at the Sao Paulo Zoo nearly 30 years ago.

"She was the sweetest, gentlest of animals," the 64-year-old animal keeper says. "It was as if I had lost a child."

Police to study serial killers

[...]The spokesman said Scotland Yard had ordered the research in response to the Washington sniper attacks in which 10 people were murdered.

A spokesman said: "Following the case of the sniper, who terrorised parts of the USA, consideration was given to the possibility of such a case occurring in the UK," he said.

Even though some killers will refuse to help, detectives believe others will talk to them, especially those who have been behind bars for a long time.

The other types of murder being analysed include honour killings, ritual murder, contract killings, homophobic murders, attacks on lone females, murders of pensioners and domestic violence killings.[...]

Teen shot 3 times outside school: Ten rounds fired at 16-year-old boy


A 16-year-old boy was wounded by gunfire near a Scarborough school yesterday, in what police described as a mid-afternoon drive-by shooting on a quiet residential street.

Maritimers begin cleanup after 'weather bomb'

Last Updated Fri, 20 Feb 2004 5:30:29

HALIFAX - Cleanup began early Friday after a "classic nor'easter" dumped record amounts of snow on Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island the day before, causing both provinces to declare states of emergency.

Officials estimated it could take days to clear roads and runways of the more than 90 centimetres of snow that had fallen since late Wednesday.

[...] Halifax residents trudged through snow-covered streets as more than 90 centimetres of snow fell by Thursday night, breaking the 1944 one-day snowfall record of 50.8 centimetres. Thousands of people were without power.

[...] "Conditions are the worst I have seen in 22 years," said Staff Sgt. Scott Burbridge with Halifax RCMP.

More severe weather to hamper clean-up op

February 20, 2004 - 7:53PM

New Zealanders trying to mop up the flood-ravaged North Island face another battle against mother nature this weekend, with more severe weather on its way.

Wellington was again isolated from the rest of the north island overnight, with the two main roads into the capital closed for some time due to flooding. [...]

About 2400 North Island residents were evacuated earlier this week after the most damaging floods in 100 years, with many still unable to return to their homes.

Helicopters have been used to drop food parcels to isolated residents, and many communities are still without power. [...]

Record temperatures across Australia

Thousands forced from homes by Jakarta flooding

Thousands of Jakarta residents have been forced to flee their homes by flood waters as deep as two metres (6.6 feet), officials in the Indonesian capital said.

Wagiman of the Jakarta flood control centre said at least 10 neighbourhoods had been inundated, forcing at least 10,000 to seek temporary refuge in mosques or civic offices. [...]

Freak tides leave much of South Pacific's Tuvalu underwater

Are greenhouse gases drying Africa's dust bowl?

US citizens choking on African dust may have themselves to blame.


In Miami, traffic fumes aren't the only thing choking the air. Several times each summer, health standards are breached because of dust blowing across the ocean from Africa.

Local politicians might be tempted to point the finger of blame at African land-use practices. But they should perhaps look closer to home, atmospheric scientist Joseph Prospero of the University of Miami told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Seattle.

Since 1965, air gusting across the Atlantic on trade winds has been sampled at stations in Miami, Bermuda and Barbados. In the summer, the air at these sites can contain so much dust that it exceeds health standards for particulates - which can be dangerous for those with respiratory or heart disease. [...]

The discovery suggests that Africa's dust bowl may be a consequence of greenhouse gas emissions, which come largely from the United States and other developed countries. [...]

Thousands of native Australian animals die in gas pipeline trench

What Are Your Odds Of Surviving Into Your Hundreds?

BioMed Central

A genetic factor that protects you against heart disease during middle age could reduce the odds that you’ll celebrate your hundredth birthday. Research published in BMC Medical Genetics shows that a genetic trait, which is rarely found in centenarians, is associated with lower cholesterol levels.

The risk of suffering from heart disease is increased by a number of factors, including having high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in your blood. The main component of low-density lipoprotein is apoliprotein (b) whose quality and quantity are related to the quality and expression of the APOB genes you have.

In a previous study, Professor Giovanna De Benedictis found that older, healthy people were most unlikely to carry short versions of a DNA region that neighbours the APOB gene. “This indicates that the short alleles are unfavourable to longevity,” she says. In contrast, these short versions are over-represented in healthy, middle-aged adults, indicating that these variants of the APOB gene region play a protective role at this point in your life. [...]

Calgary scientist grows brain cells on microchip

Last Updated Thu, 19 Feb 2004 19:12:44

CALGARY - Canadian and German researchers have grown snail nerve cells on a microchip and showed the cells have memory and can communicate.

The researchers say this melding of machine and biology has a wide-range of potential applications. Think RoboCop – a microchip that communicates with your brain.

Neurobiology Prof. Naweed Syed of the University of Calgary and his colleagues have shown it's possible to grow a network of snail brain cells and reconnect them on a specially designed silicon chip.

Not only did the neurons survive, they actually grew and incorporated the chip as it if were a brain cell, too.

[...] Syed co-authored the study in February's issue of Physical Review Letters with researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Munich, Germany.

Scientists in mind-body control breakthrough

Wednesday 18 February 2004, 16:54 Makka Time, 13:54 GMT

Activating a single brain cell in a rat can make its whiskers twitch, a discovery researchers say could help decipher how the brain controls movement.

Eventually that could help scientists develop devices paralysed people could control, such as robotic arms.

Researchers had thought because the part of the brain that controls movement contains so many cells, an individual cell would not have much impact, said Michael Brecht, author of the study that appeared in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

"This changes our view on what a single cell does," said Brecht, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, Germany.

Astrophysicists Listen To Loops Shivering On The Sun

University Of Warwick

You would imagine that a 500,000 kilometre long arch of super heated plasma releasing energy equal to the simultaneous explosion of 40 billion Hiroshima atomic bombs would be as easy to "hear" as it is to "see" ­ but it's not. Astrophysicists have long thought about using the acoustic waves in these flares to understand more about these gigantic events, that can be dozens of times bigger than the Earth, but have been unable to use effectively up till now. Now researchers at the University of Warwick, and Lockheed Martin's Solar and Astrophysics lab in Palo Alto, have found a way to "listen" to how these gigantic loops "shiver" - vastly increasing our ability to understand these huge events which are big enough to affect telecommunications, GPS satellites, and even energy supply lines.

Researchers at the University of Warwick and Lockheed Martin's Solar and Astrophysics lab in Palo Alto have found a way to spot and use an intense "shivering" of flaring loops to get a clear look at their structure. The closest analogy is the attack of shivering we suffer having a severe cold or fever. But, a flaring coronal loop suffers from the temperature up to tens of million degrees Kelvin. The University of Warwick led team have found that they can use radio and X-ray observation to spot a shiver or oscillation in the really high temperature loops (around 20 million degrees Kelvin) that behaves like an acoustic (sound) wave. [...]

Rosetta probe ready for lift-off

By Paul Rincon
BBC News Online science staff
Friday, 20 February, 2004

European space scientists are counting down to the launch of Rosetta, the mission to put a lander on a comet. The £600m, 12-year space expedition is scheduled to launch from French Guiana's Kourou spaceport on 26 February aboard an Ariane-5 G+ rocket.

"Rosetta will be the first ever spacecraft to perform a soft landing on a comet's nucleus," UK science minister Lord Sainsbury told a news conference.

"This will allow Rosetta to carry out more in-depth study (of a comet) than has ever been done before."

Staking claim

The Rosetta spacecraft will despatch a lander, named Philae, to touch down on the icy nucleus of the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The mission continues a long association between the European Space Agency (Esa) and comet exploration that was cemented when the Giotto probe obtained close-up images of Comet Halley's nucleus in 1986.

"Rosetta is psychologically very important for us in Europe, because we did get closest to Halley (with Giotto). So comets are ours," Prof David Southwood, director of science at Esa told BBC News Online.

"The best part of 20 years ago, we could have chosen to go to Mars, but it was interesting that we staked our claim with comets.

"I don't think I regret that because in the last three years there has been a flurry of comet missions. I think that's a sign of how important Rosetta is."

New world found far beyond Pluto

By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor
Friday, 20 February, 2004

Astronomers have found a large world of ice and rock circling the Sun beyond the most distant planet, Pluto.

Preliminary observations suggest it may be up to 1,800 km across, making it the largest body other than a true planet to be discovered orbiting the Sun.

Designated 2004 DW, it was found on 17 February by an automated sky survey telescope in California. Since 1992 some 800 bodies have been found in the outer Solar System, five could be larger than 1,000 km across.

2004 DW was detected by the Near Earth Asteroid Tracking survey (Neat), the same team that discovered Quaoar in 2002.

Mars Rovers Explore Hints of Salty Water

By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer

NASA's Opportunity rover sent back new images from Mars showing that small spheres previously found on the surface also exist below, in a trench the rover dug. Hints of salty water were also found in the trench, but much more analysis is needed to learn the true composition.

Meanwhile Opportunity's twin rover, Spirit, is about to dig a trench of its own in order to investigate soil that sticks to its wheels, suggesting the fine-grained material might be moist. [...]

Stressed to the max

It's official - modern work is killing us. Guy Allenby reports.

The start of the working week should come with a government health warning. "Monday morning is the peak period for heart attacks," says Dr Craig Hassed, a senior lecturer at Monash University's department of general practice.

"Particularly for males. Every study in Western countries has found the same thing. And what's going on in the minds of many on Monday mornings, of course, is the trials and tribulations that they might have to face at work." [...]


These startling images of a UFO hovering above the streets of St Budeaux were captured by an amateur photographer. The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, was trying a new digital camera by taking shots at night. It wasn't until he got home and inspected his pictures that he spotted the illuminated object. [...]

The Royal Navy has asked the Herald to send it the pictures - so they can be studied by experts.

A spokesman said the navy had Lynx and Sea King helicopters in the air that night, but could not reveal their whereabouts. [...]

Comment: Also in the Daily Record: IS IT OR ISN'T IT?

[...] He was a total sceptic before this but he's now a firm believer. He was really shocked by what happened.'

The photographs were taken on January 28, just before 6pm, at St Budeaux Square in the Devon city.

Daily Record Picture Editor Stuart Nicol was more sceptical. He said: 'It could be a number of things.

'What concerns me most is that the images of the UFO are sharp but there is a degree of movement in the landscape.'


Mel Gibson says his wife could be going to hell

Mel Gibson has come under fire for being hard on Jews in his film “The Passion of the Christ” — but apparently, he feels that Protestants are also doomed to damnation. In fact, it looks like Gibson, a conservative Catholic, believes that his Episcopalian wife could be going to hell.

Gibson was interviewed by the Herald Sun in Australia, and the reporter asked the star if Protestants are denied eternal salvation. “There is no salvation for those outside the Church,” Gibson replied. “I believe it.”

He elaborated: “Put it this way. My wife is a saint. She’s a much better person than I am. Honestly. She’s, like, Episcopalian, Church of England. She prays, she believes in God, she knows Jesus, she believes in that stuff. And it’s just not fair if she doesn’t make it, she’s better than I am. But that is a pronouncement from the chair. I go with it.”

Gibson also said in the interview that he was nearly suicidal before he made his controversial film. “I got to a very desperate place. Very desperate. Kind of jump-out-of-a-window kind of desperate,” he said in the interview. “And I didn’t want to hang around here, but I didn’t want to check out. The other side was kind of scary. And I don’t like heights, anyway. But when you get to that point where you don’t want to live, and you don’t want to die, it’s a desperate, horrible place to be. And I just hit my knees. And I had to use ‘The Passion of the Christ’ to heal my wounds.” [...]

Grenade Blast Kills Bride at Wedding

Feb 20, 9:55 AM (ET)

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - A grenade exploded at a wedding in eastern Ethiopia, killing the bride and three other people, state-run Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) reported on Friday.

In Ethiopia's remote, rural communities it is not uncommon for guests to fire their guns in the air at weddings in wild jubilation, although incidents involving grenades are rare.

"A grenade fell from a belt of an individual during a group dance at a wedding ceremony at Hamyao Sera farmers' community in eastern Ethiopia killing four persons including the bride who was participating in the dance last Saturday," ENA said.

Police called on people owning illegal weapons such as grenades to hand them to the authorities for their own safety. Ethiopians must have a license to own a firearm.

Police probe million-dollar nickel heist

Feb 18 2004 08:33 AM EST

MONTREAL - Police are looking into the theft of more than $2 million worth of nickel from the St. Patrick Street depot in Pointe St. Charles Tuesday night.

Police said that a group of armed men entered the warehouse and tied up three employees, and then loaded the nickel onto two trucks.

No one was injured in the robbery.

"You're talking about a very high value," said police spokesperson Ian Lafrenière. "You've got to sell that back to a company or to an individual. Could a recycling company take care of that? We don't know now, but for sure we're going to check it out."

Lafrenière said that a similar robbery took place in Longueuil on Monday, when thieves stole a large quantity of aluminum.

He said that the perpetrators in both thefts were armed, wore masks and tied up their victims.

A Reader Comments: This story on the CBC television news caught my attention for two reasons that aren't mentioned here in the print article... First, the policeman who was interviewed 'suggested' that it appeared to be an inside job, because the thieves seemed to know where and when to strike, and what to take. Second, mentioned only as an afterthought, the reporter made mention of the fact that nickel and aluminum can be used to make certain types of weapons. Something to keep an eye on?

Policeman's wife charged threatening to blow up bank

11:25 Friday 20th February 2004

A policeman's wife has been charged with threatening to blow up a Florida bank while robbing it.

Deborah Cubides was arrested for the raid on a Washington Mutual Bank branch in Pembroke Pines on Wednesday. [...]

Cubides, who has no known criminal record, is married to a Miami Beach police officer, says the Sun-Sentinel.

Woman Fined for Registering Cows As Voters

Thu Feb 19

LONDON - Brenda Gould is in trouble again for registering her cows as voters.

For the second year running, the woman from Newmarket, near Cambridge in eastern England, has listed two names on the registration form who turned out to be cows, East Cambridgeshire District Council said Thursday.

The previous year, in addition to registering two cows as "Henry and Sophie Bull," she listed "Jake Woofles," later found to be a dog, as eligible to vote in local government elections, the council said.

This year she indicated that her address had been split into two properties, that she resided in one part and that two other persons lived in the second, a council spokesman said. The persons she claimed lived in the second property were, in fact, her cows, the spokesman said.

Gould had been scheduled to appear at Ely Magistrates Court on Tuesday but did not arrive. She was convicted in her absence and ordered to pay a 100 pound (US$189) fine and 110 pounds (US$208) in costs.

Comment: Hey, there are millions of "sheep" allowed to vote in the UK, why not a couple of cows and a dog?

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