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Sunday, February 22, 2004

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NEW ARTICLE: Is the World Coming to An End?
Not necessarily - but the future doesn't look bright!
- Laura Knight-Jadczyk

Picture of the Day

©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

For quite some time now we have been sounding the warning bells that all is not well on the big blue marble, yet billions have carried on with "normal life", ignoring the growing signs that "normal life" seems set to get very "abnormal" indeed. Until now, those immersed in illusion could dismiss the evidence that changes of a global nature were afoot, telling themselves that their governments, in their benevolence, would surely warn the people if this were true. Well the government has issued just such a warning, although we are pretty sure that benevolence has little to do with it. Information of this nature is not done for the good of the people but rather as part of the plan to tighten control.

Little pieces of the truth are being let out to gradually acclimatise the population. We have seen this at work since the events of September 11, 2001. The USA is unrecognisable compared to the pre-9/11 era, yet the majority of the population has accepted that more and more of their rights must be sacrificed in order to engage the "War on terror." We often compare this to boiling a frog. Rather than plopping the frog in boiling water, the heat is raised one degree at a time, allowing the frog to become accustomed to the change. In this way, there is no fight, no shock of awareness that alerts the frog to his danger.

This is happening on a planet-wide scale. There are more and more reports of unusual phenomenon: UFOs, water pipes bursting into flame, meteors lighting up the skies, and now a report on the climatic catastrophe awaiting us before 2020.

Now that some measure of "disclosure" of the truth has arrived, the choice confronting humanity has been made very stark indeed. Confirmation of the truth that our Earth is due for some major upheavals, threatening the lives of millions, or billions, will surely play directly into the hands of the proponents of religious fundamentalism the world over, swelling the ranks of those begging to be "saved". Others will embrace even further the continued lies and deceit of their elected (or unelected) officials, hoping against hope that salvation will come from that quarter, forgetting the words of H.L. Mencken when he said:

"The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it."

We wonder when people are going to realise that humanity has no allies, there are no "saviors", no one is going to come and take us away from it all.

Why would we even want a savior? What a complete waste of time our lives would be if we are born simply to sit back and wait for someone else to take responsibility for us. Life is futile until we learn to be useful to creation, until we learn to create something that is uniquely from and of ourselves.

Do we not aspire to BE? To contribute something real to existence by learning to DO something REAL, to create something REAL? Life is an opportunity for us to learn, to choose and to develop, not to run from. To BE we must learn how to DO; we may be able to DO by developing WILL, and WILL is developed by gathering KNOWLEDGE and then applying that knowledge.

We all give to existence through the knowledge we carry, how much of the truth of reality we perceive, and, then, how we are able to apply this knowledge. With this in mind, we might ask ourselves: what is the nature of that which I am giving? Am I gathering objective knowledge and pursuing individual creativeness in the faith that I can possibly Be and Do? Am I asserting my existence, or am I immersing myself further into illusion and lies and negating my very right to existence by sending out a mental call for someone else to come and "save" me in some way?

With reality poised to intrude on all of our personal subjective lives, billions will probably flee further into lies and illusion provided by their "leaders". The question we need to answer is: do we truly want to add to their number?

Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us

· Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war
· Britain will be 'Siberian' in less than 20 years
· Threat to the world is greater than terrorism

Mark Townsend and Paul Harris in New York
Sunday February 22, 2004
The Observer

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.'

The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defence is a priority.

The report was commissioned by influential Pentagon defence adviser Andrew Marshall, who has held considerable sway on US military thinking over the past three decades. He was the man behind a sweeping recent review aimed at transforming the American military under Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Climate change 'should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern', say the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.

An imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is 'plausible and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately', they conclude. As early as next year widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions.

Last week the Bush administration came under heavy fire from a large body of respected scientists who claimed that it cherry-picked science to suit its policy agenda and suppressed studies that it did not like. Jeremy Symons, a former whistleblower at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said that suppression of the report for four months was a further example of the White House trying to bury the threat of climate change.

Senior climatologists, however, believe that their verdicts could prove the catalyst in forcing Bush to accept climate change as a real and happening phenomenon. They also hope it will convince the United States to sign up to global treaties to reduce the rate of climatic change.

A group of eminent UK scientists recently visited the White House to voice their fears over global warming, part of an intensifying drive to get the US to treat the issue seriously. Sources have told The Observer that American officials appeared extremely sensitive about the issue when faced with complaints that America's public stance appeared increasingly out of touch.

One even alleged that the White House had written to complain about some of the comments attributed to Professor Sir David King, Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, after he branded the President's position on the issue as indefensible.

Among those scientists present at the White House talks were Professor John Schellnhuber, former chief environmental adviser to the German government and head of the UK's leading group of climate scientists at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. He said that the Pentagon's internal fears should prove the 'tipping point' in persuading Bush to accept climatic change.

Sir John Houghton, former chief executive of the Meteorological Office - and the first senior figure to liken the threat of climate change to that of terrorism - said: 'If the Pentagon is sending out that sort of message, then this is an important document indeed.'

Bob Watson, chief scientist for the World Bank and former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, added that the Pentagon's dire warnings could no longer be ignored.

'Can Bush ignore the Pentagon? It's going be hard to blow off this sort of document. Its hugely embarrassing. After all, Bush's single highest priority is national defence. The Pentagon is no wacko, liberal group, generally speaking it is conservative. If climate change is a threat to national security and the economy, then he has to act. There are two groups the Bush Administration tend to listen to, the oil lobby and the Pentagon,' added Watson.

'You've got a President who says global warming is a hoax, and across the Potomac river you've got a Pentagon preparing for climate wars. It's pretty scary when Bush starts to ignore his own government on this issue,' said Rob Gueterbock of Greenpeace.

Already, according to Randall and Schwartz, the planet is carrying a higher population than it can sustain. By 2020 'catastrophic' shortages of water and energy supply will become increasingly harder to overcome, plunging the planet into war. They warn that 8,200 years ago climatic conditions brought widespread crop failure, famine, disease and mass migration of populations that could soon be repeated.

Randall told The Observer that the potential ramifications of rapid climate change would create global chaos. 'This is depressing stuff,' he said. 'It is a national security threat that is unique because there is no enemy to point your guns at and we have no control over the threat.'

Randall added that it was already possibly too late to prevent a disaster happening. 'We don't know exactly where we are in the process. It could start tomorrow and we would not know for another five years,' he said.

'The consequences for some nations of the climate change are unbelievable. It seems obvious that cutting the use of fossil fuels would be worthwhile.'

So dramatic are the report's scenarios, Watson said, that they may prove vital in the US elections. Democratic frontrunner John Kerry is known to accept climate change as a real problem. Scientists disillusioned with Bush's stance are threatening to make sure Kerry uses the Pentagon report in his campaign.

The fact that Marshall is behind its scathing findings will aid Kerry's cause. Marshall, 82, is a Pentagon legend who heads a secretive think-tank dedicated to weighing risks to national security called the Office of Net Assessment. Dubbed 'Yoda' by Pentagon insiders who respect his vast experience, he is credited with being behind the Department of Defence's push on ballistic-missile defence.

Symons, who left the EPA in protest at political interference, said that the suppression of the report was a further instance of the White House trying to bury evidence of climate change. 'It is yet another example of why this government should stop burying its head in the sand on this issue.'

Symons said the Bush administration's close links to high-powered energy and oil companies was vital in understanding why climate change was received sceptically in the Oval Office. 'This administration is ignoring the evidence in order to placate a handful of large energy and oil companies,' he added.

Comment: We do not doubt that this information has been known by a select few for many years. The Bush administration, as the above article states, has deliberately buried and ridiculed any evidence that serious earth changes were on the cards. The question then is, why now? And more importantly, what will be their "rescue plan" for their citizens...

Key findings of the Pentagon

Sunday February 22, 2004
The Observer

· Future wars will be fought over the issue of survival rather than religion, ideology or national honour.

· By 2007 violent storms smash coastal barriers rendering large parts of the Netherlands uninhabitable. Cities like The Hague are abandoned. In California the delta island levees in the Sacramento river area are breached, disrupting the aqueduct system transporting water from north to south.

· Between 2010 and 2020 Europe is hardest hit by climatic change with an average annual temperature drop of 6F. Climate in Britain becomes colder and drier as weather patterns begin to resemble Siberia.

· Deaths from war and famine run into the millions until the planet's population is reduced by such an extent the Earth can cope.

· Riots and internal conflict tear apart India, South Africa and Indonesia.

· Access to water becomes a major battleground. The Nile, Danube and Amazon are all mentioned as being high risk.

· A 'significant drop' in the planet's ability to sustain its present population will become apparent over the next 20 years.

· Rich areas like the US and Europe would become 'virtual fortresses' to prevent millions of migrants from entering after being forced from land drowned by sea-level rise or no longer able to grow crops. Waves of boatpeople pose significant problems.

· Nuclear arms proliferation is inevitable. Japan, South Korea, and Germany develop nuclear-weapons capabilities, as do Iran, Egypt and North Korea. Israel, China, India and Pakistan also are poised to use the bomb.

· By 2010 the US and Europe will experience a third more days with peak temperatures above 90F. Climate becomes an 'economic nuisance' as storms, droughts and hot spells create havoc for farmers.

· More than 400m people in subtropical regions at grave risk.

· Europe will face huge internal struggles as it copes with massive numbers of migrants washing up on its shores. Immigrants from Scandinavia seek warmer climes to the south. Southern Europe is beleaguered by refugees from hard-hit countries in Africa.

· Mega-droughts affect the world's major breadbaskets, including America's Midwest, where strong winds bring soil loss.

· China's huge population and food demand make it particularly vulnerable. Bangladesh becomes nearly uninhabitable because of a rising sea level, which contaminates the inland water supplies.

Comment: According to news sources, Andrew Marshall is behind the Pentagon report. Below is an interview with him conducted last year by Wired news.

Andrew Marshall, the Pentagon's 81-year-old futurist-in-chief.

The Marshall Plan

February 2003
By Douglas McGray

For 40 years, the man Pentagon insiders call Yoda has foreseen the future of war - from battlefield bots rolling off radar-proof ships to GIs popping performance pills. And that was before the war on terror.

Andrew Marshall, the Pentagon's 81-year-old futurist-in-chief, fiddles with his security badge, squints, looks away, smiles, and finally speaks in a voice that sounds like Gene Hackman trying not to wake anybody. Known as Yoda in defense circles, Marshall doesn't need to shout to be heard. Named director of the Office of Net Assessment by Richard Nixon and reappointed by every president since, the DOD's most elusive official has become one of its most influential. Today, Marshall - along with his star protégés Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz - is drafting President Bush's plan to upgrade the military. Supporters believe the force he envisions will be faster and more lethal; critics say it relies on unproven technology. As US troops gathered overseas, Marshall sat for a rare interview.

WIRED: Until recently, defense planners talked about a "revolution in military affairs." Now the buzzword is "transformation." Why the change?

MARSHALL: Transformation is more of an imperative: We've got to transform the force. I personally don't like the term. It tends to push people in the direction of changing the whole force. You need to be thinking about changing some small part of the force more radically, as a way of exploring what new technologies can really do for you.

What is the next radical change the US will reveal on the battlefield?

"One future intelligence problem: knowing what drugs the other guys are on." One that's still under way is the emergence of a variety of precision weapons, and also coupling them with sensors. Another is the ability to coordinate the activities of separate elements of the forces to a level that has never been possible before. That's promising, but less far along than precision weapons. A third is robotic devices: unmanned vehicles, of which the UAVs are the furthest along, but also similar kinds of devices undersea, and smaller devices that might change urban warfare by being able to crawl through buildings.

Are there revolutionary developments that don't involve combat?

There are ways of psychologically influencing the leadership of another state. I don't mean information warfare, but some demonstration of awesome effects, like being able to set off impressive explosions in the sky. Like, let us show you what we could do to you. Just visually impressing the person.

Did 9/11 change your mind about anything?

Not much. It was obvious that we were wide open to attack.

Has anything happened that surprised you?

The rapidity of the collapse of the Soviet Union surprised me. I thought they were in trouble, but the rapidity and completeness of the withdrawal were really striking.

Is there a precedent for one country staying on top through a series of military revolutions? Or does one country always leapfrog another?

Through most of the 19th century, the British Navy exhibited that kind of thing. But it was quite interesting the way they did it. They tended to let other countries, mainly France, do the early experiments and come out with new kinds of ships. If something looked like a good idea, they could come in and quickly overtake the innovator. They seemed to do that as a way of capitalizing on their advantage and saving resources.

Isn't the United States in a similar position now?

That's probably the case. But some of the countries that would be candidates to make innovations aren't doing it. The Japanese and West Europeans aren't really making big changes. The Swedes are an interesting case. For 200 years their basic problem was the possibility of a large-scale land invasion by the Russians. They've decided that that has gone away. If anything could happen, it would happen across the Baltic. So they're rethinking, given modern technology, how to create a defense largely on sea frontiers. It's possible that they will make some innovations that we'll pick up and capitalize on.

For instance?

They've designed three new naval vessels. One is an air-independent submarine [running on fuel cells rather than nuclear power, which allows it to travel almost silently and remain submerged for extended periods]. They have a surface ship that's a bit more conventional. And then a radically new naval vessel called the Visby, which has practically no metal in it other than the engine. It's constructed to be very stealthy.

You're known for following technology outside the traditional realm of national security. Pharmaceuticals, for instance.

People who are connected with neural pharmacology tell me that new classes of drugs will be available relatively shortly, certainly within the decade. These drugs are just like natural chemicals inside people, only with behavior-modifying and performance-enhancing characteristics. One of the people I talk to jokes that a future intelligence problem is going to be knowing what drugs the other guys are on.

In an era of terrorism and peacekeeping, are Cold War ideas based on striking a big enemy from afar and defending against missile attack still relevant?

Yes, if we want to stay in the business of long-range power projection. And if we play the role of intervening in messy disputes, some of this weaponry is still useful, as it was in Afghanistan. However, we need ground forces to go in and keep the peace.

Does new technology ultimately make us more or less vulnerable?

A friend of mine, Yale economist Martin Shubik, says an important way to think about the world is to draw a curve of the number of people 10 determined men can kill before they are put down themselves, and how that has varied over time. His claim is that it wasn't very many for a long time, and now it's going up. In that sense, it's not just the US. All the world is getting less safe.

Comment: Notice the above comment about "demonstration of awesome effects". Did Marshall mean actual explosions in the sky or merely "special effects", projections of explosions? If he was alluding to a technology that could produce something akin to a holographic display, we wonder could this technology perhaps be used domestically as well as against a foreign power? Could it be used to produce effects other than explosions? Other types of visual effects, like "visions" of some sort...

Earth is 20% darker, say experts

David Adam
December 18, 2003
The Guardian

Human activity is making the planet darker as well as warmer, scientists say. They believe levels of sunlight reaching Earth's surface have declined by up to 20% in recent years because air pollution is reflecting it back into space and helping to make bigger, longer-lasting clouds.

The "global dimming" effect could have implications for everything from the effectiveness of solar power to the growth of plants and trees. "Over the past couple of years it's become clear that the solar irradiance at the Earth's surface has decreased," said Jim Hansen, a climate scientist with Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Science in New York.

Experts say global dimming is probably down to tiny particles such as soot, and chemical compounds such as sulphates accumulating in the atmosphere. "Data from 100 stations around the world show that the amount of black carbon in the atmosphere is twice as big as we assumed," said Dr Hansen.

Top scientist attacks US over global warming

Paul Brown and Mark Oliver Friday January 9, 2004 The Guardian

Climate change is a more serious threat to the world than terrorism, David King, the government's chief scientist, writes in an article in today's Science magazine, attacking governments for doing too little to combat global warming.

He singles out the United States for "refusing to countenance any remedial action now or in the future" to curb its own greenhouse gases, which are 20% of the world's total, even though it has only 4% of the population.

Disclosing that he had commissioned a team of scientists and engineers to find ways of reducing the severe damage the UK faces from climate change, he says the potential damage to property runs into "tens of billions of pounds per annum".

Britain is doing its bit to reduce emissions, but acting alone is not enough, he says. "We and the rest of the world are now looking to the USA to play its leading part."

As an example of what his team is discussing, he says Britain's coastal defences will be subject to attack from both increased sea-level rises and greater storm surges.

"These combined efforts have the potential to increase risk of floods in 2080 by up to 30 times present levels. In the highest emission scenario, by 2080 flood levels that are now expected once in 100 years could be recur ring every three years. People at high risk of flooding in Britain will double to nearly 3.5 million."

If no work is done coastal erosion in Britain will increase nine-fold, he adds.

Urging action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at once Sir David comments: "Delaying action for decades, or even just years, is not a serious option. I am firmly convinced that if we do not stop now, more substantial, m ore disruptive, and more expensive change will be needed later on." [...]

Yesterday a major study published in Nature magazine showed that climate change over the next 50 years is expected to drive a quarter of land animals and plants into extinction.

Chris Thomas, professor of conservation biology at Leeds University, who was lead author of the research from four continents into the effect of higher temperatures, called the results "terrifying", estimating that more than 1 million species will be lost by 2050.

Much of that loss - more than one in 10 of all plants and animals - is irreversible because of the extra global warming gases already discharged into the atmosphere. However the scientists who conducted the research believe action to curb greenhouse gases now could save others from the same fate.

Comment: Already we see the deception of attributing global warming to greenhouse gases alone. There are various factors that are contributing to the present situation in terms of upcoming global changes, not least of which is each individual's contribution in seeing objective truth or subjective illusion.

The Great Climate Flip Flop

William H. Calvin
The Atlantic
January 1998

One of the most shocking scientific realizations of all time has slowly been dawning on us: the earth's climate does great flip-flops every few thousand years, and with breathtaking speed. We could go back to ice-age temperatures within a decade -- and judging from recent discoveries, an abrupt cooling could be triggered by our current global-warming trend. Europe's climate could become more like Siberia's. Because such a cooling would occur too quickly for us to make readjustments in agricultural productivity and supply, it would be a potentially civilization-shattering affair, likely to cause an unprecedented population crash. What paleoclimate and oceanography researchers know of the mechanisms underlying such a climate flip suggests that global warming could start one in several different ways.

For a quarter century global-warming theorists have predicted that climate creep is going to occur and that we need to prevent greenhouse gases from warming things up, thereby raising the sea level, destroying habitats, intensifying storms, and forcing agricultural rearrangements. Now we know -- and from an entirely different group of scientists exploring separate lines of reasoning and data -- that the most catastrophic result of global warming could be an abrupt cooling. [...]

There seems to be no way of escaping the conclusion that global climate flips occur frequently and abruptly. An abrupt cooling could happen now, and the world might not warm up again for a long time: it looks as if the last warm period, having lasted 13,000 years, came to an end with an abrupt, prolonged cooling. That's how our warm period might end too. [...]

Comment: A long article that examines much of the data that scientists have been working with for years, for developing their models for predicting our upcoming climatic changes. Even though the article is five years old, it gives a good perspective of climate studies that have been going on for some time now. We can assume that the Pentagon and the puppet masters have been working with such data for decades, and planning accordingly, keeping you in the dark - literally. Just enough data seeps out, for those who pay attention. They can claim that they knowledge has been available for years, it is not their fault you didn't pay attention.

For September 23, 2003 Signs page we collected a number of articles reporting the astonishing rate of speed glaciers have been melting and the related impacts on our climate. The story that started our examination of the issue was this shocking development:

Arctic ice shelf breakup reported

Largest ice shelf in region was solid for 3,000 years

By Maggie Fox

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 — The largest ice shelf in the Arctic, a solid feature for 3,000 years, has broken up, scientists in the United States and Canada said Monday. They said the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, on the north coast of Ellesmere Island in Canada’s Nunavut territory, broke into two main parts, themselves cut through with fissures. A freshwater lake drained into the sea, the researchers reported.

LARGE ICE ISLANDS also calved off from the shelf and some are large enough to be dangerous to shipping and to drilling platforms in the Beaufort Sea. [...]

Only 100 years ago the whole northern coast of Ellesmere Island, which is the northernmost land mass of North America, was edged by a continuous ice shelf. About 90 percent of it is now gone, Vincent’s team wrote. [...]

Yellowstone Propaganda Sign of a Cover Up?

A reader has informed us that is playing up the Yellowstone Super Volcano again since the recent earthquake in the area:

Magnitude 3.6 WYOMING

2004 February 21 06:31:32 UTC

We are a bit suspicious of all the recent Yellowstone Super Volcano talk. We have examined the promoters of this theory recently here at Signs. The primary promoters appear to be the Planet X contingent, and Tom Bearden, both sources of COINTELPRO style disinformation. Which does not mean there may not be some truth to their hype, but just perhaps this talk is a cover for a far more devastating disaster: Mount Rainier.

Mount Rainier at 4393 meters (14,410 feet) the highest peak in the Cascade Range is a dormant volcano whose load of glacier ice exceeds that of any other mountain in the conterminous United States. This tremendous mass of rock and ice, in combination with great topographic relief, poses a variety of geologic hazards, both during inevitable future eruptions and during the intervening periods of repose.

Yellowstone is in a relatively remote area, where as the Rainier area is densely populated, an eruption may spark off a tsunami, and there are nuclear power plants in the region. A full blown explosion is not necessary to cause a lot of destruction.


The volcanoes of the Cascade Range, which stretches from northern California into British Columbia, have produced more than 100 eruptions, most of them explosive, in just the past few thousand years. However, individual Cascade volcanoes can lie dormant for many centuries between eruptions, and the great risk posed by volcanic activity inregion is therefore not always apparent.

When Cascade volcanoes do erupt, high-speed avalanches of hot ash and rock pyroclastic flows), lava flows, and landslides can devastate areas 10 or more miles away; and huge mudflows of volcanic ash and debris, called lahars, can inundate valleys more than 50 miles downstream. Falling ash from explosive eruptions can disrupt human activities hundreds of miles downwind, and drifting clouds of fine ash can cause severe damage to jet aircraft even thousands of miles away.

Because the population of the Pacific Northwest is rapidly expanding, the volcanoes of the Cascade Range in Washington, Oregon, and northern California are some of the most dangerous in the United States. [...]

Perhaps one reason for such a cover up is that the damage could potentially not be limited to the Pacific Northwest US and Canada:

1700 Japan Tsunami Linked To Massive North American Quake

WASHINGTON - Guided by Japanese writings from an era of shoguns, an international team of scientists today reported new evidence that an earthquake of magnitude 9 struck the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada three centuries ago. Their findings are likely to affect the region's precautions against future earthquakes and tsunamis. [...]

West Coast Earthquakes Ongoing, Scientists Discover


The most recent evidence indicates there is an earthquake going on right now on the West Coast, yet no one feels it. The temblor, a so-called slow earthquake, has been ongoing since about Feb. 7, according to geologist Meghan Miller of Central Washington University in Ellensburg. She was among the first scientists to use GPS (global positioning system) technology to study earthquakes. [...]

Study Indicates Unexpected Earthquake Dangers Lie Beneath The Pacific Northwest

Volcanoes May Pose Bigger Risk Than Asteroids

“On any given day there are probably 25 volcanoes erupting around the world,” says William Rose, a professor of geological engineering and sciences at Michigan Technological University. Rose says volcanoes pose a bigger threat than asteroids for people around the world, “there are volcanic crises every day, there are not meteorite crises every day.”

[...] “A volcano is like an animal that sleeps almost all the time,” says Rose, “but it’s still alive.” [...]

In the above article Rose lists Mount Rainier as one of the most dangerous volcanoes. There has been discussion of the fact that volcanic eruptions and asteroid/comet impacts on the earth coincide.

How Asteroids Trigger Volcanos

[...] Now a comprehensive review of evidence provides more support for one aspect of the idea, that impacts beget serious volcanism.

Dallas Abbott of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Institute and Ann Isley from the State University of New York at Oswego examined existing impact data going back 4 billion years.

They found 10 major peaks in activity -- stretches of time when asteroids and comets hit the planet in relative flurries. During nine of the 10 peaks, volcanic activity also peaked, as measured by evidence of magma from deep inside Earth, in the mantle, flowing to the surface. Further, two prominent lulls in impact activity also matched up with periods of decreased volcanism. [...]

Moderate earthquake jolts northern Pakistani town

ISLAMABAD, Feb 22 (Reuters) - An earthquake measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale rocked a small town in northern Pakistan on Sunday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, an official said. [...]

Strong earthquake hits Sumatra

February 23, 2004

A strong earthquake shook the Indonesian island of Sumatra today for the second time this month, leaving houses damaged, an official said.

The quake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale was felt strongly in the city of Padang in West Sumatra province and Bengkulu province, said Rachmat of the National Seismology Centre. The tremor occurred at 1.46 pm (1746 AEDT) [...]

An unnatural disaster

  • Global warming to kill off 1m species
  • Scientists shocked by results of research
  • 1 in 10 animals and plants extinct by 2050

Paul Brown, environment correspondent
Thursday January 8, 2004
The Guardian

Climate change over the next 50 years is expected to drive a quarter of land animals and plants into extinction, according to the first comprehensive study into the effect of higher temperatures on the natural world.

The sheer scale of the disaster facing the planet shocked those involved in the research. They estimate that more than 1 million species will be lost by 2050.

The results are described as "terrifying" by Chris Thomas, professor of conservation biology at Leeds University, who is lead author of the research from four continents published today in the magazine Nature.

Much of that loss - more than one in 10 of all plants and animals - is already irreversible because of the extra global warming gases already discharged into the atmosphere. But the scientists say that action to curb greenhouse gases now could save many more from the same fate.

[...] "The risk of extinction increases as global warming interacts with other factors - such as landscape modification, species invasions and build-up of carbon dioxide - to disrupt communities and ecological interactions."

So many species are already destined for extinction because it takes at least 25 years for the greenhouse effect - or the trapping of the sun's rays by the carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide already added to the air - to have its full effect on the planet. Deserts, grasslands and forests are already changing to make survival impossible.

The continuous discharging of more greenhouse gases, particularly by the USA, is making matters considerably worse. The research says if mankind continues to burn oil, coal and gas at the current rate, up to one third of all life forms will be doomed by 2050.

Bonfire of the promises: The view from Washington

Suzanne Goldenberg
Thursday February 19, 2004
The Guardian

Over at the Global Climate Coalition, a powerful alliance of carmakers, oil drillers and electricity generators emerged with a consensus about the environment over the years and a quiet confidence that the White House shared their view: global warming is a hoax.

During the past three years, environmentalists have regularly accused the White House of serving big business at the expense of the environment. President Bush received $1.9m (£1m) from the oil and gas industry in 2000, according to the Centre for Responsive Politics.

"The truth is that in the presence of his large financial contributors, he is a moral coward - so weak that he seldom, if ever, says no to them on anything," said Al Gore in a fiery speech last month.

Comment from a reader: Yes. Well, we are beginning to get the first signs that all is not well with our environment.

It's kind of hard to describe in a few lines what has been happening here in Brisbane over the past couple of weeks, however the recent article on the Signs page summed it up pretty nicely.

It dealt with massive fronts and weather systems stuck over an area (standing waves). This is exactly what our weather has been like since the beginning of the year.

Couple of weeks ago, we had pretty intense heat weaves in Brisbane and SE Queensland. The weather bureau tried to calm it down by claiming that its not all that unusual. That can be swallowed.

Then we had 5 daily storms in a row that occurred at exactly the same period of time (4-6pm). They were savage and caused immense damage to the state. Apart from the amazing regularity, the intensity surprised even the most educated of scientists. By the third storm, it was kinda easy to tell the masses that after all it is not all that unusual and these storms are not all that savage. We've had worse - oh, maybe 20 years ago, but we did have them nevertheless.

But by the fifth one, they had to explain.

The going story was exactly as the one that the Russian scientist warned about - for some mysterious reason a massive front got stuck over Brisbane and refused to budge. Unleashing fury on the whole city with clockwork precision.

See, the problem was that the fury manifested itself in uprooted trees, ripped roofs and flooding in the Brisbane city! Something that never really happens. I was working during one especially eventful day but after getting home late in the evening, I was amazed by the flooding at home and the fallen trees all around. It wasn't till the next day that the full extent of the flooding and damage was revealed. There was a mini-tornado right here in New Farm and one in St. Lucia, in the Great Court of the university I go to. The trees in there had no chance. The Valley (up the road) was littered with submerged cars. Not to mention lighting striking a record number of people in many suburbs.

We are still cleaning up.

This week, the nature decided to repeat the heat weave, slightly turning up the heat - oh, to a mere 40 deg C+. Today we had 41.1 deg C.

It's really funny because in order to play things down yesterday the media ran a story on the front page featuring a sheep shearer from North Queensland. He said, "City folk have gone soft. We are used to the heat in the 40's." The humorous part was that he was also standing sweating in front of an industrial fan and claimed that he would go insane without one! Sure, he too noticed that it's slightly "warmer" than usual in his sheep-sheering shed. Go figure.

So people were passing out. We had big power blackouts everywhere. Things got so serious that the media issued stern warnings, etc, etc.

But all is normal! Nothing to worry about! Britney Spears has released the latest single! Ignore the man behind the curtain.

Oh yeah, the storms have returned tonight. That fury again. Interesting how the cycles never really fail to repeat themselves - prolonged heat - furious storms - prolonged heat - furious storms. These supposedly chaotic weather patterns are really quite repetitive and cyclical.

So much for the non-existent global warming.

Illarionov Likens Kyoto to Gosplan

By Greg Walters
Special to The Moscow Times
Friday, Feb. 20, 2004. Page 3

Presidential economic adviser Andrei Illarionov lashed out Thursday at the Kyoto Protocol, likening the plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions to Soviet-era state planning and accusing the European Union of trying to impose "Kyotism" on Russia.

"I have called my speech 'The Return of Gosplan,'" Illarionov said, in a reference to the Soviet agency that set production quotas.

"But the proposed mechanism would decrease quotas year by year. ... So it may be more correct to call it the return of the gulag," he said, speaking at the opening of a two-day international forum dedicated to the Kyoto Protocol.

Comment: Bush may believe that this climate change heralds the "End Times." If so, it might explain why he believes that there is nothing to do except accept Jesus as your personal Savior. Following this logic, he may well believe that those who accept Jesus will not have to face this Tribulation, while those who do not accpet Jesus will be deserving of whatever horror comes.

Not everyone in the Bush administration is born-again. The others don't believe the stuff about the Rapture and the Second Coming, but they do understand that in order to "manage" the coming climate change, the population of the Earth will have to be reduced. War is an excellent way to do this. Disease is another. This point of view can very easily use the Evangelical fervour of a Bush because the Fundamentalists want war in the Mid-East, they want the Israelis and the Arabs to take each other out.

There is probably another level of understanding, those who know about the 3600 year cycle of cometary disaster. They, too, can use the policies of those with a narrower point of view to their own ends. There is likely another level "above" this, as well: those who understand about the Wave, about the upcoming possible shift in the fabric of space-time itself. Being aligned with the force of Entropy, they, too, will be using those "below" them and their policies of death and destruction to manage the upcoming chaos.

For all of them, the antagonism between the Israelis and the Palestinians is an important focal point. They are seeking to increase the tensions in this area. They want an explosion.

Israel's barrier and the world court

By Paul Reynolds
BBC News Online world affairs correspondent

The case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the barrier Israel is constructing in the West Bank is being championed by Palestinian supporters, condemned by Israel and treated with scepticism by more than 30 other countries including the United States and those in the European Union.

To Israelis, barrier is a lifesaver; to Palestinians, a curse

Comment: This is the kind of headline that appears to be even-handed, "balanced," even "neutral." The two sides sees the wall differently. But look at what this headline ignores: that it is part and parcel of the genocidal policy of the Sharon government against the Palestinians. It hides the fact that the Israeli government is not serious about peace; it wants to make life so unbearable for the Palestinians that they leave.

Looking at the world objectively does not mean "objectivity" in the sense of the Western press where it serves to cover a hidden agenda -- the appearance of objectivity to hide one's choice. If one sees the world objectively, one is then able to recognise events for what they are. One can then choose the path with which one wishes to align oneself.

Seven dead, 62 hurt in suicide attack on Israeli bus

February 21, 2004

JERUSALEM (AFP) - A suicide blast on a packed bus in west Jerusalem killed at least seven people, army radio said, the day before a world court hearing into the West Bank barrier Israel says is needed to stop such attacks.

Israel immediately said the attack justified the building of the barrier, while Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qorei condemned it, making clear the timing could not have been worse for his government. [...]

Comment: Indeed, Qorei is correct - the timing of the suicide attack could not have come at a worse time. Isn't it plainly obvious by now that the Palestinians are not behind such attacks? Every single one of these convenient suicide bombings benefits only one group: the Zionists.

Devil's advocate?

Close relations between Israel and India have sparked concern in some quarters of a shifting regional balance in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, much to the chagrin of Indian officials who insist that better relations with Israel are not being forged at the expense of Arab countries

Jaideep Mukerji

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom was in India last week on a three-day visit aimed at furthering warm relations between the two countries. In addition to reopening the Israeli consulate in Mumbai which closed in 2002 owing to financial constraints, Israeli and Indian officials were busy finalising a billion dollar defence deal that would authorise the sale of three Phalcon early warning radar defence systems to India.

Relations between India and Israel have witnessed a remarkable turnaround since 1992 when Delhi reversed a decades-long policy of neglecting Israel and established full diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv. Since opening the door to Israel, relations have progressed at a rapid pace, with India showing a keen interest in purchasing Israeli military and agricultural technology and with Israel showing an eagerness to gain access to India's markets and highly skilled IT labour. With trade between the two countries expected to top 1.5 billion dollars this year, India is now Israel's second largest trading partner in Asia after Hong Kong.

Bush Left Sharon To Destroy The Promise And The State

Raghida Dergham Al-Hayat 2004/02/20

Despite all the money that Arabs are flooding the George W. Bush campaign with, most Arab-Americans will vote for the Democratic candidate, who will most probably be John Kerry. Bush's ideology is the primary reason behind this choice, followed by his policy towards Middle Eastern issues and the civil rights of American Arabs and Muslims. The electoral concerns of the American Arab or Muslim are widely different from those of the Arab or Muslim "voter" in the region, but the common factor is opposition to Bush's view of the region from the single perspective of the "war on terror," in addition to his religious fundamentalist disposition. Nonetheless, the Arab elite should answer the question: Until when should the Arab future be considered on the sole terms of responding to American "plans"? For this logic is naive and dangerous and is reflected in the belief that the Arab Human Development Report (AHDR) that Arabs wrote for the United Nations Development Program is a useless document written by traitors just because it was cited in the American Greater Middle East (GME) plan.

George W. Bush wants to give the impression that he is an average, religious and honest man who is committed to fight "evil." A few days ago, Bush was interviewed by Al-Hurra, his rhetoric did not change, in the slightest, since a year ago. His obsession is terrorism and his grand gift to Arabs is that he is the first American president to refer to a Palestinian State. Yet, Bush has amalgamated his policies with those of Israel when he deemed all Palestinian resistance groups to be terrorist organizations, just like Al Qaeda, and when he removed the concept of occupation from his policy. Hence, he has no right to boast that he is the first president to utter the term "Palestinian State" because it is merely meant to sympathize with Arabs while allowing Sharon to proceed with his state-terrorism; in the name of fighting terror. Consequently, Bush lost the Arab peoples' trust as well as his international credibility. More importantly, he seems convinced that fighting terrorism is more essential than all the other problems of the Arab and Muslim world; such as democracy and reforms.

Anglers escape crocs, flooding

February 23, 2004

A couple cheated death and crocodiles by clinging to a tree for a night after their boat capsized in the flooded Victoria River.

Police said yesterday a man, 41, and a woman, 32, were in a boat with three other people when it capsized after being struck by a large wave near the Victoria River Bridge late on Saturday night.

Three men swam to safety, but a man and a woman were swept away by strong currents in a river swarming with crocodiles. [...]

The Abuser's Ploy: A Means for Dominion and Downfall

Joyce Walker
Information Clearing House

As citizens become aware of the dilemma the United States faces, they may find themselves wondering what happened to the "land of the free and the home of the brave." It seems incredible that a few rogue politicians could reek such havoc on the democratic traditions of a liberty loving nation such as ours.

You would have thought that the violence against protestors by the military in Georgia at The School of the Americas and by police in Miami at the FTAA conference would have caused a public outcry, but the events were hardly mentioned in the news, except in local media which give a slanted view. Clues to this apparent apathy might be found in some unlikely places - in the homes of families held hostage by the abuser's systematic program of control.

Abuse, An Ongoing Process

Such a family lived near my childhood home. Even the youngsters in the neighborhood recognized the irony of one small man being able to dominate everyone in his household. We couldn't figure out why the boys, who towered over him, never put him in his place. After one of the boys married a young woman with a pretty smile, we noticed that in a short while she had lost the smile and taken on the same "whipped pup"appearance as the rest of them. The abuser wasn't very bright, so the phenomenon couldn't be credited to his intelligence. It wasn't until later, while working with battered women, that I learned about the control techniques which sometimes enable an abuser to make others his mental captives.

On a larger scale, we can look at China's history of totalitarian rule and bloody purges, and somewhat comprehend citizens' passive response to government abuse of targeted groups, like the Falun Dafa religious sect. But why the silence in this country, even among supposedly progressive news sources, concerning the glaring violations of our own civil rights? How could our "advanced" society be deceived by the crude propaganda used to cause people to look the other way while their constitutional liberties are being pilfered away?

There are clear indications that a power grabbing and graft promoting coalition has been active for decades. While Republicans seem dominant, Democrats also seem to be in the thick of things. The indoctrination of the United States public has been an ongoing process, and has involved many of the same techniques as those used by the little dictator across the street to maintain dominance in his family. For the abuser or the coalition to be successful, they must convince the parties they have targeted that they are endowed with something akin to divine authority.

Derision and Intimidation, Major Tools

The abuser uses ridicule and intimidation to erode the targeted person's confidence. During this period of brainwashing, a victim of abuse might make the following statement: "He makes me feel like I can't do anything right."

The current political regime routinely uses the same techniques. Prior to corporate consolidation of the media, charges that the press had a liberal bias discouraged legitimate news investigation and kept conscientious journalists on the defensive. The bought out press's support of our government's perversion helped conceal the strong opposition which has existed from the start, while coalition bulldog tactics have proven effective in making a public example of those with courage to delve into government practices.

These techniques have also interfered with attempts to legislate democratic change, even when the Republican party is not in power. When President Clinton came into office with a progressive platform, prepared to correct inequities in our system, his opposition used the abuser's techniques to undermine his every effort, and with ineffective support from the Congress, he eventually abandoned his progressive platform and adopted the opposition's elitist agenda. In an apparent scheme designed to achieve his ouster, the Monica Lewinski affair was widely publicized, and Hillary Clinton's protests concerning the obvious conspiracy were silenced by the onslaught of criticism she encountered.

Dog Pack Behavior, A Nasty Strategy

A segment of our society makes a highly vocal and visible show of support for the president's repressive policies. This may often be a misguided expression of patriotism, but the dog pack behavior demonstrated by some is indicative of another phenomenon of family abuse. The person experiencing this type of predatory behavior may report: "He's turned the children against me, and they've become abusive too."

In a family under the domination of an abuser, or in a repressed society, members tend to align with the power figure and condone the mistreatment of the targeted party. The flimsiest excuse for the cruelty may be accepted without question. Our warring presidents have used various pretexts for initiating unwarranted aggression against others or condoning criminal abuse by governments with which we have clandestine ties. The justifications for invasions in central and South America were communist insurgency and drug trafficking. In the middle east the excuse was terrorist activities.

With China's expressed determination to bring Taiwan under its rule, plans by President Chen Shui-bian to introduce a constitutional referendum prompted China to contact President Bush for reassurance of his commitment to the "One China" position. Pressure from the United States caused Chen to back down, and the fact that our president's intervention played a major role in thwarting a move by Taiwan toward independence was not mentioned by the commercial press. What excuse would Bush have made for China had there been aggression against Taiwan ; certainly not threat from communist insurgency.

Terrorism, A Cruel Device

In order to gain irrevocable control, the abuser will stage a sudden violent attack against the victim. If he or she can find the courage report it, the description of the incident might resemble the following: "Without warning, he threw me across the room."

The shock of the assault is debilitating and degrading. If the victim tolerates it, the abuser essentially has the person under his control. The attack on the World Trade Center had the same effect. Terror gave way to a sense of being violated. Our sense of invincibility was lost. The result was the handing over to President George Bush an unprecedented amount of authority.

What followed was a ruthless abuse of power. Countries objecting to the illegal attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq were punished economically, with aid being withdrawn and corporations being excluded from the reconstruction process. The president's office resorted to its customary "dirty tricks" to punish people like former U.S. Congressman Cynthia McKinney and ex-ambassador Joseph Wilson for confronting White House deceptions.

Racist propaganda has been used to quell compassion for citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq who, following the horrifying attacks on their countries, have been subjected to a reign of terror which they claim causes more suffering than that which they endured under the tyrants from whom they were supposedly liberated.

Jekyll and Hyde, The Public Show

A victim of abuse is confounded by the abuser's success at presenting a benevolent image to outsiders. The abuser's supposed popularity diminishes the victim's confidence about receiving the support necessary to stop the abuse. He or she might confide: "Everyone thinks she's so good."

Commercial media's biased coverage of President Bush following the Nine Eleven attacks exaggerated his support among the populace to the extent that people were hesitant to speak a word of dissent for fear of reprisal. But with the continued exposure of criminal activity and with the election coming up, his dazzling "Crusader" image is becoming stained by the onslaught of criticism. You wouldn't know it, though, by the way members of Congress pander to his every demand. And judging from media coverage of gala events staged in his honor during frequent visits with allied world leaders, most people would have a hard time imagining the hate his aggression has generated among the people of the world.

China's autocratic leader President Hu Jintao benefits similarly from biased media press, not only in China, but around the world. As a member of WTO and APEC, and as an insider among Bush's circle of supporters, China is enjoying new popularity. While family members pleaded for release of loved ones being tortured in China prisons, President Lu was photographed by world press wrapping pork dumplings with villagers for the Lunar New Year as part of a promotion to present a humane image of the leader.

Fear of the Unknown, The Ball and Chain

Even after a person realizes the extent of the abuser's deception, she may fear the struggles of an independent life more than the dangers of living with the abuser. A person trapped in this situation may remark:
"I don't think I can take care of the children on my own."

One journalist theorized that the people of China, after achieving a degree of prosperity, are afraid of being poor again, so when President Hu promises peace and prosperity the populace turns its head to the atrocities and falls behind the government. Does this mean that the fear of political upheaval and possible impoverishment is the real deterrent to humanitarian reform rather than the fear created by violent acts such as the massacre of dissenters at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and ongoing brutal treatment of targeted groups like the Falun Dafa?

There are probably many reasons for the reluctance of people in this country to face up to the cruelties committed by our leaders. Perhaps one of the main ones is fear of an economical downturn of the economy if there is a government shake-up. In spite of plentiful evidence of crimes against humanity, including in-depth reports by Amnesty International, independent news articles, and victim reports, many in this country are turning a blind eye to our government's abuses. If the people of our nation would wake up and take a look at what's going on, I don't believe they could be restrained from reaching out to the victims of our government's rampage and calling to account the brutes who are responsible.

Love for Freedom, the Abuser's Downfall

Sometimes the abuser's terrorist tactics backfire and, rather than submission, they are confronted with rebellion. And some find the tyrant's rule so hateful that they can't ever be brought to submission.

Risking life and limb, our new age "freedom fighters" carry video cameras to record the crimes against democracy, protest at the sites of terror exporting facilities, and defend our heritage before a Congress mired in the corruption of the war machine. Courage has never failed the women in Afghanistan who carry cameras under their burqas to expose the unmasked face of that beast - War, or the proponents of Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance who suffer cruel affliction under the Chinese government. How can the degenerate Bush coalition, the Taliban, or the Chinese autocracy stand against the power of these patriots' sacrifices?

A Brute's Death, A Bitter Legacy

Research into the fate of the last century's dictators should be enough to convince a person of the dangers in assuming the tyrant's role. But even if an abuser escapes the angry mob's vengeance and the legal consequences of his crimes, and even if he lives in ease and comfort up to his death, what kind of anguish must he suffer upon review of his life at its passing? Won't he feel each victim's pain, each mourner's grief, each soldier's agony? Surely he will see the bitter legacy that he leaves the children, a world defiled by the senseless shedding of innocent blood.

And what of the young mother who chooses death by torture over a life of subjection? Surely she must feel the love and compassion of her supporters and see the light from her sacrifice shining brightly, exposing the evil behind her persecution.

Most of us hopefully will not have to face the threat of death, torture, or imprisonment in order to do our part for the preservation of liberty. For some it is enough to speak a word of protest among friends. A letter written to a Congressman concerning a proposed bill or foreign official on behalf of a prisoner of conscience can be an effective weapon for human rights. But we all can do something, and must, or face the consequences of turning the abuser's cruelty loose on the world.

The Neocon War on Peace and Freedom, Part 1 of 2

by James Bovard, April 2004
Freedom Daily
February 18, 2004

The main problem with Bush’s war on terrorism is that he has not attacked enough foreign regimes and not sufficiently trampled the privacy of the American people. Such is the thesis of David Frum, former speechwriter for President Bush, and Richard Perle, currently on the Pentagon’s Defense Advisory Board, co-authors of the new book The End of Evil: How to Win the War on Terror.

According to Frum and Perle, “Terrorism remains the great evil of our time, and the war against this evil, our generation’s great cause.... There is no middle way for Americans; it is victory or holocaust.” The terrorist threat is largely equated with the Muslim threat. Protecting Americans from terrorists requires toppling numerous Arab and Muslim regimes and compelling the reformation of much of Islam: “We must discredit and defeat the extremist Islamic ideology that justifies and sustains terrorism.”

No one will accuse Frum and Perle of a shortage of contempt. After a breathless summary of daily life in the Arab world, the authors declare, “This fetid environment nourishes the most venomous vermin in the Middle Eastern swamp.” The tone of The End of Evil brings to mind historian Thomas Macaulay’s quip on British poet laureate Robert Southey: “What theologians call the spiritual sins are his cardinal virtues — hatred, pride, and the insatiable thirst for vengeance.”

The book contains more invocations of the Nazis than a Mel Brooks movie.

The book jacket identifies Frum as the “most influential thinker in the foreign-policy apparatus of the Administration of George W. Bush” and hails Perle as “the intellectual guru of the hard-line neoconservative movement in foreign policy.” Inside the book, Frum and Perle reveal that people who say neoconservatives have vast influence are anti-Semitic. This is typical of the perverse double standard that pervades The End of Evil.

This book is impossible to understand without recognizing the neoconservative concept of government. The key to ending evil, from Frum’s and Perle’s perspective, is to greatly increase the power of the federal government both at home and abroad. Government becomes the ultimate force for the good — and distrust of government is the ultimate proof of a lack of sophistication.

We will consider Frum-Perle prescriptions for unleashing government at home, and then consider their recommendations for foreign wars. [...]

Report claims bin Laden 'cornered'

US and British special forces have cornered Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a mountainous area in north-west Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border, the Sunday Express newspaper reports.

Quoting "a US intelligence source," it said bin Laden and "up to 50 fanatical henchmen" were inside an area 16 kilometres wide and deep "north of the town of Khanozai and the city of Quetta".

"He is boxed in," the unidentified source was quoted by the tabloid as saying, adding that US special forces were "absolutely confident" that he could not escape. [...]

Comment: Just in time for election year! What a surprise! Does anyone feel set up? Even just a little??

Osama look-alikes fill lawless region of Pakistan

Indo-Asian News Service
Islamabad, February 21

Ask any farmer in Pakistan's Khyber tribal region, "Have you seen Osama bin Laden?" and you're likely to find a similar-looking, tall, bearded man at the restaurants of the area's main bazaar, reports UPI.

Ask a tribesman in Darra Adam Khel, the region's largest arms bazaar and the main source of homemade and smuggled weapons in South Asia and he'll tell you: "Shut up, you son of Satan."

Brigadier Mahmud Shah, chief administrator of the region, said that asking about bin Laden might even get you a bullet.

Warriors and renegades have hidden in the mountains and valleys of the rugged frontier that divides Pakistan and Afghanistan throughout history.

Now, US officials believe that Osama bin Laden, reputedly this century's biggest terrorist, also has taken refuge here.

Dozens of the fiercely independent Pashtuns tribes live in the region. Most of them are tall and bearded. They wear the loose trousers and long shirts that bin Laden adopted when he moved to Afghanistan in 1995.

If bin Laden is hiding among them, as US officials operating across the border in Afghanistan believe he is, it will be difficult to single him out from other bearded tribesmen, all of whom carry guns. [...]

Comment: Well, who really cares, any old Osama lookalike will do for a docile sleeping public.

US effort to capture Osama intense: Myers

The United States is engaged in intense efforts to capture Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden who is believed to be hiding in the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan, said General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Thursday. “It’s been intense,” he said. “There have been operations that have gone on to work that problem.

We’re organised to take advantage of the leads.”General Myers refused to discuss the search in any detail, but assured defence reporters here US intelligence agencies have spent “an enormous amount of time” on the effort. “There are areas where we think it is most likely he is, and they remain the same. They haven’t changed in months,” said Gen Myers.

Mystery over new hunt for Bin Laden

By Munir Ahmad in Islamabad
22 February 2004

Pakistan is to mount new operations on its border with Afghanistan aimed at cornering al-Qa'ida terrorists in an area where Osama bin Laden may be hiding, Pakistani military and intelligence sources said last night.

News of the operation came as The Sunday Express in London claimed that bin Ladenand a small group of followers had been "boxed in" by US and British special forces in the mountains on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Citing "two senior American sources" - a senior Republican and an intelligence source - the newspaper said Bin Laden was within a 10 mile by 10 mile area being monitored by a US spy satellite.

But Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said to his knowledge Bin Laden has not been "boxed in". "I do not have any such information," he said.

Comment: The CIA are very adept at producing Osama lookalikes, they have done it before. There will therefore have no problem in trotting out some guy in a beard for a quick photo op., before whisking him away to some undisclosed location.

"Do as I say now, or I'll set Rummy on ya"

Thoughts on the coming "discovery" of Bin Laden

The Best Propaganda Money can Buy

Eric A. Smith

Unless preparations are made for its eventuality, the announcement of Bin Laden's capture will be the death-knell for the 2004 Democratic campaign. And, like the "heroic rescue" of Jessica Lynch or the toppling of Hussein's statue by "jubilant throngs" of Iraqis, it needn't even be real:

So Democrats must have a pre-emptive strategy in place; the most obvious being, early in the game, to accuse the White House of sitting on Bin Laden for political gain.

A better one is to launch an independent investigation to find Bin Laden first and announce the discovery before Rove's political operatives; this would be a huge coup.

In case you haven't been paying attention, this election year, Republicans are playing a deadly game of attrition -- death by a thousand tiny cuts, so to speak: extreme reprimanding in Texas, the recall of a governor in California, the installation of inauditable, easily "preprogrammed" DRE e-vote machines in as many counties as will allow them to be stuffed down their throats, relentless and bloody character assassinations in a bought-and-paid-for Murdoch-dominated media empire, absentee ballots counted by an untouchable firm in Kuwait, stacked courts ready to deliver decisions for which 2000's Gore vs. Bush set the precedent.

The odds look dire for Democrats (and, by extension, the majority of Americans, though they are as yet blissfully unaware of the slender thread from which all our liberties hang).

But, in case you haven't connected the dots, this time the GOP is playing for keeps.

Once the fix is in, there will be no turning back: by an invisible, carefully planned coup, the neoconservatives will have transformed America into an autocracy, and any remaining political opposition will be window dressing.

And so, I challenge you: this is a battle we perhaps cannot win, but, at all costs, MUST NOT LOSE. [...]

Flashback: Albright hints at Bin Laden capture surprise

Fomer secretary of state Madeleine Albright to Fox News reporter Morton Kondracke:

"Do you suppose that the Bush administration has Osama bin Laden hidden away somewhere and will bring him out before the election?"

Comment: Madeleine knew it. Just don't tell the public!

Doctored Kerry photo brings anger, threat of suit

Software, Net make it easy to warp reality

Carla Marinucci, Chronicle Political Writer
Friday, February 20, 2004

The photographer who snapped John Kerry attending a 1971 anti-war rally says he and his photo agency intend to track down -- and possibly sue -- whoever doctored and circulated a photo that made it appear that the then 27-year-old Vietnam veteran was appearing alongside actress Jane Fonda.

Ken Light, now a UC Berkeley professor of journalism ethics, says he photographed Kerry at an anti-war rally in Mineola, N.Y., on June 13, 1971. The decorated Vietnam veteran was preparing to give a speech at the rally -- but Fonda was never at the event.

Light's photo gained prominence when someone took it and merged the shot of the now Democratic presidential front-runner with another separate photo of Fonda -- one taken by photographer Owen Franken as the actress spoke to a 1972 rally in Miami Beach, Fla.

The fabricated Kerry-Fonda photo was circulated with an identifying logo of the Associated Press and became the subject of talk show fodder after it was placed on many Web sites as evidence of Kerry's "anti-American" activities after his war service.

Light said this week that the use -- and misuse -- of his copyrighted photo might result in legal action.

"(We're) doing everything possible to track down who it was and bring them to justice,'' said Light, who said the Associated Press also intended to examine the issue of who would use the agency's copyright for fraudulent purposes. [...]

"With modern technology, anybody can do it,'' he said of the doctored photo of Kerry, now a 60-year-old, four-term Massachusetts senator. "Someone has to be really motivated and understand what they're doing.''

Still, "it's one thing to (create) an image and another to try to make it look like it came right from a newspaper,'' Light said. The addition of the Associated Press logo suggested that whoever fabricated the photo was "definitely more than someone having fun. ... People just see it, and it creates this impression that it really happened."

Light said he was outraged by his almost 33-year-old photo's popping into the news and becoming the subject of such Internet chatter.

"I was completely shocked and a little disappointed there would be this type of fakery in a political campaign,'' he said.

"You become very concerned for democracy when you realize people are so angry, they're desperately trying to find anything to tilt the direction of what people are thinking,'' he said.


Jon Rappoport
No More Fake News

[...] Secret societies, of course, are all about conspiracies. People often don't get how a major conspiracy can operate without having a million participants in on the game.

Actually, it's easy. You compartmentalize functions, so that most of the dupes are just "doing their jobs." They don't realize the true agenda they are serving.

Some of the more amusing emails I've received are from people who say that big-scale conspiracies are impossible to maintain. These people are actually part of a conspiracy, but they don't know it. They're just going to work every day. [...]

At the deepest level, secret societies are all about creating a mural called Reality, in which the rest of us live.
Most of us welcome that reality and do everything we can to assist in its creation, because we feel a need to have The World made for us. [...]

We are so used to this state of affairs that we can't conceive of any other.

There is a full-on media op designed to convince us that the people who stray from the pre-set mural are lone nuts, assassins, crazy psychos.

Unless such a person (real or imagined) is, say, a Jesus, who receives official certification by a Church.

In which case, the lesson is: HE could stray from the mural because God sent him here for a reason; we don't have that option; we must seek deliverance through the Church that DEFINES REALITY.

Valley has keyless encounters of the weird kind


Was it the storm clouds, sun spots or Area 51?

By late Friday afternoon, some locksmiths, car dealerships and towing companies had been flooded with calls about mysteriously malfunctioning keyless vehicle entry devices.

There were nearly as many theories as there were lockouts. But there were no firm answers as to why the remote devices stopped working.

"Maybe it's those little green men up north," said Nellis Air Force Base spokesman Mike Estrada, whose own keyless entry system failed. "Are there sun spots? I've been trying to figure it out. It happened to me right after lunch."

Estrada resorted to using his key to unlock his car door, but that set off his alarm.

ABC Locksmiths received 30 calls from drivers stumped by the failure of the key systems. Quality Towing received about 25 calls, and two Ford dealerships reported receiving scores of calls about the problem.

But ABC dispatcher Milo Ferguson didn't need to field any calls to know something was amiss.

"My car is one of them," Ferguson said. "It's some kind of electrical disturbance. Either that or a nuclear bomb went off a few miles from here."

Jerry Bussell, Gov. Kenny Guinn's adviser on homeland security, ruled out terrorism and described the phenomenon as a "frequency problem."

"This is an anomaly that we're going to check out," Bussell said.

The Country Ford dealership in Henderson, which had handled more than 100 calls by late Friday afternoon, contacted the national Ford headquarters for an explanation.

Katie Baumann, service operator for the dealership, said the Ford company headquarters informed her that "a lot of static electricity in the air could be messing up the radio waves" the devices use.

Local forecasters said they doubted the widespread failures could be attributed to any strange weather patterns.

"We've heard about it, and we don't think so," said Steve Johnson of the National Weather Service in Las Vegas.

Friday's cloudy weather made Bill O'Donnell doubt the theory of static interference. O'Donnell, a research associate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Physics Department and an electrical engineer, said that in "damp weather like we're having today, there won't be much of a static charge in the air. The charge just won't build up in these conditions."

Another possible source of the problem: the sun.

"Solar flares can produce and eject large numbers of charge particles, and usually the Earth's magnetic field deflects them before they enter the atmosphere," said chemistry and physics Professor Malcolm Nicol, the director of the High Pressure Science and Engineering Center at UNLV. "But if they are very large, they have been known to destroy the electronics systems in satellites and cause other problems down here."

However, the Big Bear Solar Observatory in Big Bear, Calif., reported low solar activity Friday.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, the low-power radio frequency transmitters inside keyless entry devices are similar to those found in other everyday items such as garage door openers, remote-controlled toys, cordless telephones, building alarm systems and the rapidly spreading wireless fidelity computer networks, which are commonly referred to as "wi-fi."

Paul Oei, an electronics engineer with the Los Angeles office of the FCC, said keyless entry systems operate on unlicensed frequencies. The devices can fail when they are near an antenna emitting high radio frequency energy. But that scenario would affect only vehicles in a limited area, he said.

Oei said he has never investigated a problem similar to Friday's phenomenon, but he recalled hearing about an incident years ago in which garage-door openers stopped working in an area when Air Force One was nearby.

"Who knows what the military could be using at any given time?" he said.

At least some Ford and General Motors keyless entry systems use the same radio spectrum bands that are used in military operations, according to the Web site of the U.S. Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

"These bands are heavily used worldwide for critical military air-traffic control and tactical training communications," the site states.

John Pike, director of, a defense and intelligence policy organization based near Washington, D.C., said military technology could easily be responsible for Friday's phenomenon. One such operation is jamming, which involves the release of electromagnetic energy to interfere with an enemy's radar detection capability.

Pike noted that particularly in Nevada, the military has a number of unacknowledged programs in jamming and radar and high-powered microwave weapons, any of which might have the potential to bring chaos to certain frequencies.

Estrada said Nellis officials checked into the possibility that military aircraft capable of sending out electronic jamming signals were involved, but they didn't believe that was the case.

"We've got a jammer in the inventory, but I don't think we've got any out here, let alone flying," he said.

Even if electronic warfare aircraft were flying, they operate at much different frequencies than commercial devices, such as garage-door openers and remote keyless entry systems, Estrada explained.

"The military is certainly capable of fibbing about these things," Pike said. "But, for the military to have done it, they would have to have seriously miscalculated the effects of some test."

Friday's phenomenon occurred as Nellis officials were preparing for next week's Red Flag air combat training exercise. The exercise, which involves dozens of fighter jets, bombers and other military aircraft from around the world, begins Monday and runs through March.

Chuck Clark, of the rural Lincoln County community of Rachel, is an Area 51 watchdog and researcher who monitors the government's classified installation near the dry lake bed of Groom Lake, 90 miles north of Las Vegas.

Clark said some of the high-tech equipment that he and other Area 51 buffs believe exists at the installation routinely cause odd occurrences in Rachel similar to what many people in Clark County experienced Friday.

"We get electronic jamming all the time," he said by telephone. News reports of a similar phenomenon several years ago inWashington state suggested the outages were linked to the arrival of military aircraft carriers to Bremerton.

In March 2001, the keyless entry failures began at the same time the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson returned to Bremerton. Then in April of that year, the outages began one day after the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

Comment: A number of strange tests and experiments have occurred in Nevada, and we doubt such things have stopped. They just don't receive any public attention until it is way too late to do anything about them. As just one example:

Sedan Crater. The largest cratering shot in the Plowshare Program was fired at the Nevada Test Site on July 6, 1962. The 104 kiloton explosive, buried under 635 feet of desert alluvium, displaced 12 million tons of earth and formed a crater 320 feet deep and 1,280 feet in diameter. [...]

These tests were designed to show that nuclear devices could quickly and cheaply move massive amounts of earth in the digging of canals and harbors.

Were they looking for effective methods for digging underground bases? These people have very little concern regarding the health impacts of their tests:

The sedan test sent a cloud of radioactivity towards Salt Lake City.

This current story is very similar to this October 09, 2003 story:

Airwave glitch hits Springs area

Garage-door openers jammed, hundreds say

By Eileen Kelley
Denver Post

COLORADO SPRINGS - Next time NATO officials say they're doing a lockdown, the folks in the luxury Broadmoor neighborhood will take them seriously.

Very seriously.

Last week, NATO workers erected security and communications towers in the area in advance of this week's defense ministers' conference.

By 9 a.m. Friday morning, all 10 lines at Overhead Door Company of Colorado Springs were lit up with calls from the Broadmoor and the nearby town of Security complaining that their garage- door openers had jammed.

More than 400 calls from frantic, frustrated and flustered residents came on that day alone. They haven't stopped since, said the company's receptionist, Tina Oetken.

Coincidence? [...]

Asst. Principal Admits Planting Evidence

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. -- An assistant principal who was trying to get a student expelled admitted planting marijuana in the boy's locker, police said. [...]

John Ashcroft's Subpoena Blitz:

Targeting Lawyers, Universities, Peaceful Demonstrators, Hospitals, and Patients, All With No Connection to Terrorism

FindLaw's Legal Commentary

Over the past two weeks, the Justice Department has issued two intensely controversial sets of subpoenas. The first targeted peaceful demonstrators in Iowa. The second targeted medical caregivers in Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
None of the targets of these subpoenas is alleged to have anything to do with terrorism.

The Iowa Subpoenas: Information Related to An Anti-War Demonstration

The Ashcroft Justice Department has had its eye on peaceful demonstrators and dissenters for quite some time. In May 2002, for instance, the Attorney General announced the elimination of twenty-six-year-old regulations that had prevented the FBI from monitoring "open to the public" events held by domestic religious, political and civic organizations unless it had specific cause for doing so.

These regulations had been specifically developed to counter the COINTELPRO domestic spying program that had led to massive civil rights era abuses during the 1960s and 70s. Now, these restrictions no longer exist -- and such abuses may well be repeating themselves.

Indeed, in a November 23, 2003 article, the New York Times detailed how -- according to a leaked bureau memorandum -- the FBI was collecting extensive information about, and tracking, antiwar demonstrators. According to the Times , the memo "possessed no information that violent or terrorist activities are being planned" as a part of major protests. Still, even with no evidence of a link to terrorism, the surveillance continued -- and likely continues to this day.

Then, on February 3 of this year, a local county deputy sheriff working with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force served subpoenas ordering Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, to turn over documents relating to a November 2003 anti-war conference.

The main theme of the conference had been to bring the Iowa National Guard safely back from Iraq. Attendees included the director of the local Catholic peace organization. The conference was followed the next day by a peaceful demonstration at the Guard's training center.

The subpoena asked for all records of Drake University campus security officers reflecting any observations made of the conference, including any records relating to the people in charge, or to any of the attendees. In addition, the subpoenas sought information about the local chapter of the left-wing National Lawyers Guild, which had helped to organize the conference.

This step, too, was ominous. In the 1950s and 60s, similar types of "fishing expedition" subpoenas, as well as the threat of grand juries, were often used to harass political dissenters and their lawyers, as well as to threaten people with jail terms or other penalties if they did not act as an informer on their colleagues. Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin commented about the Drake situation, "I don't like the smell of it…It reminds me too much of Vietnam when war protestors were rounded up, when grand juries were convened to investigate people who were protesting the war."

(Moreover, under the USA PATRIOT Act, grand jury testimony, which is supposedly secret, can now be shared with the CIA, the FBI and various other law enforcement agencies whenever the government claims a possible connection to an anti-terrorism investigation.)

Despite the lack of any terrorism connection, the government put a gag order on the Drake staff before the subpoenas were withdrawn, which seems to confirm that the government plans to conduct its surveillance under cover of darkness. This is consistent with the USA PATRIOT Act, which lowered standards for government surveillance, and created a crime of "domestic terrorism," which many fear will be used to target organizations that criticize federal policies.

Sadly, this is hardly the first time such legislation has been misused. For instance, a September 27 New York Times article, which was based on a DOJ report, detailed literally hundreds of non-terrorism cases for which the USA PATRIOT Act had been used to prosecute drug cases, murder investigations, money smuggling/laundering and document forgery.

When the Iowa subpoenas became public, stunned public interest law firms said that, to their knowledge, they were the first of their kind issued against a university in decades. A furious outcry from civil libertarians, politicians and grassroots activists ensued.
In the end, the subpoenas were withdrawn, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa replaced them with a much more narrowly tailored request. For a moment, it seemed like the government had admitted that it had overstepped its boundaries -- but then, just a few days later, another set of equally abusive subpoenas was issued.

The New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Michigan Medical Subpoenas

Those subpoenas were directed to at least six major hospitals in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Ann Arbor. They demanded that the hospitals turn over hundreds of medical records -- relating to what may be dozens of patients who underwent certain types of abortions performed in these facilities over the past three years.

Plainly, these subpoenas sought private, sensitive medical information. They also attempted to second-guess doctors' judgment, and intrude into the confidential relationship between doctor and patient.

Why were they issued? The Attorney General claims these records are needed to defend litigation challenging the recently passed Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act (PBABA). Apparently, the Justice Department wants to show, specifically, that procedures doctors deemed medically necessary, actually were not.

But in fact, this kind of evidence ought to be utterly irrelevant to the litigation. The relevant evidence is the evidence that was before Congress when it passed the PBABA -- not subsequent evidence the Justice Department might later be able to dig up by violating patient privacy. [...]

Sacrificing Liberties Without Any Plausible Security Concern

Since 9/11, we have heard repeatedly, from the Bush Administration and others, that we must sacrifice some of our civil liberties in order to increase security, and protect our country against terrorism. This argument has provided support for a variety of measures, including the USA PATRIOT Act. And studies have shown that the majority of Americans have accepted this argument: They are willing to give up some degree of privacy and freedom if it is necessary to prevent further terrorist attacks .

But now, the Justice Department has made clear that it views its powers as much greater than this. It won't just use its new powers to curtail privacy and liberty when terrorism is suspected -- it will do so whenever its political agenda makes it advantageous to do so. [...]

'Spy-files' cops sent 'X-rated,' abusive e-mails

By Kirk Mitchell
Denver Post Staff Writer

Denver police officers who assembled so-called "spy files" on peaceful demonstrators and members of political groups used derogatory and sexual and racial terms in e-mails they exchanged. [...]

Rumsfeld says al Qaeda operating in Iraq

Comment: Just in case you missed this lie the first 72,368 times, here it is again!

Dell asks PC buyers nuclear questions

By Matthew Broersma
Special to CNET
February 20, 2004, 10:41 AM PST

Dell is taking extra measures on its Web site to ensure that its customers are not developing weapons of mass destruction.

The computer maker has hit upon a direct way of ensuring customers are not planning to use hardware bought from its e-commerce sites for nefarious purposes: it simply asks them.

As part of the export compliance process on Dell's U.S. and U.K. Web sites, it asks the buyer some questions: Who will be the product's end user? What is the intended use? And it asks whether the products will be exported (and if so, to what countries), and whether the products will "be used in connection with weapons of mass destruction, i.e. nuclear applications, missile technology, or chemical or biological weapons purposes."

A Dell representative said the questions were a routine part of the sale process, and were required by any U.S. corporation to comply with export regulations. [...]

On the company's U.S. site, the company further defines "weapons of mass destruction" as "without limitation, activities related to the design, development, production or use of nuclear weapons, materials, or facilities, missiles or the support of missile projects, and chemical or biological weapons". [...]

Sweeping new powers in UK war on terror

Gaby Hinsliff and Martin Bright
The Observer
Sunday February 22, 2004

Terror suspects could be convicted on the evidence of 'electronic eavesdropping' of phone calls and emails under sweeping moves to combat the threat of an al-Qaeda atrocity.

In a blunt admission that the risk of attack remains 'real and serious', Home Secretary David Blunkett will pledge a massive staffing boost for MI5. Priorities will include linguists, translators and surveillance to help infiltrate overseas-sponsored terror networks in Britain.

Blunkett will also flesh out highly controversial plans for new anti-terrorism powers which would see suspects convicted on lower standards of proof than the criminal courts and of crimes not yet even committed - such as an intent to execute a suicide bombing. [...]

I've had lumps kicked out of me...but I'm tougher than ever

By Ian Kirby, Political Editor
News of the World

DEFIANT Tony Blair believes he is stronger than ever after six years as Prime Minister—and ready to lead Labour to an historic third term in power. [...]

1,000 new MI5 spies to fight terror war

MI5's budget is to be raised by 50 per cent to pay for 1,000 extra agents in a new onslaught against terrorism.

Anthrax shots made Australian troops sick: report

RETIRED PS testifies he paid Sh5.8b out of fear

East African Standard - Nairobi, Kenya

Former Permanent Secretary Dr Wilfred Koinange yesterday charged that he paid out Sh5.8 billion to Goldenberg International Ltd because he feared for his life. ...

Genocide Suspects Rush to Confess Ahead of Deadline

Genocide suspects across Rwandan prisons and other detention centres are hurrying up to confess and enter guilty pleas ahead of a March 15th, 2004 deadline.
An estimated One million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. A law prosecuting genocide and related crimes was put in place in 1996.

The 1996 law provided for a three-year period in which suspects that confessed and pleaded guilty got heavily reduced sentences. The 'confession and guilty plea procedure' period has continually been prolonged up to the latest deadline.

"The numbers of confessions in the run-up to March 15th has increased very much", said Hannington Tayebwa, spokesperson for the ministry of justice[...]

I forgave apartheid's chief killer

[...]When the apartheid assassin known as "Prime Evil" was sentenced to 212 years for crimes against humanity, the black South Africans outside Pretoria's supreme court cheered and danced. Never again would Eugene de Kock walk the streets. That big blank face with the thick spectacles would stay caged until the day he died. That was 1996, and De Kock is still inside the grey world of C-Max, the maximum security section of Pretoria's central prison, his body in orange overalls, his feet chained to a metal stool bolted to the floor when visitors come.

But in one sense De Kock is out. Out and roaming the mind of South Africa with awkward questions about the nature of evil and forgiveness, courtesy of a black woman who decided to look into the monster's heart and found a human being worthy of a pardon and freedom. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, a psychologist at the University of Cape Town, has published a remarkable book about her conversations with De Kock.

New era of slavery exposed in Brazil's rainforest

A SKELETAL Geraldo da Silva was found sleeping under plastic sheets in a jungle camp with no running water or toilets, the deep bloody cuts on his hands and feet evidence that he had spent months clearing thick jungle vegetation.

Armed vigilantes watched over him as he worked and had threatened to kill him if he tried to flee. Silva was among 32 slaves found by Brazilian labour ministry inspectors during a recent raid on remote cattle ranch in the Amazon owned by a right-wing senator - a find which has brought to the attention of the wider world an appalling violation of human rights. More than 2,000 slaves have been freed in raids over the past year, and there are now thought to be more than 25,000 people living in inhumane conditions and working for nothing on cattle ranches, coffee farms and sugar cane fields across Brazil.

IBM plans second Blue Gene supercomputer

By Stephen Shankland
Staff Writer, CNET
February 20, 2004, 2:00 PM PST

IBM will install a second Blue Gene/L supercomputer as part of a radio telescope project in the Netherlands, the company plans to announce Monday.

The supercomputer will be used for a new radio telescope project called Lofar, short for low frequency array, run by a Dutch organization called Astron. The system, which is expected to be complete in 2005, will run the Linux operating system, use about 12,000 processors and perform more than 30 trillion calculations per second, sources familiar with the plan said. [...]

Lofar is expected to begin in initial operations in 2006 and full operations in 2008, according to the Lofar Web site.

Its design lacks the moving parts of a conventional dish antenna radio telescope. Instead, it's planned to use an array of about 20,000 to 30,000 sensors that gather data from the entire sky. Computer control systems will process the information so that the array's attention can effectively be pointed to a specific patch of the sky.

Research subjects could include the early universe, supernovas, Jupiter, galaxy formation or a map of cosmic-ray origins.

Another way in which the system will need computing power is for conducting continuous searches of large parts of the sky for short-term events with bursts of radio frequency emissions. In addition, data will be stored in temporary buffers so that it can be examined after the fact, if other telescopes discover radio frequency bursts.

Computers are also required to compensate for distortions of radio signals caused by Earth's ionosphere. A byproduct of this correction process is a three-dimensional model of the ionosphere above the telescope.

Comment: It seems that awfully large amounts of money and computational horsepower are being devoted to projects that keep an eye on the heavens these days. Makes you wonder what they are really looking for...

Stray Hong Kong crocodile resurfaces
09:41 Sunday 22nd February 2004

A stray crocodile which shot to fame after thwarting repeated attempts by hunters to capture it has resurfaced in a rural river.

The reptile has grown bigger and has beefed up, now measuring an estimated two 6.6ft after staying out of sight during Hong Kong's cold winter months, the South China Morning Post reports.

The crocodile - first spotted in a swampy creek in November - has moved to a nearby area surrounded by fish farms, it said. [...]

The crocodile previously avoided baited traps set by local officials. Then the government called in Australian crocodile expert John Lever. He, too, came up empty-handed.

A team of Chinese crocodile hunters given the job also failed to find the animal. They have returned home to neighbouring Guangdong province for a break. [...]

Hong Kong has no native crocodile species, and it remains unclear where the animal came from.

'Fat' bride-to-be given weighty ultimatum
11:55 Sunday 22nd February 2004

A German man has given his 14-stone girlfriend an unusual marriage proposal after telling her he is only prepared to marry 10 stones of her.

Rolf Schmidt, 38, says he will only marry Isabel Witte if she loses four stone, and manages to fit into her old jeans, a size 32. She is currently a size 42.

Miss Witte, from Pfaffenweiler in Baden-Wuerttemberg, is five foot eight inches tall and says she has already lost a stone by going on a strict diet and doing "loads of sports".

But she added she is so desperate to marry Mr Schmidt that she has agreed to undergo plastic surgery, and afterwards would "squeeze into my old jeans so I can get married as soon as possible".

The 28-year-old said: "My fiancée is a fantastic cook, that's why I have put on so much weight."

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