Today's conditions brought to you by the Bush Junta - marionettes of their hyperdimensional puppet masters - Produced and Directed by the CIA, based on an original script by Henry Kissinger, with a cast of billions.... The "Greatest Shew on Earth," no doubt, and if you don't have a good sense of humor, don't read this page! It is designed to reveal the "unseen."
If you can't stand the heat of Objective Reality, get out of the kitchen!
Friday, February 27, 2004
Is the World Coming to An End?
Picture of the Day
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte
Essence vs. Personality. Sometimes the articles, comments, and ideas presented on the Signs page are shocking or unsettling. Indeed, we have received many e-mails from readers who declare that we are being too negative. We often hear that we should also look on the bright side of life, or that we should have a sense of humor about the darkness in the world. In continuing to address the concerns of these readers, it may be beneficial to consider the difference between one's essence, and one's personality.
If we read an article about someone who was abducted and tortured due to the "War on Terrorism" currently engulfing our planet, we may observe in ourselves some stirrings of a rather unpleasant nature. For example, yesterday we included the article " Detained Canadian wants answers from Ottawa: Syrian officials, CSIS agents asked same questions, torture victim says" from the Globe and Mail:
We may read the above article and feel a certain sense of revulsion and horror, but the source of this response can vary. The emotional response to the article may consist primarily of fear. Perhaps we worry about relatives who will soon be traveling abroad. Perhaps we may fear for our own safety.
We may think that the article is an attempt by those with a more politically liberal leaning to wreak havoc with the war on terror by reporting on the brutal torture of a man who claims to have done nothing wrong. We may see it as further justification that Syria is an evil country that enjoys kidnapping and torturing people, and thus the country should be "democratized". Or, perhaps we may simply rationalize away the entire article, and blame such nonsense on the "liberal media".
In all cases, it seems that we cannot completely trust the feelings and thoughts that arise within us when confronted by a glimpse of reality - or an illusion, for that matter. How can we even be sure what part of us is reacting? How can we know that the thoughts we are having are truly our own?
Gurdjieff wrote of the two separate parts that are in each individual: essence and personality. First, let us consider personality. Personality is the result of a myriad of influences that act upon a person throughout her life. Personality consists of those 'A' influences that are absorbed into our being from simply living in the world. The way we were raised by our parents, how many parents played an active part in our life, the social and economic conditions of our upbringing - all these things affect our personality. Entire systems of belief are created within us based on the factors present in our more formative years. Yet even when we are older, the influence of these factors may not diminish. In fact, some of them may be strengthened by new experiences. One may move to a new location and absorb some of the local culture, while other elements of one's personality will remain steadfast.
It appears there doesn't necessarily have to be any rhyme or reason to these changes in the personality. Beliefs and desires can and will change overnight. To the individual experiencing them, all may seem normal - infinite justifications can be created to reinforce the new beliefs and needs that are in direct contradiction to those beliefs and desires we held yesterday. In this case, Gurdjieff points out that the mind and the feelings each operate without recognizing the influence of the other.
An example of the whimsical nature of the personality is a person's musical taste. We decide that we love a certain type of music 'C' for how it makes us feel. We also decide that another type of music 'D' is terrible, although we do not have any real justification for making this judgment. Perhaps we once dated someone who liked 'D' music, and thus we have an irrational hatred after the relationship ended on a bad note. As far as the personality is concerned, 'C' music is good, 'D' music is bad. Then perhaps we make a new friend who likes a 'D' music band that we've never heard before. As the friendship grows, our taste for music changes from 'C' to 'D', and now it is music of the 'C' type that we will malign endlessly.
From the perspective of thought, someone with knowledge of musical composition may examine both types 'C' and 'D' and conclude that there is really very little difference between the underlying musical structure of the two types. Perhaps the same chords or rhythms are used in both types, and only the lyrics are different. The personality is not capable of truly processing this information. In essence, the personality can only react based on "If-Then" statements that have been incorporated into the individual's programming.
Each day on the Signs page, we try to add a bit of perspective to the often shocking news. The intent is to provide an alternative to the reconstituted, pasteurized, prepackaged news conveyed by mainstream media. We believe that recognition of what is in the outer world, combined with a recognition of what is in the inner world, can help in the task of subduing the 'A' influences and absorbing the 'B' influences. We believe it is possible to stop reacting, and to start acting by reclaiming ourselves, so to speak.
It is in this light that Gurdjieff speaks of essence as that which is truly our own, that element of our inner world which can develop and change through our own efforts to work on ourselves. The first step is to learn to distinguish between personality and essence.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the quest to recognize personality and essence is sincerity with oneself. Here the subject of lies returns once again. Lies to the self must be stopped. There is no easy way to accomplish this task. There are no magic potions, meditations, chants, or other mumbo-jumbo which will make the journey any shorter or less painful. It simply must be done. If we are to see the effects of the personality, we must not avoid self-examination.
And so, each day, we collect articles that highlight the nature of this world - a world permeated by entropy. The articles and comments are not intended to harm or offend any country, political system, or person. The world is as it is. We are offering a mirror. A comment that includes a different political viewpoint is intended not as a challenge to the established system, but as a tool for those who are working on the self to consider new possibilities, to see the world for what it is, and to perhaps see the nothingness in the self.
As individuals, we have little hope of changing anything in this reality. As a small group, we have no desire to change anything in this reality. To desire change in the outside world is to deny what is. When we speak of butterfly wings, of small changes possibly resulting in large shifts in reality, we are not talking about changing the outer world - we are speaking of the relationship of our respective inner worlds to the outer world. The first step is to see the personality and its effects, and thereby reestablish a link to one's essence. As Gurdjieff put it:
On this day in 1933, the German Reichstag building was destroyed in an arson attack. A Dutch Communist called Marinus van der Lubbe was found at the scene and blamed for the fire. He was subsequently hanged. Historians have been arguing over the involvement of the Nazi Party in the fire ever since. It is clear the Communists had nothing to do with it. There is circumstantial evidence that the Nazi SA were involved. What is certain is that they used it as an excuse to increase their power and get rid of many political opponents.
A brief look at history provides us with many examples of large scale deception of the people. In considering the nature of "civilised" ordered society throughout the ages, the requirement for "rulers" to rule by deception appears to be a constant. Indeed it is a testimony, either to the somnambulance of the human race, or the divisiveness of the "ruling classes", or perhaps a combination of both, that knowledge of so many of these deceptions should have gone unnoticed by the majority. The complete ignorance among the public of these deceptions is all the more surprising given that the average person indulges in very similar deceptions in their personal lives, albeit on a smaller scale. Yet people seem unwilling to credit their "leaders" the same level of amorality that they themselves willingly indulge in.
One might excuse the masses of their ignorance of the reality of government deception, if each new deception was very different from the last, yet we notice that this is not the case. In fact, a strikingly similar formula is used time and again by "leaders" from all epochs. In most cases the ruling class seeks to implement sweeping changes, which, under normal circumstances, would be rejected by the people. The people must therefore be coerced to give their support. This is achieved through the simple use of an illusory threat to the physical safety of the people. Blinded by the fear generated by the illusory threat, the people are unable to see that the threat actually originated from the same "leaders" to whom the people now appeal to save them from the illusory threat. Pretty simple, eh? Of course, the key ingredient is the natural reluctance of the people to believe that their leaders would ever be so lacking in conscience that they would do such a thing. Such a reluctance to see the reality of human nature and the people that crave power, results in an environment that is wonderfully ripe for complete enslavement of those who, through their love of illusion, actually facilitate the implementation of their task masters' plans.
The mass deception on this day 71 years ago that was the burning of the Reichstag and the subsequent utilization of the inevitable "wave of public outrage", allowed for the consolidation of Hitler's power and all the horror that resulted. With the German population at the time displaying the natural human trait of aversion to the less rosy aspects of human nature, Hitler was able to commit unspeakable atrocities in the name of, and with the support of, most of the German people.
The events of 9/11 bear all the hallmarks of being another mass deception of the people. The events that have occurred as a result, the many thousands of innocent dead, with the "promise" of many more to come, suggest that yet again humanity has been sucker punched, using the tried and tested formula. There is no hope that this recurring theme will ever change.
It appears that the nature of life on this planet offers the opportunity to learn a valuable lesson about free will, an open universe and infinite possibilities. There is one thing that we must understand however, and it is that shutting out reality robs us of the materials which act as the catalyst for building something new. Dreams are dreamt while asleep, houses must be built while fully awake.
In the words of Sir Laurens van der Post:
9/11 Panel Urges Rice to
Flashback: Report Warned Of Suicide Hijackings
Washington, May 17, 2002
(CBS) Two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, an analysis prepared for U.S. intelligence warned that Osama bin Laden's terrorists could hijack an airliner and fly it into government buildings like the Pentagon.
"Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al Qaeda's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House," the September 1999 report said.
The Bush administration has asserted that no one in government had envisioned a suicide hijacking before it happened.
"Had I know that the enemy was going to use airplanes to kill on that fateful morning, I would have done everything in my power to protect the American people," Mr. Bush told U.S. Air Force Academy football team members who were visiting the White House on Friday. It was his first public comment on revelations this week that he was told Aug. 6 that bin Laden wanted to hijack planes.
CBS Senior White House Correspondent Bob Schieffer reports that other top officials were less forthcoming. The usually talkative Attorney General John Ashcroft just stared when reporters asked him about the terror warnings. FBI Chief Robert Mueller also refused to comment. [...]
Former CIA Deputy Director John Gannon, who was chairman of the National Intelligence Council when the report was written, said officials long have known a suicide hijacking was a threat.
"If you ask anybody could terrorists convert a plane into a missile, nobody would have ruled that out," he said.
Meanwhile, court transcripts reviewed by The Associated Press show the government had other warning signs between 1999 and 2001 that bin Laden was sending members of his network to be trained as pilots and was considering airlines as a possible target. [...]
Bush administration officials have repeatedly said no one in government had imagined such an attack.
"I don't think anybody could have predicted that ... they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile," National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said Thursday.
The report was written by the Federal Research Division, an arm of the Library of Congress that provides research for federal agencies.
"This information was out there, certainly to those who study the in-depth subject of terrorism and al-Qaeda," said Robert L. Worden, the agency's chief.
"We knew it was an insightful report," he said. "Then after Sept. 11 we said, 'My gosh, that was in there.'"
Comment: Well gee whiz and golly gosh, imagine that! Is this guy joking? Let's imagine for a moment that the Bush administration was telling the truth, that when they were given a high priority report detailing the real threat of "terrorists" hijacking planes and flying them into buildings, they simply ignored it. That in itself is criminal negligence and requires that a criminal investigation be carried out. The facts however suggest that the boys and girls in White House are a lot more intelligent, and the evidence points to a deliberate and conscious attempt at a coverup.
In all honesty, does Condi really expect us to believe that she, as National Security Advisor, was not privy to the report? Naturally she would have been one of the first to see it. How then do we explain her claim that no one could have foreseen the 9/11 attacks? The explanation, of course, is that she is lying.
Consider the words of the FBI report again:
"Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al Qaeda's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House"
Then consider the words of National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice:
"I don't think anybody could have predicted that ... they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile."
If the Bush administration is lying about this, what else might they be lying about? Does this not blow the whole case wide open? We know Bush lied about WMD in Iraq, we know Bush lied about Saddam being an imminent threat to the US, we know that Bush lied about Iraqi involvement in 9/11, we know Bush lied about his military service. The one thing that has come from his mouth that we tend to believe is that he believes "God" told him to kill in Afghanistan and Iraq. "God" has been ordering his minions to kill for thousands of years. If Bush lies as he breathes, should we really believe that he is not lying about 9/11?
These are the facts, dear readers. This is not a game, this is no conspiracy theory. We accept that we are unlikely to ever get a smoking gun, but do we need one? Have we not been given powers of deductive reasoning? If the above scenario where reflected in "normal" life, most people would have no qualms about coming to the conclusion that a lie was probably being told, yet simply because it is the president and the 9/11 attacks that are the subject matter, there appears to be a block in the normal logical reasoning. People are extremely reluctant to call a spade a spade in this case. Why? Because for people to accept the truth, that the US government murdered 3,000 of its own citizens on September 11th 2001, would mean the collapse of their entire world view, a view that is wholly illusory and in truth never really existed.
Activist groups decry cop
Lawmakers Alarmed by RFID
Top advisor to Rumsfeld stands down in order to dissociate US administration from his outspoken views on Iraq.
Perle has left the influential Defence Policy Board of which he had been a member for 17 years, the Washington Post and Knight Ridder newspapers reported. He stood down as chairman of the board last March because of a possible conflict of financial interests because of his consultancies.
The reports said Perle sent a letter of resignation to Rumsfeld on February 18 in which said he did not want the administration to be associated with his outspoken views on Iraq and other issues.
"We are now approaching a long presidential election campaign, in the course of which issues on which I have strong views will be widely discussed and debated," Perle was quoted as saying.
"I would not wish those views to be attributed to you or the president at any time, and especially not during a presidential campaign."
The resignation comes as President George W. Bush, who faces a tough re-election campaign this year, confronts increasing criticism of his decision to order the invasion of Iraq on March 20 last year.
Perle has written a book "An End To Evil: How To Win The War On Terror" in which he called for "bold action" against North Korea and other accused state "sponsors of terrorism" in which he included Saudi Arabia, a key US ally. The book is co-authored with David Frum.
Perle was an assistant defence secretary during President Ronald Reagan's administration in the 1980s.
Comment: Perle has been one of the driving forces behind the Neocon "War on Terror". It sounds like he intends to slip away quietly under the guise of protecting Rummy and Bush. Of course, now the blame for any wrongdoings will fall squarely on their shoulders. Things don't look good for Bush and the gang. Perle's letter of resignation can be read here.
Martial Law and Canada's
It also mends the Privacy Act that would allow all information collected by airlines to be distributed to foreign powers without their knowledge or consent (S.98). Between this bill and the Customs Act, individuals arriving in Canada or leaving Canada, not only by aircraft but by any kind public transport, will have all of their personal information distributed to the police to check for warrants (even unrelated to terrorism), and to foreign countries as well - the Capps II database of the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness program.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department has subpoenaed Planned Parenthood for the confidential medical records of hundreds of women as part of its defense against challenges to a federal law that bans a type of late-term abortion, the family planning organization said on Thursday.
Attorney General John Ashcroft said this month the records were needed to find out whether the procedure, called "partial birth abortion" by its critics, was medically necessary.
Comment: When Ashcroft is willing to subpoena medical records to implement his twisted Christian values to the detriment of the privacy of women who have suffered the anguish of an abortion, should we believe him when he tells us that the "anti-terror" legislation won't be used to spy on US citizens?
Ashcroft thinks his personal savior is coming to save him before the Tribulations described in the Bible. Bush thinks God told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. Murderers who hear voices are usually locked away. These two, and the rest of the friends, are governing the most powerful country in the world, implementing God's divine mission. These people think that the Bible is the literal truth. These people think that Mel Gibson's new movie is historical truth. They think Jesus is going to appear in the skies and save all those who believe, whisking them away to safety. We have other ideas on where these folks are going to be taken, if ever the rest of us are "left behind." We don't want to go with them.
But it is outrageous that these madmen, for what other description fits, can assume high office in the US. What does that tell us about that country? It is no surprise, then, that their biggest ally is a country that claims God gave them a piece of desert on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean 3000 years ago. How can you deal rationally which such people?
You can't. You cannot deal rationally with true believers. They will not listen to anything you say because you are a heathen swine who is damned. The Talmud describes non-Jews as cattle, as less than human. The Bible Belt Evangelical sees anyone not part of his own Church as a representative of the devil.
Given the powder keg in the Middle East, and the important US role in keeping the situation enflamed, the future of the planet is in the hands of crazed zealots. Allow this fact to penetrate into your thinking. Reflect upon it. What does it say about our world and the possibilities for a future for our children? How did we get into this mess?
In a gesture that consolidates the 1990s culture wars, the post-9-11 chill on dissent, and the relentlessness of hawkishly pro-Israel lobbying, the U.S. House voted unanimously last fall to establish an advisory board to monitor how effectively campus international studies centers serve "national needs related to homeland security" and to assess whether they provide sufficient airtime to champions of American foreign policy. Currently the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions is considering a parallel provision for its upcoming higher education reauthorization bill. The bill will likely go to the floor in March.
Though it's just a few paragraphs in an arcane piece of routine legislation reauthorizing a relatively small amount of money to what's called "area studies," the advisory board provision represents an ominous offensive against academic freedom and oppositional views. For decades now, since the end of the McCarthy period that saw countless academics expelled from the classroom for their views and international research controlled by a Cold War agenda, the critical assault on left-leaning professors has been launched from books, articles, websites, and media broadcasts—unpleasant enough for the people targeted, but still the stuff of discourse. Even the creepy post-9-11 list of 40 profs accused by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni of giving comfort to America's adversaries turned out to have no teeth.
But the very possibility of legislation sounds old alarms anew. Even if the measure does not make it past the Senate—ranking Democrats on the panel don't expect it to get much traction—the very idea of ideological feds inspecting campus lecture halls takes the culture wars to a perilous new level.
By David Walsh
The Bush administration is deliberately concealing from the American people the number and condition of US military personnel who have been wounded in Iraq. The efforts by those few politicians and media figures who have pursued the issue make this clear.
Estimates on the number of US soldiers, sailors and Marines medically evacuated from Iraq by the end of 2003 because of battlefield wounds, illness or other reasons range from 11,000 to 22,000, a staggering figure by any standard. Thousands of these young men and women have been physically or psychologically damaged for life, in turn affecting the lives of tens of thousands of family members and others. And the war in Iraq is less than one year old.
UPDATED: 8:29 AM MST February 26, 2004
DENVER -- If you saw something unusual in the night sky above Colorado Wednesay night, you weren't alone.
Many people called 7NEWS to report a fireball around 6:30 p.m. and the Museum of Nature and Science said it was likely a meteor.
"I did see the meteor as clear as day," said viewer Annmarie Maynard, who was in Westminster at the time. "I would say it came down in the mountains. It was not streaking across the sky but in a rather quick descent."
"I live on the Western slope in Crawford, and was traveling to Paonia at 6:30 last night, when in the northeast I saw a huge meteor fall and explode above the earth. It seemed like it was right there, and I felt very privileged to have witnessed such an event," said Kim Johnson, another viewer.
"We live in Loveland and saw a ball (white with a bright green tail) go over the house and it seemed very big and low and I even thought it landed in our 60 acres. Before getting that low, it seemed to go out," said viewer Rosemary Barry. "I have seen falling stars but nothing ever like this one. Pretty strange sighting."
Scientists at the Museum of Nature and Science are looking for people who may have seen it. They're interested in where the meteor was seen, where it possibly landed and if any video or pictures were taken. If you saw the fireball Wednesday night, report your sighting on Cloudbait.com.
Comment: Another one in Arizona last week. Now, Colorado. Before that it was Spain. And Iran. And India. Are these few raindrops the precursors of a more violent storm?
The people of the Marshall Islands, the site of 67 U.S. nuclear tests between 1946 and 1958, have their own Bikini stories.
Fifty years later, the legacy of the nuclear testing program still runs deep, says Seiichiro Takemine, a doctoral candidate at Waseda University studying the effects of nuclear testing on the islanders.
"Those nuclear tests have destroyed their way of life," he says.
The Marshalls, made up of 29 coral atolls and five small islands just north of the equator, were administered by the United States for decades following World War II. They became a sovereign state in 1986 with the signing of the Compact of Free Association with the U.S.
During the testing period, the people living on and near Bikini and Eniwetok atolls, which were used for nuclear testing, were evacuated to other islets. But the U.S. later admitted that at least 239 people were left behind, where they were exposed to strong radiation at the time of the March 1, 1954, Bravo blast.
Half a century later, Bikini and Rongelap, which received strong radioactive fallout, are still uninhabitable.
The nuclear fallout is believed to have also caused high rates of certain health disorders across the Marshall Islands, including thyroid cancer and miscarriages.
The U.S. acknowledged responsibility for radiation-induced health problems when it signed the compact in 1986 and set up a $150 million compensation trust fund.
Most of the islets to which the islanders were evacuated were isolated and barren, which caused the evacuees to abandon their traditional "canoe" culture, Takemine says.
The people of the Marshall Islands would take to canoes for every occasion, and used them for fishing and gathering fruit on nearby atolls and islands, he says.
Now they are dependent on compensation money and canned food supplied by the U.S. as emergency relief goods, Takemine says.
The government of the Marshall Islands wants the U.S. to beef up the compensation program, whose funding is running out, and help clean up the contaminated land and resettle the displaced people, according to Mary Leon Silk of the College of the Marshall Islands. As of last May, $9.5 million was left in the fund.
Comment: This is how the US treats its friends. Can you really believe that they wouldn't sacrifice 2700 of their own in the twin towers to get whet they want?
London - While Prime Minister Tony Blair should be red-faced after claims Britain spied on United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, it is the issue of Iraq and not the revelations themselves which will do the lasting damage, the British press said on Friday.
"Try as he might Tony Blair cannot put the Iraq war behind him," the Financial Times said after former cabinet minister Clare Short claimed British intelligence operatives bugged Annan in the run-up to the war.[...]
From the National Security Agency's imposing headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, ringed by a double-chain fence topped by barbed wire with strands of electrified wire between them, America "bugs" the world.
Nothing politically or militarily significant, whether mentioned in a telephone call, in a conversation in the office of the secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, or in a company fax or e-mail, escapes its attention.
Its computers - measured in acres occupied by them rather than simple figures - "vacuum the entire electromagnetic spectrum", homing in on "key words" which may suggest something of interest to NSA customers is being conveyed.
The NSA costs at least $3.5bn (£1.9bn) a year to run. It employs at least 20,000 officers (not counting the 100,000 servicemen and civilians around the world over whom it has control). Its shredders process 40 tons of paper a day.
Its junior partner is Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, the eavesdropping organisation for which Katharine Gun worked. Like NSA, GCHQ is a highly secret operation. Until 1983, when one of its officers, Geoffrey Prime, was charged with spying for the Russians, the Government had refused to reveal what GCHQ's real role was, no doubt because its operations in peacetime were without a legal basis. Its security is maintained by massive and deliberately intimidating security.
Newspapers have been discouraged from mentioning it; a book by a former GCHQ officer, Jock Kane, was seized by Special Branch police officers and a still photograph of its headquarters was banned by the Independent Broadcasting Authority, leaving a blank screen during a World in Action programme. As with NSA, the size of GCHQ's staff at Cheltenham, about 6,500, gives no real indication of its strength. It has monitoring stations in Cyprus, West Germany, and Australia and smaller ones elsewhere. Much of its overseas work is done by service personnel.
Its budget is thought to be more than £300m a year. A large part of this is funded by the United States in return for the right to run NSA listening stations in Britain - Chicksands, Bedfordshire; Edzell, Scotland; Mentworth Hill, Harrogate; Brawdy, Wales - and on British territory around the world.
The collaboration between the two agencies offers many advantages to both. Not only does it make monitoring the globe easier, it solves tricky legal problems and is the basis of the Prime Minister's statement yesterday that all Britain's bugging is lawful. The two agencies simply swap each other's dirty work.
GCHQ eavesdrops on calls made by American citizens and the NSA monitors calls made by British citizens, thus allowing each government plausibly to deny it has tapped its own citizens' calls, as they do. The NSA station at Menwith Hill intercepts all international telephone calls made from Britain and GCHQ has a list of American citizens whose phone conversations interest the NSA.
The NSA request to GCHQ for help in bugging the diplomats from those nations who were holding out for a second Security Council resolution to authorise an attack on Iraq is unsurprising. Nor is it surprising that both organisations wanted to provide their political masters with recordings of private conversations of high-ranking international diplomats.
It is not difficult. Listening "bugs" can be planted in phones, electrical plugs, desk lamps and book spines. Given a clear line of sight, one device enables someone to detect and and interpret sound waves vibrating against the glass window panes of an office.
Bugging the world is not the problem. The problem is avoiding drowning in a sea of information. We should not be surprised that GCHQ and NSA eavesdrop on us. We pay them to do it. We should be asking: "Do they earn their keep?" And, unless we get a few more whistle-blowers like Ms Gun, we will not know, because both agencies surround themselves with a wall of secrecy.
WHO DO WE BUG?
Although under domestic law GCHQ needs a warrant from the Home Secretary to tap telephones in Britain, it can do so abroad without such authorisation.
But the United Nations headquarters in New York is considered sovereign territory, and placing a bug there would be illegal under international law.
Intelligence services spy on hostile and friendly countries, the latter mainly for commercial reasons, but also to gain an edge in diplomatic negotiations. Nato allies are not always immune from intelligence operations by Britain.
Staff working for the UN inspection teams in Iraq were convinced they were under surveillance.
France, Germany and Russia complained of a rise in espionage against them. There was intense activity directed at Jordan and Syria, as well as Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Egypt.
Officials say the only shock about Katharine Gun's discovery of an e-mail from the National Security Agency is that she was surprised by it.
Ex-Cabinet minister Clare Short's claims of a United Nations bugging scandal have sparked fresh revelations.
Former UN chief weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Richard Butler's phones were also tapped while on missions abroad, it was claimed.
Australian radio reported that Mr Blix's phone was bugged whenever he was in Iraq and the information shared between the United States, Britain and their allies.
And Mr Butler said he was "well aware" that his phone calls were being monitored during his tenure.
He claimed he was forced to hold confidential talks with contacts on walks in New York's Central Park because of the phone tapping in his office at the UN headquarters, while he was investigating Iraq's weapons programme.
He told ABC radio: "Of course I was [bugged]. I was well aware of it. How did I know? Because those who did it would come to me and show me the recordings that they had made on others to help me do my job disarming Iraq."
Mr Butler, who was chief weapons inspector in Iraq from 1997 to 1999, claimed at least four permanent members of the UN Security Council monitored his calls.
He said that while he was weapons inspector he learned from unnamed sources that his office was bugged.
He claimed: "I was utterly confident that when in my attempts to have private diplomatic conversations trying to solve the problem of the disarmament of Iraq, I was being listened to by the Americans, British, the French and the Russians and they also had people on my staff reporting what I was trying to do privately." [...]
A former Foreign Office adviser has come forward to admit she quit her job because she did not agree with the legality of the war on Iraq.
Elizabeth Wilmhurst made a statement disclosing her name in the wake of recent press inquiries.
She said she had not wanted to continue as deputy legal adviser at the Foreign Office because she "did not agree the use of force against Iraq was lawful".
She now works at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. [...]
Abdulwahab Badrakhan Al-Hayat 2004/02/26
Someone has to tell the U.S. that the committee in Lahaye is dubbed the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and is not a branch of the mafia or Al Qaeda. Hence, it is useless to indirectly warn and threaten it only because it convened to hear the pleadings of several countries against the Israeli "Berlin Wall."
It is obvious Washington does not recognize this court; for it does not work under its directions or recommendations. If it were, no one would have resorted to it because American 'justice,' especially regarding international issues, is lost. This court is related to the UN and works according to its Charter, resolutions and international law that represent the peak of human civilization. However, many international stages, the last of which being the war on Iraq, proved to which extent the U.S. despises the UN. In fact, it does not respect its weight, role or viewpoint - unless it could be exploited within American policy.
Friday 27 February 2004, 14:40 Makka Time, 11:40 GMT
Israeli border police have stormed the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City after young Palestinians threw stones at them.
The police threw stun grenades into the crowd. An estimated 35,000 worshippers were present when the unrest began.
Police spokesman Gil Kleiman said Muslim worshippers "started rioting" at the end of Friday prayers at the shrine, a frequent flashpoint for Israeli-Palestinian violence.
One policeman was hurt in the leg before calm was restored.
The al-Aqsa mosque compound is the third most sacred site in Islam.
Israel has reportedly asked Egypt to take control of part of the Gaza Strip in the event of an Israeli withdrawal.
The idea was discussed when Israeli intelligence officials visited Cairo earlier this month, Israeli security sources were quoted as saying.
Under the plan, Egyptian forces would replace Israeli troops in a narrow corridor between the town of Rafah in Gaza and the Egyptian border.
Israel has said it is considering pulling out of most of the Gaza Strip. [...]
Rebels battling to oust Haitian President Jean Bertrand
Aristide have said an attack on the capital is imminent.
"Everyone is killing innocent people so we cannot stand by and watch Aristide do this. So that is why we gave orders to surround Port-au-Prince," Philippe said in the rebel stronghold in Cap Haitien, Haiti's second-largest city.
"Our guys are there and waiting for orders to attack," said Philippe, a former police chief who said he wants to be in Port-au-Prince by Sunday to celebrate his 36th birthday.
Aristide has repeatedly vowed to remain in office until his term ends in 2006, setting the stage for a showdown between the motley band of armed rebels and the president, his supporters and ill-trained, 4,000-member national police force.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell urged Aristide to "examine" whether he could effectively rule, the first time the US had questioned his ability to remain in charge. [...]
Suspected communist rebels have blown up a railway track and damaged railway stations in Eastern India, officials said.
Thousands of railway passengers have been stranded after the incidents in Bihar, but there are no reports of any casualties, a railway spokesman told Associated Press (AP).
Two outlawed rebel groups called a strike in four eastern Indian states to protest against alleged police atrocities.
More than 6,000 people have died during the rebels' 20-year armed struggle for a communist state in tribal areas of India.[...]
Indian jets 'battle'
A former Japanese cult guru has been sentenced to death for masterminding a 1995 nerve gas attack on Tokyo subway trains that killed 12, sickened thousands and shattered Japan's myth of public safety.
Prosecutors had demanded that Shoko Asahara, 48, the former leader of the Aum Shinri Kyo (Supreme Truth Sect), be hanged for ordering the subway attack and a string of other crimes that killed another 15 people.
"I sentence the defendant to death," said Judge Shoji Ogawa on Friday after Asahara had stood to hear the verdict that concluded the eight-year trial. Eight guards had to help him rise at the judge's order to stand.[...]
ROTIMLJA, Bosnia (Reuters) - Searchers in southern Bosnia have found the body of Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski in the blackened fuselage of his plane.
It was one of nine charred corpses found by rescue teams, who had to probe the crash site for mines and unexploded shells before reaching the wreck safely.
"There are no survivors. The bodies have been found in the wreck," said Mirsad Teskeredzic, a coordinator of the Bosnian rescue team, adding that the bodies were burned.
The government flight from Skopje to Mostar on Thursday was carrying Trajkovski, two crew men and six presidential aides.
"Our informal information from our team on the ground is that all nine bodies have been found. We are waiting for an official confirmation," a government source in the Macedonian capital Skopje told Reuters. [...]
As many as 139 people were missing and two people were confirmed dead after rescuers plucked hundreds from a ferry that caught fire off the Philippine capital, officials said.
Aboitiz Transport, the operator of the ill-fated Superferry 14, said attempts were being made to reconcile figures with the coast guard, amid confusion at the height of rescue operations.
The firm said a total of 898 people were aboard the ferry when a huge explosion triggered a fire that quickly engulfed the vessel.
By noon, a total of 788 were rescued, two were confirmed dead and some 108 were missing, Aboitiz said.
The coast guard, however, put the number of missing at 139, and reported 14 people with burn-related injuries. [...]
Bush Tightens Rules on Travel to
WASHINGTON - President Bush gave the federal government new powers to keep American boats out of Cuba, a step meant to deny the island nation the foreign currency it desperately needs and one certain to worsen relations with Havana.
Bush listed a long list of grievances with Cuba, some of them decades old, in explaining his Thursday evening move.
Some people smelled politics: Bush needs to win Florida in the election this year, and toughening his stance on Cuba can help him win favor with voters there. [...]
Agency Tells Airlines to Weigh
WASHINGTON - Air travel would be safer if airlines weighed their passengers from time to time to make sure they know how much weight their planes are carrying, the National Transportation Safety Board says. [...]
More than 11,000 allegations of sex abuse have been made about Roman Catholic priests in the US since 1950, a new report is expected to show.
One diocese has already confirmed that nearly 4,440 priests - 4% of the total - have been accused of such assaults.
Groups representing victims of abuse say the final figure will be higher. [...]
'Hand of Providence' focuses on 40th President's devotion to God.
The secret ingredient to President Ronald Reagan's astonishingly successful presidency, never before explored fully in print, is his deep Christian faith, according to a brand-new book published by WND Books.
"Hand of Providence: The Strong and Quiet Faith of Ronald Reagan," by Mary Beth Brown, shows Reagan's heart and soul like never before.
Reagan is considered the most popular of modern presidents,
according to recent opinion polls. And yet, to most biographers the
man is still an enigma.[...]
Caracas - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, under fire at home and abroad for his intimidation of domestic opponents, was feted as a "warrior of freedom" on Thursday by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez.
The 80-year-old African leader, who is barred from traveling to the European Union by EU sanctions, was warmly received by left-winger Chavez after he arrived in Caracas to attend a two-day summit of developing nations.
are and always will be a true warrior of freedom," Chavez said as
he presented Mugabe with a replica of the sword of Simon Bolivar,
the Venezuelan-born independence hero of Latin America.[...]
Washington - United States President George Bush and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Friday take another step toward repairing a relationship torn apart in the bitter divide over the Iraq invasion.
It will be Schroeder's first return to the White House since he and Bush fell out in 2003 over the invasion, which Germany had strongly opposed and tried to head off. They will have talks followed by lunch.[...]
Dar Es Salaam - Tanzania on Wednesday rejected a proposal by the British government to process asylum claims from East Africa in centres in Tanzania rather than in Britain.
An asylum processing centre in Tanzania could deal with some of the thousands of Somalis who come to Britain each year, fleeing civil war, many of whom are refused permission to stay.[...]
Saudi Arabia will begin issuing tourist visas for the first time, bringing more attention to its restrictive policies, which include banning Jews.
Travel to the desert kingdom has been limited to business, employment, pilgrimages and specially approved visits, but in the next several weeks a new tourism law will be enacted, reports Arab News, an official English-language newspaper.
Saudi Arabia plans to set up a national council for tourism to promote the country in world markets.
But on the Supreme Commission for Tourism's website is a list of those who will not be allowed in the county.
An Israeli passport holder or a passport that has an Israeli arrival/departure stamp.
Those who don't abide by the Saudi traditions concerning appearance and behaviors.
Those under the influence of alcohol ... .
"Every woman must have confirmed accommodation for the duration of her stay in the Kingdom," the rules say.
Also, "A woman is not allowed to drive a car and can therefore only travel by car if she is accompanied by her husband, a male relative or a driver."
Saudi Prince Abdul Aziz told Arab News the government expects the tourist industry to create 1.5 million to 2.3 million new jobs for young Saudis by 2020.[...]
Guatemala City - Guatemala's new president asked forgiveness on Wednesday for the state's role in the country's long civil war, but stopped short of calling the widespread wartime killings of Mayan Indians genocide.
Oscar Berger, who took office last month, said he was asking forgiveness from "every one of the victims' relatives for the suffering that came from that fratricidal conflict."
About 200 000 people were killed in Guatemala's 36-year civil war, which pitted Marxist guerrillas against a series of right-wing governments and ended with peace accords in 1996.
Dar es Salaam - A United Nation's tribunal acquitted two men charged with involvement in Rwanda's 1994 genocide on Wednesday, only the second time the court has handed down "not guilty" verdicts in its 10-year history, a court spokesperson said.
The court said the prosecutor had not proved beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of former transport and communications Minister Andre Ntagerura, 54, and a former senior government official, Emmanuel Bagambiki, 55.[...]
A string of unsolved slayings across six states has prompted dozens of state investigators to consider whether a serial killer is responsible for the deaths of at least seven women.
Investigators from Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi will meet Friday at the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation headquarters to compare notes on at least seven murder cases -- possibly as many as 10.
The murders date back over the past two years. The victims range in age from 19 to 47.
All of the victims were women with a striking number of similarities:
"We have entertained the idea we may be talking about a serial killer. But we have nothing at this point in time that directly links these homicides to one person," said Jessica Brown, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
"We believe there's enough information about the different homicides that we are considering the possibility that they could be connected." [...]
mystery of what happened to the ship that ferried Charles Darwin
around the world may have been solved
To explore the site further, technology designed for the UK's recent ill-fated mission to Mars is being considered.
two quests are linked by Colin Pillinger, who named his Red-Planet
craft Beagle 2 after its 200-year-old predecessor.[...]
Reuters, 02.27.04, 3:35 AM ET
NEW YORK, Feb 27 (Reuters) - A California judge is set to decide whether Bank of America Corp. (nyse: BAC - news - people) should pay as much as $1 billion to customers who allege the bank mishandled their Social Security deposits, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.
Journal cited a Wednesday verdict from a San Francisco jury that
found in favor of a class action from about one million customers
claiming that the bank inappropriately used Social Security
payments to pay for customer fees and overdrafts.[...]
NEW YORK The world's richest people got a whole lot richer in the past year, and more numerous, with Forbes magazine adding 64 new members yesterday to its annual billionaires list still headed by Bill Gates.
Among the most prominent debutantes on the Forbes ranking was Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who just a few years ago was a penniless single mother struggling to make ends meet.
After two years of declining fortunes caused by a weakened global economy, the total net worth of the world's billionaires soared $500bn, from $1,4-trillion last year to $1,9-trillion.
Charles Arthur, Technology Editor
The proportion of people who speak English as their mother tongue is falling fast - contradicting the 19th-century notion that one day the whole world would speak the language of the British empire.
In a study published today in the journal Science, David Graddol, an expert in the development of languages, calculates that by 2050 the number of native English speakers will have fallen to about 5 per cent of the world's population, from about 9 per cent in 1950. Nine years ago, English was second to Chinese in the number of native speakers, with 1.1 billion native Chinese speakers, and 372 million native English speakers.
But by the middle of this century there will be more native speakers of Hindi and Urdu, and the number of native Arabic and Spanish speakers will virtually match that of native English speakers.
The study also found that Chinese and Arabic could soon be chosen ahead of English by people around the world seeking to learn a second language. [...]
Parents who blame the MMR vaccine for their children's autism have been accused of abusing the youngsters, it was claimed yesterday.
Bill forces shots on all
Flashback: Parents denied access to new autism reports
Sarah-Kate Templeton Health Editor
Studies quoted by the government as evidence that vaccines containing mercury – linked to autism in children – are safe, are being withheld from the public.
“Factsheets” issued by the Committee on Safety of Medicines to those concerned about research which suggests that vaccines containing mercury can trigger autism in some children claim that two new studies prove that the jabs are safe.
But these studies have not been scrutinised by independent experts as part of the peer review process which all scientific studies must go through to be considered valid.
Autism campaigners have accused the government of arrogance for telling parents to “just take their word” that the jabs are safe. The diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough vaccine (DTwP), which contains thiomersal, a mercury-based preservative, is given to hundreds of thousands of babies aged between two and four months every year.
Following research suggesting that mercury can cause autism in children, the Scottish Executive announced that parents would be allowed to choose mercury-free jabs for their babies. But parents have complained that they struggle to persuade doctors to administer the alternative jabs. The mercury-free vaccine, Infanrix, is more expensive.
The Executive has ruled out a ban on vaccines containing mercury. Dr Andrew Fraser, deputy chief medical officer, said the Executive was committed to finding mercury-free alternatives but that the government was still waiting for what it considered to be a “licensed, equally effective alternative” to become available, before banning vaccines containing thiomersal.
Now why would they make a claim that can supposedly be backed up by a study but then withhold the study? Take your time, no rush...just think logically.
February 9, 2004
Children 27-times more likely to develop autism with exposure to mercury-containing vaccines, findings reviewed at today's IOM meeting in DC
Washington, DC- Today, the Institute of Medicine will hold a one-day meeting to review important new research on the link between thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative in vaccines, and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. One of the larger studies under review comes from the CDC's own Vaccine Safety Datalink. Under independent investigation, CDC's data concludes children are 27-times more likely to develop autism after exposure to three thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCVs), than those who receive thimerosal-free versions.
Tokyo - Initial tests for bird flu at a poultry farm in the western Japan city of Kyoto produced positive results, after the death of 10 000 chickens there, central and local government officials said on Friday.
"This is a suspected case of bird flu," a farm ministry official said, adding that further tests would be done to confirm the results.
A Kyoto local government official said three dead chickens and two live ones had tested positive for the virus.[...]
Heavy snow causes gridlock in
Schools across Wales were forced to close for a second day on Friday as snow and ice brought more disruption overnight.
Police were again warning motorists to stay home unless their
journeys were absolutely necessary.
On Thursday more than 350 schools throughout Wales were closed by mid afternoon, while homes and businesses lost power and telephone connections.
There were heavy snowfalls on Friday - particularly in parts of Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Powys.
Last Updated Thu, 26 Feb 2004 17:08:46
CHARLOTTETOWN - High winds and blowing snow whipped through parts of P.E.I., Nova Scotia and Newfoundland Thursday, closing schools and businesses, causing accidents and shutting down roadways.
A school bus driver was sent to hospital in the morning as slush from a plow blew out the windshield of the bus as it travelled along the Trans-Canada Highway near Stratford, P.E.I. No children were hurt.
New records were being set for snowfall and lost school days as the Eastern School District of Prince Edward Island shut its doors for the 13th day this season.
One Forecast Model Sees Prairie
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Taking pains to point out that long-range weather forecasts are as reliable as a coin toss, a top U.S. meteorologist said on Tuesday that one model calls for hot, dry weather on the Canadian Prairies this summer. [...]
Documenting a paradox: Smoke decreases rainfall but ultimately increases its intensity Air pollution and smoke suppress rainfall, but cause the remaining rain amounts to fall in greater intensities, with lightning and hail, says a researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The researcher, Prof. Daniel Rosenfeld, was one of a group of scientists that included also participants from Germany, Sweden and Brazil who conducted measurements of smoke from forest fires and its impact on the development of clouds and precipitation in the Amazon tropical rainforests of Brazil. The results of their research appear in the Feb. 27 issue of the journal Science.
They showed that smoke from these fires delays the release of water from clouds in the form of rain, thus preventing depletion of the water in the clouds as they grow. As these water-laden clouds reach great heights, they produce thunderstorms and hail instead of relatively moderate rain.
The research group, funded by the European Union and headed by Prof. Meinrat O. Andreae from the Max Planck Institute of Atmospheric Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, measured the capability of the smoke particles to produce cloud droplets. Prof. Rosenfeld, of the Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University, penetrated the smoky clouds with a research aircraft and measured the way the smoke affected their composition and precipitation -forming processes.
Singapore - As you fasten your seat-belt a "welcome aboard" announcement is made by a computer - because there is no captain.
While plane designers dream of a high-tech future, the aerospace industry is debating whether it will become feasible to fly passengers without pilots.
Computers already play a major role in flying many jetliners. They have the capability of carrying out take-offs. And, they are routinely relied upon during long-range cruising. In good weather they often land planes - but always with a human crew ready to take over.
Industry experts on Friday said pilotless commercial flights are unlikely any time soon. But they acknowledge that the idea has gained greater currency after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, successfully undertook reconnaissance, electronic jamming and ground attacks in both conflicts.[...]
No longer inconceivable, the rise in South Africa of reported cases of domestic violence against men is worrying counselling services.
They say men of all races are taking a hammering on the home front, being starved of food, used as punching bags and stabbed - when they're not subjected to psychological and emotional abuse.
The trend is so worrying that the Family and Marriage Association of South Africa (Famsa) is to launch its first support group for abused males next month.[...]
Boston - Have a few beers. Watch the big game. Get loaded. Go out and burn stuff.
That, in a nutshell, is the latest craze sweeping American colleges, and one that has campus administrators and police scrambling for solutions.
From Maryland to Minnesota to Ohio to Massachusetts, students have caused hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage in booze-fuelled riots following major sporting events. [...]
New Yorkers hunt down last foie
"They did ban foie gras? It's ridiculous," said Kathy Witherell, a New York decorator shopping at the Dean and Deluca gourmet shop in Manhattan's Soho district, a day after US authorities banned French meat imports.
"If I don't have any other option, I'll buy some American foie gras, but I'll try to find some French (foie gras) elsewhere," said another customer, Herman Armorici. "I'm sure you can get it online, don't you think?"
The United States suspended imports of French meat and poultry products on Tuesday, citing questions about health and safety at French processing facilities. The ban covers French beef, chicken, pork and duck-based products.
Among the hgih-value products being banned are certain French sausages and foie gras, a delicacy made from duck or goose liver.
"If you want to sell products in the US, they have to be as safe as products that are produced here in order to protect public health," US Agriculture Department spokesman Steven Cohen said.
The USDA said no link existed with the European Union's suspension of live poultry and egg imports from the United States, after a case of the highly contagious avian flu emerged in Texas.
But the two events highlighted a long-running feud over food between the two countries that has included disputes over beef treated with hormones, genetically modified crops and other products, as well as a series of other trade spats involving Washington and the European Union.
Claude Barfield of the American Enterprise Institute said these incidents highlight "ongoing tensions" between the trading partners but noted that food safety "is a plausible case" for the measures.
Barfield said the economic impact will be minimal but that "both sides have got a lot of things going" and will need to use diplomacy so as "not to have things explode."
The US ban affects some 450,000 kilos (976,000 pounds) of French meats, based on last year's import levels.
The EU ban affects 13,000 tonnes of eggs imported annually, representing 25 percent of such imports with a value of EUR 20 million (USD 25 million).
The EU also imports some 800,000 chicks every year, with a value of EUR 2.5 million (USD 3.1 million), of which 450,000 come from the United States.
The two latest issues are relatively small potatoes in terms of trade volume, but the emotional impact is significant, especially at places like Dean and Deluca, where customers may come up empty when looking for French foie gras or the Rosette de Lyon sausage, which is also banned.
"Our sales will definitely be affected," said Dean and Deluca specialist Joseph Camarala. "Between a French foie gras and an American foie gras, people always pick up the French one. I won't have any goose foie gras anymore. I don't know any producer here. I don't know what I'm going to do."
Comment: The American Enterprise Institute is a neocon think tank in Washington, the folks that brought you 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the uncritical US support for the genocide of the Palestinians.
WASHINGTON (Hollywood Reporter) - After the nation's top shock jock was yanked from a half-dozen Clear Channel radio stations, the company's top executive apologized to Congress for the raunchy material his stations have aired in the past and promised it would never happen again.
John Hogan, president of 1,200-station group, told members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce that he was "ashamed of material like that spewed by 'Bubba the Love Sponge' and 'The Howard Stern Show."'
"We were wrong to air that material," Hogan said. "I accept responsibility for our mistake, and my company will live with the consequences of its actions." [...]
Lawmakers grilled Hogan on his decision, wondering why he made it now since the shows, particularly Stern's, have changed little over the years. [...]
Strip searches lead to
Managers of Wendy's
restaurants in Abington, Wareham, Whitman, and West Bridgewater
have been suspended with pay, after they strip-searched employees,
the restaurants' corporate office announced yesterday.
The caller gave the managers instructions to perform a strip search of a single employee at each location, and the managers complied, Bertini said.
Later, however, each manager became suspicious, and reported the call and the incident to local police.
"This is just a very unfortunate situation, and we feel very badly about it," said Bertini. "The managers who were duped are law-abiding citizens. They thought they were responding to direct orders by the police."
None of the searched employees, who are also being paid, has returned to work, Bertini said. All have been offered counseling, he added.
All of the incidents occurred between 7 and 11:30 p.m. Friday, Bertini said.
Smith & Wesson chief bites
The Republican, a daily newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts, reported on Thursday that Joseph Minder resigned as chairman of the company that makes the well-known .38 Special and .357 Magnum firearms.
Minder was named chairman of Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. just last month amid a board shake-up.
Minder's convictions were unknown to Smith & Wesson until The Arizona Republic newspaper chronicled Minder's criminal past earlier this month.
Minder, now in his 70s, spent 15 years in prison in the 1950s and 1960s for a string of armed robberies and an attempted prison escape, The Arizona Republic reported. During that time, the Detroit News said he was known for carrying a 16-gauge, sawed-off shotgun. [...]
Navy Sells Itself with Song and Dance
A revival of the disco group "Village People?"
No, a new commercial by Japan's navy aimed at boosting its popularity as the military embarks on a risky operation in Iraq in which ground troops have grabbed most of the attention.
The ad begins with a close-up of the navy's rising sun ensign, then shows the singing sailors gyrating.
"I Love Japan, I Love Peace. The Maritime Self-Defense Force," says a voice-over at the end.
A spokesman for the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF), as the navy is known, said some feared the ad might seem frivolous, but market research converted the naysayers. [...]
Gambler Faces 'Indentured'
BERLIN (Reuters) - A German man who failed to settle a gambling debt called police after his dentures were seized as collateral, police said on Thursday.
"He called us saying he was afraid he might have to live off liquid food for the next few days," said a police spokesman in the western city of Dortmund.
Police persuaded a 51-year-old local man to hand over the dentures after the owner promised to settle a 150 euro ($186.6) debt.
"He gave us a great big smile at getting them back," police said.
Hong Kong - Hong Kong viewers will get the naked truth on a new TV news show presented by nude newsreaders, press reports said on Friday.
The Fire/Ice News bulletins will be broadcast Saturday and Sunday nights on one of the many new digital TV channels springing up in the territory, the South China Morning Post said.
The first show, to be aired this weekend, features newsreader Chan Long, a willowy 18-year old girl who strips through the five-minute bulletin until she is completely naked.
"It's not easy, synchronising news-reading and taking off all your clothes," Chan, a model who has just graduated from secondary school, told the newspaper.[...]
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