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!
Saturday, February 28, 2004
Is the World Coming to An End?
Picture of the Day
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte
'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.' You have no doubt heard this well-known aphorism. It points out the truth that we must be very careful when reading or citing statistics. They can be made to say many things, kind of like quoting the Bible. While many who misuse statistics may do so innocently, due to a lack of awareness or knowledge, there are those who consciously use statistics to mislead, lying with figures.
Here is a case in point:
Do you laugh or cry? On the one hand, the antics of the Bush gang are so obvious, so glaring, so outrageously manipulative that one wants to laugh. How could anyone be fooled by this stuff? On the other hand, behind the statistics lies the growing poverty of Americans, the growing divide between the rich and the poor. Behind these statistics are people who have lost jobs, homes, families, and probably much of their self-respect. It is not as if Bush and his friends are unaware of what they are doing. They probably get a good laugh out of it, something of a frat boy joke on the help. It is cynicism raised to the level of statecraft.
Bush is not the first to practice this form of statecraft. What is astonishing, however, is the utterly brazen character of Bush's lies, as if he doesn't care if he is found out.
How do you react when you read the article above?
Are you outraged by this? If you see this manipulation, if you think about the implications, can you feel the suffering involved in the human lives hidden by the numbers? What are you doing about it? Do you see and feel that there is something profoundly wrong with our world if we are unable to create a society where we care for each other rather than use one another in pawns in our games of King of the Hill?
What about this article:
Can you get angry about this?
Then what to do with this anger? Certainly not take to the streets and start to throw stones or bombs. What good has that ever done? Look at the chaos in Haiti at the moment. There are thousands in the streets. What good will this do? Is it a movement for justice or just another US manipulated coup: "I believe that this is a group that is armed by, trained by, and employed by the intelligence services of the United States," Kurzban told the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!. "This is clearly a military operation, and it's a military coup."
Are the leaders of this coup really going to bring justice to Haiti, or are they simply using the bottled up anger to further their own ends?
If our world appears so wrong, are we strong enough to consider the outrageous possibility that there is a reason: this is the only way it can be, that it is meant to be this way until we can learn some fundamental lessons that go far beneath the surface appearances and illusion, that the fundamental question concerns our souls?
Notice the remark made above: "what sort of human being you have to be to enact such insidious ongoing planet-gouging legislation, smirking and shrugging all the way." Mr. Morford thinks that his question "is not an easy one to answer." We suggest he take a look at H. Cleckley's study of psychopathy, The Mask of Sanity (available as a free download in pdf format). Does the personality described in this excerpt sound familiar?
We have quoted this extract from The Mask of Sanity at length because we find that it offers a glimpse into the "mind" of George W. Bush. It is certainly consistent with the observations made by Morford. Bush runs from complexity to the simpler world of blind belief in Jesus, from the complexities of international negotiations to the simplicity of imposing his own way.
But the question of Bush's "humanity" becomes much more than a rhetorical question when the issue of psychopathy is introduced. Dr. Robert Hare, who has recently been in the news for his work on psychopathy in corporations, presented electroencephalograms of psychopaths to a scientific journal as documentation for one of his papers. The scans and the paper were rejected by the journal's editor because they didn't believe they were electroencephalograms of human brains:
That these electroencephalograms taken from psychopaths were not accepted as human by the editor raises an interesting, although frightening, possibility.
Are there, in fact, two types of humans?
Might the original notion of races be linked to the distinction between these two types of human, that is, beings that share an outer form of human while having two distinctly different inner contents, as explained above by Cleckley?
If we can notice such distinctions on the material level, what might we notice on that deepest of inner levels, the soul?
It is not an overstatement to describe the society we have created as soulless, and in this, Bush is not alone in choosing to protest "human life itself." Our society appears to be constructed in such a way as to promote this outlook as a way to survive. We are all forced to take on the values of the psychopath to fit in. These are the dominant values, and as it appears the majority of people accept them, perhaps those who do not feel at home here feel this for a reason.
It is then reasonable to consider as an option the possibility that this world, this society, is the world of this "other" race, the race of those without souls. It appears that this world is moving towards a definite fixed goal. As Cleckley put it: "Regression, then, in a broad sense may be taken to mean movement from richer and more full life to levels of scantier or less highly developed life. In other words, it is relative death. It is the cessation of existence or maintenance of function at a given level." And the final stage is to return to inorganic matter. If we do not struggle against gravity, this is where we finish. Entropy leads to death, to the return to inorganic matter.
How can we move in the other direction, for this seems to be the way out. How to move towards creativity, as opposed to entropy, and complexity, as opposed to simplicity? How to move towards the eternal, against the gravity of matter towards the freedom of the spirit? Or as we discussed recently, how to evolve the soul?
The simplicity of the psychopath or of those who have internalised the psychopath's values is based upon illusion. There are no easy answers. There is no savior who will save us. It would seem, then, that to shake the illusion is the first step. That is, we must work to see the world as it is in all its complexity, variety, and, often, in all its horror. We must see the truth of this world, what objectively is.
There is evidence from physics that an observer who looks at a chaotic system with objectivity is able to add order to that system from the mere existence of his or her objective point of view. Those who bring preconceptions, who do not see the system as it is, will permit the chaos to increase, for as Cleckley points out in an analogous situation, as soon as we stop moving against gravity, we begin to fall under its influence and move in the opposite direction.
The solutions offered for the world's problems have only increased the chaos, its movement towards entropy. Perhaps it is time to try a different option?
Down and out in The
Next week the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case to decide whether or not all Americans must have identification on them at all times. The case has been brought by a cowboy in Nevada who was asked to show ID while he was leaning against his pickup truck on the side of the road near his ranch. The police officer did not offer any specific reason why he demanded proof of identity. Having committed no crime, Dudley Hiibel, the cowboy, refused — and was arrested. He was later convicted for "Delaying a Peace Officer." In America, still a free country, citizens should not be required to provide identification papers at any whim of the authorities.
In the case at hand, Mr. Hiibel gave the arresting officer a chance to justify his request. But when asked why he demanded identification, the sheriff's deputy said only, "Because I'm investigating." When asked what he was investigating, the policeman responded with a wisecrack: "I'm investigating an investigation." The argument before the U.S. Supreme Court is whether requiring identification at any time is a violation of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures or an invasion of privacy by the government.
In a 4-3 decision, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled against Mr. Hiibel, stating that the Nevada statute requiring identification during a police investigation "strikes a balance between constitutional protections of privacy and the need to protect police officers and the public." The argument is that police cannot rule out whether or not a stranger is a suspect in a crime until he is identified. In the dissent, Justice Deborah Agosti argues that merely knowing an individual's identity does not enhance safety. Regarding the Fourth Amendment, she explains, "Anonymity is encompassed within the expectation of privacy, a civil right." The Fifth Amendment also guarantees the right to remain silent, which can be construed as the right to guard one's identity.
The cowboy-ID case is timely because of the momentum in the federal government to mandate various kinds of national identification cards. Even some conservatives, such as Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, support the idea of so-called Social Security cards with biometric identifiers such as retina scans and electronic fingerprints. The Nevada high court's ruling notes that "the right to wander freely and anonymously, if we so choose, is a fundamental right of privacy in a democratic society." The openness of the prairie symbolizes this freedom. It would be a shame if cowboys were required to carry a driver's license to ride a horse while roaming the open range.
Comment: "I'm investigating an investigation?" Maybe this policeman is Dubya's distant cousin... This article is rather disturbing for two reasons. First, the symbolism and reality of restrictions being placed on a cowboy who did nothing more than stand outside his pickup truck near his residence in the open prairie is quite troubling. The second reason is the author's rather tepid response to these events: "It would be a shame if cowboys were required to carry a driver's license to ride a horse while roaming the open range." We think that such restrictions would be more than just "a shame" - the scene described could be straight out of Nazi Germany. Perhaps the article was intended only to maintain the illusion of dissent for the sheeple.
The headline on a February 13 BBC News World Edition dispatch, "Guantánamo Inmates Get New Rights," concerned an announcement by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that the hundreds of alleged Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists imprisoned on an American military base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, would from now on get an annual review by a three-person panel to decide whether or not they should be released.
This was a classic misleading headline on a story that left out all the significant details except one: "Mr. Rumsfeld added that the U.S. was planning to hold many of the detainees for 'as long as necessary.'"
The February 13 front-page New York Times story was much more revealing of Bush's parallel legal system. The story began, "Senior Defense Department officials said Thursday that they were planning to keep a large portion of the detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, there for many years, perhaps indefinitely."
Furthermore, the decisions of this new three-person panel Rumsfeld will choose to determine the fates of these prisoners will ultimately get a final review—but only by Donald Rumsfeld, acting for King George. As Michael Ratner, president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights—a key litigator in the battle to rescue the Constitution from Bush's warriors—told the Times: "The idea that you could theoretically keep someone locked up forever under these circumstances is reprehensible. . . . It's nothing to do with law as any person should understand it, at least since the Magna Carta. How do you know without a trial that these people are even dangerous? It all depends on the military's word."
Well, some of these prisoners may get what passes for a trial before a military commission. But what kind of trial? That is the subject of a brief to the Supreme Court by five of the military lawyers assigned by the Defense Department to defend prisoners brought before these tribunals in the case of Fawzi Al Odah et al. v. United States.
This is the first time in American history that military lawyers have imperiled their careers by making public statements such as this one, from Marine Corps Major Michael Mori, who told a Washington press conference in January: "The military commissions will not provide a full and fair trial. . . . The commission process has been created and controlled by those with a vested interest only in convictions." (Emphasis added.)
But even if these rigged commissions, also called tribunals, were to give specific sentences to prisoners, there would be no guarantee that they would be released after serving their time. Deep in the New York Times February 13 story is this chilling admission by a "senior defense official [who] said that it was possible that an individual could be convicted by a tribunal and serve a five-year sentence and then not be released if he were judged to remain a danger."
The authority to unilaterally keep a defendant locked up — conceivably for the rest of his or her life — used to be reserved solely for kings, who could ignore any part of the realm's legal system. This monarchical power — as I've indicated in reporting on the indefinite imprisonment, without charges, of American citizens Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla — has been expanded by George W. Bush to include defendants at Guantánamo.
The Supreme Court of the United States will decide, during the current term, whether the prisoners at Guantánamo have any recourse to our civilian courts to challenge the Bush-Rumsfeld power to keep them in a legal black hole. This hole is now so bottomless that even if some were to be convicted by an American military tribunal, they might never be released — no matter what their sentences were.
Keep in mind that the rules Rumsfeld and Bush have set for these military tribunals include the denial of any appeals by the defendants to American civilian courts! This door of last resort has been closed even though — contrary to the statements by the president and his solicitor general, Theodore Olson — these proceedings are taking place on territory that, according to the U.S.'s lease with Cuba, is wholly under American jurisdiction.
The Association of the Bar of the City of New York, one of this nation's most influential bar associations, issued an exceptionally valuable 153-page report on February 6, "The Indefinite Detention of 'Enemy Combatants': Balancing Due Process and National Security in the Context of the War on Terror."
Much of the report concerns the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla. But the conclusion of the report is also crucially relevant to the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. If we can strip non-American citizens of all meaningful due process rights, this precedent will also be used by other countries who imprison American "enemy combatants." And the administration's professed concern with spreading the seeds of constitutional democracy to other nations will be farcical. The Association of the Bar of the City of New York's report concludes:
"It should take far more than the monstrous brutality of a handful of terrorists to drive us to abandon our core constitutional values. We can effectively combat terrorism in the United States without jettisoning the core due process principles that form the essence of the rule of law underlying our system of government.
"Insistence on the rule of law will not undermine our national security. Abandoning the rule of law will threaten our national identity." (Emphasis added.)
I have seen nothing of this bar association report in the media. I hope the justices of the Supreme Court will read—and remember—it.
"Law," said Thomas Jefferson, "is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of the individual."
Last Updated Fri, 27 Feb 2004 10:53:14
LONDON - A former secretary general and former chief weapons inspector have added their voices to recent allegations of spying against officials at the United Nations.
"Of course I was [bugged]," Richard Butler, UN chief weapons inspector from 1997 to 1999, told ABC radio in Australia on Friday. "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."
Butler said he was bugged by the Americans, British, French and Russians.
"I knew it from other sources," he said. "I was utterly confident that I was bugged by at least four permanent members of the Security Council."
And former secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali said he always assumed he was an espionage target.
"I was not surprised, because from the first day…they told me, 'Beware, your office is bugged, your residence is bugged, and it is a tradition that the member states that have the technical capacity to bug will do it without hesitation,' " Boutros-Ghali said in a telephone interview with BBC radio.
The revelations by Butler and Boutros-Ghali come in the wake of allegations by Clare Short, a former member of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's cabinet. She said Britain had spied on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and bugged his office in the months before the U.S.-led war against Iraq.
U.S. Pays Reward to Informant in
WASHINGTON - The tipster who pointed American forces toward the hideout of Saddam Hussein's two sons has been paid the bulk of $30 million in reward money.
The informer, along with his or her family, has been relocated. [...]
Julie Reside, a State Department spokeswoman, said Friday the informant who provided information on the sons' whereabouts was paid the bulk of the reward in the last few days. She did not say how much money the informant received.
The reward offered $15 million for each of the sons. [...]
Pentagon to Offer Direct News
KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait - The U.S. military will launch its own news service in Iraq and Afghanistan to send military video, text and photos directly to the Internet or news outlets.
The $6.3 million project, expected to begin operating in April, is one of the largest military public affairs projects in recent memory, and is intended to allow small media outlets in the United States and elsewhere to bypass what the Pentagon views as an increasingly combative press corps.
U.S. officials have complained that Iraq-based media focuses on catastrophic events such as car bombs and soldiers' deaths, while giving short shrift to U.S. rebuilding efforts.
Comment: What rebuilding efforts?? The US is still waiting for the rest of the world to cough up the $33 billion for reconstruction. See next article...
The American public "currently gets a pretty slanted picture," said Army Capt. Randall Baucom, a spokesman for the Kuwait-based U.S.-led Coalition Land Forces Command. "We want them to get an opportunity to see the facts as they exist, instead of getting information from people who aren't on the scene." [...]
Comment: It is utterly ridiculous to suggest that the picture Americans receive from the media is slanted against the Bush Reich. At every turn, the media has repeated and supported Bush's lies.
Iraq urges donors to disburse four billion
dollars for priority projects
"Our needs are enormous and urgent," said interim minister of planning and development cooperation, Mehdi al-Hafidh. "It is high time the promises made in Madrid were honoured," he told dozens of representatives of donor countries and international organisations who pledged 33 billion dollars in the Spanish capital last October. [...]
A senior World Bank official has said Iraq will only receive some 500 million dollars out of the 33 billion promised by donors up to the June 30 deadline for the transfer of power to Iraqis. [...]
Comment: Would the 700 priority projects be necessary if the US hadn't obliterated Iraq's infrastructure? Perhaps the entire financial burden should be placed squarely on America's shoulders. As we all learn in preschool: when you make a mess, you should clean up after yourself. Unfortunately, the thousands of wounded, maimed, and dead people cannot be "cleaned up", but it seems they can be swept under the rug...
When planning war, military officials have various targets: enemy combatants, their support forces, the surrounding civilian population, and their national infrastructure. But there are other targets as well, although these are not always discussed publicly. Among the most important of these is public opinion, both the world at large, and the highest priority - that of their own public. This holds true especially in a democracy, when one is fighting a war of choice - as in invading another country - instead of fighting a war of national survival.
In such wars, issues like human rights and civilian casualties loom larger. Since such casualties are inevitable, special pains must be taken to explain them away. But how to do so?
In a word, spin. Such is the conclusion of a just-released monograph, "Disappearing the Dead: Iraq, Afghanistan and the Idea of a New Warfare" by Carl Conetta of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Project on Defense Alternatives (PDA).
Of course, the idea of shaping public opinion is hardly new. For example, a 1975 study by the Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress, in analyzing possible United States takeovers of Persian Gulf oil fields, wrote: "The administration, Congress, or both - assisted by the mass media - could take steps to sway public opinion one way or another if they believed it advisable."
But the PDA documents how the Bush administration has taken spin to a new level. It notes that increased international and domestic attention to the collateral effects of military operations has been a persistent concern of the US defense community since the Vietnam War. And thus has it taken significant steps to minimize that concern. The "US Defense Department, State Department and White House conducted large-scale perception management" or "strategic influence" campaigns in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, as well as in support of the broader "war on terrorism" according to the PDA study.
One of the Iraqi war incidents analyzed by the PDA was two market bombings in Baghdad that together claimed more than 70 lives early in the war. US and British authorities quickly suggested that these might have been the result of Iraqi air defense missiles falling back to the ground.
But this was an unlikely scenario, according to the PDA study, for two reasons: the relative numbers of suitable weapons used by the two sides in Baghdad, and the attack vectors and performance characteristics of these weapons. In regard to the first point, coalition air-to-surface weapons outnumbered Iraqi surface-to-air missiles by a ratio as large as six-to-one. Second, minor errors and inaccuracies - even standard ones - in the delivery of air-to-surface missiles could have produced the market attacks. The PDA study states: "Shooting downward into thickly populated areas is simply a very dangerous and demanding endeavor. By contrast, for an air defense system to have been at fault would have required a string of errors and failures - some catastrophic - in the employment, performance, and functioning of both the system and its failsafe mechanisms."
Nevertheless, US and British officials kept making this claim even after a British reporter found and confirmed that debris from the second marketplace bombing came from a US HARM anti-radar missile.
Of course, such implausible claims could not have flourished without a complicit partner, the media. The PDA study states: "Spin is a form of misdirection on emphasizing the minor aspects of an event or promoting a tendentious or idiosyncratic interpretation of it - one that favors one's own interest. However, for spin to work, there must be a media willing to 'take the pitch' (so to speak), rather than letting it fall flat. With regard to the marketplace bombings; the news media's willingness to adopt the uncertainty frame and give the coalition 'the benefit of the doubt' divided along predictable lines. While the marketplace bombings reverberated loudly in the Muslim and Arab worlds, the story has no 'legs' in the United States and only short ones in Britain."
Another tactic used by the Pentagon was what the study calls "lawfare"; the manipulation of both public perceptions and international law that aims to create or reinforce the impression that one's opponent is violating either the letter or spirit of the law. The goal is to undermine international and domestic support for the opponent's actions or causes.
A case in point was the US-British framing of the Baghdad "shock and awe" air campaign. At the same time that coalition forces were bombing the city, they also complained about the legality of Iraq's placement of air defense systems in and around residential and industrial areas of the city. In this "the coalition's case [regarding] air defense was overstated", according to the PDA study. "It implied strictures that would have precluded any adequate air defense of the city - an outcome not consonant with the intent of international law. In fact it is not uniformly illegal to operate in or near civilian areas if such operations are militarily necessary. For better or worse, international law gives wide berth to military necessity."
Particularly questionable were coalition complaints about Iraq placing air defense systems within 300 feet of residences. In fact there is no international law or rule of warfare that prevents that. Reached by phone, the study author, Carl Conetta said "their rhetoric implies that unless you place your systems at a distance from a target we chose to hit, that won't hit anyone, it's illegal. It's a typically Orwellian approach."
But these issues represented ad hoc attempts at perception management in the view of the PDA study. The Pentagon also put forward broader ideas to help frame the view of its conduct of warfare. Most important was the concept, which had arisen before the Bush administration took office, was the idea of a "new warfare". This has four distinct subsets:
precision attack capabilities have revolutionized warfare making it
possible to wage war with greatly reduced casualties and reduced
But these claims are both deceptive and meaningless. The standards on which expectations about the "new warfare" are based - weapons precision and care in targeting - do not reflect actual casualty and damage outcomes on the battlefield. The basis for making such claims is the technical performance of the weapons, such as their circular error probable (CEP), which is the radius of a circle centered on an aim point within which some percentage, usually 50 percent, of weapons fired at the aim point will fall. But this only measures the relationship between the aim points and impact points as determined in controlled tests, not the battlefield reality.
The study notes that the ease with which public discourse has adopted the language and frame of "precision warfare" is surprising. As noted above, just a few years ago military professionals would not have described most of the guided weapons used in the Iraq war as "precision" instruments, reserving this adjective instead for systems with a CEP of three meters or less. Common, civilian usage of the term "precision" is even more restrictive. Not many practices in civilian life that routinely miss their mark by 20 to 40 feet would be considered "precise" - and especially not those involving the use of hundreds or thousands of pounds of high-explosives: That the expenditure of six kilotons of explosives in aerial attacks (and more than this in ground attacks), some involving guided weapons and some not, should gain the moniker of "precision warfare" reflects a singular triumph in branding.
It is little appreciated that "precision" weapons are not error-free. Many of them have inherent errors in the sense that they reflect limitations in the systems employed that cannot be removed without improving or changing the systems. Beyond that other factors contribute to errors, such as bad intelligence, including intentional deception by allies; mechanical or electrical malfunctions in guidance, navigation, flight control or bomb release systems; human error on the part of pilots or ground controllers; and unexpected or severe weather conditions.
Furthermore, even if weapons work perfectly they are still likely to cause damage simply due to their destructive power. This is because they carry hundreds of pounds of enhanced high-explosives wrapped in hundreds of pounds of steel. Most everything will be severely killed, damaged or destroyed within 20 meters of a 500-pound bomb blast and 35 meters of a 2,000 lb blast.
Weapons performance and procedures for limiting collateral damage are only two variables in a complex equation. Other more important factors are operational plans and methods, which determine the types of missions that will be attempted; political-strategic factors, which include the goals for which a war is fought; and issues of national strategy, which determine the role of force in a nation's foreign policy.
These facts, despite precision attack capabilities and specific targeting procedures, help explain why US military operations have claimed the lives of 50,000 people worldwide (combatants and non-combatants) during the age of precision warfare (beginning with Desert Storm in 1991, while during the preceding 14 years overt US operations claimed the lives of approximately 2,000 people).
In fact the goal of limiting civilian casualties has not been met. The PDA study notes that the non-combatant fatalities during the one month of major combat operations in Iraq last year actually outnumbers those suffered during the three years of the ongoing intifada by the Palestinians against the Israelis.
Insofar as the claim by the US that civilian casualties cannot be known, the study calls it "casualty agnosticism". It found that the US administration distorted the casualty issue by depreciating the value of information flow from recent battlefields, categorically dismissing hundreds of detailed casualty reports and positing an unnecessarily high standard for what constitutes a useful degree of precision in aggregate casualty estimates.
In regards to that standard, the study noted: "The proposition that it is impossible to calculate a casualty figure that is both absolutely certain and exact is true. True but facile. This truth holds not only for the Afghan and Iraq conflicts but for all wars and genocides. No one has individually counted and verified all the victims of the Cambodian and Rwandan genocides, for instance, much less the victims of the World Wars or the Indochina conflicts. Nonetheless, we accept some of the casualty estimates associated with these events as sufficiently accurate and precise to usefully inform policy."
In fact, the flow of open sources of information from the battlefield has never been richer than in the Afghan and Iraq conflicts. These were the most intensively reported wars in history.
The study concludes that the administration's perception management efforts can only impede a full appreciation of the war's blood cost and its repercussions, thus making a dispassionate assessment of the war option more difficult. Bottom line, "The efforts were antithetical both to well-informed public debate and to sensible policy-making."
U.S. denies report of bin
TEHRAN, Iran - Pentagon and Pakistani officials on Saturday denied an Iranian state radio report that Osama bin Laden was captured in Pakistan’s border region with Afghanistan “a long time ago.”
The claim came at a time when Pakistan’s army was hunting al-Qaida suspects in a remote tribal region along the border with Afghanistan, believed to be a possible hiding place for the al-Qaida leader.
There have been reports that military forces believed they had identified bin Laden’s general location and had him encircled, but Pakistani officials have denied any specific knowledge of bin Laden’s whereabouts.
Iran’s state radio, quoting an unnamed source, said that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s visit to the region this week was in connection with the arrest.
‘Things are going
The International Olympic Committee has lifted the suspension of Iraq, enabling its athletes to compete at the Athens Olympics 2004 under the national flag.
Wednesday 25 February 2004, 17:33 Makka Time, 14:33 GMT
One of Israel's largest oil marketing firms has won a multi-million dollar tender to supply fuel to US troops in Iraq.
According to a IsraelNationalNews.com report, the tender awarded to Sonol gasoline company, along with its foreign partner Morgantown International, is valued at $70-80 million.
The company is expected to supply the US forces with 25 million litres of fuel each month.
The tender was issued by the US-based KDR Company, a subsidiary of Halliburton, which has been entrusted with the majority of US military contracts in Iraq. Among Sonol’s competitors was Delek, another Israeli company, the report added.
Until now, the US forces have received most of their fuel from Kuwait. However, following Halliburton’s admission that it overcharged the US military by passing on the Kuwaitis' inflated price, the US Army decided to approach other suppliers.
Sonol is one of Israel's three largest oil product marketing firms with a network of about 205 branded service stations.
Fuel, imported to Israel, will pass through the fuel terminal operated by the TASHAN (Oil and Energy Infrastructure Company) north of Beer Sheva and will then be transported to Iraq by land through Jordan, according to the report.
Not much oil
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), a statistical agency of the US Department of Energy, Israel produces almost no oil and imports nearly all its oil needs (around 237,000 barrels a day in 2002). Traditionally, major oil import sources have included Egypt, the North Sea, West Africa and Mexico.
In recent years, however, Israel has stepped up its imports from Russia and the Caspian region and now reportedly gets most of its oil from former Soviet states.
Information provided by the EIA states that in April 2003, there was some discussion of "reopening" the old oil pipeline from Mosul in Northern Iraq to the Israeli port of Haifa on its northern Mediterranean coast.
The line, which was built in the 1930s, carried 100,000 barrels a day at its peak, but has been closed since Israel's establishment in 1948.
The reopening of this pipeline is, on the other hand, reported as being able to "solve Israel's energy crisis at a stroke".
According to a report in The Observer in April 2003, plans to build a pipeline from newly conquered Iraq were being discussed between Washington, Tel Aviv and potential future government figures in Baghdad.
US intelligence sources confirmed to The Observer that the project had been discussed. One former senior CIA official said: ''It has long been a dream of a powerful section of the people now driving this administration [of President George Bush] and the war in Iraq to safeguard Israel's energy supply as well as that of the United States.
James Akins, a former US ambassador to the region, quoted by The Observer said: "There would be a fee for transit rights through Jordan, just as there would be fees for Israel from those using what would be the Haifa terminal", according to the paper.
''After all, this is a new world order now. This is what things look like particularly if we wipe out Syria. It just goes to show that it is all about oil, for the United States and its ally.''
WASHINGTON — FBI agents destroyed evidence and failed to share other information that raised the possibility that a gang of white supremacist bank robbers may have assisted Timothy McVeigh during the Oklahoma City bombing, according to documents never introduced at McVeigh's trial.
Both the FBI supervisor who ran the Oklahoma City investigation and the veteran agent who was in command at the bombing scene say the new evidence, detailed in documents obtained by The Associated Press, is serious enough to warrant reopening the inquiry nine years later.
The evidence, never shared with Oklahoma City investigators or defense lawyers, includes documents showing the Aryan Republican Army bank robbers possessed explosive blasting caps similar to those McVeigh stole and a driver's license possibly stolen during the bombing plot.
"If the evidence is still there, then it should be checked out," said Dan Defenbaugh, the now-retired FBI chief of the McVeigh investigation who reviewed the documents at the request of AP. "If I were still in the bureau, the investigation would be reopened."
Danny Coulson, the FBI scene commander for the Oklahoma bomb site, agreed.
"There is some unanswered questions here. A lot of things happened that were inappropriate," Coulson said. "I think it needs to be reopened, but I don't think it should be reopened by the FBI. It needs to be a special investigator, a lawyer, totally independent. He needs to have subpoena power and the ability to use a grand jury."
The agents said there could be plausible explanations for each piece of evidence — blasting caps are plentiful and the bank robbers were experts in identification fraud — but those questions need to be answered.
The investigative documents obtained by AP also shed new light on evidence the Justice Department did not introduce at McVeigh's 1997 trial, including that McVeigh may have sought to recruit additional help around the time he called a white supremacist compound in Oklahoma where several of the bank robbers stayed.
For instance, an FBI headquarters teletype stated McVeigh called the compound on "a day that he was believed to have been attempting to recruit a second conspirator to assist in the OKBOMB attack."
The April 19, 1995, bombing killed more than 160 people and McVeigh was put to death for it in 2001. His co-defendant, Terry Nichols, will stand trial in Oklahoma next week on state charges that could carry the death penalty.
Peter Langan, one member of the robbery gang, told the AP he plans to testify at Nichols' trial and that federal prosecutors several years ago offered and then withdrew a plea deal for information he had about the Oklahoma City bombing.
The gang "had some liability problems as it related to Oklahoma City," Langan alleged in a phone interview from federal prison where he is serving life sentences for a robbery spree involving nearly two dozen Midwest banks in the 1990s. Langan said at least three fellow gang members were in Oklahoma around the time of the bombing and one later told him that they had become involved.
McVeigh's ex-lawyer, Stephen Jones, said government officials "simply turned their backs on a group of people for which there is credible evidence suggesting they were involved in the murder of 160 people."
FBI and Justice Department officials declined comment, citing the upcoming trial.
Agents who worked both the McVeigh bombing and the bank robbery spree — two of the FBI's highest priority cases of the 1990s — said they suspected a link between the two because of physical evidence as well as statements made by the robbers and a girlfriend.
The agents said they ruled out a connection when the bank robbers denied their involvement and provided an alibi showing they left Oklahoma three days before McVeigh's bomb detonated outside the Alfred P. Murrah federal building on April 19, 1995.
That alibi, however, was contradicted by information Langan offered prosecutors and by car sales records showing the bank robbers were still in the Oklahoma area after they claimed to have left, FBI documents show.
Defenbaugh said his investigators never were told about the license, the blasting caps or problems with the robbers' alibi, and he first learned of them from the AP this year.
McVeigh in 1994 stole from a quarry hundreds of construction blasting caps, some which he used to explode the Oklahoma City bomb. The FBI spent months unsuccessfully trying to locate many of the other stolen caps.
Agents collected witness testimony that McVeigh had placed some of the extra caps in two boxes wrapped in Christmas paper in the back of his car along with mercury switches and duffel bags.
One electric and five non-electric blasting caps were found in the Aryan Republican Army robbers' Ohio hideout in January 1996, along with mercury switches, a duffel bag and two items described as a "Christmas package," FBI records show. The FBI allowed firefighters to destroy the caps at the scene.
The destruction "in itself was in total violation of the FBI's regulations and the rules of evidence," Defenbaugh said. "If there was Christmas wrapping paper, that should really have been a key to people ... and caused them to be compared by the laboratory to see if these were from McVeigh."
The FBI took photos of the caps and kept the driver's license but refused repeated requests from AP to release them.
Defenbaugh said he also was concerned his investigation was never told the bank robbers had an Arkansas driver's license in the name of Robert Miller, the alias name used by Arkansas gun dealer Roger Moore.
The government contended at McVeigh's trial that Moore was robbed at his Hot Springs, Ark., home in November 1994, and the proceeds were used to fund the Oklahoma City bombing.
McVeigh was in Ohio the day Moore was robbed, staying in a hotel near a bank the robbers would hit one month later.
FBI agents were so suspicious of a link they analyzed video footage of the robbery to see whether McVeigh participated, but the FBI lab reported the comparison of McVeigh's picture to the bank surveillance video was inconclusive. That video was destroyed in 1999 by the FBI despite rules to the contrary.
A few months after Moore's robbery, McVeigh and the gun dealer exchanged letters in which Moore went by the name Robert Miller, the same alias on the license the bank robbers possessed when they were arrested in 1996.
"If the license is the same as our Roger Moore, then I'm really concerned," Defenbaugh said.
Defenbaugh said he also was unaware that the government recovered a videotape from the robbers that included surveillance of several properties. Langan said he suspects the tape includes footage of Moore's home where the 1994 robbery occurred.
Separately, a death row inmate who has written a book about his experiences with McVeigh inside prison alleges the convicted Oklahoma City bomber told him the bank robbery gang assisted the bombing plot.
David Paul Hammer, a convicted murderer set to be executed in June, said he has no way of knowing whether McVeigh told him the truth but he kept notes from his conversations and believes prison officials surreptitiously recorded some conversations. His book, due next month, details what McVeigh told him about the robbers.
"He (McVeigh) knew they were involved because he said he planned it with them," Hammer said. "He said they were part of what he called his security detail."
FBI agents acknowledged they investigated suspicions of a link between McVeigh and the bank robbers.
When bank robber Mark Thomas was indicted in January 1997 he told reporters that at least one gang member was involved in the Oklahoma bombing, according to a newspaper clip in FBI files. "Your young Mr. Wizard took out the Murrah building," Thomas was quoted as saying of one of his bank robbery colleagues.
Thomas' ex-girlfriend told FBI agents her boyfriend stated shortly before he traveled to a white supremacist compound at Elohim City, Okla., in spring 1995 that a federal building was about to be bombed.
"We are going to get them. We are going to hit one of their buildings during the middle of the day. It's going to be a federal building," Donna Marazoff quoted Thomas as saying during her FBI interview.
Thomas could not be located for comment, but was quoted in FBI interview reports as saying "he could not recall ever saying anything to Donna Marazoff about blowing anything up or about taking part in any bombings."
The FBI agents said they dropped the inquiry after Thomas and other members of the ARA gang were captured in 1996 and 1997, denied their involvement in McVeigh's bombing and provided an alibi.
The alibi, according to FBI records, was that the bank robbers left Elohim City on April 16, 1995, and went to a house in Kansas to meet with Langan three days before the bombing. But the FBI's own records conflicted with that account.
Used car sales records gathered by the FBI showed the gang purchased a truck on April 17, 1995, on the Oklahoma-Arkansas border, then returned to Elohim City to sell an old vehicle.
Langan said he offered to tell prosecutors back in 1996 that the bank robbers' alibi was bogus. "They didn't return to the house until the morning of April 20," Langan claimed.
The documents show FBI agents first suspected a possible link in summer 1995 when bank robber Richard Guthrie left behind at the site of two bank robberies a newspaper article about the Oklahoma City bombing with McVeigh's picture circled.
Langan said the robbers became fearful Guthrie might recklessly implicate them in the bombing, and in fall 1995 discussed killing Guthrie. Guthrie eventually committed suicide after his capture by authorities the following spring.
Comment: The FBI destroys evidence, a bank robber implicates his gang's involvement by dropping obvious clues at two banks, and that same robber commits suicide after being captured... Why would the FBI protect a gang like the Aryan Republic Army? Isn't it curious that McVeigh would refer to his alleged ARA accomplices as his "security detail"? It seems there is much more to the Oklahoma City bombing than we have been told.
Blair resists calls to come clean on UN spying
Prime Minister Tony Blair resisted calls to come clean on allegations that Britain spied on United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in the run-up to the war on Iraq.
On a trip to Scotland, Blair steered clear of the furore, in an apparent attempt to put it behind him and swing attention back onto his domestic political agenda.
Blair had reacted angrily Thursday when his former international development secretary, Clare Short, alleged that British intelligence agents had eavesdropped on Annan's conversations and that she had seen the transcripts. [...]
Blair called Short's allegation "deeply irresponsible" and insisted that British intelligence agents always acted within the law. [...]
Much of the world sees President George W. Bush as a persona non grata. Unilateral actions, false intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and scandals from Halliburton to the president's National Guard service are giving America and its president a bad name. A raft of offensive statements by top diplomats have left the president with a major international image problem.
President Bush's latest boast--"I'm a war president"--was apparently meant to demonstrate his guts in an election year. But for many nations, his statement constituted an outright threat.
In the aftermath of the Kay report on WMDs (or lack thereof) in Iraq, foreign editorials have railed against a strategy of ends justifies the means in bringing about regime changes that respond to U.S. interests. Given that the United States is not currently involved in a formal war, the president's bellicose language, "I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind", has set other nations, allies and foes alike, on edge.
Around the world, the administration's approach to international affairs has governments and their citizens feeling alienated and apprehensive. [...]
Senator John Kerry, a decorated battle veteran, was courageous as a navy lieutenant in the Vietnam War. But he was not so courageous more than two decades later, when he covered up voluminous evidence that a significant number of live American prisoners—perhaps hundreds—were never acknowledged or returned after the war-ending treaty was signed in January 1973.
The Massachusetts senator, now seeking the presidency, carried out this subterfuge a little over a decade ago— shredding documents, suppressing testimony, and sanitizing the committee's final report—when he was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on P.O.W./ M.I.A. Affairs.
Over the years, an abundance of evidence had come to light that the North Vietnamese, while returning 591 U.S. prisoners of war after the treaty signing, had held back many others as future bargaining chips for the $4 billion or more in war reparations that the Nixon administration had pledged. Hanoi didn't trust Washington to fulfill its pro-mise without pressure. Similarly, Washington didn't trust Hanoi to return all the prisoners and carry out all the treaty provisions. The mistrust on both sides was merited. Hanoi held back prisoners and the U.S. provided no reconstruction funds.
The stated purpose of the special Senate committee—which convened in mid 1991 and concluded in January 1993—was to investigate the evidence about prisoners who were never returned and find out what happened to the missing men. Committee chair Kerry's larger and different goal, though never stated publicly, emerged over time: He wanted to clear a path to normalization of relations with Hanoi. In any other context, that would have been an honorable goal. But getting at the truth of the unaccounted for P.O.W.'s and M.I.A.'s (Missing In Action) was the main obstacle to normalization—and therefore in conflict with his real intent and plan of action.
Kerry denied back then that he disguised his real goal, contending that he supported normalization only as a way to learn more about the missing men. But almost nothing has emerged about these prisoners since diplomatic and economic relations were restored in 1995, and thus it would appear—as most realists expected—that Kerry's explanation was hollow. He has also denied in the past the allegations of a cover-up, either by the Pentagon or himself. Asked for comment on this article, the Kerry campaign sent a quote from the senator: "In the end, I think what we can take pride in is that we put together the most significant, most thorough, most exhaustive accounting for missing and former P.O.W.'s in the history of human warfare."
What was the body of evidence that prisoners were held back? A short list would include more than 1,600 firsthand sightings of live U.S. prisoners; nearly 14,000 secondhand reports; numerous intercepted Communist radio messages from within Vietnam and Laos about American prisoners being moved by their captors from one site to another; a series of satellite photos that continued into the 1990s showing clear prisoner rescue signals carved into the ground in Laos and Vietnam, all labeled inconclusive by the Pentagon; multiple reports about unacknowledged prisoners from North Vietnamese informants working for U.S. intelligence agencies, all ignored or declared unreliable; persistent complaints by senior U.S. intelligence officials (some of them made publicly) that live-prisoner evidence was being suppressed; and clear proof that the Pentagon and other keepers of the "secret" destroyed a variety of files over the years to keep the P.O.W./M.I.A. families and the public from finding out and possibly setting off a major public outcry. [...]
LYON, France -- Stolen blank passports in the hundreds of thousands, along with millions of other virgin documents, allow known terrorists to breeze across borders, Interpol officials said.
Ronald Noble, Interpol's first American secretary general, told The Associated Press that only 34 countries of 181 members have agreed to share their data. But, together, they report 80,000 missing passports.
"This is only what's on file," Noble said. "You can imagine the rest. If we don't have a global database with everyone contributing, think of all the terrorists and criminals trading in documents."
By multiplying the 34 members' lists of stolen blank passports by a factor of five, Noble said, the number reaches 400,000.
Although he did not single out countries, other Interpol officials said that the United States, Britain and Germany were among Interpol members that did not share their databases. [...]
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) - The United States is scaling up its military presence in Africa as concern mounts over terrorist threats - both immediate and future - on the continent, the deputy head of American forces in Europe said Friday.
"The threat is not weakening, it is growing," Air Force Gen. Charles Wald said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from Luanda, Angola. "We can't just sit back and let it grow."
The focus on Africa is part of major restructuring as U.S. forces in Europe reposition for the war against terror.
The European Command oversees U.S. military activities in Africa excluding the Horn, site of a U.S. counterterrorism effort for northeast Africa and Yemen.
Africa is a growing strategic interest to the United States because of its terror links and its oil, which is seen as a possible alternative to Middle East fuel. [...]
President Robert Mugabe's government has set up secret camps across the country in which thousands of youths are taught how to torture and kill, the BBC has learned.
The Zimbabwean government says the camps are job training centres, but those who have escaped say they are part of a brutal plan to keep Mugabe in power.
Former recruits to the camps have spoken to the BBC's Panorama programme about a horrific training programme that breaks young teenagers down before encouraging them to commit atrocities.
Members of the youth militia are warned never to tell of their experiences inside the camps, and many refuse to be identified when talking about their experiences.
However one girl, Debbie, claims she was kidnapped and forced into a camp - where she was raped on her very first night. [...]
In accounts gathered by BBC Panorama from dozens of youths, it appears that for many of them the training in the camps begins with rape.
Debbie said she was raped three times on the first night, but claimed that the abuse didn't stop then. She told the programme: "I was raped again at night and they said no-one can complain because its part of training."
She claims she used to share a blanket with an 11-year-old girl. The little girl was also raped night after night.
President Mugabe has visited the camps. Ministry insiders have told Panorama that his government knows what goes on inside them.
Food is often scarce. Youths are beaten until they succumb to orders. They are taught that their mission is to keep President Mugabe in power.
Panorama has also learned that some of the recruits are taught to torture his opponents.
Daniel was plied with alcohol and drugs, and learned how to electrocute his victims.
He said: "I would just touch, krr, krr - tell us information."
Asked if he thought it was OK to torture people, he added that it was "nice", because "your mind is disturbed".
During covert filming inside Zimbabwe, Panorama also spoke to a camp commander who told the programme that youths in his camp had been sent to kill opponents of President Mugabe.
He said: "In the area I am covering I heard of two. My superiors instructed that the people must be eliminated."
What is more frightening is that President Mugabe now wants every Zimbabwean youth to undergo training. We have been told they will be used to intimidate political opponents in next year's elections.
The commander added: "These guys are going to be used by the ruling party to keep the opposition out of power."
We put these allegations to Zimbabwe's government, but so far it has refused to respond.
07:54 AM EST Feb 28
MIAMI (AP) - A supervisor at a juvenile jail told a dying teen to "suck it up" as the boy retched, wept and moaned from stomach pain, the Miami Herald reported Friday.
Some guards tried to get help for Omar Paisley, 17, before he died of a burst appendix last June but their supervisors and jail nurses believed he was faking or exaggerating, according to evidence acquired by the newspaper. "Ain't nothing wrong with (him)," one nurse said, according to seven boxes of documents examined by the newspaper.
Paisley's death has led to an overhaul at the state Department of Juvenile Justice, including the removal of three top officials, and third-degree murder and manslaughter charges against nurses Gaile Loperfido and Dianne Demeritte. They are accused of failing to treat Paisley and falsifying records. They have pleaded not guilty.
UN Security Council creates Ivory Coast
The vote came after the United States dropped its opposition to the size of the force, after saying for weeks it was not convinced that many troops were needed in the troubled west African nation.
The troops will bolster the roughly 4,000 soldiers from former colonial power France already on the ground in Ivory Coast, which is the world's leading producer of cocoa but has fallen on hard times because of the turmoil. [...]
Kim and Teruaki Ueno
BEIJING (Reuters) - Six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear crisis have been plagued by differences, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing says, but all sides have agreed to set up a working group and hold another round.
North Korea appeared to balk at the 11th hour over a proposed joint statement, threatening to erase even the slim progress eked out over four days of six-party talks in Beijing, diplomats said.
"Differences, even serious differences, still exist," Li said at the closing ceremony, without mention of any progress on a statement.
The importance of the second round is that the six countries held substantial dialogue and made "a big step forward", Li said.
There was little evidence the diplomatic gulf between North Korea and the United States had narrowed after four days of talks. [...]
Taiwan's Chen Leads
Huge Human Chain Against China
TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian and more than 1 million of his supporters formed a human chain down the length of the island Saturday in its biggest ever protest against China.
The day-long demonstration to oppose China's deployment of nearly 500 missiles aimed at Taiwan is seen as Chen's best chance of rallying support for his re-election in a March 20 vote.
After saying prayers and releasing a flock of white doves in the morning, the protesters raised joined hands and shouted "Yes Taiwan," "Oppose Missiles" and "Love Peace" down the 500 km (310 mile) west coast of Taiwan.
"We formed a great wall of democracy and a great wall of peace," Chen told thousands of cheering supporters waving flags and blowing horns in the northern county of Miaoli.
"We showed the world our determination to recognize Taiwan and protect Taiwan," Chen said, flanked by former president Lee Teng-hui, who backs his re-election.
Chen's campaign is centered on a controversial referendum to be held during the election that will ask voters to back greater missile defenses against China. [...]
Two dead, 54 injured in clashes outside G15 summit
National Guard troops used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse some 30,000 of Chavez's political foes, who awaited news on whether Venezuela's electoral authorities will organize a recall referendum against Chavez, who was at the summit.
Television showed guardsmen -- on foot, motorbike and behind the crowd in armored cars -- arguing with demonstrators and then using tear gas to break up the rally. Some demonstrators hurled rocks at police who used riot shields to protect themselves.
By late Friday firefighters reported 54 people injured in the clashes, 25 of whom had been gunshot wounds.
Venezuela's opposition leaders said they collected 3.6 million signatures seeking the referendum on a recall of Chavez. The constitution requires a minimum of 2.4 million valid signatures.
Chavez insists that not enough valid signatures have been collected, charging opponents with fraud, but former US president Jimmy Carter, an electoral observer, has said the electoral council guaranteed monitors access to the verification process. [...]
Executives speaking at the Reuters Technology, Media and Telecommunications Summit in New York said they see increased hiring in countries like India and China, but few jobs will be added in the United States.
Michael Jordan, chief executive of technology services provider Electronic Data Systems, said the company's employees in low-cost locations like India will rise from 9,000 now to 20,000 by 2006.
Bruce Claflin, chief executive of network products maker 3Com, said the company's joint-venture with Huawei Technologies of China will add 1,000 engineers, all supplied by Huawei. [...]
About 60 Animals Dead in
Brazil Zoo Murder Mystery
SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) - Nearly 60 animals have been killed at the Sao Paulo Zoo since last month and police expect to track down the suspected killers soon, a Brazilian official said on Friday.
Laboratory tests have shown the animals were killed with a rat poison banned in Brazil.
Joao Carlos Meirelles, a Sao Paulo state minister, said investigators had ruled out the deaths being an accident, mainly because the dose was so high in most of the dead animals.
The 59 victims so far include an elephant, dromedaries, monkeys and porcupines.
"We can say with almost total certainty that the suspects will be identified by next week, give or take," Meirelles said
The zoo management has put 15 workers on leave while they are under investigation. It has also ordered all staff to work in pairs.
The latest victims have been the porcupines. In all, 36 were killed, of which six were ready to be donated to another zoo.
"If it's someone from inside of the zoo, I can't understand what is going through this person's mind," said a security guard, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Ronaldo.
"If this is an outside job, I can't understand how they are managing to do it, given our strict security measures."
The public is just as frustrated.
"The poor things are defenseless. Clearly, they are paying the price for some personal vendetta," said Simone Oka Filho, visiting the zoo with her son and nephew on Friday.
The zoo killings have attracted international attention.
Plastic surgeons in Italy say business is booming after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi admitted having a face lift. [...]
Last Updated Fri, 27 Feb 2004 0:57:30
NEW YORK - A judge has prevented media baron Conrad Black from selling control of his Hollinger International media empire, saying Black had seriously breached his duties to the company.
A row has erupted in Australia over a police ban on a traditional Aboriginal dance featuring topless women.
Aborigines are furious that police told dancers from the remote community of Papunya to stop practising in a public park in the city of Alice Springs.
In response, the women said dancing topless was part of Aboriginal culture dating back thousands of years.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission said it would file a formal complaint over the ban.
Police to Kick More Butt -- of
In its latest social campaign to keep the streets of the wealthy and tightly controlled city-state sparkling clean, police are stopping smokers who litter and giving them tin boxes for their cigarette butts, and a S$200 ($120) fine.
"Smokers who persist in littering might think twice if they have something to put the butts in," the Straits Times newspaper said.
Also under the drive, students from 50 primary schools will form roving "anti-littering squads" this year to purge primary education institutions of litter, the newspaper reported. [...]
Doonesbury's Bush Contest Yields No Winner
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A $10,000 reward offered by the "Doonesbury" comic strip for proof that President Bush served in the Alabama National Guard during the Vietnam War has elicited over 1,300 responses but turned up no credible evidence yet, the cartoonist said on Friday.
With so much controversy surrounding Bush's National Guard service, a credible witness would have turned up by now if there was one, said Garry Trudeau.
"You can be sure some very motivated people have tried to find a witness who can establish Bush's presence at Dannelly Base beyond a reasonable doubt," said the creator of the politically irreverent and satirical daily cartoon. "Anyone who could do so would almost certainly have surfaced by now." [...]
He said he planned to pay the $10,000 from his own money.
"What else am I going to do with a huge tax cut I didn't need? One of the unintended consequences of Mr. Bush's generosity toward the Great Un-needy is that I'm now a fat cat," he joked.
He also said he realized it was "counterintuitive" for him to support Democrats because he considered Bush to be "God's gift to cartoonists." [...]
Friday 27 February 2004, 2:20 Makka Time, 23:20 GMT
Seventy million-year-old fossils found in Antarctica have turned out to be two completely new species of dinosaur.
set of bones belonged to a quick-moving meat-eater and the other a
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