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Sunday, March 07, 2004

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New Article: Jupiter, Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and the Return of the Mongols -Laura Knight-Jadczyk

Part 2

Picture of the Day

©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Sermon for this Sunday, March 7, 2004

We are blessed, Children, to live in a time of Great Hope. The Destruction and Resurrection of the Great Tribulation will soon be upon Us!

Praise the Lord!

Our benevolent Commander-In-Chief, so firmly guided by Divine Law and the Hand and Voice of Our Lord, has dared to stand tall in the face of the Godless and the Lawless Heathen Sinners in these times of pre-Tribulation!


Let us praise the Mighty Sword of Freedom and Democracy as it lets our Enemies know that America will no longer run from their threats, cower at their words!

Today, my Children, we present you with several reports from the Front of the Battle between Good and Evil:

Operation Sweatshop: Jean-Bertrand Aristide's move to raise Haiti's minimum wage was the last straw for American corporations and elitist U.S. factions.

By Chris Floyd

This week, the Bush administration added another violent "regime change" notch to its gunbelt, toppling the democratically elected president of Haiti and replacing him with an unelected gang of convicted killers, death squad leaders, militarists, narcoterrorists, CIA operatives, hereditary elitists and corporate predators -- a bit like Team Bush itself, in other words.

Although the Haiti coup was widely portrayed as an irresistible upsurge of popular discontent, it was of course the result of years of hard work by Bush's dedicated corrupters of democracy, as William Bowles reports in Information Clearinghouse. Bushist bagmen funded the political opposition to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, smuggled guns to exiled Haitian warlords and carried out a relentless strangulation of the county, cutting off long-promised financial and structural aid to one of the poorest nations on earth until food prices were soaring, unemployment spiked to 70 percent and the broken-backed government lost control of society to armed gangs of criminals, fanatics and the merely desperate. Meanwhile, Haiti was forced to pay $2 million per month on debts run up by the murderous U.S.-backed dictatorships that ruled the island for decades after the American military occupation of 1915-1934.

The ostensible reason for Bush's deadly squeeze-play was Haiti's disputed elections in 2000. That vote, only the nation's third free election in 200 years, was indeed marred by reports of irregularities -- although these were not nearly as egregious as the well-documented hijinks which saw a certain runner-up candidate appointed to the White House that same year. There was no question that Aristide and his party received an overwhelming majority of legitimate votes; however, out of the 7,500 offices up for grabs, election observers did find that seven senate results seemed of dodgy provenance.

So what happened? The seven disputed senators resigned. New elections for the seats were called, but the opposition -- two elitist factions financed by Washington's favorite engines of subversion, the Orwellian-monikered "National Endowment for Democracy" and "International Republican Institute" -- refused to take part. The government broke down because the legislature couldn't convene. When Bush came in, he tightened the screws of the international blockade of the island, insisting that $500 million in desperately needed aid could not be released unless the opposition participated in new elections -- while he was simultaneously paying the opposition not to participate.

Praise the Lord!

Our Commander-In-Chief, guided by the Mighty Hand of the Lord, knows when it is necessary to lie in order to hide one's True Intentions from the Evil One. Sometimes the Truth cannot be approached directly, Praise be to Jesus.

But when the Truth is Spoken, even if the Lamb hides in the skin of the Wolf, those who have Righteousness in their Hearts will hear the Call!

Hundreds of thousands of Chavez opponents demonstrate in Caracas

06:51 AM EST Mar 07

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Blowing whistles and chanting, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans marched through Caracas on Saturday to protest the rejection of a petition aimed at recalling President Hugo Chavez.

Yea, our Brothers and Sisters in Venezuela, those anointed with the Holy Oil, have heard the Words and seen the Works of the Bush that Burns. They have not only Heard the Call, They, the Chosen Ones, have responded to this Call! We pray that our Brethren in Venezuela, backed by the Might of Our Lord, acting through the Hand of our Commander-In-Chief, will successfully overthrow the Throne of Satan in this poor and blinded Land.

But we can never rest, for even as the Holy Work is accomplished in Haiti and Venezuela, across the ocean the Evil One continues his Unending Designs to Take Back what the Lord's Soldiers have Won with their blood!

US detaining 10,000 Iraqis

Sunday 07 March 2004, 12:14 Makka Time, 9:14 GMT

More than 10,000 Iraqi men and boys are being kept in jail by their US occupiers, with the youngest captive just 11 years old.

According to the New York Times on Sunday, one village north of Baghdad is now completely devoid of men – even grandfathers as old as 75 make it to the detention centres.

In Abu Sifa, it is only women who till the fields, care for children, guard their homes and carry the heavy sacks of grapefruit to market.

Few know where their relatives are being held. A US move to post some names on the internet has proved largely useless, with few having access to a computer.

[...] Adil Allami, a lawyer with the Human Rights Organization of Iraq, said security detainees had essentially no rights.

None have lawyers, and most are denied visits.

"Iraq has turned into one big Guantanamo," Allami said, referring to the United States military prison in Cuba where hundreds of suspects are being held, mostly without charges.

Necessity of arrests

But military officials said some of the detainees had been accused of serious offenses, including shooting down helicopters and planting roadside bombs.

However, these same officials acknowledge that most of the people captured are probably not dangerous.

These Children of Satan must pay for their allegiance to the Evil One. It is not Us who judge their sins, it is the Lord himself. But while the Lord is deciding upon their fate, We, as his foot-soldiers, must do our part to prevent them from sinning again. We must also bring to Earthly Justice those who have committed Earthly Sins. We shall prepare these Heathens to meet Our Lord.

US prepares for Saddam trial

Sunday 07 March 2004, 8:49 Makka Time, 5:49 GMT

The United States is dispatching a large team of prosecutors and other criminal justice experts to Iraq to prepare for likely genocide trials of Saddam Hussein and his closest associates.

[...] Charges against Saddam, captured by US troops in December, were likely to include the use of chemical weapons against the Kurdish town Halabja in 1988, when as many as 5000 people, mostly civilians, were killed, according to legal experts.

He is also accused of ordering summary executions of thousands of Iranian prisoners during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, forcibly deporting Kurdish and Turkmen families he deemed disloyal to southern Iraq and creating 900,000 internally displaced citizens throughout the country.

Mass graves discovered in Iraq since the beginning of the war a year ago are likely to contain the bodies of as many as 300,000 victims of the regime, the US State Department estimates.

Saddam's "security forces routinely tortured, beat, raped, and otherwise abused detainees," the department said in its most recent reports on human rights.

Brethren, we know that the Evil One masquerades as a Man of God. We know that the Lord has designed the World in this way to Test Our Faith. We know that there are those who will take advantage of the Divine Laws of the Free Market and Commerce Among Nations to Subvert the Lord's Work. We must be Vigilant lest our own Respect for the Free Will of Another come back and be used by Satan's minions as fodder in his War on Truth.

We know that Brother Rumsfeld allowed his desire to respect the Free Will of Saddam Hussein to blind him to Saddam's Cruel Intentions. But in defence of our Brother in Christ, he is not a Prophet. He could not see into the future and know how Satan would enter into the Iraqi leader and misuse the Lord's Gifts.

Are we not all Sinners? Did not the Lord Jesus himself tell us not to cast the first stone? And has not Brother Rumsfeld paid for this sin in working with great fervour to release the imprisoned Iraqi people from the hold of Satan's Madman?

Surely those who continue to circulate the unfortunate picture of our Brother with Saddam, those who take advantage of our Brother's human nature, and by that I know you understand I am referring to his human weaknesses because who among us is not weak, are themselves the playthings of the Devil.

Fortunately, Brothers and Sisters, where there is weakness, we can also find Strength! And where else can we look for strength if not in the Holy Land itself where our Ancestors, the Israelites, continue to wage a sacred war against those who would take back what the Lord Hath Given.

Israeli incursion leaves 14 dead

Israeli troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships have been engaged in fierce battles against suspected Palestinian militants in central Gaza.

Palestinians said 14 people - including an eight-year-old boy - were killed.

Israel described the raids into the al-Bureij and Nusseirat refugee camps as a "pinpoint" operation against the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.

Truly, the Israelites are a Mighty People, looked upon with Special Favour by God our Father and with Fear by those who refuse His Justice. Oh, Lord, support the Proud Israelites as They prepare the Sacred Ground where Your Son once Walked to receive Him again! Allow them to survive until your Final Reckoning when in your Grace and Goodness, you will give these Assassins of Your Beloved Son one Last Chance to Redeem their Heinous Crime before you Cast Them to the depths of the Realm of Your Adversary for Eternity.

Praise Be to the Lord!

Every Good Christian knows that God Sees All, even into the Deepest Regions of Your Heart. It is this Power that Allows the Almighty to Carry Out His Plan in this World.

Those that Do God's Good Work in this World Understand the Importance of Seeing Into the Hearts of Their Brethren and their Neighbors, especially those who We do not count among Us on This, the Lord's Day, in This, the Lord's House. Thus it is necessary for Us, as we are Created in His Image, to Learn from the Example of Our Creator. Inspired by God's Divine Law, the God-Fearing and Christian Nations of the White People of this Earth have developed and implemented a System, Divinely Inspired, to be the Eyes and Ears of Him in our world, so that we may better Carry Out His Work in His Name.

Canada listens to world as partner in spy system

Mar. 7, 2004. 01:00 AM

[...] Every day, billions of telephone calls, e-mails, faxes, radio transmissions, even Internet downloads are captured by orbiting satellites monitoring signals on Earth, then processed by high-powered computers. A minute percentage of the traffic is "tagged" for transcription, translation if necessary, and analysis.

The ordinary messages of ordinary people get caught up in the sweep, but aren't generally tagged. The likes of a U.N. secretary-general are.

"Echelon is an electronic vacuum cleaner, but it is finely tuned," says Canadian intelligence specialist Wesley Wark. "They have to be precise to get what they want."

But who is "they?"

The high-tech Echelon system is operated by five nations known as the UKUSA alliance: the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Referred to in some circles as the "Anglo-Saxon Mafia," the U.S.-led network has existed for 58 years, emerging out of the Allies' successful signals-intelligence, or "sigint," operations during World War II.

Its original primary job was to spy on the Soviet Union and win the Cold War. Today, it is counterterrorism.

[...] Though it all may sound like Big Brother, there is no need for the public to "get paranoid that the government is listening to them," says Thompson. "That's not the case. They can't `read' a fraction of what they pick up."

In fact, less than 2 per cent of the transmissions are ever seen by human eyes. Artificial intelligence does the bulk of the listening and reading.

The Echelon computer process used to filter messages is codenamed "Dictionary," according to Duncan Campbell, a British journalist who authored a report on UKUSA for the European Parliament in 2000.

Each alliance partner has its own dictionary of key names, phrases, people, places and words (bomb, for example), but all five are used at each country's listening posts.

The computer scans all messages for these words, flags those that contain them, and eliminates the vast majority that don't. If something is picked up containing a key word in another member's dictionary, it is forwarded on to that country. Everything ends up at NSA headquarters in Virginia.

[...] Any UKUSA partner can ask any of the others to intercept domestic communications. It then can truthfully say it does not spy on its own citizens, — illegal in all five countries.

That's what happened in 1983, according to former Canadian intelligence officer Mike Frost. His 1994 book, Spyworld, claimed that Britain asked the CSE to monitor two of then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher's cabinet ministers whom she suspected of disloyalty. The agency carried out the intercepts.

"We never stopped to question the morality of doing what amounted to dirty tricks for a partisan politician in a foreign land. After all, we weren't spying on Canadians, that time, anyway."

Ottawa has vehemently denied that it listens in on citizens. But experts say it doesn't have to when the UKUSA alliance, mainly the U.S., can monitor targeted individuals on its behalf.

That may be over, says Wesley Wark, because it is now fully legal for the CSE to turn its computers on to Canadians' conversations, faxes and e-mails — provided there is a foreign link.

The Good Lord Inspires, leaving it to his Children to find the practical application of His Lessons. The Machine of the Almighty on this Earth is a Well-Oiled Machine, a Machine Designed to track down Sinners. We, those of Us who have Accepted the Lord into Our Hearts, are parts of this Machine and are here to Do His Work. There is no Shame in Being Part of the Lord's Machine! The Lord's Work is Mysterious and We, His Believers, must Submit to this Mystery. What does the trigger know of the bullet or the target? What does the gas pedal know of the tire or the roadkill? Yet these two machines, the product of God's Holy Inspiration through His Children, the Faithful, have given Man the possibility of Rising Above the Animals.

There will be Roadkill as the Machine of God rolls down the Highway to Paradise. Those who are not with God are against Him. You have the Choice either to Be Part of the Lord's Machine, or accept the inevitable Fate of the Scurrying Evil that will surely be crushed as Lord's Machine Passes By. We urge you all, dear brothers and sisters, to cling with all Your Might to the Holy Humvee of the Lord in these times of Tribulation. Fear the Evil One and Seek protection in the Armor-Plated Sanctuary of the Lord, lest Ye be Crushed by the Depleted Uranium-Coated Cloud upon which the Lord Jesus shall surely descend.


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Animals into the ark two by two? Not if you believe the BBC

By Chris Hastings, Media Correspondent

The Biblical story of Noah's ark is a "great myth", devoid of any scientific or historical credibility according to a new BBC programme about the great flood.

Noah's Ark, which has been produced by the Corporation's religion and ethics division, argues that there is no evidence to support the idea of an ark, a global flood or even a man called Noah. It claims that the story in the Book of Genesis was a fabrication inspired by the story of King Gilgamesh, who was caught up in a flood while trying to transport his own livestock.

Gilgamesh, who was King of Uruk in Babylonia in around 2,700 BC, had a shaved head and wore make up as well as a kilt. He bore no resemblance to the traditional image of Noah as displayed in countless paintings.

He and his family were stranded at sea when a freak flood swept them from the river they were in. Unable to drink seawater they stayed alive by drinking the beer that they were transporting.

Jeremy Bowen, the programme's presenter, tells viewers: "It is time to forget the original story and start again. The traditional notion of the Noah story does not pass any sort of rational or historical test. Maybe it was not meant to, maybe it was made up."

In the programme, Bowen interviews a number of scientists and historians who dismiss the idea that the world was engulfed by a global flood. They say that there is not enough water in all of the world's oceans to support a torrent of such proportions. Bowen further concludes that even 40 days and nights of continuous rain would not have produced enough water.

Recent claims that the flooding could have been caused by a comet bursting onto the earth's surface are also dismissed.

Bowen and his team also contradict traditional notions about the ark itself, saying that such a huge ship - two thirds the size of the Titanic - would have not been possible with the level of technology available at the time. Loading so many animals onto a single vessel would have taken 35 years, it claims.

They conclude that the Noah story was invented by Jewish scribes who embellished the story of Gilgamesh to evoke an all powerful and vengeful God.

Comment: The statement in the above article that : a number of scientists and historians were interviewed who dismissed the idea that the world was engulfed by a global flood, is very interesting. Such an authoritative sounding statement from "scientists and historians" saying "there was never a global flood" might lead us to immediately accept such a statement as truth. One of most commonly heard questions here at "Signs of the Times Central" is "sez who?" We do not take sweeping statements of apparent fact as the truth, no matter how authoritative-sounding they are, and we have a very good reason for doing so. We have learned that, quite often, "official" or "authoritative" statements turn out to be blatant lies and/or disinformation. In fact, very often when a theory is ridiculed and dismissed with little supporting evidence, it is a safe bet that the person doing so has more than one agenda.

Yesterday we talked about the fact that when a certain view or opinion about reality is seen as "vital" to the existence of a person, or a group of people, the opinion is usually not open to discussion and is generally not presented as an opinion but rather as a sweeping statement of "fact". Scientists and historians are human, just like the rest of us. They are as prone to outright denial of facts as any of the rest of us, perhaps even more so, given that very often they have built careers and reputations around a certain stance or belief. Of course, there is also the breed of "scientists and historians" that fall prey to that other human frailty - greed and its corrupting effects. Needless to say, many "scientists and historians" also are in the pay of governments and will merely say what they are told or paid to say.

We find it VERY interesting also that this story is being debunked at this particular time in our history. With all of the recent news stories about the dire state of our planet and the threat of serious cataclysm, it appears that "the powers that be" are determined to institute a full and final clampdown on the truth, to ensure that as few people as possible will understand what is happening, if and when something happens.

One might wonder what it is that the controllers of our world are expecting to achieve as a result of the above BBC report and TV programme. All but the fundamentalists reject the story of Noah as a real factual event as it is portrayed, so why even try to debunk it? There is a Quantum Physics theory under development at present that posits that you or I, as observers of our reality, may contribute directly to the state of our reality. That the act of observation and WHAT we intend to observe or SEE, in some way forms our reality on a consensual basis. Furthermore, in the event of a "collapse" and "regeneration" of our reality the level of objectivity or accuracy of our observation at the time of "collapse" may determine the level of order or chaos in the regenerated reality. The more objectively or accurately that we observe reality, the higher the probability that an ordered, pure system will result.

If we look at the central tenet of the Noah story we see that it concerns a planet wide cataclysm. Perhaps it is the general idea or awareness of planetary upheaval, and the idea that it is cyclical, that must, at all costs, be eradicated from the mass consciousness. By doing so, "the powers that be" insure themselves against the eventuality that people might come to a more objective view of reality and therefore contribute in a very direct way to the ordering of reality in the aftermath of a real cataclysm. Of course, when a cataclysmic events comes "out of left field", catching the population totally unaware, the hysteria, confusion and fear are guaranteed to be at a maximum.

As regards the story of " the flood of Noah", we have another theory as to its meaning. Perhaps the story of Noah was meant to be allegorical, designed to convey a truth about our planet and the fact that it passes through periodic or cyclical cataclysms of one sort or another. We find it VERY significant that this story appears at the same time as "revelations" are appearing that Mars once had water. Factor in that the planets in our solar system may not always have been in their current orbits and then tie in the idea of the "flood of Noah", and you may be able to put together a theory that suggests that our planet's history is very different from what the story - sorry, "history" books tell us. See Laura's new article " Jupiter, Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and the Return of the Mongols" for the full story.

Does the End of the Universe Matter?


[...] It was time to tally up the eschatological results. The cosmos has three possible fates: Big Crunch (eventual collapse), Big Chill (expansion forever at a steady rate), or Big Crackup (expansion forever at an accelerating rate). Humanity, too, has three possible fates: eternal flourishing, endless stagnation, or ultimate extinction. And judging from all the distinguished cosmologists who weighed in with opinions, every combination from Column A and Column B was theoretically open. We could flourish eternally in virtual reality at the Big Crunch or as expanding black clouds in the Big Chill. We could escape the Big Crunch/Chill/Crackup by wormholing our way into a fresh universe.

We could face ultimate extinction by being incinerated by the Big Crunch or by being isolated and choked off by the Big Crackup. We could be doomed to endless stagnation—thinking the same patterns of thoughts over and over again, or perhaps sleeping forever because of a faulty alarm clock—in the Big Chill. One distinguished physicist I spoke to, Andrei Linde of Stanford University, even said that we could not rule out the possibility of their being something after the Big Crunch. For all of the fascinating theories and scenarios they spin out, practitioners of cosmic eschatology are in a position very much like that of Hollywood studio heads: Nobody knows anything. [...]

Comment: "Doomsday" seems to be a hot-selling commodity recently - but only for selected and approved outlets.

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Day After Tomorrow Trailer

Film Force

Ah, the natural disaster film... always a special treat!  [...]

Here's the setup: Climatological disruption of gargantuan proportions is ravaging Earth and people are freaking out.  Millions of terrified survivors are surging South. But Professor Adrian Hall (Dennis Quaid), a brilliant paleoclimatologist, is going in the other direction.  Hall believes that his son, Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal), may still be alive in the frozen wasteland that was once New York City.

Devastating tornados rip Los Angeles, a massive snowstorm pounds New Delhi; hail the size of grapefruit batters Tokyo; and in New York City, the temperature swings from sweltering to freezing in one day.  If you're into apocalyptic eye-candy (or if you're recruiting for Greenpeace), this one's for you! [...]

The film hits theaters worldwide on May 28th. [...]

Comment: What interesting timing... The arrival of this movie in a theater near you will be supported by the "secret" Pentagon report, along with NASA's recent decision to get in the doomsday prediction game.

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Economists to put price tag on global problems

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
06 March 2004

He has already irked environmentalists by saying that the condition of the world is not as bad as they think it is. Now he wants to pinpoint how world leaders could improve it.

Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish statistics professor whose book The Skeptical Environmentalistput environmentalists on the defensive with its relatively optimistic outlook, has a new and more ambitious project in the pipeline.

He has persuaded a panel of nine of the world's leading economists to look at 10 of the world's most serious problems and list their solutions according to value for money. [...]

Professor Lomborg infuriated environmentalists worldwide with his 2001 book, in which he attacked what he said was their central tenet - that the condition of the world isdeteriorating.

He said that concerns such as deforestation and the effects of acid rain were exaggerated, and that others such as hunger and disease were on a downward trend. He did not, however, deny that serious problems existed and in London yesterday he launched the Copenhagen Consensus, his initiative to solve them.

He said that prioritisation was key. "The world faces serious problems such as pollution, hunger and disease," he said. "Which problem should be addressed first? There are 800 million people starving, 2.5 billion people lacking sewerage, and billions affected by climate change. We all wish that there were money enough to solve all problems, but our means are limited. Policymakers prioritise every day, but not always on the best basis. We hope to provide a framework to allow us to make better prioritisations."

His panel of economists, which includes four Nobel prize winners, will examine the ten world problems and produce a list of the best solutions, on a basis of cost-benefit analysis.

Professor Lomborg said: "Some problems make good television but are not so frightening in reality, such as pesticide residues, or birds caught in oil slicks.

"We need to get our priorities right. A really important problem is indoor air pollution in the developing world, which the World Health Organisation thinks causes two million deaths a year."

Comment: It appears that, even as the Pentagon releases a report about the threat of cataclysms, there is a concerted effort to diffuse any concern about, or discussion of, the future of our planet and species. By attempting to convince people that the threat is manageable, attention is directed away from the idea that cataclysmic disasters involve cycles in the human experiential cycle. Life is to be experienced to the fullest extent possible, yet to experience it fully we must be prepared to strive to See reality as objectively as possible and not rule out core aspects of what we can or cannot experience based on wishful thinking.

U.S. Funnels Billions to Science to Defend Against Terrorism

By Ralph Vartabedian
LA Times

[...] "Science is the big advantage the West has over these people who would throw us back to the Stone Age," said Dr. Penrose "Parney" Albright, assistant secretary for science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security. "We will have a research establishment devoted to our priorities … to stay ahead of the threat." [...]

Some terrorism experts, however, are questioning the Bush administration's approach, saying the technology effort is poorly organized and may ultimately result in a massive waste of money — "a huge new public trough" in the words of one defense official.

Other critics say that the investment is needed, but that scientists have promised too much.

"I am not convinced that technology is the solution to many of these problems," said Mark Gerencser, who leads the global security practice at the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. "The current research is very important, but in and of itself the technology is not going to solve the problem." [...]

Comment: This article contains some chilling figures. Homeland Security will be receiving a huge check. It is being admitted that there is no way to control these funds, but when you are worried about a few Muslims sending the world back to the stone age that is a small price to pay. It appears that the Bush Regime is hijacking science for its own ends.

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FLASHBACK: Scientists say US government distorts scientific facts to serve policy purpose

February 20, 2004

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

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

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

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

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63,000 and Counting: Mass Deportations Mostly Go Unnoticed

March 6 / 7, 2004

Many people are talking about President Bush's "guest worker" proposal for undocumented immigrants. Right-wingers rebuke it as an 'amnesty.' Most immigration and advocates view it as a way to flush out illegals, keeping them at the mercy of greedy employers who can enforce silence about abuses by threatening to fire them, thus subjecting them to immediate expulsion.

Few people, beyond immigration lawyers, have noticed a Bush initiative already in full swing--the detention of more than 63,000 immigrants (as of late January, 2004) over the past year, most legal residents. The Department of Homeland Security says it has already deported as many as 70 per cent. These are mostly men and women with green cards who have been in this country from five to 50 years, and who were convicted of a criminal offense, often decades ago. As Homeland Security press releases point out, they served their sentences and "then got lost somewhere in the justice system." Lawyers representing some of them insist the number is higher. Leading immigration lawyer, Richard Iandoli of Boston, estimates it at about 100,000. This includes legal immigrants with minor technical violations of immigration law--such as a failure to update addresses and other required information within mandated deadlines.

Few articles have been written about this mass expulsion. Most are about individual cases, and those are often short, perfunctory and depend largely on government sources for information. One of the few articles attempting a more balanced view, focused on only one facet of the problem. "Crime Database Misused, Suit Says," by Nina Bernstein, New York Times, December 17, 2003) points out that the departments of Homeland Security and Justice have been sued for adding immigration and other civil information to the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) database, used by the FBI to notify state and local police about those wanted for crimes. Until now, this database was restricted to information about serious felonies. Since June, 2002, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has added more than 300,000 names of non citizens. (ICE is the chilling acronym for the revised INS, folded into the Department of Homeland Security, and given additional powers and scope, ostensibly to deal with terrorism.)

There is no law requiring--or even allowing--state and local police departments to routinely arrest people for such violations. A bill introduced last summer to do this, the Criminal Alien Removal Act (CLEAR), faced stiff opposition. Yet Attorney General John Ashcroft announced last summer that local police have 'inherent authority' to arrest and detain such people. The legal basis for this has yet to be determined. Legal counsel to President Bush have insisted that "only high-risk aliens who fit a terrorist profile" would be placed in the database. [...]

The 1996 immigration changes were draconian, yet unevenly enforced until after the 9/11 catastrophe. Since then, any immigrant with a conviction--and in some cases, merely an indictment--is subject to deportation. In the past two years, this has meant sudden arrest and detention without bond until deported. [...]

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Women sing softly as they prepare a bomb victim for God

Iraq's body washers have been kept busy this week after the suicide attacks in Baghdad and Karbala. Neela Banerjee reports from the holy city of Najaf.

In a large white room where the air was damp from open taps and the stunned grief of a few women, Khalila Sharif washed away the bitter past from the body of a 20-year-old school teacher from Baghdad.

The young woman's name was Aida Jabber. When suicide bombers detonated their explosives at the Kadhimiya mosque in Baghdad on Tuesday, they took with them, among so many people, this woman who friends and relatives described as gentle and devout.

Ms Sharif had to cope with what was left of her, scrubbing the remains of their map of blood, masking with cotton wadding and two shrouds the evidence of trauma, so that the body would be pure enough for a proper Muslim burial.

Ms Sharif sang softly of mothers and daughters as she worked, verses that are recited when one loses the other. Protected by a shin-length apron of plastic sheeting, she dipped a red bucket into a large tank that overflowed with water, sprinkled camphor into it and splashed the body that lay before her.[...]

Over the past 25 years, the washers have seen a cruel history stamped on the bodies. There were the Shiites executed under Saddam Hussein, whose relatives had to pay for the fatal bullets, said Riad Abboud, who works in the men's quarters next to Ms Sharif.

There were the dead from this last war, and now each terrorist bombing means yet more bodies. It is getting harder for the body washers to bear, Mr Abboud said.[...]

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US dispatches legal team to Iraq to prepare for genocide trials

Sun Mar 7,12:48 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States is dispatching a large team of prosecutors and other criminal experts to Iraq to prepare for likely genocide trials of Saddam Hussein and his closest associates, a justice official said.

The move marks the first specific step by the administration of President George W. Bush toward a practical resolution of the fate of the ousted Iraq leader blamed for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his own citizens as well as those of neighboring countries.

"We are just literally there as advisers to the Iraqi special tribunals," said the official on condition of anonymity. "We are joining the other nations of the coalition -- the Spanish, the British, the Australians, the Polish, and several others, who are also going to be contributing the same types of personnel."

The first members of the US team, which includes about 50 prosecutors, investigators, legal and forensic experts, were scheduled to leave for Baghdad this weekend. [...]

The group will include specialists from most key branches of the Justice Department, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and regional prosecutors' offices. [...]

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Bush praises "free" Iraqi debate; others warn it could spell disaster

March 7, 2004

BAGHDAD (AFP) - US President George W. Bush said that violence and political disagreements in Iraq would not stop progress toward democracy, amid warnings that failure to meet a new deadline for signing an interim constitution could affect the country's future.

Iraq's leaders suspended formal talks on an interim constitution for the weekend, after failing to meet a deadline for its signing the previous night due to last-minute ethnic and political disarray. [...]

Members of the US-appointed Governing Council said they hoped to sign the new basic law on Monday and implied informal talks outside the 25-strong body would be ongoing.

But some council members warned the whole agreement was now in danger.

However, speaking in his weekly radio address recorded Friday, Bush said the public debate signaled an emerging spirit of democracy in Iraq.

"The Iraqi people are making excellent progress," he said. [...]

Comment: Let's review: The Governing Council was appointed by the US. Any decisions made by the council must be approved by the US. Apparently, Bush defines freedom as being controlled by America.

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Pupil expelled for having scissors in sewing class
March 7, 2004

An American pupil has been expelled from school for taking scissors to a sewing class.

Jacob Finklea, 12, had taken them to his school in Indiana to make a set of pillows, but was booted out under his school's zero tolerance policy.

According to Skynews, Jacob said the teacher had told the pupils to put all their supplies on the table.

He said: "I put the scissors on the desk and she just freaked out."

Jacob's mother, Chrystal, said her son had hurt his hands while using a school set of scissors so she gave him a pair from home.

School chiefs across America have operated a zero tolerance policy since the 1999 Columbine High School killings.

A spokesman for Jacob's school in Pike Township said it "vigorously defended" the procedure.

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Teacher in military told to pay for sub

GRAND RAPIDS -- A western Michigan school district told a teacher activated for military duty that he must cover the cost of a substitute during part of his absence and give the district some of his military pay. [...]

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Mosque fire attacks spark fury in France

Feelings are running high in France after two arson attacks targeting the Muslim community. A mosque and a prayer centre in the southeast of the country, in and around the town of Annecy, were set on fire. More than 200 demonstrators gathered to express their outrage.

One Muslim leader denounced the failure of senior politicians to turn up. Kamel Kabtane also linked the attacks to France's recent decision to outlaw Islamic headscarves from state schools, saying it was the consequence of an anti-Muslim debate. The move bans what are deemed "overtly religious symbols" including Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses. It is aimed at safeguarding France's secular tradition.

French President Jacques Chirac has condemned the attacks, vowing the authorities will track down and punish those responsible.

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Swastikas sprayed on Denver synagogue

By Ann Depperschmidt
The Denver Post

About 10 white swastikas and other Nazi symbols were spray-painted Friday night on walls around the BMH-BJ Congregation, a Jewish synagogue at 560 S. Monaco Parkway.

Rabbi Daniel Cohen said he couldn't remember anything like that happening before at the east Denver synagogue. A Holocaust survivor who came to worship Saturday morning told him he hasn't seen anything so hateful in 60 years, Cohen said. [...]

"There's a lot of crazy people in this world," he said. "I thought it might have something to do with the movie." He referred to "The Passion of the Christ," ...

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Egypt Deploys 1,000 Police After Christians Killed

Sat Mar 6, 9:10 AM ET

SOHAG, Egypt (Reuters) - Egyptian authorities deployed some 1,000 police around a southern town on Saturday to forestall any Muslim-Christian clashes after two Christian men were killed in a street brawl, security sources said.

The Christians were axed to death after a donkey being ridden by a Muslim man slipped on the wet roadway outside their house in the town of Salamoun, about 350 km (220 miles) south of Cairo, they said. [...]

Tensions between the Muslim and Christian communities are a sporadic problem in southern Egypt. The last major outbreak of violence was in 1999, when 20 Christians were killed and 33 people wounded in the southern village of Kosheh.

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Civil strife uproots Algerians

More than one million people in Algeria have been displaced because of internal violence over the past decade, a Norwegian refugee agency says.

A new report by the Norwegian Refugee Council said that the scope of the crisis in Algeria is much more significant than previously thought. It says Algeria is one of the countries worst affected by the problem. Precise figures are not available, because the government restricts access to the country. [...]

Algeria has been in the grip of a severe political and economic crisis since 1991. A dispute over an election led to an armed conflict between the military-backed government and Islamist insurgents. More than 100,000 people are believed to have been killed.

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How America is spying on Kenya

Initially resisted as infidel intruders into an Islamic community, Marines and other American security intelligence agencies are finally gaining a foothold on strategic parts of the Kenya coast in a widening web of surveillance disguised as war against terrorism.

American intelligence presence is particularly noticeable along the coast where Marines set up numerous community projects, turning initial hostility from local communities into needy acceptance.

The Marines have penetrated the villages of Lamu and the neighbouring areas with the aim of collecting subtle intelligence or traces of information that could spark or spur terrorist activities. The high technology snooping — done undercover as community services like fresh water, building hospitals and school blocks — has dazzled the local Bajuni community, the oblivious and yet cautious recipients of American generosity for almost two years now.

But while the techniques employed by the Marines to collect intelligence and plant surveillance equipment is advanced beyond the comprehension of residents, intelligence sources told the Sunday Standard that the foray of Americans into Kenya and the Eastern Africa region — with official support — is likely to intensify. In the past two years since the September 11, 2001, bombing of New York, America has sent hordes of Federal Bureau of Investigations sleuths swarming into Kenya, which is to be converted into a watchtower for America’s security concerns in East Africa and the Horn of Africa region. Kenya landed into the spotlight after two successive terrorist attacks — first on August 1998 on the American Embassy in Nairobi, and November 2002 on Paradise Lodge in Kikambala —in which hundreds of local residents and foreign nationals were killed.[...]

In the emerging second scramble for Africa, western countries are digging in for new protectorates of their interest. Besides American spy agencies, German and French intelligence presence has peaked over the past two years. German spy-planes deployed to patrol the Indian Ocean coast in the heat of the Gulf War last year have not retreated. France has also intensified its interest and surveillance of the region.[...]

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Street Kids Outwit Authorities

SCORES of people living on the streets, who were rounded up last week in a clean-up campaign code named Operation Snow, are pouring back onto the streets of the capital, casting a shadow of doubt over the ability of the authorities to end this deeply entrenched social problem.

Two weeks ago, police in Harare rounded up over 200 people living on the streets and about 36 illegal immigrants, in what they claim was a clean up campaign to restore sanity on the streets of the Sunshine City.[...]

Some of the people living on the streets are turning to crime to get money to buy food.

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Egypt refuses to pass on water

Cairo - Egypt will reject any proposal to lower its quota of the Nile water, Egyptian Irrigation Minister Mahmud Abdel Halim Abu Zeid said on Saturday, ahead of delicate talks with other countries sharing the African river basin.

"The talks will have to comply with one permanent feature: not to touch Egypt's historical rights," the minister told a news conference. [...]

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Ugandan Jews' prayers ignored

Israel spurns black tribespeople who converted to Judaism a century ago

James Astill in Nabugoya, Uganda
Sunday March 7, 2004
The Observer

Scraping their flip-flops on the synagogue's concrete floor, the congregation gathers around the Torah. The men touch their prayer shawls to the scrolls, then shawls to their tongues. To the left, a baby is hushed with its mother's breast. 'O Rock of Israel, arise to help thy scattered people,' prays Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, in guttural Hebrew, from the most isolated corner of the Jewish world. 'Deliver all who are crushed beneath oppression's heel.'

Israel is now planning to fetch home some of the most scattered Jews, the Falasha tribesmen of Ethiopia, but for this Ugandan community there is no answer to Sizumo's prayer.

The Abayudaya, or People of Judah, are in many ways like the Falasha. Both are devoutly orthodox, isolated and sometimes persecuted. Both black African Jewish communities practise slightly different rituals to the wider Jewish world's. There is one key difference - unlike the Falasha, the Abayudaya do not lay claim to a lineage dating back to David. They were converted to Judaism less than a century ago, after a row with the British.

The Sabbath prayers sung, Sizomu, 33, switches to the local Luganda language. The holy day is to be observed, he says. No stoves are to be lit before sundown: 'Good Jews don't cheat. No, we'll have none of that.'[...]

In 1961, they were discovered by Israel's first ambassador to east Africa. Outside Mbale town, villages are built around mud churches and mosques. Climb on up Mt Wanale, into the mountain's shadow, and children call out 'Shalom!' A steep mile on is Nabugoya and Sizomu's small brick synagogue, marked in chalk with the Star of David.

In 1961, there were more than 3,000 Abayudaya with more than 30 synagogues. They had only a few bibles and some literal interpretations of scripture. Animal sacrifice was one. 'The Israeli diplomat said animal sacrifices had been abolished, so we decided we should stop that one,' said Sizomu. [...]

But Israel continues to ignore the Abayudaya. The right of return to Israel is premised on ethnicity, not belief. Thus one million former Soviet citizens were welcomed in the 1990s, though many knew little about the religion of their grandparents. If Israel were to change its rules, it could set an awkward precedent. 'Everywhere there are sects claiming to be Jewish - in South Africa, in Ghana, even in Japan,' said Sizomu. 'If Israel took us, they might all want to come' [...]

Sizomu does have a reservation about Israel. 'If the Arab world declared war on Israel, we would fight and die to protect it. But we are not interested in this petty conflict with the Palestinians.'

Comment: For some reason, Jewish "Zionist" leaders are very interested in genetics...

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Israel closes water deal with Turkey

Israel has signed an agreement in principle to import 50 million cubic meters of water annually from Turkey. The agreement stretches over a period of 20 years for a total of one billion cubic meters of water, Haaretz reported.

The water will be transferred to the Jewish state from an export facility on the Manbaget river in southern Turkey. [...]

An agreement for the transaction was made between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and former Turkish energy minister Zeki Cakan in 2002. Although the price of water desalination is lower than that of importing the natural resource from Turkey, Israel closed the deal with Ankara after it tied the negotiated water deal to a big arms purchase, providing for the sale of Israeli-made tanks and air force technology.

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Insurers pay out 90 years after the 20th century's first genocide

07 March 2004

Almost 90 years after the 20th century's first genocide - the mass slaughter of one and a half million Armenians by Turkey during the First World War - descendants of the victims are at last to receive compensation from American companies with whom their murdered families once insured their lives. [...]

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Gadaffi Keeps Everyone Guessing

While he may have lost his appetite for dabbling with sinister weapons and rubbing shoulders with politically colourful characters, Libya's Colonel Moammar Gadaffi has not lost his penchant for keeping everyone guessing.

This weekend he will have at least three balls in the air: the Western powers, whom he has been sweetening up for some months; African leaders for whom he has tried to play the generous uncle-figure; and his compatriots for whom he remains firmly and expressly the "Brother Leader". Not a dictator, or even a president, he insists disingenuously, more a simple adviser.[...]

Gadaffi is having his African counterparts round this weekend for a special summit of the African Union that he boasts is his brainchild.

Most of the 34 leaders expected to stoop into his tent outside his coastal hometown of Sirte are there to humour him. [...]

In fact, there is a growing belief that Gadaffi, who has a notoriously short attention span, might be moving away from his African identity in favour of becoming a Mediterranean.

Gadaffi quit the Arab world in disgust at what he saw as its softening stance on Israel. He moved aggressively into Africa, bankrolling poorer countries to secure their votes in the Organisation of African Unity.

In recent years, however, he has scrapped his ministry for Africa and sacked the ironically named African minister Ali Treki.

But this is another aspect of keeping them all guessing.

Libya remains locked in a contest with South Africa and Egypt to host the Pan African Parliament. The irony of having a country without an elected assembly of its own hosting the continent's Parliament is apparently lost on the man.[...]

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Pakistan Official Offers Aid to Nigeria

ABUJA, Nigeria - Nigeria's Defense Ministry said Pakistan's top military official offered to share unspecified assistance with Nigeria's armed forces, but a Nigerian defense spokesman later retracted a statement that the offer included "nuclear power."

[...] However, Nwachukwu Bellu, the Nigerian Defense Ministry spokesman who signed Wednesday's statement, told The Associated Press on Thursday that "it was a mistake" for the communique to have mentioned nuclear power as an area of possible cooperation.

"It was a mistake," Bellu said without further clarification. When asked whether officials from the two countries discussed nuclear cooperation at all, he replied: "Nothing like that happened." [...]

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The Human Rights Situation in Nigeria

Increasingly, the human rights record of this administration has been subjected to scrutiny by activists especially those that fought military dictatorship and many abuses that go with it. Although it is uncomfortable to do a comparison with Abacha's era, the human rights record of this civilian government is disturbing.

Apart from cases of extra judicial killings that have rankled the top brass of the police, the Odi massacre and the invasion of Zaki Ibiam and other isolated cases of police brutality dent the country's record.[...]

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Family relives pain after Nieuwoudt video

Shocking video footage shown on SABC this week of the teenage son of slain student leader Siphiwo Mtimkhulu hitting former security police colonel Gideon Nieuwoudt on the head with a heavy vase and fracturing his skull has re-opened old wounds for the Mtimkhulu family.

The footage was shot in 1998 when Nieuwoudt, accompanied by a television crew, visited the family at their Port Elizabeth home to ask for forgiveness.

Unable to contain his rage, Sikhumbuzo Mtimkhulu, then 15, walked up behind Nieuwoudt and hit him over the head with a vase.[...]

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London is the city of billionaires - report

London - Britain's capital is home to 40 billionaires, the largest concentration of any city in the world, the weekly Sunday Times reported.

At the top of the Times' London billionaire list is Roman Abramovich, one of Russia's so-called oligarchs, who at a net worth of £6,5-billion, is 26 times richer than Britain's monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, the report claims.

The report, compiled by Philip Beresford of The Sunday Times Rich List, says that of the 40 billionaires who reside in London, 13 are foreign.

According to Beresford, Britain's main attactions for foreign billionaires are tax and residency conditions.[...]

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Debt on a grand scale

By Aldo Svaldi
Denver Post Business Writer

Despite the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and two subsequent wars, despite a recession in 2001 and the resulting loss of 716,000 jobs, U.S. consumers haven't stopped spending and piling on debt.

In fact, consumers have increased spending for 48 quarters straight, an incredible streak.

That long run has been fueled, in part, with $2 trillion in credit-card, auto and consumer debt, with another $7 trillion in home mortgages. [...]

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Shell board shocked by devastating report

By Sylvia Pfeifer

The interim audit review for Shell into the company's shock overbooking of reserves is believed to have concluded that the grave error was either the result of a breakdown of management control or an act of bad faith.

The dramatic findings of the report were the trigger which forced the Anglo-Dutch oil giant to oust Sir Philip Watts as its chairman last week.

Shell's Dutch supervisory board and the company's non-executive directors are understood to have lost confidence in Watts and Walter van de Vijver, the former head of exploration, because the two were responsible under US legislation for signing certificates which covered all the group's reserves. Van de Vijver was also forced to resign last week.

The review - prepared by an external counsel for Shell's group audit committee - is not expected to complete its investigation for another few weeks.

But the revelation of its interim findings will increase the pressure on Shell to clarify exactly what led to the overbookings which forced the company to admit in January that it had overstated its proven oil and gas reserves by 20 per cent. [...]

"It takes a Kremlinologist to work out what is going on," said one leading investor last week. "They may think they have made a bold move but, given that they haven't explained it, all it will do is make investors nervous about Shell's motives."

Comment: What will the people do when there is no more oil? With no way to run their cars or their home heating systems and with industry grinding to halt, the real face of the government and its actions will become apparent.

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Religious should 'rejoice' at chance to pay taxes

John Longhurst
Sat Mar 6 2004

DO Christians have a religious duty to pay taxes?

The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales says yes. And not only that, they say Christians should be happy to do it.

But wait, there's more. The bishops also say that wealthier Christians should pay more taxes, in order to ease the burden on the poor.

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Fundamentalists unite in Nunavut: New church combines Christian values, Inuit ways

Sat Mar 6 2004
By Bob Weber

IQALUIT, Nunavut -- For years, Inuit politicians talked about Nunavut as a promised land. Now, Inuit preachers are taking them literally.

After years of patient work, fundamentalist religious leaders across the eastern Arctic are about to join hands and their rapidly growing flocks to form a new church that combines speaking-in-tongues, cast-out-the-devil Christianity with Inuit cultural pride.

"We are organizing," says James Arreak, the cherubic, 36-year-old former bank employee who is now pastor of the Iqaluit Christian Fellowship and one of the movement's shepherds.

"The creation of Nunavut is our opportunity to demonstrate the true calling of who God called us to be.

"The signs are indicating that we need to prepare ourselves for the Second Coming."

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Black magic turns into big business

CATEMACO, Mexico -- As a full moon rose over Catemaco, Luis Marthen pulled on his black cape, armed himself with jade amulets, and prepared to greet the devil.

The Mexican shaman was practicing a centuries-old ritual in this eastern jungle town known worldwide as a center for black magic. On the first Friday of every March, the town's "witches" -- 126 of whom are registered with the local chamber of commerce -- perform an elaborate purification ceremony to rid themselves of a year's worth of negative energy.

But what began as an obscure ritual in an isolated corner of Mexico has become big business in a country where everyone from peasant farmers to presidents turns to witches for help -- or to cause harm. The onset of television marketing and the Internet has fueled the boom in recent years, feeding what some fear has become a criminal network trading in witchcraft.

In 1995, a feud between warring shamans resulted in at least five deaths, according to residents. But the violence has not deterred business.

[...] "People come to offer their soul, so that someone else dies," said Marthen, the son of illiterate farmers who claims to have inherited his gift for witchcraft from his grandmother, a Nahua Indian shaman. "Sometimes, people are looking for inheritance. Sometimes, they just want power."[...]

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Remember this: Viagra of the mind is coming

A drug nicknamed "Viagra of the mind" that enables people to improve their memory is to be tested on humans and could be on sale within five years.

Tim Tully, a professor of genetics at Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory in New York, who developed the drug, said: "If it proves safe and effective it could ultimately be used by people who want to learn a language or a musical instrument or even in schools." The most important market, however, could be healthy people in their 40s and 50s whose memory was deteriorating.

The drug, code-named HT-0712, helps to retain information in the short-term memory. It works by activating a gene contained in every human cell. Once activated, it allows brain cells to make the connections vital for memory formation. [...]

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Cocaine deaths reach 'staggering' levels

The Independent
07 March 2004

Deaths from cocaine-related overdoses have reached record levels, with an increase of nearly 50 per cent in the numbers of people dying from abuse of the class A drug.

New figures released by the Government reveal that deaths rose from 96 in 2001 to 139 in 2002, the biggest year-on-year rise for five years. Since 1998, when there were only 66 recorded fatalities, deaths from cocaine poisoning have more than doubled. [...]

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Conservatives scent victory in Greece vote

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Avian Flu Found on Maryland Chicken Farm

By Associated Press
March 7, 2004, 12:39 AM EST

POCOMOKE CITY, Md. -- A case of Avian flu has been found at a commercial chicken farm on Maryland's Eastern Shore, the U.S. agriculture department said.

It is the same strain, H7, found last month in two flocks in Delaware, but officials said there was no known connection with the cases in the two states.

The outbreak is at a Pokomoke City farm with about 118,000 6-week-old broiler chickens. Officials quarantined the farm Friday evening, Maryland Agriculture Secretary Lewis R. Riley said in a news release. The birds will be destroyed Sunday morning and their remains kept in the chicken houses where they are killed.

Officials said 210,000 chickens on a nearby farm under the same ownership also would be destroyed because of "shared personnel and equipment."

But they said they would keep under observation some week-old birds on a third property owned by the same farmer.

Also, the state agriculture department quarantined 71 farms in a six-mile radius of the farm where the case was found. There are approximately 1,100 poultry farms on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Poultry in Maryland accounted for $441 million of the state's $1.4 billion agriculture industry in 2002.

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Wild birds captured in bid to find flu source

KYOTO (Kyodo) The Environment Ministry and the Kyoto Prefectural Government started capturing wild birds Saturday in Tanba, Kyoto Prefecture, as part of efforts to determine the infection route of the bird flu outbreak.

A researcher examines a bird captured Saturday in a government effort to determine the infection route of bird flu in Japan.

The plan is to collect blood and droppings from the birds, including migratory fowl, for analysis at Tottori University, officials said. They will take about one week to finish collecting samples from the birds.

Meanwhile, prefectural officials said the local government is planning to bury more than 4,700 tons of material exposed to the bird flu virus, including 265,000 dead chickens and their droppings, at two farms in Tanba. [...]

Comment: We could spare the Japanese Environment Ministry the trouble. To map out the origin of the current outbreak of "avian flu" we suggest the researchers simply make a "beeline" for the Pentagon and follow their noses from there. See our Signs Flu Supplement for the scoop.

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Revealed: Shocking new evidence of the dangers of GM crops

Genetically modified strains have contaminated two-thirds of all crops in US

By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
The Independent
07 March 2004

More than two-thirds of conventional crops in the United States are now contaminated with genetically modified material - dooming organic agriculture and posing a severe future risk to health - a new report concludes.

The report - which comes as ministers are on the verge of approving the planting of Britain's first GM crop, maize - concludes that traditional varieties of seed are "pervasively contaminated" by genetically engineered DNA.

The US biotech industry says it is "not surprised" by the findings. [...]

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Air pollution bigger killer than road deaths

Air pollution was responsible for more deaths among Australians than road accidents, the nation's leading science body said today.

[...] "Each year, on average, 2,400 of the 140,000 Australian deaths are linked to air quality and health issues - much more than the 1,700 people who die on our roads.

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Household cleaners frail defence against germs

Antibacterial soaps, laundry detergents and other household cleaning products offer little protection against the most common germs, the first major test in people's homes has found.

[...] More than two-thirds of liquid soaps now found on the shelves of US stores contain antibacterial agents, making it a $US16 billion-a-year ($A20.7 billion) industry.

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Bam earthquake tops 2003 disasters

LONDON, March 5 (Iran Daily) -- Last December's devastating earthquake in the historic Iranian city of Bam was the world's worst disaster in 2003, according to the largest life and health reinsurer Swiss Re, quoted IRNA.

The more than 41,000 people killed in Bam accounted for more than two-thirds of the 60,000 deaths from 380 manmade and natural catastrophes recorded last year.

The total damage caused by disasters was estimated at about $70 billion, while only $18.5 billion, mostly in the US, was insured, Zurichbased Swiss Re said in its annual study.

The 20 deadliest disasters all occurred in developing countries. The second worst was the earthquake in Bormerdes, Algeria, which killed over 2,000 people. [...]

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Kilauea Volcano (Hawaii)

19.425 N, 155.292 W, summit elevation 1222 m, Shield volcano
Sunday 7th March, 2004

High level of volcanic activity continues at Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii. On Wednesday 3rd March, the south wall of Pu`u `O`o crater partly collapsed, and fell into the crater. The crater is full of incandescent vents. A 3km long lava flow moved south of Pu`u `O`o crater reached 2150-foot elevation, and there are many areas of lava breakouts. The lava flows are in a remote part of the east rift zone, difficult to reach by foot, but are more easily observed from the air. The current lava flow is the furtherest from the vent since last October.

Thousands Stranded After South Korean Snowstorm

Sat Mar 6, 7:25 AM ET

SEOUL (Reuters) - Helicopters dropped food and fuel supplies to thousands of drivers marooned on highways across South Korea, officials said on Saturday, after the worst March snowfall in a century blanketed the country's central region.

About 4,000 passengers that had been stranded on highways were released late in the afternoon, after struggling in snow for more than a day, as frozen roads were cleaned and traffic returned to normal, the Korea Highway Corporation said. [...]

A heavy snow storm that began late on Thursday dumped the largest March snowfall in 100 years on the central region of South Korea, forcing schools to close and bringing traffic to a standstill.

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Eleven die in severe weather in Turkey

Sunday March 7, 01:06 PM

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - One person has been killed in a landslide in eastern Turkey, bringing the death toll to at least 11 as extreme weather has gripped much of the country.

The landslide in Artvin province on Sunday was the latest natural disaster at the weekend in Turkey, which has been battered by powerful storms that have also unleashed floods and avalanches. [...]

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High winds topple tractor-trailers, trees (Colorado)

High winds along the Front Range, clocked up to 100 miles per hour, knocked over several semi trucks Saturday and closed C-470 at Interstate 70 for more than an hour. [...]

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1 Killed, 3 Presumed Dead in Baltimore Harbor Accident

Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE — A fierce gust of wind flipped a water taxi with 25 people aboard in Baltimore's Inner Harbor on Saturday, leaving one dead and three presumed drowned. [...]

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On the brink of immortality or the musings of madmen?

March 7, 2004

Forget the Botox and the knife, science is daring to think the unthinkable. Humans could be forever young, Danielle Teutsch reports.

As Sydney plays host to one of the biggest conferences yet on ageing, a small group of maverick scientists on the cutting edge of anti-ageing research are daring to do the impossible: dream of a time when our bodies can be forever young.

In what amounts to scientific heresy, this group is convinced that ageing can not only be slowed down, it can be stopped - or even reversed.

While they stop short at claiming they can defeat death, they believe there is no fixed upper limit to longevity either.

Dr Michael Fossel, the editor of the Journal Of Anti-Ageing Medicine and clinical professor of medicine at Michigan State University, considers that anti-ageing science is at the same point we were at 130 years ago, before the discovery of microbial disease.[...]

His evangelical zeal is shared by Dr Leonid Gavrilov, from the Centre on Ageing at the University of Chicago, who scoffs at such a notion as a finite life span.

"There's no biological time bomb inside us," he said. "Ageing is due to progressive accumulation of random damage, that can be modulated by simple intervention." [...]

Other anti-ageing gurus say the answer lies with injections of the hormones DHEA and testosterone, nutritional supplements, anti-oxidants, replacing worn out organs with new ones using our own stem cells, or genetic engineering. [...]

But there are plenty of sceptics at the conference ready to cut down these theories. [...]

Australian biologist Dr Robin Holliday is even more blunt about the prospect of stopping the juggernaut of old age.

"Pigs might fly," he said.

"Ageing is multi-causal. It's built into our bodies. Things eventually go wrong. The brain has very limited capacity for repair. So has the heart. There's damage to DNA, proteins, membranes . . . it's a tall order to stop all that [being damaged]."

And then there's the question of whether we do actually want to live longer.

There's also the danger that science could succeed in keeping our bodies alive well beyond 100 years, without ensuring that degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer's are halted as well. Who wants to have the heart of a 30-year-old, but no mental capacity?

"We should probably focus on how to get the maximum out of the years of life that are there for us," Andrews said.

Comment: We agree wholeheartedly with Mr Andrews. Life is about quality not quantity. The quality of your ability to See the truth of our reality.

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The Discovery of Rapid Climate Change

Physics Today

[...] Nevertheless, experts were scarcely prepared for the shock that came from the Greenland ice plateau in 1993. Plans had been laid to drill at the summit of the ice cap, where irregularities due to the deep flow of ice would have been minimal. Early hopes for a new cooperative program joining Americans and Europeans broke down and each team drilled its own hole, some 3 km deep. Competition was transmuted into cooperation by a decision to put the two boreholes just far enough apart (30 km) so that anything that showed up in both cores must represent a real climate effect, not an artifact due to bedrock conditions. The match turned out to be remarkably exact for most of the way down. The comparison between cores showed convincingly that climate could change more rapidly than almost any scientist had imagined. Swings of temperature that were believed in the 1950s to take tens of thousands of years, in the 1970s to take thousands of years, and in the 1980s to take hundreds of years, were now found to take only decades. Greenland had sometimes warmed a shocking 7°C within a span of less than 50 years. More recent studies have reported that, during the Younger Dryas transition, drastic shifts in the entire North Atlantic climate could be seen within five snow layers, that is, as little as five years!

Studies of pollen and other indicators--at locations ranging from Ohio to Japan to Tierra del Fuego, and dated with greatly improved radiocarbon techniques--suggested that the Younger Dryas event affected climates around the world. The extent of the climate variations was controversial (and to some extent remains so). Likewise uncertain was whether such variations could occur not only in glacial times, but also in warm periods like the present. Computer modelers, now fully alerted to the delicate balance of salinity and temperature that drove the North Atlantic circulation, found that global warming might bring future changes in precipitation that could shut down the current heat transport. The 2001 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, pronouncing the official consensus of the world's governments and their climate experts, reported that a shutdown in the coming century was "unlikely" but "cannot be ruled out." If such a shutdown did occur, it would change climates all around the North Atlantic--a dangerous cooling brought on by global warming.

Now that the ice had been broken, so to speak, most experts were prepared to consider that rapid climate change--huge and global change--could come at any time. "The abrupt changes of the past are not fully explained yet," wrote the NAS committee in its 2002 report, "and climate models typically underestimate the size, speed, and extent of those changes. Hence, . . . climate surprises are to be expected." Despite the profound implications of this new viewpoint, hardly anyone rose to dispute it.

Although people did not deny the facts head-on, many denied them more subtly by failing to revise their accustomed ways of thinking. "Geoscientists are just beginning to accept and adapt to the new paradigm of highly variable climate systems," wrote the NAS committee. And beyond geoscientists, "this new paradigm has not yet penetrated the impacts community"--the economists and other specialists who try to calculate the consequences of climate change. Policymakers and the public lagged even farther behind in grasping what the new scientific view could mean. As a geologist once remarked, "To imagine that turmoil is in the past and somehow we are now in a more stable time seems to be a psychological need."

A gradual discovery process

How abrupt was the discovery of abrupt climate change? Many climate experts would put their finger on one moment: the day they read the 1993 report of the analysis of Greenland ice cores. Before that, almost nobody confidently believed that the climate could change massively within a decade or two; after the report, almost nobody felt sure that it could not. So wasn't the preceding half-century of research a waste of effort? If only scientists had enough foresight, couldn't they have waited until they were able to get good ice cores and settle the matter once and for all with a single unimpeachable study?

The actual history shows that even the best scientific data are never that definitive. People can see only what they find believable. Over the decades, many scientists who looked at tree rings, varves, ice layers, and such had held evidence of decade-scale climate shifts before their eyes. They easily dismissed it. There were plausible reasons to dismiss global calamity as nothing but a crackpot fantasy. Sometimes the scientists' assumptions were actually built into their procedures: When pollen specialists routinely analyzed their clay cores in 10-cm slices, they could not possibly see changes that took place within a centimeter's worth of layers. If the conventional beliefs had been the same in 1993 as in 1953--that significant climate change always takes many thousands of years--the short-term fluctuations in ice cores would have been passed over as meaningless noise.

First, scientists had to convince themselves, by shuttling back and forth between historical data and studies of possible mechanisms, that rapid shifts made sense, with the meaning of "rapid" gradually changing from millennia to centuries to decades. Without that gradual shift of understanding, the Greenland cores would never have been drilled. The funds required for those heroic projects became available only after scientists reported that climate could change in damaging ways on a time scale meaningful to governments. In an area as difficult as climate science, in which all is complex and befogged, it takes a while to see what one is not prepared to look for. 

Comment: A long article, but an interesting summary of climate research. It shows how assumption is accepted as scientific fact, and how important evidence is often either not recognized or discarded if it does not fit with current paradigms. Wishful thinking does not make reality go away, and anticipating particular results leads toward ignorance.

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Strange Auroras in Sweden

Comment: The text is Swedish, so we wrote a friend in Sweden about this phenomena. (Note: There are more pictures at the above link). He writes:

According to the text it's a combination of three factors: 1) it needs to be really cold 2) no wind 3) there are ice crystals in the air. The ice crystals will align in such a way that light is dispersed mostly vertically. The columns (technical term is "vertical pillar", roughly translated) can be up to 100m, depending on the wind (more wind=less crystal alignment->lower columns).

It appears to be fairly common. They note that such columns are often mistaken for UFO phenomena. FYI, is a "everything is alright" kind of organization, and Clas Svahn in particular is almost always used as expert in various media to explain why UFO phenomena aren't. Sometimes he's right, and sometimes his explanations requires quite some imagination.

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Astronomy Picture of the Day

Explanation: No one knows for sure what caused this signal. There is a slight possibility that it just might originate from an extraterrestrial intelligence..

Comment: Oh please.. more playing with the public from your "friends" at SETI and NASA.

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14-Year-Old Boys Allegedly Plotted To Kill Teacher

SAN DIEGO -- Two middle school students described by police as clean-cut 14-year-olds were arrested for allegedly plotting to kill a teacher who had flunked one of them.

Authorities said the plot was foiled Friday after a student at Palm Middle School in suburban Lemon Grove heard the teens boasting about their plans and told his parents.

"It was within a half-hour of happening," said sheriff's Lt. Dennis Ferons.

The boys were arrested at school and a .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol belonging to the father of one of them was found hidden in bushes on campus, police said. [...]

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Artificial exoskeleton aims takes the strain

05 March 04

A human exoskeleton, which could help soldiers and fire-fighters carry heavy loads, is about to take its first public steps.

Called the Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton, or BLEEX, it is part of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency venture designed to help foot soldiers carry heavier loads over even longer distances, by connecting robotic supports to their legs to reduce the load.

The Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton can be used to carry an extra 32 kilograms (Image: US Berkeley)

Besides helping soldiers, it could also assist medical personnel carrying wounded people from disaster areas, or fire fighters in hauling heavy equipment up countless flights of stairs.

A human "pilot" straps the exoskeleton's legs to their own and dons a large rucksack that contains the engine, control system and a space for the payload, says project leader Homayoon Kazerooni.

Although the device itself weighs a hefty 50 kilograms, the pilot should not notice this because the machine takes its own weight, with the control system ensuring that the centre of gravity is always within the pilot's footprint.

In addition to its own weight, it will carry a 32 kilogram payload within the backpack. To the pilot this would feel like they were carrying just 2 kilograms, says Kazerooni.

Later this year they will begin trying a new more compact engine that is more than twice as powerful and should make it possible to carry loads of nearly 60 kilograms. "If the payload goes even higher then the pilot takes the extra weight," he says. [...]

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Blunkett presses for curb on US porn

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, will urge America to crack down on internet pornography in talks in Washington tomorrow.

He said last week that governments had a "moral duty" to close down pornographic websites. [...]

Mrs Longhurst's MP, Martin Salter, the Labour member for Reading West, said: "The Home Secretary told us he would be putting it to the American administration that there is a moral interest as well as a political interest in taking action. [...]

Comment: The excuses are piling up for a controlled internet. We doubt that Blunkett or Bush are really interested in saving the world from perversion. Blunkett was suppossed to meet with Ashcroft over this issue, but Ashcroft is in the hospital.

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Fla. Condo Owners Spar Over Board Proposal

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Condominium owners upset over a proposal that would require them to purchase country club memberships got into blows with board members at a meeting Thursday night in Boca Raton. [...]

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Robbers end up with potato salad instead of cash
March 7, 2004

Two post-robbers in Germany already had their hands on the money - but ran off with only potato salad.

The two men walked into the post office on Hausdorffstrabe in Bonn's Kessenich district. They threatened staff with a weapon and demanded money, the Express newspaper reports.

After tying up the post workers, the robbers started stuffing money from the safe into a cloth bag they had brought along. But when one of the employees managed to free himself and set off an alarm, the two robbers panicked.

They ran off, grabbing a bag as they went.

But instead of the one stuffed with money, they took another one in which one of the post workers had brought his lunch - two helpings of potato salad.

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