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Monday, March 8, 2004

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Picture of the Day

Sunset, March 7, 2004
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Science is a funny thing. In her new article Jupiter, Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and the Return of the Mongols, Laura Knight-Jadczyk writes of the recently noted blue band around Jupiter:

This leads us to now consider just what might be causing the enormous blue band? I would like to draw the reader's attention to an excerpt from my article Picknett and Prince on the Cassiopaeans that may provide some necessary clues to answer this question:


Picknett and Prince: The [Cassiopaeans state that the] dominant gas in the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn is ammonia: Both are 99 per cent hydrogen and helium. Jupiter has a tiny amount (a fraction of one per cent) of ammonia.


Laura responds: P & P confidently state that the composition of both Saturn and Jupiter are "99 per cent hydrogen and helium."

First of all, when astronomers speak about the composition of the entire planet, they say "It is believed that ....", and then, sometimes they give the reasons why they believe so, and sometimes not. Second, composition of the entire planet is different from composition of the atmosphere. Third, composition of the upper regions of the atmosphere can be completely different than composition of the lower regions. Fourth, concerning "expert opinions" on the composition of planets, here is a selection; spin the bottle and pick one:

Opinion 1: Jupiter, on the other hand, may well be fluid throughout, although it could have a small solid core (say up to 15 times the mass of Earth!) of heavier elements such as iron and silicon extending out to perhaps 15% of its radius.
Opinion 2: 4% of the planet's mass is in a rocky inner core.
Opinion 3: The core of a planet is its central, spherical portion. It can be divided in two regions: the inner region is made of a mixture of nickel, iron, and sulphur, while the external portion is made of silicates. The composition of Jupiter's core resembles the composition of Earth as a whole.
Opinion 4: Jupiter has rapid rotation and a large metallic hydrogen core
Opinion 5: At the center of the planet may be a core of rocky material massing around 10 to 15 times that of Earth.
Opinion 6: It is believed that Jupiter has a small rocky core but is mostly a giant ball of liquid hydrogen and gases.
Opinion 7: According to a theory formulated in 1958, the interior of Jupiter includes a large core of metallic hydrogen.
Opinion 8: A strong concentration of mass is located in the center, or core; it is thought to be made up of rock and ice contain compounds of metals, oxygen, silicon, and heavy volatile elements.

Now that you have made a selection, you can write a book and declaim your "expert opinion" to be the only correct one as Picknett and Prince have done.

It seems that there are numerous scientific and scientifically-minded "experts" that are quite convinced that they have all the answers. Unfortunately, it seems that many of their answers are based on a severe lack of research. One might say that the various sciences in their generally accepted forms today are more religion than science. Indeed, if our world contained so many brilliant experts, one would think that incredible, earth-shaking discoveries would be the norm - yet that doesn't appear to be the case.

Throughout history, there have been quite a few great thinkers who contributed some profound ideas to various branches of science. Some were burned at the stake for their insights; others were simply shunned by their peers. There seems to be a tendency among scientists - and those who quote them - to want to toe the party line. Like religious fundamentalists, they simply want to recite the accepted verses from their chosen bible - and they want everyone else to do the same. Rocking the boat is considered professional suicide.

In a recent QFS discussion, Dr. Arkadiusz Jadczyk remarked:

First of all it should be noted that many really great contributions to science were considered as such only after the person died. Why? Because people were not yet ready to accept some revolutionary new truth. What is the conclusion? The conclusion is that any scientist, whatever age, may have contributed greatly to science, but science does not yet know about it, is not yet ready.

Now, what about Alex Mueller, who got the Nobel Prize in 1987 for discovering high-temperature superconductivity?

The 1987 Nobels: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize 4 Very Silly Experiment Bears Fruit

By SIMON ROMAN
The Scientist 1[25]:12, Nov. 16, 1987

A couple of years ago two eminent scientists performed an experiment.

Nothing unusual in that, you might think. Think again; when did the eminent scientists of your acquaintance last perform an experiment personally? Come to that, when did you?

These eccentrics proceeded in an odd way. They do not seem to have debated whether what they were proposing to do was respectable in Popperian terms, or only those of Feyerabend. No—they just did the experiment.

They cannot have spent hours in the library looking into established knowledge and theory, for any newly graduated chemist or materials scientist could have told them what to expect. No, they shunned the library, left the office, entered the laboratory and performed an experiment. A very silly experiment; an undergraduate could have told them that they were measuring the conductivity of an insulator or, at best, a semiconductor. Predictably, it gave a very silly result: signs of superconductivity in a ceramic at far too high a temperature. I refer, of course, to K. Alex Müller and J. George Bednorz, the winners of the 1987 Nobel Prize for Physics.

Their results show that we must scrap our theory of superconductivity and some of our theories of bonding in solids. They also call into question many of our assumptions about the structure of science.

One of these is that scientists sit in offices and libraries, thinking, while research students and technicians do the dirty work. Research students and technicians often lack the experience or understanding to see minor anomalies and intriguing effects when they meet them. And those who cannot see that which is worth finding are not very likely to find that which is worth seeking. Many promising leads probably go unobserved and unreported.

Very little important science ever came from offices, with the possible exception of the Swiss Patent Office. As for libraries, they are far from the womb of innovation, being, in fact, the tomb of dead ideas.

This discovery also came from Switzerland. There may well be cultural reasons for this. Certainly it could not have come from neighboring Austria. Think of a well-known Austrian scientist. Freud? There is little scientific about Freud. Lorenz? Yes, but his views are now discounted. Schröedinger? Yes, he appears on a current Austrian banknote—he of the omnipotent equation, he of the equation that suffers the slight defect that it is insoluble in almost all cases of material interest. That is office science, and the Austrians I know are convinced that scientists belong in offices, preferably in managerial roles, but certainly removed from messy experiment. [...]

So normality is to be restored. Is it? Do we understand the basic science of a wood fire? We have known the exploitation and technology for millennia, but our grasp of the basic chemistry of combustion is by no means complete. Hitherto humankind has always been wise enough to exploit effects it did not understand. That’s just as well, for the species would have died of thirst long before it had an adequate understanding of the liquid state. The IBM discovery resulted from what was in light of available understanding, a very foolish experiment. So it gives us cause to think that, despite Popper, we are not particularly likely to revolutionize our understanding by forming and testing hypotheses grounded in current theory. [...]

The ideas presented regarding mainstream sciences also apply to our individual self-research. When working on the self, it is not enough to read what someone else has done. It is not enough to process ideas on a strictly intellectual level. One must do. Naturally, there can be a preparatory period. The physicist, chemist, or biologist does not learn her trade overnight. Indeed, years of study and hard work are required. But at some point, the student must graduate. We must also graduate and individually begin our own (re)search.

The research may take many forms. Oftentimes, research is required to prepare a story or comment for the Signs page. Clues to understand what is occurring on the planet right now may be hidden in the past. In this sense, various types of libraries can be quite useful - but in the end, all sources must be verified. So, too, must we verify the sources of our individual internal programs. External data, experimentation, and comparison of results can be quite useful in such an endeavor. Ultimately, however, no one else can conduct the experiments for us. Social and cultural programming must be seen and neutralized. Fear of working against the grain of this reality must not stop us. The will to do and to continue doing in the face of all resistance must be cultivated.

If we only understand certain truths on an intellectual level, we will become a library: far from the womb of innovation; the tomb of ideas.

In the above article, Roman writes:

So normality is to be restored. Is it? Do we understand the basic science of a wood fire? We have known the exploitation and technology for millennia, but our grasp of the basic chemistry of combustion is by no means complete.

Similarly, it is quite clear that as a race, humans have been functioning machines for millennia. We are born, we live, we die. But can we say that we are truly conscious? It is apparent that we are all functional in a physical and mental sense - but are we fully conscious of what we are doing, and why? Are we at the helm, navigating our corporeal ships through the waters of reality? Or are we slumped over in the captain's chair, drunk as a skunk and entirely oblivious to the storm that rages and sloshes our boat this way and that? Perhaps it is this science of consciousness, this science of being, that must be researched. At the same time, we may discover something about external science

Whatever type of research we conduct, old ideas must be examined in a different light. There are plenty of religions and sciences for those who crave hierarchy, structure, and entropy. To create, to innovate, takes something completely new.

"[W]e are not particularly likely to revolutionize our understanding by forming and testing hypotheses grounded in current theory."

To network further in an open and honest environment on the issues pertaining to life and reality, inner and outer, and the perilous situation in which we find ourselves, you may sign up to yahoo and then subscribe to our discussion group, or post to our forum linked on the left bar of this page.

Scientist 'gagged' by No 10 after warning of global warming threat

By Steve Connor and Andrew Grice
08 March 2004

Downing Street tried to muzzle the Government's top scientific adviser after he warned that global warming was a more serious threat than international terrorism.

Ivan Rogers, Mr Blair's principal private secretary, told Sir David King, the Prime Minister's chief scientist, to limit his contact with the media after he made outspoken comments about President George Bush's policy on climate change.

In January, Sir David wrote a scathing article in the American journal Science attacking Washington for failing to take climate change seriously. "In my view, climate change is the most severe problem we are facing today, more serious even than the threat of terrorism," he wrote.

Support for Sir David's view came yesterday from Hans Blix, the former United Nations chief weapons inspector, who said the environment was at least as important a threat as global terrorism. He told BBC1's Breakfast with Frost: "I think we still overestimate the danger of terror. There are other things that are of equal, if not greater, magnitude, like the environmental global risks."

Since Sir David's article in Science was published, No 10 has tried to limit the damage to Anglo-American relations by reining in the Prime Minister's chief scientist.

In a leaked memo, Mr Rogers ordered Sir David - a Cambridge University chemist who offers independent advice to ministers - to decline any interview requests from British and American newspapers and BBC Radio 4's Today.

"To accept such bids runs the risk of turning the debate into a sterile argument about whether or not climate change is a greater risk," Mr Rogers said in the memo, which was sent to Sir David's office in February. "This sort of discussion does not help us achieve our wider policy aims ahead of our G8 presidency [next year]." The move will be seized on by critics of Mr Blair's stance over the Iraq war as further evidence that he is too subservient to the Bush administration. It will also be seen as an attempt to bolster the Prime Minister's case for pre-emptive strikes to combat the threat of international terrorism, which he outlined in a speech on Friday.

Comment: First the secret Pentagon report on global climate change, now the PM's science advisor. Hmmm... Think someone is trying to tell us something?

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Federal secrecy law mums officials for life

Canadian Press

Ottawa — Thousands of Canadians involved in the hunt for terrorists and spies will be forbidden from ever discussing sensitive aspects of their work under a new federal secrecy law.

The government expects between 5,000 and 6,000 current and former security and intelligence officials to be designated as persons “permanently bound to secrecy,” internal memos obtained by The Canadian Press reveal.

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Cost of election expected to break record

As John Kerry's campaign prepares for a 20-state fund-raising drive and George W. Bush continues to add to his $150m-plus budget, the 2004 presidential race is set to funnel more money into fewer hands than any contest in US election history.

Rampant inflation has become a fact of American political life, but the early forecasts suggest this contest will break previous financial records.

"You could well have $1bn spent on this presidential election," said Thomas Mann, political analyst at the Brookings Institution and a prolific writer on campaign finance.

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RNC tells TV stations not to run anti-Bush ads

Saturday, March 6, 2004 Posted: 8:53 PM EST (0153 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Republican National Committee is warning television stations across the country not to run ads from the MoveOn.org Voter Fund that criticize President Bush, charging that the left-leaning political group is paying for them with money raised in violation of the new campaign-finance law.

"As a broadcaster licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, you have a responsibility to the viewing public, and to your licensing agency, to refrain from complicity in any illegal activity," said the RNC's chief counsel, Jill Holtzman Vogel, in a letter sent to about 250 stations Friday.

"Now that you have been apprised of the law, to prevent further violations of federal law, we urge you to remove these advertisements from your station's broadcast rotation."

But MoveOn.org's lawyer, Joseph Sandler, said in a statement that the ads were funded legally, calling the RNC's letter "a complete misrepresentation of the law."

"The federal campaign laws have permitted precisely this use of money for advertising for the past 25 years," he said. [...]

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Kerry is everything George Bush is not

By ERIC MARGOLIS

MINNEAPOLIS -- Struggling to find the worst thing he could say about Sen. John Kerry, a senior member of the Bush administration proclaimed last year, "He looks so ... so ... French!"

By "French," the Bushite must have meant well educated, articulate, dignified, sophisticated, worldly - everything President George W. Bush, who likes to play tough Texas Ranger, is not.

However, being educated and sophisticated is not a political asset in America's heartland - parts of the midwest, mountain states, and south, where Bush is often venerated with the kind of mindless adulation North Koreans shower on their "Beloved Leader," Kim Jong-il.

The United States is unique among advanced nations in demanding wealthy career politicians running for high office pretend they are simple working-class fellows who drink beer and bowl.

Members of the Soviet ruling elite, who secretly lived like Turkish pashas, used to also claim they were simple factory workers fulfilling their civic duty to the Motherland.

Last week's "Super Tuesday" primaries here in Minnesota and nine other states, confirmed that this fall, the "Frenchman" will be the Democratic party candidate to oppose Bush, of Crawford, Texas.

From Buenos Aires to Beijing, people are asking, if Kerry were to win election, how would his foreign policies differ from that of the Bush administration, which, Kerry charges, "has run the most inept, reckless, arrogant and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of our country"?

Kerry is absolutely right. Remember, when Bush was running for president, he promised a "humble" foreign policy that would be "low-key" and avoid foreign entanglements. At the time, Bush showed himself shockingly ignorant of foreign affairs, and did not even know the name of Pakistan's leader.

But once in office, the Bush administration, even before 9/11, embarked on plans to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. It adopted a confrontational policy with Europe, a major arms buildup, and threw U.S. support behind Israel's right-wing leader, Ariel Sharon. [...]

But Bush's heartland supporters couldn't care less about the rest of the world. To them, Bush is waging a holy war against Islamic terrorism, protecting civilization, and cutting taxes. They thrill to his flag-waving and ersatz patriotism.

Bush fans want a Texas Ranger as commander-in-chief, not a stuffy suit from Boston who doesn't even chew gum. That Kerry was a decorated veteran while Bush avoided service in Vietnam seems not to matter.

Besides, Kerry looks French.

Comment: Even if Kerry does end up in the White House, who's to say that he won't change his tune on foreign policy just like Bush?

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Blair made political decisions based on new age reading of a hidden force called 'The Light'

London Times
March 8 2004

[...] Foster also claims Blair phoned Caplin on returning from a visit to George W Bush in April 2002. "She told me Tony said that war against Iraq was inevitable."

In the article in Vanity Fair, Foster claims that when Blair has had clashes with Gordon Brown he has sought advice from Caplin, who got her mother Sylvia to do a new age "reading" involving a hidden force called The Light.

Foster said: "Tony would call and Carole would say, 'I'll ask mum to channel on this and ring you back.' Then she'd call back and say, 'You must not confront him on this. Now isn't the right time'.", [...]

Comment: Well, Reports of Blair's strange affiliations have appeared in the press before. The December 29, 2002 edition of the Observer published the article, Popping the questions: Love, lies, war and corruption... do you really know what went on in 2002? They mentioned strange affiliations of several politicians, including this one about Blair:

With Christmas over many readers will be planning to imitate the Blairs by visiting the fake Aztec pyramid in the grounds of the Mamora Hotel on Mexico's Caribbean coast. After you and your companion have stripped down to your swimming costumes and gazed on the shapes of phantom animals in the steam, what should you smear each other with before emitting a primal scream of psychic rebirth?

The major media slips in an item or two every now and then about some political figure and their beliefs, and then the topic is silenced. See the The Stargate Conspiracy about the followers of The Nine, and on Saturday's Signs we mentioned the powerful Washington lobby group, who want to apply "The Hitler Principle for Christ". Meanwhile, those without power can be given the cultic label, justified or not, and it can mean a death sentence. We live in a very strange world.

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Voodoo spirits get credit for Aristide's flight

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide did not flee Haiti because he lost his nerve . Neither did the United States blackmail him. No, the most satisfying explanation for the country's recent upheavals is that the spirits were offended and taking their revenge. [...]

Comment: Little difference in believing Voodoo spirits than believing that a small band of Islamic terrorists hijacked planes and flew them into the WTC, or believing in rebirthing rituals in Mexico.

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Witchcraft, Capitalism Hit Mexican Town

By JO TUCKMAN
Associated Press

CATEMACO, Mexico _ The witchcraft business is thriving like never before in this town in southeastern Mexico, as Internet marketing and media-savvy shamans hitch centuries-old tradition to modern commercialism.

As the traditional March witching season beings, visitors from across the country are descending on Catemaco to find "brujos" (witches) to help them secure lovers, bring down enemies and even cement pacts with the devil.

The first Friday in March marks the most potent day of the year for performing black and white magic. Though the reasoning is a little fuzzy, the date may be related to the arrival of spring, said anthropologist Felix Baez. [...]

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On this day in 1980

50,000 Brazilians held an all night vigil and prepared a mammoth reception for a UFO landing from Jupiter. A rancher in the area had announced on national television that the spaceship was scheduled for 5:20 Saturday evening. 4,000 cars, buses and trucks from several Brazilian states came. An encyclopedia "featuring the most complete information about our planet" was to be given to the Jovians as a welcome present. When the Jovians failed to show a massive traffic jam ensued. [Source: Sunbonnet Soliloquy, By Jewell Ellen Smith]

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U.S. job creation weaker than expected

Last Updated Fri, 05 Mar 2004 12:58:31

WASHINGTON - Only 21,000 new jobs were added to the U.S. economy last month, far short of the 130,000 forecast by economists.

The U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged from January at 5.6 per cent as roughly 392,000 civilians quit looking for work last month. An estimated 8.2 million Americans were out of work last month.

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Buffet warns on dollar and greed

By Michael Harrison, Business Editor
The Independent
08 March 2004

Warren Buffett, the American investment guru and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, has issued a fresh warning over the way the US is deluging the world with dollars to fund its huge trade deficit.

In his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, the world's second wealthiest man says the consequences of this could be "troublesome", reaching far beyond the currency markets. He also discloses that Berkshire is loading up with foreign currency to offset its exposure to the dollar. [...]

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Brazil: The new breadbasket

Kevin Diaz
Star Tribune Washington Bureau Correspondent
March 7, 2004


CUIABA, BRAZIL -- The road to the future breadbasket of the world does not go through America's heartland.

It's being paved instead through the heartland of Brazil's Mato Grosso state, where vast stretches of new farmland can be had for $150 an acre, and good farmhands like Noel Garcia de Farias are happy to make $1 an hour.

The road -- Hwy. 163 -- meanders about 1,200 miles north to the Amazon River port of Santarem, where Minnesota-based Cargill opened a new export terminal last April. The highway is mostly dirt, but the Brazilian government, looking to cut transportation costs, is racing to pave the whole route.

To some American farmers, it looks like a race to the bottom.

Brazil, long a leading exporter of sugar, citrus and coffee, is emerging as the world's leading low-cost producer of major farm commodities once hardly associated with the tropics. Now, it is threatening the United States' standing as the world's farming superpower, a development that could have profound consequences for rural America.

Brazil has the world's largest commercial cattle herd and is closing the gap with the United States in corn production. But a more dramatic milestone has all of farm country buzzing: Brazil's exports of soybeans -- the world's most important source of vegetable protein -- have now surpassed those of the United States.

More ominous, Brazil is expected to convert another 50 million acres to crops in the next 10 years. That's an area the size of Minnesota, and most of it will be new soybeans.

"Their potential for growth scares me," said Ron Obermoller, a Minnesota corn and soybean grower who toured Brazil in January.

Occupying almost half of South America, Brazil still has at its disposal unused cropland of scrub grass and rainforest larger than the U.S. acreage of corn, soybeans, wheat and feed grains combined. [...]

But for now, the only thing slowing down Brazil's expansion in farming is its vast size and poor transportation infrastructure. And that disadvantage is gradually disappearing under the fresh asphalt on Hwy. 163.

The alarm is being sounded not only by farmers, but by economists and policymakers who recognize the importance of the U.S. farm economy to the nation as a whole. [...]

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Military Spending at Reagan-Era Levels

By Bradley Graham
The Washington Post
Published on: 03/07/04

WASHINGTON -- A sharp jump in military spending under President Bush has lifted defense budgets to levels not seen since the height of the Reagan buildup of the early 1980s, prompting warnings by lawmakers and defense analysts that the surge may no longer be sustainable in a time of deepening deficits.

The military bills, which are approaching $500 billion a year, reflect an exceptional confluence of events, as the Pentagon attempts to cover the costs of stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan while pursuing an array of new weaponry, exploring revolutionary technologies and caring for an all-volunteer military.

In a sign of mounting pressure to constrain the Pentagon's purse, the Senate Budget Committee voted last week to trim $7 billion from Bush's defense request. Defense hawks vowed to restore the money and to block a similar cost-cutting move expected in the House.

The looming political battle bore a striking parallel with conditions 19 years ago when congressional alarm over a plunging federal deficit led to the end of President Ronald Reagan's defense buildup.

"This feels to me the way it did back in 1985," said John Hamre, a former deputy defense secretary and comptroller under President Bill Clinton and now president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "I believe the tide has begun to turn. These deficit and defense budget numbers are so shockingly big now that, politically, they're untenable." [...]

Comment: The numbers are only untenable if there isn't another terrorist attack on US soil, and if Bush doesn't steal the 2004 election like he did in 2000. If there is another attack - or perhaps some other catastrophic event that is spun into a terrorist attack to conceal its true nature - then Bush gets his war and his second term in the White House.

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Homeland Security's Smar Truck lll

REUTERS

The Army's new Smar Truck lll concept, designed for America's homeland security, or for use in a war zone...

[T]he vehicle showcases the latest in armor protection, and detection and deterrent capabilities. Smar Truck lll is equipped with a weapons station module featuring a remote controlled .50-caliber machine gun which rises from the back of the vehicle and has sniper-detection directional sound capabilities.

Comment: Just exactly what is Homeland Security expecting? They must think they will have use for this truck against American citizens in the future.

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Israel promises more attacks on Gaza

Monday 08 March 2004, 12:28 Makka Time, 9:28 GMT

Israeli deputy defence minister Zeev Boim said the army will continue its lethal raids into the Gaza Strip.

Speaking on public radio on Monday, Boim's comment came less than 24 hours after Israeli soldiers forced their way into two Palestinian refugee camps, killing 15 and wounding over 80.

"For months, we have been facing a situation where we have an average of 50 alerts a day on attacks planned by armed Palestinian groups, and the only way to foil them is to continue operations."

"This operation left 15 Palestinians dead … including four teenagers who were not so innocent since they had responded to the call from the mosques to support the terrorists," he added.

Israeli army chief Moshe Yaalon claimed in the Israeli press that the civilians killed in the operation were hit by Palestinian bullets.

Comment: It is hard to come to grips with the insanity of the Israeli military and government, claiming the Palestinians shot their own and that unarmed teenagers "were not so innocent." How can newspapers let this stuff get printed without commenting on it? Elsewhere on today's page, we see that Tony Blair was getting his advice from a channeler and participated in an Aztec "rebirthing" ceremony. Bush thinks God talks to him and is awaiting the return of the man Mel Gibson just nailed to the cross for the edification of millions of moviegoers.

Our world is in the hands of the insane.

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UPDATE: 300 help erase swastikas at synagogue

By George Merritt
Denver Post Staff Writer

What might have been a lasting symbol of hate was washed away Sunday as a crowd of about 300 gathered to erase anti-Semitic graffiti at a Denver synagogue.

Such a throng showed up at BMH-BJ Congregation, where vandalism was discovered Saturday, that people had to stand in line for a turn at a brush or a can of paint thinner.

"This is a place for everyone," Gunnery Sgt. Doug Mix said.

Mix is not a member of BMH-BJ Congregation, but he and many others joined the synagogue-goers to scrub away symbols universally linked with evil.

"That is why everyone is here. There are Christians, Jews, Muslims and people who are not religious. We all came out here because America is still America, and we don't tolerate this," Mix said.

The swastikas were gone in minutes.

But even on a day of unity, many could not ignore that the markings came as "The Passion of the Christ" completed its second weekend as the No. 1 movie in the country. Many at the synagogue said the movie is anti-Semitic. [...]

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US blocks Guantanamo Brits release

Monday 08 March 2004, 8:26 Makka Time, 5:26 GMT

US authorities believe some British prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba are too dangerous to free. According to Britain's Daily Telegraph on Monday, four detainees will not be released - though no specific charges have been made against them.

Martin Mubanga, Richard Belmar, Feroz Abbasi and Moazzam Begg cannot expect a hearing or release any time soon.

Azmat Beg, the father of detainee Moazzam Beg, called indefinite detention unjust and said said he was "shocked" that the fate of his son and hundreds of others was unclear after two years.

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Cuba? It was great, say boys freed from US prison camp

Asadullah strives to make his point, switching to English lest there be any mistaking him. "I am lucky I went there, and now I miss it. Cuba was great," said the 14-year-old, knotting his brow in the effort to make sure he is understood.

Not that Asadullah saw much of the Caribbean island. During his 14-month stay, he went to the beach only a couple of times - a shame, as he loved to snorkel. And though he learned a few words of Spanish, Asadullah had zero contact with the locals.

He spent a typical day watching movies, going to class and playing football. He was fascinated to learn about the solar system, and now enjoys reciting the names of the planets, starting with Earth. Less diverting were the twice-monthly interrogations about his knowledge of al-Qaida and the Taliban. But, as Asadullah's answer was always the same - "I don't know anything about these people" - these sessions were merely a bore: an inevitably tedious consequence, Asadullah suggests with a shrug, of being held captive in Guantanamo Bay.

On January 29, Asadullah and two other juvenile prisoners were returned home to Afghanistan. The three boys are not sure of their ages. But, according to the estimate of the Red Cross, Asadullah is the youngest, aged 12 at the time of his arrest. The second youngest, Naqibullah, was arrested with him, aged perhaps 13, while the third boy, Mohammed Ismail, was a child at the time of his separate arrest, but probably isn't now. [...]

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US forces accused of looting, torture and death in Afghanistan

By Kim Sengupta
08 March 2004

American forces in Afghanistan have been accused of flouting international law with arbitrary arrests, torture and killing of prisoners in a report by a civil rights watchdog.

Soldiers are accused of using unprovoked deadly force in capturing civilians, some of whom were then allegedly subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment leading to deaths in custody. It is also alleged that looting has taken place during searches of homes.

The report, by Human Rights Watch, says the situation at Guantanamo Bay is being replicated many times in Afghanistan, with detainees being held in even worse conditions at the military bases of Bagram, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Asadabad.

At least three prisoners are known to have died during interrogation, with two of the deaths being ruled homicide by American military pathologists after post-mortem examinations. US officials have refused to explain what happened in any of the cases.

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For More Afghan Women, Immolation Is Escape

By CARLOTTA GALL
The New York Times
Published: March 8, 2004

ALALABAD, Afghanistan — Waiflike, draped in a pale blue veil, Madina, 20, sits on her hospital bed, bandages covering the terrible, raw burns on her neck and chest. Her hands tremble. She picks nervously at the soles of her feet and confesses that three months earlier she set herself on fire with kerosene.

Beside her, on the next bed, her mother-in-law, Bibi Khanum, and her brother-in-law, Abdul Muhammad, 18, confirm her account but deny her reason, which Madina would explain only outside on a terrace, away from her husband's family. "All the time they beat me," she said. "They broke my arm. But what should I do? This was my home."

Accounts like Madina's are repeated across Afghanistan, doctors and human rights workers say. They are discovering more and more young women who have set themselves on fire, desperate to escape the cruelties of family life and harsh tribal traditions that show no sign of changing despite the end of Taliban rule and the dawn of democracy. [...]

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Iraq was free of weapons

Beirut, Lebanon - The father of Iraq's nuclear bomb programme, speaking publicly for the first time since US forces occupied Baghdad, called for a UN probe of what nuclear inspectors knew before the US-led invasion of Iraq on Monday and denied Saddam Hussein had tried to restart his atomic programme.

Jafar Dhia Jafar, speaking during a discussion about the repercussions of the occupation of Iraq organised by the Beirut-based Centre for Arab Unity Studies, said UN inspectors had "reached total conviction" that Iraq was free of nuclear weapons before the US-led invasion of Iraq.

"It was clear that reports of the United Nations to the Security Council should have been clear and courageous," Jafar said.

"I believe the United Nations should also investigate the facts that were known before the war and why they (nuclear inspectors) did not declare them to the security council." [...]

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Iraqi leaders sign constitution: Insurgents attack Baghdad targets shortly before ceremony

HAMZA HENDAWI
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Mar. 8, 2004. 06:46 AM

BAGHDAD - Members of Iraq's Governing Council signed a landmark interim constitution today after resolving a political impasse sparked by objections from the country's most powerful cleric. The signing was a key step in U.S. plans to hand over power to the Iraqis by July 1.

Before an audience of prominent Iraqi and American civilian and military officials, including the top administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, the 25 council members signed the document on an antique desk once owned by King Faisal I, Iraq's first monarch.

Council president Mohammed Bahr al-Ulloum called the signing a ``historic moment, decisive in the history of Iraq."

"There is no doubt that this document will strengthen Iraqi unity in a way never seen before," said Massoud Barzani, a Kurdish leader on the council.

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Rocket fire hits hotel in US-led coalition Baghdad compound, injuring one

Sun Mar 7, 5:23 PM ET

BAGHDAD (AFP) - At least five rockets hit a landmark Baghdad hotel inside the grounds of the US-led coalition headquarters, lightly wounding a private security firm employee, a US military spokesman said. [...]

The spokesman said between six-to-eight rockets had been fired in the sneak attack on the Al-Rashid Hotel, a former playpen of the old regime now used by the US-led coalition.

Earlier US Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt told AFP that an insurgent had pulled up in an orange and white Toyota offroad vehicle, parked 400 metres (a quarter of a mile) northwest of the Rashid Hotel and fired off seven rockets at 7:25 pm (1625 GMT). [...]

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Kuwaiti armed forces launch largest exercises since Gulf War

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Four British Guantanamo prisoners too dangerous to free

Mon Mar 8, 1:13 AM ET

LONDON (AFP) - US authorities believe four British prisoners being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba are too dangerous to free, ahead of the expected release of five other prisoners this week.

The Daily Telegraph report Monday comes as British Home Secretary David Blunkett heads to the United States, where he will finalize arrangements for the release of the five from the prison at the US naval base and seek fair treatment for the remaining four British detainees. [...]

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President Chavez warns United States against invading Venezuela

05:33 AM EST Mar 08
ALICE CHACON

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - President Hugo Chavez on Sunday vowed to freeze oil exports to the United States and wage a "100-year war" if Washington ever tried to invade Venezuela.

The United States has repeatedly denied ever trying to overthrow Chavez, but the leftist leader accuses Washington of being behind a failed 2002 coup and of funding opposition groups seeking a recall referendum on his presidency.

Chavez accused the United States of ousting former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and warned Washington not to "even think about trying something similar in Venezuela.

[...] Venezuela provides about 15 per cent of U.S. oil imports, but relations between the two countries are rocky over Chavez's friendship with Cuban President Fidel Castro, his criticism of U.S.-led negotiations for a free trade zone in the Americas and his opposition to the war in Iraq.

The United States was slow to condemn the 2002 coup, initially accusing Chavez of provoking his own downfall.

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Aristide calls on Haitians to resist "unacceptable occupation"

www.chinaview.cn 2004-03-08 18:27:50

PARIS, March 8 (Xinhuanet) -- Ousted Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide called on Haitians to peacefully resist the "unacceptable occupation" of his country in an interview broadcast by French radio RTL on Monday.

"The Haitian people resist and must continue to finalize a peaceful resistance to face down this unacceptable occupation thatfollows this political kidnapping which is also unacceptable," said Aristide, who flew into exile on March 1 in the Central African Republic.

"We are trying to see how we (carry on) resistance," he said. "Resistance is not the affair of just one individual...It is the affair of all those who believe in the values we all defend."

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Six killed, 34 wounded in Haiti violence

March 8, 2004

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) - Gunmen opened fire on an opposition rally in Haiti, killing at least six people, including a journalist, and wounding 34 more as Haitians awaited the naming of a new government.

US and French forces helping police with security during Sunday's demonstration moved onto the lawn of the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince.

"The Haitian National Police, as well as French forces and US marines, responded to gunshots by sending a quick reaction force," said Staff Sergeant Timothy Edwards, a US military spokesman.

Gunshots were heard at the square and appeared to come from within the crowd, while gunmen opened fire on protesters and journalists a few hundred meters (yards) away. An angry crowd forced a group of police officers to fire back. [...]

Rebel leader Guy Philippe said he is ready to take up arms again following the violence.

Philippe told local Radio Vision 2000 he would be "obliged very soon to order the troops to take up the arms they laid down" under US pressure.

The insurgent went to talk with some of the wounded at the Canape Vert hospital, where angry Haitians yelled at US and French soldiers who guarded the entrance, asking to know why they had failed to intervene to prevent the violence. [...]

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The ouster of democracy: In Haiti, Washington confirmed a foreign policy that is driven by self-interest and delivered through force

Gary Younge
Monday March 8, 2004
The Guardian

[...] Whoever the US came into protect, it was not the Haitian people. Even as they were advising people to stay out of the country because it was not safe they were sending Haitian boat people, fleeing the crisis, back home.

You do not have to be an apologist for Aristide or an anti-American conspiracy theorist to grasp this. Just follow the quotes from the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, over the past month and the policy shifts are clear. On February 12, Powell told the Senate foreign relations committee: "The policy of the administration is not regime change [this will come as news to the Iraqis], President Aristide is the elected president of Haiti."

On February 17, he said. "We cannot buy into a proposition that says the elected president must be forced out of office by thugs and those who do not respect law and are bringing terrible violence to the Haitian people." By February 26, after a week of shopping around, he decided to buy into it after all. "[Aristide] is the democratically elected president, but he has had difficulties in his presidency, and I think ... whether or not he is able to effectively continue as president is something that he will have to examine." A day later he was selling it, arguing that Aristide, having "the interests of the Haitian people at heart", should "examine the situation he is in and make a careful examination of how best to serve the Haitian people at this time".

Just 48 hours later, after the coup, he was asking the rest of the world to wear it. He explained why the US had not been prepared to go into Haiti and support "an individual who may have been elected democratically but was not governing effectively or democratically". Were it not for the fact that Aristide has at least won a couple of elections, Powell could have been talking about President Bush.

Powell argued that Aristide, who had presented his resignation letter not to his constitutional successor but to the US government, had done the appropriate, wise and patriotic thing by resigning. The crucial factor that turned the rebels from "thugs" to a government in waiting in Powell's rhetoric was that they took over the second city, Cap Haitien. Once the US sensed that the side they wanted to win could win, they simply switched sides.

The principal message to the Haitian people from Aristide's ouster is that force works. If you do not like the elected leader of the country, start a rebellion and refuse to negotiate. If it is strong enough, and its politics amenable enough, the Americans will come and finish the job for you. With 33 coups in 200 years, this was a message the Haitian people did not need.

Two key lessons emerge from this, which go beyond Haiti. The first is that military force is not just the most important element in US foreign policy, it is the beginning and the end of that policy. For the past 10 years, since the US restored Aristide to power, it could have trained the Haitian police and judiciary, invested in projects that shore up civil society and help create a democratic culture, increased aid and encouraged fair trade - all of which would have given Haiti a fighting chance of building a sustainable democracy. Instead, it imposed conditions by the IMF and the World Bank, followed it up with an embargo on the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and when none of that worked, sent in the marines against a nation with no army.

The second is that the US supports democracy when democracy supports the US. When it is inconvenient, as in Aristide's case, Washington will turn its back on it in a heartbeat. Faced with a clear choice of either sending the marines in to protect an elected president, however flawed, or an armed insurrection, they chose the insurrection because they didn't like the president.

"We can't be called upon, expected or required to intervene every time there is violence against a failed leader," said the State Department spokesperson, Richard Boucher, last week. "We can't spend our time running around the world and the hemisphere saving people who botched their chance at leadership."

However, the US can be called upon not to intervene to promote violence against elected leaders. This latest intervention did not prevent a bloodbath - more people were killed on the day Aristide left than on any other - and crushed what was left of democracy. Instead of breaking the spiral of violence, it has given it a new lease of life. Given that kind of legacy, the US should indeed stop "running around the world" to "save people". The Bush administration is doing a good job of botching leadership at home. There is no need to export it.

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AU urges nations to grant Aristide asylum

Addis Ababa - The African Union (AU) said on Monday that the removal of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power was unconstitutional and urged African countries to grant him asylum.

An AU statement also called for a United Nations-led investigation into circumstances surrounding his exile.

"The African Union expresses the view that the unconstitutional way by which President Aristide was removed set a dangerous precedent for duly elected persons and wishes that no action be taken to legitimise the rebel forces," it said.

It was the first comment by the 53-member organisation since Aristide fled to the Central African Republic a week ago in the face of a rebellion and international pressure. [...]

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Showdown over supreme court plan

BBC
Monday, 8 March, 2004, 09:12 GMT

A showdown between the House of Lords and the government is brewing over plans to abolish the post of lord chancellor and set up a supreme court.

Conservative peers and some former law lords hope to block the Constitutional Reform Bill on Monday night, by voting to send it to a special committee.

Ministers say such a move would be "completely undemocratic".

The Tories believe the government's plans are ill thought out and could threaten judicial independence.

Scrutiny call

As well as setting up a supreme court and abolishing the ancient lord chancellor role, the Bill also seeks to establish a new commission to appoint judges.

The committee of law lords in the House of Lords currently acts as the court for final appeals in the UK.

The proposed reforms would leave that job to a new supreme court working completely separately from Parliament. [...]

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Conservatives win in Greece

Last Updated Sun, 07 Mar 2004 23:16:05

ATHENS - Socialist party leader George Papandreou conceded defeat in Greece's parliamentary elections Sunday as preliminary results showed the conservative New Democracy party in front.

Celebrations erupted in the streets of Athens, with thousands of voters dancing and drinking over the victory of Costas Karamanlis, leader of the conservative movement.

It's a major shift in politics in Greece. The Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) had been in power for the last decade and led the country for 19 of the last 23 years.

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Austrian far-rightist Joerg Haider makes a stunning political comeback

05:33 AM EST Mar 08
GEORGE JAHN

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Joerg Haider brought his party a stunning victory in his home province Sunday, confounding pundits and increasing the odds for a national comeback for the rightist known for anti-Jewish slurs and friendship with deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

Final results showed Haider's Freedom Party with 42.4 per cent of the vote, compared to just over 38 per cent for the rival Socialists.

[...] Many blame the party's national demise on Haider, notorious for past remarks that sounded sympathetic to the Nazis and contemptuous of Jews, a visit to Saddam on the eve of the Iraq war and a friendship with Moammar Gadhafi when Libya was still an international pariah. More recently, he has obliquely compared U.S. President George W. Bush to Saddam and Adolf Hitler.

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N Korea threatens new demands in deepening nuclear crisis

North Korea threatened new counter-demands Monday in the standoff with the United States over Pyongyang's nuclear program, saying it may insist on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea and a "verifiable and irreversible" security guarantee from Washington. North Korea said it would forward the new demands if the United States failed to drop its own demand that Pyongyang "completely, verifiably and irreversibly" dismantle its nuclear weapons programs. North Korea has said it is willing to give up its nuclear program in return for energy and economic aid, as well as a U.S. guarantee that it will not invade the communist country. Six-nation talks aimed at brokering a deal ended last month without a major breakthrough.

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N Korean defector threatened

South Korean police are investigating a series of death threats against the country's most senior defector from neighbouring North Korea. About a dozen notes and pictures threatening the life of Hwang Jang-yop were found outside the offices of a defectors' group.

Hr Hwang is a former chief of North Korea's parliament who defected to the South in 1997. He is honorary president of the group which received the threats. One included a picture showing Mr Hwang stabbed with a meat cleaver and covered in blood. [...]

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From code war to Cold War

BBC
Friday, 5 March, 2004, 16:51 GMT

Things are getting serious over in the US, where two mighty forces are fighting for a position of control over the daily lives of millions of people.

The battle is not for the presidency, although the antics of George Bush and John Kerry are obviously of some importance to the rest of the world, but for the ability to shape the way we design, build and use computer software.

It is the conflict between two different ideologies of software development.

One is personified by Microsoft and its closed and copyright-protected code, and the other represented by the free software and open source movements, whose most prominent offering is the GNU/Linux operating system.

And it has become a new Cold War, a fight between competing philosophies which underpin completely divergent economic systems and patterns of social organisation.

Given the growing importance of computer programs in our daily lives and the operation of business. It could well be the defining conflict of the first half of this century, just as the conflict between communism and capitalism defined the latter half of the last one. [...]

Comment: The "conflict" between capitalism and communism seems to have been manufactured. Conflict in all its forms is generally profitable for the powers that be. Today we see the War on Terrorism as the revival of the old game of Us vs. Them. Regardless of the outcome of this Software War, and given the extent to which computers have become an integral part of life in this reality, we suspect the end result will not benefit the average user.

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China doctor calls 1989 'mistake'

A retired doctor who exposed China's Sars cover-up has called on the ruling Communist Party to admit its mistakes handling the 1989 Tiananmen protests.

Jiang Yanyong, who treated people for gunshot wounds after the protests were brutally suppressed, issued the call in a letter to China's parliament.

"The mistake made by our party should be resolved by the party itself," the letter said.

Hundreds of unarmed protesters were killed during the crackdown.

The incident, which is still so sensitive it is dangerous to raise publicly, is also believed to be a source of serious disagreement within the Communist Party, suggesting Dr Jiang's call will be ignored. [...]

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Japan bird flu boss kills himself

By Jonathan Head
BBC correspondent in Tokyo
Monday, 8 March, 2004, 09:57 GMT

A suicide note was found with the bodies of Hajimu Asada and his wife

The chairman of a poultry company in Japan that failed to report bird flu on one of its farms has committed suicide with his wife.

The bodies of Hajimu Asada and his wife were found close to one of his chicken farms near the city of Kyoto.

Mr Asada had been blamed for shipping live birds and eggs even after chickens had already died from the virus.

Four outbreaks of bird flu have been detected in Japan, which has banned chicken imports from affected areas. [...]

In their suicide note, Hajimu Asada and his wife Chisako apologised for having caused a great deal of inconvenience to society.

Until that case, the authorities here had been successful in controlling previous outbreaks. [...]

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2,800 eggs abandoned on riverside

The Japan Times
March 8, 2004

NAGOYA (Kyodo) - About 2,800 chicken eggs were found abandoned Sunday morning on the bank of the Oyama River in Komaki, Aichi Prefecture, police said.

They said it is not clear if the eggs were abandoned in connection with the recent outbreaks of bird flu. It is a possible violation of the Waste Disposal Law and police are looking for those responsible.

A man informed the police that he discovered about 280 containers, each holding 10 eggs, in plastic bags on the riverbank. The police said they reported the discovery to health authorities.

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Initial test indicates nation's 11th case of mad cow disease

The Japan Times
March 8, 2004

A dairy cow from a Hokkaido farm has tested positive for mad cow disease, making it Japan's 11th case of the brain-wasting disease if formally confirmed, farm ministry officials said Sunday. [...]

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Coffee is 'health drink' says Italian

By Mark Duff
BBC News, Milan

It is a daily routine for millions of Italians - the morning cup of espresso brewed on the kitchen hob or downed swiftly in a cafe on the way to work.

But for years their favourite way of kick-starting the day has had a bad press - most recently when it was reported that doctors had told British Prime Minister Tony Blair to drink less coffee.

Now it seems the tide is turning.

Forget the scare stories, says dietician Chiara Trombetti, of the Humanitas Gavazzeni institute in the northern Italian town of Bergamo.

There is sound scientific reason to enjoy your morning espresso without worrying about the health effects. Coffee can be good for you - she says - and the stronger, the better. That is why she recommends an espresso rather than a very un-Italian cup of instant.

Scientific evidence

Dr Trombetti says she hates the stuff herself - but points to a welter of scientific evidence to back her case.

Coffee contains tannin and antioxidants, which are good for the heart and arteries, she says. It can relieve headaches. It is good for the liver - and can help prevent cirrhosis and gallstones. And the caffeine in coffee can reduce the risk of asthma attacks - and help improve circulation within the heart.

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Carbon deposits being unlocked from permafrost

CBC
Mar 5 2004 09:02 AM CST

YELLOWKNIFE - Research scientists have discovered that ancient carbon deposits are becoming unlocked from permafrost and scientists worry that could be dangerous as the ground warms up.

Ron Benner, a member of the research team from the University of South Carolina, and other scientists took water samples from the western part of the Arctic Ocean. "We can measure molecules in the ocean that we know came from land," says Benner. "We know it came from the soils and the plants growing on land, so we trace their origins back to the soils." Permafrost has locked in carbon for thousands of years, but permafrost has been changing and melting.

Benner says the frozen carbon is slowly making it way to the ocean and and that's a potential threat because it turns into carbon dioxide — one of the gases that contributes to the greenhouse effect.

"The more carbon dioxide you put in the atmosphere, the more you enforce the greenhouse effect and increase the warming," says Benner Benner's test samples show that not much carbon has been released from permafrost so far, but constant monitoring will reveal how much more carbon is entering the atmosphere and contributing to the warming of the climate.

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Lost City a scientific gateway

By ALEXANDRA WITZE
The Dallas Morning News

[...] Lost City is completely different from the 200-plus other "hydrothermal vents" known elsewhere on the sea floor. At those spots, volcanically heated water squirts out of the sea floor to mix with cold seawater, precipitating out mineral particles in dramatic plumes of black "smoke." An astounding variety of giant tubeworms, clams and other creatures call these vents home.

Scientists had thought the black smoker vents were the only kind out there.

"The Lost City field has fundamentally changed our views on that," Dr. Kelley said last month in Seattle at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Instead of spewing out hot black smoke, the rock pinnacles at Lost City gently burble clear, lukewarm fluids. Instead of huge crabs clambering around, the Lost City is home to just a few types of microbes, along with some small shrimp and mussels. And instead of being incredibly acidic, the Lost City teeters to the opposite end of the pH scale, clocking in as alkaline as Drano.

The difference, scientists have found, comes from the geologic setting for each vent system.
Traditional hydrothermal vents lie atop underwater ridges where the Earth's thin crustal layer is pulling apart, with fresh magma welling from below to create newborn rock. The powerful heat of this never-ending process fuels the black smoker environments.

But Lost City couldn't be fueled by a volcano, since it's nine miles from the closest volcanic ridge, says Dr. Kelley. Instead, the vent field sits atop a separate 17,000-foot mountain – sort of an underwater Mount Rainier. [...]

Instead of being directly fueled by a volcano, the Lost City draws its energy from chemical reactions taking place on the sea floor, Dr. Kelley says.

At the same time, the rocks give off hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide and methane, providing a raw energy source for bacteria and other sea life. That process could be similar to what took place on the early Earth, when there were lots of rocks like peridotites and lots of seawater for them to react with. So the Lost City could serve as a proxy for understanding what some of Earth's early ecosystems looked like, Dr. Kelley says. [...]

Comment: Our oceans are constantly outgassing, sometimes with disastrous results for life above the oceans.

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Zimbabwe seizes US plane

Harare - Zimbabwean security authorities have impounded a US-registered aircraft that landed at the country's main international airport carrying military equipment and 64 men aboard suspected to be mercenaries, Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi announced on Monday.

"A United States of America-registered Boeing 727-100 cargo plane was detained last night (Sunday) at 19:30 at Harare International Airport after its owners had made a false declaration of its cargo and crew," the minister told a news conference.

"The plane was actually carrying 64 suspected mercenaries of various nationalities," he said.

"Further investigations also revealed that on board the plane was military material."

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Women remain at bottom of pay scale

The last decade has seen rapid growth in the number of women in the global labour force but they remain disproportionately concentrated in low-paid insecure jobs, the International Labour Organisation said in a report prepared for International Women's Day on Monday.

In 2003 women accounted for 1.1bn or 40 per cent of the 2.8bn people in work, an increase of 200m over 10 years. However, they are less likely to be in regular wage jobs and more likely to be in the informal economy outside legal and regulatory frameworks.

Women also still tend to earn less than men for the same type of work, even in traditionally female occupations. And of the 550m people estimated to be earning less than $1 a day, perhaps 330m or 60 per cent are women, the ILO said. [...]

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Nursery school teacher faces the law

An alleged paedophile accused of indecently assaulting 10 nursery school children before fleeing the country two years ago is to stand trial.

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Schools try new, quickie drug test

Students in Palm Beach County suspected of using drugs are now subject to new drug testing that's done with a swab and an aerosol spray.

Administrators at all 23 county high schools are being trained to use the test whenever they have a ''reasonable suspicion'' that a student is using illegal drugs, said schools Police Chief Jim Kelly.

The school district is one of 22 across the country, and the only one in Florida, taking part in a free trial program that puts the drug detection kits in schools.

It's supported by a $650,000 grant from the federal government's National Institute of Justice, Kelly said.

To use the kits, administrators swab a small piece of chemically treated paper over students' hands or belongings and douse it with a spray.

Within seconds, the paper changes colors to indicate the possible presence of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines. [...]

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Cop took pictures of urinal users, court hears

Mar 5 2004 10:13 AM CST

REGINA - The trial of an RCMP officer from British Columbia charged with committing indecent acts heard the man took pictures of people using the urinals, including one of a nine-year-old.

Herbert Curruthers, 47, was charged and later suspended with pay from his work at the identification section of the RCMP in Revelstoke B.C. He was arrested in Saskatoon last August during the Prairieland exhibition and charged with three counts of indecency. [...]

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Rwandan rape survivor stays alive for her son

Ntarama, Rwanda - At the age of 28 Consolata went from being the healthy wife of a comfortably-off Rwandan businessman to being a widow for whom re-marriage will be impossible for as long as she lives.

Consolata, now 38, was raped several times during the 1994 genocide. At the age of 30 she was to realise that she had been infected with HIV.

Her surviving child is a boy of 12, Paul.[...]

Consolata's obsession is how to stay alive until her son is three or four years older and able to fend for himself.

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Children held after farm bloodbath

Six farm children, aged between eight and 13, face charges of attempted murder for allegedly tying up an eight-year-old and assaulting him when he threatened to expose their killing spree that left 21 buck dead - most of them a rare breed.

Two of the boys, who allegedly pushed a stick into their victim's anus, also face charges of indecent assault.

All six face charges of malicious damage to property after their alleged rampage on the Saxenburg wine farm in Kuils River left 15 rare black springbok and six Nguni miniature buck dead. Saxenburg has a children's farm as a tourist attraction.[...]

This incident comes less than two months after a similar farm attack allegedly by children led to a boy's death.

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Pedigree recall dog food

Taipei - US dog food maker Pedigree began recalling its dry dog food from Taiwan shelves on Monday following the deaths of hundreds of Taiwan puppies from kidney failure.

"Consumers can return dry Pedigree dog food to pet stores where they bought it and get a refund. A new batch of Pedigree dog food will be ready in a month's time," said Chen Hsing-wen, spokesperson for Eiffem Foods, Taiwan's distributor of Pedigree.

"This does not mean there is something wrong with Pedigree. We are doing this out of the sense of responsibility and to show we are concerned about the dogs (dying)," she said. [...]

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Civilians flooding NASA with Mars 'discoveries'

Faye Flam
Knight Ridder Newspapers
Mar. 8, 2004 12:00 AM

Forget about ancient traces of water on Mars. There's a little white bunny up there.

And stone tools.

And dinosaur fossils.

Plants, art, even letters of the alphabet.

While NASA scientists pore over the latest Red Planet images for shreds of evidence that it might have supported algae or pond scum, thousands of earnest civilians are scanning the same pictures and pointing out all sorts of things the professionals missed or have not acknowledged.

Ever since the robot rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars in January, NASA has been flooded with hundreds of daily calls and e-mails from people eager to share their own dramatic discoveries.

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How the Little Green Men Met Their Makers

By KENNETH CHANG
The New York Times

Now that there's conclusive evidence that at least part of Mars was once a water-soaked place where living things could have wriggled, swam or slithered, it takes only a few more leaps of speculation to wonder how they might have died.

Comment: More idle speculations from the major media perhaps to perpetuate the topic of extraterrestrials in the public's short term memory.

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Speaker frightened by abductor's return

Man charged after biker assaulted at 18th annual Women's Conference

By JANE ZHANG
The Spectrum

ST. GEORGE. Utah-- Twenty five years after Jan Broberg Felt emotionally broke free from her kidnapper, she was well prepared to talk about a survival kit to brainwashing and sexual abuse Saturday at the 18th annual Women's Conference at Dixie State College. [...]

What she didn't prepare for, however, was the appearance of her two-time abductor, Robert Ersol Berchtold, 68, who had disappeared from her life after she was rescued by the FBI first at age 12, then age 14. [...]

Now an actress and a Santa Clara resident, she still remembers how Berchtold used a high-pitched voice from a white ivory box to control her during her abduction. The 12-year-old from Pocatello, Idaho, was told to serve a mission and bear a baby. Otherwise, she would "vaporize."

"I thought I'd been taken by a UFO," Felt recalled. "It was four years -- four years -- that I believed these illusions were real." [...]

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UFOs as Living Creatures

about.com

[...] Did you ever notice how oddly UFOs are said to behave by some witnesses? They seem to act almost... playful. They seem to enjoy playing hide-and-seek or cat-and-mouse games with people.

Foo fighters , objects seen in the skies over Europe during World War Two, were said to fly along for a time at the wingtips of allied aircraft, then turn away and vanish into the sky, much like dolphins will follow a boat for a time before going off to do dolphin things. They never showed any aggression.

More recently, UFOs seem to acknowledge the presence of aircraft, to follow them or to fly alongside them, even seeming to dare aircraft to chase them at times. A good example is the RB-47 case of 1957. According to some reports, UFOs seem to sense the presence of people on the ground and to interact with them at times, to follow cars, to show themselves and then dart away, even to signal with light in a few cases.

Are these behaviors what we would expect from an extraterrestrial craft containing intelligent alien beings? At times it seems to me that some UFOs might be living beings in themselves, rather than alien spacecraft.

Some types of UFOs, such as Jose Escamilla's rods , are certainly presented as living creatures of some kind. "Orbs" and "spooklights", if they aren't merely a physical phenomenon, seem more to be living creatures than to be craft containing aliens.

The idea that UFOs might be some sort of living creatures inhabiting earth's atmosphere rather than nuts-and-bolts craft is not a new one. Charles Fort seemed to believe something of the sort about some of the reports that he collected. Kenneth Arnold, the first "modern" UFO witness, believed later in his life that UFOs were living creatures. Trevor James Constable is the author of several books, including The Cosmic Pulse of Life and Sky Creatures, in which he proposes that UFOs are "Plasmatic inhabitants of our atmosphere."

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Man, 56, to attempt school exams for 38th time

Ananova.com
March 8, 2004

An Indian man who vowed he would not marry until he passed his school exams is about to take them for a record 38th time.

Shivdan Yadav, 56, of Khohari village in Rajasthan, first took - and failed - his exams when he was 18 years old, reports The Pioneer newspaper.

He was so confident of success that he asked his parents to defer his planned marriage to a local girl until after his exams.

When he failed, the family of the bride postponed the marriage further "seeing his positive adamance and interest in studies".

But when he still hadn't passed the exams three years later, they gave up on him and found another suitable groom.

When he was 20 years old, Mr Yadav took a vow to marry only after he had finally passed the exams.

He has regularly sitting for the examinations ever since, but has still not managed to pass.

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New exhibition is a bit of a yawn

Ananova.com
March 8, 2004

A Chilean artist has opened an exhibition featuring just six pictures of a girl yawning.

Carolina Delpiano says she wanted to see how people react to the pictures.

She says most people start yawning themselves, and that's the idea of the exhibition. [...]

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