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Tuesday , March 16, 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, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

Picture of the Day

Cagire
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

A reader wrote the following to Signs of the Times Interactive:

Quote: "Our recent research has shown that Arab terrorists are unlikely to be the culprits"

Are you sure about that? What "research" did you make exactly? I am reading this site everyday, and i appreciate your work, eventhough i must admit that i don't always agree with your opinions.

Did you consider that there might be another dot between the two "obvious" dots (bombings in Madrid - CIA/Mossad)? And what if the arabs were not THAT manipulated by those two arch-demons that you name? What if they had a will of their own, even though one could assume they were created somehow in the first place (the fundamentalists that is)? Have you ever been to an arab country? Actually living in France, i do have many opportunities to get their opinion about "us". And some of them (not all of them, just a small part of them) just dont like 'us'. They want to see 'us' dead...the bombing of infidels is done according to the will of God. Just as Bush and his junta are a bunch of madmen, these people have in common that same madness...Psychopats like you say. CIA and Mossad do not have a monopoly over psychopathy i'm afraid.

We do indeed have experience of Arab countries, we also have experience of speaking to fundamentalist Arabs.

We understand that the unthinking and therefore unaware "rank and file" Arab, or the "rank and file" of any organised religion are very susceptible to fundamentalist thought and teaching, which often leads to hatred of other religions and peoples.

Anyone that buys into fundamentalist thought or religion is, by definition, giving up their own will to the will of those that promote the fundamentalism. From copious historical evidence, it is clear that the "leaders" of organised religions promote fundamentalism among the masses in order to manipulate them to do the will of the leaders. Therefore it is the will of the leaders that is being done, not the will of the rank and file religious devotee.

Any alleged attack by "Arab terrorists" then, should be understood as being the brainchild of the Arab terrorist leaders, who are, again by default, above and not prone to the genuine fundamentalism that they so cleverly cultivate among the masses.

We assume that Arab leaders desire to promote support for their cause. The attack in Spain was an attack on the Spanish population who, less than a year ago came out en masse in support of the Iraqi people. Therefore, it would simply not make sense for Arab leaders, "terrorist" or not, to sanction such an attack.

Of course, the possibility remains that a rogue group of genuine fundamentalist Arabs could have carried out the attack, spurred on by the simplistic and unthinking doctrine that they must “kill all infidels”. In such a case, however, given that the US and Israel clearly desire to demonise the Arab world and promote the phony "war on terror", we think it is more likely that such a rogue group would be co-opted and used by US and Israeli agencies to further Israeli/US goals.

There is one element of these hypotheses that is still rather perplexing: Why would the CIA/Mossad "alliance" decide that it would be a good idea to bomb Spain to get the Spanish people behind the War on Terror? Consider the following article:

Spain wants to be safe but not at any cost

The New Zealand Herald
Gwynne Dyer
16.03.2004

Taking the relative size of Spain and the United States into account, the terrorist atrocities in Madrid amounted to about half a September 11: almost 200 dead and more than 1400 injured in a population of fewer than 40 million.

Spain's people and leaders are very angry, and they want to see the terrorists punished. They also want to be safe - but not at any cost.

There are claims that the attacks were the work of al Qaeda, although at the time of writing Spanish politicians still believe that the bombs were planted by the Basque separatist group ETA.

Let us assume for the moment that it really was ETA's doing. Here are three things that no Spanish Government would do.

First, it would not declare "war" on the ETA terrorists and send the Spanish Army in to occupy the Basque provinces of northern Spain. Dealing with terrorists would remain a job for the police and intelligence services, operating within the normal confines of Spanish law.

Secondly, it would not arrest thousands of Basques suspected of supporting ETA and whisk them away to a prison camp in some out-of-the-way place where they would be beyond the reach of the Spanish courts, and could be held indefinitely without any proof of wrongdoing.

Thirdly, it would not invade and occupy the neighbouring Basque-speaking provinces of France, just across the Pyrenees, even though Basque militants over the years have made much use of that sanctuary to rest, re-arm, and plan new attacks.

In other words, Spain's leaders will not lose their sense of balance.

A terrible thing has happened, but they know that responding with illegal violence and repression would just drive lots of innocent and law-abiding Basques into the terrorists' camp. They also know that it is not a tragedy big enough to justify turning the whole country upside down.

Why does the entire Spanish political class, right and left alike, think like this? Because in 36 years of dealing with relentless ETA terrorist attacks, they have learned a good deal about fighting terrorism.

There were serious abuses of civil rights by Governments in Madrid at times, and at one point there was even a "dirty war" of targeted assassinations against ETA leaders, but as time passed almost everybody in Spanish public life realised that the important thing in fighting terrorists is to keep life as normal as possible. Do not overreact, do not break your own laws, and never let the terrorists seem more important or dangerous than they really are.

Right now, the rest of Europe is hoping that the attack in Madrid really was carried out by ETA and not by al Qaeda, because in that case it is a purely Spanish problem. But if it should turn out to be al Qaeda, Europeans will not turn their countries upside down in a vain attempt to make them safe. They understand that you cannot prevent every terrorist attack, and should not make that the standard by which you measure a policy's success.

They will respond this way because they have learned that you can live with terrorism. Indeed, you may have to live with it for long periods from time to time, and get on with your life regardless, because terrorism is the natural weapon of weak but fanatically determined groups. There will always be some of those around, and some of their attacks are bound to get through.

Terrorism is a technique, not an ideology. It is equally available to the extreme left and the extreme right, to religious and to secular fanatics, to national minorities of every kind - and Europe has seen them all. Britain had the IRA, Germany had the Baader-Meinhof Gang and their friends, Italy had the Red Brigades and the right-wing counter-terror, and France has had various waves of terrorism going all the way back to the Algerian war. But terrorism is not a very effective technique: none of those groups succeeded.

What the target countries have learned from this long and miserable experience is patience. They have realised that if you just ride it out and don't panic, the terrorist campaign will eventually peter out as circumstances and intellectual fashions change, or at worst as a new generation rebels against the ideological obsessions of their parents.

Meanwhile, do what you sensibly can to stop the attacks, and for the rest, endure. The statistics are on your side: you are dozens of times likelier to die in a car crash than to be killed by terrorists.

European Governments don't ever put it this bluntly to their citizens, but the citizens know it anyway.

That is why most ordinary Europeans see al Qaeda and its Islamist allies as just another wave of terrorist fanatics.

Most of their national military, police and civil bureaucracies see things the same way, even in countries such as Spain, Italy and Britain where the national leaders have enthusiastically signed up for President George W. Bush's crusade against evil. So even after their own mini-September 11, if that's what it was, the Europeans will not panic.

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As Europeans well know, countries like Spain, France, and Germany have been dealing with various terrorist groups for quite some time. Even if there is some "arrangement" between the leaders or agencies of some European countries and the US/Israel, anyone who is aware of Europe's history with terrorists would realize that Europeans would be less susceptible to the blatantly obvious tactics used on Americans. Recent events in the US have demonstrated that the entire concept of freedom is seen by Americans from a different viewpoint than those in Europe.

The problem is that any agency or group worth its salt would be acutely aware of these facts. This leaves us with the idea that if the Spanish attacks were perpetrated in some US and/or Mossad operation, they knew that the attacks would have the effect of alienating the population from the Aznar camp and driving them into the more liberal and anti-"War on Terror" party. Essentially, the act would create increased opposition in Europe towards the current American Crusade against Evildoers. At first, it would seem that the US and/or the Mossad would be making a mistake by arranging a bombing in Spain - but it is entirely possible that they made a severe miscalculation. It is also possible that a united Europe fits their plans. After months of heated debate over the new EU constitution, there seems to be a renewed push towards integration after the Spanish bombings.

"Old Europe" Welcomes New Spanish Premier Zapatero - US and UK not so sure

Tuesday 16 March 2004
Translated from "El Mundo"

MADRID.- France and Germany, the two European countries that most strenuously opposed the war in Iraq, have declared their satisfaction at the recent political changes in Spain and new Prime Minister Zapatero's promise to reinforce Spain's ties with its European neighbours. The US and Great Britain, on the other hand, have been less welcoming of the announcement by Zapatero that he will withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq.

French President Chirac and German Chancellor Schröder have called Zapatero's initial announcements on Iraq and the European constitution "interesting".

"We are pleased at the new opportunities for co-operation with Spain", said Schröder

Chirac, like Schröder, claimed that with the change of government there exists the "opportunity to approve the [European] constitution before the end of the current EU presidency held by Ireland", which ends on June 30th. "The sooner the European constitution is approved, the better it will be for Europe" said Chirac.

United States:

Although Bush formally congratulated Zapatero, the concern of the US government is obvious. Officially, relations between the two are look warm. "I am sure that the Spanish people will continue with their commitment to the war on terror" said Colin Powell.

In general the US media believes that Bush has lost an important ally.

United Kingdom:

Despite the theoretical leftist leaning of both Blair and Zapatero, the warm relationship between Blair and Aznar suggests that Blair may be concerned about the change in direction in the Spanish political scene. Officially however, Downing street described a recent telephone conversation between Blair and Zapatero as "warm and friendly".

Poland:

With Aznar and the conservative "Popular Party" now gone, the Polish government has lost not only a military ally in Iraq, but also an important supporter for its stance on the new European constitution. The Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller foresees "serious complications" for Poland as a result. "We realise that the new Spanish government will adopt a different stance on the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq and will change its position on the European constitution" declared Miller.

European Union:

The current holder of the European Presidency, Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, may well call a meeting new week to attempt to unblock the stalled negotiations on the European constitution.

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It is certainly too soon to tell what the long term effects of the attacks in Spain will be. Looking at history, it is arguable that human "civilisation" has, paradoxically, been defined by war. War has been such a dominant aspect of the human experience that we might come to the conclusion that it is not a "natural" phenomenon. As Laura states in her book Ancient Science:

"The Laws of Probability tell us that, without any intelligent input, 50% of the time the events in our world would lead to great good and benefit for mankind. In a strictly mechanical way, life in our world ought to have manifested a sort of “equilibrium.” Factoring in intelligent decisions to do good might bring this average up to about 70%. That would mean that humanity would have advanced over the millennia to a state of existence where good and positive things happen in our lives more often than “negative” or “bad” things. In this way, many of the problems of humanity would have been effectively solved. War and conflict would be a rarity, perhaps 70 percent of the earth’s population would have decent medical care, a comfortable roof over their heads, and sufficient nutritious food so that death by disease or starvation would be almost unheard of.
The facts are, however, quite different."

It is no secret that, to some, war and conflict are desirable, and are used to increase personal profit and control large sections of the global population. We have presented articles on the Signs page that illustrate how the Bush family profited from the millions of deaths in WWII. We will certainly post further articles and comments on the subject in the coming days. Even if the motives and perpetrators are not clearly known, we believe that the words of FDR hold true:

"Nothing in politics happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned."

And finally, we must always ask the question: "Who benefits?"

Aznar's defeat comes at worst possible moment for Bush

By RUPERT CORNWELL in Washington
The New Zealand Herald
16.03.2004

What goes up sooner or later comes down - and the downfall of the ruling centre-right party in Spain is further proof that George W. Bush is no exception to this immutable law of politics and of life.

Last year almost everything went right for Mr Bush - but no longer.

The failure to find any Iraqi WMD, the grim state of the jobs market here, and the unexpectedly aggressive performance of Senator John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee, have combined to push the President's approval rating down to barely 50 per cent.

On top of this now comes the stunning defeat for Jose Maria Aznar in Spain.

It has come at the worst possible moment for George Bush - repudiation by a major ally of his war in Iraq, just as the White House attempts to use the first anniversary of the invasion to justify its policies. [...]

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Spain's PM-elect pledges withdrawal from Iraq, slams Bush

Mon Mar 15, 2:03 PM ET


MADRID (AFP) - In a clear break with politics of the government his party defeated, Spain's leader-in-waiting, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, vowed to withdraw troops from Iraq and criticised US President George W. Bush for last year's Iraq campaign.

"The war in Iraq was a disaster, the occupation of Iraq is a disaster," Zapatero, 43, told Cadena Ser radio.

Socialist Party (PSOE) leader and future prime minister Zapatero vowed to keep his pre-election pledge that barring new developments in Iraq before June 30 -- the date the United States has promised to hand power over to an Iraqi provisional government -- Spain's 1,300 troops in Iraq "will return home". [...]

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U.S. Commander Casts Doubt on Spain Plan

AP
March 16, 2004

TIKRIT, Iraq - The top U.S. commander in Iraq cast doubt Tuesday on whether Spain would withdraw its troops from Iraq, but added that if they do, the loss would not be "a significant military problem" for the U.S.-led coalition.

Spain's incoming prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, said Monday that he will pull his nation's 1,300 troops out of Iraq by June 30 unless the United Nations takes control. [...]

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Dawn of a new era

Spain has a new Socialist government after a startling victory in the general election. In the wake of the extraordinary events of the past few days, Graham Keeley looks at why Spaniards opted for change — and what this means for the country.

As Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero woke Monday morning to the realisation that he is Spain's new prime minister, he can have few illusions that his victory was due, ironically, to the terrorists behind the atrocity in Madrid.

The shock election triumph which ousted José María Aznar's Popular Party from power was an angry reaction to the way the government handled the crisis and the deeper reasons why Spain became a target.

Aznar's insistence that ETA was the chief suspect behind the attacks, which left 200 dead and more than 1,400 injured, seemed transparent to many Spaniards; they believed if he admitted the massacre was the work of Al-Qaeda, it would reflect badly on his drive to support the US-led invasion of Iraq and the Bush administration.

There was a popular feeling Aznar would try to hide the whole truth about the attacks at least until Monday, after the election, which his own Popular Party had for some time been expected to win.

In one of the most dramatic elections of the post-Franco era, voters turned on the ruling party, convinced that the Madrid attack was Spain's September 11.

Angry demonstrators, who gathered outside the offices of the Popular Party Saturday to protest at the government's handling of this national disaster, were symbolic of an underlying distrust of the ruling party.

"Spain has never voted in such a tragic situation. There's a feeling of anguish, sadness, horror," said Joaquin Leguina, a former president of Madrid's regional government

Election polls only a week before the election gave the Popular Party an absolute majority. This had narrowed even before last Thursday's bomb attacks in Madrid, Zapatero's victory will have left many stunned.

During his campaign, Zapatero promised to withdraw Spain's 1,300 troops from Iraq if the UN does not take control by 30 June when Washington plans to hand power back to Iraqis. This will be an important early test.

He also said he would swap Aznar's pact with Bush for a return to a European alliance with France and Germany.

At home Zapatero, who has no previous experience of government, will have to lead the country out of a disaster and how he handles the fight against terrorism will be crucial. [...]

The Socialist leader promised a new style of government — instead of Aznar's increasingly divisive rule, Zapatero promises dialogue, debate and healing.

In his victory speech, he said the first people to be cared for were those directly affected by the Madrid bombings, the injured, relatives of the dead.

Beyond that the country must fight any form of terrorism.

It will involve forging friendships with other world leaders, as Zapatero cannot expect a warm welcome from the Bush, after saying he wants the American President to lose the November elections. [...]

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Spain's PM ups pressure on Blair: 'You can't organise a war with lies'

By Elizabeth Nash in Madrid and Ben Russell
16 March 2004

Spain's incoming Socialist Prime Minister, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the unexpected victor in Sunday's general election, launched a withering attack on Tony Blair and George Bush yesterday over their decision to go to war in Iraq.

Announcing that the 1,300 Spanish troops currently stationed in Iraq would be pulled out by the summer, the quietly spoken leader declared: "You can't organise a war with lies.

"Mr Blair and Mr Bush must do some reflection and self-criticism," he added in remarkably frank comments for the next prime minister of Europe's youngest democracy and fifth largest economy. [...]

Downing Street and the White House avoided commenting on Mr Zapatero's attacks, focusing instead in the need to co-operate against terrorism. President Bush placed a congratulatory call, expressing hope that the two countries would still co-operate on fighting terrorism, while avoiding the decision to withdraw Spanish forces from Iraq. Mr Blair's spokesman said the Spanish people's decision would be respected. [...]

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News Analysis: Some see victory for Al Qaeda

PARIS - Spain's great electoral upheaval, however fair and open its ground rules and procedure, is being called by some in Europe a victory for terrorism, a precedent that offers Al Qaeda or groups like it the notion that they can alter the democratic process with bombs and murder.

The argument of those who see what they call appeasement gaining the upper hand point to the Socialists' victory as being based on their campaign warning that Islamic terrorists would take revenge on Spain for the support given by the government of Prime Minister José María Aznar to the United States in Iraq.

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Report: 5 other Moroccans sought in Spain bombing

MADRID, Spain (AP) — Police have identified five additional Moroccan suspects they think took part in last week's train bombing that killed 200 and injured 1,647 others, the newspaper El Pais reported Tuesday.

The five allegedly carried out the attacks with a suspect already under arrest, Jamal Zougam of Morocco, Spain's biggest daily reported. They were not identified.

Asked to comment, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said Tuesday, "There's no one here. You'll have to call later." [...]

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UWSP professor seeks JFK answers

BY TRUDY STEWART
Journal staff

David Wrone believes the American public may never know who assassinated President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas. But this is a crime that he maintains never was investigated at all, and Americans should insist on knowing why.

"To not investigate the murder of the president, that's awful, horrendous," said Wrone, Stevens Point, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point who was acknowledged as an expert on the Kennedy assassination as early as 1975 in the the Saturday Evening Post. He has continued his research through more than 40 years.

"The Kennedy assassination was a failure of American society during a time of crisis," he said. "Lawyers, congressmen, the Warren Commission, the Texas Court of Inquiry, the FBI, the CIA, the media, and on and on - all of these basic institutions failed us."

That failure has had a huge impact on the past 40 years of American history and will continue to do so unless it is resolved, Wrone said. It affects the way other countries perceive us, and the way we see ourselves, he said.

"We have to admit the fact that we as a society were not able to handle the terrible question of who shot the president," Wrone said. "We have to set our house in order as a nation"

Wrone began his Kennedy studies soon after the assassination and still reads everything he can on it. More than seven million pages about the crime exist. He was one of a group of scholars who used the Freedom of Information Act to open government records on the case. A specialist in American history, Wrone came to UWSP in 1964 and retired in 1996. He has done extensive research on political assassinations and also has done comprehensive research about Wisconsin's American Indian tribes.

His most recent book about the assassination, "The Zapruder Film: Reframing JFK's Assassination," takes a close look at the 486 frames of film on which Zapruder captured the killing. Wrone's book is one of a handful, most published in the 1960s, that look at the evidence and not at who did it or at the conspiracy theories. The book was released last year and was soon followed by a second printing.

"I wanted to concentrate on the official evidence as opposed to the official allegations," Wrone said.

However, Wrone said he has been unable to secure a major press review of the book. It's as if people don't want to face up to the questions serious researchers have, he said. He and other Kennedy scholars generally have difficulty being heard, Wrone said. The producers of the 40th anniversary show that was broadcast on ABC on Nov. 20, 2003, telephoned him and others for comment about the assassination.

"They asked me if I agreed with the Warren Commission's findings, and I said, 'No, I agree with the evidence.' They hung up," Wrone said. "They wouldn't have anyone on who didn't agree with the Warren report."

The ABC show presented facts so much in error that it was "astonishing," Wrone said. "It's sheer propaganda, and there's no way to rebut it."

He and other critics have issued standing invitations to debate about the assassination. But they can't get a national forum to talk about the evidence itself, Wrone said. Only people who propagate the misinformation seem to get a hearing, he said.

"If people believe the Warren Report and its conclusions, why won't they debate me in public?" Wrone asked. "The reason they won't is that I'd give them a good public thrashing," he said.

Wrone has lectured throughout the country, written articles and taught classes on the assassination. Wrone is outspoken in his indictment of the Warren Commission report. Four of the seven Warren commissioners didn't believe their own report, including Chief Justice Earl Warren, Wrone said.

The FBI opened files on everyone who disputed its findings. The bureau was not investigating the crime, it was protecting its own conclusions, Wrone said. Afterwards, an internal FBI investigation determined the bureau failed in its job. The failure appears to be directly related to a meeting of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, President Lyndon B. Johnson and the U.S. attorney general two days after JFK's death. They drew up a memorandum stating they "would make the evidence prove (Lee Harvey) Oswald shot him, and that there was no conspiracy," Wrone said.

Wrone said he does believe in the evidence collected in the aftermath assassination, but not in the misinterpretations promulgated about it. By concentrating on the evidence, one can determine that "Oswald most likely had nothing to do with the crime and that two or more gunmen shot Kennedy," Wrone said.

One of the most essential pieces of evidence is the "Zapruder film." It refutes the Warren Commission's "lone gunman and single-bullet theories," Wrone said.

After the video release in July 1998 of the footage, Wrone expected the debate would begin anew. But that did not happen.

"My God, we should be able to find out who murdered the president," Wrone said. "Most of us who know the subject matter are now in our 70s and 80s, and are starting to diminish in numbers. We'll never get a place to stand."

But they keep trying, and they keep writing and talking about it. "I'd really like to know the answer," Wrone said. 

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He wanted every vote to matter; Athan Gibbs, Sr. dies in crash

By HOLLY EDWARDS
The Tennessean
03/14/04

After more than 1 million votes went uncounted in the last presidential election, Athan Gibbs Sr. devoted his life to making sure voters in future elections would know their votes mattered.

The enterprising 57-year-old saw his invention of the TruVote vote-casting system as nothing less than the key to social justice and democracy in America.

As family members and business partners gathered at the TruVote office yesterday morning to mourn Mr. Gibbs' death, they vowed that his dream would not die with him.

Mr. Gibbs was killed about 10:30 a.m. Friday in a car crash on Interstate 65 near Eighth Avenue North as he drove from his north Nashville home to his downtown office at Tennessee State University's Business Incubation Center. [...]

Before his sudden death, friends and family said, Mr. Gibbs worked tirelessly on the TruVote system and, with backing from Microsoft Inc., was marketing his invention nationwide. [...]

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, a Democrat who represents Davidson, the eastern half of Cheatham and the western half of Wilson County in Congress, said the TruVote system was ''one of the most promising technologies in the world for fixing democracies.'' [...]

''This is a tragic loss for the entire country.'' [...]

''As an African-American clergyman, Athan was consumed by a desire for justice, equality and freedom for all people,'' said the Rev. Enoch Fuzz, pastor of Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church. ''And, he just ran out full speed ahead and tried to accomplish that.'' [...]

Comment: Concidence or assassination? We will never know. Another death, in the long list of convenient and mysterious deaths. Mr. Gibbs was just recently quoted in the below article:

Diebold, electronic voting and the vast right-wing conspiracy

By Bob Fitrakis
Axis of Logic
Feb 27, 2004

[...] As Blackwell pressures the Ohio legislature to adopt electronic voting machines without a paper trail, Athan Gibbs wonders, "Why would you buy a voting machine from a company like Diebold which provides a paper trail for every single machine it makes except its voting machines? And then, when you ask it to verify its numbers, it hides behind ‘trade secrets.’"

Maybe the Diebold decision makes sense, if you believe, to paraphrase Henry Kissinger, that democracy is too important to leave up to the votes of the people.

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Ex-inspector says U.S. had 'set mind' on Iraq

Blix calls the war a 'reaction to 9/11'

UNITED NATIONS, New York Hans Blix, the former chief United Nations weapons inspector, said Monday that the Bush administration convinced itself of the existence of banned weapons on dubious findings before invading Iraq and was uninterested in hearing evidence to the contrary.

"I think they had a set mind," Blix said on NBC as he began a 10-day American book tour in the week marking the first-year anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion.

"They wanted to come to the conclusion that there were weapons," he said. "Like the former days of the witch hunt, they are convinced that they exist, and if you see a black cat, well, that's evidence of the witch."

[...] On ABC television, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the failure to find weapons had not diminished "the merit of the case" for war. "We may not find the stockpiles. They may not exist any longer. But let's not suggest that somehow we knew this" before the war, Powell said.

"We went to the United Nations," he said, "we went to the world with the best information we had, nothing that was cooked."

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Coroner rules against fresh Kelly hearing

By John Bingham and Stuart Coles, PA News
16 March 2004

The coroner today ruled that the inquest into the death of Government weapons expert Dr David Kelly is not to be reconvened.

Oxfordshire coroner Nicholas Gardiner, said at a special hearing today that there were no exceptional circumstances to justify reconvening the inquest into the weapons expert's death.

His ruling follows a representation from Jeremy Gompertz QC, representing Dr Kelly's family, who told the coroner that in the view of the family there were no exceptional reasons to justify such a move.

The inquest into Dr Kelly's death was adjourned last year under Section 17A of the 1998 Coroner's Act while the Hutton Inquiry was taking place.

Mr Gompertz told the court the Kelly family accepted Lord Hutton's findings "as to the mode and approximate cause of Dr Kelly's death". [...]

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Rumsfeld Caught Lying, Yet Again, On "Face the Nation."

Schieffer: Well, let me just ask you this. If they did not have these weapons of mass destruction, though, granted all of that is true, why then did they pose an immediate threat to us, to this country?

Sec. Rumsfeld: Well, you're the--you and a few other critics are the only people I've heard use the phrase `immediate threat.' I didn't. The president didn't. And it's become kind of folklore that that's--that's what's happened. The president went...

Schieffer: You're saying that nobody in the administration said that.

Sec. Rumsfeld: I--I can't speak for nobody--everybody in the administration and say nobody said that.

Schieffer: Vice president didn't say that? The...

Sec. Rumsfeld: Not--if--if you have any citations, I'd like to see 'em.

Mr. Friedman: We have one here. It says "some have argued that the nu'--this is you speaking--`that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent, that Saddam is at least five to seven years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain."

Sec. Rumsfeld: And--and...

Mr. Friedman: It was close to imminent.

Sec. Rumsfeld: Well, I've--I've tried to be precise, and I've tried to be accurate. I'm s--suppose I've...

Mr. Friedman: `No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world and the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.'

Sec. Rumsfeld: Mm-hmm. It--my view of--of the situation was that he--he had--we--we believe, the best intelligence that we had and other countries had and that--that we believed and we still do not know--we will know.

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Taos Residents to Topple Statue of Donald Rumsfeld

To mark the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war, Action Coalition of Taos and Veterans for Peace will topple a twenty-foot effigy of Taos resident Donald Rumsfeld. This action will take place during a rally at the Taos Plaza calling for the end of the Iraqi occupation, one of hundreds worldwide taking place on Saturday, March 20th with the theme "The World Still Says No to War."

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G.I. Seeks Conscientious Objector Status

By ERIK SCHELZIG, Associated Press Writer
March 16, 2004

NORTH MIAMI, Fla. - Shaken by a gunfight in Iraq that killed innocent civilians, a 28-year-old U.S. soldier declared the invasion "an oil-driven war" and said he won't return to the Middle East and fight.

Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, of Miami Beach, surrendered Monday at an air force base in Massachusetts, where he was ordered to report to his unit Tuesday at the North Miami Armory in suburban Miami.

His attorney, Louis Font, said he believes Mejia is the first soldier to turn himself in after refusing to return to Iraq. Mejia said he would seek conscientious objector status. [...]

"This is an oil-driven war, and I don't think any soldier signs up to fight for oil," Mejia said Monday after arriving at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Mejia said he was particularly upset over an incident in which he and others were ambushed and innocent civilians were hit in the ensuing gunfire.

"That's one of the things that tells me there's no such thing as a fair war, no such thing as a just war," he said.

He did not believe his refusal to return to service in Iraq affected morale among the troops, saying: "I think the morale of the soldiers is already affected." [...]

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U.S. should stop thinking it's right, and just do what's right

ANTHONY B. ROBINSON
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
03/14/04

Reinhold Niebuhr, arguably America's greatest theologian, often observed that it is not the bad people we have to worry about but the good people. By "good people" Niebuhr meant those who are so convinced of their own righteousness as to be blind to their capacity for evil. These are the ones who really ought to concern us.

One year after the war in Iraq began, Niebuhr's warning is on target. Consider what the year has revealed. We have learned that this war was on the administration's agenda when it took office, months before 9/11. The Bush administration wanted this war and was in no mood to build the international coalition or consensus that might have given it legitimacy and heightened the chances of post-war success. This crowd was too sure it was right to do it right.

The year has also revealed that the three oft-repeated reasons for war were largely without substance. Those reasons, some stated explicitly while others were implied, were that Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks, that Iraq was linked in substantive ways to al-Qaida and that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, including an active nuclear weapons program. Adding the three equaled the casus belli conclusion: Iraq posed an imminent threat to U.S. national security. Though the United States had not been attacked by Iraq, war -- a pre-emptive war -- was necessary.

None of these three reasons for war have been proved. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz even acknowledged that the weapons of mass destruction argument was simply the best way to sell the war to the American public. Last fall, a sheepish President Bush had to correct his own vice president by acknowledging there was no actual evidence linking Saddam to 9/11. And it seems that with respect to terrorism and al-Qaida, the war in Iraq has proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yes, now Iraq is a center of terrorism and a theater of operations for al-Qaida. Once again this crowd was too certain it was right for it to do right by checking its facts and having solid evidence to support its allegations.

Given the hideous record of Saddam's regime, one might manage to overlook all of the above. But perhaps the most serious failure came not before the war, but after. So confident was the administration of its power and virtue that it lacked a credible plan for post-war Iraq. Imagining that U.S. troops would be welcomed as liberators, valuable time and trust were squandered in the months following the war. As post-war reconstruction has bogged down and liberation became occupation, ordinary Iraqis, who were willing to give the United States a chance to make good on its promises, have grown angry and distrustful. The future appears ominous. [...]

Let us hope that the year's events and experience might have brought some salutary self-doubt to the Bush administration. Let us hope too that the administration begins to speak truthfully to the American public of its plans, its aims and agendas. Moreover, let us hope that the American public ceases to write the administration a 9/11-induced blank check and demands candor and accountability.

Niebuhr commented that, "Man's sin is never mere ignorance of his ignorance. It is always partly an effort to obscure his blindness by overestimating the degree of his sight and to obscure his insecurity by stretching his power beyond its limits." If events of the past year have revealed anything, it is how greatly the Bush administration has overestimated the degree of its own sight. [...]

Comment: It is highly unlikely that the turn of events in Iraq will cause any self-doubt in the Bush administration or result in honesty with the American public. Self-doubt or admission of a mistake are not understood by the psychopath. Bush and his pals lied to the people, and Americans bought it. Now we see John Kerry pulling ahead in the thoroughly unreliable polls, as if "electing" someone other than Bush into the White House will actually make any difference.

What is most surprising is the degree to which the average American is oblivious to the country's political machinations. If one researches the history of the US, it is plainly obvious that the party to which the president belongs is inconsequential. If the government bangs the drums of war, the people march to the beat, sending their children off to die for no good reason. When it's time for a changing of the guard, the people will lament the deaths of their children, saying it was their formerly beloved leader's fault. At no point will they take responsibility for their own thoughts or actions.

It is easy to follow. It is a difficult task to march to the beat of a different drummer. It is even more difficult to decide that we don't wish to follow anyone else's rhythm - that it is time to construct a new instrument inside ourselves, for ourselves.

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US seeks support for Iran stance

By Tom Allard
Foreign Affairs Reporter
March 16, 2004

A senior United States government official who is leading American efforts to rally support for tough action against Iran - including possible economic sanctions - made an undisclosed visit to Australia yesterday, meeting the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer.

The US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, John Bolton, was in Australia for less than 24 hours to talk about "security issues with government people", according to a US embassy spokeswoman.

Top of the agenda in the talks was how to tackle Iran, which has faced worldwide condemnation for hiding critical information on its nuclear weapons programs and denying weapons inspectors access.

Iran has reacted belligerently to the criticism and is regarded by the US as the biggest threat to international security after terrorists and North Korea. [...]

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After Iran inspections are scrapped, Israel urges West to keep up pressure

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Car packed with explosives found outside US consulate in Pakistan

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Suspected Russia gas blast kills 15

Tuesday March 16, 09:32 AM

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A night-time gas explosion has flattened part of a large apartment block in northern Russia, killing at least 15 people including two children, with 50 missing and presumed trapped beneath rubble, officials say.

Russia's Emergencies Ministry said the blast occurred in the far northern White Sea port of Arkhangelsk at about 3 a.m. (midnight British time), when most residents were asleep. Rescue teams had pulled 22 people alive from the entrance wrecked in the blast. [...]

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De Klerk reveals all about SA's nukes

South Africa's last white president, FW de Klerk, on Monday said Pretoria had developed atomic arms in the apartheid era without outside help and that all material from the scrapped weapons had been accounted for.

South Africa voluntarily dismantled its nuclear arms before the 1994 end of white rule. There has long been speculation it received foreign assistance for the programme, with Israel, a close ally of the apartheid regime, the prime suspect.

"We developed our own uranium-enriching process which is unique in the world," De Klerk, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela in 1993, told a group of foreign correspondents in Johannesburg.

"The fact is we did it on our own and we didn't shop in the international black market for technology and enriching processes," he said.[...]

Comment: For more on South Africa's collaborations with Israel, see our Ethnic Specific Weapons Supplement.

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France participated in genocide, says Kagame

Paris - President Paul Kagame of Rwanda accused the French on Tuesday of "directly" taking part in the 1994 genocide in his country by supplying arms and giving orders to those who massacred up to one million people.

"They supplied weapons, they gave orders and instructions to the perpetrators of genocide," he told the French state-owned RFI radio.

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Bin Laden nearly caught in Afghanistan: France

March 16, 2004 - 12:51AM

Osama bin Laden has escaped capture in Afghanistan several times and may be linked in some way to the Madrid train attacks that killed 200 people, France's chief of defence staff said.

General Henri Bentegeat said about 200 French troops were operating with US forces in south-eastern Afghanistan against the Taliban and bin Laden's al-Qaeda. The Saudi-born militant is thought to be there or just across the border in Pakistan.

"Our men were not very far. On several occasions, I even think he slipped out of a net that was quite well closed," he told Europe 1 radio yesterday. He did not specify a time frame.

General Bentegeat, who spoke as if he were sure bin Laden was in Afghanistan, said the country's difficult terrain explained why it was so hard to catch the world's most wanted man. [...]

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Biggest Solar Ever Recorded Bigger Than Previously Thought

WASHINGTON -- Physicists in New Zealand have shown that last November's record-breaking solar explosion was much larger than previously estimated, thanks to innovative research using the upper atmosphere as a gigantic x-ray detector.

Their findings have been accepted for 17 March publication in Geophysical Research Letters, published by the American Geophysical Union.

On 4 November 2003, the largest solar flare ever recorded exploded from the Sun's surface, sending an intense burst of radiation streaming towards the Earth.

Before the storm peaked, x-rays overloaded the detectors on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES), forcing scientists to estimate the flare's size. [...]

Comment: Laura discusses the announcement of this huge solar flare in her November 10th column: St. Malachy and The Toil of the Sun.

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Sedna proves existence of Oort Cloud

The object is moving within an immense comet-filled region called the Oort Cloud, whose existence until now had been merely a 50-year-old theory, Brown told reporters in a telephone conference from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

The new discovery is the first hard evidence of an Oort Cloud object, Brown said. [...]

The cloud is believed to contain as many as a billion comets, none of which will ever approach the inner solar system that includes Earth and its companion planets, Brown said. [...]

Comment: Or so they are saying for now, meanwhile there seems to be a race to build big telescopes. You can read more about the Oort Cloud in Laura's book Ancient Science.

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A Really Big Spyglass

Scientists Bulid Continent-Sized 'Telescope' in the Antarctic

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Series of small quakes rattle Imperial County

Associated Press EL CENTRO, Calif. -A series of small earthquakes shook Imperial County on Monday, but there were no reports of damage or injuries, officials said. [...]

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Argentina Glacier Loses Giant Wall of Ice

PERITO MORENO GLACIER, Argentina - Giant blocks of ice sheered off a wall of Argentina's Perito Moreno glacier, collapsing with a roar into a Patagonian lake — a spectacle not seen in 16 years. [...]

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Climate change threatens alpine ecosystems

In the high mountains, plants and animals are in a tight corner. Unlike temperate species, they have fewer capabilities for coping with change, yet the ecological "islands" they inhabit are shrinking as global warming goes on.

Scientists say that research is now indicating a grim future for alpine ecosystems. As warming encourages species from the lower slopes to invade, they outcompete creatures at the top. Populations of butterflies, low-growing alpine plants and aquatic species have all suffered, while pikas - small mammals with limited adaptive ability - are dying in droves.[...]

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Government lied about Rocky Flats, book says

By John C. Ensslin
Rocky Mountain News
March 16, 2004

A new book co-written by the foreman of the grand jury that investigated the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant from 1989 to 1991 accuses the government of lying and covering up environmental crimes at the site.

"The surprise is not a surprise, that our government lies to us and we continue to trust them," said Wes McKinley, a self-described cowboy who made an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 1996.

In the book, The Ambushed Grand Jury , published by Apex Press, Mc-Kinley and his co-author, New Mexico lawyer Caron Balkany, revive the allegation that operators at the plant in Jefferson County burned nuclear waste at night. [...]

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Blast near Pueblo Airport closes 2 schools, highway

By Rocky Mountain News
March 16, 2004

An 800-gallon tank of nitric acid exploded near the Pueblo Airport on Monday, forcing the evacuation of two schools and closing a highway.

The explosion at the Air Products and Chemicals plant, located in the Pueblo Airport Industrial Park, blew out a brick wall and punched a hole in the roof of the plant, officials said. [...]

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Study Supports New Theory For Nicotine's Protective Effect Against Neurodegenerative Disorders

[A] team of neuroscientists at the University of South Florida College of Medicine presents new evidence of an anti-inflammatory mechanism in the brain by which nicotine may protect against nerve cell death. Their study was published today in the Journal of Neurochemistry. [...]

Nicotine mimics the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a chemical messenger that is critical to communication between brain cells. Acetylcholine is the major neurotransmitter lost in Alzheimer's disease.

The prevailing hypothesis among researchers is that nicotine helps protect the brain by binding to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors that sit on the end of nerve terminals. This action by nicotine, similar to turning up the volume of a radio signal, causes brain cells to increase the release of neurotransmitters depleted in diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. [...]

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Report reveals global problem of drug-resistant TB

The largest ever survey of drug-resistant tuberculosis has unveiled "worrying" levels of the disease, with health experts warning that the issue is a global problem. [...]

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Residents attempting to bring the 'Paragould Meteorite' home

PARAGOULD -- If the efforts of the community are successful, Paragould could once again be home to the phenomenal 800-pound "Paragould Meteorite."

Larry Hancock, a lifelong resident of Paragould, recently became interested in bringing the cosmic artifact back to northeast Arkansas.

The meteorite, which crashed a few miles southwest of Finch at 4:08 a.m. on Feb. 17, 1930, is the third largest meteorite ever discovered.

W.H. Hodges, a farmer, discovered the meteorite in a hole that measured 8-feet deep. [...]

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Kids as young as nine are having sex - report

Singapore - Troubled youths are starting to have sex at younger ages, with the shocker a nine-year-old boy who had slept with an older girl, data from Singapore Children's Society cases showed on Tuesday.

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Palestinian boy arrested after being found with 10kg bomb

Nablus, West Bank: A 10-year-old Palestinian boy who was arrested yesterday in the West Bank carrying explosives, was being used by Palestinian militants as a suicide bomber, Israeli security sources said.

Witnesses at the Huwara checkpoint near here said the child, who worked as a porter, was taken into Israeli custody after he was found in possession of up to 10kg of explosives.

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Dig, wash, pray - the diamond life in Africa

Koidu - Up to his knees in caramel-coloured sludge from eastern Sierra Leone's Sewa river, Pappy Kallon shakes and rolls his wire screen, stopping only to paw through the mud in search of a sparkling diamond.

"If I don't find a diamond, I don't eat," says his partner Mike King, heaving another shovelful of muck onto the screen before it is dunked back into the river that has been endlessly diverted into craters and pits by men staking their livelihoods on the carbon-based gems.

[...] Decades of corrupt dictatorships, paid for with profits from mineral largesse, followed Sierra Leone's independence from Britain in 1961, and gave way to a rebel war from 1991 until 2001 that is considered among the most brutal in modern history.

Three times over the course of the war the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) invaded eastern Kono district, killing, raping or mutilating civilian population and plundering diamond fields to fund its bloodthirsty battles.[...]

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Warnings put 14 000 Kenyans out of work

Nairobi - Terror warnings from the United States and other countries in the past ten months have left nearly 14 000 Kenyan hotel workers unemployed, the Nairobi daily East African Standard reported on Monday.

[...] As many as 35 hotels have been forced to close, said Kenyan tourist industry officials, who have appealed to the United States to lift its latest warning. Kenya was twice the site of attacks by the al-Qaeda terror network. In 1998, an attack on the US embassy in Nairobi left more than 200 dead. In 2002, suicide bombers killed 15 in an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa.

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Diplomatic chill falls over the Caribbean

Port-au-Prince - Haiti froze its diplomatic relations with Jamaica on Monday and recalled their ambassador from Kingston just before the arrival there of ousted president Jean Bertrand Aristide, Prime Minister Gerard Latortue said.

Haitian government took the action after Aristide left his temporary exile in the Central African Republic for Jamaica during the night - much to the chagrin of American and Haitian officials who fear his return to the Caribbean region could result new incidents of unrest in his terror-ravaged homeland.

The former president will be only 200km away from Haiti, a fact that could stir up emotions among Aristide's hardcore supporters, who have been blamed for much of the violence that followed his February 29 resignation and departure from the impoverished republic.

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Sideways ballcap lands Scottsdale, Arizona teenager in jail

Comment: Woe unto those who stand up to authority figures, even if you have been classified as a "good kid".

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Privacy protecting programs killed

By Associated Press
Monday, March 15, 2004

WASHINGTON - Two cutting-edge computer projects designed to preserve the privacy of Americans were quietly killed while Congress was restricting Pentagon data-gathering research in a widely publicized effort to protect innocent citizens from futuristic anti-terrorism tools.

As a result, the government is quietly pressing ahead with research into high-powered computer data-mining technology without the two most advanced privacy protections developed to police those terror-fighting tools.

"It's very inconsistent what they've done," said Teresa Lunt of the Palo Alto Research Center, head of one of the two government-funded privacy projects eliminated last fall. [...]

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Tracking down your loved one was never so easy

Cheating spouses, protective parents and secretive teenagers will have mixed reactions to new technology which can pinpoint their location at any time.

Look4me is a new development offered by Vodacom to its subscribers, enabling them to track any other Vodacom phone user, as long as the person has given their consent. Although this service is currently offered only by Vodacom, others will provide it soon.

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ARV programme to go where none have before

South Africa's anti-retroviral programme will be the largest public health intervention of its kind that the world has yet seen.

There are now 350 000 people worldwide on anti-retrovirals (ARVs), 100 000 of those in Brazil. The South African government's roll-out programme will see 53 000 people on ARVs in the first year of the programme, and 1,4 million people by the end of 2007.

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Science wants to pause the biological clock

Paris - Once upon a time, women faced a biological clock, which tick-tick-ticked away the years of their fertility until it rang, with a dull and often dreaded clang, in their forties.

That deadline is the force behind innumerable decisions made by women, ranging from when to have a family, how to approach the dating market and how to manage their careers.

[...] But the latest research suggests that, one day, women may be able to put the clock on hold for years - and if that happens, the social impact will echo just as loudly as the introduction of the contraceptive pill in 1960. [...]

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'Highly Qualified' Teacher Rules Eased

By BEN FELLER, AP Education Writer
March 16, 2004

WASHINGTON - The nation's schools, under deadline to get a top teacher in every core class, have won some wiggle room in areas where the task hasn't survived a collision with local reality.

Rural teachers, science teachers and those who teach multiple subjects will get leeway in showing they are highly qualified under federal law, the Education Department said Monday.

Perhaps the biggest change will be in rural, isolated regions, where thousands of teachers will get an extra year — until spring 2007, three years from now — to show they are qualified in all their classes. New rural teachers will get three years from their hire date.

The easing of rules is the latest effort by the Bush administration to show it is trying to answer the biggest concerns about the No Child Left Behind Act without weakening the law. Critics have said for months that the law makes some teaching jobs even harder to fill. [...]

All states must have highly qualified teachers in all core subjects, from math to history, by the end of the 2005-06 school year. "Highly qualified" means teachers must have a bachelor's degree, state certification and proven knowledge in their subjects.

Yet in practical terms, some schools have found the requirement exasperating, particularly for teachers who handle multiple subjects. To show they are competent in their subjects, current teachers must pass a test in each topic, hold a college degree in that field or meet a standard of expertise set by their state. [...]

"A lot of people I know that teach in small towns, they're making $25,000 a year if they're lucky," she said. "To go back to school to get another couple of degrees, I don't see it happening." [...]

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Depressed photographer had vCJD

BBC
Tuesday, 16 March, 2004, 13:42 GMT

A fashion photographer sectioned under the Mental Health Act was actually suffering from the human form of mad cow disease, an inquest heard.

Richard Poole, 30, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, had been diagnosed with depression but died a week after doctors realised he had vCJD in 2003.

An inquest heard he probably got the disease from eating infected meat. [...]

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Locusts swarm across Australia

BBC
Tuesday, 16 March, 2004, 13:32 GMT

A plague of locusts that has devastated crops in the Australian outback has begun migrating south.

Heavy rains that ended a long drought in north-eastern Australia has provided ideal breeding conditions for the bugs.

Officials said the swarms that appeared in remote parts of Queensland had moved to more built-up New South Wales.

"We were just staggering out of the drought, we are incredibly frustrated," said farmer Bev Dennis, based 550 km (340 miles) west of Sydney.

"A thick haze of them came through over the weekend and chomped their way through our oats crop overnight," she added. [...]

Until the weekend, locust fighters thought they had won the battle over Australia's worst locust outbreak since December 2000. [...]

New South Wales farmer Joe Davis, who has already lost crops to the locusts, said he had been warned to expect the worst.

"In a few days, we will see locusts that will just black the sun out," he told ABC television. "There won't be a green thing, they'll even eat the clothes off the washing line."

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Astronomers dismiss Nasa's claim to have found a new planet

By Charles Arthur, Technology Editor
16 March 2004

A new planet has been discovered ­ the first to be found since Pluto in 1930 ­ Nasa, the US space agency, said last night.

There is just one problem: most astronomers do not think it is a planet, and they are sure that schoolchildren will continue to learn that there are nine, not 10, planets in the solar system.

The new discovery, named Sedna ­ after the Inuit goddess who created the sea creatures of the Arctic ­lies about 170 billion kilometres away from the Sun, roughly 90 times further away than the Earth. But its eccentric orbit means that it can moveup to 10 times further away. That takes it far into the Kuiper Belt, a collection of cosmic debris in the outer reaches of the solar system, filled with rocks and ice which never coalesced when the planets formed about six billion years ago.

Sedna is estimated to be up to 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometres) in diameter, or about three-quarters the size of Pluto, based on the light reflected from its surface detected by telescopes on Earth.

Mike Brown, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology who led the Nasa-funded team that found Sedna, said the Sun would appear so small from its surface that "you could completely block it out with the head of a pin".

Disputes about whether Sedna is a planet began well before the formal announcement of its discovery last night.

Professor Iwan Williams, the president of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), which has the final say on the classification of celestial objects, said: "If it's smaller than Pluto then it won't be classed as a planet. The fact is that, if Pluto was discovered today, it wouldn't be called a planet. It's too small, and it's not that different from any number of celestial bodies of that kind of size."

Sir Patrick Moore, the astronomer, was even more dismissive. He said: "It's not a planet; it's a Kuiper Belt object. Nor is Pluto a planet. It's a planetary body."

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Out there

Luca claims the object-flat and shaped like a Frisbee-flipped to its underside, which was as red and shiny as a Coke can.

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UFO Sightings by NASA Astronauts

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War of the Words: Scientist Attacks Alien Claims

Astronomer Philip Plait is tired of radio personality Richard Hoagland's claims. He's had enough of Hoagland's assertions that NASA is covering up evidence of extraterrestrial life, that the infamous Face on Mars was built by sentient aliens and, of late, that otherworldly machine parts are embedded in the red planet's dirt. [...]

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Fresh Fascination Focuses on the Fayette Factor

The Fayette Factor has been examined for years by collectors of Forteana, but recent attention may be the highest in years.

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Grave of Egyptian king's courtiers uncovered

Cairo - A grave believed to belong to courtiers or servants of King Aha, the first king of ancient Egypt's first dynasty, was uncovered by an American excavation mission in Abydos in Upper Egypt, a culture ministry statement said on Sunday.

The enclosure found in Abydos contains "a very well-preserved chapel surrounded with six subsidiary graves belonging to courtiers servants intended to serve the king in the afterlife".

The enclosure lies about 1,5km away from the tomb of King Aha, discovered in 1900 by British archaeologist Flinders Petrie.

Judging from skeletons found in the grave, the archaeologists concluded that the servants were most likely sacrificed to be buried near King Aha.

Expedition co-director David O'Conner said the discovery was significant because the reign of Aha is associated with major changes in royal architecture.[...]

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Ma'am, your daughter is actually a boy...

Beijng - A Chinese couple raised their only child as a girl for 13 years until a visit to the hospital alerted them to the fact that he was really a boy, state media said on Monday.

The unidentified couple, from the central city of Zhengzhou, fooled by their child's underdeveloped sexual organs, dressed him in girl's clothes and taught him to go to the ladies' room, the Zhengzhou Evening News reported.

They did not realise anything was wrong until they were baffled by a "reaction in the lower half of his body" whenever he watched pretty women on television, the paper said.[...]

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Family 'devastated' over art show

The parents of heroin addict Rachel Whitear have said they are "devastated" after learning she is to feature in a shock art show.

Rachel's mother Pauline Holcroft and her husband Mick received the news that a bloodied portrait of the 21-year-old is to go on show in London's Saatchi Gallery within hours of an announcement that her body is to be exhumed next week.

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Southeast Ohio community stunned by girl's murder

LEBANON, Ohio — Noble County's sheriff of 32 years can't remember a crime more grisly than the deliberate drowning of a little girl stuffed alive in an abandoned well and covered with heavy rocks. [...]

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John Ramsey hopes voters will see issues

CHARLEVOIX, Mich. - John Ramsey acknowledges that he forever will be known as the father of JonBenet - and that some people still consider him a suspect in her death.

But Ramsey hopes that voters in northern Michigan will focus instead on his business experience and positions on the issues as he considers a bid for the state House. [...]

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Alaska Dentists Want Fluoride in Water

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China executes 10,000 people a year: NPC delegate

BEIJING, (AFP) - China sentences to death and immediately executes around 10,000 convicted criminals every year, according to a delegate who was seeking to curb the practice at China's just closed parliamentary session. [...]

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Boy Grabs Knife After Dad Pulls Plug on Videogame

HONG KONG (Reuters) - A 13-year-old Hong Kong boy flew into a rage and threatened his parents with a kitchen knife after his father pulled the plug on his computer game, police said on Monday. [...]

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So Bush is tough on terrorism? Don't believe it

By shifting his focus to Saddam Hussein, George Bush did Osama bin Laden a big favour, writes Paul Krugman.

'My most immediate priority," Spain's new leader, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, declared on Monday, "will be to fight terrorism." But he and the voters who gave his party a stunning upset victory last Sunday don't believe the war in Iraq is part of that fight. And the Spanish public was also outraged by what it perceived as the Aznar Government's attempt to spin last week's terrorist attack for political purposes.

The Bush Administration, which baffled the world when it used an attack by Islamic fundamentalists to justify the overthrow of a brutal but secular regime, and which has been utterly ruthless in its political exploitation of September 11, must be very, very afraid.

Polls suggest that a reputation for being tough on terror is just about the only remaining political strength George Bush has. Yet this reputation is based on image, not reality.[...]

Some of the Administration's actions have been so strange that those who reported them were initially accused of being nutty conspiracy theorists. For example, the Administration is still covering up for Pakistan, whose Government recently made the absurd claim that large-scale shipments of nuclear technology and material to rogue states - including North Korea, according to a new CIA report - were the work of one man, who was promptly pardoned by President Pervez Musharraf. Bush has allowed this farce to go unquestioned.

So when the Bush re-election campaign boasts of the President's record in fighting terrorism and accuses his Democratic party opponent John Kerry of being weak on the issue, when Republican congressmen suggest that a vote for Kerry is a vote for Osama, remember this: the Bush Administration's actual record is one of indulgence towards regimes that are strongly implicated in terrorism, and of focusing on actual terrorist threats only when forced to by events.

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Suspect's friends describe a battler fighting discrimination

Muslims who knew Jamal Zougam fear that they may be guilty by association. Peter Fray reports from Madrid.

'Do I look like a terrorist to you?" asked Algerian immigrant Mohamed Boulanour, smiling yet deadly serious. "If you are Muslim, they accuse you of being a terrorist. I had problems with the police a month ago but, thanks to my lawyer, they had to let me go. They were saying I was part of al-Qaeda because I have beard."

Mr Boulanour, 40, now has much more than that. He has a notorious neighbour - the chief suspect in Madrid's train bombings, Jamal Zougam. He has been arrested with two other Moroccans in connection with the mobile phones used to detonate the 10 backpack bombs that killed 200 people, shocked the world and effectively ended eight years of conservative rule in Spain.

Authorities previously linked Mr Zougam, 30, to the al-Qaeda cell that helped plan the 9/11 attacks in New York. Yesterday his alleged involvement in the Madrid bombing strengthened after police interviewed a witness who says he saw Mr Zougam leaving a backpack on one of the ill-fated trains. The backpack did not explode, providing investigators with vital clues to the identity of the bombers.[...]

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American charged as Iraqi Spy

The Smoking Gun

MARCH 11--A former Democratic congressional aide was arrested today on charges that she worked as an Iraqi spy. Susan Lindauer, 41, has been charged with conspiring to work with the Iraqi Intelligence Service and engaging in prohibited financial transactions with Saddam Hussein's government.[...]

Comment: Hmm, Dick Cheney, Haliburton, Rumsfeld and the CIA aren't in any trouble for doing the same thing.

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U.S. Videos, for TV News, Come Under Scrutiny

By ROBERT PEAR
New York Times

WASHINGTON, March 14 — Federal investigators are scrutinizing television segments in which the Bush administration paid people to pose as journalists praising the benefits of the new Medicare law, which would be offered to help elderly Americans with the costs of their prescription medicines.

[...] The government also prepared scripts that can be used by news anchors introducing what the administration describes as a made-for-television "story package." [...]

Comment: 9/11 followed a Bush Regime written script. Everything Bush says or does is well-scripted beforehand, even though he often messes that up. This new revelation is just business as usual.

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Passion actor Caviezel meets Pope

The actor who plays Jesus in the controversial The Passion of the Christ had an audience with the Pope on Monday, the Vatican confirmed.

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'No crime' seen in man nailing himself to cross

HARTLAND - Somerset County Sheriff Barry DeLong said Monday that no charges will be filed against a Hartland man who nailed himself to a cross last Thursday evening."There is no crime here," said DeLong.

The 23-year-old man apparently was attempting to commit suicide. Police said he appeared delusional and told them he had been "seeing pictures of God on the computer." He told them he had not seen the movie "The Passion of the Christ," which violently depicts the Crucifixion of Jesus.

Somerset County Lt. Pierre Boucher said the man took two pieces of wood, nailed them together in the form of a cross and placed them on his living-room floor. He attached a note saying "suicide" to the wood and then proceeded to nail one of his hands to the makeshift cross using a 14-penny nail and a hammer.

"When he realized that he was unable to nail his other hand to the board, he called 911," said Boucher. It was unclear whether the man was seeking assistance for his injury or help in nailing his other hand down. [...]

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