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Wednesday , March 24, 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, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10

Picture of the Day

Rainbow in a hailstorm at St-Puy
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

It is necessary to observe yourself differently than you do in ordinary life. It is necessary to have a different attitude, not the attitude you had until now. You know where your habitual attitudes have led you until now. There is no sense in going on as before... You want knowledge, but what you have had until today was not knowledge. It was only the mechanical collecting of information. It is knowledge not in you but outside you. It has no value. What concern it is of yours that what you know was created at one time by somebody else? You have not created it, therefore it is of small value. [Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World, p. 168.]

How much of what you think you know do you really know? Sure, you probably have a lot of strong convictions, but have you ever really thought about where those convictions came from? Did you go out and do the research yourself, or were you the passive receptacle for someone else's work? Where did this other person get his or her ideas?

If you hold an idea that you think is true, how willing are you to let go of it when you are confronted with new data that indicates it may be wrong? There are many people from the world over who think they live in the best place on earth. They believe their language, culture, food, clothing, or way of doing things, is the way everyone should do things. When people from opposites sides of the earth, with different modes of thought and life, confront each other, how often does this lead to a fight rather than a higher understanding that these customs are relative and different, not better or worse?

If ideas and beliefs were muscles in the body, those ideas upon which we are fixed, those ideas that we refuse to put into question, are like tensed up muscles that refuse to move. We all know people who look like they are wound up tight. The muscles of their faces are taut, giving them a mask-like expression. There are other people who walk in a stilted way, with a stiff back or an inability to lift their feet. They shuffle, they don't walk. Or they look as if they will fall over in a strong wind, unable to react swiftly and gracefully to an opposing force.

When we cling to our ideas, our thought processes are as distorted as our movements when our muscles are tight. We are unable to go in certain directions even if the facts pull us that way. In the same way the tight muscle inhibits our ability to move, identification with ideas, or sacred cows, inhibits our ability to think. These limits are restrictions on our ability to be creative, to bring something entirely new into the world, fixing us in the old, worn paths that got us into the mess we are so eagerly attempting to escape. How old and worn is the path of violence? How old and worn is the path of blaming our enemies for all of our problems? How old and worn is the path of believing God is on Our Side?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to change the habits of groups. Certainly propaganda can be used to manipulate groups very quickly to agree to things that were unthinkable only the day before. Look at how 9/11 was used to bring the US people around to war, how it was used to turn France into an enemy in the minds of many US citizens. But this is not "change" in the sense we are using it here. It is a trigger to unleash dormant forces that lie in readiness. Change of the sort spoken of by Gurdjieff can only come about when an individual is willing to put the foundations of their beliefs into question. It is an individual solution, not a group solution. We can understand this because each of us must make their knowledge their own. A group solution implies accepting the knowledge of someone else because they are top-down solutions with a new set of beliefs being imposed from an authority figure on high, be it the Pope, an Imam, or God speaking into the ear of an American president. As Gurdjieff says, such knowledge has little value.

Nevertheless it is possible to work as a group to achieve these individual transformations if each member of the group takes the responsibility for his or her own quest for knowledge. By bringing ideas and information back to the group, the discussions of this data, if carried out with an open mind, and if done by working out the implications for oneself, can facilitate individual changing of attitudes.

There are many solutions offered to seekers today who can see the sorry state of our affairs. How many of these solutions have been tried and shown to be useless? What religion, what philosophy, what moral code has ever made the slightest dent in man's inhumanity to man? Each in turn has been used to justify the sending of missiles to eradicate a man in his wheelchair or some comparable crime against life and creation.

But in spite of this hopeless picture, we do not live without hope. The march towards truth is an endless process where the direction you are going is more important than the data you have accumulated. In the jargon of the day we would say it is a process, knowing that this term, as all others, has been distorted to place the focus on material and not spiritual ends. A psychopath could justify his interactions with others by saying it is only a process and his victims shouldn't focus on the consequences.

Each word has a double meaning, one leading towards the material world, the other leading out of that world towards a higher truth. There are many truths to be found within the material world, and those who are moving in that direction have every right to claim they are also in pursuit of truth. But these two truths, the material and the spiritual, move in opposite directions and stand in opposition to each other as different paths back to Creation. One moves towards consciousness, the other towards matter, two faces of Creation. We are each called upon to choose towards which face of Creation we wish to move.

World's Greatest Country, Do the Facts Lie?

March 23, 2004

On March 21, 2003, as I headed home, a day after the United States formally invaded Iraq, I ran into a colleague from Northeastern University--a professor of the humanities--at the Ruggles train station in Boston. I was aware of his political inclinations, and he of mine, from previous encounters. Still, I thought we were on friendly terms.

"I bet you oppose the war," he greeted me, as I approached him.

"Not at all," I shot back, " I wish to see Iraq liberated as much as you."

Although, it was only the second day of the war, and the bombs and missiles were accurately on target, it appeared that the tension leading up to the war had taken their toll on our colleague's nerve. He snapped at my banter. Agitated, he began to poke his finger in my face, while lecturing me about how "thankful" I should be about living in "the world's greatest country ever." Luckily, my train arrived on time--for which I am thankful--saving me from an unhinged patriot's harangue.

This was not my first encounter with the overzealous patriotism that often dominates political discourse in the United States; and not only among members of the zany right. All too often, politicians rally their audience with inflated claims of American greatness.The United States is "the greatest country in the world." At other times, it is "the greatest country ever," "the greatest country ever conceived," or "the greatest country in the history of mankind." When the exuberance soars, America also "kicks ass!"

Nearly as often, one hears of the United States as the great Samaritan: second to none at 'civilizing' half-breed races. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, the United States is the "the last best hope of mankind," no less. More frequently, it is "the shining beacon on the hill." Recently, John Kerry, Democratic Presidential candidate, roused students at UCLA, "I believe we can bring a real victory in the War on Terror. I believe we must, not only for ourselves but for all who look to America as the last best hope of earth." I have to wonder if the Vietnamese civilians killed by Kerry and his crew also looked upon them as "the last best hope of earth."

Judging from results from polls, quite a few Americans are persuaded by this rhetoric of American greatness and munificence; though my colleague from Northeastern would go into a fit over their 'fewness.' In 1955, according to a Gallup Survey, 66 percent Americans polled believed that "The United States is the greatest country in the world, better than all other countries in every possible way." In 1991, mercifully, this percentage had declined to 37 percent; five years later, it held steady at 37 percent. (This looks like the proportion of steady Republicans in this country.)

But there is a fly in the ointment. In response to a slightly altered question, 55 percent Americans agree that "the United States is the greatest country in the world, better than all others." On the worse reading, then, a clear majority of Americans still subscribe to the thesis of American uniqueness; though that majority is down to 55 percent from 66 percent. Shall we take comfort from this decline in the proportion of hyper-patriots in the US since 1955?

In the absence of polls on the issue, I will report results from my own unrepresentative annual surveys on America's civilizing mission. For several years, I have passed out a questionnaire to assess my students' preparation for my undergraduate courses in Development Economics and the Global Economy. One perennial question I ask is about US 'foreign aid.' What percentage of its gross domestic product does the United States annually allocate as foreign aid to Third World countries? I offer my students five choices: (A) One-tenth of one percent, (B) One percent, (C) Five percent, (D) Ten percent, and (E) Twenty-five percent. Incredibly, about half the class chooses C, and most of the remaining half pick D and E. Two or three 'unpatriotic' students in each class pick A or B. The correct answer is A. Perhaps, my students think it proper and patriotic to pick a percentage that makes their country look generous. [...]

Perhaps the United States is distinct because of the intensity of its nationalist claims. The standard political rhetoric maintains that the US is the "greatest in the world," "the greatest ever," or "the greatest in the history of mankind." It stands at the top of the food chain. Some older nations--that have survived many cycles of history--might think this strange. Are these upstarts trying to compensate for their late arrival on history's stage? Arguably, older nations have the self-assurance of a long and often distinguished history behind them and, therefore, do not feel compelled to stake out exaggerated claims of national greatness. But there is more to it.

I could explore the sinister objectives served by these visions of American uniqueness--how corporate capital has used it to rally Americans behind imperialist wars, to incite fears of white America against Americans of color (and, hence, divide America's working poor), or to dupe American workers into surrendering their rights to corporate capital. Since all this has been done before, I will attempt something a bit pedantic, but I hope still useful. I will examine whether the United States is indeed "the greatest country in the world, better than all other countries in every possible way?" I suspect this is a thankless task, but my work will be amply rewarded if it deflates even a little some of the illusions of American grandeur. [...]

Comment: Click here to read the rest of the article and furnish yourself with an opportunity to see how deep the lie of American "greatness" actually goes. For many years various Arab groups have called the US "the great satan". While we wouldn't use this term, it appears that far from being deluded fundamentalists, these were fundamentalists with an accurate reading of the situation. Lets face it, when your home has been demolished and your family blown apart by fighter jets bearing the insignia "USAF", you don't need much more proof.

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My Palestinian Wife

by Charley Reese
March 23, 2004

Every now and then, the rumor arises that I have a Palestinian wife. Some of my kin were highly amused by a debate on that subject that was being conducted by letters to the editor in their local paper recently.

Apparently, it does not occur to anyone simply to ask me. As a matter of fact, I don't have a wife. I'm a widower, and the one wife I had was a sweet Midwestern girl of Methodist, German and Swedish extraction. I don't have a Palestinian mistress or girlfriend. I don't even have a Palestinian bowling pal.

The recurring Palestinian wife rumor, I believe, is a result of some people finding it impossible to believe that an American would have any sympathy for the Palestinian people without an ulterior motive. That is a credit to the effectiveness of the Israeli propaganda machine, which has, for more than 50 years, stereotyped Palestinians as a wild, violent people. It is a stereotype helped greatly by the news media, which rarely reports in depth on anything foreign, and by Hollywood, where lately the venerable Nazi has been replaced as the chief villain by the Arab terrorist.

Actually, Palestinians are a gentle people. If you get to know some and hear their side of the story, you will feel sympathy for them, too, unless you have a flint heart. The Palestinians were run over by history. I know that various ethnic groups in the United States fiercely contend for the title of victim, but the Palestinians had it imposed on them.

There was nothing they could do when the Ottoman Empire absorbed their land. There was nothing they could do when the British Empire took their land away from the Ottoman Turks at the end of World War I. There was nothing they could do when the British Empire created the Palestine Mandate. There was nothing they could do when the British Cabinet, for reasons historians still argue about, decided Palestine would make a nice national home for European Jews when and if the British Empire ever decided to give up its occupation of Palestine.

That it did in 1947, after considerable encouragement by Jewish terrorist organizations - the Irgun, led by Menachem Begin, and the Stern Gang, led by Yitzhak Shamir. Yes, Jews used terrorist tactics against the British occupation, and now Palestinians are using terrorist tactics against the Israeli occupation.

In 1948, about 700,000 Palestinians were made refugees and then told they could not return to their homes. Their homes, land and businesses were eventually confiscated. In 1967, Israel seized the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria and the Gaza Strip from Egypt. These are now the "occupied territories." The state of Israel has no legal claim to even 1 square inch of any of this territory, but with the backing of the United States it has been able to tell the rest of the world to go stuff it.

Palestinians appreciate the irony of the fact that the United States went to war allegedly to get Albanian refugees back into Kosovo and went to war twice against Iraq allegedly to enforce United Nations resolutions. Of course, we've done nothing for the return of the Palestinian refugees, and we've ignored the fact that Israel is in open defiance of more than 60 United Nations resolutions. We've also ignored the fact that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that really does have weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear bombs.

For us, it's all about domestic politics. I've never heard of a Palestinian donor invited to spend the night in the Lincoln Bedroom.

All Americans should feel a great deal of sympathy for the younger generations of both Palestinians and Israeli Jews. These young people were born into a conflict started by people long dead or now in their dotage. The issue is simple: It's land. Both sides are dying over land.

You don't need a Palestinian wife to feel sympathy for these people. All you need is to know the facts. Learn the truth, and you will feel sympathy for Palestinians - but not very proud of American Middle East policy, which is a continuing failure driven by greed and cowardice on the part of American politicians. The hypocrisy of it has poisoned our image around the world.

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FLASHBACK: Sharon War Plan Exposed: Hamas Gang Is His Tool

by Jeffrey Steinberg
July 2001

Highly placed U.S.-based sources have provided EIR with details of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plans for a new Mideast war, plans that were set in motion within days of his taking office earlier this year, and which are now set to be activated. According to the sources, shortly after he was elected, Sharon met with a group of trusted political and military allies, and spelled out, in several confidential memos, a war plan targetting the Palestinian Authority, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and other Arab neighbors.

Two key factors were identified by the sources:

1. Sharon's ability to use the Hamas group as a tool for destabilizing Jordan, ultimately overthrowing King Abdullah II and establishing Jordan as a "Palestinian homeland" under Hamas control. To this end, Sharon, who was instrumental in launching the Hamas movement, has dispatched his son as an emissary to the Islamist group. Key Hamas personnel have already been infiltrated into Jordan, in preparation for Sharon's provocation of war in the days or weeks ahead, the sources said.

In many ways, the Sharon-backed Hamas targetting of Jordan is a replay of 1970's "Black September" destabilization which involved Abu Nidal, long suspected of being an asset of British and Israeli intelligence.

In the 1970s, Hamas was built up by Israeli occupying forces as a "countergang" to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) of Yasser Arafat. Individuals who later emerged as Hamas leaders were granted licenses by Israeli authorities to set up food kitchens, clinics, schools, and day-care centers, to create a governing structure alternative to Arafat's Fatah.

2. Sharon's ability to manipulate the Bush Administration into giving de facto support to the war drive. Sharon assumes that President Bush can be manipulated into supporting Israeli war provocations because Bush seeks to justify a defense buildup, which would require a perceived war danger in order to win Congressional support. Despite Sharon's public rebuke by President Bush during their June White House summit, and subsequent statements by Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsing the entirety of the Mitchell Commission proposal for confidence-building measures, leading to a final peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority, Sharon remains confident that he can ultimately achieve American support for his war manuevers.

Indeed, on July 6, testifying before Congress, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged that a war crisis would give the Administration leeway to crank up defense spending, from the current 3% of GDP, to 8-10%.

Sharon also assessed that Colin Powell and others who might not favor a war provocation, could be outmaneuvered by Israel and by U.S. "Israel Lobbyists," whom President Bush does not wish to cross. One senior aide to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld recently complained about a takeover of the Pentagon bureaucracy by Sharon's Likud party.

Hit Teams Dispatched According to the sources, Sharon has dispatched at least two Israeli hit teams to Europe, with instructions to assassinate prominent Arabs aligned with Arafat. Hamas teams are also reportedly activated—with clandestine Israeli backing—to target American assets in Europe and the Middle East. An "Islamist" terrorist attack against an American target, Sharon believes, would assure U.S. blessings for whatever "retaliation" Israel might take against Iraq, Iran, or Syria.

Sharon's so-called "moderation" after the June 1 Tel Aviv discotheque bombing was, say the sources, geared to win domestic support for a later war drive. Israeli right-wingers are fully mobilized to assure that Sharon will strike hard, the next time a suicide bomb attack occurs inside Israel. And the center-left has been lulled into believing that the "new" Sharon is more moderate, and prepared to seek a peaceful solution.

Further, the sources say,Sharon is conducting a vicious psychological operation inside Israel, to secure popular support for a war by staging continuous terror scares. One Israeli businessman confirmed that almost nightly, Israeli police enter restaurants, hotels, shops, etc., ordering patrons to evacuate due to "bomb threats." The businessman, a former Mossad official, was told by Israeli authorities that the scares are in almost all cases hoaxes, perpetrated to traumatize the public into accepting any anti-Arab military actions.

In early July, Sharon temporarily shut down the Tel Aviv water system, in another psy-war operation, claiming that there was evidence that Palestinian terrorists might have poisoned the supply. He has appointed Ury Saguy, former head of military intelligence, as the director of the Mekorot National Water Company. [...]

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Fears of Mideast outburst as Israel, Hamas declare all-out war

March 24, 2004

GAZA CITY (AFP) - The Israeli-Palestinian conflict looked on the verge of a major spate of bloodletting as the new leader of the Islamist movement Hamas and the Jewish state declared all-out war on each other.

Hamas firebrand Abdelaziz Rantissi became head of the movement in the Palestinian territories late Tuesday, succeeding the assassinated Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and vowing to avenge his death by relentlessly striking Israel.

"We will fight them until the liberation of Palestine, the whole of Palestine," he told thousands of Hamas supporters gathered here to extend their condolences for Yassin.

Rantissi, considered a hardliner within the Islamist group, called on the military wing -- the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades -- to "teach Israel a lesson".

Despite the barrage of international condemnation that followed Monday's assassination of the wheelchair-bound cleric, Israel pledged to pursue the same policy and wipe out the whole leadership of the Islamist movement. [...]

The UN Security Council was also on collision course after the United States and the Palestinians vowed no compromise over Yassin's death, the highest-profile assassination by Israel since the start of the intifada three and half years ago.

The council adjourned in deadlock Tuesday night as the United States insisted it would not accept condemning the killing without reference to Hamas, the group Yassin founded.

But the Palestinians, represented by lone Arab council member Algeria, said they would not agree to any resolution that mentioned Hamas, which has claimed scores of deadly attacks on Israel in recent years. [...]

Comment: The US refuses to condemn the act of obliterating a physically disabled man in a wheelchair with three missiles. Where is the outrage over the sheer magnitude and lunacy of such an attack on one disabled man, terrorist or not? As far as the US is concerned, Yassin's death is no big deal. We beg to differ. The assassination of Yassin by Sharon and the Zionists has predictably resulted in a great deal of anger towards Israel and the US. How long before war breaks out in the Middle East? How long before there is another attack in the US?

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Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and top aides approved the order to target all senior militants after assassinating the wheelchair-bound Hamas cleric Ahmed Yassin outside a Gaza mosque Monday, security sources said. This Reuters graphic shows a possible helicopter launched missile that Israel may be using to target Hamas members. ( Reuters Graphic)

New Hamas Chief Vows All-Out Revenge

By Nidal al-Mughrabi
March 24, 2004

GAZA (Reuters) - The new leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas in its Gaza Strip power base, Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, Wednesday pledged all out revenge on Israel for killing his predecessor Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. [...]

"... Since the enemy has targeted our leadership... and a big symbol like Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, it is the right of the resistance to respond against the big Zionist heads," he said.

Asked if that included Sharon, he said: "Yes, including Sharon, but this is up to the military leadership in the field and its capabilities. I hope that they are successful."

Another senior Hamas official aid the group had no intention of attacking U.S. targets following Yassin's assassination.

"It's not in our policy to target Americans or American interests," Hamas political leader Sayed Seyam told Reuters.

The State Department had told Americans that Hamas had threatened revenge on U.S. interests after Yassin's death, telling them to leave the Gaza Strip and also advising against travel to Israel or the West Bank.

Seyam said the travel warning was "misleading information" from a government that had blessed Yassin's killing. [...]

Comment: It does not matter what Hamas leaders say now. The American media has made the connection between Al-Qaeda and Hamas, and that's all it takes to convince the sleeping masses. A reader posted the following to Signs Interactive:

Well, it worked. Sharon's murder of Sheik Ahmed Yassin has incited the predicted responses from Hamas who are now calling for revenge. And the resulting 'small scale' mayhem may not be the worst of it.

This morning I noticed that all four major New York dailies had pictures of a Hamas 'army' on their front covers. Some of the papers' had captions like "Target USA" - because the Palestinians are pointing to the US's culpability and implicit support of Sharon in this matter.

This will now effectively connect the Palestinian/ Israeli conflict with al-Qaeda "terrorism" in many people's minds and shore up support for Sharon's own "war on terror". Sadly, this event is another mark of where things are going in the Middle East.

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New Hamas chief rules out ceasefire as Sharon appeals for peace with Arabs

March 24, 2004

GAZA CITY (AFP) - New Hamas leader Abdelaziz Rantissi ruled out any ceasefire with Israel until it ends its occupation of the Palestinian territories, as Israeli premier Ariel Sharon appealed for peace with the Arab world. [...]

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon struck a more conciliatory note, declaring in a speech to mark the 25th anniversary of Israel's peace treaty with Egypt that the Jewish state sought peace with the entire Arab world, including the Palestinians.

"This is the kind of peace Israel is striving for, not only with Egypt and Jordan but with all Arab countries, first and foremost with our neighbours Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority," he told deputies.

"Israel is willing to march forward again with its neighbours, beyond the already existing peace, with depth and determination, exactly as it did 25 years ago in signing the peace agreements with Egypt."

Yassin's killing prompted Egypt to abruptly withdraw from the celebrations, with President Hosni Mubarak expressing undisguised disgust at the assassination. [...]

Comment: Apparently, Sharon - who allegedly personally oversaw the assassination of Yassin - defines peace as obliterating Palestinians with missiles. War is peace - gee, where have we heard that before?

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Roadmap to Hell: They Shoot Men in Wheelchairs, Too?

March 23, 2004

It's hard for me to believe, even though I consider myself pretty hardened to the murderous acts of governments, especially the governments of Israel and the United States, but the murder by missile of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in the streets of Palestine represents an escalation in incredulity in those countries' war on the Arab and Muslim peoples. Not only did they kill a man in a wheelchair, but they killed him and seven others with a missile more restrained militaries use on whole city blocks.

Now, I'm a secular human and consider religion and politics to be an incredibly volatile mix. As any reader knows, this is not a singular opinion, nor is it inaccurate. Indeed, the history books and the newspapers are full of conflicts fueled by this exact mix. Nonetheless, one is a fool if they don't acknowledge the fundamental role Hamas plays in the Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. That being said, it is apparent to most of the world that this murder was intentional and designed to provoke not only an end to any kind of "roadmap" to peace, but to create the conditions for all-out war between the Israeli occupiers and the Palestinian resistance.

The religious nature of Hamas and other non-secular groups within the Palestinian resistance is now secondary to the need for solidarity among all resistance organizations. Just like the US war on Iraq seems to be forming alliances among former enemies who are all opposed to the US occupation of their country, Ariel Sharon's ongoing war on the Palestinians is creating alliances amongst the various groups in the Palestinian resistance.

Although the rest of the world is virtually unanimous in its disapproval, Washington has said nothing to condemn this cowardly act. Not that I'm surprised, of course. Despite their denials of any foreknowledge, the lack of regret indicates that Bush and his henchmen consider Yassin's death to be a good thing. It also proves that there is no real desire for peace in Washington unless that peace comes solely on Washington's terms. Even if the US had no prior knowledge of this murder, it is their support of Tel Aviv's ongoing actions in the Territories that created the space for Sharon's military to commit this act.

What happens next is up in the air, although it is certain to be bloody. If I were an Israeli, I would be in the streets demanding Sharon and his cabinet step down immediately. If I were a Palestinian, I would be in the streets demanding justice. Not revenge, but justice. Unfortunately, in the current dynamic maintained by Israel and Washington, sometimes revenge seems to be the only outlet, since justice has been made more elusive than peace and less likely than death.

Leaders of the West wonder why desperate men and women blow themselves up along with hundreds of others. Others around the world wonder why those same leaders kill men in wheelchairs.

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Israel invades Gaza refugee camp

Wednesday 24 March 2004, 14:33 Makka Time, 11:33 GMT

Israeli tanks have invaded a refugee camp in the occupied Gaza Strip as Hamas announced a new chief to replace Shaikh Ahmad Yasin, who was assassinated last week.

About 10 Israeli tanks backed by helicopters stormed Khan Yunis camp early on Wednesday. Bulldozers destroyed several civilian homes, leaving an unknown number of Palestinians homeless, said witnesses.

Sixty terrified families were forced to flee their homes as the tanks opened fire. There were no immediate reports of clashes or casualties.

In the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, an elderly Palestinian man died on Wednesday after inhaling tear-gas fired by Israeli occupation forces.

Another Hamas activist who had sustained gunshot wounds to the head by Israeli troops died on Wednesday in Gaza City.

Troops fired the gas to disperse protesters on Tuesday.

Israel kept pressure high on Gaza, two days after a helicopter attack killed Shaikh Yasin and nine others, including his son-in-law. Another 17 people were injured in the attack, including two of his children.

[...] Meanwhile, Hamas said it appointed Abd Al-Aziz al-Rantisi as the resistance group’s new chief in Gaza.

Al-Rantisi has survived a previous Israeli assassination attempt.

Khalid Mishaal, a Hamas leader based in Syria, still heads the group's political bureau, the main decision-making body.

Comment: In the United Nations, the US once again backed Israel and refuse to compromise on a Security Council resolution condemning the assassination. What kind of people are these in power in the US and Tel Aviv? The killing of Shaiykh Yasin, using missiles to murder him in his wheel chair, is outrageously horrendous. Israel has announced that all Hamas leaders are targets. Yet the US stands by and says nothing more than that his killing: "escalated tensions in Gaza and the greater Middle East, and sets back our effort to resume progress toward peace". There is no humanity in these words. These are the words of a computer programme calculating the odds and the next move.

The following analysis of the bombing was sent to the list TogetherNet.

[...] Therein lies its dilemma. If it were to withdraw, then it leaves itself open to attack from the surrendered territory, for the population will not go along with the separation from the majority in the West Bank and Gaza. They would simply declare that a phase of the liberation has been completed, some of the territory 'liberated' and ratchet up the resistance. A police force needs to be put in place to prevent this. In this political void, Hamas would be the de-facto government. This is unacceptable to Israel, as is the prospect of legitimating PLO rule. The only option is to create a 'failed State'; and then insist that the international community provide security services for Israel, preferably with United States leadership. A 'Humanitarian Intervention'. It is hoped that the UN will be tasked with providing sanction for such an intervention on the basis of previous interventions in Kosovo and East Timor.

Hamas is at present the only organization providing the infrastructure for vital social services to the approximately 1.2 million Palestinians in the Gaza strip. In many ways they stand between the widespread social destruction of the Gazian population and its attendant manifestation into starvation and epidemic. Starvation and epidemic are the hallmarks of a failed State. They are also the hallmarks of genocide and politicide. Without a political structure, a population is doomed to an existence that is dependent on outside assistance.

The execution of Yassin is to provide the pretext for an assault on the entire social services apparatus of Hamas. If the spiritual head is to eliminated; it stands to reason that the entire social services structure of Hamas is to be eliminated as well. After all, they do provide legitimation for an organization that engages in `terrorism'. A doctor working in a Hamas clinic, is to be targeted along with the warriors they sometimes treat. Expect hellfire missiles fired into medical clinics on the pretext that a Hamas `militant' is being treated there. It is a simple slide from the extra-judicial execution of a `ticking bomb', to the execution of the symbolic head of the organization, to the execution of a functionary of the social services division.

Yassin was executed to enable the stakes to be ratcheted up and the violence escalated. The Utilitarian outlook of the Israeli Government has long been demonstrated by their willingness to sacrifice the lives of a few civilian Israelis for the greater good of the Jewish State. In these circumstances, a few Israeli lives is deemed to be worth the goal of ridding the Jewish State of 1.2 million units of a demographic time bomb. Gaza is not simply to be abandoned; it is to be destroyed and cast-off as simply another savage Failed State.

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Yassin death may signal massive Israeli offensive: Chinese expert 2004-03-24 13:03:46

BEIJING, March 24 (Xinhuanet) -- Israel's killing on Monday of Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin may signal a new round of major Israeli military offensive, a Chinese expert on Middle East issues said on Tuesday.

The new military operations, in turn, could be the prelude to Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which is part of its unilateral plan of separation, said Ma Xiaolin, editor-in-chief ofthe Chinese-language Globe magazine, in an article on the assassination of Yassin.

Before taking the job in the Globe magazine, Ma had been chief of Xinhua Gaza Bureau and authored two books on bloody conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel's use of three missiles to kill a 66-year-old man confined to a wheelchair shows how deeply the Israeli government hates him and the radical Islamic group, Hamas, he founded and guided over the years, the article said.

Few know that Israel had been keeping Yassin as a rival to Yasser Arafat, a design aimed to keep the Palestinians divided. But much against its will, Israel quickly found out that it had raised a deadly tiger.

Hamas, different from Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization in ideology and ideal, adopted the extreme tactics of suicidal bombing in their fight against Israel's occupation of theWest Bank and Gaza Strip.

Arafat has never succeeded in taking Hamas under his control and his efforts for peace with Israel have repeatedly been shattered by Hamas attacks on Israeli targets, which are seen by Israel and the United States as terrorist acts.

Now the Israeli government under Ariel Sharon has lost patience with the Palestinians and appeared determined to go ahead with its plan to settle the issue, which envisions a pull-out of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip.

But what deeply worries Sharon is the prospect of Hamas taking control of Gaza and using it as a launch pad for future attacks on Israel, Ma said. So it becomes essential for the Israeli government to substantially weaken Hamas if not to wipe it out.

To give the Gaza Strip to a secular Palestinian authority is a better choice for Israelis to make, Ma said in the article.

Before Monday's killing of Yassin, the Israeli government had said that an all-out war would be launched against Hamas to destroy all terrorist bases and facilities. So the assassination could be taken as a prelude to a new wave of massive Israeli military operations, Ma said.

In the long run, the death of Yassin and a greatly weakened Hamas would help secular Palestinians to put the situation under their control and to reduce obstacles in the peace process.

But the immediate danger is that the Sharon government has ignited a volcano of wrath which is set to be followed by a new wave of reprisals and blood letting never witnessed before, Ma concluded.

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Yasser Arafat and Hizbulah leader “are next on the list” Warns chief of the Israeli Army

JERUSALEM. (Europa Press) — Following the assassination of Ahmed Yassin, the Israeli Army already has new targets in its sights. General Chief of Staff Moshé Yaalon, has today warned Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian Authority and Hassan Nasrala, leader of the Shiite organization Hizbollah that “their turn is coming”.

Arafat and Nasrala “have understood that they are next on the list”. Yaalon made this statement during a seminar in Tel Aviv, referring to both leaders’ condemnation of the selective attack on the sheik. According to the Israeli Army chief, the assassination is a severe blow to the Hamas organization.

Yasser Arafat and the executive committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) condemned the assassination of Ahmed Yassin by the Israeli Army in Gaza and warned that Israel has now “crossed the line”.

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Ayoon wa Azan (A Sensitive Man)

Jihad Al Khazen Al-Hayat 2004/03/23

I wrote this article a day before Sheikh Ahmad Yassin's assassination. Everything I have heard and read from Israeli sources justifying the assassination applies to Ariel Sharon. He is responsible for killing hundreds of Palestinian women and children among thousands of civilians. Moreover, Sharon is the one who tries to find, a new method to destroy the peace process, on a daily basis.

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U.S. shuts embassy, consulate after threat

Last Updated Wed, 24 Mar 2004 6:41:01

ABU DHABI, UAE - Acting on a "specific threat" received Wednesday morning, the United States government has closed its embassy and consular office in the United Arab Emirates for an indefinite period of time.

Officials are giving no details about the nature of the threat, which comes two days after the Palestinian militant group Hamas said it would start looking at American targets in the wake of Israel's assassination of its founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

New leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi backed away from that threat Wednesday, saying the agenda of Hamas is to fight Israel, not to attack foreign targets.

"We are inside Palestinian land and acting only inside Palestinian land. We are resisting the occupation, nothing else," Rantisi told reporters in Gaza. "Our occupation will continue just inside our border here inside our country."

The U.S. government said it was "deeply troubled" by Monday's attack on the quadriplegic cleric as he left a mosque, but Palestinian groups have long accused the Americans of being soft on Israel's policy of targeted killings.

[...] In another development Tuesday, American citizens were warned to avoid travelling in the Middle East and North Africa.

The U.S. State Department issued an alert for those areas, saying it is "deeply concerned about the heightened threat of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests abroad.

"The department is also concerned about the potential for demonstrations and violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests in the region and throughout the world in response to [Yassin's] death," the statement read.

Comment: Feel safer now? The war on terrorism is such a success that US citizens should stay away from North Africa and the Middle East. Does this include US soldiers? But not only that, they are worried about US citizens throughout the world! Yankee, stay home!

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Assassination of German president foiled

Tuesday March 23, 10:30 PM

BERLIN (Reuters) - German President Johannes Rau has cancelled a planned visit to Djibouti after German security services warned him of an assassination plot, his office says.

The statement said the security services had received information that an Islamist group planned to kill him during a visit to the Horn of Africa state to meet German troops stationed there.

The decision to cancel the visit comes amid heightened security fears following the recent train bombings in Madrid by a group suspected to be linked to al Qaeda. [...]

But Djibouti's Communications Minister Rifki Abdoulkader Bamakhrama told Reuters he was not aware of any plot against Rau, who had also been due to meet his Djibouti counterpart.

"There is no plot against any president from any country... There is no risk signalled by our security service," he said, insisting that his country was stable. [...]

Although it opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq, Germany has cracked down hard on militant Islamists since it emerged that several of the plotters behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States had lived in the country as students.

German navy personnel are serving in Djibouti as part of the U.S.-led "Enduring Freedom" operation against al Qaeda militants. Dozens of suspected militants have been arrested in the Horn of Africa over the past 15 months. [...]

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Parliament will get 15ft wall to thwart terrorists

By Paul Gilfeather Whitehall Editor
Mar 24 2004

A HUGE concrete wall is to go up around the Houses of Parliament to ward off terror attacks.

The planned replacement of Westminster's historic iron railings by a forbidding 15ft-high barrier topped with razor wire is stark evidence of the security threat now facing Britain.

Tougher measures were already on the way to protect Premier Tony Blair and MPs.

Now the embarrassing scaling of Big Ben by two anti-war protesters last weekend has added urgency to a clampdown dubbed Operation Fortress Commons.

A minister close to its planning said: "We must start taking security here seriously if we want to avoid a strike at the heart of our democracy."

Police with shoot-to-kill orders will patrol Parliament's perimeter, currently protected from car bombers by concrete blocks.


MACHINE gun-carrying police instructed to shoot to kill are to patrol in front of Parliament's new ring of concrete.

[...] A shoot-to-kill policy is being planned following the ascent of Big Ben by two anti-war protesters.

A minister close to Operation Fortress Commons said: "If somebody scaled the White House, they would be shot immediately.

"We must start taking security here seriously if we want to avoid a strike at the heart of our democracy. Shoot-to-kill sounds incredibly extreme but until people see that we have such measures in place we will continue to be seen as a joke.

"The intruders at the weekend were very lucky not to be made an example of. The next people who try such a stunt might not be so lucky."

Comment: Yes indeedy. Defending democracy with 15-foot walls and shoot-to-kill orders. This is normal, business as usual. It is just the way things have to be to avoid a strike"at the heart of our democracy." It was the anti-war protest of two brothers climbing St Stephen's tower last week that set this latest totalitarian juggernaut rolling. We all know that if Mossad and the CIA, oops, we mean al Qaeda, wanted to bomb the Brits, they would do it in by climbing the walls of Parliament.

This politician says that the two anti-war protesters were lucky not to have been made examples of after their escapade. So they are lucky to have not been treated as terrorists? The distinction between dissent and terror is a fine line in the minds of the psychopaths in power, be it in Washington, in Tel Aviv, or in London. You have been warned. Protest at your own risk.

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French embassies 'targeted by terror threat'

PARIS, March 23 (AFP) - Several French embassies in Muslim countries have received threats in the past few days from a group claiming ties to Chechen rebels, a French law enforcement source in Paris said Tuesday.

The letters, sent to diplomatic missions in "seven or eight countries, principally Muslim ones," were signed by a group calling itself the "Mosvar Barayev Commando," the source speaking on condition of anonymity said.

[...] The "Mosvar Barayev" reference in the latest threats appeared to refer - albeit with a misspelling - to Movsar Barayev, the Chechen rebel who led a daring October 2002 hostage-taking episode in a Moscow theatre. He was killed in an assault by Russian security forces.

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Polish PM Leszek Miller sees the writing on the wall after the change of government and policy in Spain

Poles pave way for talks on EU superstate

By Kate Connolly in Berlin, George Jones and Toby Helm

Negotiations on a new constitution for the European Union were dramatically revived yesterday when Germany and Poland paved the way for agreement to be reached by the end of June.

The 12-week deadline means arguments over plans to create a European "superstate" could dominate the campaign for European elections on June 10 and land Tony Blair with a parliamentary battle to ratify the treaty in the run-up to the next election.

The proposed constitution transforms the EU from a treaty-based grouping of sovereign countries into a single legal entity.

The EU - which will nearly double in size to 25 from May - will have all the trappings of a state, including an anthem, a currency, a military arm and a justice department. [...]

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Return of Australian troops from Iraq becomes election issue

Wednesday March 24, 4:39 PM

Plans by the Labor opposition to bring Australian troops home from Iraq by Christmas became an election issue as the government claimed the move would leave Australian civilians dangerously exposed in Baghdad.

Opposition leader Mark Latham said Tuesday that with a planned handover of power to a new Iraqi government at the end of June, Australia's 850 troops and advisers could be home by December if Labor wins the elections expected at the end of the year. [...]

Latham announced the plan as a new poll showed two thirds of Australian voters fear Australia's decision to join the US-led war in Iraq had increased the chances of terrorist attack here.

The Australian newspaper said its Newspoll findings were the clearest sign yet that voters are dubious about government assurances that involvement in the Iraq war would not increase the terrorist threat.

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Australia warns Pacific neighbours to tighten airport security or face bans

Wednesday March 24, 3:32 PM

Australia warned its Pacific island neighbours it may refuse landing rights to aircraft from countries with lax airport security amid fears they could be the next launching pad for terrorist attack. [...]

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China throws out US plan to fingerprint its citizens

Wednesday March 24, 3:33 PM

China rejected plans by the United States to fingerprint its citizens applying for non-immigrant visas, calling it a discriminatory move that infringed on human rights.

"This measure has caused strong dissatisfaction among the Chinese people and in different social circles," the foreign ministry said on its website, a day after it called off its human rights dialogue with the US.

Beijing suspended the dialogue after Washington announced it would propose a resolution to condemn China for rights abuses at the ongoing annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. [...]

"The US claims this measure is a global measure but many other countries citizens do not have to do this, so this practice is discrimination and China cannot accept it," the foreign ministry said. [...]

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Iraq under the U.S. thumb

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

In London, they unfurled a protest sign on Big Ben; in Rome a million demonstrators filled the streets. Here in Iraq, there were no such spectacular markings of the one-year anniversary of the invasion — a sign, the BBC speculated, that Iraqis are generally pleased with the progress of their liberation.

Yet, as I was driving around Baghdad on March 20, the eerie quiet felt like a sign of something else: that symbolic anniversaries are an unaffordable luxury when the war they are supposed to be marking is still being waged. Several demonstrations were planned for the 20th in Baghdad but were cancelled at the last minute, a response to three days of rapid-fire attacks on Iraqi and foreign civilians.

On March 19, an anti-occupation march designed as a show of unity between Sunni and Shia Muslims was much smaller than organizers had hoped, and no wonder: Less than three weeks ago, 70 people were killed in a horrific attack on the same Shia mosque where demonstrators were meant to gather. To underscore the threat, U.S. occupation chief Paul Bremer chose the day of the planned protests to predict that more such major attacks were likely "when you have masses of Shia together." Those who dared to show up despite the warnings glanced around nervously, while men armed with Kalashnikovs lined the streets and rooftops, looking for signs of trouble.

It's worth remembering that just two months ago, the mood here was distinctly less tentative. In January, more than 100,000 Iraqis took to the streets of Baghdad and Basra to reject the U.S. plan to appoint an interim government through a complicated system of regional caucuses, and to demand direct elections instead. Under intense pressure, Mr. Bremer was forced to scrap the caucus plan entirely. For a brief moment, it looked as if U.S. President George W. Bush's empty talk of bringing democracy to Iraq might just become a reality, not because the occupiers were serious about giving Iraqis self-determination, but because Iraqis seemed determined to seize that power despite their occupiers' best efforts.

Now, after a month of terror and steady assertions from "experts" that Iraq is on the verge of civil war, much of that boldness has retreated. Which is precisely why they call it terrorism: It sends people from the streets into their homes, replacing courage with fear, self-reliance with dependency.

There are rare exceptions, such as the recent Spanish elections, when populations seem to collectively decide to try something else — to respond to horror with defiance. But more often than not, terrorism simply terrorizes.

But if terrorism sows fear, an obvious point, the obvious question is: Who benefits most from the spreading fear in Iraq? According to President Bush, the winners are faceless evildoers bent on undermining Iraq's future democracy. "They understand that a free Iraq will be a devastating setback to their ambitions of tyranny over the Middle East," he explained on the anniversary. According to Mr. Bremer, that means that the attacks will likely continue as the June 30 handover approaches.

It's a nice theory, but it's not the one gaining currency on the streets of Baghdad. Just 20 minutes after the devastating bombing of the Mount Lebanon hotel last Wednesday, the rumours began to fly: It was the Americans, the Pentagon, the CIA, the British. If these conspiracy theories have traction, maybe it's because the occupying forces have so brazenly taken advantage of the attacks to do precisely what they accuse foreign terrorists of doing: interfering with the prospect of genuine democracy in Iraq.

When it was only occupation targets — contractors, police — getting hit by the resistance soldiers, it made the occupation seem inept and out of control, bolstering the argument that the United States should pull out and hand over power to Iraqis or a more neutral international force. But now that the targets have clearly expanded to include Iraqi civilians, as well as foreign aid workers and journalists, the White House is attempting to make the Iraqis themselves seem out of control, riven with religious and ethnic hatreds, incapable of governing themselves without U.S. involvement.

With doubt successfully cast on the prospects for Iraqi democracy, and terrorist attacks ensuring that there are far fewer Iraqis in the streets demanding their democratic rights, Mr. Bremer is on the verge of accomplishing what seemed impossible just two months ago: installing an interim Iraqi government that is fully controlled by the United States.

It now looks almost certain that Iraq's first "sovereign" government will be created by a process even less democratic than the abandoned caucus system: The U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council will simply be expanded in size.

This body is so discredited here that it is called the "governed council," but widespread objections have so far been drowned out by the nightly attacks.

Mr. Bremer has also managed to use the terrorist attacks to make sure that Iraq's next government will be able to do nothing but implement his orders. Earlier this month, his plan to push through an interim constitution seemed doomed, with several members of the Governing Council refusing to sign the contentious document. But after the devastating attacks on Shia religious sites on March 2, Iraqi leaders came under pressure to sign the document as a show of national unity and stability.

The interim constitution, signed two weeks ago, states that, "The laws, regulations, orders, and directives issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority ..... shall remain in force." The laws include Mr. Bremer's Order 39, which drastically changes Iraq's previous constitution to allow foreign companies to own 100 per cent of Iraqi assets (except in natural resources), and to take 100 per cent of their profits out of the country, paving the way for massive privatizations.

Defying Mr. Bremer's orders won't be an option after the "handover." The interim constitution clearly states that the only way these laws can be changed is by a three-fourths vote by the Iraqi transitional government. According to the same constitution, that body won't exist until elections are held in early 2005.

In other words, on June 30, the occupation won't end, it will simply be outsourced to a group of hand-picked Iraqi politicians with no democratic mandate or sovereign power. With its new Iraqi face, the government will be free from the ugly perception that Iraq's national assets are being auctioned off by foreigners, not to mention being unencumbered by input from Iraqi voters who might have ideas of their own.

At the economic forum on Iraq held in Beirut last week, Nassir al-Jadarji, a member of the Governing Council, assured potential investors that the deals made by these mandateless politicians will be passed on to Iraq's future elected leaders. "Our policies toward investments will not change in any form, and we assure the complete honouring of signed contracts," he said.

Some wonder why any company would even want to buy up pieces of a country as chaotic and dangerous as Iraq. Perhaps the real question should be: With the Iraqi people living amidst so much chaos and danger, who is going to stop them?

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Iraqi Independence to be a Sham

JIM KRANE, ASSOCIATED PRESS - The United States says Iraq will be sovereign, no longer under military occupation, on June 30. But most power will reside within the world's largest U.S. Embassy, backed by 110,000 U.S. troops. The fledgling Iraqi government will be capable of tackling little more than drawing up a budget and preparing for elections, top U.S. and Iraqi officials say.

''We're still here. We'll be paying a lot of attention and we'll have a lot of influence,'' a top U.S. official said on condition of anonymity. ''We're going to have the world's largest diplomatic mission with a significant amount of political weight.'' [...]

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Iraq to send oil mission to Japan next month: governing council chief

Wednesday March 24, 4:50 PM

Iraq plans to send a mission to Japan next month to discuss technical cooperation on oil and gas production in the war-ravaged country, the current chief of Iraq's interim Governing Council said.

"There is one project between Iraq and Japan on oil development or cooperation.... A mission from Iraq's oil ministry will visit Japan (next month) for further talks," Mohammad Bahr Ulum told reporters here.

"We would very much like to see Japanese technical cooperation," he told the Japan National Press Club through an Arabic-Japanese translator. [...]

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White House in row over September 11 evidence

Julian Borger in Washington
Wednesday March 24, 2004
The Guardian

The White House was facing a crisis in confidence yesterday over its handling of the al-Qaida threat prior to September 11, as a public inquiry into the attacks demanded to question George Bush's national security adviser.

The September 11 commission insisted that Condoleezza Rice appear at today's session, even though the Bush administration has warned that a public grilling of a member of presidential staff would breach constitutional protocol.

Comment: The only time Bush seems to care about the constitution is when he uses it to defend himself or a member of his administration.

The standoff with the inquiry could damage the White House's popularity in a tightly contested presidential campaign, in which President Bush is concentrating on his reputation as a decisive wartime leader.

The commission is due to submit its final report on July 26, just before the Democratic party's convention.

Ms Rice has become a lightning rod for criticism of the administration after the publication of a White House memoir by the president's former top counter-terrorism adviser, Richard Clarke.

Mr Clarke portrayed Ms Rice as ill-informed about the seriousness of the threat posed by al-Qaida. He said she "gave me the impression she had never heard the term before".

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The Zionists Who Orchestrated The 9-11 Attacks

Zionist Commando Daniel Lewin Orchestrated The 9-11 Terrorist Attacks

His Troops Stole Arab Identites While Mossad Agents In Hollywood, Florida Assassinated Mohammed Atta And Framed Him For The Crime


Investigative Report -- [Bill: This is part of one of the most intriguing pamphlets on 9-11 I have ever seen published. I have been unable to find any other copies of it available on the Internet. It hasn't gotten circulation because its publisher (author is unknown) was arrested on trumped up charges soon after it hit the press, and that publisher has been held in solitary confinement while these pamphlets have been languishing without a distributor. Here is the first lengthy excerpt . I hope to excerpt more. This starts with the dancing Zionists, which is well known, and then goes deeper than any other investigation I have seen into this topic:]

Comment: This article appears to have some good information on 9/11 being an Israeli operation. Their news section has many articles calling into question the accepted version of 9/11. Unfortunately, it is a site devoted to the NESARA act that we mentioned yesterday as well as the channelings of Sheldon Niddle and support for the coming of our saviors, the space brothers! We see how disinfo works. The prediction of NESARA being announced on Monday has now morphed and various justifications are being given to explain away the delay. In this way, people are led by the nose into deeper and deeper false beliefs. Accepting one lie, seeing it exposed, and refusing to acknowledge they have been had, they commit themselves even further to the lie by buying into the justification. They are moving further and further from objective reality in each step.

We have no doubt that many of the readers of fourwinds10 are sincere seekers. They see many of the lies around them, but they are being led astray by the Pied Piper of "someone will save me if only I believe hard enough." Not understanding that they must overcome all of their programming, they fall for en explanation that allows them to maintain part of the illusion, the way the Patriot sites work for those who see the lies but are still mired in the material world of guns and protecting their 40 acres and a mule.

All these illusions must be abandoned if one is to really free oneself from the hold of the material world, the 'A' influences, and the General Law, that is, the mechanical play of forces that strives to keep us in "our place."

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Phrase 'one nation under God' is under fire

Last Updated Wed, 24 Mar 2004 6:01:02

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a landmark case Wednesday as religious libertarians try to remove the phrase "one nation under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance recited by public school students each morning.

The U.S. Senate rose as a group to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in June of 2002, after a lower court ruled against "one nation under God."

They say it violates the U.S. Constitution, which bans religious exercises in publicly funded institutions.[...]

The words "under God" are not part of the original Pledge of Allegiance, written in 1892. They were added in 1954, during the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

By law, public school students can't be forced to recite the pledge, but Laycock said it's unfair to create a "coercive environment" where other students utter the contentious words all around the objectors.

Supporters of including "under God" say that's nonsense.

"Look, it's part of the American experience," said Jay Sekulow, one of the lawyers asking the court to keep the pledge intact. "We'd be denying reality if we said religion and patriotism are not our experience."

Comment: Thomas Jefferson, the third US president, thought people's religious beliefs were a private matter. He thought that people should keep them to themselves, and he did this his entire life, never pronouncing upon his beliefs in public and refusing permission to his correspondents who wished to make his private letters public. How much different is this attitude to that of today's believers, who somehow feel compelled to prove their belief by imposing them upon those around them. Why not just shut up about it and know that it is a private matter with your Creator. The separation of church and state in the US today is a joke. "In God We Trust" is on every coin. God Bless America is the unofficial national anthem. The President can refer to his conversations with God, giving him military advice on the invasions of heathen countries.

One of the lawyers cited said "Look, it's part of the American experience. We'd be denying reality if we said religion and patriotism are not our experience." Unfortunately, religion and patriotism are a little too much a part of the American experience. As far as we are concerned, why not acknowledge this as a thing of the past and then change it. American religion and patriotism have done nothing good for anyone on the face of the planet. Their evangelical version of Christianity is a faith for unthinking idiots like Bush, with a literal belief in the Bible that has nothing to do with the facts of life on the planet. But in the US, a phony polarity has been created between evangelical Christianity, with its beliefs in the six-day creation, and hard Science, that is, the science of soulless people who cannot admit of any higher power because they have no personal experience of it in their lives. The hard scientists try to reduce everything to a material explanation. The evangelicals see the hand of god everywhere. This false polarity takes two wrong positions and defines the debate around them. Anyone who proposes a science that is infused with consciousness is dismissed by the Science zealots as a religious zealot, and anyone who tries to doesn't recognise the truth of the literal Bible is a heathen on his way to eternal damnation for the religious zealots.

Some choice.

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Night Sweats: The Pentagon Archipelago's purpose is to establish the principle of arbitrary rule.

By Chris Floyd

This is the story of three innocent men, held in brutal captivity for more than two years; three innocent men, stripped, blinded, beaten, tortured, caged and silenced, all in the name of freedom and civilization; three innocent men, ground into the dust by an implacable power that defends its "enduring moral values" with the boot in the groin, the gun to the head -- and the abetting of atrocity and murder.

It's the story of three Britons released last week from the U.S. concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- 26 months after they began their progress through the guts of the Pentagon Archipelago, the chain of U.S. detention camps and "interrogation centers" that now encircle the Earth. In the Observer -- a pro-war British paper -- Shafiq Rasul, Ruhal Ahmed and Asif Iqbal from Tipton, England, told reporter David Rose of their sojourn in the Bush Regime's legal purgatory.

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Bush Allows Gays to Be Fired for Being Gay

March 20, 2004
Daily Mislead Archive

Despite President Bush's pledge that homosexuals "ought to have the same rights" as all other people, his Administration this week ruled that homosexuals can now be fired from the federal workforce because of their sexual orientation.

According to the Federal Times, the president's appointee at the Office of Special Counsel ruled that federal employees will now "have no recourse if they are fired or demoted simply for being gay." While the Bush Administration says it is legally prohibited from firing a person for their conduct, they have the legal right to fire or demote someone based on their sexual orientation. To carry out the directive, the White House has begun removing information from government websites about sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace.

Not only does the new directive contradict the president's own promise to treat homosexuals as equals under the law, but it also contradicts what the Administration told Congress. As noted in a bipartisan letter from four Senators to the Administration, "During the confirmation process [of the president's appointee], you assured us that you were committed to protecting federal employees against unlawful discrimination related to their sexual orientation."

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U.S. social security system going broke

WASHINGTON, March 23 (UPI) -- U.S. officials said Tuesday the Social Security system is not financially self-sustainable.

The Medicare and Social Security trustees made the assessment in releasing their annual report on the entitlement program.

Each year, the trustees look at the financial condition of both Social Security and Medicare, and Treasury Secretary John Snow told reporters Social Security "continues to be seriously underfunded," with a $3.7 trillion benefit obligation, for which trustees predicted it will not have the money. [...]

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EU Slaps Record Fine on Microsoft

By David Lawsky
March 24, 2004

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. software giant Microsoft was on Wednesday slapped with a record fine for violating European Union antitrust law and ordered to take immediate steps to stop crushing software rivals.

The EU executive said Microsoft must act within four months to change the way it does business in Europe "because the illegal behavior is still going on."

The European Commission -- the enforcer of EU competition law -- levied a record 497.2 million euros ($611.8 million) fine, ordered the unbundling of Windows Media Player within 90 days and required that "complete and accurate" information be given to rival makers of computer servers within 120 days. [...]

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Trapped for five days in caving's Barrier Reef, six Britons await rescue

By Charles Arthur
24 March 2004

It began as a mission to map one of the world's most complex and intriguing subterranean cave networks.

Described as "the Great Barrier Reef of caving", the interwoven network of caves and sumps in Mexico's Cueva Alpazat extends more than 60 miles.

But six British servicemen attempting to unravel its mysteries were trapped last night after rising underground waters blocked their passage to the surface.

The Britons - five from the services and one civilian - have been holed up in the network of caves, about 110 miles (175km) northeast of the capital, Mexico City, since last Wednesday.

Two expert divers from the British Army were last night flown out by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to begin a risky operation to rescue the men from the flooded cave.

The potentially dangerous operation would end a five-day ordeal for the men, who went down into the caves in an attempt to map out one of the world's great unknown underground cave systems.

The divers were expected to arrive last night so that they could assess the risks involved in bringing up the team using underwater breathing equipment.

The vast network of underground caves is notorious for filling up rapidly with water when flash floods occur above the ground - especially in spring.

And not long after the team from the Combined Services Caving Association (CSCA) entered the caves late last week, that was precisely what happened. "They were caught by unforecast rain," said a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence.

But the CSCA's "Cuetzalan Tiger" expedition had not gone unprepared. Like any experienced caving team, they assessed the risk - and took five days' worth of food, sleeping bags, radios and even novels.

They also knew that a previous expedition had stashed another five days' worth of supplies in parts of the cave system that never flood. They also had a "mole phone", which uses magnetic currents in the ground to communicate.

The problem now, though, is how - and when - they can get out. For the rains have shown no sign of stopping. And the flood waters are not receding.

It's not the first time that a Forces' expedition has run into trouble. In 1994 an Army expedition to Borneo, attempting to make the first descent through Low's Gully on Mt Kinabulu, got lost and broke the cardinal rule of such expeditions by splitting up. Half of the group managed to crawl out, but it was several days before the other five - two officers and three civilians - were able to gain their freedom.

It is hoped that this expedition will not suffer such a dramatic fate. The team of six - five from the CSCA and a British civilian who is acting as a guide - have been holed up above a sump, with wetsuits to keep them warm and rations.

Nor is finding water - usually the heaviest item to carry on any field trip - a problem. "I think their problem is having too much fresh water," quipped Mick Day, chairman of the National Caving Association.

Mr Day noted that the limestone caves are subject to frequent flooding: "When that happens this particular cave has an entrance which can flood for a length of up to 100 metres - it fills up to the roof. You can't get in or out."

Unless, that is, you stop waiting and enlist a cave diver.

"They would swim down with a smaller version of Scuba-style gear, with smaller tanks and a rope which would be used like a handrail," explained a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence. Then all the the trapped cavers would have to do is don the breathing apparatus and swim up through the sump to the exit.

A MoD spokesman said: "At the moment we think that the sump has receded to around 1.5m of water. The thing is that if you haven't done it before, then it could be slightly scary, like your first Scuba dive."

Jose Ignacio Macias, spokesman for the Civil Protection Agency in Puebla state, where the cave is located, insisted that the currents were "what stopped them from getting out". He added "perhaps they had no rope to get out, but for the moment we don't know much more about their situation."

The MoD - perhaps mindful nowadays of avoiding any repetition of the Low's Gully fiasco - was dismissive of the idea. "A cave collapse is not part of the situation report we have received from the field officer in the location," said the spokesman. "There are some errors in what's being reported because some over-excited local officials are talking to anybody. The British officer there says they're going to sit it out for now."

But that decision has clearly irked some of the would-be Mexican rescuers, who seem to be surprised that a party whose members have explored the caves many times before should be declining their help.

"Civil protection rescuers are at the scene, but the six Englishmen have refused all help as I imagine they don't trust in the abilities of the Mexican rescuers," said Jose Trinidad Luna Reyes, the Puebla Red Cross spokesman. [...]

Comment: What is the British MOD doing in an underground cave in Mexico? Why do they not want Mexican rescue services to help them?

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Veil lifts on jungle mystery of the colonel who vanished

Did an erotic siren lure Percy Fawcett to his death as he searched for a lost city in the Amazon?

Vanessa Thorpe, arts and media correspondent
Sunday March 21, 2004
The Observer

It is an unsolved riddle which has inspired explorers and writers for nearly 80 years. Yet now, after a decade of research, one British writer and director has shed unexpected light on the murky fate of Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett and those who followed him deep into the Brazilian jungle.

It has long been assumed that the missing colonel, a celebrated explorer who knew the popular adventure writers Rider Haggard and Arthur Conan Doyle, must have been murdered by Amazonian tribesmen in 1925 during his fabled expedition to find the Lost City of Z. The truth, however, turns out to be stranger than the myth.

According to previously hidden private papers, it appears that Fawcett had no intention of ever returning to Britain and, perhaps lured by a native she-god or spirit guide whose beautiful image haunts the family archive, he planned instead to set up a commune in the jungle, based on a bizarre cult.

'The English go native very easily, he once wrote. 'There is no disgrace in it. On the contrary, in my opinion it shows a creditable regard for the real things in life.'

More than 13 separate expeditions have so far failed to discover what happened to Fawcett in the darkest Amazonian jungle and 100 people have died in the attempt. Only eight years ago a group following his footsteps into the Mato Grosso region had to be rescued after they were held hostage by Kalapalo tribesmen and put in fear of their lives. But the veil is at last lifting.

After visiting this remote jungle, then gaining permission to search through Fawcett's correspondence for the first time, theatre and television director Misha Williams now believes the other expeditions have all been travelling in the wrong direction and looking for the wrong things.

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Hundreds homeless as floods hit PNG for second time in month

Tue Mar 23, 2:41 PM ET

PORT MORESBY (AFP) - Torrential rains in Papua New Guinea have swept away bridges, roads and hundreds of homes in the second disastrous flooding to hit the Pacific nation this month, officials said.

A woman and her baby were feared lost in the floods, which struck the Ramu Valley in the north coast province of Madang following 10 days of rain, Government Relations Minister Peter Barter told local media.

"Hundreds of houses have been washed away and destroyed and in the vicinity desperate people are on the roofs of the houses waiting to be rescued," Barter told The National newspaper after flying over the area in a helicopter Monday.

Efforts were under way Tuesday to rescue stranded villagers by motorboat and rush supplies to the area after the floodwaters swept away vegetable gardens that are the main source of food for the subsistence villagers, he said.

The flood, carrying felled trees, also wiped out a community school, a mission station and a clinic, he said. [...]

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Earthquake in N.China ruins 40% of houses with no reported casualties 2004-03-24 21:04:35

HOHHOT, March 24 (Xinhuanet) -- Forty percent of residential houses in and around the epicenter suffered damages but no reported casualties so far after an earthquake measuring 5.9 degrees on the Richter scale hit the central-eastern part of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region early Wednesday, said sources with local seismological authority.

Officials with the Inner Mongolia Seismological Bureau said the earthquake jolted the area at 9:53 a.m. and 13 aftershocks were reported as of 4:00 p.m. with the biggest one of 3.5 on the Richter scale.

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Yellowstone's Explosive Secret

CBS News
Wyoming, March 23, 2004

(CBS) For years, CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes reports, scientists have tried to understand the dynamic nature of Yellowstone National Park.

"It's beautiful up here, everybody should see this at one time or another," says one appreciative observer.

Scientisth Lisa Morgan may have unlocked one piece in the puzzle, deep below the park's biggest lake.

"It is kind of the last unmapped frontier in Yellowstone National Park," says Morgan.

What she found looks more like the surface of the moon. Using sonar she's identified a massive bulging dome the size of seven football fields. The only other underwater dome in Yellowstone was the site of a major explosion.

"The most extreme event, which occurred 13,800 years ago, went about as far as five miles away from source," says Morgan.

It spewed boiling water, steam and rocks, and the fear of it happening again started another explosion of sorts: this one on the Internet. Online doomsday scenarios are swirling all over chat rooms telling visitors to stay away. Yellowstone, they warn, could blow.

Yellowstone National Park sits on top of one of the most active volcanoes in the world with more than 10,000 vents, geysers and bubbling hot springs. That's part of the reason more than 3 million people come here each year. [...]

A trail near the Norris Geyser was closed last summer and is still boiling hot enough to burn through shoes.

"If the temperatures here gets above boiling, then we know that there's a potential for the water to just rapidly flash to steam and cause one of these hydrothermal explosions," says Heasler. [...]

Comment: This article seems to try to minimize reaction to the threat of a Yellowstone natural disaster by associating such an idea with online nuts who preach of doomsday scenarios. Never mind the Pentagon report that warns that severe global climate change may be a bigger threat than terrorism... It seems that there is something to be concerned about regarding natural disasters, but not necessarily those involving Yellowstone. Perhaps if the people are busy watching the ground, they won't notice the meteors, asteroids, and comets about to rain down on their heads.

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Boy, 5, Brings Bag of Marijuana To Elementary School
7:13 am EST March 23, 2004

MIAMI -- Police say a 5-year-old boy brought a bag of marijuana to school and was sprinkling it over a friend's lasagna at the school cafeteria before a monitor intervened.

Police say it is unclear whether the kindergartner at Gratigny Elementary School even knew he was carrying the drugs on Monday.

The lasagna was confiscated before the other boy had a chance to eat it. [...]

School police took the matter to the state attorney's office and in addition to speaking with the boy's family, police are looking into whether an older friend asked the boy to hold the plastic bag. The case was also referred to Florida's Department of Children and Families, Villafana said. [...]

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Boy, 13, charged with sex attack against woman

Paula Doneman
The Courier-Mail

A BOY, 13, has been charged with sex offences after a woman reported she was attacked in Toowoomba at the weekend.

The woman, 20, who was in a distressed state and injured after she was involved in an altercation with a female, said she had asked the boy for directions to a hotel.

She said she walked with the boy for a short distance before they sat down on grass behind the Toowoomba public library and each smoked a cigarette.

The woman said the boy then attacked her, indecently assaulted her, tried to rape her and urinated on her. [...]

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Robots Move in Sync as Japan Firms Look to Cash In

Wed Mar 24, 3:21 AM ET

TOKYO (Reuters) - Four robots, one brain.

Japanese firms Sony Corp., Fujitsu Ltd. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. unveiled new technology Wednesday that allows robots that have been developed separately to be controlled simultaneously via a computer network.

In a demonstration kicking off the start of an industry forum, Sony's robotic dog Aibo and knee-high humanoid Qrio, along with robots from Fujitsu and Mitsubishi Heavy, moved forward in unison and then introduced themselves one by one. [...]

The robots were linked by a common network protocol.

Sony, Fujitsu and Mitsubishi Heavy said they planned to start a study group in May to explore the possibilities of commercializing and developing services using robots.

The focus will be on remote-controlled home services and assistance in medical treatment and nursing care. [...]

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Python film to challenge Passion

Wednesday, 24 March, 2004

Monty Python's film The Life of Brian is to return to US cinemas next month following the success of The Passion of the Christ.
The Biblical satire will be re-released in Los Angeles, New York and other US cities to mark its 25th anniversary.

Adverts will challenge Mel Gibson's blockbuster with the lines "Mel or Monty?", "The Passion or the Python?"

Distributor Rainbow said it hoped the film would "serve as an antidote to all the hysteria about Mel's movie".

The Life of Brian follows a Jewish character from Nazareth who is worshipped as the Messiah then crucified by Romans.

It was condemned as blasphemous before its original release, although Monty Python said it was intended as a spoof on Bible films and intolerance rather than Christianity.

The film could not be completed until former Beatle George Harrison stepped in to finance it after EMI Films withdrew, fearing it was too controversial. [...]

Comment: The ability to laugh at oneself requires an open mind, which is an essential tool in the struggle to See objectively.

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