Today's conditions brought to you by the Bush Junta - marionettes of their hyperdimensional puppet masters - Produced and Directed by the CIA, based on an original script by Henry Kissinger, with a cast of billions.... The "Greatest Shew on Earth," no doubt, and if you don't have a good sense of humor, don't read this page! It is designed to reveal the "unseen."
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Friday , March 26, 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

Windmill at Coq (Lot et Garonne) facing the storm
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

The Signs team received the following e-mail from a reader:

To whom it may concern,

When the C's transcripts were posted on the old web site, I remember reading an answer the C's gave. Paraphrasing (cuz I don't have the exact text in front of me now but it's pretty close), they said even minerals have to learn that everything is an illusion. There was no qualifying of this statement. It was made in it's universal, inclusive sense. Or at least, that's how I interpreted it.

My 1st Q is, if "everything is an illusion," then by default, doesn't that include 'truth?' Consciousness? The universe? "Everything?" Maybe even us as God? (After all, 'everything' includes everything.)

Since it would, let's assume, what difference does it make (except maybe to personally graduate up the density levels for a better life), what difference does it make whether one believes in disinformation as the truth (like believing in the Tooth Fairy say), or what awakened people perceive AS the truth? It's ALL an illusion! Truth & what we call disinformation, is all an illusion, per the C's when they said everything was an illusion. [...]

The phrase "everything is an illusion" certainly does mean that truth, consciousness, the universe - literally everything is an illusion.

The idea that everything is an illusion can be a clever trap. Consider our standard waking state: we are mechanical in our actions and responses, and we are generally completely unaware of our slumber. When confronted with an opportunity to begin to wake up, we are lazy - in a world of instant gratification, who wants to follow a path that requires actual work on the self? Can't we just reach some ambiguous state of enlightenment by simply ordering our very own brain entrainment goggles and headphones, thereby spending just thirty minutes a day in a hypnotic, computer-controlled super-trance? In our laziness, we tend to look for the easy way out. Along comes some new age guru with talk of infinite love, happiness, and fields of pure potentiality. Well, we think, that sounds like just the ticket! Our minds grow a bit by considering the idea that everything is an illusion, and we don't actually have to DO anything that resembles work.

There is, of course, one minor problem with this approach. Say a person - let's call him Jack - is living in America, firmly convinced that reality is in fact an illusion. One day, Jack's neighbor calls the Office of Homeland Security because she saw him meditating on his porch wearing a pyramid hat, and she fears he may be a terrorist. Eventually, special forces soldiers kick down Jack's door and search the house for him. Jack hears the soldiers, but figures, "Hey, I'm perfectly safe in my nonexistent house, even if illusory soldiers are about to shoot me." The soldiers find Jack and, fearing his pyramid hat could be some sort of newfangled terrorist weapon of mass destruction, they shoot him. Jack dies.

Now, Jack's house was an illusion. Jack's pyramid hat was an illusion. The neighbor, the soldiers, the bullet - all illusions. The problem is, Jack still died. And for what? It seems there is a difference between utilizing the idea that all is illusion for personal growth and work on the self, and focusing solely on this idea to the exclusion of any real action. Consider also that if everything is an illusion, then the idea that all is illusion is itself an illusion. Thus, reality is illusion, and illusion is reality. While that may sound deep and mystical, what good does it do us? It appears that, as the reader in the above e-mail suggested, the Work requires more than just an intellectual grasp of new and obscure ideas about reality. Thus we may observe that embracing the idea that all is an illusion is not, in and of itself, very useful.

It seems that we must consider that we are here in this reality for a very good reason. Perhaps we have much to learn, and this realm is the perfect school for us to learn our lessons. In a way, focusing on the "everything is an illusion" idea is much like an algebra student learning a bit of calculus. The algebra student does not possess adequate knowledge to fully comprehend calculus, but she may understand a general idea presented in a calculus book. Ask her to do the math related to the idea, and she will be lost. We are the algebra student. The idea that everything is an illusion is a bit of calculus that, in our present state, we probably cannot fully grasp.

To take another example, consider the idea that linear time only exists for us in this reality. It is quite difficult to conceive of an existence outside of time. No matter how much we tell ourselves that time doesn't exist, the hands of our clocks still march onward, our bodies begin to sag, our children start looking more like us than we do while we're starting to look like our parents or even our grandparents.

What is clear is that thinking that we understand the details or the math behind some bit of calculus - when we haven't even learned algebra - is essentially denying reality. It is possible that we do understand more calculus than we think, but we won't know until we finish learning our lessons that lead up to the calculus class.

And so it is that we struggle to provide a view of this reality via the Signs page that is as objective as possible. Yesterday, we wrote of Gurdjieff's ideas of knowledge as matter, and how most people in this reality don't want their share. Thus, there is a hidden treasure chest for those who do seek knowledge, but we must work for it. The ideas of good versus evil, terrorism versus liberty, and black versus white are all part of an ingenious control mechanism. Once we realize that these opposites are all a game, we may fall into the trap of deciding that we should be above opposites; we accept that "All is one is all". At some higher level of reality, this may be true. But at our level, it seems that nothing could be further from the truth. At a New York lecture on February 22, 1924, Gurdjieff remarked:

"Whenever there is an active element there is a passive element. If you believe in God, you also believe in the devil. All this has no value. Whether you are good or bad - it is not worth anything. Only a conflict between two sides is worth something. Only when much is accumulated can something new manifest itself."

There are those that seek knowledge, and there are those that prefer to remain asleep. There are those who seek the truth, and there are those who prefer the lie. The Work involves an active choice between two paths - not among the petty differences that we are told are so important by our psychopathic leaders, but rather between what is objectively real and what is an illusion in our reality. We will not know what is "real" in a higher reality until we get there. When we are in third grade, we don't try to understand the lessons of a fourth grader. That Bush lied about Iraq's WMD's is not an illusion in this reality. Bush himself is not an illusion in this reality. To place ourselves in a position where we declare that everything is an illusion is to put ourselves in the place of a god. If any of us were gods, would we be here right now in the soup?

We think that the friction created by the clash of the active and passive elements in our reality exists for a reason. Those who choose to actively seek to give something back, to embrace the creative principle, are on one side. The other side consists of those who are passive - they accept the lies and are tossed around by the currents in the sea of reality. Those who do nothing, who give nothing, will eventually be drowned by huge waves crashing down upon their little boat. Those who actively choose their path via work on the self will still be in a little rowboat on the surface of the huge, merciless sea - but at least their paddles will give them the chance to reach the safety of the shore. The paddles are always there - whether or not we choose to use them is up to each of us.

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Deep Cover

Man does not live by bread alone -- or rather, a man alone still needs his bread, even if he's running the country by decree from a spider hole in Nebraska.

By Chris Floyd

"I have a strategy. You're not in it." -- Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Unfortunately for the rest of us, the insatiable Slayers in the White House and Pentagon fully share Miss Summers' stern credo. In fact, for more than 20 years, men named Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have been working hard -- and spending billions of public dollars -- on secret strategies to ensure their personal survival when the hellmouth of catastrophe swallows everyone else.

But do let's be fair. The yellow-feathered Washington warriors aren't only looking out for their own backsides -- they've also included their closest corporate cronies in the escape plan. In fact, the whole jolly crew intends to preserve its wonted rank of wealth and privilege even as its fellow citizens are roasting in nuclear fires or howling in clouds of gut-chewing microbes, as The Atlantic's James Mann reports this month.

Operation Anal Cover began in 1981, after affable frontman Ronald Reagan and CIA headman George H.W. Bush took office. The Reagan-Bush team immediately began serious preparations for nuclear war with the Soviet Union, including a first-strike "decapitation" plan to take out the Kremlin leadership in one swift blow. Naturally, they feared the Red dastards were thinking along similar lines, hoping to turn the fabulous Ron into a little spot of hair dye and rouge on the Oval Office carpet.

Thus was born an elaborate scheme to set up a secret government, hidden in hardened bunkers, capable of waging war and controlling the civilian populace -- without any fussy bother from Congress or other elected representatives of the suckers out there. Instead, three separate teams of insiders were formed, each with a figurehead Cabinet member -- placemen like the Agriculture Secretary -- who would be "guided" by an all-powerful chief of staff. Dispersed around the country, the teams would use special communications links to rule the nation, for as long as the appointed über-chiefs saw fit.

Bush helped construct this secret machinery, working cheek-by-jowl with Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North -- the beginning of a beautiful relationship that would fully blossom in the Iran-Contra scam, when the plucky pair shipped guns to Islamic extremists in Iran to fund an illegal terrorist war against Nicaragua's democratically elected government. North would later expand Anal Cover to deal with contingencies beyond nuclear war, such as "terrorist attacks" and "civil disturbances" -- including large-scale protests against an unpopular military action -- with concentration camps for tens of thousands of "dissidents," as The San Francisco Bay Guardian reports.

For two of the über-chief posts, the White House picked Bush's former comrades from the Nixon administration: Dick Cheney, now a right-wing congressman, busy slashing social programs for lazy peons and condemning the terrorist Nelson Mandela; and Don Rumsfeld, now a top corporate executive hawking laxatives to the hoi polloi. At regular intervals, Cheney and Rumsfeld would disappear from sight and repair to the secret redoubts, where they practiced running the country through arbitrary rule.

The program, created by a presidential decree and never submitted for congressional approval, was financed by a secret slush fund, pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars each year. It edged briefly into the light during the first Bush administration, when allegations were raised about -- what else? -- financial corruption, funneling the program's public money to private cronies in sweetheart deals.

The program lapsed during the Clinton interlude, but roared back to life after the "new Pearl Harbor" that Cheney and Rumsfeld had been publicly yearning for, to "catalyze" the American public into supporting their plans for "radical transformation" of American society into a more aggressive, militarized state, as detailed in the publication of their think tank, Project for a New American Century, in September 2000.

Just minutes after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Cheney reactivated the "secret government," sending selected government officials -- including, yes, the hapless Agriculture Secretary -- into the long-prepared hidden bunkers. Cheney himself still periodically disappears into "secure, undisclosed locations," with squads of bureaucrats, no doubt to "practice" emergency measures for the next terrorist attack -- the one that Iraq war leader General Tommy Franks tells us will cause "the unraveling of the Constitution" and the "militarizing of our country," reports.

But man does not live by bread alone -- or rather, a man alone still needs his bread, even if he's running the country by decree from a spider hole in Nebraska. That's why the Bush Regime has now wired America's top business leaders directly into the special security grid through "CEO COM Link." As Harper's reports, CCL is a secure, "exclusive communications network created by the Business Roundtable for use by its members, 150 CEOs from Fortune 500 companies," giving the tycoons instant access to top Bush officials during a terrorist attack.

The magazine notes that no other organization -- "not governors, mayors, firefighters, hospitals or police" -- has such a connection. They'll be left to sink or swim while the CEOs get directions to the nearest safe haven. Oddly enough, even this scenario seems to have been inadvertently "practiced": on Sept. 11, George W. Bush was whisked to safety in the locked-down fortress of Nebraska's Offutt Air Base, headquarters of the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) -- where he found a gaggle of top CEOs holding a charity event in the secure bowels of America's military machine, the San Francisco Business Times reports.

Thus CCL is just business as usual, another link in the great iron chain that has long bound "CEO COM" with "STRATCOM" and the Pearly PNAC "transformers." No matter how reckless or lunatic their policies -- first strikes, illegal wars, targeted assassinations -- the bunkered elites will be safe from the burning and howling they provoke.

Comment: Put this in the pot with the Pentagon report on the climate, the article cited yesterday about the amount of energy needed from oil to produce our food, the "sixth extinction," and the plans to eliminate the majority of the world's population over the next few years, and this story takes on a whole different meaning. There are people in the know in powerful places, and they are indeed putting the dominos into place.

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The perfect storm that's about to hit

Rising oil prices and a weak dollar could shatter the global economy

Jeremy Rifkin
Wednesday March 24, 2004
The Guardian

The average nationwide price of a gallon of gasoline in America reached a record high of $1.77 this month. The steady spike in prices has left analysts wondering if this is a harbinger of even more dramatic increases as motorists head into the spring and summer months. Get ready for what might become the economy's version of the perfect storm later this summer. The devastation could quickly spread to the UK and the rest of the world, with dire consequences for the global economy.

The first hint of what might be in store came last month when Opec announced its decision to withdraw 1m barrels of crude oil a day from the market. Opec is worried about the weakening value of the dollar: it has lost one-third of its value in just under two years. Since Opec sells oil for dollars, the oil-producing countries are losing precious revenue as the value of the dollar continues to erode. And because oil-producing countries then turn around and purchase much of their goods and services from the EU and must pay in euros, their purchasing power continues to deteriorate. (The euro is currently valued at $1.23.)

How will the weaker dollar affect oil prices? Philip K Verleger, the dean of US oil market analysts and a visiting fellow at the Institute for International Economics, suggests that "oil-exporting countries may decide to adjust their price band to reflect the falling value of the dollar". If the dollar continues to slide, he warns, we could see oil prices rising from the current $38.18 a barrel to a record high of $40 by midsummer.

There are other dark clouds on the horizon. US crude oil inventories are at the lowest point since the mid 70s, and the retail gasoline market is operating with little reserve margin as we move into the summer months, where more travel will increase demand. The dwindling oil reserves are made worse by the White House decision to replenish the strategic petroleum reserve, further reducing the amount of gasoline available.

Verleger says gasoline could climb as high as $3.50 a gallon before levelling off at $2 by the autumn. How high prices eventually soar could depend on still other factors, including potential oil disruptions in Venezuela and the Middle East. There is also the prospect that one or two major refineries might fail during peak demand this summer - not that unusual when increased consumer pressure forces refineries to produce at peak capacity without taking the time for proper maintenance.

Here is where events potentially begin to feed off each other, creating the conditions for the perfect storm for the economy. If the price of oil increases to $40 a barrel with an accompanying rise in gasoline prices, the already weak economic recovery could stall.

How then do we lower the price of a barrel of oil? We'd have to strengthen the value of the dollar so that Opec would not be forced to raise prices to compensate for the deteriorating value of the currency. But the dollar's value is declining because of America's growing debt. The IMF is so concerned about US debt - the result of rising budget deficits and trade imbalance - that it issued a report warning that if steps weren't taken to reverse the trend, it could threaten the financial stability of the world economy.

An ever-weaker dollar makes foreign investors less interested in financing the mushrooming US debt. The US could raise interest rates, making it more attractive for foreign investors, but that would mean higher interest rates for US companies and consumers, which could dampen the already weak recovery and send us back into a recession in the US and around the world.

So we have all the conditions coming together to create the perfect economic storm: record oil prices triggering a restriction in US economic growth and an increase in the federal budget deficit, accompanied by further erosion in the value of the dollar - with increased budget deficits and the diminished value of the dollar leading in turn to higher interest rates to convince foreign investors to lend the US additional money, followed by a further retraction of the US economy as rising interest rates lead to a drop in domestic investment and consumption. The cascade of events touches off a tsunami that engulfs the rest of the global economy, submerging the world in deep recession.

As long as the US and global economy are increasingly dependent on an ever-dwindling supply of oil from the Middle East, the conditions for a perfect economic storm will continue to haunt us. The solution, in the long run, is to wean the world off its dependency on oil. That would require much tougher fuel efficiency standards, greater energy conservation measures, support of hybrid vehicles and a switch to renewable sources of energy.Short of that, expect the storm clouds to gather in intensity.

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Teen bomber foiled at Israeli checkpoint

AP 2004-03-25

HAWARA CHECKPOINT, WEST BANK -- The Palestinian teenager in the oversized red jersey approached Israeli soldiers, who had received a tip about a suicide bomber at this crowded checkpoint yesterday. Suddenly the soldiers saw something bulge under his top. The Israelis dashed behind concrete barricades, pointed their guns at the youth and ordered him to stop.

On their instructions, he took off his jersey, revealing a bulky, grey bomb vest, and setting off a tense encounter that was captured by television news cameras and broadcast on news reports around the world.

"He told us he didn't want to die. He didn't want to blow up," said Lieut. Tamir Milrad.

Members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in the Balata refugee camp next to Nablus claimed responsibility for the latest in a series of foiled attacks on Israel by Palestinian youths.

Al-Aqsa is loosely linked to Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

The family of the teenager, identified as Hussam Abdo, said he was gullible and easily manipulated.

"He doesn't know anything (about politics), and he has the intelligence of a 12-year-old," said his brother Hosni.

Abdo, although 16, looked far younger, and the Israeli military initially said it believed he was 10. His family said he acted strangely Tuesday, giving candy to them and to neighbours and refusing to explain why.

Since the Israeli assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin on Monday, Israel has been on high alert. Hamas has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks in recent years.

Yesterday's confrontation began about 4 p.m. when soldiers at the Hawara checkpoint outside Nablus received intelligence a bomber was there. They shut down the crossing and began searching hundreds of people, the military said.

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Israel's -' 14 yr old bomber stunt' - backfires

It turns out that 14 yr old Husam Abdu from Nablus was mentallly retarded and drugged. A stranger offered him $20 to wear the belt.

Six news teams had advance notice. Cameras were rolling as the child approached

The 1st story

The boy was a religious nut that belong to Hamas – he did it to get 72 virgins in heaven, the IDF said - as he approached the check point the Jewish soldiers stopped him. His controllers saw this and tried to detonate the bomb but the cell phone failed.

The 2nd story

The second story is the Jewish soldiers were informed he was coming – they kept Arabs away from checkpoint – next the IDF notified the press and the kid approached alone. The IDF sent a robot to meet him.

Palestinian teenager in the oversized jacket approached Israeli soldiers, who had received a tip about a suicide bomber at this crowded checkpoint yesterday. Source

A few weeks ago, another boy from Nablus, Muhammad Kuraan, made headlines when the Israeli army presented him to the media as a child who had been dispatched to blow himself up at an Israeli roadblock.

Residents of Shechem, including the boy himself, now refute Israel's version of events, and say the bag Abdullah Quran was transporting did not contain any explosives.

The IDF wouldn't let today's bomber be interviewed.

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Israel 'fabricated' child-bomber story

By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank
Thursday 25 March 2004

Palestinian leaders have accused Israel of fabricating a story about a 14-year-old Palestinian boy who planned to blow himself up.

The Israeli army said he was caught wearing an explosive belt at an army roadblock in the northern West Bank.

The boy, identified as Husam Abdu from Nablus, was shown on TV screens around the world, with an explosive belt strapped to his waist.

The Israeli army said the boy told interrogators that his dispatchers promised that he would have sex with 72 virgins in heaven soon after his death.

"We know for sure this is a fabricated story from A to Z. Would you believe that a 13 or 14-year old would agree to blow up himself in return for a hundred shekels which he would receive after his death?

"It seems to me that the Israelis are bad liars as well," said Yaqub Shahin, a director-general of the Palestinian Authority ministry of information.

Painting a 'terrorist' picture

In an interview with, Shahin accused Israel of seeking to justify slaughtering Palestinian children by spreading the false impression that they are used as human bombers.

"Their [Israel’s] goal is to besmirch Palestinian childhood so that when they slaughter the children, the world won’t feel sorry for them," he said.

Arab Knesset member Muhammad Baraka has also voiced "serious doubts" about the veracity of the Israeli narrative.

"I have very serious doubts about the whole story. I can't give the Israeli army the benefit of the doubt." However, Baraka urged all parties to "keep children away from this sinister and bloody conflict"

"Using children as bombs is infinitely diabolical. It is totally inconsistent with all religious, moral and human values."

Fatah denial

The armed wing of Fatah, the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, has denied any involvement in the incident, accusing Israel of "concocting the whole story for the purpose of justifying the killing of more Palestinian children".

The Israeli newspaper Yedeot Ahranot reported on Thursday that Abdu told Shin Beth interrogators that an anonymous person had promised him 100 shekels if he blew himself up in the midst of Israeli soldiers. [...]

A few weeks ago, another boy from Nablus, Muhammad Kuraan, made headlines when the Israeli army presented him to the media as a child who had been dispatched to blow himself up at an Israeli roadblock.

However, when the boy returned home, he reportedly told his family and relatives "Jews told me to do this or else they would kill me." asked the Israeli army spokesman in Tel Aviv to explain why Abdu would accept 100 shekels to get blown up and what good the money could possibly do?

The army was also asked to explain why it had TV cameras ready at the roadblock more than two hours before the event.

Despite two hours of waiting, the army failed to provide an answer.

Comment: Notice in the above that the news reporters had obviously been tipped off and were ready and waiting for the boy to arrive. Obviously this was an Israeli army manufactured "suicide bombing". It makes one wonder how many other suicide bombings Sharon and the IDF were responsible for.

This is "By Way of Deception", the tactics of Sharon and the Israeli Mossad, although the clumsy way in which the "operation" was carried out suggests that it was probably the brain child of the IDF. Who now can deny that Sharon and the Israeli government want this war? As we have been saying for many months, when your goal is war at all costs, you are obliged to fight it on both sides, create an enemy and stage attacks so that you can then retaliate. This tactic is by no means new, but is rather a very simple and effective method to crush all those that are deemed a threat to the interests of a given group - whatever those interests may be. We have seen this tactic used to great effect on September 11th 2001 in New York, which was an Israeli "false flag" operation, carried out by the Mossad, and was but one in the long and ignoble history of Israeli secret services, as they wage their wars of deception.

Israelis have killed 263 children under 14 in the Intifada


The controversy of using children in the Israeli-Palestinian strife underscores the brazen ugliness of the conflict.

According to human rights groups operating in the occupied territories, the Israeli army has killed hundreds of Palestinian children since the outbreak of the Palestinian Intifada more than three and a half years ago.

According to a spokeswoman for the East Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (HRMG), the Israeli army and paramilitary Jewish settlers have killed 263 Palestinian children from age 0-14 and 236 minors from the age of 15-18 during the ongoing Intifada.

The total number of Palestinians killed by Israel since the outbreak of the Intifada is estimated at 2670.

The figures for the injured and maimed are believed to be in the thousands.

The number of Israelis killed by Palestinians during the same period is around 838, including soldiers, settlers and civilians.

Israel claims its army does not target Palestinian civilians deliberately but admits, rather grudgingly, that the killing is carried out knowingly.

However, human rights groups argue forcefully that, in the final analysis, killing knowingly is killing deliberately.

Comment: We must all be aware of the very real threat that the policies of Ariel Sharon pose to the entire world. Whether he is fully aware of what he is doing or not, Sharon's mission, it seems, is to establish the right atmosphere in the Middle East that will serve to ignite a firestorm that will eventually engulf the entire world, and of course, he has a willing accomplice.

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US vetoes UN resolution on Yasin killing

Friday 26 March 2004, 2:50 Makka Time, 23:50 GMT

The United States has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution seeking to condemn Israel's assassination of Hamas spiritual leader, Shaikh Ahmad Yasin.

Three days of negotiations failed to find a compromise on the council, where the United States has regularly used its veto power as a permanent member to block measures condemning Israel.

US ambassador John Negroponte said the "one-sided, unbalanced resolution" was "silent about the terrorist atrocities committed by Hamas."

The vote on the 15-nation council was 11 in favour and the United States against, with three abstentions.

[...] Though much of the world was outraged by the assassination and condemned the extra-judicial killing, the United States supported its long-time ally Israel.

The White House condoned the killing, claiming "Israel had the right to defend itself."

Comment: Billy Graham is seen by many as the spiritual leader of the US. He supports the war in Iraq. He supports the death of the Palestinans. If the logic of the murderers of Yassin were followed, then he would be a target for assassination with the justification that the killers were only "defending themselves."

Signs logo sickbags are available in the lobby on your way out of the theatre. What? This isn't a movie?

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Arab League to 'avoid' Palestine issue

By Natasha Tynes
Tuesday 23 March 2004, 10:00 Makka Time, 7:00 GMT

Despite the assassination of Shaikh Ahmad Yasin by Israel on Monday, the issue of the Palestinian conflict is unlikely to dominate the agenda of the Arab League Summit next week, analysts say.

According to Middle Eastern pundits, Arab countries remain frightened of the US and helpless when it comes to the issue of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

"Talking about Palestine means confronting the US, and the Arab regimes can not afford to do that," Abd Al-Bari Atwan, editor of London-based al-Quds al-Arabi, told

"I believe they will avoid the issue completely. Arabs forget easily, so in a week from now the images of the funeral will not be remembered."

[...] Professor of political sciences at Cairo University Hasan Nafaa remains pessimistic. "Issues such as Iraq and Palestine will be discussed, but Arabs know they can do nothing about them," he said.

"Any real movement on Palestine and Iraq can only come from the international community and resistance movements. Arabs know that."

But the Arab League's secretary-general thinks otherwise.

"This assassination has cast a shadow over the summit and the consequences of the elimination of Shaikh Yasin will be at the heart of discussions of the participating heads of state," Amr Musa claimed in a statement on Monday.

Comment: What can you say about this group of countries, refusing to do anything about the genocide of the Palestinians for fear their own precious and precarious rule might be put into jeopardy.

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Israel unveils tiny drone planes

The Israeli military is equipping its forces with a new range of spy drones small enough to fit in a soldier's backpack, the army said on Thursday.

[...] The Israeli air force has often used larger unmanned spy planes to target Palestinian militants in air strikes.

The new baby drones would give army forces in the field near instant access to aerial intelligence.

The planes have already been supplied to some ground units.

"We use them to take aerial photographs of the (Palestinian) territories," a military official told Associated Press news agency.

[...] Birdy can be carried and launched by a single soldier, who guides the drone by clicking on coordinates on a laptop computer. It has a five-kilometre range (three miles), IAI said.

[...] Their small size allows them to fly through windows and to provide images to military units behind it, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

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The Armageddon Plan

by James Mann

At least once a year during the 1980s Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld vanished. Cheney was working diligently on Capitol Hill, as a congressman rising through the ranks of the Republican leadership. Rumsfeld, who had served as Gerald Ford's Secretary of Defense, was a hard-driving business executive in the Chicago area—where, as the head of G. D. Searle & Co., he dedicated time and energy to the success of such commercial products as Nutra-Sweet, Equal, and Metamucil. Yet for periods of three or four days at a time no one in Congress knew where Cheney was, nor could anyone at Searle locate Rumsfeld. Even their wives were in the dark; they were handed only a mysterious Washington phone number to use in case of emergency.

[...] Their participation in the extra-constitutional continuity-of-government exercises, remarkable in its own right, also demonstrates a broad, underlying truth about these two men. For three decades, from the Ford Administration onward, even when they were out of the executive branch of government, they were never far away. They stayed in touch with defense, military, and intelligence officials, who regularly called upon them. They were, in a sense, a part of the permanent hidden national-security apparatus of the United States—inhabitants of a world in which Presidents come and go, but America keeps on fighting.

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FEAR Is The Real Enemy

By Jim Kirwan

"Free people cannot live in fear and remain free" Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Offense, before the committee March 23, 04.

There he sits before the third version of the first public committee to investigate 911. Rummy came again to the pulpit of a committee inquiry, smug and arrogant with pat assertions that squirt from both sides of his bought and paid-for oratory. But this time he has uttered a phrase that condemned the policies of his own dictatorial administration. Look at what they've done, as opposed to what they continue to say.

Fear is based on the unknowns that linger on the fringes of life. To the extent that any society is able to shed light on their problems, that fear is dissipated. In government that 'light' is called transparency in governance. Domestically this administration began its political life by sealing up the deeds of Bush-the-first, when he was still vice-president. This was done by a presidential edict, issued under a presidential seal of absolute secrecy. This policy of completely hidden agendas was immediately followed by Cheney's demand for total secrecy when he met with those who wrote national energy policy, in the beginning of 2001. Now Cheney's 'privilege' is being challenged before an obviously biased Supreme Court Justice who, by a decision of the full court, will be solely responsible to decide whether the public has the right to know who made those decisions-by which we all must now live.

These two actions set the tone for all that this administration has tried to do, since they stole the offices they now hold.

Internationally, these thieves began by unilaterally re-writing the history of US foreign policy, since the end of the Second World War. Masking all decisions in "national security interests of the United States," the Bush Doctrine of international brutality and dominance came into being. Whenever anything is challenged the pirates wrap everything in the flag, curse all dissenters as traitors or worse, and then proceed to the next obscenity.

In foreign policy circles the bandits have virtually emasculated diplomacy, strangled any and all options that do not have military force as their first choice, and have now moved on to make quasi-imperialism the order of the new American Century. In all of this, fear has played a key role both at home and abroad for billions of people around the world - not just for those of us who have to tolerate their lies as national political policy. [...]

Fear of terror is and has been our primary concern. Fear of personal injury or death is a by-product. Fear is what drives the false promises behind HOMELAND security. Fear opens the door to international piracy and to the direct looting of the US treasury supposedly to make us all secure from any and all forms of terrorism. Fear is what lies beneath the destruction of the US constitution and the savage dissolution of all our basic civil rights. If there were any transparency, in any of the actions of this federal government - most of these transgressions against the rights of the governed, would never, could never have happened. It is only because of 911 that this has occurred.

The people of this nation wanted to believe their president was not the congenital serial liar that he is. We wanted to believe that the government could not seriously pursue the theft of treasure, or the coercion of national polices, just to make billions for their supporters and cohorts. But that is exactly what they've been able to do, thanks to the obscenity of 911, and the continued failures to examine how this event could have become a reality.

Terrorism is a fact of life, but it has been operating and escalating since the beginning of the Reagan administration. If we were serious about addressing the real problems that such extreme measures represent, then where were the diplomatic efforts necessary to confront the many issues beneath each of these dramatic and bloody events, over the last 25 years? The short answer is that we did not seek co-operation but domination. Our attempts at global domination are precisely what produce the kinds of terror tactics that exist today.

Two days of hearings have finally been held about events that took place over 30 months ago Richard Clarke apologized for the failures, where none have chosen to do so before. While policy failures are certainly part of the problem, a complete understanding of the US military's actions after the attacks began, are the way to the whole truth.

Contrary to the statements of the witnesses at the hearings, there were military defenses in place going all the way back to the 1950's, specifically for the kinds of attacks that occurred on 911. These polices were ignored, which meant that someone from the White House had to have intervened. The chain of military command, at NORAD, clearly was not followed in this instance. It is rumored that the vice-president ordered the US Air Force to stand down and not to interfere with the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and whatever else was to have been the target of the remaining aircraft.

If the public is to discover the truth of that day - then both Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice, in the absence of the president himself, must be compelled to testify at the next session of the committee's hearings.

These hearings are about who was ultimately responsible for all that death and destruction on that particular day. It is about who has not been fired, or even seriously questioned, concerning this unforgivable loss of human life, both on that day and continuing to the present moment. Between all those we have been bombed, shot and or maimed, the casualties worldwide have to be in the tens of thousands. Bush is found of saying. "We must never forget the lessons of 911." What "lessons" that would be has to concern what happened, and who among those responsible did what on that fateful day. If the White House were serious about the truth of 911, they would be clamoring for the hearings, instead of trying to stonewall their efforts.

It seems doubtful that this third commission will show the testosterone necessary to even remotely approach the truth, never mind the will to lay blame. Given the fact that without the truth here, we are all doomed to a future without resolution. More needs to be expected from this commission than this simple exercise of business as usual. All those who are in the employ of the people of the United States, who were and are charged with responsibilities, must be compelled to account for their actions. There must be consequences for the failures of this administration on 911.

Many cite the desire to just "move-on." That is precisely the problem. Without knowing who was culpable in this instance, we cannot move-on, because events seem to indicate that there are traitors in our midst, at the highest levels of this government. That question needs to be fully explored, and clearly put to rest for the world to see.

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Running scared

Philip James
Friday March 26, 2004

The swiftness and ferocity of the Bush White House's attack on Richard Clarke tells you two things: his story may be largely true, and the Bush administration is terrified that the American people will believe it.

The central allegation - that Mr Bush was so obsessed with going after Saddam Hussein that he openly challenged his counter-terrorism adviser to find a link between September 11 and Iraq the day after the attacks took place - is serious.

It threatens the fundamental platform of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign: that you are safer with them than you are with the Democrats.

The White House did not let a single news cycle go by before questioning that the alleged encounter between the president and Clarke had ever taken place, assigning dark motives to a man who has served four presidents, three of them Republicans.

But you don't have to be Bob Woodward to check Clarke's story out. There were other witnesses to this meeting, one of whom spoke to me.

"The conversation absolutely took place. I was there, but you can't name me," the witness said. "I was one of several people present. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that the president had Iraq on his mind, first and foremost."

This former national security council official was too terrified to go on the record - he knows how vengeful this administration can be.

He remembers the late night phone call former treasury secretary Paul O'Neill received just before he published The Price of Loyalty, his account of how the Bush White House set its sights on Iraq from day one. He was about to discover the price of disloyalty to this administration.

It was Donald Rumsfeld on the line, a man more used to authorising deadly force on the grandest scale, gently advising him that it might not be in his best interests to go public.

When O'Neill ignored him, he instantly became the target of an investigation by his former department, which claimed that he had revealed state secrets.

Bush's mantra to the international community during his inexorable march to war in 2002-2003 - you are either with us or against us - applies, with equal force, to all who serve him.

His inner circle has used fear and intimidation to keep the White House airtight. But the cracks are opening up, and those pesky facts keep resurfacing like unsightly flotsam, evidence that supports Richard Clarke's revelations.

The fact that the Pentagon pulled the fighting force most equipped for hunting down Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan in March 2002 in order to pre- position it for Iraq cannot be denied.

Fifth Group Special Forces were a rare breed in the US military: they spoke Arabic, Pastun and Dari. They had been in Afghanistan for half a year, had developed a network of local sources and alliances, and believed that they were closing in on bin Laden.

Without warning, they were then given the task of tracking down Saddam. "We were going nuts on the ground about that decision," one of them recalls.

"In spite of the fact that it had taken five months to establish trust, suddenly there were two days to hand over to people who spoke no Dari, Pastun or Arabic, and had no rapport."

Along with the redeployment of human assets came a reallocation of sophisticated hardware. The US air force has only two specially-equipped RC135 U spy planes. They had successfully vectored in on al-Qaida leadership radio transmissions and cellphone calls, but they would no longer circle over the mountains of the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.

The Bush White House has banked on all who were privy to these details keeping the code of silence. But too many people outside the White House sphere of influence are too well informed, be they commandos on the ground or career civil servants at the state department and CIA.

Some have come forward, risking the ire of the Bushies. Many more are considering it, weighing their conscience alongside their sense of self-preservation. Several who are talking are doing so on the condition of anonymity.

But, as this campaign heats up, some will rethink and go on the record. It is becoming clear their silence might ensure that the Bush White House gets away with the central lie of its tenure - the blanket denial that it abandoned the war on terror to pursue an unrelated, pre-selected Iraq agenda.

The louder the Bush administration proclaims that it is the only qualified protector of national security, the more offensively that rings in the ears of those who know the truth. Sooner or later - and certainly before November - that truth will out.

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Al-Qaeda cleric exposed as an MI5 double agent

By Daniel McGrory and Richard Ford
March 25, 2004

ONE of al-Qaeda’s most dangerous figures has been revealed as a double agent working for MI5, raising criticism from European governments, which repeatedly called for his arrest.

Britain ignored warnings — which began before the September 11 attacks — from half a dozen friendly governments about Abu Qatada’s links with terrorist groups and refused to arrest him. Intelligence chiefs hid from European allies their intention to use the cleric as a key informer against Islamic militants in Britain.

Abu Qatada boasted to MI5 that he could prevent terrorist attacks and offered to expose dangerous extremists, while all along he was setting up a haven for his terror organisation in Britain.

Among the scores of young militants who came to visit him in London was the chief suspect in the Madrid train bombings. His followers also included people who wanted to be suicide bombers for al-Qaeda, such as Richard Reid, the shoe bomber.

A special tribunal that has investigated his operations in Britain described him as “a truly dangerous individual”. A ruling by the Special Immigrations Appeals Commission revealed yesterday that there was evidence to show that Abu
Qatada “has been concerned in the instigation of acts of international terrorism”.

A security source in Madrid said yesterday: “Who knows how much violence and bloodshed could have been prevented if Britain had heeded the warnings about this man a long time ago.”

With terrorism at the top of the agenda at the European Union summit today in Brussels, Tony Blair is bound to be asked about MI5’s history with Abu Qatada and other militant clerics who have used Britain as their base.

Spain, France, Italy, Germany, the United States and Jordan all asked to question Abu Qatada about his links to al-Qaeda but were refused.

Instead, MI5 agents held three meetings with the cleric, who bragged of his influence among young Islamic militants and insisted that they were no risk to Britain’s national security.

He pledged to MI5 that he would not “bite the hand that fed him”.

He also promised to “report anyone damaging the interests of this country”. Instead, he was recruiting for al-Qaeda training camps. [...]

Indignant French officials accused MI5 of helping the cleric to abscond. While he remained on the run, one intelligence chief in Paris was quoted as saying: “British intelligence is saying they have no idea where he is, but we know where he is and, if we know, I’m quite sure they do.”

Almost a year later Abu Qatada was found hiding in a flat not far from Scotland Yard. [...]

Comment: Nevertheless, one wonders just how many Al-Qaeda "terrorists" are doing what they do FOR the US and UK???? Is Al-Qaeda a "straw man" that has been set up to be knocked down by the US and UK so as to further their fascist agendas?

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Silent Genocide

By Robert C. Koehler

03/25/04 "Tribune Media Services" -- "After the Americans destroyed our village and killed many of us, we also lost our houses and have nothing to eat. However, we would have endured these miseries and even accepted them, if the Americans had not sentenced us all to death."

This will not be easy to read, especially if you've projected evil out of your own heart, into some cave in Afghanistan or a spider hole in Iraq, and reduced the age-old question it inspires to this one: How can we bomb it off the face of the earth?

Before the damage we inflict grows greater, before history's judgment gets worse, before we contaminate the whole world - even before we vote in the next election - we must stop what we're doing. We must stop now.

It's time to listen for a moment not to defense analysts briefing officers, pols or pundits, but to people like Jooma Khan, a grandfather who lives in a village in Laghman Province, in northeastern Afghanistan, who is quoted above. Surely he deserves 30 seconds of our undivided attention. "When I saw my deformed grandson," he told an interviewer in March of 2003, "I realized that my hopes of the future have vanished for good. (This is) different from the hopelessness of the Russian barbarism, even though at that time I lost my older son Shafiqullah. This time, however, I know we are part of the invisible genocide brought on us by America, a silent death from which I know we will not escape."

We're waging war-plus in Afghanistan and Iraq - in effect, nuclear war, with our widespread use of depleted-uranium-tipped shells and missiles. This is no secret. DU, with its extraordinary penetrating power and explode-on-impact capability, helps assure our military dominance everywhere we go. But people like Jooma Khan and his grandson reap its toxic legacy.

So, of course, do our own troops.

Kahn's words are only a sliver of the damning testimony contained in the documents of the International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan, a Japanese citizens' initiative that recently concluded its two-year inquiry into the first phase of the Bush Administration's war on terror. But they say everything that we cannot hear. If we could hear Jooma Khan, and others who are sounding the alarm about DU, such as former Livermore Labs geologist Leuren Moret, who testified at the tribunal, there would not be mere thousands of people in the streets of American cities demanding that we stop the war, but hundreds of thousands, or millions - the sort of numbers that turn out in other parts of the world. The use of DU weaponry is not the extent of our criminal irresponsibility in Afghanistan and Iraq, which led to the tribunal's guilty verdict against George Bush on charges of war crimes, but it's the most chilling. (You can check out the full report at, among other places,

As Moret testified, depleted uranium turns into a infinitesimally fine dust after it explodes; individual particles are smaller than a virus or bacteria. And, "It is estimated that one millionth of a gram accumulating in a person's body would be fatal. There are no known methods of treatment."

And DU dust is everywhere. A minimum of 500 or 600 tons now litter Afghanistan, and several times that amount are spread across Iraq. In terms of global atmospheric pollution, we've already released the equivalent of 400,000 Nagasaki bombs, Moret said. The numbers are overwhelming, but the potential horrors only get worse. DU dust does more than wreak havoc on the immune systems of those who breathe or touch it; the substance also alters one's genetic code.

Thus, birth defects are way up in Afghanistan since the invasion: children "born with no eyes, no limbs, tumors protruding from their mouths ...deformed genitalia," according to the tribunal report. This ghastly toll on the unborn - on the future - has led investigators to coin the term "silent genocide" to describe the effects of this horrific weapon.

The Pentagon's response to such charges is denial, denial, denial. And the American media is its moral co-conspirator.

But blame is beside the point. Surely even those who still await "conclusive proof" that DU is the cause, or a factor, in the mystery illnesses and birth defects emanating from the war zones, can see the logic in halting its use now.

Global terrorism? Listen to Jooma Khan. Then look in the mirror.

Comment: If you sow the wind...

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US veto on Yassin draws criticism

There have been angry Arab reactions to the US veto of a UN Security Council resolution condemning the killing of the spiritual leader of Hamas.

[...] The US opposed the draft because it did not name Hamas as a terrorist group.

The document condemned "the most recent extrajudicial execution committed by Israel".

It also condemned "all attacks against any civilians as well as all acts of violence and destruction".

Comment: It looks as if US and Israeli strategy is to fan the flames. No opportunity is missed.

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Ayoon wa Azan (The Difference)

Jihad Al Khazen Al-Hayat 2004/03/25

I would expose and uncover a secret that the entire world knows, but the government of Ariel Sharon and the administration of George W. Bush deny, which is that Hamas would not react to the assassination of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin by carrying operations outside the territories of direct confrontation with Israel.

This is the difference between resistance and terrorism; Hamas would not be led to perpetrate operations outside Palestinian territories, as Israel wishes. If it were to do so, it would become similar to Al Qaeda, and effectively, fit the American administration description, which calls it a "terrorist organization."

In fact, the American administration's definition of terrorism applies to the Israeli government as much as it applies to Al Qaeda. The consecutive Israeli governments have undertaken terrorist attacks around the world, in order to eliminate their enemies, just as Al Qaeda does. Sharon's government has killed much more civilians than the alleged terrorists have. Human rights groups show that Israel killed more children under the age of 15 than it killed adult armed men.

[...] What would happen tomorrow? It is no secret that Hamas would seek revenge for its spiritual leader. It is likely that the revenge would exceed suicide operations, probably assassinate Israeli officials. Sharon, Mofaz, and the rest of criminals in and around the Israeli government should bare full responsibility of the blood of those killed in vengeance operations. Sharon ordered the killing of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, and he knows well as an old terrorist, that the blood of the Sheikh would not be wasted, which means that he has also ordered the killing of Israelis in revenge operations.

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Civil liberties group cries foul over EU anti-terrorism plans

Statewatch, a civil liberties watchdog has raised concerns over anti-terrorism plans on the table of EU leaders today, saying that half of the proposals under consideration "bear little or no relations to tackling terrorist attacks like those in Spain". EU leaders will discuss and agree a declaration to combat terrorism, which emerged after an extraordinary meeting of EU interior ministers last Friday.

However, according to the UK-based organisation, a substantial number of the proposals on the table "have little or nothing to do with tackling terrorism" as they deal with crime and surveillance.

Statewatch also sounded alarm bells on proposals for data retention and storage. "A number of the proposals would introduce the wholesale surveillance of everyone in Europe and could potentially be used for social and political control", it said. These proposals include the introduction of biometric information, such as fingerprints, in passports and residents’ permits for non EU citizens, tracking all air travel in and out and within the EU, and the logging of emails, mobile phones and phone calls.

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Terrorist law would hobble suspects' lawyers (AUS)

By Cynthia Banham and Freya Petersen
March 25, 2004

Lawyers acting for accused terrorists could be denied access to some prosecution evidence to prevent sensitive information falling into the wrong hands.

The Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, is also considering the power to "intern" foreign terrorist suspects indefinitely, in line with highly criticised laws in Britain.

During an interview with the Herald yesterday, Mr Ruddock outlined a number of tougher counter-terrorist measures being examined by his department. [...]

Comment: This boils down to the fact that, if the Australian government decides that you are a "terrorist" or even a "threat", then that is what you are, and there is nothing you can do to prove your innocence.

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Blair guitar wrecked my head, says spin doctor


Alastair Campbell has revealed the British Prime Minister’s most annoying habit - playing his guitar while on the phone.

The former spin chief reveals his dislike of the guitar playing on tomorrow night’s BBC1 chat show Parkinson, on which he also plays the bagpipes.

Asked about Tony Blair’s most irritating trait, Mr Campbell told host Michael Parkinson: “Well, he’s got this habit of phoning you and playing his guitar at the same time.”

Mr Blair would tell Mr Campbell: “It’s just a new thing I’m trying out.”

Mr Campbell said: “That I found a bit hard to deal with – on a Sunday, on the day you are trying to have a bit of time off,”

Mr Blair’s former right-hand man said he still believed that the BBC made Britain special, despite his clash with the Corporation, which led to the Hutton Inquiry.

But he remained defiant that the BBC should not have reported claims that the British government had “sexed up” the case for war in Iraq.

Asked if UK government scientist Dr David Kelly’s death could have been avoided, Mr Campbell said: “Well, it could certainly have been avoided if that story had never been reported and then been broadcast because it shouldn’t have been.”

Mr Campbell said “the real casualty” in the Hutton affair was Dr Kelly and his family and “I think about that a lot”.

Comment: We are indebted to Mr Campbell for his clarification of the point that, when a person is murdered, they are a "casualty". This is particularly true when the person is murdered by the government that is supposed to be protecting them. Is anyone a little concerned about the fact that, as a result of some inexplicable turn of fate, there seems to be a disproportionate amount of emotionless psychopaths in positions of power, and that these psychopaths, making it clear that we are correct in our assessment of their innate natures, are attempting to convince us that war, death and destruction are really quite good?

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Blair’s horrific plan to sell arms to Libya

TONY Blair's proposal to sell arms to Libya is horrific, but no surprise for a Labour government whose so-called "ethical foreign policy" is in tatters. Human Rights Watch has described Libya's human rights record over the past three decades as "appalling".

It includes abduction, forced disappearance of political opponents, torture of detainees without trial and grossly unfair trials. Hundreds remain arbitrarily detained, some for over a decade. Yet Blair is eagerly looking to rebuild Colonel Gaddafi's military regime and exploit Libya's oil and gas fields.

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Russia: Rights Groups Want To Renew Public Discussion Of Stalin's Purges

Russia's leading human-rights groups have released a list of more than 1 million people killed during the regime of former Soviet leader Josef Stalin. The names and biographical details of the victims represent only a small fraction of the tens of millions of Soviet citizens who died, were exiled or tortured under the dictator's iron hand and are not a new discovery.

But Russian human-rights groups say they want to renew public discussion of Stalin's legacy at a time when his popularity appears to be on the increase. Speaking at a news conference on 24 March, the head of the Memorial human rights group, Arsenii Roginskii, told journalists that the 1,345,769 names on the disc represent just a small fraction of the Soviet citizens who perished under Stalin.

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Air France flight lands amid security alert

Friday March 26, 10:49 AM

MILAN (Reuters) - An Air France flight from Pisa to Paris has been forced to land at Milan's Malpensa airport after a suspicious piece of baggage was found aboard.

"Air France confirms that the plane was made to land at Malpensa because of a suspicious bag," an Air France spokeswoman in Rome said on Friday.

"It was a false alarm. The checks are over, there was nothing dangerous and the flight should take off for Paris in an hour or hour and a half," she said.

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Three held over French rail bombs

French anti-terror police are holding three people over the recent spate of threats against rail lines, police say.

Comment: Le Monde and Le Figaro are reporting today that French authorities have arrested three people in connection with the "affaire AZF." The arrests were made in the region of Paris. The first man is a pilot and the three have "connections to the aeronautics field." The arrests come 24 hours after the group had called off this round of threat, citing "technical and logistical weaknesses."

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'German link' to Madrid bombings

Police in Germany have searched a flat in the western city of Darmstadt in connection with the Madrid bombings.

Confirmation of the searches came from the German authorities following media reports that a Moroccan suspect being held in Spain had lived there.

Spanish police have 18 people in custody in relation to the 11 March train bombings which killed 190 people.

Correspondents say a German link would be highly sensitive, as three of the 9/11 hijackers were based in Hamburg.

Comment: The games continue. There has never been any proof whatsoever made public that the men accused of the 9/11 attack were the men who actually carried it out. The one German involved who was brought to trial was acquited.

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Poutine: le changement de pouvoir en Espagne, un "très mauvais précédent"

AFP | 26.03.04 | 14h13

Le président russe Vladimir Poutine a qualifié vendredi "le changement inattendu de gouvernement en Espagne", après les attentats du 11 mars à Madrid, de "très mauvais précédent", car les terroristes internationaux s'attribuaient cette victoire électorale. "Le fait que les terroristes s'attribuent le changement inattendu de gouvernement en Espagne est un très mauvais précédent", a déclaré le président russe, en déplacement à Sotchi, dans le sud de la Russie.

Comment: This article from Le Monde tells us that Russian president Vladimir Putin thinks the change of government in Spain sets a "very bad precedent" because "international terrorists" will claim victory. This puts Putin right in line with the neocons in the US who have been saying the same thing since the Madrid bombings.

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Ex-KGB men tighten their grip on Russia

By ERIC MARGOLIS -- Contributing Foreign Editor
March 21, 2004

[...In 1991] I reported from Moscow that the younger generation of KGB - the USSR's best educated and brightest youth, with extensive experience abroad and contempt for communist ideology - were going to ditch the moribund Communist party and attempt to seize power themselves.

Intriguingly, the KGB's Young Turks repeatedly told me their role models for the "new" Russia were two right-wing military strongmen, South Korea's Gen. Park Chung-hee, and Chile's Gen. Augusto Pinochet. "We will make Russians work at bayonet point," were the words of an exasperated KGB colonel.

A decade later, KGB alumni have assumed total power under former KGB colonel Vladimir Putin. After 10 years battling corrupt bureaucrats of the Yeltsin years, ruthless gangsters, robber barons and rebellious regional governors, Russia's security establishment - known collectively as soloviki - has consolidated its grip on power.

One-party state

Last week's barely contested elections in Russia confirmed Moscow's hard men are now completely in charge of a one-party state. President Putin has ruthlessly scattered Russia's feeble democratic forces, brought the media totally under his control, broken the robber barons and crushed regionalism. He is now an absolute ruler.

During the wildly corrupt Yeltsin era, less than 5% of senior government positions were held by soloviki. In 1998, the soloviki staged a quiet coup that ousted Boris Yeltsin and brought Putin to power. This was a first: a coup by intelligence services rather than the military.

Now, six years later, ex-intelligence and security officers control 60% of all senior government positions.

As the USSR was collapsing, KGB hard men quickly moved into business: security, information, banking and finance, oil, metals, trucking and foreign trade. Switzerland became the unofficial headquarters and banking centre for the KGB, Inc.

After a decade of bitter infighting, often against local crime syndicates, former KGB men now control many of Russia's major industries and services. The soloviki dominate the military, and are pressing Russia's exceptionally brutal repression of Chechen independence seekers in the Caucasus.

Most Russians are content to see Putin and fellow hardliners in charge. During the degenerate Yeltsin era, foreigners - notably Americans - exerted unconscionable influence over Russia's political and economic affairs, deeply humiliating nationalistic Russians. Gangsters waged wars in the streets. Putin ended foreign domination and semi-chaos, restoring Soviet-style order in Russia.

Some Russians are dismayed by Putin's crushing of democracy and return to autocracy, particularly Moscow's and St. Petersburg's western-oriented elite. But most Russians (polls claim 80%) say they crave economic and political stability far more than the luxury of democracy. High oil prices have injected sufficient money into the economy to compensate for the loss of political and press freedoms which, after all, were uncertain novelties to most Russians.

Putin has turned out to be a level-headed, pragmatic leader who commands great respect from his people and manages to avoid censure for incessant national disasters. He has so far balanced ruthlessness with remarkable caution, using his mailed fist only rarely, but to great effect. Trite as it is to say, Russians do crave strong leadership - and Putin is probably the most popular leader since Stalin.

This writer has no doubt the steely-eyed Putin and his allies, all great Russian nationalists, are determined to restore the power and territory of the old Soviet Union, and again rival the United States. But doing so requires continuing political and financial stability, harnessing Russia's enormous resource wealth, breaking gangsterism and making Russians work harder, longer and smarter - at bayonet point, if necessary.

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Russia opposed to Chechnya debate at UN 2004-03-26 21:20:51

MOSCOW, March 26 (Xinhuanet) -- Russia on Friday reiterated its opposition to bringing the issue of Chechnya to the current 60th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.

Deputy Foreign Minister Yury Fedotov said Russia would be "categorically" opposed to the attempts by "some countries" to table a draft resolution on Chechnya because the issue has been closed.

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Russia to withdraw 3,000 troops from Chechnya 2004-03-26 19:27:10

MOSCOW, March 26 (Xinhuanet) -- Russia will withdraw some 3,000 troops from its war-torn republic of Chechnya within the coming three months, Deputy Interior Minister Vyacheslav Tikhomirov said Friday.

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Britain's Blair talks of military links with Libya

Last Updated Thu, 25 Mar 2004 21:33:24

TRIPOLI, LIBYA - British Prime Minister Tony Blair has opened up the possibility of establishing some kind of military link with Libya.

[...] Blair said he would appoint a British general as defence co-ordinator for Tripoli – a move the British prime minister said would give Libya "a chance of a new military relationship with the U.K." The details of such a relationship are still unclear.

After talking with Gadhafi in a Bedouin tent hung with colourful tapestries, Blair said the military leader recognizes "a common cause with us in the fight against al-Qaeda, extremism and terrorism, which threatens not just the western world but the Arab world also."

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Brits out of Mexican cave, but in big trouble

Last Updated Fri, 26 Mar 2004 6:06:00

MEXICO CITY - Mexico detained six British men late Thursday after British navy rescuers led them out of a flooded Mexican cave where they had been trapped for more than a week.

The men were healthy but unkempt after the ordeal, and half-jokingly asked for beer. There's no word on whether Mexico will offer them any in the immigration detention centre where they are being held in the nation's capital on suspicion of violating their tourist visas.

The men caused an international flap when they refused to let Mexican rescuers extricate them from the Alpazat cavern in Puebla state, using their communications equipment to ask for a British navy rescue team instead.

"Their stay was legal as tourists, but there are indications that their activities were not of this type," Mexico's assistant interior secretary, Armando Salinas, told reporters late Thursday night.

[...] Britain's Foreign Office had earlier insisted that the trip was "strictly a caving expedition," though four of the explorers were members of the British military. The Defense Minister said the men were members of a military caving club on an "official military adventurous training expedition."

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Aristide 'given S African asylum'

Officials at a summit of Caribbean leaders say Haiti's former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has been granted permanent asylum in South Africa.

Jamaican officials said Mr Aristide, who left office three weeks ago, was likely to leave for South Africa after the general election there next month.

But a spokesman for Mr Aristide has said he has not yet decided where to go and was consulting several countries.

Haiti looks set to dominate the two-day Caricom talks in St Kitts and Nevis.

Fate unclear

Confusion surrounds the status of Mr Aristide, who left Haiti on 29 February after a three-week rebellion.

He says he was overthrown by the US in a coup. The US says it responded to his request and probably saved his life.

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Pentagon Seeks to Upgrade Armor in Iraq

By JIM SALTER, Associated Press Writer
Thu Mar 25,11:55 PM ET

ST. LOUIS - Responding to roadside attacks on military trucks and Humvees in Iraq, the Pentagon intends to provide reinforced glass and other protection for about 10,000 vehicles by the summer, a spokesman said Thursday. [...]

Some trucks and Humvees have canvas doors and traditional windows. On some vehicles, doors have been removed.

The upgraded armor includes reinforced glass, thicker doors and floor boards that are more difficult to penetrate, but don't hinder the vehicles' speed and maneuverability.

The roadside attacks in Iraq had become so concerning that some units were customizing their own trucks and Humvees. Tallman said the Pentagon has been developing the upgraded armor since last fall, though individual units can still customize their own armor as long as those upgrades meet specifications.

Comment: Soldiers in Iraq are also purchasing their own body armor. If the Pentagon was seriously concerned about its troops, why didn't it simply fund the upgrades that the soldiers have already been making instead of spending over half a year developing its own upgraded armor? Any armor is better than canvas doors. Furthermore, it is clear that either the Pentagon severely underestimated the threat US troops would be facing, or the administration simply didn't care.

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IRS Rejects `Theft Loss' on Company Stocks Rocked by Scandal

March 25 (Bloomberg) -- Investors holding shares of Enron Corp., WorldCom Inc., and other companies that lost value in accounting scandals can't claim a ``theft loss'' deduction for the decline on their tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service said today.

``These losses are not theft losses under state law and therefore are not deductible theft losses for federal income tax purposes,'' Acting Treasury Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Greg Jenner said in a news release.

The government issued the notice because the tax collection agency said it has learned that some individuals and news organizations have been advising investors to claim a loss if their stocks lost value due to the conduct of corporate officials. The IRS said it would disallow any such losses claimed on tax returns.

Investors who have sold stock that has lost value can use those losses to offset capital gains. Worthless stock also can be claimed as a capital loss.

Comment: And yet how many hundreds of millions of dollars did the crooked corporate officials walk away with?

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U.S. law makes it a crime to harm fetus: Legislation seen as expanding rights of unborn

Abortion rights lawmakers fear precedent set

Mar. 26, 2004. 01:00 AM

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate voted yesterday to make it a separate crime to harm a fetus during commission of a violent federal crime, a victory for those seeking to expand the legal rights of the unborn.

The 61 to 38 vote on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act sends the bill to U.S. President George W. Bush for his signature after a five-year battle in the American Congress. The White House said in a statement it "strongly supports protection for unborn children."

The House of Representatives passed the bill last month.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Republican from Tennessee, said the bill was "powerful because (it) is about simple humanity, about simple reality."

Comment: More hypocrisy from the Hill. Depleted uranium and thousands of years of deformed Iraqi children, hundreds of thousands already dead from US initiated sanctions between the two Gulf wars, and yet we are to be impressed by this new law, the next nail in the coffin of a woman's right to choose in the US.

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Another bus incident stuns Silver Lake

By Mary Salters, Enterprise correspondent
Fri., March 26, 2004

PEMBROKE, MA — For the second time in 15 months, the Silver Lake school district has been rocked by an incident of two teenagers engaging in a sex act on a school bus.

Letters were mailed Tuesday to the parents of the 35 middle and high school students who were riding a bus in Kingston on Friday, when the incident took place between a boy and a girl, both 14, Assistant Superintendent Maurice Splaine said Wednesday. [...]

China to launch satellite to orbit moon in late 2006

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Japanese firm unveils large robot for disaster rescue work

Thu Mar 25, 9:37 AM ET

TOKYO (AFP) - A Japanese company unveiled a 3.5-metre (11.55-foot) tall robot that can forage its way through a heap of debris as a trailblazer for rescue workers following a disaster such as an earthquake.

The five-tonne T-52 Enryu (literally "rescue dragon") is hydraulically operated and equipped with two arms ending in pincer "hands" that can grasp and remove obstacles to help rescuers reach people trapped under rubble.

Each arm is capable of lifting 500 kilogrammes (1,100 pounds) and when they are fully extended the two pincers are 10 metres (33 feet) apart.

The prototype robot was developed by Tmsuk, a company based in the southwestern Japan city of Kita-Kyushu, in cooperation with fire-department officials and university researchers.

The company aims to develop a commercial model by the end of the year.

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NASA Ready to Go Hypersonic

Experimental aircraft could hit Mach 7 in test of scramjet engine


Nearly three years after its predecessor quickly went out of control, a second hypersonic aircraft will be tested by NASA this Saturday in an attempt to hit Mach 7 and spur the development of scramjet engines.

On June 2, 2001, the first of the aircraft, called X-43A, was lost just after release from the B-52 to which it was attached for testing.

If all goes according to plan, at 12:00 PM PST this Saturday, the second X-43A—an unpiloted 12-foot-long, 2,800-pound, wedge-shaped aircraft—will be dropped from a B-52 and launched nearly 100,000 feet by a booster rocket.

It will then be released over the Pacific Ocean to fly at seven times the speed of sound. [...]

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Vote protest turns violent in Taiwan

Taipei — Hundreds of Taiwanese protesters scuffled with riot police, threw eggs and broke windows Friday as they stormed into the Central Election Commission's headquarters, where officials certified the results of last weekend's disputed presidential vote.

Opposition lawmakers fired up the angry crowd of about 2,000 with speeches, warning that certifying the vote would spark violence.

"I warned them this could cause a volcano to erupt. It's like a match that could ignite the fuse to a powder keg," lawmaker Lee Ching-hua told the crowd after meeting with election officials.

Shortly after Lee's speech, people shoved their way into the commission's headquarters, breaking glass doors, knocking over flower pots and tossing eggs as they pushed past police with riot shields. Police refrained from using their clubs to stop the protesters.

Despite the violence, the commission certified that President Chen Shui-bian won last Saturday's election, the semi-official Central News Agency reported.

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Mainland will not be indifferent if Taiwan situation worsens 2004-03-26 21:46:06

BEIJING, March 26 (Xinhua) -- The mainland side will not be indifferent if the current situation in Taiwan worsens and gets out of control, a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council said Friday.

" Taiwan compatriots are as close to us as flesh and blood," said the spokesman. "We will not sit back and look on unconcerned should the post-election situation in Taiwan get out of control, leading to social turmoil, endangering the lives and property of Taiwan compatriots and affecting stability across the Taiwan straits."

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Nine killed in east Turkey quake

An earthquake has hit eastern Turkey, killing at least nine people, including seven children, Turkish media report.

Dozens were injured as houses collapsed in three villages hit by the moderately strong quake in the province of Erzurum at 1930 GMT on Thursday.

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Astronomer hunts for remains of Prairie 'fireball'

Thu, 25 Mar 2004

ROSETOWN, SASK. - One man's space odyssey is taking him to yards across west central Saskatchewan in search of a possible meteorite.

People in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were treated to a fireball that lit up the night sky in a light show on the evening of March 21.

In Rosetown, Sask., witnesses described it as a flash like an airplane exploding, a big red streak and roar. Others reported a strange smell, which astronomers said can comes from the meteor burning off ozone as it goes through the atmosphere.

Geologist and astronomy buff Don Hladiuk captured an image of the fireball with a specially designed camera mounted in his backyard in Calgary.

"It's a cloudy night, you can't see any planets or stars, yet we're seeing flashes, almost lightning in the clouds, so that tells us it was a very large event," Hladiuk said.

University of Regina astronomy Prof. Martin Beech is looking for remains of the space rock, which may have been the size of a grapefruit.

"It's definitely a needle in the haystack search," said Beech. "But if you don't look, I guess you have no chance of finding anything."

Most meteors burn up in the atmosphere before they ever reach the ground to become meteorites.

Beech and other astronomers are so excited about the possibility of finding the rare meteorite because the space rocks can help them learn more about how the solar system and even planets were formed.

"It could tell us about the surface of Mars many millions of years ago potentially," said Beech. "The characteristics of the Martian atmosphere then as well."

Where rocks on Earth have been modified by erosion over time, space rocks can offer a clean record.

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Ambrym Volcano (Vanuatu)

Friday 26th March, 2004

The people of Craig Cove in west Ambrym are suffering from the effects of the ongoing volcanic eruption on the island. Gas, ash, and acid rainfall from the active vents on the volcano are threatening to destroy the local food gardens. Ambrym Island is still recovering the effects of cyclone Ivy, which caused widespread damage two weeks ago. The island's leaders have appealed to the national and local authorities for emergency relief assistance.

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Volcanic Activity on Io (Jupiter's Moon)

Tuesday 23rd March, 2004

A Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston in March 2004 has discussed volcanic activity on Io, one of the moons of Jupiter. Io is interesting because it has produced the largest volcanic eruption, and contains the most powerful volcano in the universe.

Loki is the most powerful volcano in the solar system. It is located on Io, one of the moons of Juipter. It has been observed to be in continuous eruption since 1979. During intense periods of activity Loki volcano erupts 1,000 square meters of lava every second. Data on the eruptions were obtained by the Galileo spacecraft, which orbited Jupiter for 14 years, finally disintegrating in Jupiter's atmosphere in 2003.

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Western Canada's Bird Flu Cases Now at Five Farms

CANADA: March 26, 2004

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Canadian inspectors have discovered suspected bird flu cases at two more British Columbia chicken farms, bringing to five the number of farms hit by a recent outbreak, officials said.

All the farms are within a 3-mile radius of where the first case was discovered, near Abbotsford, British Columbia, last month. The strain of virus under investigation is not known to affect humans

The two farms were ordered to "depopulate" their flocks, bringing the total number of birds killed since the outbreak began to about 90,000, according to an official at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency [...]

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Hundreds Flock to See Lamb with Allah's Name

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered to see a lamb born with what looked like "Allah" spelled out in Arabic on its coat. Onlookers in the West Bank town of Hebron said Wednesday the real significance was the fact the animal was born Monday -- the day Israel killed Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin. "This is clear evidence of God's existence," the lamb's owner Yahya Atrash told Reuters Television. "It was born with the words 'Allah' on one side and 'Mohammed' on the other."

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Porn addict offered boy as paedophile pleasure toy

A porn addict offered a boy aged seven as a "pleasure toy" to be drugged and sexually abused when he sent emails containing pictures of the child naked. The Tauranga's man's excuse for inviting others to the Western Bay of Plenty to abuse the child - as well as possessing more than 1300 images of children being raped - was that youngsters "were young and pretty".

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Man Decapitates Girlfriend, Kills Self

A man who was suspected of harming his girlfriend killed himself after leading police on a high-speed chase, and the woman's head, knives and a gun were found in the man's car. Authorities found Heather Mullins-Keltz's dismembered body in the Plainfield, Conn., home she had shared with Michael Shechtman. Shechtman, 33, shot himself in the head Wednesday as police approached his car after a high-speed chase through several Rhode Island towns. [...]

Shechtman was a marketing manager at Technic Inc., a metal-plating company in Cranston, and had been working on a doctoral dissertation at the University of Rhode Island, a company vice president said.

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Teenager 'simulated sex with head'

A teenage boy pretended to perform a sex act on a head which had been removed from a body in a graveyard tomb, a witness told a court today. The 15-year-old girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also told the High Court in Edinburgh that Sonny Devlin, 17, was "chucking the head around". They are accused of pulling out a body from a coffin in the lower level tomb and cutting off the head with a knife.

They are then alleged to have played with the head in the cemetery, simulated a sex act with it and then discarded it. The witness, who was going out with the younger of the accused at the time and is still dating him, told the court that a member of a group of "goths" had said to her group, "Do you want to go and get the head of George Mackenzie?" A second witness today, Daniel Leaver, 18, told the court that he saw both Devlin and his co-accused throwing the head about. He said: "I was nearly sick." [...]

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