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."
If you can't stand the heat of Objective Reality, get out of the kitchen!

Monday , March 29, 2004

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The material presented in the linked articles does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editors. Research on your own and if you can validate any of the articles, or if you discover deception and/or an obvious agenda, we will appreciate if you drop us a line! We often post such comments along with the article synopses for the benefit of other readers. As always, Caveat Lector!

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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, Part 11, Part 12

Picture of the Day

Rainbow over Montpellier (Herault)
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Despite our daily attempts to bring some understanding of the nature of the world and what it is that anyone can really DO, many readers still write to us asking that we clarify what we mean, to "spell it out". Requests such as these make it clear that some readers still fail to understand an important truth about our reality. Our world is a world of illusion and falseness. It is a world of mimicry and feigned sincerity. There is very little in this world that has the taste of truth and fewer people that have " the taste for things that are true". Anyone that takes the trouble to truly observe life, and research history, science, archeology and paleontology, will see that this at least is true. Yet few want to accept just how true this is, and how deep the lie goes. Few are willing to accept that they themselves contribute to the utter lack of truth in this world, that they themselves are part of the problem.

Truth then, is a scarce and valuable "commodity" in this world. It is not easily attained, nor do the lies and illusion willingly give up their dominant position in our lives. As we stated on yesterday's page, it is a battle, the "throne" must be retaken, "by force". For the sake of clarity, the "throne" is your own mind. "By force" means being ruthless with yourself in rooting out the lies that make up your perception of yourself, the world, and your place in it. There is no enigma, there is no "hidden teaching" - it is simple, yet very difficult to do. It requires that each of make a choice.

The problem however, is that we all expect too much. We believe that, in a world where almost everything is a lie and nothing has any real value, we can have something of real value simply by saying "yes I would like to have it". But if we look back over our past and our likes and dislikes, we will see that they are fickle, that we are fickle, our opinion very often changes with the wind. In truth we do not know ourselves very well, we do not really know what we like and dislike. There is nothing consistent in our thoughts, words, and deeds. It would be foolhardy indeed for "god", "the universe", "creation", "fate" or "destiny" to entrust knowledge and therefore power to someone so inconsistent.

It is not reasonable then to think that we can have something of real value simply by saying that we want it, or showing a nominal interest. We must Do. By Doing we are making a commitment, and, as a rule, commitment involves sacrifice. That which we must sacrifice in order to attain knowledge will be different for each individual, depending on their life situation and the level of commitment being made. The one thing that is common to all those in life that make the choice to Do is that they set themselves apart from the rest of sleeping humanity, for sleeping humanity does nothing of real value. In this respect, all who attempt to Do will experience some attempt to force them back into line and back to sleep.

True knowledge then is never given; it is earned through doing and sacrificing that which we cherish the most - the lies and illusions that make up our so called "lives". This process, for most of us, will involve some level of change in our outer lives also. This then comprises the effort on the part of the seeker to prove that he truly desires that which he professes to merely want. Talk is cheap after all. Such is the nature of objective truth, and the battles that those that seek it must endure, that there must be a true and ardent desire within the seeker for them to have any chance of success. The strength of your desire for the truth is what you will be forced to rely on when things get a little "rough".

To have any chance of attaining knowledge and truth we must first make it abundantly clear that we truly choose the path of knowledge and truth. It is in this respect that this is a "free will universe". We must DO something. It is only by actually Doing, that our intent is deemed to be sincere. Call it a "law of the universe", but it seems to be true that knowledge is worth nothing to the individual unless effort and commitment is made by each individual to attain it themselves. Without this effort, which amounts to admitting that we do not know, nothing is given, and therefore nothing can be received.

31 Years ago today - March 29, 1973

The United States evacuated their last soldiers from Saigon. It would take another two years for the rest of the Americans to be pushed out by Viet Cong and North Korean troops. Then the fabled "Vietnam syndrome" settled in where poor old Americans tasted defeat for the frst time. They couldn't understand why someone else didn't want coke and burgers and Hollywood movies.

But never fear, the American empire is alive, though whether it is healthy or not depends on your point of view. The following piece looks at how US influence is backed up by military might in everyone's backyard.

We are reminded of the immortal words of Walt Kelly's Pogo: "We have met the enemy and he is us!"

America's Empire of Bases

By Chalmers Johnson

As distinct from other peoples, most Americans do not recognize -- or do not want to recognize -- that the United States dominates the world through its military power. Due to government secrecy, our citizens are often ignorant of the fact that our garrisons encircle the planet. This vast network of American bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire -- an empire of bases with its own geography not likely to be taught in any high school geography class. Without grasping the dimensions of this globe-girdling Baseworld, one can't begin to understand the size and nature of our imperial aspirations or the degree to which a new kind of militarism is undermining our constitutional order.

Our military deploys well over half a million soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, dependents, and civilian contractors in other nations. To dominate the oceans and seas of the world, we are creating some thirteen naval task forces built around aircraft carriers whose names sum up our martial heritage -- Kitty Hawk, Constellation, Enterprise, John F. Kennedy, Nimitz, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Carl Vinson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, John C. Stennis, Harry S. Truman, and Ronald Reagan. We operate numerous secret bases outside our territory to monitor what the people of the world, including our own citizens, are saying, faxing, or e-mailing to one another.

Our installations abroad bring profits to civilian industries, which design and manufacture weapons for the armed forces or, like the now well-publicized Kellogg, Brown & Root company, a subsidiary of the Halliburton Corporation of Houston, undertake contract services to build and maintain our far-flung outposts. One task of such contractors is to keep uniformed members of the imperium housed in comfortable quarters, well fed, amused, and supplied with enjoyable, affordable vacation facilities. Whole sectors of the American economy have come to rely on the military for sales. On the eve of our second war on Iraq, for example, while the Defense Department was ordering up an extra ration of cruise missiles and depleted-uranium armor-piercing tank shells, it also acquired 273,000 bottles of Native Tan sunblock, almost triple its 1999 order and undoubtedly a boon to the supplier, Control Supply Company of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and its subcontractor, Sun Fun Products of Daytona Beach, Florida.

At Least Seven Hundred Foreign Bases

It's not easy to assess the size or exact value of our empire of bases. Official records on these subjects are misleading, although instructive. According to the Defense Department's annual "Base Structure Report" for fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and HAS another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories. Pentagon bureaucrats calculate that it would require at least $113.2 billion to replace just the foreign bases -- surely far too low a figure but still larger than the gross domestic product of most countries -- and an estimated $591.5 billion to replace all of them. The military high command deploys to our overseas bases some 253,288 uniformed personnel, plus an equal number of dependents and Department of Defense civilian officials, and employs an additional 44,446 locally hired foreigners. The Pentagon claims that these bases contain 44,870 barracks, hangars, hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns, and that it leases 4,844 more.

These numbers, although staggeringly large, do not begin to cover all the actual bases we occupy globally.[...]

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Pressure mounts on Rice to testify as Clarke ratchets up attack on Bush

05:19 AM EST Mar 29

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) - White House allies and Republicans investigating the Sept. 11 attacks pressed Sunday to hear open testimony from National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, with one commissioner calling her refusal a "political blunder of the first order."

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The Lies that Condi Tells

Condi Rice's 60 Minutes Interview, 3/28/04

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes in an effort to quell growing questions surrounding the Administration's inconsistent claims about its pre-9/11 actions. Not only did Rice refuse to take Richard Clarke's lead and admit responsibility for her role in the worst national security failure in American history, but she continued to make unsubstantiated and contradictory assertions:

RICE CLAIM: "The administration took seriously the threat" of terrorism before 9/11.

FACTS: President Bush himself acknowledges that, despite repeated warnings of an imminent Al Qaeda attack, before 9/11 "I didn't feel the sense of urgency" about terrorism. Similarly, Newsweek reports that his attitude was reflected throughout an Administration that was trying to "de-emphasize terrorism" as an overall priority. As proof, just two of the hundred national security meetings the Administration held during this period addressed the terrorist threat, and the White House refused to hold even one meeting of its highly-touted counterterrorism task force. Meanwhile, the Administration was actively trying to cut funding for counterterrorism, and "vetoed a request to divert $800 million from missile defense into counterterrorism" despite a serious increase in terrorist chatter in the summer of 2001.

RICE CLAIM: "I don't know what a sense of urgency any greater than the one we had would have caused us to do anything differently. I don't know how...we could have done more. I would like very much to know what more could have been done?"

FACTS: There are many things that could have been done: first and foremost, the Administration could have desisted from de-emphasizing and cutting funding for counterterrorism in the months before 9/11. It could have held more meetings of top principals to get the directors of the CIA and FBI to share information, especially considering the major intelligence spike occurring in the summer of 2001. As 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick said on ABC this morning, the lack of focus and meetings meant agencies were not talking to each other, and key evidence was overlooked. For instance, with better focus and more urgency, the FBI's discovery of Islamic radicals training at flight schools might have raised red flags. Similarly, the fact that "months before Sept. 11, the CIA knew two of the al-Qaeda hijackers were in the United States" could have spurred a nationwide manhunt. But because there was no focus or urgency, "No nationwide manhunt was undertaken," said Gorelick. "The State Department watch list was not given to the FAA. If you brought people together, perhaps key connections could have been made."

RICE CLAIM: "Nothing would be better from my point of view than to be able to testify, but there is an important principle involved here it is a longstanding principle that sitting national security advisors do not testify before the Congress."

FACTS: Republican Commission John F. Lehman, who served as Navy Secretary under President Reagan said on ABC this morning that "This is not testimony before a tribunal of the Congress...There are plenty of precedents for appearing in public and answering questions...There are plenty of precedents the White House could use if they wanted to do this." 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick agreed, saying "Our commission is sui generis...the Chairman has been appointed by the President. We are distinguishable from Congress." Rice's remarks on 60 Minutes that the principle is limited to "sitting national security advisers" is also a departure from her statements earlier this week, when she said the principle applied to all presidential advisers. She was forced to change this claim for 60 Minutes after 9/11 Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste "cited examples of non-Cabinet presidential advisers who have testified publicly to Congress." Finally, the White House is reportedly moving to declassify congressional testimony then-White House adviser Richard Clarke gave in 2002. By declassifying this testimony, the White House is breaking the very same "principle" of barring White House adviser's testimony from being public that Rice is using to avoid appearing publicly before the 9/11 commission.

RICE CLAIM: "Iraq was put aside" immediately after 9/11.

FACTS: According to the Washington Post, "six days after the attacks on the World Trade Center the Pentagon, President Bush signed a 2-and-a-half-page document" that "directed the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq." This is corroborated by a CBS News, which reported on 9/4/02 that five hours after the 9/11 attacks, "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was telling his aides to come up with plans for striking Iraq." The President therefore did not put Iraq aside -- he merely deferred it to a second phase, after Afghanistan. To the question of Iraq or Afghanistan, Bush replied: let's do both, starting with Afghanistan. In terms of resources, the Iraq decision had far-reaching effects on the efforts to hunt down Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. As the Boston Globe reported, "the Bush administration is continuing to shift highly specialized intelligence officers from the hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to the Iraq crisis."

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9/11 warnings spurned

By David Johnston and Adam Nagourney
Sun Mar 28 2004

WASHINGTON -- In the summer of 2001, according to witnesses interviewed by the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 hijackings, President Bush was told repeatedly of terror warnings pouring into American intelligence agencies, mostly about threats overseas.

The director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet, who briefed Bush on threats almost daily, "was around town literally pounding on desks saying that something is happening, this is an unprecedented level of threat information," said Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state, who was quoted in a congressional report last year.

But even as the warnings spiked in June and July that year, there appeared to be little sense of alarm at the White House, officials of the Central Intelligence Agency told the commission.

It was not until Sept. 4 that Bush's national security team approved a plan intended to eradicate al-Qaida and not until Sept. 10 that Tenet was told to put the plan into effect.

Now, nearly two and half years later, the issue of whether Bush and his advisers failed to respond adequately to the threat of terror before Sept. 11, 2001, has become the focus of intense scrutiny and debate in Washington. [...]

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The 'war president' waged a war of lies

By Eric Margolis -- Contributing Foreign Editor
Sun, March 28, 2004

A cascade of embarrassing revelations and accusations are demolishing George W. Bush's slickly packaged, made-for-TV persona as a "war president" and the scourge of Islamic terrorists.

Former president Jimmy Carter accused Bush and British PM Tony Blair of waging a war of "lies" against Iraq.

Poland's president said he was "deceived" by Bush into sending troops to Iraq. Spain's new prime minister denounced Bush's Iraq adventure as a "fiasco" and a "war based on lies."

A group of leading American business executives ran a full-page ad in The New York Times entitled "Have you noticed what's happened to chief executives who lie?" with a picture of an executive being led away in handcuffs. The ad described the Iraq invasion as a "state-sponsored deception (that) already dwarfs the damage done by the worst corporate scandals," citing 566 American dead and a cost of $125 billion US (not to mention 20,000 Iraqi deaths).

The underlying message was stark: the president and his "war cabinet" ought to face criminal charges for lying to the nation and starting an unnecessary war for domestic political reasons.

The fourth bombshell exploded when Richard Clarke, the respected former counter-terrorism chief under presidents Clinton and George Bush Sr., went public with the most damning accusations yet made against the White House. His testimony before a commission investigating the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. asserted the Bush administration damaged U.S. national security, did not do enough to prevent the 9/11 attacks, and obsessed over Iraq while largely ignoring al-Qaida's threat.

Bush, said Clarke, did "a terrible job" in fighting terrorism. Bush's obsession with Iraq left the U.S. "needlessly unprepared" to counter an al-Qaida attack. He also criticized, somewhat less strongly, the Clinton administration's anti-terrorism efforts.

Clarke, a Republican, insisted there were no links between Iraq and either 9/11 or terrorism, and that Iraq had no concealed weapons, a position long maintained by this column. But the feeble, politicized 9/11 commission failed to follow up on this dramatic testimony.

Vice President Dick Cheney was described by Clarke as a "right-wing ideologue." He accused Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a principal architect of the Iraq War, of "belittling" the al-Qaida threat.

We learned Defence Secretary Rumsfeld was so preoccupied with anti-missile defence before 9/11 he ignored al-Qaida.

Urgent warnings

The commission's report stated Rumsfeld "did not recall any particular counter-terrorism issue that engaged his attention before 9/11," though the CIA claimed to have urgently warned both Bush and Rumsfeld of impending attacks.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who refused to testify, was shown to be a dithering, confused amateur and a character assassin who has led the White House attacks on Clarke.

Attorney General John Ashcroft, another self-styled scourge of terrorists, actually proposed cutting spending on counter-terrorism exactly one day before 9/11 - and again, afterward. Unfortunately, the commission failed to ask why the Bush administration had been sending millions in aid to the "terrorist" Taliban until four months before 9/11.

This column has repeatedly asserted the Bush administration was asleep on guard duty on 9/11.

True, there were no warnings hijacked airliners were coming on that specific day. But with the benefit of hindsight, we see the same ineptitude and confusion that preceded the attack on Pearl Harbor - a combination of distraction, smugness, self-deception, disbelief and bungling. On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan's naval codes were being intercepted and deciphered; her attacking aircraft were spotted by radar. Yet the obvious conclusions somehow were not made. The same applies to Sept. 11, 2001.

In the U.S. Navy, a ship's captain is responsible for all accidents or misfortunes, no matter what the excuse. But no senior member of the Bush administration has accepted responsibility for the death of some 3,000 people on 9/11. No one resigned.

No senior U.S. official acted with the honour and courage of Britain's foreign secretary, Robin Cook, who resigned to protest a war against Iraq he charged was based entirely on falsehoods and disinformation.

Instead, the Bush administration launched a trumped up war against Iraq to mask its own negligence prior to 9/11, and to satisfy America's lust for revenge by attacking a nation innocent of that crime.

Clarke, at least, had the decency to apologize to the families of the 9/11 victims, saying, "the government failed you. And I failed you." We have yet to hear a peep of self-criticism from the blundering but arrogant Bush White House.

Of course not. This administration is running for re-election on its "war record" against Iraq, and its so-called war on terrorism. Bush is playing Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman.

But his claim to be a war president is like the man who murders his family, then begs for mercy because he is an orphan. The Iraq war was not one of self-defence, like World War II, but an unprovoked, illegal aggression engineered by the Bush administration and justified by a torrent of shameful lies. Bush's "war on terrorism" is a police action that was unnecessarily and foolishly militarized.

Richard Clarke, no matter his motives, has done his nation an important, badly needed service.

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Lies and character assassination are hallmarks of Team Bush

By Bev Conover
Online Journal Editor & Publisher

March 26, 2004—Even the word chutzpah isn't strong enough to account for the lies that flow daily from the mouths of the Bush team. Are these people so deranged that they actually believe they can get away with telling whopper after whopper after whopper or do they think the American people are so stupid that they will buy all the lies as long as the lies are humongous ones?

Comment: Apparently they have good cause to think so.

"The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, because the vast masses of a nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad.

The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them more easy victims of a big lie than a small one, because they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell big ones.

Such a form of lying would never enter their heads. They would never credit others with the possibility of such great impudence as the complete reversal of facts. Even explanations would long leave them in doubt and hesitation, and any trifling reason would dispose them to accept a thing as true.

Something therefore always remains and sticks from the most imprudent of lies, a fact which all bodies and individuals concerned in the art of lying in this world know only too well, and therefore they stop at nothing to achieve this end." ~ Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf

How many of you fell off your chairs when National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Supreme Court appointed Vice President Dick Cheney declared that Richard Clarke, who says the administration was soft on terrorism before 9/11, was out of the loop? That Clarke, the administration's top counterterrorism official, was not included in meetings where possible acts of terrorism were discussed?

The only thing Clarke may have been out of the loop on was the Bushies using the intelligence he provided them about impending al Qaeda attacks on US soil to either give CIA asset Osama bin Laden the green light or just sitting back and waiting for the attacks to happen. Either way, Bush and his neocons would get their "new Pearl Harbor" to pave the way for their long-planned illegal preemptive strike on Iraq, which was to be the first step in imposing US rule on the Arab states of the Middle East, in addition to neutralizing Team Sharon's enemies—real or perceived.

For those of you who still think that "our government wouldn't do that to us," the picture becomes clearer by the day that it is exactly what it did do. The only question remaining is whether the Bushies were complicit in 9/11 or did they just let it happen? Either way, it is not only an impeachable offense—one among a mountain of others—but a criminal, possibly even a treasonous, act.

How else to explain the waffling, the stonewalling, the hiding behind executive privilege and the fact that George W. Bush got to investigate himself and his underlings by appointing the members of the so-called independent 9/11 commission to do the investigating? That is the equivalent to a citizen accused of a crime appointing his own judge, prosecutor and jury. [...]

Lesser lights also have felt Team Bush's wrath. Tom Flocco yesterday reported that FBI translator Sibel Edmonds charged before some "50 reporters and 12 television cameras," following yesterday's Tuesday's to the 9/11 commission, that she was offered a "substantial raise and a full time job to encourage her not to go public that she had been asked by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to retranslate and adjust the translations of [terrorist] subject intercepts that had been received before September 11, 2001, by the FBI and CIA."

Edmonds is quoted as saying, "Attorney General John Ashcroft told me 'he was invoking State Secret Privilege and National Security' when I told the FBI I wanted to go public with what I had translated from the pre 9-11 intercepts."

And what was in her original translations that Ashcroft wanted suppressed? "My translations of the pre 9-11 intercepts included [terrorist] money laundering, detailed and date specific information enough to alert the American people, and other issues dating back to 1999 which I won't go into right now."

The term "State Secret Privilege," she told Flocco came to her in an October 18, 2002, memo from Department of Justice spokesperson Barbara Comstock.

Ms. Edmonds told Flocco that since her appearance on 60 Minutes she has been silenced by Ashcroft, followed by the FBI and, in 2002, threatened in 2002 with jail if she went public.

It is doubtful that all these people are liars or nutcases. Those honors belong to the Bushies whose nefarious schemes are coming unraveled. Truth is powerful stuff, so powerful that when it starts coming out, even a Karl Rove can't hold it back.

The biggest question is if and when the Democrats are going to pick up on all the Bush lies being handed to them on the proverbial silver platter. Must Bush and his evil twin, Ariel Sharon, set the world aflame before the Democrats wake up? Might there be some unwritten rule that a Bonesman (John Kerry) cannot speak the truth about another Bonesman (George W. Bush)? If so, all is lost.

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September 11 attacks: What did Bush know?

By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
27 March 2004

One of the most tumultuous weeks in recent Washington history ended yesterday with the same over-arching, monumental question with which it began. Could the Bush administration have prevented the attacks of 11 September 2001? Upon the answer hangs a Presidency.

Before that terrible Tuesday in New York and Washington, Mr Bush had faced the threat of al-Qa'ida for eight months, compared to the six years of the Clinton administration, who first formally acknowledged the existence of the organisation in 1995, and designated Osama bin Laden, as a terrorist financier. This President and his closest advisers are being held to account for their actions between January and September 2001. In the aftermath of the attacks, such questions were first swamped by collective grief, then overshadowed by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Now ­ above all because of the explosive memoirs of Richard Clarke, the White House counter-terrorism chief under both Mr Bush and Mr Clinton ­ they are being asked. And the answers provided by the book and the first findings of the federal commission examining the attacks, are anything but flattering ­ so unflattering that the Bush campaign is leaving no stone unturned to discredit Mr Clarke, denouncing his testimony as "lies".

In counter-terrorism, as in everything else, the Bush team came to office determined to be "Anything But Clinton". The charitable explanation for its new approach to al-Qa'ida is that, as the national security adviser Condoleezza Rice insists, the President wanted to stop "swatting flies" and have a new strategy to destroy, not merely contain, the terrorist threat.

That grand plan was finally approved just seven days before 11 September, when it was too late to have made any difference. According to Mr Clarke and others such as the former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, the real reason was antipathy to Mr Clinton and his works, and a conviction Saddam Hussein and Iraq were at the root of all evil.

Mr Clarke, one of the few holdover officials from the Clinton administration, says he gave Ms Rice a detailed memo on dealing with al-Qa'ida on 25 January, five days after the inauguration. This document built on the briefings given by the CIA and departing Clinton officials to the incoming administration.

But, according to Mr Clarke, he was, in effect, demoted, instructed to report to deputy-level cabinet officials.

That, Mr Clarke charges, delayed action "by months". He adds that during that first briefing on 25 January "her facial expression gave me the impression she had never heard the term [al-Qa'ida] before".

Thus the increasingly dark forebodings of the intelligence community failed to resonate. The preliminary report of the commission notes the "tension" felt by John McLaughlin, the deputy director of the CIA, between the understandable wish of a new administration to get its own take on an issue, and the urgency of the situation on the ground. The sudden spike in intercepted "chatter" suggesting one or more impending terrorist strikes went unheeded or was downplayed because of the assumption they would be abroad. In May, according to private testimony from Ms Rice, Mr Bush expressed frustration as George Tenet, the CIA director, warned again of terrorist threats in his daily briefing.

By July, so nervous were intelligence specialists that two unidentified CIA officers dealing with al-Qa'ida contemplated resignation in order to go public with their fears. But, by the end of July, the "chatter" had subsided. Wrongly, Mr Tenet concluded that any attacks had been postponed.

Mr Clarke was so upset his advice was not being followed that he prepared to ask for a new post. In June, a new presidential draft on ambitious covert action against al-Qa'ida was circulating. But nothing happened.

The next, and penultimate, key date is 6 August 2001. That day Mr Bush, on holiday at his Texas ranch, received his top-secret "President's Daily Briefing", or PDB. The document contained the CIA's latest assessment of the terrorist threat, including renewed intelligence that hijacked aircraft might be used in an attack. Calls for its release have been resisted.

On 4 September ­ the day the new blueprint for action against al-Qa'ida was approved ­ Mr Clarke wrote to Ms Rice asking how she would feel if hundreds of Americans were killed in a terrorist attack. A week later, the Eastern seaboard was attacked.

By then, clues of what was about to happen had been gathered. The CIA knew that two al-Qa'ida terrorists, who would take part in the attacks, were in the country. The FBI had discovered strange goings-on at pilot schools, of Middle Eastern men wanting to learn how to fly airliners, but not to land or take off. But the agencies would not share the information. Had he been in possession of them, Mr Clarke said, "I like to think I would have connected the dots". But that probably was wishful thinking ­ as wishful as Mr Bush's belief that Saddam was involved with 11 September. Meanwhile requests for Ms Rice to appear before the federal commission have been turned down.

Hindsight, famously, is perfect. Or as Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton's last Secretary of State put it when she testified on Tuesday: "History happens forward, but is written backwards."

Comment: While it appears that the knives are out for Bush and the Neocons, this is not a victory for the anti-war campaigners, or real peace and democracy. If Bush is forced out, it is because someone with enough power and influence behind the scenes to make it a reality desires it. In all likelihood, that which replaces the Bush administration will be tasked with taking the world one step closer to the brink of destruction.

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New York Post

March 28, 2004 -- A group of New York families of 9/11 victims came out swinging against Richard Clarke yesterday, accusing the former White House anti-terror chief of cashing in on the tragedy with his explosive book.

In a scathing open letter, the furious families also ripped Clarke for releasing the controversial tome to coincide with his appearance before the 9/11 commission on Wednesday.

"It was very disturbing to learn that Mr. Clarke would be releasing his book immediately before his scheduled public testimony before the 9/11 commission," they said in their emotional "Open Letter to America."

"The notion of [Clarke] profiteering from anything associated with 9/11 is particularly offensive to all of us."

In "Against All Enemies," Clarke accuses President Bush of not doing enough to thwart the terror strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The fuming families said Clarke's motivations are also political and called the book - which has become an overnight best seller - divisive and mean-spirited.

"We find Mr. Clarke's actions all the more offensive especially considering the fact that there was always a high possibility that the 9/11 commission could be used for political gain . . . with the presidential election less than eight months away," they wrote. [...]

Comment: Many in the Bush administration seem to have profited from Iraq Invasion II, which we are told is directly linked to the Al-Qaeda terrorists that allegedly committed the 9/11 attacks. The Bush family profited from the millions of deaths in WWII, yet these same American citizens who are complaining about Clarke are strangely silent about Bush and his gang.

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Demonstrators Swarm Around Rove's Home

By Steven Ginsberg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 29, 2004; Page B01

Several hundred people stormed the small yard of President Bush's chief political strategist, Karl Rove, yesterday afternoon, pounding on his windows, shoving signs at others and challenging Rove to talk to them about a bill that deals with educational opportunities for immigrants.

Protesters poured out of one school bus after another, piercing an otherwise quiet, peaceful Sunday in Rove's Palisades neighborhood in Northwest, chanting, "Karl, Karl, come on out! See what the DREAM Act is all about!"

Rove obliged their first request and opened his door long enough to say, "Get off my property."

"Seems like he doesn't want to invite us in for tea," Emira Palacios quipped to the crowd.

Others chanted, "Karl Rove ain't got no soul."

The crowd then grew more aggressive, fanning around the three accessible sides of Rove's house, tracking him through the many windows, waving signs that read "Say Yes to DREAM" and pounding on the glass. At one point, Rove rushed to a window, pointed a finger and yelled something inaudible.

Shortly thereafter, sirens shot through the neighborhood and Secret Service agents and D.C. police joined the crowd on the lawn. Rove opened his door long enough to talk to an officer, and the crowd serenaded them with a stanza of "America the Beautiful." [...]

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Iraqi Defector's Tales Bolstered U.S. Case for War

By Bob Drogin and Greg Miller
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
March 28, 2004

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration's prewar claims that Saddam Hussein had built a fleet of trucks and railroad cars to produce anthrax and other deadly germs were based chiefly on information from a now-discredited Iraqi defector code-named "Curveball," according to current and former intelligence officials.

U.S. officials never had direct access to the defector and didn't even know his real name until after the war. Instead, his story was provided by German agents, and his file was so thick with details that American officials thought it confirmed long-standing suspicions that the Iraqis had developed mobile germ factories to evade arms inspections.

Curveball's story has since crumbled under doubts raised by the Germans and the scrutiny of U.S. weapons hunters, who have come to see his code name as particularly apt, given the problems that beset much of the prewar intelligence collection and analysis. [...]

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Protests as U.S. closes Iraqi paper: Publishers accused of inciting violence

Monday, March 29, 2004 Posted: 4:39 AM EST (0939 GMT)

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Several thousand Iraqis protested the closure of a newspaper Sunday, chanting anti-U.S. slogans and burning American flags outside the newspaper's office in Baghdad.

The U.S.-led civil administration in Iraq closed the Baghdad newspaper Al Hawsa for 60 days, accusing its publishers of inciting violence against coalition troops.

The paper is published by followers of prominent Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Saddam treated like an 'animal': Lawyer

Mar. 28, 2004. 06:58 PM

PARIS — A French lawyer who claims to be representing Saddam Hussein said today he doesn't think there will be a trial for a long time and criticized U.S. President George W. Bush for pronouncing the former dictator guilty of atrocities.

Jacques Verges said he believes the United States has violated the Geneva Conventions on several counts in its detention of Saddam, and said the world must wait for a trial to determine what Saddam did wrong.

"We know that Mr. Bush has said he's guilty," Verges told Associated Press Television News. "But what does that mean? Mr. Bush is not a judge. We cannot accept him as a judge. He is an enemy of Saddam Hussein."

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Westminster Notes (Spain And Iraq)

Sir Cyril Townsend Al-Hayat 2004/03/29

Prime Minister Tony Blair has been caught badly on the wrong foot by the result of Spain's General Election, in which the governing Popular Party came crashing down after Europe's worst terrorist atrocity since Lockerbie in December 1988.

Tony Blair's growing number of critics in the Labour Parliamentary Party will be saying among themselves that he deserves to be embarrassed by his extraordinary friendship with the outgoing conservative Prime Minister José Maria Aznar, who took his country to war in Iraq against the wishes of 90% of the public. The two Prime Ministers attempted to form an unofficial partnership within the European Union to balance the old alliance between Germany and France.

Spain's new Prime Minister, the former socialist opposition leader José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, resented Mr. Blair's closeness to the conservative party in Madrid, and he has always seen the conflict in Iraq as a disaster. Following the election result he told the cheering crowds: "Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush must do some reflection and self-criticism… you can't organize a war with lies."

No doubt this will have caused some squirming in No. 10 Downing Street.

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Police 'let Madrid bomb suspects go'

By Isambard Wilkinson in Madrid
The Telegraph
Filed: 29/03/2004

Spanish police were agonisingly close to foiling the Madrid train bombings, it was disclosed yesterday.

A car carrying the explosives used in the March 11 massacre was stopped by police but its Arab driver was fined only for a minor traffic offence, it was reported.

The boot of the Volkswagen was packed with 220 lb of industrial dynamite being transported to Madrid after it had been stolen from a coal mine at Aviles in northern Spain during the last week of February, the El Pais newspaper said.

The car, which had been stolen, was stopped by two Civil Guard patrolmen near Benavente, in the province of Leon, north of Madrid.

But their suspicions were not aroused when they checked the car's registration as the owner had not yet reported it missing. They failed to recognise that the driver was not the registered owner. [...]

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French voters dump Chirac party

President Jacques Chirac's party has been humiliated in French regional polls, amid speculation that PM Jean-Pierre Raffarin could be sacked.

The socialists and their allies won 50% of the second-round votes, leaving Mr Chirac's centre-right governing UMP party trailing on 36.9%.

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French left floors ruling right in regional election knockout

PARIS, March 28 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac suffered a new pasting at the polls Sunday, as the electorate punished his government's policies of public sector reform and defected massively to the Socialists (PS) in the second round of regional elections.

[...] Speaking on national television, the prime minister conceded that the government had to heed the message from voters, but he said the policies of economic and social reform could not be halted.

"I am sure the French do not want a return to immobility. Reforms must be continued very simply because they are necessary," the prime minister said.

[...] "The electorate has justly pronounced a heavy rejection of the whole of Jean-Pierre Raffarin's government. They have rejected a policy which for two years has deepened inequalities, intensified social tensions and despised the weak," said PS leader Francois Hollande.

Raffarin's attempts to streamline parts of France's large public sector have provoked a wave of protests by groups including scientific researchers, lawyers, hospital staff and performing artists - while his aim of liberalising employment law has prompted the criticism that he sides with big business.

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Raffarin pledges to continue with reforms

PARIS, March 28 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said Sunday that the centre-right government must draw the consequences from its heavy defeat by the Socialists at regional polls, but he insisted the policies of economic reform must continue.

"Our action must be more effective, it must be more just. Certainly there must be changes," he said on French television.

"But it is not forbidden to recall that what has been done in the last two years was not done in the previous five (under the Socialists). I am sure the French do not want a return to immobility. Reforms must be continued very simply because they are necessary," he said.

Raffarin said that during his term law and order had been strengthened, the pensions system reformed and in recent weeks the unemployment rate had levelled off.

"It is not enough, I acknowledge, and today French men and women told us that clearly," he said.

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Leap in the wrong direction: The killing of Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin has cast a dark shadow over relations between Egypt and the US

In the early morning of 22 March, William Burns, US assistant secretary of state, was visiting Egypt in his capacity as Middle East peace envoy, Gamal Essam El-Din reports.

He was unaware that at the same time, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was ordering the assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin. The killing in Gaza dealt a blow to a scheduled Cairo meeting that day, which had been arranged 10 days before to include envoys of the quartet group, namely the US, the UN, Russia and the EU.

Burns met with President Mubarak a few hours after news of the assassination spread around the world. Following their discussion, President Mubarak reported that his talks with Burns had touched on the killing of Yassin.

"I think [the Americans] were taken aback by this act. Israel might have exploited the fact that America is busy following its presidential elections and decided to carry out this act," President Mubarak said.

[...] Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, meanwhile, said that Israel's decision to kill Yassin at this particular time has a very dangerous political significance. "Israel chose a time when great international efforts were being amassed to achieve peace in the region," he said.

[...] Egyptian politicians believe that Yassin's assassination and the regional turmoil it has instigated is proof that the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict must have priority over any moves aimed at advancing democracy in the Middle East and the Arab world. Mohamed Abdallah, chairman of Alexandria University and former long-time head of parliament's foreign affairs, told the Weekly "I hope that the Americans now fully recognise that their so-called Greater Middle East Project is destined to collapse as long as they insisted on ignoring the Arab-Israeli conflict," said Abdallah. The US's Greater Middle East Initiative was also a major source of tension in Egyptian-American relations in the past month.

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40 U.S. senators supported Israel’s assassination of Hamas’ leader

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Egypt Wants to Convene Arab Summit

By NADIA ABOU EL-MAGD, Associated Press Writer
March 29, 2004

CAIRO, Egypt - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said postponement of a summit of Arab leaders scheduled for Monday was unwarranted and urged that the meeting be held within three weeks.

The summit was indefinitely postponed Saturday by host Tunisia because of deep divisions over how to bring more democracy to the Middle East and how to move forward in settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was to have dealt with proposals for reforms in response to U.S. calls for greater freedoms in the region. [...]

Mubarak discussed the new bid to hold a summit with the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa in Cairo on Monday. [...]

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A malignant tumor onto the world: Israel and its self-defeating actions

By Manuel Valenzuela
Axis of Logic Contributing Editor

Anti-occupation, anti-apartheid and anti-dehumanization is not anti-Semitism nor anti-Israel. Pro-peace, pro-human rights and pro-freedom is not pro-Palestinian. The power of freedom is pointing out when it is being denied. The search for justice and equality comes not from hiding from fear of criticism but rather from taking the road less traveled up the mountain of truth.—Manuel Valenzuela

March 26, 2004—What were Sharon and the Israeli government thinking when they decided to decapitate Hamas through the assassination of its founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin? If the state sponsored murder of Yassin was not so recklessly self-defeating, one might be inclined to think that Sharon is on a mission to implode the state of Israel.

The evaporation of a wheelchair-laden Yassin through American Apache helicopter missiles underscores the vicious cycle the state of Israel has thrust upon itself for years on end. Its ceaseless terror-inducing actions on an occupied and resisting people continue to haunt it and its own citizens; its continued oppression, violence and dehumanization on the indigenous people of Palestine inevitably always boomerangs, yet Israel does not relent, nor understands, nor seems to care about the consequences of its actions.

As if addicted to perpetual death, fear and violence, the state of Israel continues to escalate a war it cannot win, an occupation it cannot escape and a state of siege it does not fully care to understand. Israel has through the years only increased its oppression of a population it cannot erase, no matter how hard it tries to cleanse the Holy Land of its native inhabitants. It continues to masochistically seek the principle of kill and be killed, of cause and effect and action and reaction, making one wonder if suffering and hardship are necessary ingredients for life in the Middle East. For decades Israel has tried everything to no avail, collective punishment, virtual imprisonment, economic genocide, killing, maiming, oppressing, occupying, cleansing and dehumanizing. Does it not see that her continued actions are leading not to the "promised land" but rather straight to hell on Earth and that life is only getting harder and much less safe?

The trouble in the Middle East stems from the fact that a European people with no continuity with the land arrived and colonized a native population that did. Today, this colonization has morphed into outright apartheid and dehumanization. The state of Israel, it must be understood, was born in sin. It was created in large part thanks to the ethnic cleansing and dispossession of a native people who today are trapped in large concentration camps of suffering and utter decay, living encaged in the last vestiges of their original land. Israel's birth coincided with the spawning of serious crimes against humanity that have through time only been exacerbated, continuing to this day with ever more barbaric levels of suppression, persecution and subjugation.

Israel was a dream of European Zionists who colonized the native Palestinian people (thanks to the British) who had contiguously occupied the land for millennia. These Zionists arrived and proceeded to open the floodgates of European Jewish immigration onto Palestine. Hundreds of thousands arrived while hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced out, oftentimes with a barrel of a gun pointed their way. Immigrants took possession of those lands and buildings left behind by the indigenous population.

Arab-Israeli wars that followed drove still more natives out of their lands and lives, pushing them further away from their historical homes. Large sections and populations of Jordan, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza are today but vast refugee camps for those who were ethnically cleansed from their livelihoods in order to appease the Zionist dream of a Jewish state in the so-called "promised land."

Those who would deny this reality should be categorized along with Holocaust non-believers and those revisionists of history who would have the world believe otherwise. The reality of the formation of Israel has been tried to be made to disappear into the dustbins of forgotten history, for the truth of how the "promised land" was acquired would no doubt send waves of disgust into those who today believe in the perceived nobility and blessings of the creation of Israel and the humanity and enlightenment of modern man. Indeed, to study the history of the formation of Israel is to undertake a study into colonization, occupation, oppression, apartheid and the worst in the human condition.

The latest act in the violent and horrendous tragedy that is the cycle of revenge and death in the Middle East will only assure that the Arab world, as well as the world at large, continues its exponentially-increasing animosity and resentment toward Israel and the Zionists who seem not to care about the growing tremors of negative energy seemingly emanating from all corners of the globe.

From Europe to Africa and Latin America to Asia, millions of human beings not privy to American corporate media whitewashing and manipulation are fully aware of the crimes against humanity emanating from the government of Ariel Sharon. What Americans are made ignorant to, thanks to a Zionist-friendly corporate media, the rest of the world sees as an outright travesty, akin to the worst devastation of a people committed by an oppressor state. That the vast majority of American citizens have been made completely ignorant to such a monstrosity taking place in modern times speaks volumes of the level of control and power the corporate media maintains over the population. Fortunately, the rest of the world does not have a fog-filled mirror from which to gaze at reality.

This helps explain the growing wave of anti-Semitism throughout the planet, which seems to only be on the rise. It is actions such as the killing of Sheik Yassin and the horrific treatment of millions of Palestinians that is giving birth to a resurgent anger against the Israeli and, by consequence, Jewish people who, justifiably or not, rightfully or wrongly, are imputed to the actions of the Israeli government by a world increasingly resentful of the barbaric treatment of an occupied and oppressed people. With every continued massacre, American missile killing and maiming, bullet penetrating the backs of children, demolition of houses and crops, and further acts of collective punishment, anti-Semitism will only increase worldwide.

Soon, the day will come when the hatred is so strong, when the animosity and resentfulness is so powerful that Israel will become more than the pariah it is steadily becoming. The wrath of the world will envelope Israel and the ramifications will be disastrous to both Israelis and Jews alike. It might become the ultimate rogue state, banished from the fraternity of nations.

Whether we like it or not, the reality is that in this world Israel's actions are imputed onto the over 13 million Jews who inhabit this world, and it will be them who suffer as a result of the decisions of Sharon and the Israeli government. The consequences of continued occupation and decimation will devastate the millions of good, peace-loving and innocent Jews around the world. The cauldron of hatred being spawned as a direct result of what Israel is doing in Palestine will reverberate vociferously, growing to levels not seen in 60 years, condemning another generation of Jews whose innocence is being despoiled by Sharon and the zealous Zionists who care not what ramifications their actions spring forth. [...]

The world is tired that the greatest threat to world peace and stability comes from a minute part of the world involving a few million people (out of a world population of over 6 billion). We are tired that so much of our security is determined by those entities fighting for a land promised by ancient myths and fables, by primitive peoples with archaic outlooks seeking antiquated solutions in bygone times. The world is tired of the continued shedding of human blood for cynical purposes that is sending the entire globe perilously close to world war. It is hard to believe that one area, no bigger than a small American state, is the cause of so much trouble and anxiety and that in a simmering second can help engulf the world in flames.

The greatest threat to world peace is the continued occupation of Palestinian land and the criminal oppression of the Palestinian people. The world is tired of the inequality, the unfairness, the injustice, the dehumanization, the apartheid and the crimes against humanity being committed in the Middle East. It is tired of an oppressor categorically treating like caged animals a race of humanity whose only crime was continuously living in land deemed Holy by Zionists.

The world is tired of the one-sided fiction that comes out of Israel that distorts the reality of what is occurring and makes terrorists of an oppressed people resisting occupation. We are sick and tired of government leaders doing nothing but plucking their anal whiskers while millions of people are rotting away their existence in a cesspool of misery and hopelessness, trapped in cages of squalor, deprived of opportunity and at living a life worthy of a human being.

What is happening in Palestine affects us all, whether we like it or not. The ramifications of not heeding the warning signs emanating from the region will endanger all corners of the globe. The assassination of Sheik Yassin will no doubt unleash a wave of violence that will reverberate throughout the globe. Already warnings are being sent that the US will be a target. There is no reason to doubt this claim, as America is increasingly responsible for the violence in the region. [...]

Comment: We have been saying the above for some time now. However, Sharon's plan is that in the coming conflagration, "Greater Israel" will be ethnically cleansed of all Arabs, and if many Jews end up as "collateral damage" then that is not a problem in Sharon;s eyes. As a result, any current resentment or condemnation is irrelevant because ultimately there will be few people left in the Middle East to complain. This is the one thing that most commentators refuse to admit, despite the fact that all the Signs are there.

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EU sticks to Yassin condemnation after US veto

European Union leaders have repeated their condemnation of Israel for killing Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, hours after the United States vetoed a UN Security Council resolution denouncing the assassination.

In a statement issued at the end of a summit in Brussels, the leaders of the EU's 25 current and future states said the bloc had "consistently opposed extra-judicial killings".

Washington, alone among major powers in not condemning this week's assassination as an extrajudicial killing, rejected the resolution by Arab nations because it did not also denounce Sheikh Yassin's group Hamas for suicide bombings in Israel.

The US's "no" vote killed the resolution because it is one of the five permanent members of the council with veto power.

Britain, Germany and Romania abstained after Algeria, negotiating for Arab nations, rejected an amendment they wanted that would have condemned "atrocities" against Israelis.

The EU leaders said they had "repeatedly condemned terrorist atrocities against Israelis and recognised Israel's right to protect its citizens against terrorist attacks", but Sheikh Yassin's killing had deepened the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"The present cycle of retaliatory violence has... inflamed the situation and is taking the parties even further from a negotiated settlement," they said.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, whose country currently holds the presidency of the EU, said one of the problems with UN resolutions on the Middle East was that - to be passed - they had to include a condemnation of suicide bombings.

"Not having that in the resolution brought the problem," he told a news conference.

The EU leaders also said in their statement that they would not recognise any unilateral change in the borders Israel had before the 1967 Middle East war.

Israel is building a barrier in the West Bank it says is vital to keep out Palestinian suicide bombers.

The Palestinians call it a land-grab that deprives them of territory they want for a state.

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Obituary: Sheikh Ahmed Yassin: 1938-2004

"I would fight my own brother if he took over my home. I don't fight Jews because they are Jews. I fight them because they have stolen and arrogated my land, home and orchards and condemned my people to everlasting misery," Yassin told foreign journalists inquiring about his implacable attitude towards Israel. Needless to say, his bitterness and sense of indignation were further enhanced by the abject poverty and rampant misery prevalent in the refugee camps of Gaza where he and his family lived during his teenage years.

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Sharon's future in doubt: Israeli PM faces calls to resign

Prosecutor seeks bribery indictment


JERUSALEM - Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon endured another round of brickbats in silence yesterday as opposition and allies alike cast new doubts on his leadership after a state prosecutor's formal recommendation that Sharon be indicted on charges of bribe-taking.

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New gov't to be formed if disengagement not supported: Sharon 2004-03-29 20:30:53

JERUSALEM, March 29 (Xinhuanet) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Monday that he will form a new government if coalition parties oppose his plan to unilaterally disengage from the Gaza Strip and certain parts of the West Bank.

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How Religious Are The Israeli Jews?

Emmanuel Sivan Al-Hayat 2004/03/29

The evolution of the religious scene in Israel over the last decade or so is the product of two factors, the one structural and slow, the other contingent and rapid.

The first is the economist takeoff, which began ca. 1986 and led to the development of export-led economic growth, predicated on high-tech, electronics, pharmaceuticals and tourism. GNP attained the 100 billion mark by the end of the 1990s, with income per capita, despite the second Intifada, at a middling EU level (ca, $16,000). With affluence, consumerism took off, leisure culture, greatly influenced by foreign ads, and developed. Religious practice was, as we shall see below, an immediate victim of the rise of an unabashedly materialistic, increasingly sophisticated and cosmopolitan society. No less important is the concomitant rise of a more individualistic ethos, committed to self-realization as well to human rights, and perceived in part (especially by the younger generations) as a way of joining the more advanced part of the globe). Correspondingly, one notes a growing suspicion towards collectivistic values of bygone eras (including religion). The Supreme Court, which is the public institution enjoying the greatest prestige and credibility, is the emblem of this new mentality, having set itself as the activist guardian of human rights, above all freedom of conscience.

The second factor was the sudden arrival of over 1 million immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

[...] Another way of looking at the data is through the dynamics of intra-generational change and acculturation. If we look at that half of the Israeli Jews who are Oriental (16% of the Jews were born in Islamic countries, 30% have been born in Israel to parents born in the lands of Islam), we find that today, as well as in previous decades, they tend to be more positively oriented towards religion (half of them are Traditionalists, while merely one-fifth of the Ashkenazis declare themselves as such). Yet, as one moves into the second (and third) generation, practice among Orientals becomes more lax. Sixty-one percent of Orientals refrain from work on Shabbat, but only 50% of their children; 84% eat only kosher food, but among their children the rate declines to 74% and the same holds for blessing on the wine on Friday evening. Half of the Orientals go on pilgrimage to tombs of Holy Men, as compared with a third of their offspring.

A like tendency towards laxer observance can be detected among Jews of Euro-American origin and their offspring born in Israel. This is particularly significant due to the growing share of "mixed" (Oriental-Ashkenazi) marriages among the Israel-born (ca. 32%), whereas research has found out that in terms of religious practice the "mixed" couples tend to follow the Ashkenazi pattern.

[...] Contrary to appearances, then, Israeli Jews are becoming less religious, not more so.

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Ayoon wa Azan (Why I Worry)

Jihad Al Khazen Al-Hayat 2004/03/28

After 30 years, the news about crude oil and its price, or prices, came back to remind me of its news in 1974, when the price increased enormously after the famous danger of Arab oil.

[...] At the same time, oil-producing countries do not have the required money to invest more in production, or do not have the desire to, and real alternatives do not exist. While the U.S. constantly speaks of developing alternatives, the fact is that the most technologically developed countries of the world, failed in providing alternatives so far, and there are no indications that they would succeed in the near future. Perhaps, the only sure thing about this future is that Americans would still be big car lovers, which consume huge amounts of fuel.

The fact is that the picture is darker for America and brighter for us than at any other time; since energy is not only used as fuel for cars. In the U.S., firms of Aluminum on the North West of the Pacific Ocean, and firms of plastic in New Jersey were closed down, and their production was moved abroad, because the cost of energy in the U.S. is among the highest in the world. This means that Americans lost their jobs because of the increase in oil price. This is the essence of the danger I am trying to explain.

[...] If the reader believes the U.S. has occupied Iraq to spread democracy, then there is no need to worry. However, if the reader thinks that oil has something to do with the issue, then he would understand the reasons for my concern.

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As Border Woes Strain Arizona, U.S. and Mexico Talk

The New York Times
March 29, 2004

Every other morning, Bud Strom begins a ritual of life on the Arizona border, mounting his horse, Bandit, and traversing the mesquite and grassland of his 1,000-acre cattle ranch in Hereford to look for barbed-wire fencing broken by border crossers. Come dusk, he will often stumble upon the border crossers themselves.

A few months ago, he came upon a pregnant Mexican teenager and her boyfriend looking for shelter from the cold rain. Before that, it was a man from Sicily who spoke no English but scrawled on the ground that he wanted to get to New Hampshire. Before that, it was a man simply demanding una cerveza, a beer.

"The border is so porous that we probably get a thousand people a week coming through the ranch — it's a sieve," said Mr. Strom, 72, whose property sits on the Mexican border about 95 miles south of Tucson. "They're all just looking for a way to head north through the mountains."

In recent months, there has been an eruption of illegal immigration and related violence in Arizona, and with it has come a realization by federal officials: no matter how many hundreds of thousands of migrants they catch and send back over the border, many will return time and again unless the government finds better ways to keep them out of the country and out of harm's way. [...]

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U.S. Gas Prices Hit New Record High

By TIM MOLLOY, Associated Press Writer
Mon Mar 29, 4:40 AM ET

LOS ANGELES - There is little chance that gas prices, which have reached a record high, will fall significantly in the near future, a national analyst says. [...]

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Russia, EU to Sign Trade Pact by May 1

BRUSSELS -- Russia and the European Union will resolve their trade differences before the bloc adds 10 new members on May 1, both sides said Friday.

[...] He and Gref also said they had made progress on agreeing about conditions for Russia's membership in the World Trade Organization.

The EU wants Russia to stop regulating gas prices and split Gazprom's $16 billion export market before it joins the Geneva-based WTO. Governments seeking to join the WTO must first resolve outstanding issues with existing members, and the EU is Russia's largest trading partner.

"Bit by bit, meeting by meeting we are whittling down the number of problems before us," such as industrial tariffs and access for commercial services such as banking, Lamy said. On energy prices, "we have agreed to look at that in the more medium- and long-term perspective," he added, without elaborating.

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Congo calm after failed coup

29/03/2004 - 12:44:50

Congo President Joseph Kabila appealed for calm today after armed groups attacked military installations across the capital in an apparent attempt to force him from power.

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Plague of FBI Agents Descends on Scientist

By Matt Bivens

Did you hear about the scientist who was subjected to a KGB-style interrogation and railroaded into jail despite the horrified objections of human rights groups and the scientific community?

No, not Igor Sutyagin, the arms control expert whom the Kremlin considers a traitor. I'm talking about Thomas Butler, an infectious diseases researcher whose work has saved countless children from diarrhea-related dehydration deaths. As the judge noted this week while handing down Butler's two-year sentence, "the defendant's research and discoveries have led to the salvage of millions of lives throughout the world."

Butler was working on a new antidote for bubonic plague when he realized that 30 vials of the plague had gone missing from his laboratory at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Had they been stolen? Inadvertently destroyed? Butler says he was alarmed enough to notify university authorities.

Sixty FBI agents descended upon his laboratory and his home, and Butler says they quickly announced their conclusion: Butler himself had accidentally destroyed his plague samples. Butler says he demurred through he considered the agents' explanation unlikely.

The FBI continued to press him to declare that he'd accidentally destroyed the samples, Butler says, assuring him that he wouldn't be charged because his admission would calm a supposedly fearful American public.

Without a lawyer, and exhausted after nine hours of interrogation without food or rest, Butler reluctantly signed -- at which point he was taken to jail in handcuffs and leg irons, charged with having made a false report to the FBI about plague samples that were never missing.

Over the months, more and more charges were piled on. His lawyers, stunned at what was happening, called the government's handling of the case "other-worldly," and "a train wreck." One of the charges involved a dispute over the timing of federal tax deductions -- a dispute in which Butler had corresponded openly with the tax authorities and ultimately paid the amount sought. Others revolved around run-of-the-mill disagreements between the university and Butler over how to divvy up research grant money.

Butler had also borrowed plague samples from scientists in Tanzania (where the plague is not uncommon), carried them on his person back home on a plane, and then, when he was done with his work, mailed them back to Tanzania in an unmarked package. Testimony at his trial suggests this is not unusual behavior in the world of biological research -- thought it's certainly a little hair-raising, and worthy of serious reprimand.

But as Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists puts it, "After the first million lives that he saves, a defendant is entitled to some leeway when it comes to the commission of non-malicious crimes." Butler was given none. The government charged him with smuggling and mail fraud. He lost his tenure, his medical license, and now, with four kids and a wife at home, he's off to jail at age 62.

And we still don't know where his vials of plague are.

Other bio-terrorism researchers say they're destroying their own disease samples rather than risk a visit from 60 of John Ashcroft's boys. "If you step outside the United States," says Peter Agre, one of four Nobel Prize winners to ask for leniency for Butler, "the Tom Butler case is seen as some crazy American witch hunt. My European colleagues and my Canadian colleagues and friends wonder just what in the hell is going on here.

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A Martian landscape on Earth

Lakes: Acidic bodies of water in a remote part of Australia offer clues to what forms of life could once have thrived on the red planet - if any.

By Frank D. Roylance
Sun Staff
March 29, 2004

To reach Australia's Kalgoorlie lakes, you fly west from Sydney, across the outback to Perth. From there, you can drive inland for 12 hours, or catch a plane. But after landing in the dusty gold-mining town, you'll have to rent a Jeep before the shops close at 5 p.m., and then strike off into the desert on your own.

Kathleen C. Benison and her geology team made the long trip from Central Michigan University in 2001 to study the cluster of highly acidic salt lakes, which she says bear a striking resemblance to waters that once flowed on Mars.

Data from NASA's Mars rover Opportunity have convinced scientists that the planet's Meridiani Planum once flowed with salty, acidic water sufficient to sustain life.

While there's no evidence yet that Martian life did evolve to swim at Meridiani Planum, Benison said there's life in Kalgoorlie's equally inhospitable waters: So why not Mars?

"In recent decades we have found all these microbes on Earth that we didn't know could exist," she said. "Maybe there are different types of life on Mars than we understand. The key is being open-minded, trying to think of all the possibilities and ... how to test for them."

Comment: More ramping up of the evidence for the inevitable "disclosure". The soon to be announced "life" on Mars is step one in the acclimitisation of the sleeping masses that we are not "alone" after all.

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Earth on the 'Wimp highway'

By Roland Pease

Mysterious sub-atomic particles from another galaxy could be raining down on planet Earth, according to a collaboration of astronomers.

[...] It was when dark matter expert Katherine Freese, from the University of Michigan, heard astronomer Heidi Jo Newberg, from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, talk about these so-called tidal streams that an explanation for the puzzling seasonal Dama Wimp result started to crystallise.

"Part of this stream of stars is coming past our part of the galaxy, close to the Solar System," explains Heidi Newberg.

Stream direction

And this is what excited Katherine Freese. "Along with the stars being ripped out of the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy, there would be a large amount of dark matter and that would provide a Wimp highway that's coming right down on to the Earth," she said.

The argument is that we are stuck in the middle of a fast-moving stream of Wimps, billions passing through every square metre of the Earth (and our bodies) each second at speeds of over a million km/h.

The seasonal variation in detection would then depend on whether the Earth's orbit around the Sun is taking us upstream or downstream in this flow of extragalactic debris.

Writing in the journal Physical Review Letters, the scientists say their theory should be provable, if dark-matter detectors could see a variation in the energy of atom-Wimp collisions from winter to summer.

But confirming that Wimps exist would only be the start of a bigger search - for the identity of what they are actually made from.

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Prime minister's plane has close encounter with UFO in otherworldly incident

Canadian Press
March 29, 2004

OTTAWA (CP) - What fate the stars hold for Paul Martin may be unclear.

But one thing's certain: Canada's prime minister recently had a high-flying close encounter with a UFO. Martin and his entourage were cruising above Alberta when their Challenger jet came within an otherworldly whisker of a luminous object streaking through the night sky. In a report to Edmonton air traffic controllers, the pilot of Martin's plane noted seeing a "very bright light falling" through the air, with smoke trailing, while the aircraft passed over Suffield, Alta., on Sun., March 21.

People aboard at least two other planes also saw the plummeting object, which was travelling "at a very fast rate of speed" from a high altitude, says the report.

A copy of the one-page form, titled "UFO Procedures," was provided to The Canadian Press by Chris Rutkowski of the Winnipeg-based group Ufology Research of Manitoba. [...]

So was an extraterrestrial envoy trying to convey a message to Canada's new leader?

Unlikely, says Rutkowski. What the prime minister's plane and many others saw that night was almost certainty a chunk of a comet or an asteroid that entered Earth's atmosphere and burned up into fragments.

An amateur astronomer in Calgary captured the blazing streak on videotape. And it appears one or more such fireballs were seen by people across the Prairies and as far east as Quebec. [...]

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Fierce winds leave 3,000 homeless in Brazil

Sun, 28 Mar 2004 23:02:00

RIO DE JANEIRO - Winds exceeding 120 kilometres per hour killed two people and left 3,000 homeless off Brazil's southern coast, said U.S. officials Sunday.

But Brazilian meteorologists claim the winds did not reach hurricane speed, and clocked in at 80 and 90 kilometres and hour, which would classify as a tropical storm.

The dispute aside, the wicked winds caused power outages in about 40 cities and towns Saturday leaving 35,000 people without electricity in Santa Catarina state.

A state of emergency was in affect in some areas. [...]

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Province hit by unusual March rain, lightning

By Jason Bell
Sun Mar 28 2004

HEAVY rain -- and even lightning -- hammered southern Manitoba yesterday, shutting down some provincial highways and producing huge lakes on city roadways.

About 30 millimetres of rain pelted the Red River Valley throughout the day and well into the night as an unusual March low-pressure system spawned hail, thunder and lightning. [...]

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Wis. Community Evacuated Due to Flooding

Mon Mar 29, 5:00 AM ET

ANTIGO, Wis. - Melting snow combined with rainfall to create a weekend deluge in this northeastern Wisconsin community, forcing the evacuation of homes and businesses near flood-swollen Spring Brook.

"It's the worst flooding we've had in about 40 years," Police Chief Bill Brandt said Sunday night, adding that the water reached 3 feet deep or more in some areas.

There were no reports of injuries.

Runoff from rainfall and melting snow also brought flooding to areas in northeastern North Dakota, prompting the state to close a section of Highway 81. Minor flooding was reported along portions of the Red River. [...]

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Global warming spirals upwards

By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
28 March 2004

Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have jumped abruptly, raising fears that global warming may be accelerating out of control.

Measurements by US government scientists show that concentrations of the gas, the main cause of the climate exchange, rose by a record amount over the past 12 months. It is the third successive year in which they have increased sharply, marking an unprecedented triennial surge.

Scientists are at a loss to explain why the rapid rise has taken place, but fear that it could show the first signs that global warming is feeding on itself, with rising temperatures causing increases in carbon dioxide, which then go on to drive the thermometer even higher. That would be a deeply alarming development, suggesting that this self-reinforcing heating could spiral upwards beyond the reach of any attempts to combat it.

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Making noise over the hum

In Kokomo, complaints remain

Tammy Webber
March 28, 2004

Residents like to boast that Kokomo is the birthplace of the first American-built automobile, the pneumatic tire, stainless steel and the carburetor.

But in recent years, this city of about 46,000, an hour north of Indianapolis, has been known for something else.

The Kokomo hum.

A drone so incessant that some claim it is making their lives miserable and ruining their health.

While residents realize not everyone can hear their hum, they say it's time for the state to hear their pleas.

"We are appealing to the state, 'Will you help us?' " said Gael Deppert, an Indianapolis attorney who said she is volunteering her services to help residents. "We need to bring in scientists knowledgeable in various fields to try to grapple with this situation. We're asking the state to come in with an open mind."

On Friday, Jim Cowan, a Massachusetts researcher who has studied the hum, and Jeff Symmes, a Lafayette-area resident who says he became ill while working in Kokomo asked Gov. Joe Kernan's office for an in-depth study.

More than 100 people have complained of severe headaches, nausea, joint pain, debilitating heart problems or memory loss after they began feeling or hearing the hum.

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Five seconds can change a young person’s life.

March 16, 2004
The Wisconsinite

[...] Kevin noticed it first. Down river, a tree had fallen. Above it, some five or six feet, there it was, dangling. Words failed; he watched, disbelieving.

Then Tim’s attention tugged. Neither could say why – no movement, no light, no noise – but some internal warning sounded, causing each in turn to angle an eye downs tream . Tim saw it, glanced at Kevin still hooked down river. Tim swiveled back. Still there. Turning to Kevin: “You might think I’m crazy or something, but ... what is it?”

Steve – snagged now too.

No traffic rumbling over the bridge; only an eerie stillness.

It – a lighted entity mid-air. Not on the tree; the water; the bank. Six, seven feet tall, willowy, with a silvery, shimmering metallic look. Possibly a suit of some kind, wrinkled but tight. The suit, reflective, like burnished aluminum, cast no reflection in the water. Glowing softly – self illuminating.

Everything elongated; spidery long legs, long spindly arms, lengthy thin torso.

Atop, a close fitting helmet with an opaque face shield. Gloves, but none remembered feet. Kevin insisted it resembled an astronaut’s suit, but streamlined, not bulky.

Tim: “Never moved. It just looked like it was staring at us. I think that’s what unnerved Steve, is that he thought it was looking at him. But I don’t think it was staring at us.”

An immeasurable moment; the alluring luminous entity against a black sky, the trio transfixed. Then it turned ... took a step ... disappeared. [...]

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Cashier catches thief with his stolen card

Monday March 29, 11:45 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German man has been arrested for credit card theft after trying to buy 76 euros (51 pounds) worth of beer and cigarettes at a gas station with a stolen card that belonged to the cashier. [...]

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Christ movie sparks neo-Nazi confession

Monday March 29, 01:37 PM

OSLO (Reuters) - A Norwegian neo-Nazi has confessed to two bombings a decade ago after a pang of repentance triggered by watching U.S. director Mel Gibson's controversial film "The Passion of the Christ".

Johnny Olsen, 41, went to police after watching the movie about the death of Christ to admit that he was behind the previously unexplained bombings against anarchist squatters in Oslo in the mid-1990s.

"The trigger that made him go to police and confess was that movie," his lawyer, Fridtjof Feydt, told Reuters on Monday. He said his client had long been concerned with issues such as reconciliation and redemption. [...]

It was at least the second confession sparked by Gibson's film, which has been criticised for graphic violence. A Texan man admitted last week, after seeing the movie, to murdering a 19-year-old woman who was pregnant with his child. [...]

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