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!
Tuesday , March 30, 2004
New Article: Jupiter, Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and the Return of the Mongols - Laura Knight-Jadczyk
Picture of the Day
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte
Today's Signs of the Times news and commentary stands out in that it presents one of the clearest pictures to date of the very dangerous precipice that our world is perched upon. It is all-encompassing and it is staring us in the face. Clearly there has been a plan in the works for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, the final pieces of which are now being laid.
It does not make for a pretty picture.
War, death, and destruction on a massive scale, and all of it planned and deliberately orchestrated. While you may find it hard to believe this, all of the Signs are there. As much as we would like it to be the case, it seems that it is not a joke. The final "act" in the drama that is now unfolding will not happen "over there", it will not happen to "Arabs" or "Africans", it does and will involve every single one of us.
Consecutive US (and other) governments have succeeded in bringing the entire world under their control, through political, military or economic means. At present our planet is essentially "locked down". There is little that "the powers that be" do not control - certainly nothing of any significance. This control includes control of each of as individuals, our thoughts and our actions. We are not free and we never were. We have been set up. The imprisonment of humanity has been achieved in the only way it was possible - the control of truth and, as a result, the control of what we believe to be real about ourselves and our world.
Any hope that things can be different, must lie in our ability to seek and know the truth about ourselves and our reality. We can do nothing to change the fate that people like Sharon, Bush and their masters have for the world, but we can, at the very least, choose to reject the lies and illusions that they continually attempt to force feed us. While resistance is not futile, it is the form that the resistance takes that will decide if we truly have a chance to avoid being caught up in the maelstrom. Physical resistance will only add to the cannon fodder. Our only real hope is to stand up for the truth, and make it our goal to search for and hold it within us. In doing so we may distance ourselves sufficiently, in mind and in being, from the lies and deceit that, so far, have lead us to the edge of the abyss.
Iraq under Saddam Hussein did not pose a threat to the United States but it did to Israel, which is one reason why Washington invaded the Arab country, according to a speech made by a member of a top-level White House intelligence group.
WASHINGTON, Mar 29 (IPS) - IPS uncovered the remarks by Philip Zelikow, who is now the executive director of the body set up to investigate the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001 -- the 9/11 commission -- in which he suggests a prime motive for the invasion just over one year ago was to eliminate a threat to Israel, a staunch U.S. ally in the Middle East.
Zelikow's casting of the attack on Iraq as one launched to protect Israel appears at odds with the public position of President George W. Bush and his administration, which has never overtly drawn the link between its war on the regime of former president Hussein and its concern for Israel's security.
The administration has instead insisted it launched the war to liberate the Iraqi people, destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and to protect the United States.
Zelikow made his statements about ”the unstated threat” during his tenure on a highly knowledgeable and well-connected body known as the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), which reports directly to the president.
He served on the board between 2001 and 2003.
”Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I'll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990 -- it's the threat against Israel,” Zelikow told a crowd at the University of Virginia on Sep. 10, 2002, speaking on a panel of foreign policy experts assessing the impact of 9/11 and the future of the war on the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation.
”And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don't care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn't want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell,” said Zelikow.
The statements are the first to surface from a source closely linked to the Bush administration acknowledging that the war, which has so far cost the lives of nearly 600 U.S. troops and thousands of Iraqis, was motivated by Washington's desire to defend the Jewish state.
The administration, which is surrounded by staunch pro-Israel, neo-conservative hawks, is currently fighting an extensive campaign to ward off accusations that it derailed the ”war on terrorism” it launched after 9/11 by taking a detour to Iraq, which appears to have posed no direct threat to the United States.
Israel is Washington's biggest ally in the Middle East, receiving annual direct aid of three to four billion dollars.
Even though members of the 16-person PFIAB come from outside government, they enjoy the confidence of the president and have access to all information related to foreign intelligence that they need to play their vital advisory role.
Known in intelligence circles as ”Piffy-ab”, the board is supposed to evaluate the nation's intelligence agencies and probe any mistakes they make.
The unpaid appointees on the board require a security clearance known as ”code word” that is higher than top secret.
The national security adviser to former President George H.W. Bush (1989-93) Brent Scowcroft, currently chairs the board in its work overseeing a number of intelligence bodies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the various military intelligence groups and the Pentagon's National Reconnaissance Office. [...]
Comment: While it is certainly interesting to see the above information being made public, we do not for one minute think that it is the result of pure chance. It would appear that, along with the other allegations of misconduct during 9/11, the outing of Israel as the motivating force behind the invasion of Iraq, spells the beginning of the end for the Bush regime. It may also spell the beginning of the outing of Israel. As we have suggested in previous Signs pages, the ultimate plan is war in the Middle East and the destruction of the Palestinians AND the Israelis. We wonder what else might soon be revealed about the cosy Israel-US friendship and the origin of the bogus "War on Terror".
IAP News - 20 March 2002
US vice-President Dick Cheney reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that the U.S. was planning to attack Iraq 'first and foremost for Israel's sake.'
According to Israeli sources quoted by Israeli state-run radio Wednesday, Cheney asked Sharon to 'tone down' the confrontation with the Palestinians so as not to disrupt or disturb American plans vis-a-vis Iraq.
The sources quoted Cheney as saying that he expected President Bush to decide to attack Iraq in spite of widespread opposition in the Arab world.
Sharon said publicly Tuesday that Israel would bless wholeheartedly any American attack on Iraq, telling Cheney that the US 'can always count on us.' [...]
Flashback: Not Madness, A Policy
The evening before these recent killings, I went to a peace rally to protest the Israeli military infiltration into two refugee camps, where an additional 24 Palestinians had been shot dead. As I was walking from my car towards the Prime Minister's house, the sound of a loud explosion reverberated through the Jerusalem night.
The ensuing echo of ambulance sirens left little doubt in my mind about what had happened. An hour later, while standing with a peace sign in hand, my mother called the cell phone to check whether I was all right; she told me that a suicide bomber had exploded himself outside a synagogue, killing ten guests who had been celebrating a Bar-Mitzvah.
There is no longer any room for doubt: violence begets violence. And it is within this macabre context that one must interpret Sharon's decision to employ more force.
Sharon, to be sure, is not mad. Yet, he realizes that in the past few days 31 Jews and 52 Palestinians have been killed, joining the over one thousand people -- many of them children -- who have died since the second Intifada erupted in September 2000. At this juncture, then, there are only a few ways to make sense of Sharon's sanguine logic.
Sharon's declaration, which has been rapidly translated into policy, will surely guarantee one thing -- more blood will be spilled. But why, one might ask, does he want to escalate the violence?
The answer is straightforward. Sharon believes in a greater Israel, and the only way to accomplish this objective is through an all out war. For if enough Jewish blood is shed, Sharon might in fact gain the legitimacy needed to embark on such a campaign.
1948 appears to be Sharon's historical reference point. During that war, the fledgling Israeli government decided to ensure a Jewish majority within what would become Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians either fled or were evicted by force from their homes, thus creating the Palestinian refugee problem. The Palestinians accordingly refer to Israel's War of Independence as Nakbah, or 'the catastrophe.'
Currently, there are about 200,000 Jewish settlers living on occupied land amongst three million Palestinians. One solution to the crisis would be to dismantle all the Jewish settlements, bring the settlers back home, and establish a Palestinian state within the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This solution, however, is antithetical to Sharon's expansionist aspirations. It is thus becoming more and more apparent that Sharon is actually interested in creating a situation whereby he can expel hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their land. In order to do so, he needs a war.
Cower in Fear as U.S./Israel Prepare Onslaughts
While the mostly co-opted and cowardly "Arab leaders" -- the Arab "client regimes" -- fly their lavish private jets into Beirut 20 years after the Israelis besieged the city, destroyed the country, and attempted at great cost to bring Lebanon under their and American domination; the same Americans and Israelis are preparing the next wars of domination and the same "Arab leaders" are powerful and spineless to dare assert themselves.
The New York Times-blessed "Saudi Plan" is little more than warmed over Arab summit gesticulation that goes way back to the "Fahd Plan" and a previous Arab summit now 20 years faded. It was meant as little more than a pretense and a pacifier than, just as it is now.
Back then the same discredited "Arab leaders" said and "did" pretty much the same thing as they for the umpteenth time are doing now, endorsing the same old U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 that Israel defies more and more with each passing year. Just as today in coming to the real defense of the Palestinians they actually did the same nothing then about Israel's invasion of Lebanon -- which then went on to lead to an 18-year occupation that only recently ended; here too no thanks to the "Arab leaders" who are today even more impotent, more fractured, more co-opted, and more corrupt than was the case then -- and that's saying something!
Rather transparently at this point -- but you'd never know it from the American or Arab establishment media -- the Americans are saying one thing about "peace" and "plans" in public while feverishly preparing for a major war in private.
The very fact that a Marine General is the "peace negotiator", a former Pentagon Chairman is the "Secretary of State", and the CIA Director is the "plan author" should give the media a few hints; but most of them are pretty thick-headed and self-serving as well.
Furthermore, the Arab "client regimes" are well aware of this basic situation. It's just that after so many years of mindless mediocrity, incestuous interconnections, glutinous money corruption, and political impotence, they not only know not what to do they don't even have the capacity to fully appreciate what is really happening while they tremble in fear from actually doing anything that could bring on them some of the American/Israeli wrath.
And so the "Arab leaders" continue to hide behind cheap slogans, expensive public relations campaigns, CIA "assistance", a largely bought-and-paid-for media, with heightened desperate hopes they won't be exposed as the Emperors without clothes or dignity they truly are.
Comment: As we said above, lockdown is in place. Any country of any significance for Sharon's upcoming "war in Palestine" has been bought and paid for by Uncle Sam and his faithful taxpayers.
ABC, AUSTRALIA - A British Member of Parliament from the ruling Labor party, Gerald Kaufman, has called for economic sanctions against Israel, including cutting off arms supplies, to force it back to the negotiating table with the Palestinians. . . "Only widespread economic sanctions on Israel, together with cutting off arms supplies, can make any impact on this government without a conscience". Mr Kaufman, himself Jewish, said US President George W Bush's father, the former president Bush, had "understood the importance of forcing the Israelis to the conference table by imposing economic sanctions on a previous Likud Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir."
Chris McGreal in
Israeli prosecutors were persuaded to recommend charging Ariel Sharon with corruption in part by secret recordings of the prime minister rehashing one of the most famous army signals of the 1967 war.
According to the Haaretz newspaper, Mr Sharon, who was foreign minister in 1999, was captured on tape in a conversation with a businessman, David Appel, who has already been charged with paying him to pressure the Greek government to approve construction of a casino on an Aegean island.
In the tape recording, Mr Sharon is reportedly heard telling Mr Appel: "The island is in our hands" - a reworking of the signal renowned throughout Israel after troops stormed East Jerusalem, "the Temple Mount is in our hands".
Later in the recording, Mr Appel says: "Your son is going to earn a lot of money."
Haaretz reported that the two comments appearing in the same conversation were important in persuading prosecutors to recommend that Mr Sharon be indicted.
The comments also establish that Mr Sharon knew about Mr Appel's attempts to build the casino, undermining his attempts to say he was not involved in promoting the project. Miryam Rosenthal, a former senior attorney at the Israeli prosecution service, told army radio yesterday that Mr Sharon's remark was "almost equivalent to an admission of guilt".
According to the draft indictment, Mr Sharon is alleged to have received about £390,000 in bribes through a bank account for the family ranch in the Negev, and to his son, Gilad, in return for Mr Sharon's help.
No Honest Americans
presidential election, Bush vs. Kerry, what a joke! Two privileged
plutocrats, two psychotic perverts from the same demonic college
fraternity, neither ever had to hold a job, each advocating
continuing crimes against humanity, even against their own people.
And to make matters worse, they no longer count the votes honestly.
The computer spits out a predetermined total, and the TV whores
tell you to believe it. And just like in the election itself, you
have no real choice.
Comment: Many Americans appear unable or unwilling to understand that, by allowing themselves to be deceived, by willing believing the lies, they have aligned themselves with the murderers and liars in the White House. There is no scope for anyone to claim that they did not know, the evidence is clear and abundant that the US has, for decades, been pursuing a campaign of bloody world domination. To sit back and continue to believe the lie that the US stands for "freedom and democracy" is to choose illusion over reality, the lie over the truth, and ultimately, death over life. In the end, each of us gets what you "ask" for. What we "ask" is judged by what we think and Do.
WDSU, LA - Police officers in Louisiana no longer need a search or arrest warrant to conduct a brief search of your home or business. . .
The decision was made by the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Two dissenting judges called it the "road to Hell." The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed in Denham Springs in 2000.
Comment: Well there you have it, paradoxically, the great American democracy that never was, lies tattered on the floor. In reality, it was never "commies" or "Arab terrorists" that posed the real threat to the American population, it was state sponsored terrorism, and US citizens are set to realise this in a very direct and real way. The question is, who are they going to blame?
Thought about calling my banker and inquiring about a mortgage loan on the house when I pulled up to the gas pump Thursday evening.
It now costs more than $35 to fill the 19-gallon tank on my Jeep Wrangler – and that’s for the cheap 87-octane stuff. If I were still filling ostentatious German sports car that occupied my garage for so many years, the cost might have required a new mortgage.
But wait a minute. Weren’t the propagandists at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue telling us just the other day that the economy is improving? Yeah, and President George W. Bush wanted credit for it.
What the hell is there to take credit for? The average American can’t afford to fill a Hyundai with “cheap” gas, much less their favorite gas-guzzling SUV. Bush’s mouthpieces say he is concerned about the price of gas but doesn’t see any need to step in and do something about his rich buddies in the old industry sticking it to mom and pop America.
Compassionate conservative my ass. Shill for the big money boys is more like it. Bush is more than willing to send young men and women to their deaths just to avenge a debt his old man left unpaid but he can’t lift a finger to help those here at home who need a job and the ability to pay their bills.
Bush mortgaged the future with record deficits and all the brain-dead morons who stand and continue to sing his praises can do is come up with lame excuse after lame excuse to try and defend his piss-poor performance as President.
John Kerry won’t be any better. If he manages to replace Bush as the latest temporary resident of that subsidized housing on 1600 Penn, all we will have succeeded in doing is swapping one son-of-a-bitch for another. Neither could make it out in the real world. Bush needed daddy’s connections and buddies for a middling career in business. Kerry had to marry a rich widow to finance his dreams.
That’s the problem with our current American political system: No real choices. We have a choice of one devil or another. George W. Bush who cuts taxes, spends us into oblivion and lies to wage war or John F. Kerry who would raise taxes so he can also spend us into bankruptcy while he lies about votes, his returned medals and God knows what else.
Even worse, both of these sycophants are supported by a long cast of mindless morons who think party loyalty is more important than the security or our nation or love of country. They laughingly equate partisanship with patriotism, political philosophy with common sense and party dogma with concern for people.
Hasn’t worked for some time now.
Too bad the cowardly cretins who call themselves the American public can’t smell the shit that flows out of Washington and their beloved political parties.
The more this crap covers the moronic minions of this country, the more they walk up to whichever candidate they blindly support, hold out their plates, and ask: “Please sir, may I have some more.”
This country has become a ship of fools.
And the ship is sinking.
But when the sea of politics swallows the ship called America, only the lemmings who follow these bastards will die.
Because you can be sure neither of these “captains” will go down with the ship. Both will be standing on the shore, pointing their finger at each other and claiming it wasn’t their fault.
Comment: Either that, or they will be laughing hysterically.
This administration's reliance on smear tactics is unprecedented in modern U.S. politics — even compared with Nixon's. Even more disturbing is its readiness to abuse power — to use its control of the government to intimidate potential critics.
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House reversed its opposition to President George W. Bush's national security advisor Condoleezza Rice giving sworn testimony to the independent commission looking into the September 11 attacks.
The administration said Rice would now appear before the commission in public but that certain conditions would be set. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have also agreed to appear before all 10 members of the commission instead of just the chairman and vice chairman. [...]
Comment: Perhaps Condi is being set up to take the fall for the Bush administration.
Occupiers Spend Millions on Private Army of Security Men
ROBERT FISK and SEVERIN CARRELL
An army of thousands of mercenaries has appeared in Iraq's major cities, many of them former British and American soldiers hired by the occupying Anglo-American authorities and by dozens of companies who fear for the lives of their employees.
Many of the armed Britons are former SAS soldiers and heavily armed South Africans are also working for the occupation. "My people know how to use weapons and they're all SAS," said the British leader of one security team in southern Baghdad. "But there are people running around with guns now who are just cowboys. We always conceal our weapons, but these guys think they're in a Hollywood film."
There are serious doubts even within the occupying power about America's choice to send Chilean mercenaries, many trained during General Pinochet's vicious dictatorship, to guard Baghdad airport. Many South Africans are in Iraq illegally--they are breaking new laws, passed by the government in Pretoria, to control South Africa's booming export of mercenaries. Many have been arrested on their return home because they are do not have the licence now required by private soldiers.
Casualties among the mercenaries are not included in the regular body count put out by the occupation authorities, which may account for the persistent suspicion among Iraqis that the US is underestimating its figures of military dead and wounded. Some British experts claim that private policing is now the UK's biggest export to Iraq--a growth fueled by the surge in bomb attacks on coalition forces, aid agencies and UN buildings since the official end of the war in May last year.
Many companies operate from villas in middle-class areas of Baghdad with no name on the door. Some security men claim they can earn more than 80,000 pounds a year; but short-term, high-risk mercenary work can bring much higher rewards. Security personnel working a seven-day contract in cities like Fallujah, can make $1,000 a day. [...]
Comment: The hiring of mercenaries suggests two that security in Iraq is not improving, but rather deteriorating. One has to wonder if the armies of the US and UK are in fact spread too thin, and the use of mercenaries will become the new norm if further imperialist actions are taken.
Monday, 29 March, 2004
US President George W Bush has welcomed seven former communist eastern European countries as new members of Nato, during a ceremony in Washington.
He said Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia joined as "full and equal partners".
It is the biggest expansion in the history of Nato, created in 1949 to defend western Europe against the Soviet Union.
A second ceremony will be held at Nato's HQ in Brussels on Friday. Mr Bush welcomed to the White House the prime ministers of all seven new members as well as Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. [...]
Since the end of the Cold War, Nato's frontiers have moved steadily eastwards; first taking in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, now extending to Romania and Bulgaria's Black Sea coast and - with the three Baltic republics - northwards almost to Finland.
The Baltic republics - Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia - used to be part of the Soviet Union and Russia has expressed irritation over their inclusion, fearing threats to its security and US interference in the region.
Nato has agreed to include the Baltic states under its air defence shield and is enforcing it by stationing four F-16 fighter planes in Lithuania.
New US bases
Nato itself is changing, taking on new missions in Afghanistan and possibly in Iraq and is looking towards its southern flank with North Africa amidst growing concerns about terrorism, he adds.
And Washington is already eyeing the territory of some of the new Nato members as potential locations for military bases from which to project US power into the greater Middle East, our correspondent adds.
Comment: Consider the above graphic. NATO is little more than a seemingly legitimate front for the U.S. to exert military control over member nations. The U.S. now has military bases in almost all European countries (France excepted). This is an example of the "lock down" that has been imposed on the entire planet. While the US ambassador to NATO attempts to calm Russian fears, in reality he is attempting to calm the justified fears of anyone that can clearly see that this is a strategic move designed to prepare for war. Consider also the final paragraph. Taken with recent events in Israel and other news on this page, it is clear that " something wicked this way comes"
calms Russia's 'Nato fears'
The US ambassador to Nato, Nick Burns, has said there is no sense of a crisis in relations with Russia over the expansion of the alliance to seven more countries from central and eastern Europe.
Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov earlier warned that Moscow could reassess its military planning in view of what he called Nato aggressive strategy.
Mr Ivanov said he may order a build-up of the country's nuclear defences after Nato announced it would deploy aircraft to defend the airspace of the three ex-Soviet Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as soon as they join the bloc.
Over the last few weeks, Moscow has sounded increasingly nervous about Nato's eastward expansion.
One leading MP said most Russians saw the move as a threat to their country, while extreme nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky threatened Latvia with utter destruction. [...]
Nick Burns said the newcomers would have a deep impact, as their accession "shifts Nato's centre of gravity eastward, it extends our reach and it strengthens the alliance".
"When these new countries come in, 40% of our membership will be formerly communist countries and they are going to strengthen us militarily," he said.
In the wake of the former Soviet Baltic republics joining NATO Monday, Federation Council speaker Sergei Mironov said that Russia “is militarily prepared” to “respond adequately” to potential threats from NATO’s expansion, Interfax reports.
“We are going to monitor the situation that is developing near our borders in connection with NATO’s expansion,” he said.
The former Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, which border Russia to the northwest, and Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Slovakia, which border Russia to the southwest, officially joined NATO on Monday.
Mironov told journalists that Russia is against NATO’s eastward expansion, and particularly against the Baltic nations joining the alliance.
If the nations have joined NATO only to protect their own interests and there is no threat to neighboring nations, then it was their right, Interfax quoted Mironov as saying. “But if a threat arises in relation to neighboring CIS states that are friendly to Russia, then Russia has an adequate response,” he said.
Comment: So we see that the Russians view the NATO expansion in a rather different light than the US ambassador, and it appears that they are taking no chances...
Monday, March 29,
The official, who was not identified by name, said tests conducted during last month's military maneuvers would dramatically change the philosophy behind development of Russia's nuclear forces, the Interfax and ITAR-Tass news agencies reported on Monday.
If deployed, the new weapon would take the value of any U.S. missile shield to "zero," the news agencies quoted the official as saying.
The official said the new weapon would be inexpensive, providing an "asymmetric answer" to U.S. missile defenses, which are proving extremely costly to develop.
Russia, meanwhile, also has continued research in prospective missile defenses and has an edge in some areas compared to other nations, the official said.
The statement reported Monday was in line with claims by President Vladimir Putin's that experiments performed during last month's maneuvers proved that Russia could soon build strategic weapons that could puncture any missile-defense system.
At the time, Col-Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, the first deputy chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, explained that the military tested a "hypersonic flying vehicle" that was able to maneuver between space and the earth's atmosphere.
Military analysts said that the mysterious new weapons could be a maneuverable ballistic missile warhead or a hypersonic cruise missile.
While Putin said the development of such new weapons wasn't aimed against the United States, most observers viewed the move as Moscow's retaliation to the U.S. missile defense plans.
Comment: Naturally, Putin is also playing the game and understands only too well US plans. If the US claims that Russia is "not concerned" about NATO expansion, then of course, Russia's "new weapons" are in no way aimed against the US. The above story casts last months Russian "missile tests" in a new light. At the time they were deemed a failure by foreign observers, since one of the submarine launched missiles failed to fire and the other disintegrated shortly after launch. Now the Russians are claiming that they were in fact testing an anti-missile system. If so, then it appears that it worked very well.
LONDON — Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, al Qaeda's purported operations chief, has told U.S. interrogators that the group had been planning attacks on the Library Tower in Los Angeles and the Sears Tower in Chicago on the heels of the September 11, 2001, terror strikes.
Those plans were aborted mainly because of the decisive U.S. response to the New York and Washington attacks, which disrupted the terrorist organization's plans so thoroughly that it could not proceed, according to transcripts of his conversations with interrogators.
Mohammed told interrogators that he and Ramzi Yousuf, his nephew who was behind an earlier attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, had leafed through almanacs of American skyscrapers when planning the first operation. [...]
A British newspaper over the weekend published a detailed account that it said was taken from transcripts of the interrogation of Mohammed, who was captured last year in Pakistan.
The transcripts are prefaced with a warning that Mohammed, the most senior al Qaeda member yet to be caught, "has been known to withhold information or deliberately mislead." [...]
Comment: Once again, the American media releases a story that cannot be verified, and even warns the reader that the source is a known liar. It is utterly ridiculous that a suspected terrorist would be believed when telling his US captors, "Oh yeah, we were gonna blow up the Sears Tower and the Library Tower, but you guys did such a great job that we had to call it off!" Nevertheless, many Americans will no doubt take this article as proof that the War on Terror is working, even as their children return home from Iraq in body bags.
The United States wants to transfer power in Iraq to a hand-picked prime minister, abandoning plans for an expansion of the current 25-member governing council, coalition officials in Baghdad say. With less than 100 days before the US occupation authorities are to transfer sovereignty on June 30, fears of wrangling among Iraqi politicians has forced Washington to make its third switch of strategy in six months.
The search is now on for an Iraqi to serve as chief executive. He will almost certainly be from the Shia Muslim majority, and probably a secular technocrat. It is not clear if Iraqi agreement on this issue has been sought...Plans to create a three-man presidency - with a representative of the Shia, the Sunni and the Kurds - are still under way, but its powers would be mainly symbolic.
Comment: It appears that absolutely everything that we have been told about the invasion of Iraq was a lie.
A confidential study into the educational standards of soldiers has revealed that half of all new infantry recruits only have the reading and writing skills of 11-year-olds. The study commissioned by the Ministry of Defense, which the Telegraph has seen, also discloses that a fifth of recruits have the literacy and numeracy levels of seven-year-olds.
Four per cent are at the standard of the average five-year-old. . . The findings have raised fears among defense chiefs that soldiers of the future may not be able to operate the new generation of "smart" weapon systems that will dictate how battles are fought. Officers, who are more highly qualified, were not included in the study.
Comment: The words "cannon fodder" come to mind.
10 March 2004
Human Rights Watch claims some of the abuses were "inexcusable even within the context of war".
American forces in Afghanistan have been accused of flouting international law with arbitrary arrests, torture and killing of prisoners in a report by a civil rights watchdog. Soldiers are accused of using unprovoked deadly force in capturing civilians, some of whom were then allegedly subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment leading to deaths in custody. It is also alleged that looting has taken place during searches of homes.
The report, by Human Rights Watch, says the situation at Guantanamo Bay is being replicated many times in Afghanistan, with detainees being held in even worse conditions at the military bases of Bagram, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Asadabad.
At least three prisoners are known to have died during interrogation, with two of the deaths being ruled homicide by American military pathologists after post-mortem examinations. US officials have refused to explain what happened in any of the cases. "This stonewalling must stop," said Brad Adams, the executive director for Asia at HRW. "The US is obligated to investigate allegations and prosecute those who violated the law. There is no sign that serious investigations are taking place.".
The US is setting a terrible example in Afghanistan on detention practices. Civilians are being held incommunicado - with no tribunals, no legal counsel, no family visits and no basic legal protections.There is compelling evidence suggesting US personnel have committed acts against detainees amounting to torture or cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment."
In one case, Niaz Mohammed, a farm labourer, was killed during a raid by US forces in the Zurmat district of Paktia province in July 2002. Local people described how Mr Mohammed, who was outdoors to keep a watch on his newly harvested grain, was found dead. A villager said: "He had a bullet in his foot, and a bullet in his back."
Marines' weapon loaded with
US troops are to be armed with a stun gun that uses a baby's high-pitched scream to bring the enemy to its knees.
The gun, which will be issued to marines in Iraq this month, fires "sonic bullets" that can be targeted like a torch beam.
Anyone hit with a full blast would suffer excruciating pain, permanent deafness and some form of cellular damage. A prolonged blast could kill.
The "Secret Scream" gun as it is called, could revolutionise the way US troops deal with snipers, suicide bombers and riots in the turmoil of post-war Iraq.
The actual sound used is a recording of a baby's scream played backwards.
"For most people, even if they plug their ears, it will produce the equivalent of an instant migraine," said Woody Norris, chairman of American Technology Corporation, the Californian company that has produced the weapon.
"It will knock some people to their knees."
Near human pain threshold
While the sound gun will normally be fired at just 110 decibels - a level that causes the human skull to vibrate - it can travel as far as 300 yards at 145 decibels.
The human threshold of pain is usually between 120 and 130 decibels.
Pentagon sources said it would be used in Iraq as an alternative to bullets to break up riots or protests, to stop suspects approaching check points and force snipers from buildings or caves.
The manufacturer tested the gun on volunteers last month. No one could stand a 110 decibel blast for more than a few seconds.
Previous attempts to use acoustic weapons have failed because the sound travelled in every direction, affecting the operator as well as the enemy.
But the Secret Scream's ultrasound wave allows the operator to target one or two key individuals in a crowd. [...]
A secret division in the Pentagon has been financing research on futuristic weapons for more than 15 years.
This is the first to go into operation. Retired US marine Colonel Peter Dotto, a weapons consultant, said the gun would be "terrific for repelling suicide bombers and for rousting terrorists from their hideouts".
"Because the sound ricochets in tight, enclosed areas, it would make it very uncomfortable for Al Qaeda terrorists to stay in caves," he said.
"They would have to come out, and they probably would come out with their hands over their ears."
EU's 'Mr. Terrorism' Says He Can't
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's first anti-terrorism coordinator warned Tuesday that no one could guarantee security in the bloc, but pledged to do all he could to achieve it while respecting and building on civil liberties.
"There can never be, in any society, a guarantee of 100 percent security," Gijs de Vries told reporters after talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, to whom he reports.
"But what we can do, and our citizens must expect, is that as governments, and as institutions of the European Union, we do everything in our power to strengthen collaboration and make sure all necessary measures are in place."
De Vries, a former Dutch deputy interior minister who had been variously described in European media as "Mr. Terrorism" or "anti-terror czar," took up his post Monday to coordinate the work of different EU bodies to combat terrorism, and push member states to implement commitments to which they have signed up.
"We are living in an open society in Europe, an open society in which people can enjoy many liberties. It is important to preserve those liberties, to build on them," he said. [...]
Comment: Note that US leaders said the same thing about preserving civil liberties while they were simultaneously instituting draconian laws and controls.
Mar 30, 9:54 AM (ET)
NEW YORK (AP) - The Statue of Liberty, closed immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, will reopen to the public this summer, Secretary of Interior Gail Norton said Tuesday.
"There's lots of construction to be done," to complete the upgrades to fire and emergency notification systems, Norton said in an interview on NBC's "Today." But she predicted that the statue would reopen in four months.
Screening procedures, much like those at airports, and a reservation system to reduce long lines will be implemented, Norton said.
She said after the upgrades are completed, the public will be allowed to climb the 354 steps to the statue's crown, or observation deck. [...]
Comment: Next phony terrorist attack target?
Fickle voters are making France increasingly difficult to govern
General de Gaulle famously wondered how it was possible to govern a country that had 246 varieties of cheese. Today, one might put the question rather differently: how is it possible to govern a country that changes its mind at each election?
French voters must hold some kind of record for inconsistency over the past two decades. Again and again, they have voted for the left or the right only to promptly reverse their vote at the following election, making it impossible for long-term programmes and policies to be laid down.
Elections held at regional and local levels between presidential and parliamentary contests have also shown voters rejecting governments they put in power only a couple of years earlier. Thus, on Sunday, elections in France's regions produced a massive rejection of the centre-right government elected in the summer of 2002. With only 37% of the vote, President Jacques Chirac's men and women lagged 13 points behind the Socialists, Greens and Communists they trounced two years ago, and held on to control of only one region. [...]
While Chirac's France marches across the world stage with its head held high over issues such as Iraq and its relationship with Washington, the reality back at home is that France is becoming an increasingly difficult country to govern, let alone to change. Mr Raffarin is an amiable politician who seeks to rule by persuasion. But he came a cropper on Sunday because of steps he had taken to reform France's pensions and welfare systems, which are incurring costs that no government will be able to meet in the years ahead.
That opens the way to street demonstrations and aggressive action by single-interest groups, undermining conventional politics and encouraging corporatism. The Raffarin government had already retreated in the face of protests by groups ranging from public-sector workers anxious to hold on to their privileges to tobacconists protesting at increases in tax on cigarettes.
The looming threat of fragmentation and weak government is increased by the way the National Front, which stands outside the mainstream system, has consolidated its position. It slipped back a point or so in its traditional bastions in the south and east, but this could not wipe away its expansion into rural western areas.
The Front is easily dismissed as a racist fringe group, but it clearly finds support among people who see national sovereignty being eroded by Europe and are fearful of a society in which unemployment nears 10% and concerns about law and order are widespread. When commentators note with relief that the Front got "only" 13-15% of the vote, one wonders how much of a comfort that is.
Jacques Chirac has always been an electioneering master, never happier than when shaking hands and pumping up the adrenaline. But, after 35 years in and out of government, he has to come to grips with the changing nature of France - and the way, as a matter of course, voters reject whoever is in power.
Comment: Is it not extremely prudent of the French people to be suspicious of those in power? Do we not have ample evidence that power corrupts? While the tone of the above report is rather disparaging of the French electorate and their tendency to change their minds, we believe that it suggests that there may yet be a remnant of real democracy in France.
Ireland Leads the World in Going
DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland became the first country in the world to ban smoking in restaurants and bars on Monday, in a move angering some publicans but hailed by a senior medic as "the health initiative of the century."
It is now illegal to smoke in virtually all Irish workplaces and closed public spaces -- including the country's famous pubs. Those who light up face fines of up to 3,000 euros ($3,825).
Similar laws have been introduced in cities and states including New York and California, but Ireland is the first country to impose a nationwide ban.
"This is a no-brainer," said Health Minister Micheal Martin, outlining the argument against smoking as he entered Maguire's pub in central Dublin for a smoke-free lunch. [...]
Anti-smoking lobby group ASH says tobacco kills six times as many people in Ireland as road accidents, work accidents, drugs, murder, suicide and AIDS combined.
"What better place to start?" asked Vincent Maher, medical director of the Irish Heart Foundation. "We have double the EU average death rate (from cardiovascular disease) and five times the rate compared to France." [...]
LONDON (AFP) - Eight people were arrested in police raids in and around London that also netted half a tonne of ammonium nitrate fertiliser which can be used to make a bomb, police said.
All eight men held under anti-terrorist laws were British citizens, said Peter Clarke, head of the Metropolitan Police anti-terrorist branch. [...]
China said it would retaliate against a US decision to fingerprint Chinese citizens applying for non-immigrant visas by imposing its own series of tightened rules for Americans visiting China.
US holders of diplomatic passports will have to apply for ordinary visas, and pay visa fees, when wishing to visit China in a private capacity, the foreign ministry said on its website.
Consular staff at Chinese diplomatic representations in the United States will also ask some US visa applicants to appear for personal interviews, the website said Tuesday.
The ministry also announced an end to visa on arrival for Americans citizens, which has previously been provided at selected points of entry, such as the city of Shenzhen north of Hong Kong.
The Chinese move came after the United States turned down a Chinese request to review its fingerprinting policies and argued electronic fingerprinting was a global requirement for applicants of US visas.
China said last week the fingerprinting procedure infringed human rights and had caused "strong dissatisfaction" among its people.
Saudi Arabia says production cuts already
"It's been implemented already," Nuaimi said Monday upon arriving in Vienna for a meeting Wednesday of the 11-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
He said that for a cut to be "effective April 1" it had to involve orders previously made. "The nominations (orders) came in March," Nuaimi said.
Despite high oil prices, he said: "There's plenty of oil out there." [...]
S. California Heat Wave Brings Power
Dozens of records were broken, including highs of 89 degrees at Los Angeles International Airport and 97 degrees at the University of California at Riverside. Bakersfield had its hottest March day on record, reaching 94 degrees.
Increased demand caused electricity reserves to fall, prompting a minor emergency and recommendations that customers reduce use of air conditioners and other appliances.
The agency that manages much of the state's power grid saw electricity use surpass projections by 1,100 megawatts. A megawatt can supply power to about 1,000 homes. [...]
Maxine Frith, Social
Hundreds of thousands of people are being prescribed powerful anti-depressants that they may not need because doctors are using the pills as a "quick fix" solution to mild anxiety problems, according to a report published today.
Desperate shortages of NHS counsellors and therapists mean that over-worked GPs often feel they have no option but to hand out anti-depressants to people who may only need an outlet for discussing their problems. Eighty per cent of GPs admit that they are over-prescribing drugs such as Prozac and Seroxat when patients may simply need someone to talk to.
The research reveals the extent to which Britain has become a "Prozac Nation", with more than six million people now taking pills to prop up their mood. Campaigners said the level of drug-prescribing had reached alarming levels, while some patients said they had been handed pills "as if they were sweets".
The survey of 250 GPs by Norwich Union Healthcare found that eight out of 10 admitted that they were over-prescribing anti-depressants, and three-quarters said they were handing out more of the drugs than they did five years ago. A quarter of family doctors said that the dire shortage of therapies and counselling is now one of the most urgent priorities for the NHS. [...]
March 30, 2004
Seaside villages along the
Costa del Sol were flooded on Sunday after two days of heavy
Annalisa Durante was chatting to friends when two hitmen on a scooter opened fire on gangster Salvatore Giuliano.
Her aunt said: "He grabbed her by the hair and dragged her in front of him."
Annalisa was hit in the head by a single shot. Two friends were slightly hurt.
She was taken to hospital after the shooting in Naples on Saturday night and is brain dead in an irreversible coma.
Her father Giovanni said: "When I saw it was her and all the blood on the floor I wanted to seek justice. She's dead because of some bastards."
Giuliano, a key member of the Giuliano crime family who control much of Naples, was released from jail two months ago.
Annalisa's aunt added: "Everyone knew he was likely to be a target. He got away unhurt but because of him Annalisa is not here any more."
Helena Kufumana makes a pathetic witch.
Far from exuding wickedness, the 13-year-old schoolgirl is nervous and shy. Her "101 Dalmatians" cartoon T-shirt is grubby and doesn't fit. She swings her bare feet beneath her chair in the hyper way that all kids do. And she cries a lot. Especially about the torture.
Last month Helena was accused by her parents of sickening two of her nieces with evil spells. In retaliation, the bewildered girl says, one of her small hands was burned on a red-hot stove. Her meager possessions, including her clothes, were torched. She was choked. And finally, to destroy her reputation in the community, she was beaten in front of a large crowd. Her mother and elder sisters administered these punishments.
"They tell me that if I try to come home they will kill me," sobbed Helena her tears spattering the floor of the church shelter where she has run for safety. "They say I'm cursed." [...]
Comment: And there are still some that think there is any hope for humanity in it's current state.
SEREMBAN, Malaysia - A Form Four student, who complained of constant ragging at school, died of head injuries believed to have been inflicted during an assault by seniors.
Police have arrested 14 Fifth Formers to help investigations into the death of Mohd Farid Ibrahim (left) of Sekolah Menengah Agama Dato Klana Petra Maamor in Ampangan.
Farid, 16, of Taman Desa Anggerik, Senawang, was found sprawled in a toilet of the school about 4pm, bleeding profusely from head injuries. A school warden took him to the Seremban Hospital, where he died about 30 minutes after admission.
A school clerk lodged a police report last night, stating that Farid had fallen in the toilet, but police found bruises on his head, right ear and abdomen.
Further investigations revealed that Farid had earlier been involved in an altercation with other students for refusing to let them use his electric kettle. [...]
Recent cases of violence in schools include that of 16-year-old Mohd Hafizi Jumhari, a student from Sekolah Menengah Teknik Batu Pahat, Johor, who suffered serious injuries to his kidney, liver and bladder after being beaten by seniors at his hostel on Aug 11 last year.
He had earlier been seen talking to a female student.
Also that month, a pupil at the Mara Junior Science College in Jeli, Kelantan, was admitted to the Tanah Merah Hospital after being attacked by five students.
Last Oct 24, students from Sekolah Menengah Teknik Teluk Intan, Perak, assaulted former students Mohd Azizul Hakimi Abdul Rahman and Ahmad Saifudeen Mohd Salleh, both 18. Azizul was beaten unconscious.
Last month, three students were assaulted in three schools in Pahang. At Sekolah Menengah Cenderawasih, four Form Four students beat up their classmate, who broke a tooth and sustained facial bruises. [...]
A rare two-year-old bright yellow Port Jackson shark was unveiled at the Sydney Aquarium to bedazzled spectators today.
The result of a rare genetic mutation, the male baby shark known as Mango was a big catch for the fisherman who picked him up in a net on the Hawkesbury River about five months ago.
The fluorescent sea creature was an even bigger catch for the aquarium, his new home, where he is the first of his kind to be seen in 15 years.
The chances of finding a shark like Mango are about one in a million.
"With the shark being such a bright colour its chance of survival in the wild would be slim, the animal would not camouflage itself and hide from predators," said aquarist Hamish Tristram. [...]
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