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Tuesday , April 06, 2004

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New Article: Jupiter, Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and the Return of the Mongols - Laura Knight-Jadczyk

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12

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A House in ruins
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

"The truth will set you free", so, allegedly, said the alleged Jesus. Of course, it matters not that it was Jesus that said it, any purported truth worth its salt should always be objective and capable of standing on its own. The act of making truth conditional and tying it to a person or system of belief is one of the chief ways that the truth is subverted and essentially turned into the lie. See the central teachings of any of the organised religions for example.

How exactly then can the truth "set us free"?

The idea that something can make us "free" implies that we are "captive". In the case that it is the truth that will set us free, we can suppose that it is the opposite of the truth that keeps us "captive", i.e. the lie. Contingent then on being free, is to understand and accept that we are being held captive by lies, but so few are willing to make real efforts to fully understand and accept the depth and reality of this. First then, we must understand the idea of "the lie" and from where it originates.

While some people will accept, at least in part, that the world is built on lies and that these lies are the source of the suffering that, for the most part defines human existence, very few ever stop to ask themselves why this is so. Where does such a state emanate from and who is to blame for it? Do we believe that the blame rests with the nature or natural state of the world, or with some higher power that makes it so? Do we believe that the problem, and therefore the solution, lies "out there" somewhere?

Imagine this planet with absolutely no human life. With no "hosts" within whom the lies and illusions can find a fertile breeding ground, there would be no reason for lies and deceit to exist here. The lies and deceit that exist and define this world seem to be provided for our "benefit". As human beings, lies and deceit "suit" us. It is our problem then, and as such the solution must also come from us, first individually and later collectively. This is the first and most important thing to understand, without it we are liable to fall prey to one of the many "saviors" that are only too willing to take responsibility for us. Take the Christian church's teaching about "Jesus" for example. "He died for our sins" we are told. Using these 5 simple words millions have been programmed to give up any responsibility for, and therefore power to change, the reality of their lives and are encouraged to hope for their "reward in heaven". What "reward" can these people expect to get for denying the truth of their own inner nature and rejecting the chance to try to do something about it?

It is as a result then of truly Seeing the aspect of our human nature that allows for and perpetuates human suffering, that we can begin the task of doing our part to withdraw our contributions to the dynamic. It is important to note that by doing so we should not expect, or even desire, that we can change others as a result. The work to overturn the dominant entropic aspect of our nature is a personal choice and is carried out as a result of an innate "orientation" or a "taste for things that are true". The drive to do this "work" on the self is born of true "love". It is the love and longing to give "birth" to that higher part of ourselves that loves and lives for the truth.

Truth is the essence of a thing, its natural state, something as it really is. In this way the quest for truth is a quest for love, because to truly love something we must know it for what it really is. What we are being asked to do is to love the truth. As we progress in the "work" of identifying and overcoming our self serving nature, we will be continually "asked" how much we love it. How much we are prepared to give to know it. As we progress further we will come to realise that some people love the truth and others abhor it. As a result we begin to see the true reality of ourselves and the world in which we live. We see this duality also in ourselves, and in seeing the two aspects we are in a position to consciously choose one. In choosing to seek always the truth, we throw off the restrictive and draining effects of living a life based on lies and are no longer subject to the automatic and unconscious reactions that typify human existence and suffering. We are "liberated", we are set free.

When we find the truth, we want to give everything to it - and that is impossible to do with lies. When we give ourselves to lies, we "become one" with them, and we become a lie as well. And it all comes down to giving love or truth- giving ALL to those who truly ask. And it seems that the only real "asking" is "asking for Truth." God said "I was a treasure and I loved to be Known."

The quest for the truth is a quest that ultimately must pervade all aspects of our lives, internal and external. In a reality that is established upon the lie, and where humans are the "vehicle" through which the lie is disseminated, for any change to manifest, it can be no other way. We must embody the truth, and reach the point where our very actions and thoughts are the truth that is so lacking in this world. Yet we understand that the truth does not exist in this world because it does not "fit" in this world, those that embrace the truth fully may ultimately find themselves in a position where they also no longer "fit".

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September 11 attacks 'were preventable'

By David Rennie in Washington

President George W Bush was thrown on the defensive yesterday by signs that a September 11 inquiry will find that the attacks were "probably preventable".

The head of the September 11 commission, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, Thomas Kean, and his Democratic deputy, Lee Hamilton, signalled that their final report this summer would conclude that the attacks could have been prevented, if not for a series of intelligence and law enforcement blunders.

They also appeared to endorse the accusation by a former White House counter-terrorism chief, Richard Clarke, that the fledgling Bush administration failed to understand the importance of al-Qa'eda, in part because of a partisan disdain for Clinton-era national security priorities.

Asked on NBC television if the incoming Bush team was sceptical about some of the threat assessments about al-Qa'eda in the months before the attacks, Mr Kean replied: "I think that's probably fair, and probably right." But Mr Bush said yesterday: "If we'd known that the enemy was going to fly airplanes into our buildings, we'd have done everything in our power to stop it."

Mr Bush and his closest aides are braced for a gruelling week as the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, prepares to testify on oath, and in public, on Thursday to the federal commission probing the attacks.

The White House bitterly resisted allowing Miss Rice to give evidence in public, striving to uphold its strong belief that advice given to a president should remain secret. Late last week Mr Bush backed down as it became clear that the idea that his staff had something to hide was gaining ground with voters.

Yesterday, Mr Bush strove to put the best possible face on that climbdown, saying he was "looking forward" to her testimony.

"She'll be great. She's a very smart, capable person, who knows exactly what took place and will lay out all the facts," Mr Bush said.

Mr Kean and Mr Hamilton made it clear that Miss Rice faces tough questioning.

In comments made in several interviews given to the American media, the two commissioners indicated that their concerns were not confined to either the Bush or Clinton administrations but were also institutional.

Mr Kean said there had been "so many threads and so many things, individual things, that happened", especially involving hijackers whose identities as terrorist suspects were known.

"If we had been able to put those people on the watch list of the airlines, the two who were in the country; again if we'd stopped some of those people at the borders; if we had acted earlier on al-Qa'eda when [it] was smaller and just getting started ... the whole story might have been different."

Comment: It must be understood that the debate about whether more could have been done to prevent "Islamic terrorists" from carrying out 9/11 is designed to cover up the all important truth that 9/11 constituted a mass mind programming of the world population. In terms of the bigger picture, the fact that the majority of the population bought the lie that was offered to them, means that they accept, and even desire, the fate that "the powers that be" have planned for them.

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Iraq on the brink of anarchy

06 April 2004

Not content with surrounding the largest Sunni city west of Baghdad with tanks, armoured personnel carriers and heavy machine-guns, US forces used Apache helicopters to attack the Shia Muslim slums of Shoula yesterday, sent dozens of their heavy battle tanks into the hovels of Sadr City and then slapped an arrest warrant on the Shia cleric Muqtada Sadr - who must dearly have wanted the United States to do just that [...]

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Iran declares war on U.S.

April 5, 2004

Nobody else is saying it, so, once again, it is left to me to explain what really happened in Iraq yesterday.

Iran declared war on the U.S.

The signs have been there for a long time. I don't know if they have been intentionally ignored by U.S. forces in Iraq, or whether there is some master plan at the Defense Department to deal with this scenario.

All I can tell you is we are now fighting a regional war. Our local opposition in Iraq is being trained, armed and directed with foreign support – by neighboring Iran.

The uprising yesterday was treated in many initial news accounts as a spontaneous uprising directed by Najaf cleric Moktada al-Sadr.

What the other news accounts left out was one significant, but well-established fact: Al-Sadr works for Iran. He is an Iranian agent. His authority comes from Iran.

Last April, an Iranian cleric, Kadhem al-Husseini al-Haeri, issued a religious edict and distributed to Shiite mullahs in Iraq, calling on them "to seize the first possible opportunity to fill the power vacuum in the administration of Iraqi cities."

The edict, or fatwa, issued April 8, 2003, showed that Shiite clerics in Iraq are receiving significant direction from Iran. The edict said that Shiite leaders have to "seize as many positions as possible to impose a fait accompli for any coming government." [...]

Comment: The deeper truth is that "the powers that be" have, long ago, declared war on humanity as a whole. The current situation in Iraq is merely one part of the larger plan that will lead to the deaths of billions.

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U.S. won't 'turn and run,' Bush vows: No extension to June 30 handover


WASHINGTON—The Pentagon is considering sending more U.S. troops to Iraq, a sign that Washington may be moving into a new, aggressive military phase to deal with a worsening situation on the ground.

While military planners were considering a tougher response if "things got out of control," U.S. President George W. Bush said yesterday there will be no extension of the June 30 deadline for a turnover of sovereignty to Iraqis.

Bush warned reporters in North Carolina there would be grim days ahead for American and allied troops.

"My judgment is that the closer we come to the deadline, the more likely these people will challenge our will," Bush said.

"In other words, it provides a convenient excuse to attack."

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President Bush Discusses Iraq, 911 Commission with Reporters

Central Piedmont Community College-Central Campus
Charlotte, North Carolina
11:31 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: I just met with Specialist Chris Hill's family from North Carolina. You know, I told the family how much we appreciated his sacrifice -- he was killed in Iraq -- and assured him that we would stay the course, that a free Iraq was very important for peace in the world, long-term peace, and that we're being challenged in Iraq because there are people there that hate freedom. But the family was pleased to hear that we -- its son would not have died in vain. And that's an important message that I wanted to share with you today.

Let me ask you a couple of questions. Who is the AP person?

Q: I am.


Q: Sir, in regard to --

THE PRESIDENT: Who are you talking to?

Q: Mr. President, in regard to the June 30th deadline, is there a chance that that would be moved back? [...]

Comment: If Shrubby won't even accept "Sir" over "Mr. President", we hope he doesn't start reading the Signs page. Psychopaths hate to be made fun of, and therefore they demand a rather ridiculous amount of "respect".

Q: Mr. President, are you concerned at all that events like we've seen over the last week in Iraq are going to make it tougher to meet that deadline, or increase pressure from the U.N. or anyone else?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think there's -- my judgment is, is that the closer we come to the deadline, the more likely it is people will challenge our will. In other words, it provides a convenient excuse to attack. In this particular incident, with Sadr, this is one person who is deciding that rather than allow democracy to flourish, he's going to exercise force. And we just can't let it stand. As I understand, the CPA today announced a warrant for his arrest. This is one person -- this is a person, and followers, who are trying to say, we don't want democracy -- as a matter of fact, we'll decide the course of democracy by the use of force. And that is the opposite of democracy. And it's -- that's why the CPA issued the statement they issued. [...]

Comment: So it seems Junior does understand that democracy by force is a contradiction. It's too bad that none of the media lapdogs at the press conference dared to stand up and ask why the US is implementing a "democracy" in Iraq through the use of force.

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Blix: Iraq Worse Off Now Than With Saddam

April 6, 2004

COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Iraq is worse off now, after the U.S.-led invasion, than it was under Saddam Hussein, Hans Blix told a Danish newspaper Tuesday.

"What's positive is that Saddam and his bloody regime is gone, but when figuring out the score, the negatives weigh more," the former chief U.N. weapons inspector was quoted as saying in the daily newspaper Jyllands Posten.

"That accounts for the many casualties during the war and the many people who still die because of the terrorism the war has nourished," he said. "The war has liberated the Iraqis from Saddam, but the costs have been too great." [...]

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Poll: Support Erodes for Bush on Iraq

By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer
April 6, 2004

WASHINGTON - Americans haven't abandoned their support of the decision to use military force in Iraq, but they're increasingly skeptical about President Bush's handling of the situation there now.

Bush's overall job approval is at 43 percent, a low point for his presidency, according to a poll released Monday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Forty-seven percent disapprove of Bush's job performance.

Bush's job approval soared to 90 percent after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and remained in the 70s for almost a year after that. In mid-January, 56 percent approved of his overall performance.

In the aftermath of last week's grisly deaths of four contractors in Fallujah, 53 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Bush is handling Iraq, while 40 percent approve. Six in 10 approved in mid-January.

Public support for the decision to use military force in Iraq has not changed. The poll found that 57 percent think the United States made the right decision to use military force — about the same as in early February. [...]

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U.S. Commanders Mull More Troops in Iraq

By JOHN J. LUMPKIN, Associated Press Writer
Mon Apr 5, 5:04 PM ET

WASHINGTON - U.S. military commanders have begun studying ways they might increase troops in Iraq (news - web sites) should violence spread much more widely, a senior officer said Monday.

Generals believe they have enough forces to handle the attacks that have been coming from various quarters, including the recent violence by a Shiite militia group, but they want to know what is available if the situation gets worse, said the officer, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity. [...]

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Prober: I knew in days U.S. 'wrong' on WMD


WASHINGTON - The CIA's former weapons hunter in Iraq realized within days of arriving in Baghdad last summer that dictator Saddam Hussein was no longer stockpiling a banned arsenal, according to a new report.

David Kay, with whom the Bush administration placed its hopes of finding Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, sent a startling E-mail to CIA Director George Tenet in early July 2003.

"I wrote that it looks as though they did not produce weapons," Kay reveals in an interview with the new Vanity Fair.

It wasn't until late January this year that Kay told the Senate Armed Services Committee that "we were almost all wrong" on Iraq.

Kay told Vanity Fair, in its 22,000-word opus, "The Path to War," that he was actually ready to come home in mid-December. Tenet said no.

"If you resign now, it will appear that we don't know what we're doing and the wheels are coming off," he said Tenet told him. "So I said, 'Fine, I'll wait.'" [...]

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Russia concerned over deteriorating situation in Iraq 2004-04-06

MOSCOW, April 6 (Xinhuanet) -- Russia expressed its concern on Tuesday about the deteriorating situation in Iraq and urged a stop of the "unending" spiral of violence in that country.

"Moscow is seriously worried about the continuing degradation of the situation in Iraq which has reached a qualitatively new level," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko.

"A major task today is to stop the unending spiral of violence," he noted, adding that "only the international community's broad involvement ... and the UN's active role can help the peace process in this country take a positive turn."

He said only the Iraqi people can make their own decision on the country's future, and the international community should support their desires.

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Tortured Gaza Squeezed Further Sharon Publicly Declares No Palestinian State, Roadmap Dead

Iraq Exploding In Frustraton And Anger

"In the unilateral plan, there is no Palestinian state" Ariel Sharon - 5 April

Washington 4/05/2004

While Bush is now being likened to Nixon, and Iraq to Vietnam, in a major speech by Senator Ted Kennedy, all the lies and deceptions about what the U.S. is doing in Iraq, as well as about the 'roadmap' and the 'peace process' in the areas of increasingly brutally occupied Palestine are being rendered more naked for all to see.

After being dragged to Madrid with false promises in 1991, the Palestinians were enticed to sign the 'Oslo Agreement' with a promise of Statehood in 5 years - that was in 1993. Then they were pushed and cajoled to sign this and that and maybe the State would come... Then to get Tony Blair and others on board for the Iraq War the further lie of the 'roadmap' was put forth by Bush who loudly declared the Palestinian State would be established by 2005.

Now everything is being exposed for total political treachery, the condition of the Palestinian people is terribly worse than it was before 'Oslo', and Ariel Sharon now publicly declares no Palestinian State and still further brutal worse-than-apartheid suffereing. Now even UNRWA - see press release below - is being forced to suspend operations in Gaza where the Palestinian population now faces a majority of unemployment, impoverishment, and virtual imprisonment.

As for Iraq, we've said from the get-go that the 30 June date was total deception... another false attempt to put a controlled Iraqi face on the perpetual American occupation. Not only are the Americans planning to keep more than 100,000 troops in Iraq indefinitely for decades into the future, that's in addition to the special forces, to the 'private contractors', as well as to the CIA and the Mossad and other 'coalition forces'. The fortress Baghdad Embassy being rushed to completion will be the largest in the world staffed in total by from 3 to 4 thousand CIA, State Department, DOD and secret personnel in total.

The American Ambassador yet to be selected, though rumors remain that none other than top neocon Paul Wolfowitz wants the job, along with the top Pentagon and CIA Generals, will in effect be in charge of Iraq for the foreseeable future if the Bush Administration gets its way. Oh yes, the ever-compliant Kofi Annan at the U.N. is again being cajoled and badgered to provide more political cover, 'legitimacy', and a false U.N. facade to this ongoing American occupation; and the illegally spied upon Security Council is going to be tried again by the Americans as well.

Meanwhile in the U.S. the 9/11 and Iraqi War Commissions are hard at work covering-up far more than exposing that has really happened and why.

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Sharon says Israel's withdrawal plan will be a 'deadly blow' to Palestinians

07:39 AM EDT Apr 06

JERUSALEM (AP) - A unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements could delay Palestinian dreams of statehood for many years, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in interviews Monday.

Israel also is no longer bound by a pledge to the United States not to harm Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Sharon said. The White House said killing Arafat was "not part of the solution to the situation in the Middle East."

In Gaza, soldiers killed three Palestinians, ages 18 and 19, near the fence with Israel. Troops fired during the night at three figures they deemed suspicious, the army said.

[...] The prime minister said he plans to evacuate all 21 Israeli settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank. A patrol road between the Gaza Strip and Egypt would remain under Israeli control for the time being, he said.

Sharon said he initially would seal off Gaza after a withdrawal.

"Until we see what happens, we will continue to have control of an envelope around Gaza," Sharon told Maariv. "The contacts between us (Israel and Gaza) will be like between two countries, selling and buying, but we won't have control over what happens inside.

"But there won't be a Palestinian state in the disengagement plan. There won't be any such thing."

Sharon said Israel would not destroy settlements it evacuates. Israel intends to get the property evaluated by international organizations and already has raised the issue with the World Bank, he said.

Regarding Arafat, Sharon said three years ago he promised U.S. President George W. Bush that Israel would not harm the Palestinian leader, but circumstances have changed.

Asked whether Arafat and Hassan Nasrallah, chief of the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah, could become targets for assassination, he said: "Whoever aims to kill Jews, whoever sends murderers to kill Jews, is marked for death."

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The U.S. And Murdering Arafat

Abdulwahab Badrakhan Al-Hayat 2004/04/5

Ariel Sharon did not mention murdering the Palestinian President accidentally or within a situation analysis. He has been obsessed with killing Arafat for years, and he had often expressed so. Moreover, he regretted that he did not seize the opportunity to do so in 1982.

One can say that the U.S. reaction toward the new threat was clear in telling Sharon that what he intends to do against Arafat is still unacceptable in Washington. However, President George W. Bush justified his stance to his ally, "the man of peace," that he already killed him politically; when he besieged him in his headquarters in Ramallah, destroyed it, and he and his administration are behaving as if he does not exist. Hence, Sharon is seeking to get a special authorization to kill his opponent, for it is unnecessary for him to be physically present.

Weeks ago, during the Knesset's discussion, Arab-Israeli MKs accused Sharon of kindling a civil war in Palestine. He did not deny the accusation, and he said yes, we want a civil war. In order that kindling a war becomes possible without obstacles, national symbols that might prevent the civil war must be absent. This is why Sharon's government murdered Hamas' spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, and this is why his turn came before Arafat's.

The American position after Yassin's murder was very encouraging, although the murder was perpetrated after series of flexible and moderate stances the Sheikh adopted. The U.S. intervened a while ago in secret contacts between Hamas' leaders and were not clear about what they want from a movement they fight abroad as if it was like Al Qaeda, although it never carried out any hostile attack against the U.S. or out of the Israeli occupation resistance framework. Hence, these contacts led to nowhere, for the Americans want "zero resistance" situation and do not want to convince Sharon and his gang about "the zero murders, destructions, and humiliations."

For the Israelis, American positions change nothing in their plans. The statements delivered by senior or ordinary American officials and the contacts Collin Powell or anyone else undertake, are not dissuasive. Rather, they are steps that allow the Americans to clean themselves of any crime.

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U.S. right to warn Sharon

The White House wisely lost no time Monday in cautioning Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that the U.S. remains opposed to killing or exiling Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

[...] We agree, though it's far from clear that anyone has a "solution" to the Arab-Israeli dispute. The U.S., Russia, the European Union and United Nations are still committed to the stalled "road map" plan, which aims to end the fighting and create a Palestinian state next year. But such a happy ending seems all but impossible as long as Arafat puts his interests ahead of those of the Palestinian people. His regime is riddled with corruption, he has refused to share power with his prime minister and has declined to groom a successor.

The best thing that could happen would be for Arafat to step aside. But "marking" Arafat for death is an unacceptable approach to ending Israel's violent confrontation with the Palestinians.

Comment: We are running this editorial from the Denver Post as an example of what passes for political discourse in the United States of "We are Number One." Arafat, winner of a Nobel Peace Prize, is being ridiculed and denounced by the US press. He is the elected leader of the Palestinian authority. Dubya cannot claim as much for his presidency. Whereas the article by Abdulwahab Badrakhan above is insightful in identifying this sort of empty verbiage as cover for a later "washing of the hands" by the US in any involvement in an Arafat assassination by Israel, this editorial is part of the cover-up. Should Sharon proceed and kill Arafat, the blood will be on the hands of US editorial writers and propagandists as well.

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Call to Jews is 'Sinister'

April 2, 2004

The Mail & Guardian surely has the right to decide for itself what position it wishes to take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But its editorial ("Time to reject Sharon") calling on all Jews to speak out against "Sharon's policy of mindless reprisal, and to press for peaceful solutions - beginning with formal Israeli recognition of the 1967 borders" is sinister and may even be read as a veiled threat.

I am not sure if this is the case or if the M&G has now become the guardian of our morals. It may even be well-intended, albeit misguided. What is obvious is that the editorial is loaded with questionable assumptions at odds with democratic decency; a facile analysis informed by an intellectual universe that harbours neither complexity nor humility: a simple equation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the struggle for liberation in South Africa.

Comment: This correspondent raises an issue that is at the very heart of the moral conundrum that faces anyone trying to tease out and understand the real issues playing out in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This correspondent feels slighted by what he calls "a facile analysis informed by an intellectual universe that harbours neither complexity nor humility".

This apparent conundrum stems from an understanding that Judaism is both a nationality and a religion. No other religious group seems to face this dilemma; for example a Christian can be both a Christian and South African without any moral dilemma. An attack on any aspect of South African policy would not generally be construed as anti-Christian, or even anti-African.

In the case of Israel, its nationhood is intertwined with its Jewishness and an attempt to tease the two apart tends to get one accused of being anti-Semitic. This is because of the emotionally driven nature of religious beliefs. In the case of how Judaism is expressed in this age, a link to defending/securing Israel is always made. The writer can clearly see that Apartheid is indefensible, but has a lot of emotional investment in defending anything done in the name of Israel.

Israel has become synonymous with the collective sense of persecution that a lot of Jews feel as a result of their history. This is familiar territory for most objective students of history and bears little difference to the religious justification of the bloodshed instituted in the name of Christianity during the Crusades against Islam, except that in the case of Christianity, no one particular nation was singled out as a homeland for all Christians.

Therefore, calling on Jews to criticise any political actions done by the Israeli state is tantamount to attacking Judaism - an illogical conclusion stemming from an emotionally driven investment in Israel and what it is supposed to represent to Jews the world over. So whilst on the one hand, the writer is uncomfortable with some of Israel's actions, he baulks at the idea of "the call" to Jews to criticise Sharon's policies.

Apartheid was indefensible; occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is almost indefensible. But it is in the embedded details - the "almost" - wherein a deep moral conundrum resides. One cannot discuss the conflict - as the M&G does - without a historical context and sensitivity.

Sharon came to power as a product of the conflict. Violence and counter-violence have resulted in suffering and death on both sides. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has seemingly lost control, arguably aided and abetted by Israeli actions. Hamas - dedicated according to its own charter to the destruction of Israel - has gained support at the expense of the PA. Suicide bombings and counter-violence now define the neighbourhood.

It is foolish to presume omnipotence and lay blame on one side or the other. Arguments can be made either way. But one needs to question the wisdom of the M&G's simplistic judgement. It purports to have all the answers. More distasteful is its call on all Jews to challenge Sharon and to condemn the targeted killing of someone whom they agree has blood on his hands - at last count, more than 300 civilians.

The consequences of Sharon's decision are at this point unclear and may well prove counterproductive. The morality of killing the sheikh is another matter. As a leader of a movement dedicated to the destruction of Israel - that is, a movement effectively at war with Israel - a case for Sharon's actions does exist.

The M&G has every right to disagree and I personally have serious qualms. But to throw out a challenge to all Jews to share its views is breathtakingly arrogant and smacks of a medieval age when Jews were servi camerae, or serfs of the chamber. Such a call is unsuited to our democratic dispensation. [...]

Comment: Yet when a Palestinian argues that they are fighting against the occupation of their homeland, there is no call by the author for a "historical context and sensitivity". Like Sharon, Sheikh Yassin was also a "product of the conflict". Arguments can indeed "be made either way", but in order to feel as slighted as the author does, one would have to forget the history of how parts of Palestine became what we now call Israel. Like the Jews who will not forget their historical persecution, the Palestinians are not going to forget the massacres and forced occupation of their land that gave birth to the state of Israel.

Jews are not answerable to the M&G; they are not guests in this country, responsible to and judged by the M&G. Debate is healthy; pontificating from on high and calling Jews into line is unacceptable.

South African Jews are South Africans. Many are fiercely loyal to Israel, others are highly critical and some wish that there were no Israel. I do not recall the M&G asking all Russians in South Africa to condemn the Putin government for its extra-judicial assassinations of Chechens, all Americans in South Africa to condemn George W Bush's targeted killings and all Muslims in South Africa to condemn their co- religionists for what is being done in the Sudan by Muslims to Christians and animists, or what is being done in the name of al-Qaeda.

Were the bombings in Madrid also not "mindless reprisals"?

South African Jews do not have a say in Israeli decision-making; their leverage through what you term "financial and moral support" is nil.

Does the M&G want to round up Jews for misbehaving? I would have thought that in a democracy Jews are entitled to express a range of opinions, especially on issues as complex as those in the Middle East. And if our media is a yardstick, this is the case: from Ronnie Kasrils to the Chief Rabbi. That's how it should be.

Jews do not need to be told in threatening tones what their position should be. Many feel equally outraged by the M&G's relative quiescence on suicide bombers, its lack of concern at the double standards of the United Nations and its equivocation with regard to Hamas. This is not to say they support Sharon, nor is it to say they don't share with other South Africans a longing for peace and a two-state solution: Palestine alongside a secure Israel.

Identifying Jews as a collective and asking them to take a collective stand is ugly and tantamount to prejudice.

It smacks of "collective punishment"; the association of the individual with the group. Can we anticipate the M&G asking Jews to leave the country if they fail to take what the M&G considers an appropriate collective position?

Jews alone are being singled out and challenged. This is anti-Semitic in effect, if not in intent.

Comment: Is the very existence of the state of Israel and support for it by a seeming majority of Jews not a collective stand?. Why is asking Jews to take a collective stand "prejudice" and "anti-semitic" in this instance?. Might it be something to do with the fact that the writer supports Sharon's actions, or at the very least feels obliged to in the name of a greater Israel?.

For a broader analysis of this issue a reference to this site may provide food for thought and "greater historical understanding and sensitivity". From

"The Chosen People had already been chosen by circumstance," insists Jewish author Earl Shorris in addressing the essences of Jewish identity, "They were defined from outside, for no man chooses to be a slave -- the condition that is thrust upon him. The genesis of the people whom God chose was from outside. They were a nation made by their enemies." [SHORRIS, E., 1982, p. 44]

Certainly, these days, such a definition of Jewry is of far greater importance and more encompassing than any other. After the Holocaust, Jewish self-identification accelerated the already existing self-notion of themselves as consummate (even transcendent) human victims. This allegiance is a peculiar one for it affords American Diaspora Jewry -- from their current positions of undeniable affluence, comfort, prosperity, and freedom -- to still lay a claim (at least abstractly, historically, mythically) to being oppressed. This claim to oppression, of course, does not emanate from persecution by Americans around them. It is a claim to conditions of the past -- both real and imagined, in other lands, in other eras; the claim is also rooted in a complete denial of their part in creating the conditions for their suffering. This country today is too multicultural and pluralistic; it is a land where the dominant majority is fast becoming today an aggregate of ethnic minorities, all unified in respective claims -- both historical and current -- to injustice wrought upon them. In such a pluralistic environment, it is difficult for Jews to be singled out for undeserved -- or even deserved -- hostility; in this sense, there is an extraordinary security in the solidarity of a wide field of co-complainants.

Paul Breines, a Jewish scholar, even goes so far as to suggest that the lack of any truly substantive anti-Semitism in mainstream America today is actually a "threat" to American Jews in that it removes one of the most important parts of their communal identity: the understanding of themselves as victims. And with the loss of victimhood goes the attendant "special claim to what is called the moral higher ground." [BREINES, p. 43-44]

No matter what individual Jews do in their lives -- as saints or sinners -- they still make claim to this "higher moral ground" of communal victimhood. Today's Jewish professor, entrepreneur, and lawyer (and even criminal) can relax in their comfortable armchairs and plan their next accomplishment, their next victory, assured that they always have the advantage as history's blessed underdog, certain that they are members of a group that is intrinsically better than others, not the least by virtue of their peoples' accumulative historic suffering. In this myth, the eternally oppressed Jew continues to succeed, over and over again throughout the world, in the face of another set of non-Jewish limitations and obstacles.

Meanwhile, the American Jew can play the riskless role of philanthropist, paying the fares and possibly housing costs of other Jews in the world, who are less fortunate than them, to make aliyah (ascension) to Israel and join the international Jewish protective army, human fodder for Jewish mythology. As Michael Goldberg notes, "Civil Judaism's idea of Jews' moral responsibility for one another extends no further than an arm's length to reach into a wallet." [GOLDBERG, M.] Or as Jonathan Woocher puts it:

"Civil Judaism's emphasis on countering anti-Semitism (of which there is relatively little in the United States) and supporting Israel (which is done primarily through financial and political activism) ... enables the American Jew to feel that (s)he is contributing to Jewish survival, without materially affecting his/her lifestyle or position in American society." [WOOCHER, p. 99]

Alain Finkielkraut, a French Jew, looks cynically at his Jewish heritage and the peculiar status that he is afforded for his genealogy only:

" ... the Judaism I had received was the most beautiful present a post-genocidal child could imagine. I inherited a suffering to which I had not been subjected, for without having to endure oppression, the identity of the victim was mine. I could savor an exceptional destiny while remaining completely at ease. Without exposure to real danger, I had heroic stature..." [FINKIELKRAUT, p. 7]

This Jewish proclamation of "heroic stature" has its strongest modern foundations in their communal connections to victimhood under the Nazis in World War II. Yet there has always been nurtured the religious claims to "chosenness" by God, specialness, and a superiority over other peoples, elitist claims which have broadened into secular dimensions as well. Eliot Cohen, former editor of Commentary, sees Jewish "specialness," as many do, this way:

"I refer to that extra dimension given to Jewish personality and life by the fact that each Jew moves, consciously or not, in the context of a long and special history and religious ethical tradition that lays upon him, whether as a burden or a badge of pride, the sense of being "chosen," and so created in him the tendency, even the obligation, to carry himself 'with a difference.'" [COHEN, in KOSTELANETZ, p. 17]

"Let the Jew," says Will Herberg, "who rejects the doctrine of 'chosenness' examine his conscience and see whether these words [by Cohen] do not ring the inmost reality of his being." [HERBERG, p. 274] "A very large number of young Jewish people throughout the world have only tenuous ties to their Jewishness," wrote Joachim Prinz in 1972, "But -- and this is the problem which reminds us so much of the Marranos [Jews who hide their identity] -- can Jewishness be forgotten?" [original author's emphasis: PRINZ, J., 1973, p. 195]

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Are These the Real Jews?

April 2, 2004

Make sure you remove your shoes when we arrive at the main entrance into Jerusalem. It is a holy place and if you ignore my advice, you will be doing it at your own peril. You will receive no blessings and probably be cursed instead, the boda boda (bicycle taxi) rider warns me as I get off.

We are approaching the compound where Elijah Masinde, the legendary Bukusu leader, self-proclaimed prophet and founder of the Dini ya Musambwa sect, hid in the early 1940s to avoid arrest by the colonial government.

The place has since been turned into a shrine by the Juda Israeli sect, whose members believe they are the real Jews. According to the sect, River Chesamisi - one of the rivers that runs down Mt Elgon on Kenya-Uganda border - is the "River Jordan" and every member must be baptised here.

"God revealed himself to Africans in 1920s and told them they were the Israelites," says Moses Wafula, the high priest and self-styled representative of the Biblical Moses.

According to Wafula, "spirits" have shown that Jesus was an African, not a Semite.

"His second coming will be in Kenya, specifically in Bungoma, which is our area," he claimed during an interview in "Jerusalem", the church's headquarters near Chesamisi High School, about 10 kilometres from Kamukuywa shopping centre.

To get to "Jerusalem" from the Bungoma-Kitale road, you can walk or hire a boda boda at Kamukuywa shopping centre since there are no public service vehicles on the Kamukuywa-Chesamisi route.

The sect is among the many independent religious groups that sprung up during the colonial days as an alternative to the mainstream churches, which had banned polygamy and female circumcision. It still encourages polygamy.

The sect's offices are built above a tunnel where Masinde and other Africans considered dangerous by the colonialists hid for some time before they were captured and jailed.

Elijah Masinde, one of the founders of this church, came here as the Messiah to spread the gospel but began engaging in evil practices before he quit to form Dini ya Musambwa (Belief in Ancestors in the Bukusu language), which was banned by the colonial government.

"Under the umbrella of the Anglican African Israel church, Masinde was one of the six members filled with the "Spirit" to speak out against the devil and the colonial masters and they would hide in the tunnel whenever the colonial officers came looking for them," explains Samuel Wanyama, Mfalme wa Israeli (King of the Israelites).

Later, Masinde and his colleagues formed Judah Israeli, only to abandon it after a short while to form Dini ya Musambwa.

Wanyama says that Masinde's deviation from God's work to form Dini ya Musambwa was a rebellion not only against his followers but also against God, and that was why he ended up being captured by the colonial forces in collaboration with African chiefs.

"Unlike in mainstream churches, where members fight for positions in the church, God anoints us through Binti Zion (Kiswahili for daughter of Zion)," says Peter Wafula, the church's Kamukuywa branch chairman.

Twice a year, the sect members, dressed in flowing robes and their heads bent in supplication, climb Mt Elgon, which is 4,321 metres high, to offer sacrifices to God.

"We sacrifice doves, lambs and bulls that have not yet started mating. That is what God instructed his people to do," offers Wafula, the high priest. They are supposed to make the offerings every month but only do so twice a year due to financial constraints, says Wafula.

Before they set off for Mt Elgon, they slaughter a lamb in "Jerusalem" and smear its blood on the religious implements that are to be carried up the mountain.

On their way to the top, they bathe in the "living waters", a warm spring on the mountain side that is believed to cure diseases and ward off bad luck in the community.

It is at this point that Binti Zion reads out the names of the followers who will make up the heavenly kingdom. Those whose names do not appear have to wait and see if they will make it to the heavenly kingdom during the next pilgrimage.

After several days on the mountain, the pilgrims head back to "Jerusalem" where they are welcomed with song and dance. After the celebrations, a bull is sacrificed at a special spot near the church building set aside just for that purpose.[...]

Unlike in other mainstream churches, the Juda Israeli sect operates on a very strict code of conduct. For example, a woman is not allowed to speak directly to a man inside the church. "If a female church member has a pressing issue to put across, she has to ask for permission to speak and that request must be made while kneeling on the floor," says Ezekiel Waswa, a church official, adding that this is meant to enhance discipline in women.

"Our church seeks to maintain African culture not just in attire but also in deed. In the traditional African setting, women respected men and knelt whenever a man was talking to them or when giving men something, say water or food," he asserts.

In another notable diversion from mainstream churches, the priest is not allowed to face the congregation while delivering his sermons, which take place on Fridays.

"It is only Jesus who will face his followers the way he did his disciples. No one in the church should face the congregation as is the case in mainstream churches. Those that do so will be held responsible for the sins of other church members on the day of judgment," asserts Wafula.

So, while delivering the sermon, the priest walks between the rows of seated members - men sit on the right side of the church while women sit on the left.

When they are not on duty, priests sit among the congregation, but never at the front or back of the church.

"Ours is a case of doing things simply, as instructed by the Bible. We are out to serve, not to be served," says Waswa, who usually leads the pilgrims' procession to Mt Elgon. [...]

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Whistleblower Suspended in Immigrant Row (UK)

April 4, 2004

As expected, the Minister of Immigration, Beverley Hughes recently announced her resignation. Pressure had built up to such an extent over lax immigration procedures that Blair had no option but to ask her to resign. Had he not done so investigators may have delved further into the actual cause of the immigration shambles. In the process they may well have concluded that it was caused, not by lax procedures or administrative oversight, but that it was the result of a deliberate strategy to herd as many people as possible into the country.

Of course this would have been political suicide for Blair, hence the minister’s resignation was only a matter of time. It thwarts any further criticism of an already embattled government. It also prevents any further speculation as to the real reasons behind the chaotic situation in Britain’s immigration services.

For when all is said and done the furore over lax immigration procedures in Britain misses a key point. First, the situation with immigrants and asylum seekers is mirrored in the States, where millions of migrant workers annually cross the border from Mexico in search of jobs. One can hardly blame them for seeking a better life, but the Bush administration’s indifference to its highly porous southern border is notable. Particularly in the light of its “War on Terror” and the attendant security concerns.

However, as with Britain, one could be forgiven for thinking that the US authorities apparent indifference is a perverse way of encouraging migrants.

Indeed this writer thinks that this is precisely the case because this is exactly what the architects of the New World Order want. Their ultimate aim being a shifting, global population of migrant workers, who owe allegiance to no one country but their employers, the Transnational Corporations.

The benefits for the architects of the N.W.O. are manifold:

1. First, it drives down wage levels, as lower paid workers from eastern bloc countries or Mexico compete with native Britons and Americans for jobs.

2. Secondly, it creates greater social instability, as formerly coherent communities are broken apart. Clearing the way, as it were, for a new social order.

3. Finally, along with social dislocation come higher levels of crime, which in turn requires more police, more laws and generally a more authoritarian regime to maintain control.

All of which plays right into the hands of those behind the New World Order. So let’s not blame the Immigration Minister for negligence. She was probably just following orders.

As the controversy continued, it was revealed that warnings about a migrant “scam” were first sounded over 18 months ago. In the event though, the minister responsible did nothing and despite criticism senior ministers defended her for a job well done.

As if to underline the current shambles in Britain's immigration service, the following report appeared in today's Sunday Times. It shows that the current chaos in Britain's immigration servce was not a matter of chance but rather the result of a deliberate policy.

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Poland investigates information leak of Foreign Ministry 2004-04-06 18:53:27

WARSAW, April 6 (Xinhuanet) -- Poland's security agencies launched a wide investigation on Tuesday into leaks of confidential information from the Foreign Ministry, Polish media reported.

Investigative weekly NIE said on Monday that it had got discarded computer hard disks full of Foreign Ministry information, including classified e-mails and passwords.

Andrzej Barcikowski, chief of the Internal Security Agency, termed the incident a scandal.

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Has Rebuilding East Germany Failed?

Germany's attempt to rebuild its once communist East has been an unmitigated disaster and the massive financial transfers from the West endanger the entire nation's economy, according to a government-backed report.

[...] Perhaps even more worrying, the experts fear the €90 billion spent by the government each year is slowly destroying the economy of western Germany, as growth stagnates and the eastern states fail to revive 14 years after German reunification.

"If things are allowed to continue as they are, all of Germany will be dragged down," von Dohnanyi told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper on Tuesday.

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Putin Plays the Good Cop

By Pavel Felgenhauer

[...] The decision to send aircraft from smaller NATO countries was apparently intended to appease Russian fears about expansion. But when four Belgian F-16s touched down at a former Soviet military base near Siauliai in Lithuania, Russian officials responded with outrage.

[...] The heightened rhetoric might suggest that Russia and NATO are entering a new period of confrontation. In fact, all of the huffing and puffing was simply a backdrop against which Putin will now play the role of the "liberal," friend of the West and champion of our common values and interests.

This is all very much in the Russian tradition of the good and modest tsar surrounded by cruel and conspiring cohorts. True to form, Putin took advantage of German Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der's one-day visit to Moscow to play the "good cop" and assure the West that Russia does not fear NATO's expansion to the East.

All of this was predictable. The top brass, Putin's trusted ally Ivanov and the Kremlin-controlled Duma all made a fuss about a few aging F-16s in order to provide Putin with the opportunity to shine as a statesman.

[...] A handful of fighter jets deployed in the Baltics presents no threat to Russian national security. Then again, there is no pressing military need to station the fighters there. The deployment smacks of provocation, and in this sense Moscow's reaction was to be expected.

The Russian military and the defense industry would hate to lose NATO as an enemy. Everyone knows very well that the alliance will not attack, but the potential of such an attack is enough to allow a lot of people to embezzle a lot of money earmarked for defense spending.

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A NATO Cooperation Pact May Be Signed Soon

By Simon Saradzhyan
Staff Writer

Russia and NATO plan to sign an accord this year that would allow the former Cold War foes to deploy troops and military hardware on each others' territories, officials said.

"The document will allow NATO units with military hardware onto our territory and our units onto the territories of alliance countries," Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Sunday in Oslo, Russian news agencies reported.

He expressed hope that the Status of Forces Agreement would be signed this year and that it would enhance cooperation between the alliance and Moscow in their fight against terrorism.

[...] At the conference Monday, Ivanov warned that "a new wave of terrorism" is rising in the world. He also said NATO and Russian forces will conduct a joint exercise on the Kola Peninsula this year to practice warding off terrorist attacks with the use of weapons of mass destruction.

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Putin Says UN Is Still a Driving Force

By Caroline McGregor
Staff Writer
Tuesday, Apr. 6, 2004. Page 1

Annan talking with Putin and Lavrov on Monday. Putin said he supports plans to create an expert group to give recommendations on how to make the UN a more nimble force.

President Vladimir Putin assured visiting UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday that Russia believes the United Nations is indispensable in resolving international conflicts and supports the creation of a high-level expert group to give recommendations on how to make it a more nimble force in today's world.

"We hear talk about the United Nations failing to cope with solving difficult tasks," Putin said in remarks posted on the presidential web site. "I would like to see how international relations would develop if the United Nations didn't exist. There is no other efficient mechanism for solving global problems."

Former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov will be Russia's representative on an expert panel to consider UN reform, initiated by Annan. The creation of a new rapid-reaction force to respond to 21st-century threats is envisaged as part of these changes.

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Dynamite theft unsettles Norway

Monday, 5 April, 2004, 18:30 GMT 19:30 UK

Thieves have stolen 660kg (1400lb) of dynamite from an unstaffed storage depot in Norway, say police.

Around 5,000 detonators were also stolen, raising fears of a terrorist attack, officials told state radio.

The missing dynamite was more than six times the amount used for the bomb attacks on trains in Madrid nearly a month ago.

Last May, a taped message attributed to al-Qaeda's second-in-command urged Muslim militants to hit Norway.

In the message, a man identified as al-Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri advocated attacks on the embassies and interests of the United States, Britain, Australia and Norway, to drive them from Muslim countries. [...]

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‘Very Nasty’

Potential Bomb Plot Involved Deadly Chemical

By Brian Ross and Christopher Isham

April 5 — British authorities believe terror suspects arrested last week were planning to make a bomb that would include a highly toxic, easily obtained chemical called osmium tetroxide, ABCNEWS has learned.

Used primarily in laboratories for research, osmium tetroxide is known to attack soft human tissue and could blind or kill anyone who breathed its fumes. According to the New Jersey Department of Health, it is a colorless to pale yellow solid with a strong, unpleasant odor.

"It's a nasty piece of work," said Dave Siegrist, a bioterrorism expert at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Arlington, Va. "It irritates the eyes, lungs, nose and throat. It leads to an asthma-like death, what we call a 'dry-land drowning.' "

Scientists say if, for example, the bomb used in the 1993 World Trade Center attack had produced such fumes, they would have wiped out the first police and rescue workers on the scene. [...]

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US business confidence seen at 20-year high

By Dan Roberts in New York
Financial Times
April 5 2004 18:43

Confidence among US business leaders is stronger than it has been for 20 years, according to a long-running measure of boardroom attitudes, as rising profits finally encourage companies to start hiring.

The quarterly survey by the Conference Board confirms last week's official employment data suggesting concerns about a jobless recovery may be waning.

In recent quarters, companies have been wary of hiring staff, preferring to make greater use of existing capacity, but continued growth and record profitability appears to be convincing managers that productivity improvements alone may not be enough to meet rising demand.

Half the chief executives who responded to the Conference Board's lastest poll said they expected employment in their industry to rise, compared with just 12 per cent who predicted a fall - the most optimistic response on jobs since the research group began its analysis in 1976. [...]

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Bank of America to Cut 12,500 Jobs

Apr 5, 4:26 PM (ET)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Bank of America Corp., which completed its merger with FleetBoston Financial Corp. last week, said Monday it will cut 12,500 jobs, or about 7 percent of its combined work force.

Approximately 30 percent of the cuts will come through attrition, the Charlotte-based bank said. The reductions will occur over the next two years and will begin this month. [...]

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Nichols Defense Suggests Wider Conspiracy

By TIM TALLEY, Associated Press Writer
Tue Apr 6, 6:04 AM ET

McALESTER, Okla. - Defense attorneys used a key prosecution witness to bolster their case that Terry Nichols was set up to take the blame for the Oklahoma City bombing.

Nichols' lawyers laid out their conspiracy argument during questioning of Eldon Elliott, former owner of Elliott's Body Shop in Junction City, Kan., and operator of a Ryder truck leasing agency.

They maintain that executed killer Timothy McVeigh had substantial help from unknown coconspirators while collecting components for the homemade bomb. The April 19, 1995, explosion at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building killed 168 people.

Elliott testified that McVeigh was accompanied by a man other than Nichols when he rented the Ryder truck used in the bombing. He said the men talked softly as McVeigh completed paperwork.

The man, Elliott told the court, had skin "a little darker" than McVeigh's and wore a baseball cap set off with blue lightning streaks.

Descriptions of the man were used to create a composite sketch known as John Doe No. 2, a shadowy figure that people reported seeing with McVeigh before the blast. Elliott testified the man with McVeigh looked similar to the sketch of John Doe No. 2.

The sketch and eyewitness sightings prompted one of the largest manhunts in U.S. history. Prosecutors eventually concluded the man in the sketch was an Army soldier who rented a truck the day after McVeigh rented one. [...]

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Altai's Schwarzenegger Has the Last Laugh

By Francesca Mereu
Staff Writer

The Altai region in southern Siberia may not enjoy Californian sunshine, but since Sunday the mountainous region has something in common with the West Coast state -- it has a showbiz star for governor.

The Altai version of Arnold Schwarzenegger is no muscle-bound action hero, but a portly 46-year-old actor and comedian, Mikhail Yevdokimov, who plays country bumpkin roles on television and in movies.

Yevdokimov, a candidate with no discernible political agenda but instant name recognition thanks to his showbiz profile, won the runoff election with 49.79 percent of the vote, just under 4 percentage points ahead of 63-year-old incumbent Alexander Surikov, who won 46.04 percent of the vote.

The result was all the more surprising because an alliance of all the region's main political parties, including the pro-Kremlin United Russia and the Communists, supported Surikov in the second round.

[...] Billboards for Yevdokimov around the region featured the slogan, "Let's Put Jokes to One Side," while the comedian promised to make the region "as successful and rich as I am."

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B.C. fights bird flu with mass slaughter


VANCOUVER—About 19 million chickens, turkeys and other commercial poultry in British Columbia will be slaughtered to try to stop the spread of avian flu.

The move means hundreds of people will be laid off and tens of millions of dollars will be lost in the poultry industry.

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Sale of mining patents roils Crested Butte residents

By Steve Lipsher
Denver Post Mountain Bureau

For $875, the Bush administration last week sold 155 acres of federal land near Crested Butte to a multinational mining company, renewing one of the nation's longest-running legal battles over a mine proposal.

The purchase, revealed late Friday, outraged local officials and environmentalists who have been fighting efforts to open a mine on Mount Emmons for more than 30 years.

The federal Bureau of Land Management dismissed three formal protests and immediately turned over the patents to nine claims on U.S. Forest Service land to the Phelps Dodge Corp.

[...] "For less than $1,000, Phelps Dodge has acquired 150 acres of federal property next to a resort town where a tenth-of-an-acre lot is selling for $100,000," said Jim Schmidt, mayor of Crested Butte.

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Strong earthquake jolts Pakistan

Tuesday 06 April 2004

A strong earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale has jolted several Pakistani cities, officials say, but there have been no immediate reports of any casualties.

"An earthquake measuring 6.8 on Richter scale was recorded in our observatory at 2:24am (21:24 GMT)," said an official from the Pakistan Meteorological Department early on Tuesday

He said the epicentre of the earthquake was some 450km north of Islamabad in the Hindukush mountain range in Afghanistan. [...]

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31 killed as flash flood hits Mexico

06 April 2004

A flash flood killed at least 31 people as it swept through a northern Mexican city.

Enrique Martinez, governor of Coahuila state, said two of those killed in Piedras Negras were children. He called the flooding some of the worst in the history of the US-Mexico border region, saying "the magnitude of destruction is enormous".

Throughout the day, authorities said as many as 75 people had yet to be accounted for, but the governor said many of those originally reported missing had been located. [...]

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Interstate Bridge Collapses in West Texas Deluge

Mon Apr 5, 4:01 PM ET

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Heavy rains and flash flooding were suspected in the partial collapse of a bridge on Interstate 20 in west Texas on Monday, which forced the shutdown of traffic in both directions. [...]

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) said a wall of water that smashed through the town of Toyah was suspected of washing out part of the eastbound I-20 bridge across Salt Draw Creek, about 195 miles east of El Paso. [...]

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Five Are Killed in West Texas Crash

By The Associated Press
Mon Apr 5, 11:15 PM ET

Five people were killed in West Texas in a wreck Monday on a highway being used as a detour for a washed-out bridge, and South Texas was on watch for possible flooding from the slow-moving storm system that dumped up to 4 inches of rain the day before.

The National Weather Service had flood warnings in effect into Tuesday in a triangle roughly formed by San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Laredo.

Across the border in Mexico, more than two dozen people were killed in a flash flood in Piedras Negras, about 150 miles southwest of San Antonio. [...]

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6 April 2004

An M1-class explosion near sunspot 588 on April 5th (0600 UT) hurled a coronal mass ejection into space. Although the cloud is not heading directly for Earth, it might deliver a glancing blow to our planet's magnetic field on April 7th or 8th, increasing the chances for auroras on those dates. More such explosions from sunspot 588 are possible this week.

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Meteor showers coming

[...] Almost all of the major showers in 2004 will be free of moonlight, making even the dimmest meteors stand out.

The excitement gets under way this month.

The Lyrids meteor shower peaks at 10 to 15 meteors per hour around 9 p.m. April 21. Adding to the show will be another 10 to 15 sporadic meteors or so every hour streaking randomly across the sky.

[...] Showers are named after the constellation from which the meteors appear to come.

To make the most of the show, viewers should be sure they can see the spot the meteors are coming from and the zenith, the spot that marks the top of the sky.

For April's Lyrids, that means pointing your toes toward the northeast.

Here is a list of other best bets for meteor watching in 2004:

  • The Ophiucids, June 20
  • The Perseids, Aug. 11
  • The Orionids, Oct. 18-25
  • The Leonids, Nov. 16
  • The Geminids, Dec. 13

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Mysterious block of ice crashes into home

FONTANA - A woman awoke Saturday and discovered a large block of ice had crashed through her garage roof, destroying a car carrier and leaving her with a large hole in the home.

Anne Gavell, who lives in a house in the 8900 block of Encinas Avenue, found the damage shortly after noticing water coming from under her garage door at 7:30 a.m., said her son Jim Gavell.

A neighbor reported hearing a loud crash at the house around 3:00 to 3:30 a.m. Saturday, Jim Gavell said.

While the Los Angeles Airport Authority assured him the ice didn't come from a commercial airplane, Jim Gavell has his doubts. "It had to be an airplane, what else could it be?" he asked.

The large block was clear ice, not the blue "toilet ice' which has been known to fall from commercial airlines from time to time, he said.

Insurance adjusters will be out to survey the damage early this week, he said, adding that no one was injured in the incident.

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U.F.O. Seen Over Ottawa

Kris Sims
Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Several residents of the Ottawa area reported seeing an Unidentified Flying Object Monday Night.

One caller to CFRA 580 said it was a large, bright, white ball of light that travelled northeast at around 8 o’clock.

Denis Legault has been sky-watching for 27 years with the Ottawa Valley Astronomy Group, he says the object was probably a piece of space rock that was too large to burn up right away in the upper atmosphere. Legault says the particles of dust and rock create a brilliant flash of light as they ignite and disintegrate in the lower atmosphere.

Ottawa ranks second in Canada for the number of UFOs reported each year. Vancouver reports the most.

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06 April 2004

Servicemen on night manoeuvres at a Cornish air base have reported sighting a large black puma-like animal.

They say they saw the creature in a series of separate sightings around the RAF station at St Mawgan.

Now motion detectors are being put around the base in a bid to track the animal and catch it on camera.

Witnesses, who did not wish to be identified, compared the cat's size with a fox that was in the field at the same time, saying it was "five times the length of the fox", with a head like a puma or panther.

The animal was observed for various lengths of time from different points around the airfield by personnel using night vision equipment.

Squadron Leader Dave Webster said: "We need to maintain the integrity of the sighting area so that zoologists can ascertain whether or not the creature was in transit or if it has become a more frequent visitor.

"The zoological specialists on site are keen to get on with the job of determining how often this creature has visited RAF St Mawgan."

Sqn Ldr Webster warned: "This is an active military installation, which is regularly patrolled and guarded.

"In the present security climate it would be extremely unwise for anyone to attempt to venture on to the base in an attempt to see if this creature is still here." [...]

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Cosmo adds spirituality to sex and shoes

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor
Tue 6 April, 2004 07:14

LONDON (Reuters) - Is this a sign of the times or what? Cosmopolitan, the glossy bible of sex and shopping for the single girl, has launched a new monthly column on spirituality.

"I've come to the painful realisation that men and shoes are not enough to make me happy," Hannah Borno, the magazine's new Spirituality Editor, wrote in the March edition. "The key to true contentment lies elsewhere."

[...] Nina Ahmad, acting editor of the British Cosmopolitan, said the magazine had a million readers in Britain and did not want them to "feel alone on their spiritual journey."

"We want women to be the best they can, in every respect of their lives," she said

[...] "We're looking at spirituality rather than organised religion, because that's where there seems to be a demand from our readers," Borno explained.

"They want something a bit more alternative."

Borno has no religious training herself and does not pretend to be an expert on dispensing theological advice.

"First and foremost, I'm a journalist," she explained, adding that she would consult experts to explain complex topics in what she called "Cosmo-friendly language."

"There is so much on offer out there and I will try to sift through the whole lot and extract the stories we think are interesting," she said.

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