Today's conditions brought to you by the Bush Junta - marionettes of their hyperdimensional puppet masters - Produced and Directed by the CIA, based on an original script by Henry Kissinger, with a cast of billions.... The "Greatest Shew on Earth," no doubt, and if you don't have a good sense of humor, don't read this page! It is designed to reveal the "unseen."
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Thursday, April 08, 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

Picture of the Day

Naïs
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

After the attacks on September 11th, Americans and the world were told by US leaders that Arab terrorists were intent on destroying the US because the terrorists despised the "freedoms" enjoyed by the inhabitants of the US. Americans also heard that the supposed Arab terrorists referred to the US as the Great Satan. Consider the reaction to this last declaration in particular: anger, outrage, and a certain sense of determination to defeat "the enemy". No American then possessed, or even now possesses, any actual evidence that Arab terrorists were behind the attacks.

Therefore, it is clear that the words chosen by the Bush administration were specifically designed to provoke the emotions of the masses. As we have pointed out on the Signs page, the actual content of the US government's rationale for war is so full of holes, it's ridiculous. The reason for the second invasion of Iraq has changed several times, and not many Americans seem to care. What is most painful to observe is the severe lack of any real consideration or thought in the reactions and actions of "terrorists" and targets alike.

Consider the idea that the US is the Great Satan.

What reaction do the words stimulate within you?

Does your heart race, does your blood boil, do you unconsciously clench your teeth?

If so, you are experiencing an emotional response. It is useful when experiencing any emotional response to stop and observe oneself long enough to ask: "Why do I feel this way? Which 'little I' is currently running the show?" Instead of reacting, what if we consider the words that are being said to us, along with the possible motivations or programs that may be within the person uttering the words we find so offensive?

It is thoroughly ridiculous for anyone in America to be upset that their beloved country is being called what it has actually become. Yet few Americans seem to be able to stop and contemplate their country from a viewpoint other than that which has been programmed into them since birth. Americans seem to view everything from the perspective of their own culture; even the currency of other countries is reported in the US media in terms of the US currency: Russian "dollars", European "dollars". There is no desire to See anything objectively. If one was to work toward being able to See, one might observe that the US has conducted hideous experiments and operations against both US citizens, and those of other countries around the world.

From this more objective point of view, it is apparent that America could very well have caused the inhabitants of other lands to declare that the US is the Great Satan. Furthermore, the fundamentalist nature of the supposed Muslim terrorists is ridiculed and belittled in the US media, while a fundamentalist Christian named John Ashcroft tries to clamp down on US civil liberties and covers nude statues everywhere he visits. Apparently, fanatical Muslim "terrorists" who want to destroy America's freedoms are verboten, but Christian fundy "terrorists" can obliterate as many freedoms as they want.

Recently, we have run several articles pointing to the radical Christian nature of much of the US administration and general population. Even Bush thinks he is being directed and instructed by God. Obviously, there is a preposterous degree of cognitive dissonance in the American leaders and apparently much of the population, as well. Yesterday, we ran the following article:

What kind of bloody savages would kill people and drag their corpses along the road?

by Helen & Harry Highwater
Unknown News
April 5, 2004

War is about killing. Most people find it hard to kill people they don't hate, so war is also about hatred. And sometimes, after you've gotten used to hating people, killing them isn't enough.

You not only want to kill them, you want to kill them twice. You hate 'em so much you want to kill 'em and strangle their souls. Maybe you want to kill 'em and drag their frickin' corpses through the road.

What kind of bloody savages would do that? The answer is, almost anyone. Maybe you. Maybe me.

War brings out the worst in people, even good people.

After Americans saw grisly photos of their killed countrymen being dragged through the streets of Fallujah, what was the response of many Americans? Hatred. Vengeance. I've heard a lot of people mutter -- or shout -- that we should just nuke Iraq. You've heard it too.

Well, that might be more efficient than dragging their corpses through the road one at a time, but it means the same thing: Kill 'em, and then strangle their souls.

And that's from Americans who presumably haven't lived in a war zone. They've only seen bits and pieces of war on TV. How much more hatred must people feel, Iraqis and Americans, who've lived through the last year in Iraq?

This American response is no different than the Fallujah response, or the Mogadishu response. It's the hatred that comes with war. So please, unless one of the dead was your friend or relative, cut the "we're so outraged and offended" act. [...]

If patriotism does indeed drive a person to commit savage acts, then perhaps the whole concept of love of one's country should be carefully reevaluated.

Essentially, America is shouting, "An eye for an eye!" While denouncing the killing and mutilation of four "US civilians" - read: mercenaries making $1000 a day - Americans and their military and political leaders are vowing revenge. It is as if the slaughter and mutilation of tens of thousands of Iraqis and the dumping of hundreds of thousands of pounds of depleted uranium dust in the country isn't already enough.

Note that there is a distinction to be made between indifference and objectivity. To be indifferent towards the events in this world is to disregard reality for what it is. The world, in all its glory, is here now. We are all here now. Either we can sit around and wait for Jesus, we can contemplate our navels, or we can admit that we are being given an extraordinary opportunity - the chance to work toward being able to make a real choice in a world where the general course of our lives is predetermined, and the instructions for what to think and do are burned into our minds from the day we emerge from the womb.

The Work is possible because of the particularly nasty reality in which we reside. It is up to each of us whether or not we choose to work at seeing the context, and eventually the truth, of our internal and external realities. In a sense, we must be "reborn" through our own efforts - we are each our own salvation, or our own doom.

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Something shifted on March 11 in Madrid. The bombing of the trains was followed by cosmic spammer Jean Ederman's disappearance to finish his UFO training in preparation for the arrival of his Space Brothers, Sharon's assassination of Sheikh Yassin, and this week's counter-attacks against the US occupation, led by what Rummy has called a gang of "thugs, gangs and terrorists". We're in BIG TROUBLE.

Yup, anyone who disagrees with US control of their country is a thug or a terrorist, and this new, hyper-realistic video game is soon to be coming to a screen near you across the United States of They Hate Us Because of Our Freedoms and elsewhere in the Free World. After decades of on the ground testing in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, the lockdown is beginning in the "civilised" world. The powder keg in the Middle East has been lit, and it is only a question of how long the fuse is. Have they used a slow-burning fuse, or is it one of the fast ones?

The shift in the atmosphere has been palpable. Something wicked this way comes.

We invite you to take a look at what is going on around the world in the last 24 hours. Your backyard is next.

Eman, Occupation Watch, Baghdad - 7 April

"Iraqi cities are being sieged and bombed by missiles and tanks. Sadr, Adamiya, Kufa, Falluja, Shula and others. Civilians are being killed. The high way to Falluja is closed. News from Falluja say that bodies are lying in the streets, no ambullances, no water, no electricity. Journalists are not allowed in, cameras are smashed. They say this will go on for days. pls help."

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Several children were among
the casualties in Falluja

Scores dead as Falluja resists US onslaught

Wednesday 07 April 2004, 10:51 Makka Time, 7:51 GMT

Fierce street battles continued to rage in Falluja with resistance fighters putting up stiff opposition to US occupation forces trying to gain control of the restive town.

Hospital sources said at least 45 Iraqis were killed and 90 injured in attacks on the besieged town on Wednesday.

Among the casualties were a family sitting in a car parked behind the Abd al-Aziz al-Samarai mosque when it was bombed by a US airplane.

[...] American forces initially said those killed in Wednesday's attack on the mosque were fighters taking refuge.

But a marine officer was later forced to admit that US forces had failed to find any bodies.

"When we hit that building I thought we had killed all the bad guys, but when we went in they didn't find any bad guys in the building," Lieutenant Colonel Brennan Byrne told reporters.

Instead, he speculated the insurgents may have fled after a Cobra helicopter gunship fired a Hellfire missile at the mosque, and before an aircraft dropped a laser-guided bomb.

Comment: "Bad guys"!?!? What, does this guy think he is in a movie or something? "Bad guys"! He think's he's the star of a video game!

What about the children killed or mutilated?

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Battles rage from north to south

· Dozens die in bomb and missile attack near mosque
· Militia leader warns: Iraq will be new Vietnam
· Blow to US as ayatollah fails to condemn uprising

Jonathan Steele in Baghdad and Ewen MacAskill
Thursday April 8, 2004
The Guardian

The US-led coalition entered the most dangerous phase yet of its occupation of Iraq last night as the Sunni and Shia uprisings spread from Kirkuk in the north to Kut in the south.

With the worst fighting since George Bush formally declared the war over last May, the coalition lost control of several areas. The most humiliating reverse was at Kut, when Ukrainian troops were forced out by a Shia militia.

The US, which was careful during the war not to hit holy sites, fired a missile and dropped a 500lb bomb to breach a wall enclosing a mosque in Falluja, an attack that will further inflame the uprising. At least 25 and up to 40 Iraqis were reported killed.

The death toll in the past few days has risen to 33 American dead - the Pentagon confirmed that 12 marines had died in Ramadi on Tuesday, the US's worst day since the war - two other members of the coalition and more than 190 Iraqis. The US suffered a further five casualties during the six-hour assault on Falluja.

The US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said last night some US troops scheduled to leave Iraq might stay longer, and for the first time raised the possibility of troops staying for more than a year.

Mr Rumsfeld denied the violence was a popular uprising and said it was the work of a few "thugs, gangs and terrorists". He repeatedly called Moqtada al-Sadr, the cleric leading the Shia uprising in southern and central Iraq, a murderer.

Comment: And Ariel Sharon is a "man of peace." And the "war on terror" is designed to make us safe. Does anyone feel safer than they did on September 10, 2001?

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US troops face longer Iraq stay

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says some "seasoned" US troops in Iraq might be kept there longer than planned to deal with the growing violence.

The troops have not lost control of the security situation, despite a recent upsurge in fighting, Mr Rumsfeld said.

[...] The involvement of Shia fighters loyal to radical cleric Moqtada Sadr has opened a second front in the Iraqi opposition to the occupation.

Iraq's most senior Shia cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has condemned the way US forces are dealing with Shia resistance.

Comment: We suppose that technically, as they have never been in control, it is correct to state that US troops have not lost control. But we doubt that is what Rummy had in mind.

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Chaos in Iraq as US forces 'lose control'

Baghdad/Fallujah - United States-led occupying forces do not have control of the Iraqi cities of Najaf and Kut, where Shi'a militiamen have seized control of key buildings in the centre of town, the top US general in Iraq said on Thursday.

Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez said coalition troops in the cities - which include Ukrainian and Spanish soldiers - were in their bases on the outskirts.

Ukrainian forces pulled out of Kut's city centre on Wednesday after clashes there. Shi'a followers of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr began an uprising on Sunday and have clashed with foreign troops in several Shi'a areas of Iraq. Meanwhile, between 280 to 300 Iraqis have been killed and at least 400 wounded in fighting this week as United States Marines mounted a major mission to root out guerrillas in Fallujah, the director of the main hospital, Rafi Hayat, said on Thursday.

Fierce fighting has raged in Fallujah all week as US Marines launched Operation Iron Resolve, which followed the killing and mutilation of four US private security guards in the town last week. Fighting has also raged in the nearby Sunni Muslim city of Ramadi, where 12 Marines were killed this week.

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Shiite militia controls part of 3 cities

By César G. Soriano, USA TODAY

BAGHDAD — Militiamen loyal to an anti-U.S. Shiite cleric controlled large swaths of three Iraqi cities Thursday after clashes with coalition forces, while U.S. Marines fought insurgents for the second day around a mosque in the Sunni Muslim stronghold of Fallujah.

[...] President Bush, who is vacationing near Crawford, Texas, spoke with his national security advisers and talked by phone with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Comment: It seems that Bush needs his rest. With his close personal friend, Condi Rice, going before the 9/11 Commission today, he may be doped up on tranquilizers. Or maybe he is having a little pep talk with God. His re-election campaign is becoming unhinged since O'Neill and Clarke spilled the goods on the inner workings of the inner sanctum. Will Condi be sacrificed to the shadow government? Will Dubya have another pretzel accident? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of The Madness of King George!

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Rumsfeld: "Nayaf no longer under 'coalition' control"

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Second Iraqi city falls to Iraqi forces

08 Apr 2004 2pm GMT

US troops carry an injured soldier away from a burning tank in Falluja.

The US military admitted today that it had lost control of two cities to Shia militants as fierce fighting continued to rage across Iraq.
Despite attempts by Washington to play down the scale of the uprisings that have swept the country, Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez said today that coalition troops in Najaf and Kut had been fought back by militants loyal to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

He said coalition soldiers - Ukrainians in Kut and Spaniards in Najaf - had retreated to their bases on the outskirts of the cities, effectively ceding control to the Shia fighters.

He vowed to retake Kut "imminently", while conceding that the presence of large numbers of pilgrims in the holy city of Najaf for a religious festival could hamper any coalition counter-offensive. The coalition denied reports that some of its soldiers had been taken hostage by Shia militants in Najaf yesterday. [...]

In a further setback to the coalition on what has been the bloodiest week since the end of the war on year ago, Al-Jazeera television broadcast footage of three Japanese, including one woman, dressed in civilian clothes it said were taken hostage by an Iraqi group.

The hitherto unknown group - Saraya al-Mujahideen - threatened to kill the captives unless Japan withdrew its troops from Iraq within three days.

According to a report on Al-Jazeera news, at least 45 Iraqis were killed yesterday - including a family sitting in a car parked behind the Abd al-Aziz al-Samarai mosque compound when it was bombed by a US plane.

A spokesman for Iraq Body Count criticised the US tactics for putting the lives of civilians in at risk.

"The recent upsurge in violence has emphasised yet again that it is innocent Iraqi civilians who are the main victims of the US-led war and occupation. Up to 11,000 civilians are now reported killed since the invasion. Although we regret the loss of military lives too, military people have chosen to put their lives at risk. Civilians have no choice," he said.

"The US has responded to the deaths of four security contractors in Falluja with the killing of 16 children. This is not the 'winning of hearts and minds' but the destruction of human life and hope. The continuing failure of the USA and the UK to acknowledge the costs of their policies in civilian deaths further undermines the prospects for peace and reconciliation in Iraq." [...]

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Thousands of Shias march from Baghdad to beseiged Falluja

(Translated from El Mundo)

AFP

BAGHDAD.- Several thousand Shi'as and Sunnis are marching from the Iraqi capital towards Falluja (about 50 kilometers to the west), followed by lorries filled with essential food supplies and medication for the population of the city. Fallujah has been under seige by US forces for the past three days.

The people of Falluja have been emprisoned within the city since last Monday when US forces launched a major attack on Sunni fighters in the city. Quoting hospital sources, the Qatar based television station "Al Yazira" said that the bloody battles in Fallujah have resulted in 105 deaths and more than 200 injured since Tuesday night. The same source put the number of Iraqi dead since Sunday at over 300. [...]

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Shi'a Militia in Iraq claim to have Spanish military hostages

(Translated from El Mundo)

AFP

BAGHDAD- According to a spokesman for the group, the Shi'a militia of the radical Moqtada Sadr claim to have taken various Spanish soldiers hostage and plan to offer them in an exchange for Mstafa Yaqub, one the Shi'a leaders from the Iraqi city of Nayaf currently being held by the "coalition" forces. The Spanish "Plus Ultra" brigade has denied that any of its soldiers have been captured by the Shi'a militia. [...]

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Japanese, Koreans taken hostage in Iraq

Thursday 08 April 2004

The captured include two journalists and an aid worker

Aljazeera television has aired a videotape showing three Japanese citizens captured by a previously unknown Iraqi group that vowed to kill them if Tokyo does not withdraw its troops from Iraq.

One of the hostages being held by the Saraya al-Mujahadin is a woman, the television said on Thursday.

The Qatar-based television aired a soundless video of the trio and their passports, adding that an accompanying statement had given Tokyo three days to meet its demands.

Aljazeera read a statement which it said the group addressed to "the friendly people of Japan".

"We are the sons of Muslim Iraqi people. We were friends and on good terms. Why did you betray us and support the US forces which have violated our soil, our sacred places and land and shed the blood of our children?

It is time to retaliate. Three of your nationals are now in our custody and you have either to withdraw or we will burn them alive. The time limit is three days from the date of broadcasting the videotape," said the statement.

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BAGHDAD BLOG

Riverbend

Now it seems we are almost literally reliving the first few days of occupation… I woke up to the sound of explosions and gunfire last night and for one terrible moment I thought someone had warped me back a whole year and we would have to relive this last year of our life over and over again…

We haven't sent the kids to school for 3 days. The atmosphere is charged and the day before yesterday, Baghdad was quiet and empty, almost… the calm before the storm. The area of A'adhamiya in Baghdad is seeing street fighting: the resistance and Americans are fighting out in the streets and Al-Sadr city was bombed by the troops. They say that dozens were killed and others wounded. They're bringing them in to hospitals in the center of the city.

Falloojeh has been cut off from the rest of Iraq for the last three days. It's terrible. They've been bombing it constantly and there are dozens dead. Yesterday they said that the only functioning hospital in the city was hit by the Americans and there's no where to take the wounded except a meager clinic that can hold up to 10 patients at a time. There are over a hundred wounded and dying and there's nowhere to bury the dead because the Americans control the area surrounding the only graveyard in Falloojeh; the bodies are beginning to decompose in the April heat. The troops won't let anyone out of Falloojeh and they won't let anyone into it either - the people are going to go hungry in a matter of days because most of the fresh produce is brought from outside of the city...

This is an occupation and for those of you naïve enough to actually believe Chalabi and the Bush administration when they said the troops were going to be 'greeted with flowers and candy' then I can only wish that God will, in the future, grant you wisdom.

This is crazy. This is supposed to be punishment for violence but it's only going to result in more bloodshed on both sides… people are outraged everywhere- Sunnis and Shi'a alike. This constant bombing is only going to make things worse for everyone. Why do Americans think that people in Baghdad or the south or north aren’t going care what happens in Falloojeh or Ramadi or Nassriyah or Najaf? Would Americans in New York disregard bombing and killing in California?

And now Muqtada Al-Sadr's people are also fighting it out in parts of Baghdad and the south. If the situation weren't so frightening, it would almost be amusing to see Al-Hakeem and Bahr Ul Iloom describe Al-Sadr as an 'extremist' and a 'threat'. Muqtada Al-Sadr is no better and no worse than several extremists we have sitting on the Governing Council. He's just as willing to ingratiate himself to Bremer as Al-Hakeem and Bahr Ul Iloom. The only difference is that he wasn't given the opportunity, so now he's a revolutionary. Apparently, someone didn't give Bremer the memo about how when you pander to one extremist, you have to pander to them all. . .

Then Bremer makes an appearance on TV and says that armed militias will not be a part of the New Iraq… where has that declaration been the last 12 months while Badir's Brigade has been wreaking havoc all over the country? Why not just solve the problem of Al-Sadr's armed militia by having them join the police force and army, like the Bayshmarga and Badir's Brigade? Al-Sadr's militia is old news. No one was bothering them while they were terrorizing civilians in the south. They wore badges, carried Klashnikovs and roamed the streets freely… now that they've become a threat to the 'Coalition', they suddenly become 'terrorists' and 'agitators'. . .

My cousin and his family are staying with us for a few days because his wife hates to be alone at home with the kids. It's a relief to have them with us. We all sit glued to the television- flipping between Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabia, CNN, BBC and LBC, trying to figure out what is going on. The foreign news channels are hardly showing anything. They punctuate dazzling reportages on football games and family pets with a couple of minutes worth of footage from Iraq showing the same faces running around in a frenzy of bombing and gunfire and then talk about 'Al-Sadr the firebrand cleric', not mentioning the attacks by the troops in Ramadi, Falloojeh, Nassriyah, Baghdad, Koufa, etc.

Over the last three days, over 150 Iraqis have been killed by troops all over Iraq and it's maddening. At times I feel like a caged animal- there's so much frustration and anger. The only people still raving about 'liberation' are the Iraqis affiliated with the Governing Council and the Puppets, and even they are getting impatient with the mess. . .

And as I blog this, all the mosques, Sunni and Shi’a alike, are calling for Jihad...

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Bush calls crisis talks as Iraq battles rage

[...] "I call upon the American people to stand beside the Iraqi people ... otherwise Iraq will be another Vietnam for America and the occupiers," he said. In his first statement since the fighting began on Sunday, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, whose opinion carries greater weight than Sadr’s in the Shiite community, condemned the way occupation forces were tackling the uprising and called for calm on all sides.

Mr Bush was briefed yesterday on the spiralling violence and US casualties by General John Abizaid, the commander of the Central Command, which has jurisdiction in Iraq, and Paul Bremer, the top US civilian in Iraq. The president also spoke with Mr Blair, his closest ally in Iraq. The two leaders will meet in Washington next Friday to discuss Iraq and other foreign policy problems. A Downing Street spokesman denied it was a crisis meeting, but said Iraq would be a central issue.

Mr Blair will also meet Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, in New York next Thursday to discuss the UN’s future role in Iraq. [...]

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Bush & Blair Have Lit Fire Which Could Consume Them

The Iraqi Uprising Will Drive Home The Forgotten Lessons Of Empire

By Seumas Milne
The Guardian - UK
4-8-4

Where are they now, the cheerleaders for war on Iraq? Where are the US Republican hawks who predicted the Anglo-American invasion would be a "cakewalk", greeted by cheering Iraqis? Or the liberal apologists, who hailed a "new dawn" for freedom and democracy in the Arab world as US marines swathed Baghdad in the stars and stripes a year ago? Some, like the Sun newspaper - which yesterday claimed Iraqis recognise that occupation is in their "own long-term good" and are not in "bloody revolt" at all - appear to be in an advanced state of denial.

Others, to judge by the performance of the neocon writer William Shawcross and Blairite MP Ann Clwyd, have been reduced to a state of stuttering incoherence by the scale of bloodshed and suffering they have helped unleash. Clwyd, who regularly visits Iraq as the prime minister's "human rights envoy", struggled to acknowledge in an interview on Monday that bombing raids by US F16s and Apache helicopter gunships on Iraqi cities risked causing civilian deaths, not merely injuries. The following day, 16 children were reportedly killed in Falluja when US warplanes rocketed their homes. And yesterday, in what may well be the most inflammatory act of slaughter yet, a US helicopter killed dozens of Iraqis in a missile assault on a Falluja mosque.

The attack on a mosque during afternoon prayers will, without doubt, swell the ranks of what has become a nationwide uprising against the US-led occupation. By launching a crackdown against the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr - and, in an eloquent display of what it means by freedom in occupied Iraq, closing his newspaper - the US has finally triggered the long-predicted revolt across the Shia south and ended the isolation of the resistance in the so-called Sunni triangle. Bush, Blair and Bremer have lit a fire in Iraq which may yet consume them all. The evidence of the past few days is that the uprising has spread far beyond the ranks of Sadr's militia. And far from unleashing the civil war US and British pundits and politicians have warned about, Sunni and Shia guerrillas have been fighting side by side in Baghdad against the occupation forces.

This revolt shows every sign of turning into Iraq's own intifada, and towns like Falluja and Ramadi - centres of resistance from the first days of occupation - are now getting the treatment Israel has meted out to Palestinians in Jenin, Nablus and Rafah over the past couple of years. As resistance groups have moved from simply attacking US and other occupation troops to attempts to hold territory, US efforts to destroy them - as an American general vowed to do yesterday - have become increasingly brutal. Across Iraq, US soldiers and their European allies are now killing Iraqis in their hundreds on the streets of their own cities in an explosive revival of the Middle East's imperial legacy.

For Britain, Iraq has turned into its first full-scale colonial war since it was forced out of Aden in the late 1960s
. And the pledge by US commanders to "pacify" the mushrooming centres of Iraqi insurrection echoes not only the doomed US efforts to break the Vietnamese in the 60s and 70s, but also the delusionary euphemisms of Britain's own blood-soaked campaigns in Kenya and Malaya a decade earlier. The same kind of terminology is used to damn those fighting foreign rule in Iraq. Thus President Bush's spokesman described Shia guerrillas as "thugs and terrorists", while his Iraqi proconsul Paul Bremer - head of a 130,000-strong occupation force which has already killed more than 10,000 Iraqi civilians - issued a priceless denunciation of groups who "think power in Iraq should come out of the barrel of a gun ... that is intolerable".

The bulk of the media and political class in Britain has followed this lead in an apparent attempt to normalise the occupation of Iraq in the eyes of the public. The fact that British squaddies shot dead 15 Iraqis in Amara on Tuesday has had little more coverage than the shameful beating to death of Iraqi prisoners in British custody. Both the BBC and ITN routinely refer to British troops as "peacekeepers"; private mercenaries are called "civilian contractors"; the rebranding of the occupation planned for June is described as the "handover of power to the Iraqis"; the Sadr group always represents a "small minority" of Shia opinion; and a patently unscientific and contradictory poll carried out in Iraq last month - in which most people said they were opposed to the presence of coalition forces in Iraq - is absurdly used to claim majority support for the occupation.


The growing panic in Washington over what Senator Edward Kennedy calls "Bush's Vietnam" is now focused on the date for the formal - and entirely cosmetic - transfer of sovereignty to a hand-picked Iraqi puppet administration, currently timetabled for June 30. The original idea of an early date was to give the appearance of progress in Iraq before the US presidential elections. But there was also an anxiety that pressure for an elected transitional government would become unstoppable if the transfer took place any later - and like all occupying powers, the US fears genuinely free elections in Iraq. In any case, according to existing plans, the US will maintain full effective control - of security, oil, economic policy, major contracts - under a rigged interim constitution whenever the formal "transfer" takes place.

[...] There is a multiplicity of different possible mechanisms to bring about a negotiated, orderly withdrawal and free elections. Tony Blair calls that "running away" and admitting "we have got it all wrong". But he and Bush did get it wrong: there were no weapons of mass destruction, Iraq wasn't a threat, there was no UN authorisation, and the invasion was manifestly illegal. Foreign troops in Iraq are not peacekeepers, but aggressors. The lessons of empire are having to be learned all over again.

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Misinformation From the U.S. Military?

Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Report by Firas al-Atraqchi, YellowTimes.org
NewsFromtheFront.org

CAIRO (NFTF.org) -- As tensions mount in Iraq and some media outlets label events an Iraqi uprising, U.S. military sources may have commited a faux-pas in explaining Wednesday's rocket attack on a mosque in Fallujah, which left some 40 civilians dead.

U.S. military sources first explained that they had spotted two gunmen running into the Haj Musheen Abdul Aziz al-Kubaysi mosque in Falluja.

A few hours later, U.S. military sources reported that they had taken heavy fire from the mosque and this resulted in the loss of its protected status. The mosque was then hit by 2-3 500 pound bombs.

According to Reuters, a U.S. military statement indicated "there was no damage to the actual mosque. It said one insurgent was killed and that there were no reports of civilian casualties. Iraqis on the ground said at least 25 people had been killed."

In a press conference in Baghdad today, U.S. Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said U.S. forces dropped two 227kg (500-pound) bombs and fired rockets at the wall of the Abdul-Aziz al-Samarrai mosque in Falluja (the mosque is apparently the same mosque despite the name discrepancy).

However, according to the Washington Post, "According to Marine Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, a Cobra helicopter fired a Hellfire missile at the base of the mosque's minaret and an F-16 fighter-bomber dropped a 500-pound laser-guided bomb on the compound wall."

Firing a missile at the base of the mosque's minaret is firing into the compound.

Deliberate misinformation?

An AP journalist confirmed that there was damage to the minaret itself.

A U.S. Military press release said: "Initial reports indicate a platoon-size force was firing RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] and small arms from fortified battle positions inside of and on top of the mosque," the statement said. It said Marines "used air support to breach a wall located several hundred yards away from the actual mosque structure" and that no damage to the mosque itself was observed. After entering the compound, Marines recovered a "fully functional mortar."

Platoon-size versus the Reuters statement that one insurgent was killed?

Furthermore, the statement seems to fly in the face of another statement which stated that after the Marines entered the compound they lost five of their troops to gunfire from Iraqi resistance fighters inside the mosque after it had come under missile attack.

"Five U.S. Marines were killed today by gunfire from within the mosque in the Iraqi city of Fallujah that was under attack from US forces," a Central Command spokesman said.

Once again, this is in stark contradiction to what U.S. Lt Col Brennan Byrne told the BBC: "When we hit that building I thought we had killed all the bad guys, but when we went in they didn't find any bad guys in the building."

Earlier Byrne had told the Sunday Morning Herald (SMH), "The attack followed several hours of small arms and rocket-propelled grenades fire from the insurgents which injured three marines." He said there were as many as 40 rebels inside the mosque, adding: "We want to kill the people inside," he told the SMH.

However, an Associated Press journalist in Fallujah reported that he saw cars ferrying the dead and wounded from the Abdul-Aziz al-Samarrai mosque. Witnesses said that worshippers had gathered for afternoon prayers. Despite the U.S. Military's best efforts to put a legitimate face on the bombing of a Mosque, Iraqis are incensed. Mosques are now calling for a jihad to defend Fallujah.

Fog of war?

"They [U.S. forces[ are producing one big mistake after another," said Hisham Monoufy, a former Egyptian military officer and current Middle Eastern military analyst. "We are seeing horrific pictures of dead children, dead women with their insides blown out, and this is just making people resist more and more. I cannot think of a better recruiting drive for Islamic militants than U.S. actions," he warned.

Comment: If a missile is fired at the base of a minaret on top a mosque, the likely effect is that the minaret will collapse showering people inside with masonry. The attack on the mosque yesterday that killed 40, probably innocent, civilians was, in essence, very similar to the Israeli "assassination by missile" of the Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Yassin. It is a deliberate ploy to incense the local population and escalate the conflict. Why would the US seek to do this? Because Israel desires it.

As Israeli "war hero" Moshe Dayan said:

"There is not one single place built in this country (Israel) that did not have a former Arab population," and advocated the following method to expand this theft: "[Israel] must see the sword as the main, if not the only, instrument with which to keep its morale high and to retain its moral tension. Toward this end it may, no - it must - invent dangers."

And Former Shin Bet head, Major General Ami Ayalon:

"Terror is not thwarted with bombs or helicopters. Why does this increase terror? Because it is overt, because it carries an element of vindictiveness."

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Israel, Suicide Nation

M. Junaid Alam

A nation which enslaves another forges its own chains. - Karl Marx

Politics, being the art of deception, must certainly recognize Israel as its Da Vinci. Its smug self-portrait as a 'civilized democracy', rendered with brushes dipped deeply in the oil paint of antipathy for Arabs, has won much admiration among impressionable Americans. Galvanizing and amplifying latent Western hatred of Muslim Arabs in order to rally the West under the banner of 'Judeo-Christian civilization', and intimidating doubters by abusing the memory of the Holocaust to claim special 'unique victim' status, Israel intones, 'Stand with us because we are white and bomb towel-heads in F-16s just as you do, and don't dare stand against us because you once persecuted our forefathers and should atone for your sins - by abetting ours.'

The result of this most cynical ploy is that the Palestinians, dark-skinned victims of Israel's perpetual campaign of ethnic cleansing, torture, theft, and humiliation, are always grotesquely caricatured as mindless savages with a fetish for suicide attacks. There is, however, one major credibility problem with this racist rhetoric: Israel itself is in the process of committing suicide. [...]

The assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin epitomizes and exemplifies this strategy for addressing Israel's dual crisis. While the murder of a blind, crippled, wheelchair-bound quadriplegic outside a place of worship appears cowardly, and the inevitable blowback against Israel gives the impression Sharon has lost his mind, the strike is part and parcel of a consciously calculated game plan that is perfectly rational within the framework of Zionist logic. For the assassination of Hamas' main symbolic leader is designed to provoke it into an extreme 'mega-terror' act or a series of terror attacks, severe enough to marshal chauvinist-Israeli support for a final solution to the Palestinian problem - complete ethnic cleansing and removal of all Arabs from historical Palestine.

This is not some imaginary scenario, but a definite escalation of existing Israeli tactics. An attack of September 11th or similar proportions would allow Israelis to heighten their coveted 'special victim' status, bolster their image as fighting for the 'Judeo-Christian' cause of the 'war on terror', and purge the re-demonized Arabs without international interference. In one fell swoop, Israel would be able to complete what it started in the 1948 war and its dual crisis would be solved.

No serious person denies that Hamas will retaliate; the organization has vowed to attack any Israeli from Sharon on down and political analysts even within Israel recognize that it is only a matter of time before it strikes. Nor is Israeli provocation which aims at or leads to getting Israelis killed unprecedented. In fact, it is commonplace. On July 22, 2003, the Israeli daily Yedioth Achronot reported that the heads of Tanzim, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, approved a unilateral cease-fire, and that former Palestinian Security minister Dahlan had met Sheikh Yassin, who agreed to the cease-fire principles. 90 minutes later, the same paper reports, Israel assassinated militant Salah Sheadeh, "in the course of which dozens of civilians were killed and wounded as well." Israeli writer and professor Ran Hacohen noted that in November 2001, "the assassination of the Hamas activist Mahmoud Abu Hanoud was carried out just when the Hamas was respecting for two months its agreement with Arafat not to attack inside Israel," and that "in January 2002, the assassination of Raed Karmi ended a few weeks of relative quiet in the territories." All of this obviously had disastrous consequences for Israeli civilians.

Then there are those infamous media-created 'periods of calm' during which no Israelis die but dozens of Palestinians are murdered and thrown into the trash heap of forgotten history, such as August 1st, to September 1st, 2002 when 39 Palestinians were killed; 18 days later a suicide bomber exploded in Israel - a 'shattering' of the 'lull'. (Haaretz, September 2, 2002). Even more telling is a study conducted by the Israeli weekly, Ha'Ir, of ten Israeli assassinations against targeted Palestinian activists that followed periods of relative calm (a revelation in itself), from July 31, 2001 to September 9, 2003. The results? In retaliations immediately following the deaths of the ten targeted militants, a total of 180 Israeli civilians were killed. (Ha'Ir, September 25, 2003)

This makes the results of recent Israeli polls all the more remarkable, for they show not only that 80% of Israelis believe the Yassin assassination will increase Palestinian terrorist attacks, but that 62% of Israelis support it. (AFP, March 23, 2003). Even a generous interpreter would have to admit that a significant portion of those who predicted dire consequences from the attack nonetheless approved of it. That Israel's political strategy involves the jeopardizing and killing of its own citizens, apparently with loud approval from some of its own population, speaks volumes about its moral bankruptcy.

Along with this bankruptcy comes a high degree of irony, since Israeli propagandists never tire of demonizing Palestinians based on suicide bombings. Their smugness precluding any possibility of sincerity, Israeli pundits ask, 'Why do Palestinians blow themselves up just to kill us?', and always answer themselves (who else is there?) in a somber tone as if they are suddenly concerned with Palestinian well-being, 'They place no value on their own lives.' If given a chance, the Palestinian native would respond, 'If you would be so kind as to donate us those tanks and helicopters you safely slaughter us with from afar, we would be happy to spare you the agony you undoubtedly feel about our deaths.'

But it turns out that Israel is now neither safe nor far from the reach of its victims, and that its main strategy for addressing its problem involves exposing all its citizens to injury and death just to whip up enough self-righteousness and hate to repeat the cycle all over again until the conditions are ripe for mass expulsion. In this sense Israel is akin to a guilt-ridden wife beater; acutely aware of its own immorality, it provokes its victim into some futile kind of resistance to inspire itself with enough hatred to justify continuing the beating, awaiting all-out world war to finish the job without eliciting much protest.

Many IDF officers probably do not even see the demented logic of their own strategy and have convinced themselves that it is beyond reproach. Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon and his crew proudly announced that they plan to 'liquidate' the entire Hamas leadership, removing those who train suicide bombers, and thus rid Israel of Palestinian terrorism once and for all. What these fine gentlemen fail to understand is that they will accomplish absolutely nothing of the sort. In the Israeli daily Haaretz, September 14, 2003, it was pointed out that in the past two years, the IDF had claimed to have killed or captured the Hebron "head" of the military wing of Hamas no less than five times - and each time it was a different person. Moreover, the notion that bombers need to be 'trained' is absurd: how much practice does it require to put on a bomb belt, walk into Israelis, and explode? All the 'training' required is amply provided by the daily supply of Israeli atrocities that make one final death appear preferable to a humiliating life in which one's dignity and hope are killed a thousand times over. [...]

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Israel breaks up barrier protest

Israeli security forces have clashed with demonstrators protesting against Israel's West Bank barrier.

Hundreds of protesters tried to stop construction workers cutting down olive trees on the barrier route near the village of Bidou, close to Jerusalem. At least 10 protesters - including two Israelis - were injured when soldiers used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

Two Israeli border police were also wounded, army radio said. Three Palestinians were arrested during the demonstration, police said.

Olive trees

One farmer said all of his 180 olive trees had been cut down by construction workers with chain saws.

"I've worked on this land for 20 years... this is our livelihood," Mahmoud Saadeh told the Associated Press.

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Canadian Condemned for Writing Neocons are Jewish

Stephen Sniegoski

A left-wing Canadian journalist, Kalle Lasn, wrote the obvious, and all hell has broken loose. Lasn, the editor of the Canadian journal Adbusters, had the audacity to state, in the March/April issue, that the neocons are Jewish! and proceeded to list 50 neocons, finding that 26 were Jewish. Moreover, he stated that the neocons have a "special affinity" for Israel! and that their influence helps to tilt US foreign policy toward Israel!

Now Lasn was very careful to say that neocons only represented a segment of the American population. Lasn writes: "Drawing attention to the Jewishness of the neocons is a tricky game. Anyone who does so can count on automatically being smeared as an anti-Semite. But the point is not that Jews (who make up less than 2 percent of the American population) have a monolithic perspective. Indeed, American Jews overwhelmingly vote Democrat and many of them disagree strongly with Ariel Sharon's policies and Bush's aggression in Iraq. The point is simply that the neocons seem to have a special affinity for Israel that influences their political thinking and consequently American foreign policy in the Middle East."

In "free thinking" Canada such language can lead to more than the usual smears by influential Jewish groups (and concomitant loss of job, blacklisting, etc), as is the case in the US, but can include actual criminal penalties as well. As the article that I have included from the Canadian Jewish News points out: "Canadian Jewish Congress, Pacific region, director Erwin Nest said CJC 'will be considering action' against Adbusters, but declined to elaborate." Yes, to point out the Doug Feith, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz are Jewish should certainly be regarded as a serious crime! But what do neocons themselves say? Neocon Joshua Muravchik, in an article entitled "The Neoconservative Cabal," published in the September 2003 issue of Commentary Magazine, writes: "The neoconservatives, it turns out, are also in large proportion Jewish--and this, to their detractors, constitutes evidence of the ulterior motives that lurk behind the policies they espouse." [The author of the article, Joshua Muravchik, is a resident scholar at the America Enterprise Institute, a neocon think tank.]

Commentary magazine has been the flagship of neoconservatism and is published by the American Jewish Committee. And Muravchik's piece is actually a defense of the neoconservatives. So I guess it's OK for Jewish neocons to admit their Jewishness but it is criminal "anti-Semitism" for gentile critics to say the very same thing.

Obviously, the very fact that one cannot speak the obvious truth about Jews, without facing serious intimidation, helps to underscore the magnitude of Jewish power. And it shows why virtually no one in a mainstream position dares to deal openly with the neocon role in the Iraq war and Israel's connection to the war.

But now let's move into a taboo implication of the prohibition of discussing the Jewish/Israel connection to the Iraq war. And this involves the origins of the September 11 terrorism. As I have pointed out in other messages, it seems that Israel was aware of the September 11 terrorists. We know that some Mossad agents lived on the same street in Florida as Mohammed Atta, and that other Mossad agents filmed the burning Trade Towers from across the Hudson River. These occurrences would definitely seem to be other than pure coincidence.

No mainstream journalist, much less Congress, dares to investigate this issue. Let us ask the hypothetical: If Israel were somehow involved in the events of 9/11, could it get away with it?

If it's dangerous to even state the obvious fact that neocons are largely Jews who have an affinity for Israel, it would be a veritable actual death sentence to plumb the depths of a murky conspiracy to try to implicate the Israelis in 9/11. Everyone realizes this. Thus, the established media has managed to ignore the whole Israeli spy issue -beyond some early brief references.

Now, here is a simple question. Would Sharon's government do anything that might harm the United States or American citizens if it thought such an action were vital for Israeli security and that it could get completely away with it? We know that this war was seen as important for Israel, to the extent that it produced some of the phony WMD lies.

Now would Israel do anything to harm the US? Let's check the past record. Israel was certainly willing to take American lives when it attacked the U.S.S. Liberty. The government of Yitzhak Shamir is reported to have sold the Soviet Union valuable U.S. documents stolen by Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard - information which, once in Soviet hands, led to the death of American agents. Moreover, in recent years Israel has resold to China sophisticated American weaponry that could easily be turned against the United States. Finally, according to a study released right before September 11, 2001 by the Army's School of Advanced Military Studies, the Israeli Mossad was sufficiently ruthless to target American forces and place the blame on Arab terrorists. About the Mossad, the study stated: "Wildcard. Ruthless and cunning. Has capability to target U.S. forces and make it look like a Palestinian/Arab act."

It might also be added that Ariel Sharon is about the boldest and most ruthless Israeli politician ever to hold office.

In short, the fact that the discussion of any Israeli connection to war on Iraq is totally taboo serves to make it more likely that Israel would dare to be connected to the September 11 terrorism. This doesn't mean that there's definite proof that Israel was involved in September 11 terrorism. Only that if Israel were involved, no mainstream organization or individual would ever dare to investigate the situation to come up with proof. And knowing this, it would seem plausible that Sharon would try to pull something off, if he thought it would significantly benefit Israel. In fact, a more reasonable question would be: why would Sharon refrain from such an endeavor?

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Jewish 'Neocons' Tilt U.S. Policy Toward Israel, Magazine Says

By Ron Csillag
Canadian Jewish News

The editor of a left-wing Vancouver-based magazine is defending his own recent article that singles out prominent American neo-conservative Jews for, he says, tilting the Mideast policies of President George W. Bush toward Israel.

The March/April issue of Adbusters checked off the names of 26 Jews on a list of 50 hawkish "neocons" said to have cozy relations with the war-minded U.S. Defence Department.

The Jewish names include writers Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol; Deputy U.S. Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; former arms negotiators Richard Perle; and academic Daniel Pipes.

They appear alongside U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice-President Dick Cheney and former UN ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick. But the religions of those people are not identified.

"A lot of ink has been spilled chronicling the pro-Israel leanings of American neocons and the fact that a disproportionate percentage of them are Jewish," states the article, titled "Why won't anyone say they are Jewish?"

"Some commentators are worried that these individuals -- labeled 'Likudniks' for their links to Israel's right-wing Likud party -- do not distinguish enough between American and Israeli interests," it goes on. "For example, whose interests were they protecting in pushing for war in Iraq?"

Adbusters, an alternative bi-monthly known for its biting anti-consumerist, anti-globalization stance, says it decided "to tackle the issue head on."

What those on the list share "is the view that the U.S. is a benevolent hyper power that must protect itself by reshaping the rest of the world into its morally superior image. And half of them are Jewish."

Kalle Lasn, the article's author and the magazine's editor, told The CJN he felt compelled to write the piece because "the mainstream and alternative media are somehow scared of talking about the Jewishness of the neocons and the Zionism there. and the influence this has on American foreign policy in the Middle East."

Other media outlets "just don't have the guts because they're afraid of this kind of vociferous backlash that I have experienced over the past few weeks."

Lasn said he's received much abusive mail and even personal threats. "I really do understand what it feels like to be targeted by people who hate you."

He said the negative responses show a "kneejerk political correctness. It's almost as if. many of them are Jews themselves. They're in some sort of denial. They really think that somehow it is wrong to have a debate about the Jewishness of the neocons who are, after all, the most powerful political/intellectual group in the world today.

"They [neocons] literally have the power to start wars and stop wars and they are the driving force behind the Bush administration's foreign policy, not just in the Middle East, but throughout the world. They're the people who make it possible for the American administration to give $3 billion a year to Israel, and many of them are connected to the Likud party.

"It's almost as though we have become so politically correct that we don't even want to discuss the obvious anymore."

Lasn said he has "an incredible amount of respect" for Jews, who, owing to the Holocaust's "deep imprint" on them, have developed a keen ability to spot dictators such as Saddam Hussein.

"In that way, Jewish influence is wonderful."

However, "if 50 percent of the neo-cons were Arabs or Palestinian, then this war [in Iraq] would not have started."

Canadian Jewish Congress, Pacific region, director Erwin Nest said CJC "will be considering action" against Adbusters, but declined to elaborate.

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Why won't anyone say they are Jewish?

Kalle Lasn
From the March/April 2004 issue of Adbusters magazine.

Friends help each other out. That's why the US sends billions of dollars every year to Israel. In return, Israel advances US strategic interests in the Middle East. But despite this mutual back scratching, Israeli-American relations are enduring a rough patch. Last December, a senior State Department official blasted Israel for having "done too little for far too long" to resolve the conflict with its Palestinian neighbors. Indeed, President Bush himself had scolded Israel a month earlier with his demand that "Israel should freeze settlement construction, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people and not prejudice final negotiations with the building of walls and fences."

Harsh words, but is it all just window-dressing? This was not the first time Bush criticized Israel and he has made numerous calls for a "viable" Palestinian state during his presidency. Nevertheless, he has never concretely punished Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for ignoring US directives and shrugging off his commitment to the peace process. It's also worth noting that diplomatic admonitions are the responsibility of the State Department which has been on the losing end of the policy wars in Bush's White House. One wonders what Israeli-American relations, and indeed what American relations with the rest of the world would look like if the neocon hawks who control Rumsfeld's Defense Department were also in charge at State.

A lot of ink has been spilled chronicling the pro-Israel leanings of American neocons and fact that a the disproportionate percentage of them are Jewish. Some commentators are worried that these individuals - labeled 'Likudniks' for their links to Israel's right wing Likud party - do not distinguish enough between American and Israeli interests. For example, whose interests were they protecting in pushing for war in Iraq?

Drawing attention to the Jewishness of the neocons is a tricky game. Anyone who does so can count on automatically being smeared as an anti-Semite. But the point is not that Jews (who make up less than 2 percent of the American population) have a monolithic perspective. Indeed, American Jews overwhelmingly vote Democrat and many of them disagree strongly with Ariel Sharon's policies and Bush's aggression in Iraq. The point is simply that the neocons seem to have a special affinity for Israel that influences their political thinking and consequently American foreign policy in the Middle East.

Here at Adbusters, we decided to tackle the issue head on and came up with a carefully researched list of who appear to be the 50 most influential neocons in the US (see above). Deciding exactly who is a neocon is difficult since some neocons reject the term while others embrace it. Some shape policy from within the White House, while others are more peripheral, exacting influence indirectly as journalists, academics and think tank policy wonks. What they all share is the view that the US is a benevolent hyper power that must protect itself by reshaping the rest of the world into its morally superior image. And half of the them are Jewish.

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White House criticism disputed

By Mimi Hall, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Dealing with criticism that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice wouldn't testify in public before the 10-member commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, White House spokesman Scott McClellan complained last month that when she testified in private, "only five members showed up" to hear what she had to say.

What McClellan didn't tell reporters was that on Nov. 21 — long before Rice met with the five commissioners in February — the White House counsel's office had sent the commission a letter saying no more than three commissioners could attend meetings with White House aides of Rice's rank.

Given that demand, "we are a little surprised that the White House has repeatedly implied to the public that commissioners were uninterested in attending these meetings," commission spokesman Al Felzenberg said Tuesday.

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Media Coverage of Iraq Called “Shameful” By Peers

By Christopher Bollyn

In the ongoing Iraq conflict, there is a growing realization among mainstream newsmen that they have failed the American public, but the U.S. military is happy with the way it controlled information through its program of embedding journalists with soldiers.

Those are just some of the outspoken assertions from a three-day Media at War conference at the University of California (Berkeley) School of Journalism. In attendance were Hans Blix, the former chief U.N. weapons inspector, Joseph Wilson, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and a host of senior journalists and editors from the U.S. and abroad.

Serious criticism of the role of the U.S. media came from two leading journalists—Robert Scheer of The Los Angeles Times, who is a visiting professor at the journalism school, and John Burns, The New York Times bureau chief in Baghdad.

Scheer pulled no punches in making the following condemnation of his own profession: “This has been the most shameful era of American media. The media has been sucker-punched completely by this administration.”

In making his contribution to the conference by phone from Baghdad, John Burns was equally forthright about where the blame should lie:

“We failed the American public by being insufficiently critical about elements of the administration’s plan to go to war.”

Maher Abdallah Ahmad of the Arab network, Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, said he felt that Americans still did not know what was happening in Iraq.

“Does anyone here know how many Iraqis were killed in the war? You make all these efforts to establish a democracy, and you don’t give a damn how many people were killed?” he added.

The U.S. correspondent for Italy’s La Republica newspaper Federico Rampini, told the conference he was amazed that American journalists have not investigated more deeply Vice President Dick Cheney’s role in the Halliburton scandal. According to Rampini, such a story would have made the front pages for months in his native Italy.

“Frankly our job is to win the war. Part of that is information warfare. So we are going to attempt to dominate the information environment. Overall we were very happy with the outcome,” Lt. Co. Richard Long told the conference. He was the former Marine Corps’s public information director. In that role, he was responsible for the media “boot camp” at Quantico, Va. where 700 journalists were coached for the embedded process.

Responding to those comments, Todd Gitlin, professor of sociology and journalism at Columbia University, pointed out that “embeddedness” has a tendency (only a tendency?!! Ed.) toward propaganda because a reporter is effectively part of the military team. The reporter’s life therefore depends on the soldiers with whom he is embedded, and his desire to write negative stories is “quite diminished.”

The debate about the U.S. media’s failure to confront the Bush administration’s case for going to war and the inadequacy of the overall coverage of the conflict have also found their way into ongoing exchanges in some parts of the media, including American Free Press.

In an article entitled “Now They Tell Us” in The New York Review of Books, Michael Massing vented his frustration in the following comments:

“Where were you all before the war? Why didn’t we learn more about these deceptions and concealments in the months when the administration was pressing its case for regime change; when, in short, it might have made a difference?”

Massing particularly focused on the New York Times writer, Judith Miller, who wrote several front-page articles before the war about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD), based on faulty information provided by Iraqi defectors of dubious credibility.

Massing pointed out that in an e-mail to John Burns, the Times bureau chief, Miller wrote that Ahmed Chalabi, the indicted bank embezzler and head of the exile Iraqi National Congress, “has provided most of the front page exclusives on WMD to our paper.”

According to Massing, it was not until Sept. 29, 2003 that The New York Times got around to informing readers about the controversy over Chalabi and the defectors associated with him.

“More than 6 months into the war and with no evidence of the alleged Iraqi WMD anywhere to be found, Douglas Jehl reported that most of the information provided by Chalabi and his defectors had been judged by the Defense Intelligence Agency as being ‘of little or no value. The performance of the Times was especially deficient. Compared to other major papers, the Times placed more credence in defectors, expressed less confidence in inspectors, and paid less attention to dissenters.” complained Massing

When he personally asked Miller why she had not included more comments in her stories from experts who contested the assertions made by Iraqi defectors and the White House, she offered the following explanation:

“My job isn’t to assess the government’s information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself. My job is to tell readers of The New York Times what the government thought about Iraq’s arsenal.”

Miller’s journalistic defense did not satisfy Rich Mercier of the Free Lance Star of Fredericksburg, VA. On March 28, he wrote the following:

“But even a cub reporter should know that if the government tells her the sky is blue, it’s her job to check whether it might not be red or gray or black. And skepticism must be exercised most strongly when the matter at hand is whether the nation will go to war. By neglecting to fully employ their critical-thinking faculties, Miller and many of her colleagues in the elite print media not only failed their readers during the countdown to the Iraq invasion, they failed our democracy. And there’s no excusing that failure.”

In Massing’s view, the Times set a pro-war tone on Iraq that many other papers followed. For him, that was the “pack mentality—one of the most entrenched and disturbing features of American journalism.”

Comment: The above points out something that was already patently obvious. The US media is 100% establishment owned. Do not look to the mainstream press if you want an objective view of the state of the world.

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Do what you must, but do it without me

Kathy Fisher, Unknown News
April 6, 2004

Go, do what you must, do it fast.

I understand you have this great desire to rid yourselves of George Bush, because just like the last bastard before him who pissed you all off, you feel compelled and slightly empowered to rid yourselves of another liar. Go ahead, change the name, but it's all the same.

What are you going to do when things don't get better, what will you say when we are still in Iraq? Who will you blame when jobs are still leaving the country?

Maybe you'll feel better replacing the would-be King with a self-appointed Prince?

When will you understand it's going to take a whole lot more effort then just going to the polls one Tuesday in November every four years to make a difference?

Americans want instant change as fast and easy as they want their fast food. Well, it ain't gonna happen just like that. We didn't get into this mess all at once -- it took decades.

Voting one liar out and another in is just settling for various degrees of torture. It's like changing the level of heat under a pot of boiling soup. No matter what the setting it's still hot as hell.

I can hear you all saying, 'Yeah, but you don't understand ... "Anybody but Bush" ... and Kerry could never be as bad!' Well, to that I have a few questions:

Do you really think the president is the head honcho, the one in charge? Do you think George W. Bush is the man calling all the shots? You'd better look closer. There's someone else pulling the strings of these mysterious marionettes.

But if you really believe that these puppets possess Absolute Power, well, maybe you believe that cardboard wild-west town in the movies is real too. And tonight you might as well tell the tooth-fairy to leave your pensions and Social Security checks under your pillow.

We are Americans, and we expect more from our cars than our leaders. Hell, we take more time choosing our cars than our leaders, and we certainly demand more choices. Come to think of it, some of my neighbors change cars every four years.

The presidency has become a huge cancerous growth, one that has resisted every form of chemo. The highest doses of radiation can't stop it and no scalpel cuts all of it away. It just keeps growing back, bigger and more offensive.

I have simply decided that if I can't stop it, I will at least die with a little bit of dignity. It was a good fight, but I would rather die with cancer than live with a new growth every year killing me slowly piece by piece.

The only word a cancer patient likes to hear is remission. It means the cancer has disappeared. Now, that would be nice for America -- that would be hope. I hear in rare cases this happens all by itself. Now if you thought that was too macabre of an analogy, well, try this.

I think it's time we gave up on our presidents and the people who prop them up like undertakers. They put make-up on the dead to try and convince you that a corpse is still your dear sweet Aunt Tilly, or a marionette is the leader of the free world.

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Bush Too Stupid To Testify Alone

April 2 - This was the week the curtain got pulled back on the Bush presidency. In exchange for allowing Condoleezza Rice to testify under oath, President Bush gets to bring along his vice president when he appears privately before the commission.

A top Republican strategist dubbed the legal document striking the unusual deal “the Wizard of Oz letter” because it strips away the myth that Bush is in charge. Until now, it’s been all speculation about Vice President Cheney’s influence. With the revelation of the tandem testimony, nobody with a straight face can deny Cheney is a co-president or worse, the puppeteer who pulls Bush’s strings.

Aside from being fodder for the late-night comics, the arrangement confirms Bush’s inability to articulate anything without a script--or a tutor by his side. There’s a reason lawyers don’t take testimony in groups. The whole idea is to get individual recollections and then compare stories to uncover contradictions. Try thinking about it this way: can anyone imagine Bush’s father in a similar situation bringing his vice president? (For those who need a refresher course, the elder Bush was a rocket scientist compared to his son, and the vice president was Dan Quayle.)

Even President Reagan testified alone on the Iran-contra scandal. He didn’t insist on having Vice President Bush sit beside him. Of course, Reagan couldn’t remember much of anything. His faculties were failing as a result of Alzheimer’s disease, which he later revealed. Still, Reagan permitted his testimony to be videotaped.

This is a defining moment in the Bush presidency because it reveals weakness at the top.

What Cheney and the tight circle around Bush are protecting is the myth they have created since 9/11 of a war president astride the world stage. Anybody who punctures that imagery is destroyed. Richard Clarke is only the latest in a series of insiders who have pulled back the curtain. At the center is an incurious president who is so inarticulate that he can’t be left on his own to make a sustained argument on behalf of his policies without falling back on rehearsed talking points and sound bites. [...]

Comment: In the final analysis, the honesty and intelligence of a country's leader, is directly related to the level of apathy and consciousness of the host population.

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President Bush: Flip-Flopper-In-Chief

From the beginning, George W. Bush has made his own credibility a central issue. On 10/11/00, then Governor Bush said: "I think credibility is important. It is going to be important for the president to be credible with Congress, important for the president to be credible with foreign nations." But President Bush's serial flip-flopping raises serious questions about whether Congress and foreign leaders can rely on what he says.

1. Department of Homeland Security

BUSH OPPOSES THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY..."So, creating a Cabinet office doesn't solve the problem. You still will have agencies within the federal government that have to be coordinated. So the answer is that creating a Cabinet post doesn't solve anything." [White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, 3/19/02]

BUSH SUPPORTS THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY “So tonight, I ask the Congress to join me in creating a single, permanent department with an overriding and urgent mission: securing the homeland of America and protecting the American people.” [President Bush, Address to the Nation, 6/6/02]

2. Weapons of Mass Destruction

BUSH SAYS WE FOUND THE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION...“We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories…for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them.” [President Bush, Interview in Poland, 5/29/03]

BUSH SAYS WE HAVEN'T FOUND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION “David Kay has found the capacity to produce weapons. And when David Kay goes in and says we haven't found stockpiles yet, and there's theories as to where the weapons went. They could have been destroyed during the war. Saddam and his henchmen could have destroyed them as we entered into Iraq. They could be hidden. They could have been transported to another country, and we’ll find out.” [President Bush, Meet the Press, 2/7/04]

3. Free Trade

BUSH SUPPORTS FREE TRADE... “I believe strongly that if we promote trade, and when we promote trade, it will help workers on both sides of this issue.” [President Bush in Peru, 3/23/02]

...BUSH SUPPORTS RESTRICTIONS ON TRADE “In a decision largely driven by his political advisers, President Bush set aside his free-trade principles last year and imposed heavy tariffs on imported steel to help out struggling mills in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, two states crucial for his reelection.” [Washington Post, 9/19/03]

4. Osama Bin Laden

BUSH WANTS OSAMA DEAD OR ALIVE... "I want justice. And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.'" [President Bush, on Osama Bin Laden, 09/17/01]

...BUSH DOESN'T CARE ABOUT OSAMA "I don't know where he is. I have no idea and I really don't care. It's not that important." [President Bush, Press Conference, 3/13/02]

5. The Environment

BUSH SUPPORTS MANDATORY CAPS ON CARBON DIOXIDE... “[If elected], Governor Bush will work to…establish mandatory reduction targets for emissions of four main pollutants: sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and carbon dioxide.” [Bush Environmental Plan, 9/29/00]

BUSH OPPOSES MANDATORY CAPS ON CARBON DIOXIDE "I do not believe, however, that the government should impose on power plants mandatory emissions reductions for carbon dioxide, which is not a 'pollutant' under the Clean Air Act." [President Bush, Letter to Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), 3/13/03]

6. WMD Commission

BUSH RESISTS AN OUTSIDE INVESTIGATION ON WMD INTELLIGENCE FAILURE... “The White House immediately turned aside the calls from Kay and many Democrats for an immediate outside investigation, seeking to head off any new wide-ranging election-year inquiry that might go beyond reports already being assembled by congressional committees and the Central Intelligence Agency.” [NY Times, 1/29/04]

BUSH SUPPORTS AN OUTSIDE INVESTIGATION ON WMD INTELLIGENCE FAILURE “Today, by executive order, I am creating an independent commission, chaired by Governor and former Senator Chuck Robb, Judge Laurence Silberman, to look at American intelligence capabilities, especially our intelligence about weapons of mass destruction.” [President Bush, 2/6/04]

7. Creation of the 9/11 Commission

BUSH OPPOSES CREATION OF INDEPENDENT 9/11 COMMISSION... "President Bush took a few minutes during his trip to Europe Thursday to voice his opposition to establishing a special commission to probe how the government dealt with terror warnings before Sept. 11." [CBS News, 5/23/02]

BUSH SUPPORTS CREATION OF INDEPENDENT 9/11 COMMISSION "President Bush said today he now supports establishing an independent commission to investigate the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks." [ABC News, 09/20/02]

8. Time Extension for 9/11 Commission

BUSH OPPOSES TIME EXTENSION FOR 9/11 COMMISSION... "President Bush and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) have decided to oppose granting more time to an independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks." [Washington Post, 1/19/04]

BUSH SUPPORTS TIME EXTENSION FOR 9/11 COMMISSION "The White House announced Wednesday its support for a request from the commission investigating the September 11, 2001 attacks for more time to complete its work." [CNN, 2/4/04]

9. One Hour Limit for 9/11 Commission Testimony

BUSH LIMITS TESTIMONY IN FRONT OF 9/11 COMMISSION TO ONE HOUR... “President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have placed strict limits on the private interviews they will grant to the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, saying that they will meet only with the panel's top two officials and that Mr. Bush will submit to only a single hour of questioning, commission members said Wednesday.” [NY Times, 2/26/04]

BUSH SETS NO TIMELIMIT FOR TESTIMONY: "The president's going to answer all of the questions they want to raise. Nobody's watching the clock.” [White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 3/10/04]

10. Gay Marriage

BUSH SAYS GAY MARRIAGE IS A STATE ISSUE... "The state can do what they want to do. Don't try to trap me in this state's issue like you're trying to get me into." [Gov. George W. Bush on Gay Marriage, Larry King Live, 2/15/00]

BUSH SUPPORTS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT BANNING GAY MARRIAGE "Today I call upon the Congress to promptly pass, and to send to the states for ratification, an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of man and woman as husband and wife." [President Bush, 2/24/04]

11. Nation Building

BUSH OPPOSES NATION BUILDING... "If we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road." [Gov. George W. Bush, 10/3/00]

BUSH SUPPORTS NATION BUILDING "We will be changing the regime of Iraq, for the good of the Iraqi people." [President Bush, 3/6/03]

12. Saddam/al Qaeda Link

BUSH SAYS IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEEN AL QAEDA AND SADDAM... "You can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror." [President Bush, 9/25/02]

BUSH SAYS SADDAM HAD NO ROLE IN AL QAEDA PLOT "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in Sept. 11." [President Bush, 9/17/03]

13. U.N. Resolution

BUSH VOWS TO HAVE A UN VOTE NO MATTER WHAT... "No matter what the whip count is, we're calling for the vote. We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council. And so, you bet. It's time for people to show their cards, to let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam." [President Bush 3/6/03]

BUSH WITHDRAWS REQUEST FOR VOTE: "At a National Security Council meeting convened at the White House at 8:55 a.m., Bush finalized the decision to withdraw the resolution from consideration and prepared to deliver an address to the nation that had already been written." [Washington Post, 3/18/03]

14. Involvement in the Palestinian Conflict

BUSH OPPOSES SUMMITS... "Well, we've tried summits in the past, as you may remember. It wasn't all that long ago where a summit was called and nothing happened, and as a result we had significant intifada in the area." [President Bush, 04/05/02]

BUSH SUPPORTS SUMMITS "If a meeting advances progress toward two states living side by side in peace, I will strongly consider such a meeting. I'm committed to working toward peace in the Middle East." [President Bush, 5/23/03]

15. Campaign Finance

BUSH OPPOSES MCCAIN-FEINGOLD... "George W. Bush opposes McCain-Feingold...as an infringement on free expression." [Washington Post, 3/28/2000]

BUSH SIGNS MCCAIN-FEINGOLD INTO LAW "[T]his bill improves the current system of financing for Federal campaigns, and therefore I have signed it into law." [President Bush, at the McCain-Feingold singing ceremony, 03/27/02]

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Video Of Bush At Elementary School On 911 Tells All

From Walter Burien
CAFR1.com
4-8-4

The video produced by Booker Elementary School, where President Bush was visiting on the morning of September 11, 2001, can be seen online here

Bush receives the whispered message from Andrew Card now about the second strike at the WTC. Response: NO surprise, no horror, no anger; certainly no grief. He did not immediately break from an insignificant event to address a national emergency. Why? It is shocking to see due to its implications, but every American should view this. It is available only on the Internet. Why is it not played over and over again on NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX? To clear of a statement I guess.

PS: Per President Bush and the Booker Elementary School, I would love to see someone show next to the recorded video:

A "what if" internet video that shows:

The same setting but this time the person comes in and tells Bush two planes attempted to hit the WTC Towers but were shot down before they did, and now Bush spins away from the podium and yells "What" and he immediately tells the class there is an emergency and leaves the classroom, clearly being upset and startled as he leaves with his aids.

Liars figure, and figures lie, but a picture says a thousand words!

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Germany Releases Only Convicted 9/11 Suspect

Apr 07 2004
By DAVID RISING, Associated Press Writer

HAMBURG, Germany - The only Sept. 11 suspect ever convicted walked out of jail Wednesday smiling and laughing, freed less than 2 1/2 years into a 15-year sentence after judges ruled the evidence was too weak to hold him pending a retrial.

Mounir el Motassadeq, whose conviction on charges of aiding the Sept. 11 plotters was overturned last month, seemed euphoric as he left the Hamburg court building with two friends and his lawyer. He said nothing but laughed as reporters peppered him with questions.

Comment: That whole "war on terror" really is having an impact eh? One could almost be excused for thinking that it was one big con...

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World Bank Assails 'Robber Barons'

By Alex Fak
Staff Writer

The World Bank on Wednesday said too few people own too much of the [Russian] economy and called on the government to mimic the United States' great legal assault on its robber barons a century ago.

In an exhaustive, 130-page study of the country's top 1,297 companies, the Washington-based global lender found that just 23 individuals and groups hold 17 percent of all banking assets and control 35 percent of sales and 16 percent of employment in industry.

"This is a fairly concentrated economy," said Christof Ruehl, the bank's chief economist for Russia and the main author of the report.

The nation's wealthiest businessmen, commonly referred to as oligarchs, are less efficient asset managers than the owners of smaller businesses, the study found, although whether this is due to incompetence or because they acquired badly-run government companies was not clear.

Comment: We wonder what the World Bank would say about ownership in the US?

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Workers asked to train foreign replacements

By Stephanie Armour
USA Today


When computer programmer Stephen Gentry learned last year that Boeing was laying him off and shipping his job overseas, he wasn't too surprised. Many of his friends had suffered the same experience.

Members of various unions hold signs during a Washington rally in March against outsourcing of jobs.
By Mark Wilson, Getty Images

What really stunned him was his last assignment: Managers had him train the worker from India who'd be taking his job.

"It was very callous," says Gentry, 51, of Auburn, Wash., a father of three who is still unemployed. "They asked us to make them feel at home while we trained them to take our jobs."

More cost-cutting companies are hiring workers in other countries to do jobs formerly held by U.S. employees. But in a painful twist, some employers are asking the workers they're laying off to train their foreign replacements — having them dig their own unemployment graves.

Almost one in five information technology workers has lost a job or knows someone who lost a job after training a foreign worker, according to a new survey by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers. The study is the first to quantify how widespread the practice is. [...]

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Putin calls new Nato 'unhelpful'

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the expansion of Nato will not help meet security challenges facing the world today.

But he told Nato chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer that his disapproval should not affect relations with Russia.

The negotiations in Moscow come 10 days after seven eastern European countries, including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, joined Nato.

The Nato chief wants to persuade Russia that the alliance is no threat.

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Youths Rampage in Volgograd Market

By Francesca Mereu
Staff Writer

One man died and 20 people were injured early Wednesday as dozens of youths armed with metal bars and chains rampaged through the central clothes market in Volgograd, local authorities said.

Officials said that the man died after between 50 and 60 attackers, variously described as being teenagers and between the ages of 21 and 25, targeted traders from the Caucasus and Central Asia who worked in the market.

[...] Immigrants from former Soviet Central Asian republics and the Caucasus region, as well as other darker-skinned foreigners in Russia, are often the targets of attacks by skinheads and other extremists. Victims have often accused the police of not investigating complaints of racially motivated violence.

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Cooperating on Iran

By Nikolas Gvosdev and Ray Takeyh

As the Bush administration wrestles with changes in the U.S.-Russia relationship, the issue of Iran's nuclear proliferation has re-emerged as the most important source of tension between the two states. This past weekend, the U.S. State Department imposed sanctions against two Russian firms based on "credible information" that they were selling equipment that could assist Iran in its quest for weapons of mass destruction.

The bogeyman of Russians providing Iran with "the bomb" remains alive and well in Washington.

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Morocco accused over war on terror

Anti-terrorist measures being taken by the government in Morocco are undermining the freedom of expression, human rights groups say.

Moroccan Human Rights Association spokesman Abdel Ilah Benabdeslam says journalists and people defending human rights are being repressed. Mr Benabdeslam said suspected Islamic militants are being kidnapped and tortured by the authorities.

Four people were sentenced to death in connection with last May's bombings. About 45 people were killed in five simultaneous attacks in Casablanca.

Improvements

"We're not opposed to the fight against terrorism, but we demand that this struggle is carried out within the rule of law," Mr Benabdeslam told AFP news agency. The association's report for 2003 says arrests among the ranks of Muslim fundamentalists are accompanied by unfair trials and heavy sentences ranging up to capital punishment. [...]

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South Africans Vote

South Africans yesterday began voting in the country's third elections since the end of apartheid in 1994. The elections are for parliament which will elect a president on April 23. In Uganda, the South African High Commissioner, Herbert Vilakazi Bavumile, led the voting at the embassy.

Bavumile said the embassy had borrowed a ballot box from Uganda's Electoral Commission. "This shows the excellent historical relations we have with Uganda," Bavumile said. Bavumile flanked by electoral officials, the embassy's First Secretary, Administration, Tobias Vermaak and First Secretary, Political, Adriaan Pisane, said voters will cast ballots from 7:00am to 9:00pm.

"We are electing Members of Parliament based on party lists and not individual candidates. The minimum threshold for a party to win a seat in Parliament is 1 percent," he said. A total of 21 parties are vying for seats in the National Assembly while 33 are running for representation in the provincial parliaments. He said Mbeki is expected to win a second mandate as his ANC party is poised to have a strong majority. [...]

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Algerians vote for new president

Algerians are voting in the country's presidential election, choosing from six candidates including the incumbent, Abdelaziz Bouteflika. He is regarded as the frontrunner while former Prime Minister Ali Benflis is seen as his main challenger. Mr Bouteflika's rivals have warned of fraud on election day.

A BBC correspondent says the poll is being boycotted in the Berber-speaking region of Kabylie, where a general strike has been widely observed. The BBC's Mohamed Arezki Himeur in the Kabylie capital Tizi-Ouzou, says that protesters have erected burning barricades in Les Jenets area, near the main hospital. [...]

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Paris rejects new genocide charge

As Rwanda marked the genocide's 10th anniversary, a French minister cut short his trip after strong criticism from the country's president. At a ceremony in the capital, Kigali, Paul Kagame repeated accusations France had trained and armed the Hutu militias who carried out the mass killings.

But he acknowledged the Rwandan people themselves bore primary responsibility. The French Foreign Ministry rejected the accusations and described them as "running counter to the truth". A spokeswoman confirmed that French junior foreign minister Renaud Muselier had decided to cut short his trip to Rwanda over the matter. Mr Kagame's accusations come after a French police report - leaked to the daily Le Monde - concluded he gave direct orders for the rocket attack on then President Juvenal Habyarimana's plane. The death of President Habyarimana, a Hutu, triggered the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in which some 800,000 people died, most of them Tutsis.[...]

France became close to President Habyarimana's government shortly after independence and replaced the ex-colonial power, Belgium, as Rwanda's main western backer. When the Tutsi-dominated rebel army, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), first launched its war against the Hutu authorities in the early 1990s, France sent soldiers to Kigali. The French helped stop the RPF advance and then stayed on, officially as military advisors right up to the start of the genocide.

The BBC's world affairs correspondent Mark Doyle says it is no secret that the French had officers attached to train and arm Rwandan military units which subsequently committed genocide. France vehemently denies any direct involvement in the mass killings.

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Mbeki Apologises to the Rwandans

Thabo Mokgola Pretoria President Thabo Mbeki has sincerely apologised to the Rwandans for South Africa's involvement in the genocide in that country a decade ago, saying the previous apartheid regime supplied weapons used in the massacre.

He was addressing thousands of Rwandans gathered at the Kigali Stadium in Kigali to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 1994 genocide. President Mbeki said when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) requested South Africans to ask the apartheid regime to stop the supply of the weapons of death, the latter boldly asserted the precedence of profit from the sale of the instruments of death over the lives of the people of Rwanda. "To that extent, we too as South Africans contributed to the diabolical slaughter of the innocents. "We hope that by the admission of these truths we can contribute even an infinitesimal fraction of the balm that helps to moderate the sharp pain of the remembering of a crime that is too fresh to have receded into the mists of history," he apologised.

He added that time such as this demanded that the whole truth ought to be told because not to tell it is to create the conditions for the crime to recur. President Mbeki said it was inevitable that many questions would and must be asked and answers demanded. "What did we as Africans do to stop the slaughter? If we did nothing, why did we do nothing? "Why did the United Nations, set up to ensure that genocide, as occurred when the Holocaust was visited on the Jewish people, did not recur anywhere in the world, stand by as Africans were exterminated like pernicious vermin?

"Why were General Romeo Dallaire and his undermanned contingent of UN peacekeepers abandoned by the same people who sent them to Rwanda? "Why did those who dispose of enormous global power that has been used to determine the fate of all humanity, decide that the slaughter in Yugoslavia had to be stopped at all costs, while the bigger slaughter in Rwanda should be allowed to run its full course?

"Have all the guilty been identified, whatever their contribution to the commission of the genocide? "Have the necessary lessons been learnt? What are those lessons? Who has learnt them? What have these done with the knowledge they have acquired?" he queried.[...]

Head of the UN peacekeeping forces at the time and current Secretary-General Kofi Annan early this week accepted institutional responsibility for the genocide, saying he realised that he could and should have done more to avert the tragedy.

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Armored Easter in Rome

As pilgrims descend on Rome to celebrate Easter in the heart of the Catholic Church, security concerns are taking priority. Anti-terror experts have been warning for months the city could now be a target for attacks. Italian newspapers have dubbed this year's holiday "armored Easter."

Both the eternal city and the Vatican have mobilized to deal with terrorist attacks. Around 12,000 police officers and 4,000 soldiers are on duty in the Italian capital -- at airports, train stations, subways, government buildings and embassies as well as so-called "soft targets," such as museums, churches and shopping centers. The authorities have identified 8,000 locations that they say could be singled out by terrorists.

The Vatican's security forces, including the 140 gendarmes and 110 Swiss Guards, the elite troop that ensures the Pope's safety, are also on high alert. Rumor has it the CIA advised the Pope to wear a bullet-proof vest for the celebrations, which stretch from Thursday to Monday. But Johannes Paul II, who survived an assassination attempt at the Vatican in 1981, reportedly rejected the idea. In any case, he will be reading his public speeches on St. Peter's Square from a bullet-proof glass tablet.

There haven't actually been any concrete warnings to provoke the massive safety precautions. But the fact that Italy supports the United States in Iraq and currently has the third-largest troop contingent stationed there could make it a target for Islamic extremists. On top of that, Easter Sunday falls on April 11 this year, and many people fear that the date could herald another terrorist attack in the wake of the March 11 bombings in Madrid and the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.

"Destroy Rome"

Still, a short time ago, investigators reportedly found a dated video from an al Qaeda associate threatening to destroy Rome. "The person who will destroy Rome is already preparing his swords. Rome will not be conquered by words but by force and weapons," Italian newsweekly Panorama quoted the man on the tape, who called himself "Bin Laden's ambassador in Europe." Of course the situation is more dangerous during Easter, Enzo Bianco, head of the Italian parliament's secret service committee, told AFP news agency. "One must be particularly alert, but not lapse into hysteria," the former interior minister said. "No information indicates that an attack will be carried in Italy over Easter." [...]

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Kosovans win damages claim against MoD

TWO Kosovan Albanians yesterday won a compensation claim against the Ministry of Defence for injuries and trauma suffered when they were fired on by British peacekeeping troops.

Mr Justice Elias, at the High Court in London, ruled the MoD was liable for negligence following the incident in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, in July 1999, when British paratroopers shot and killed Fahri Mohamet Bici, a Kosovan who had fired an AK-47 assault rifle into the air.

The dead man’s cousins, Mohamet Bici, 27, who was shot in the jaw, and Skender Bici, 28, who has suffered psychiatric illness as a result of what he witnessed, sued for damages even though the soldiers were cleared of any wrongdoing by the Royal Military Police. It is the first time someone injured abroad by British peacekeeping forces has successfully sued for damages. The amount is to be assessed at a later date. [...]

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Glasgow councillors back call for smoking ban

GLASGOW yesterday signalled its willingness to lead by example in phasing out smoking in public areas, after the country’s chief medical officer said a ban similar to that introduced in the Republic of Ireland was "a clear, obvious and logical next step" for Scotland. Dr Mac Armstrong made his comments as he delivered his annual report, which diagnosed Scotland as a nation on the mend but still with great strides to make regarding its greatest evil - smoking. [...]

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'I am a coward. I am not horrible'

Stocky Anieta Ferreira was desperately anxious not be judged "horrible". She was facing the press yesterday after walking free from a life sentence for her role in her husband's murder. "I am a coward. I am not horrible," she said.

Ferreira was released on Friday after she won an appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal against a life sentence. She had hired two men to murder her abusive common-law husband and them helping them load the body into his car. The life sentence was reduced to six years, with the part of the sentence she had not served being suspended for three years She said she was not the type of person who could have killed her husband herself .[...]

The most she had expected was a reduction of her sentence to between 15 and 20 years. So when, on April 1, she was told that she was free, she thought it was an April Fool's joke. After seven years of severe physical and emotional abuse by her partner, Ferreira's defence was that she had been left with no option but to hire someone to kill him.

She paid Boston Chilambo and George Koesyn R5 700 to kill her abusive partner and then helped them to load his body into his car. All three were given life sentences. Now, all that Ferreira wants to do is to get on with her life. She said she had already had a few instances where people refused to talk to her because they recognised her.

"I'm a human being ... I just want to tell people that I'm not horrible. I'm a coward. "There were a lot of times when I could have done it (killed her partner) myself. But I couldn't. I'm not that type of person," Ferreira said. When asked how she felt about Chilambo and Koesyn, she said: "I won't say I hate them ... I feel sorry for them ... I don't know." [...]

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Judge allows child rapist to walk free

Canada branded him a fugitive, convicted sex offender; South Africa called him a victim. Despite being convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Canada over a period of nine months, a South African judge has set Trevor Claud Robinson free.

He was freed because - having skipped Canada - he had been sentenced in absentia. Judgment was given in Robinson's case last Friday. But, by Monday, he had fled to South Africa to escape sentencing. Canadian prosecutors nevertheless sentenced him to three years' jail in his absence. They then asked South Africa to send him back to serve his sentence.

President Thabo Mbeki consented to his being surrendered to Canada, and a magistrate in Cape Town's Wynberg Magistrate's Court found he could be extradited in law - but Robinson appealed against this judgment.

In his appeal ruling, delivered yesterday, Cape High Court Judge Wilfred Thring said Robinson's sentencing in absentia "was no small infringement on his fundamental rights, at least as they are understood in this country".

"It is possible to put forward the argument that by absconding and rendering himself a fugitive from justice, Robinson has waived his right to be present when he is sentenced. "There is no evidence that when he fled, Robinson knew that he could be sentenced in absentia. "Nor is there any evidence that before the sentencing procedure commenced, Robinson was given notice of it or was invited to attend.

"If an accused is not there to hear his sentence, he will also probably not be there to serve it, as, indeed, is the case here. There will be no purpose of sentencing him in his absence." Judge Thring further said he believed that magistrates should shield some people - who are taken into custody pending an extradition application - from government officials, especially where "gross human rights violations would result if the case reached the minister (of justice)".

"In other countries, other views may doubtless be held, but in South Africa it is not considered just - save in rare and exceptional circumstances - for a court to sentence a man when he is not present," Thring said. "It is not a new development in our law. It has been a tenet of our criminal procedure from time immemorial."

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Sangoma ‘raped woman as cure for HIV’

A SANGOMA has been charged with rape after he claimed he could cure a woman of HIV by sleeping with her. Aaron Mkhonqo, 54, of Soweto-on-Sea was given bail of R500 and not asked to plead when he appeared in the New Brighton magistrate’s court yesterday.

Prosecutor Malusi Mlandu said the woman, aged 22, claimed she had been raped on three different occasions when she went to the sangoma for treatment. Mr Mkhonqo, a married father of five children, was arrested on March 22. He has been practising as a sangoma since 1981.

The State alleges that in December last year the woman went to Mr Mkhonqo looking for a cure for her HIV status. She claimed she had been told to lie on her stomach while herbs were smeared behind her back and she was raped. The woman was allegedly raped on three different occasions when she visited Mr Mkhonqo’s home.

She did not report the incident to the police because she wanted to see if she would be cured. When she realised she was still infected, she reported the rapes to the police. [...]

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Amazon shrinkage alarms activists

Environmental groups are calling for urgent action to slow deforestation in Brazil's Amazon jungle.

About 9,170 square miles (23,750 sq km) of forest were lost in 2003, just up from 8,983 square miles (23,266 sq km) in 2002, the Brazilian government says. The scale is not as high as in the mid-1990s, but it confirms the world's largest forest is disappearing rapidly.

Rising exports of beef and soya in Brazil are said to encourage farmers to clear the forest for farms. Scientists fear the clearances could affect the global climate as well as threatening thousands of unique plant and animal species.

"I am worried - the figures are too high," said Rosa Lemos de Sa of conservation group WWF Brazil.

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Now that we have seen what mankind has done to soil his home, we'll take a look at Mother Nature's Revenge. "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature..."

20,000 Flooded Namibians Need Evacuation - Red Cross

By Petros Kuteeue
Wed Apr 7,12:13 PM ET

WINDHOEK (Reuters) - Flooding from the rain-swollen Zambezi have killed at least six people in northern Namibia and forced 20,000 people in the area to be evacuated, officials said on Wednesday.

Authorities in the southwest African country say the floods are the worst since 1958, and the Red Cross has launched a provisional appeal for $630,000 to provide aid to 50,000 people in the coming months. [...]

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Six drown in flood-hit Namibia

Windhoek - Six people, including a baby and an eight-year-old boy, have drowned in north-eastern Namibia since being hit by the worst floods in decades, police reported on Wednesday. The Namibian police listed the six drownings in a daily report, saying that an eight-year-old boy and two young men, aged 18 and 23, died in separate incidents last Friday. "Two men drowned when their canoe capsized in flood waters due to strong winds," the statement said. [...]

The flood waters stem from heavy rains since the end of March in the Angolan catchment area of the Zambezi River, which forms part of Namibia's northern border with Zambia. "I have never seen such a sea of water. These are the worst floods since 1958," Namibia Red Cross Society secretary general Razia Essack-Kauaria earlier said. Namibia, a country the same size as South Africa and with a population of around 1,8 million people, consists mainly of desert and dry savannah and has an average rainfall of around 360mm.

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Hunger kills nearly 50 children in Zimbabwe.

Sixty-three people, 48 of them children, died from hunger last month in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo, a health official was quoted as saying in a newspaper report on Friday. A top health official in the city, Zanele Hwalima, told the Zimbabwe Independent that "poverty, food shortages and inability to access nutrients" contributed to the deaths.

Health officials in Bulawayo were not immediately available to confirm the figures. Aid agencies estimate that about 5,5 million Zimbabweans - 2,5 million of them in urban areas - need emergency food aid this year. [...]

Zimbabwe is reeling under severe hardships with inflation hovering at over 600 percent, unemployment at close to 70 percent and critical shortages of food, medicine and fuel. Two-thirds of Zimbabwe's 11,6 million people live below the poverty line. [...]

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UK firm tried HIV drug on orphans

GlaxoSmithKline embroiled in scandal in which babies and children were allegedly used as 'laboratory animals'

Antony Barnett in New York
Sunday April 4, 2004
The Observer

Orphans and babies as young as three months old have been used as guinea pigs in potentially dangerous medical experiments sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, an Observer investigation has revealed.

British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline is embroiled in the scandal. The firm sponsored experiments on the children from Incarnation Children's Centre, a New York care home that specialises in treating HIV sufferers and is run by Catholic charities.

The children had either been infected with HIV or born to HIV-positive mothers. Their parents were dead, untraceable or deemed unfit to look after them.

According to documents obtained by The Observer, Glaxo has sponsored at least four medical trials since 1995 using Hispanic and black children at Incarnation. The documents give details of all clinical trials in the US and reveal the experiments sponsored by Glaxo were designed to test the 'safety and tolerance' of Aids medications, some of which have potentially dangerous side effects. Glaxo manufactures a number of drugs designed to treat HIV, including AZT.

Normally trials on children would require parental consent but, as the infants are in care, New York's authorities hold that role.

The city health department has launched an investigation into claims that more than 100 children at Incarnation were used in 36 experiments - at least four co-sponsored by Glaxo. Some of these trials were designed to test the 'toxicity' of Aids medications. One involved giving children as young as four a high-dosage cocktail of seven drugs at one time. Another looked at the reaction in six-month-old babies to a double dose of measles vaccine.

Most experiments were funded by federal agencies like the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Until now Glaxo's role had not emerged.

In 1997 an experiment co-sponsored by Glaxo used children from Incarnation to 'obtain tolerance, safety and pharmacokinetic' data for Herpes drugs. In a more recent experiment, the children were used to test AZT. A third experiment sponsored by Glaxo and US drug firm Pfizer investigated the 'long-term safety' of anti-bacterial drugs on three-month-old babies.

The medical establishment has defended the trials arguing they enabled these children to obtain state-of-the-art therapy they would otherwise not have received for potentially fatal illnesses.

However, health campaigners argue there is a difference between providing the latest drugs and experimentation. They claim many of the experiments were 'phase 1 trials' - among the most risky - and that HIV tests for babies were not a reliable indicator of actual infection and therefore toxic drugs could have been given to healthy infants. HIV drugs are similar to those used in chemotherapy and can have serious side-effects.

Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, said the children had been treated like 'laboratory animals'.

'These are some of the most vulnerable individuals in the country and there appears to be a policy of giving drug firms access to them,' she said. 'Throughout the history of medical research we have seen prisoners abused, the mentally ill abused and now poor kids in a care home.'

Sharav has urged the US Food and Drug Administration to investigate and has demanded full disclosure of all adverse effects suffered by the children, including deaths. Brooklyn Democrat councillor Bill de Blasio is also demanding that New York's Administration for Children's Services, which approved the trials, reveal who gave consent and on what grounds.

Glaxo has confirmed it provided funds for some of the experiments but denied any improper action. A spokeswoman said: 'These studies were implemented by the US Aids Clinical Trial Group, a clinical research network paid for by the National Institutes of Health. Glaxo's involvement in such studies would have been to provide study drugs or funding but we would have no interactions with the patients.

Comment: The above is but one of the many brutal and inhuman acts that have been carried out by our "representatives" in politics and industry, with the unwitting sanction of the sleeping public. We must wake up and realise that, for too long now there have been psychopaths at the helm of this small planet we all inhabit. At present they are determined to bring the world to the edge of the abyss and beyond. In our sleep-induced apathy every one of us are accomplices to the atrocities carried out in our name. There is simply no scope for claiming that we did not know. Knowledge has always been within our grasp, the only thing lacking has been the will to seek it. The choice is clear and for each to make.

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Astronomers Take Search For Earth-Threatening Space Rocks To Southern Skies

by Lori Stiles
Tucson AZ - Apr 07, 2004

The hunt for space rocks on a collision course with Earth has so far been pretty much limited to the Northern Hemisphere. But last week astronomers took the search for Earth-threatening asteroids to southern skies.

[...] Astronomers using a refurbished telescope at the Australian National University's Siding Spring Observatory discovered their first two near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) on March 29.

[...] Neither object poses a direct threat of colliding with Earth.

Had the asteroids not missed, damage from their impacts would have depended on what kind of rock they're made of. The 100-meter object likely would mostly burn up in Earth's atmosphere in an airblast equivalent to 10 megatons of TNT, comparable to the 1908 explosion above the Tunguska River valley in Siberia, McNaught said. The 300-meter rocky asteroid likely would reach Earth's surface, dumping the equivalent of 1,400 megatons of TNT energy into Earth's atmosphere, he added. That's comparable to 200 Tunguskas, or 24 times the largest thermonuclear bomb explosion, a 58 megaton Soviet bomb exploded in 1961.

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Search to Find Dangerous Asteroids Nearly Complete

April 8, 2004

WASHINGTON - They are out there, ready to smack into the Earth and wipe out human civilization, but astronomers said yesterday they are well on their way to finding every asteroid that poses a threat.

The next task will be to look for smaller objects that might just destroy, say, a city, the experts told the U.S. Senate's Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space.

In an update on the Near Earth Object Observation Program, experts told the Senate subcommittee that they are on schedule to finding everything bigger than 1 kilometer (0.62 mile) in diameter that might approach the planet.

"The survey officially started in 1998 and to date more than 700 objects of an estimated population of about 1,100 have been discovered, so the effort is now believed to be over 70 percent complete and well on the way to meeting its objective by 2008," NASA's Lindley Johnson told the hearing.

There have been a few scares.

Last September, scientists spotted asteroid "2003 QQ47" and first measurements suggested it could hit the Earth on March 21, 2014, with an explosion the size of 20 million Hiroshima atomic bombs. But the forecast was revised: It won't hit, after all. [...]

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Global warming may melt Greenland's ice, scientists warn

Tim Radford, science editor
Thursday April 8, 2004
The Guardian

Greenland's icy mountains and the island's entire ice cap could disappear in the next 1,000 years because of global warming, European scientists warn today.

If that occurs sea levels will rise by seven metres, drowning low-level coastlines around the world.

Greenland is covered by the biggest ice sheet in the northern hemisphere: almost 772,000 square miles of ice which is up to 1.9 miles thick, the base of which is below sea level.

But Jonathan Gregory, of the Hadley Centre for climate prediction at the University of Reading, and colleagues from Brussels and Bremerhaven, report in the journal Nature that an average annual warming in the region of 2.7C (37F) would mean that the rate of melting would outpace the annual snowfall.

The greater the warming, the faster the snow melts. The worst-case predictions for Greenland, made by an intergovernmental panel of scientists, involve an average warming of 8C (46F). At those temperatures oceans that have risen by 2.5mm (less than one-tenth of an inch) a year will start to rise by a steady 7mm a year.

There are already signs of consistent melting in Greenland. Researchers reported in 1999 that the ice sheet was thinning by about a metre a year.

The latest research confirms the picture of an increasingly mild polar world. Alaskan glaciers are in retreat. The Arctic Ocean icepack has thinned by more than 30% in the past three decades and has been shrinking by an area equivalent to the Netherlands each year during the same period. If warming continues by the end of the century the Arctic could be free of ice altogether during summer months, British scientists predict.

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Ice melt in Greenland 'could put London under water in 50 years'

By Steve Connor
08 April 2004

A dramatic and irreversible rise in sea levels could result from the melting of the Greenland ice sheet if global warming continues unchecked.

Scientists say the melting of the massive ice sheet on Greenland - which has been stable for thousands of years - could increase sea levels by as much as 7 metres (23 feet). Such a rise would inundate vast areas of land, including cities at sea level, such as London. Some densely populated regions, such as Bangladesh, may disappear.

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Ice Melt May Dry Out US West Coast

London - Apr 08, 2004

By mid century cities and towns along the American west coast could be suffering serious water shortages in response to climate change. As Arctic sea- ice melts, annual rainfall is forecast to drop by as much as 30 per cent from Seattle to Los Angeles, and inland as far as the Rocky Mountains reports New Scientist.

Driving the change is the prediction that over the next 50 years annual Arctic sea ice could shrink by half in many areas of as much as 50 per cent in some areas during the summer.

[...] In their model Sewall and Cirbus Sloan found that such towers formed between Norway and Greenland, deflecting winter storms that would otherwise have passed over the west coast of the US towards northern British Columbia and southern Alaska.

These areas received 6 per cent more rain, while southern British Columbia down to southern California suffered a 30 per cent drop. The researchers will publish their results in a future issue of Geophysical Research Letters. "Given that water resources in this region are currently stretched close to their limit, a 30 per cent drop would have a serious impact," says Sewall.

Water levels in reservoirs would probably drop, making water rationing a necessity. Meanwhile agriculture would suffer from a lack of water for irrigation and famous national parks, such as Yosemite in California, could change completely as natural ecosystems adapted to a drier climate.

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Earthquake in eastern Romania

BUCHAREST (AFP) Apr 07, 2004

An earthquake measuring 4.2 points on the open-ended Richter scale was recorded in eastern Romania early Wednesday, the country's national seismological laboratory said.

There were no reports of damage or casualties in the quake, which occurred deep underground with its epicentre in the Vrancea region, the institute said.

A similar earthquake, with an intensity of 4.3 points on the Richter scale, shook the same region early on Sunday.

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Quake shakes southeast Iran

TEHRAN (AFP) Apr 07, 2004

An earthquake measuring 3.8 on the Richter scale on Wednesday shook the region of Bam, southeastern Iran, where a powerful quake killed thousands of people and practically destroyed the town last December 26, the official news agency IRNA said.

There was no immediate word of casualties or damage from the tremor, which struck at 3:25 am (22:55 GMT).

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Earthquake hits parts of Greece and Albania; no reports of casualties

ATHENS (AFP) Apr 07, 2004

An earthquake measuring 5.2 points on the open-ended Richter scale hit part of the border region between Greece and Albania early on Wednesday, a French seismological institute said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from officials in Greece.

The earthquake occurred at 4:32 am (0132 GMT) and had its epicentre at a latitude of 40.84 degrees north and a longitude of 20.30 degrees east, said the institute, based in the eastern French city of Strasbourg.

The epicentre is around 70 kilometres (45 miles) west of the town of Florina in northwest Greece.

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Quake jolts southwestern Japan, no damage reported

TOKYO (AFP) Apr 06, 2004

An earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale shook southwestern Japan Tuesday, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, officials said.

The quake occurred at 7:51 am (2251 GMT Monday) in Tokushima prefecture, some 550 kilometers (340 miles) southwest of Tokyo, the meteorological agency said.

The focus of the quake was about 10 kilometers deep, it said.

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A minor earthquake rattled Teton County

Thursday, April 08, 2004

MOOSE, Wyo. (AP) -- A minor earthquake rattled a remote part of Teton County on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The magnitude 4.0 quake struck at 9:54 a.m. about 22 miles northeast of Jackson in Bridger-Teton National Forest, not far from the Gros Ventre Wilderness.

A receptionist at Jackson Lake Lodge, about 30 miles north of Jackson in Grand Teton National Park, and Jackson residents said they did not feel the earthquake.

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Quick flip of Earth's magnetic field revealed

NewScientist.com news service
18:00 07 April 04

The Earth's magnetic field takes an average of only 7000 years to reverse its polarity, but the switch happens much more quickly near the equator, according to the most comprehensive study yet of the last four reversals.

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Well, after reading all of that, it is no surprise to learn that some of our fellows on this planet can't handle the stress. Here's a selection of "coping" mechanisms...

Briton to bet all on Vegas roulette spin

Thu 8 April, 2004 06:42

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A British man who has sold all his possessions, including his clothes, will stand in a rented tuxedo on Sunday and bet everything on a single spin of the roulette wheel.

If he wins, he doubles his money. If he loses, he will be left with only the television crew documenting his every move.

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The latest fashion must-have: eyeball jewellery

Thu 8 April, 2004 04:12

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Body piercing and tattoos make way -- the latest fashion trend to hit the Netherlands is eyeball jewellery.

Dutch eye surgeons have implanted tiny pieces of jewellery called "JewelEye" in the mucous membrane of the eyes of six women and one man in cosmetic surgery pioneered by an ophthalmic surgery research and development institute in Rotterdam.

The procedure involves inserting a 3.5 mm (0.13 inch) wide piece of specially developed jewellery -- the range includes a glittering half-moon or heart -- into the eye's mucous membrane under local anaesthetic at a cost of 500 to 1,000 euros (270 to 540 pounds).

"In my view it is a little more subtle than (body) piercing. It is a bit of a fun thing and a very personal thing for people," said Gerrit Melles, director of the Netherlands Institute for Innovative Ocular Surgery.

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Man charged with fatally kicking dog like a football

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- A man was arrested on charges of killing his neighbor's 17-year-old dog by place-kicking it like a football.

Chad Daniel Crawford, 23, was charged with cruelty to animals and vandalism Tuesday in the death of Gizmo, a 2-pound miniature Yorkshire terrier. Crawford was freed on $25,000 bail.

Jalani Lewis said he was in his apartment complex when he saw one of three men holding the dog like a football and then saw Crawford kick the animal.

Lewis said the dog flew through the air in a high arc, hit the pavement and rolled under a parked car. The dog was apparently dead when it hit the ground and the men were laughing, Lewis said.

Crawford said the accusations were false but declined further comment.

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Close encounter at Great Orme

Apr 8 2004
By Steve Bagnall Daily Post

ALIEN abductions are generally considered the stuff of legend, Hollywood, and conspiracy theories.

However new research by brewing giant Grolsch has named the Great Orme as one of Britain's top places for extra- terrestrial kidnappings.

As part of an out-of-this-world advertising campaign, the Dutch company points to a catalogue of reported sightings which make the Llandudno beauty spot the UK's third most likely spot to witness a close encounter of the space kind.

They included multiple UFO sightings in 1997 and a family which claimed to have lost five hours after being followed by a triangular shaped craft.

Conwy tourism bosses said they were delighted the beauty spot figured so highly.

They welcome everybody, they said, even those from beyond planet Earth.

"We have visitors from across the globe already and we would be happy to welcome those from further afield also," said Coun Eddie Woodward, cabinet member for economic development and regeneration, which includes tourism.

"Llandudno has something for everybody."

There have been hundreds of UFO sightings across North Wales stretching back decades.

She Closed Airport to Avoid Vacation with Boyfriend

Apr 8, 10:04 am ET

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - A Croatian woman was convicted Thursday of disturbing the peace for phoning a bomb threat to Duesseldorf airport to get out of a vacation with her boyfriend.

The woman was given a suspended sentence after admitting in court that she called authorities and, in a hoax, made an al Qaeda bomb threat because her parents disapproved of her boyfriend.

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But lest you think that there is no good news, we end with this:

Chocolate During Pregnancy Has Good Impact on Baby

Wed Apr 7, 1:52 PM ET Add Oddly Enough - Reuters to My Yahoo!

LONDON (Reuters) - Pregnant women rejoice. Eating chocolate is good for the baby, say Finnish researchers.

Scientists at the University of Helsinki, who asked 300 pregnant women to record their chocolate consumption and stress levels, found that daily treats had a positive impact on the newborn baby's behavior.

Six months after the infants were born the mothers who had eaten chocolate reported more smiling and laughter in their offspring.

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