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Friday, April 09, 2004

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

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

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©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

"Why do bad things happen to good people"? Or conversely, why do good things happen to bad people?

The standard non religious response to such questions is; "that's just the way life is", "you have to take the rough with the smooth", or some other banal non answer. For most of us such answers are completely unsatisfactory, and as if to ward off any attempt to find a more complete answer, humanists, memeticists and other denominations of physical fanatics, tell us that, as humans, we find this answer unsatisfactory because it forces us into the "truth" (in their opinion) that human life and the universe within which it is found, is completely a random, chaotic and consciousness-lacking phenomena. Of course, organised religion attempts to provide a fuller more meaningful answer by couching the same non answers in some form of religious speak such as, bad things happen to us because we are "sinners" or "God is punishing us for our sins". But in the end these too are simply an attempt to force us into the belief that we are victims, mere spectators of life and reality rather than meaningful participants in it.

The same humanist thinkers tell us that any attempt to spiritualise our existence actually constitutes evidence for the "fact" that there is no spiritual side to our existence. They argue that any ideas of the existence of an afterlife, or reincarnation or souls, are merely desperate attempts by a mechanical self aware lump of matter (i.e. you and me) to stave off acceptance of the uncomfortable reality that there is nothing more to life than physical existence.

For the humanist, the human ability to conceive of something more to life is evidence that there really is nothing more. That such delusions must surely result from the fact that, deep down within us, we realise the meaninglessness of our existence and, as we recoil in horror, we invent delusional fantasies to calm ourselves down. Of course, the logical fallacies in this argument are evident. For example, in the case that we really are simply self aware lumps of matter, why would the fact of understanding this give us any cause for horror or terror? Why would we seek to pretend that we are, at a fundamental level, something the we know we are not? Surely the pinnacle of evolution for such a being would be a complete understanding of what it is. Yet, as the humanists note, when we are presented with the theory for a purely physical origin and nature to our existence, many of us are far from satisfied and reject the idea.

Confronted with the very existence of both sides of the argument, surely a more logical conclusion would be that there are two different types of humans. Might it not be true that, based on the evidence, the "truth" that there is no afterlife, no soul, no spiritual evolution, is true only for some, but not for others? It seems that the zeal with which humanists and others claim that we are all "monkeys clinging to a lump of godless rock spinning in space", has more to do with avoiding the reality that there are two races on this planet, rather than the search for objective truth about the matter (no pun intended). Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that it would be the turn of the humanists to recoil in terror if they were faced with having to accept the two race theory as the most probable truth.

Of course, the very same phenomena of the human ability to conceive of and hypothesise about a deeper meaning and reality can equally be used to make the argument that there must be something more to life than physical existence. After all, we are part of nature are we not? Nature is imbued with a very obvious and impressive intelligence is it not? What sense then does it make to suggest that, in an obviously intelligent universe, humans have been given, or have developed, the ability to perceive and deliberate concepts that do not and cannot exist? If we take the humanist argument to its logical conclusions, all of us, "believers in something more" and humanists alike, are reduced to little more than a cosmic joke, an aberration of intelligent creation. In such a scenario, if any idea of a deeper meaning to life is nonsensical, then the humanist notion of a "pinnacle of human evolution"is equally ridiculous.

In today's climate of uncertainty about the future of the planet and the human race, there is a definite effort being made to force us to accept the materialistic view of world events and any deeper meaning they might have. The simplistic "us and them" ethos that is the hallmark of the "war on terror" is designed to force the population into a "materialistic only" understanding of the events that are currently transpiring. This materialistic ethos encourages the same body centric fear for physical survival that is a the core of the humanist doctrine. For example, the web site of the "Office of Homeland Security" lists all the ways the one can attempt to survive all sorts of terrorist and natural cataclysmic "attacks". Check it out to be instilled with a deep seated fear for your life and the underlying message that there is absolutely nothing you can do about it but "be afraid".

The various people and groups that together hold a controlling stake in this planet clearly have a plan for it and for its inhabitants, this much is clear. Consider the news on today's Signs page or browse through the archives and you will surely see the inexorable march that has lead us to the edge of the precipice upon which we sit today. Through the incessant promotion of a physical only understanding of life and world events and the natural fear that this induces, coupled with the repeated sidelining and ridiculing of any realistic and practical theories of a deeper reality, the powers that be "invite" us to share in the destiny of this planet and the human race. It is clear for all those with eyes to See that that destiny will, in all likelihood, be one of complete and utter destruction.

The theory then that there are essentially two races on this planet puts current world affairs in a rather different light. If we are not "one race", we should not feel obliged to accept any argument that we are. If, as we suspect, the people controlling the events on this planet are of a very different orientation from that of perhaps 50% of the population, the 50% that do not and cannot see reality from the "controllers" point of view, if stuck in the false belief that "we are all one people", are nevertheless in danger of becoming subsumed into the reality that the "controllers" espouse - unless they awaken and choose to stake their claim to a different path and possible outcome.

While such concepts may not be new to many of our readers, this does not preclude the possibility that they are in fact more real than the simplistic, limited understandings that were socialised into us rather than consciously assessed and chosen by us based on the most likely probability. Even so, even at this late stage, the opportunity for a radical reassessment of everything we have been taught remains open. All that is required is the strength and courage to begin the quest for truth and knowledge.

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To the tune of “Don’t Blame Me,” Bush’s National Security Adviser claimed there was no silver bullet to stop 9/11.

By Regis T. Sabol
Intervention Magazine
April 9, 2004

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice finally testified under oath before the 9/11 Commission Thursday. And what did we get? An attempt to filibuster commission members’ questions with variations on an old standard, “Don’t Blame Me.”

Rice also juggled a mélange of bureaucratic gobbledygook. She took great pains, for example, to parse the distinctions of historic briefings, warning briefings, and threat briefings. And she did so over and over and over and over. She used the same redundant technique in throwing around distinctions between tactical responses and strategic responses.

What Rice appeared incapable of giving was a yes or no answer to any question, even when a simple yes or no was called for. Here’s one good example of an exchange with Commissioner Richard Ben-Viniste:

BEN-VINISTE: Did you tell the president, at any time prior to August 6th, of the existence of al Qaida cells in the United States?

RICE: First, let me just make certain....

It went on like that for three hours. At one point Commissioner Bob Kerrey had enough of Rice’s roundabout responses. “Please don't filibuster me,” he admonished her. “It's not fair. It is not fair. I have been polite. I have been courteous. It is not fair to me.”

Speaking for an administration that touts the importance of individual responsibility, Rice’s testimony boiled down to this: Don’t blame us; blame the system.

Rice repeatedly attempted to excuse the greatest intelligence failure in the nation’s history by claiming that regulations prevented the FBI and the CIA from sharing information. She repeatedly referred to “systemic and s tructural” failures, another way of saying it was the system’s fault. “In hindsight, if anything might have helped stop 9/11, it would have been better information about threats inside the United States--something made ve ry difficult by structural and legal impediments that prevented the collection and sharing of information by our law enforcement and intelligence agencies.”

And, yet again, we heard the same tired metaphor of not being able to connect the dots. “We weren’t able to connect the dots,” she said more times than I could count.

The Buck Stops Where?

Fortunately, Commissioner Timothy Roemer put Rice’s version of “Don’t Blame Me” into its proper perspective. “You're the national security advisor to the president of the United States,” Roemer pointed out. “The buck may stop with the president; the buck certainly goes directly through you as the principal advisor to the president on these issues. And it really seems to me that there were failures and mistakes, structural problems, all ki nds of issues here leading up to September 11th that could have and should have been done better. Doesn't that beg that there should have been more accountability? That there should have been a resignation or two? That there should have been you or the president saying to the rest of the administration, somehow, somewhere, that this was not done well enough?”

Roemer followed up these rhetorical questions by asking about the now notorious August 6, 2001 briefing at the Crawford Ranch, during which Bush was told something “really, really big” was going to happen. Why didn’t Bush call his “principals” (bureaucratic jargon for responsible cabinet members) together? The title of this “background memorandum,” by the way, was “Osama bin Laden Plans Attacks Inside the United States.” Let me repeat tha t key phrase, “Inside the United States.” Condi’s response: “Once again, on the August 6th memorandum to the president, this was not threat-reporting about what was about to happen. This was an analytic piece that stood back and answered questions from the presid ent. But as to the principals meetings…”

Let’s put this response in plain English. When the president was told that something “really, really big” was going to happen and the CIA learned that Osama bin Laden planned to attack the United States, itself, soon, and even though we already knew that Islamic extremists had tried to use commercial airliners in attacks and an Al Qaeda plot to blow up Los Angeles International Airport on January 1, 2000 had been foiled, we weren’t telling him the nation faced an imminent threat of attack; we were just giving him some background.

Perhaps if CIA Director George Tenet and Bush’s other advisors had used that kind of language, he might have understood the immediacy of the danger and taken some kind of action other than whacking bushes on his Crawford, Texas, ranch. Maybe he would have called all his top honchos in, asked specific questions, and given direct orders to the Pentagon, the Department of Transportation, the FAA, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, a nd, most importantly, the FBI and CIA. But he didn’t.

Of course, Rice took great pains to praise her boss and our Fearless Leader for the bold steps he has taken to win the War on Terror. Here is what she had to say in her opening statement:

Occupying Iraq Made Us Safer--really?

“Because we acted in Iraq, Saddam Hussein will never again use weapons of mass destruction against his people or his neighbors, and we have convinced Libya to give up all its weapons-of-mass- destruction-related programs and materials. And as we attack the threat at its source, we are also addressing its roots. Thanks to the bravery and skill of our men and women in uniform, we have removed from power two of the world's most brutal regime s--sources of violence and fear and instability in the world's most dangerous region.

Today, along with many allies, we are helping the people of Iraq and Afghanistan to build free societies. And we are working with the people of the Middle East to spread the blessings of liberty and democracy as alternati ves to instability and hatred and terror. This work is hard and it is dangerous, yet it is worthy of our effort and sacrifice. The defeat of terror and the success of freedom in those nations will serve the interests of o ur nation and inspire hope and encourage reform throughout the greater Middle East. In the aftermath of September 11th, those were the right choices for America to make--the only choices that can ensure the safety of our nation for decades to come.”

Excuse me, but has this woman been sleeping through her morning briefings, not watching television, or reading any newspapers? All hell has broken loose in Iraq. Marine and Army units are fighting Sunni and Shiite insurge nts in at least eight cities. At last count, forty-one Americans have been killed in action in just the past five days. And no end to the uprising, now declared an intifada, appears in sight. Insurgents now control three Iraqi cities.

Fortunately, Bob Kerrey pointed out the obvious. Kerrey declared that “as somebody who supported the war in Iraq, I'm not going to get the national security adviser 30 feet away from me very often over the next 90 days, and I've got to tell you, I believe a number of things. I believe, first of all, that we underestimate that this war on terrorism is really a war against radical Islam. Terrorism is a tactic. It's not a war itself. Secondly, let me say that I don't think we understand how the Muslim world views us, and I'm terribly worried that the military tactics in Iraq are going to do a number of things, and they're all bad.

“I think we're going to end up with civil war if we continue down the military operation strategies that we have in place. I say that sincerely as someone that supported the war in the first place. Let me say, secondly, that I don't know how it could be otherwise, given the way that we're able to see these military operations, even the restrictions that are imposed upon the press, that this doesn't provide an opportunity for Al Qaida [sic] to have increasing success at recruiting people to attack the United States.

“It worries me. And I wanted to make that declaration. You needn't comment on it, but as I said, I'm not going to have an opportunity to talk to you this closely. And I wanted to tell you that I think the military operations are dangerously off track. And it's largely a U.S. Army--125,000 out of 145,000-- largely a Christian army in a Muslim nation. So I take that on board for what it's worth.”

To put the matter succinctly, Rice’s long-winded testimony did not hide the fact that she and the Bush administration refuse to take responsibility for the catastrophe that happened on their watch and that our presence in Iraq has done nothing to win the “War on Terror.” If anything, it has exacerbated that war by creating new anti-American converts throughout the Middle East who have become our sworn enemies. That can’t possibly do us any good.

Comment: Condi's opening statement can be read here, and a transcript of the Q&A session is here.

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Our Rules Live By Different Standards

Condoleezza's Condescensions

By NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN

Watching our national security advisor deposed before the 9-11 commission, you had to be awed by this superwoman. What should one admire the most? Was it the confidence with which she expatiated on simple questions where a yes or no answer would have sufficed? Or the coolness with which she kept shrugging off responsibility? With her it was always the CSG, FBI or CIA's job. One was reminded of the many-armed goddesses of Hindu mythology, only in Convolute-a case, the hands seemed to have an sure knack of pointing in all directions except her own.

At one point, she couldn't help playing the race card. She pointed out, though not out entirely of context, that the founding fathers, when they said, "We the People", certainly didn't mean people like her. Certainly, the color of the skin should not be the basis of discrimination. Its thickness is another matter entirely. Any national security advisor with a shred of shame would have quit first thing September 12, 2001. As Richard Reeves wrote in the Washington Post, if 9-11 had happened in Japan, there would be no one left in the government to turn out the lights.

This, however, is America. Our rulers live by different standards. When Bob Kerrey asked about using the 'M' (Mistake) word, or when Tim Roemer asked about why no one had resigned, Conscienceless-a Rice did not appear embarrassed in the least.

Where Richard Clarke's testimony seemed factual, Confoundaleeza Rice's seemed to be flush with management jargon, the air thick with words like structural, tactical, strategic (with no apparent accretion to lucidity -- see what I mean?). The peformance would be familiar to most people in the white collar industry, where words are an aid to hiding incompetence as much as to reveal it, and where obfuscation is the first rule of management. Dilbert may now boast of a new character -- Condilberta Rice.

But the blame falls elsewhere too. What kind of a deal is it, where a paid offical (a servant of the people?) cannot spare more than a half-day to appear before a commission to answer for a national calamity on her watch? Can anyone explain why the questions had to be limited to 10 minutes each? And this for a person incharge of coordinating the the entire nation's security? And for the commission to forfeit all follow up (sworn, public) testimony, either from her or from others on the President's staff who may have vital information?

The commissioners seemed so overwhelmed that Rice had agreed to appear before them (Condescend-a?) that they seemed to be treading on eggshells. She seemed to sense this, and kept ignoring Ben Veniste, Kerrey and Roemer's pleas for brevity; instead of sticking to the point, she kept wasting their time with philosophical digressions, which they were utterly powerless to check.

Bipartisanship is all very well, but it should not interfere with the commission's main purpose. I was shocked when Lee Hamilton, after the testimony, was gushing about her performance. For the record, could he not say that he wished she had answered simple questions simply, thereby allowing the facts to come out more clearly?

The four heroines of the 9-11 commission, the ladies responsible for its very existence, were on the Chris Mathews Show shortly after, and asked a few simple questions which the Commission, in its flustered state, did not. One of them said. "Ashcroft stopped flying. Pentagon officials stop flying the day before September 11. They were warned not fly on September 11. We think San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was told not to fly." Another wondered "...why the national security advisor did not know that planes could be used as missiles. That's her job." Such simplicity eludes those in high places.

However, Truth, like water, has a way of finding its course. In a strange manifestation of the trickle-down theory so beloved of this administration, some facts percolated despite all this. And they are indisputable. Today they were summarized by the spontaneous applause which greeted Ben Veniste's "Did you tell the President?". Once again, the twin questions of yesteryear, "What did the President know, and when did he know it?" have arrived at the forefront.

So the testimony, for all its apparent snow job, may yet turn out to be a Contretemps-a-Rice.

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Rice Yet to Answer For Two Dishonest Statements

Daily Mislead Archive
April 8, 2004

As Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 Commission approaches, she continues to push two distinctly dishonest statements in an effort to blur President Bush's failure to defend America in 2001.

First and foremost, Rice continues to make the now-discredited claim that the White House did not have intelligence warning them that terrorists were plotting to use airplanes as missiles in an attack on America. In 2002 she said, "I don't think anybody could have predicted that ... they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile". She said this in spite of the intelligence community having issued 12 separate warnings of such a plan, including a 1999 warning saying that "suicide bomber(s) belonging to al Qaeda's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft...into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House".

When presented with these facts, she told the 9/11 Commission in January 2004 that she misspoke and that she "regretted" her earlier denials. Yet less than four months after her apology, she made the same false claim, writing in a March 22, 2004 op-ed in the Washington Post that "we received no intelligence that terrorists were preparing to attack the homeland using airplanes as missiles".

Secondly, Rice is now saying through spokesmen that she was "not briefed" about terrorists' plans to use airplanes as missiles before 2002, when she began making the false claim that she had no such warnings. But even if Rice did neglect all 12 previous intelligence reports, she cannot claim she was never briefed about such a threat, considering she was the top national security official accompanying President Bush to the G-8 Summit in Genoa, Italy in July 2001. There, she and the president were explicitly warned that "Islamic terrorists might attempt to kill world leaders by crashing an airliner" into the summit.

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Bush told of hijack warning weeks before 9/11

Julian Borger in Washington
The Guardian
Friday April 9, 2004

President Bush was given an intelligence briefing, entitled Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States just weeks before the September 11 attacks, it emerged yesterday.

Details of the August 6 briefing in 2001, which warned of terrorist preparations being made for hijackings on American soil, surfaced in testimony given by the US national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, to a commission of inquiry studying the September 11 attacks.

The existence of the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) had been publicly known for some time, but Ms Rice's confirmation of its title and some of its contents pushed it centre stage in the explosive political row over whether the al-Qaida attacks could have been prevented.

The emotive significance of the briefing - in the form of a memorandum sent to the president summarising potential threats to the US - is all the greater because at the time he received it, Mr Bush was on a month-long "working holiday" at his Texas ranch and spent much of the following days fishing and clearing undergrowth on his land. He did not cut short his vacation or apparently take dramatic steps in response to the briefing.

The president was at the ranch yesterday, watching Ms Rice's performance on television. According to his spokesman he telephoned her from his pickup truck to say she had done "a great job". [...]

Comment: It seems that either Bush was brain dead, or he knew something that the rest of us didn't.

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September 11: Losing touch with reality

Leader
The Guardian
Friday April 9, 2004

Shortly before being elected US president, George Bush wasn't able to name the president of Pakistan when asked in a televised interview. Yet, according to his national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, in the months leading up to September 11, President Bush was fully briefed and supported a detailed plan to help General Musharraf cut off support to al-Qaida in Afghanistan. As Groucho Marx once asked: "Who do you believe - me, or the evidence of your own eyes?" [...]

To say - as Dr Rice did - "I really don't remember whether I discussed this with the president," should be called the Reagan defence, after the former president repeatedly used the phrase "I don't recall" in an inquiry into the Iran-Contra scandal. What is questionable is whether that is a credible defence from someone reputed to be the smartest person in the White House.

The idea that President Bush was fully briefed about al-Qaida, and that the White House understood that it "posed a serious threat to the United States", simply does not ring true. That feeling is supported by the fact that both the administration and Dr Rice were more interested in pushing for a pointless missile defence shield in the months before September 11. To say that a memo entitled "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States" did not warn of an impending attack, according to Dr Rice, suggests the administration has begun to lose touch with reality.

Comment: "Who do you believe - me, or the evidence of your own eyes?" The sad truth is that most people believe the lies they are told. Many are not even aware that there is evidence that clearly demonstrates that we are all lied to constantly by our leaders. Even if they were aware of the evidence, they would not want to see it or even think about it. It seems that the majority do not want to open their eyes; they are content to drive, asleep at the wheel, even if their car is about to roll off a cliff.

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US media divided over Rice's testimony to 9-11 panel

AFP
Friday April 9, 3:59 PM

Leading US dailies were divided along ideological lines over national security advisor Condoleezza Rice's performance before the September 11 commission, whose members were criticized for partisanship.

The Washington Post and New York Times agreed that Rice was unconvincing in her attempt to show that the administration of President George W. Bush was focusing on terrorism before the tragedy of 2001 that cost the lives of some 3,000 people.

Rice was "at her weakest," said the Times, when she attempted to portray Bush as a "hands-on admnistrator" with keen interest on terrorist threats, when she could have admitted that he "guessed wrong" about what deserved his utmost attention.

The truth, said the Post, is that "the threat of Al-Qaeda was not fully grasped ... mistakes were made and more could have been done," adding that it was a shame Bush and Rice "haven't offered that honest accounting."

The Wall Street Journal, Washington Times and USA Today applauded Rice's accounting for herself and fellow government members.

Part of her testimony, said the Journal, showed that the Bush administration "was attentive to the terrorist threat." The Washington Times admired her for refusing "to be cowed," by a panel member.

USA Today said of Rice that Americans "deserve that kind of honesty" and needed "authoritative leaders who will bluntly discredit the fantasy that 'if only' some mythic step had been taken, the nation never would have been attacked."

The Journal, USA Today and Washington Times, however, fired a broadside at the 9/11 commission for being "a panel of partisans," as the Washington Times put it in its editorial title.

The Journal had harsh words for the Democrats on the panel who, "in their zeal to show all the things that went undone before 9/11 ... inadvertently underscored all that President Bush has done since. Think of it as one long endorsement of pre-emption."

The Washington Times said the commissioners "should drop their pointed fingers," move forward as Americans have "in sorrow and resolve" and produce a "perceptive, prescriptive report."

And quoting from the guiding principles of the panel's stated mission, USA Today said it should keep in mind that it has "to provide 'a full and complete accounting' and 'recommendations as to how to prevent such attacks in the future'."

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Panel's focus falls on Aug. 6 Bush brief

By Mimi Hall and John Diamond, USA TODAY
Posted 4/8/2004 11:25 PM

In the alphabet soup that marks so many government hearings in the nation's capital, PDB — for President's Daily Brief — was the acronym of the day Thursday.

Members of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks grilled national security adviser Condoleezza Rice about the Aug. 6 PDB, which referred to al- Qaeda's plans to attack the United States.

"Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the Aug. 6th PDB warned against possible attacks in this country?" commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste, a onetime Watergate prosecutor, said after Rice testified that the president had not been given specific warnings about such plots. "And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?"

Rice replied, "I believe the title was 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.' "

It was a defining moment in the hearing, and it cut to the core of what Rice was there to answer: what the president and his team knew in the weeks and months before Sept. 11, 2001, and whether they did enough to respond to the growing threat from al-Qaeda.

Commissioners are looking for answers in the top-secret PDBs from the CIA about threats to the nation. Some suggested Thursday that the Aug. 6, 2001, PDB included a warning about al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. targets.

The public may be able to make an independent judgment on what the PDB implies. The White House said Thursday night that it intends to take the unprecedented step of declassifying the PDB. "We're actively working the declassification process," White House spokeswoman Pamela Stevens said. [...]

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Testimony Paints Image of Passive Inner Circle

By Maura Reynolds Times Staff Writer
April 9, 2004

WASHINGTON — In her much-anticipated appearance on Capitol Hill, national security advisor Condoleezza Rice delivered a powerful rebuttal Thursday to critics who say President Bush brushed off warnings of a major terrorist attack inside the United States — warnings that poured into American intelligence agencies like a torrent in the summer of 2001.

But on the critical question of what the Bush White House did in response to those warnings, Rice's performance was markedly less effective. Repeatedly, she described a White House inner circle that spent its time on broad strategy and left it up to the bureaucracy to decide how to meet the escalating threat, with no real follow-up from the White House.

At one point, asked about a memo written to her by White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke warning that the parochial interests of the agencies would thwart action unless the White House kept the pressure on, Rice said she thought Clarke was just trying to "buck me up." [...]

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Clarke disputes Rice's testimony

By Mark Memmott, USA TODAY
Posted 4/8/2004 11:13 PM

Richard Clarke, who rocked the Bush administration with his charge that it paid too little attention to terrorism before the 9/11 attacks, disputes key points from Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 commission.

The former anti-terrorism adviser in the Clinton and both Bush administrations, who left the White House in March 2003 and last month published the controversial best seller Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror said in an interview Thursday:

• Rice was wrong when she said it wouldn't have done any good to have the FBI director, CIA director and other top law enforcement and anti-terrorism officials meet regularly in the summer of 2001 to sift through the warnings that preceded the 9/11 attacks. [...]

• That even though Rice said she did not recall Clarke asking to brief President Bush on terrorism issues before 9/11, he did request such a meeting and was put off. [...]

• Though Rice said she couldn't remember ever being specifically warned that terrorists might use airplanes as weapons, in 2001 "we briefed her" on warnings that terrorists might use aircraft to attack the Group of 8 economic summit in Italy, which Bush attended. [...]

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Matching truth, secret testimony

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER EDITORIAL BOARD
Thursday, April 8, 2004

Senator and surgeon, Tennessee Republican Bill Frist badly botched his recent attempt to eviscerate Richard Clarke's integrity on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Frist made a disingenuous call for declassification of Clarke's past testimony to Congress. Frist insinuated that taking the wraps off that earlier congressional testimony and comparing that with what the former White House anti-terrorism chief told the independent 9/11 commission would show that "Mr. Clarke has told two entirely different stories under oath."

Telling "two entirely different stories under oath" suggests, of course, perjury, a very serious crime. How convenient for Frist that he could make such a slanderous charge while under the "absolute" privilege of immunity from suit for defamation while on the Senate floor. How doubly convenient that he could make the charge based on secret documents.

So Frist must have found it doubly inconvenient that two of his Senate colleagues challenged Frist's memory, if not his ethics.

Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., said, "To the best of my recollection, there is nothing inconsistent or contradictory in that testimony ..." Then, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he did not recall any contradictions in Clarke's testimony.

One can only hope that Frist is more judicious in wielding his scalpel than with the meat ax he took to Clarke's character.

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News Organizations Can't Talk With Clarke

By DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer
Thu Apr 8, 5:28 PM ET

NEW YORK - With Richard Clarke under contract as an ABC News analyst, competing TV news organizations were rebuffed from talking to him about Condoleezza Rice's testimony.

The former counterterrorism chief was interviewed on ABC by Peter Jennings minutes after Clarke's former boss, national security adviser Rice, ended her appearance Thursday before the commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. [...]

Like many national security officials, Clarke was hired by a network as a consultant shortly after leaving government. ABC would not say how much he's paid. [...]

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Some 9/11 Families Angered by No Apology from Rice

By David Morgan
Thu Apr 8, 3:48 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some relatives of Sept. 11 victims responded in anger on Thursday to what they described as the White House's failure to accept responsibility for the 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Family members were among those in the crowded hearing room to listen to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice tell the 9-11 commission that bureaucratic structure was to blame for the administration's inability to counter the attacks.

"No one wants to take any responsibility. Three thousand people died, and all they want to talk about is structural problems," Bob McIlvaine of Oreland, Pennsylvania, whose son died in New York's World Trade Center.

"They should be ashamed of themselves," he said. [...]

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Rice's Omission of Lockerbie Tragedy Angers Families

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Never Apologize

Laura Flanders
Tompaine.com

Don't expect Condoleezza Rice to apologize for messing up on 9/11. She hasn't apologized yet for getting it wrong on the collapse of the Soviet Union.

When the national security adviser takes her stand before the Independent Commission April 8, she brings with her into that camera-filled hearing room her treasured reputation as a foreign policy expert to two successive Bush presidents. But Rice, who claims an expertise in nothing less than the high- stakes world of global power, has failed spectacularly—not once but twice—failing to anticipate the most critical shifts of her time.

Today Dr. Rice is known as George W.'s foreign policy guru, the woman who "interprets" current events for the president. It was the same with Bush's father. In 1989, Rice joined the first President Bush's national security staff, becoming director of Soviet and Eastern European Affairs. Those were heady days for U.S.-Soviet politics. Rice traveled with the president to Poland to celebrate Polish independence and to Germany to mark the fall of the Berlin wall. She attended the Malta summit in December 1989, where Bush met for the first time with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Bush introduced Rice as the woman who "tells me everything I know about the Soviet Union." (Gorbachev is said to have responded, "I hope she knows a lot.")

In public, then as now, Rice was a big success, appearing on television, speaking to the press, getting written up in Cosmopolitan magazine as one of the "New Women of Washington." Inside the White House, it was a different story. The foreign policy staff were split, and most of the men who worked with her then and now work with her again today have good reason to remember Rice as the "expert" who was doggedly, disastrously wrong on the most important development in her area of expertise.

At issue was the U.S. relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev. In broad strokes, the president, Rice, National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, James Baker (then secretary of state) and then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell approved supporting the Soviet leader and his vision of a reformed Soviet Union. Dick Cheney (then secretary of defense,) Paul Wolfowitz, (his deputy) and Lewis "Scooter" Libbey (now Cheney's chief of staff ) foresaw the breakup of the USSR and wanted to speed it along. "Regime change" in Europe and Asia was what the Cheney crew were after—with resulting opportunities for American corporate interests if the United States got in on the action early.

As it turned out, Bush and Rice prevailed. In one famous incident, Rice physically blocked the door to the Oval Office to prevent Russian leader Boris Yeltsin from meeting with the president. The Bush team were slow to grasp the scope of the changes that were seizing Europe, slow to encourage the unification of Germany and slow to give up on the Soviet Union. A speech Bush gave with Rice's assistance in Kiev became notorious as the "Chicken Kiev" speech because in it, the United States urged the people of the Ukraine, (then clamoring for independence,) to remain loyal to Moscow. At the same time, the president balked at giving Gorbachev what he needed—either at arms talks, or in terms of foreign aid—and the Soviet leader's domestic currency made a nosedive. Within months, the Gorbachev era was at over. The new post-Soviet Republics broke away one by one, and in Russia, Yeltsin rose to power.

Cheney and Wolfowitz left the Bush administration with a silent victory—their radical worldview had been right—and Rice, who claimed expertise in just this area—was wrong. Fast forward to 2000, and almost exactly the same team are back together again. [...]

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Sept. 11 panel interviews Clinton in private session

April 8, 2004

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal panel reviewing the Sept. 11 attacks met with former President Clinton in a private session Thursday that commissioners described as frank and informative.

The 10-member panel interviewed Clinton for nearly four hours to discuss what his administration could have done to prevent the attacks. The former president was "forthcoming and responsive," said the commission.

The panel said it didn't plan to release specific details of the meeting, saying much of it involved classified information.

Commissioners said Clinton addressed "big-picture" policy issues, including his administration's response to the October 2000 al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole. [...]

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Thinking Unthinkable Thoughts

Theologian Charges White House Complicity in 9/11 Attack

by Nick Welsh
The Santa Barbara Independent

There’s nothing the least bit wild-eyed or hysterical about David Ray Griffin. In person, he’s disarmingly calm, and speaks in the unflappably precise and deliberate style of a lifelong academic. Which is exactly what Griffin is. A respected philosopher of religion at the Claremont School of Theology since the 1970s and longtime Santa Barbara resident, Griffin is now raising questions that even President Bush’s harshest critics are afraid to think, let alone ask aloud.

In his latest book, The New Pearl Harbor - released just two weeks ago and available here - Griffin all but accuses the Bush administration of taking a dive on September 11 and giving Al Qaeda terrorists an unobstructed shot at the World Trade Center. According to Griffin, a case can be made that the Bush administration arranged the attack, or allowed it to happen. He is aware that he may be dismissed as a conspiracy nut, but given the “transcendent importance” of the issue, Griffin is willing to assume that risk and has taken to repeating Michael Moore’s line on the subject: “Personally, I’m not into conspiracy theories except those that are true.” I met with Griffin over coffee to discuss his book and the September 11 investigation. The following is an edited account of their conversation.

NICK WELSH: Is there a smoking gun that shows the Bush administration knew 9/11 was likely to happen and did nothing about it?

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: I think there are four. One is the fact that standard operating procedures for dealing with possibly hijacked airplanes were not followed on 9/11. Those procedures call for fighter jets to be sent out immediately upon any sign that a plane may have been hijacked. These jets typically get to the plane within no later than 15 minutes anywhere in the United States. And on that day, there were four airplanes that went for a half- hour or more after they were hijacked without jets intercepting them.

What’s the official explanation of that?

I’m afraid the press has not done its job. They have not forced government officials to explain why standard operating procedures were not followed that day, nor have they pressed the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to explain why they didn’t report these hijackings as they were supposed to. The official story is that [the fighter jets] were very late.

And the other smoking guns?

The second strongest piece of evidence I would say is the crash at the Pentagon. The physical evidence contradicts so violently the official account, that the Pentagon was hit by a Boeing 757 — Flight 77, that is. The physical evidence, photographs, and eyewitness testimony say that the Pentagon was hit by something that caused a hole no larger than 18 feet in diameter. The story the Pentagon put out, and was published by the Washington Post, was that the hole in the Pentagon was five stories high and 200 feet wide. If you look at the photographs taken by Tom Horan of the Associated Press — that’s just not the size of the hole.

But if the hole was only 18 feet wide, it had to have been created by something other than a Boeing. Whatever went into the Pentagon pierced six reinforced walls. This was the west wing, the part of the Pentagon being refurbished and reinforced. These walls were extra strong, and yet whatever it was went through six walls creating a hole about seven feet in diameter in the sixth wall. This had to have been something with a very powerful head on it. A Boeing 757 has a very fragile nose, and would not have pierced through all those walls; it would have been crushed by hitting the Pentagon. And given that it only penetrated these three rings, the rest of the aircraft would have been sitting outside on the yard. And yet the photographs taken just as the fire trucks got there — very shortly after the crash — show no plane whatsoever.

What do they show?

They show no aircraft whatsoever. And everyone agrees on this. The official story is that the whole aircraft went inside the Pentagon. The problem with that — the firefighters in there would have seen the airplane. They would have seen the engines, they would have seen the aluminum fuselage, but they reported nothing. Ed Plower, the fire chief, when asked what he saw, said, “I didn’t see any big pieces, no fuselage, no engines, no nothing.” But about a month later, when asked he said, “Oh yes, I saw all that.” His memory had had time to be refreshed.

If what you’re saying is accurate — that it was a missile — then what happened to the plane and all the people on it?

That’s why I stress I’m not trying to give an account of what really happened. I have no idea what happened to Flight 77.

President Bush has also been criticized for behaving somewhat bizarrely that day.

As he and the Secret Service got word that a second plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and that three planes had been hijacked, there could have been no possible doubt in their mind that the United States was under terrorist attack . . . The most horrendous attack the United States had ever suffered. And they would have had to assume that one or more of them were heading toward President Bush himself. And so upon learning about this, the Secret Service surely would have whisked him away immediately. In fact, one Secret Service agent on the scene said, “We’re out of here.” But obviously he got overruled because President Bush stayed there. After Andrew Card reported the second crash on the World Trade Center, the president just nodded as if he understood and said, “We’re going to go ahead with the reading lesson.” And he sat there another 15 minutes listening to the children read a story about a pet goat. This was a photo op and when it was over he lingered around talking to the children and talking to the teacher.

Bill Sammon, of the Washington Times, wrote a very pro-Bush book, yet he comments how casual and relaxed the president was given the fact he'd just learned the country was under attack. He said Bush took his own sweet time and in fact called him “Our Dawdler in Chief.” And then the president went on national TV, going forward with an interview that had been planned and announced in advance . . . then they took their regularly scheduled motorcade back to the airport. In other words, [Bush and the Secret Service] showed no fear whatsoever that they would be targeted for attack, which strongly suggests they knew how many aircraft were being hijacked and what their targets were.

Couldn’t it have been that he was trying to project calm in the eye of the storm, that this was Bush projecting Churchillian resolve in the face of calamity?

People who want to believe such things can, of course, imagine such scenarios. But the president in a situation like that does not make the decisions; the Secret Service team makes the decisions. And the guys in the Secret Service are trained to be ready for a catastrophe like this where they make snap decisions and whisk the president to safety immediately. They would have had an escape route planned; they would have had contingencies planned — they always do. It is at least not very plausible to think they would have remained there and endangered the lives of all the children and teachers at that school in order to exude that Churchillian confidence.

What about the plane that crashed down?

We know that on Flight 93, which crashed over Pennsylvania, the passengers were trying to get control of the aircraft. They had decided the hijackers did not have bombs and probably didn’t even have guns. And because their plane didn’t take off until a half-hour after the others, they knew that the others had crashed into the World Trade Center — so they knew they were going to die anyway, even if they didn’t do anything. So as one of the passengers is saying, “They’re doing it, they’re forcing their way into the cabin, they’re going to make it.” As soon as that happened, with the FBI listening in, the plane went down. There was a whoosh, then the sound of wind. And people on the ground reported hearing what Vietnam veterans said sounded like a missile. Furthermore, there was debris from the plan eight miles from the crash site, suggesting the plane had been hit and stuff started falling out. And one of the engines was found over a mile from the crash site. Of course, if it had been a missile that downed the plane, it most likely would have been a heat-seeking missile that would have found the engine and knocked it off.

Why would the government have an interest in doing this? So the hijackers couldn’t speak to anyone?

That would be a very good reason. If it were a conspiracy and the hijackers knew about it, it would have been very threatening to those who made the plan to have anybody left alive. Again, I don’t pretend to know, but that’s at least a plausible scenario. There were many rumors that day that the plane was shot down, but the government denied it. [...]

Comment: Recently, Kerry has been escalating his carefully-worded attacks on Bush. The response from the Bush camp has been somewhat muted. If Bush did have knowledge about the attacks on 9/11 - at least enough to know that he would be safe hanging out in a school packed with innocent children - perhaps his seeming calm amidst low public approval ratings is the result of more foreknowledge of an impending "attack". Another engineered "terrorist" strike on US soil would virtually guarantee that Bush could steal the election with minimal effort.

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Middle East Report

Friday morning - Two Americans and four Italians have been taken hostage in Iraq. Late Thursday Nouri Badran, Iraq's U.S.-appointed interim interior minister, resigned in the latest blow to U.S. policies and plans, while the kidnapping of foreign nationals associated with the Americans has further rathched up the growing dangers of the Iraqi occupation. Mr. Badran was selected by the top U.S. official, Paul Bremer, to oversee Iraq's 50,000 strong and growing fast police force. It is thought more resignations from the Council may take place as many now believe U.S. troops are 'out of control', pushing Iraq toward civil war, and their own already minimal credibility fading fast.

"I call upon the American people to stand beside their brethen, the Iraqi people, who are suffering an injustice by your rulers and the occupying army, to help them in the transfer of power to honest Iraqis. Otherwise Iraq will be another Vietnam for America." - Muktada Sadr

The Americans are now risking a general uprising in Iraq, and in view of other regional developments and the terrible situation in occupied Palestine, possibly even a general Arab rebellion... as much as the Americans believe their "client regimes" throughout the region will always keep things from ever reaching that point. One wonders what Lawrence of Arabia, or for that matter George Washington himself, would think today of what the Anglo-American Empire has become so brutally and duplicitously occupying the Middle East and at war with 'Islam' with the pretend slogans of 'democracy' and 'freedom'.

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Report from Baghdad - Opening the Gates of Hell

by Rahul Mahajan

Before the Iraq war, at a meeting of the Arab League, Secretary General Amr Moussa famously said that a U.S. war on Iraq would "open the gates of hell."

In Iraq, those gates are yawning wider than they ever have before - at least for the United States.

"Sunni and Shi'a are now one hand, together against the Americans," a man on the street in the mostly Shi'a slum of Shuala on the west side of Baghdad told me, as we conversed in the shadow of a burnt-out American tank transporter. Those sentiments were echoed at the local headquarters of Moqtada al-Sadr's organization, which had one day previously come under assault from U.S. forces.

And, indeed, everyone in the area agreed that when those forces were driven from Shuala, it was done by Sunni and Shi'a fighting together -- and by unorganized local inhabitants, not al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.

Whether or not the resistance here grows to a scale that the United States cannot control -- and this is more in the hands of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani than of Paul Bremer or George Bush -- it is already clear that the events of the last ten days mark a critical turning point in the occupation of Iraq.

We're being told a convenient and self-serving story about those events. In that story, a few barbaric "isolated extremists" from the "Saddamist stronghold" of Falluja killed four contractors who were guarding food convoys in an act of unprovoked lawlessness. Moqtada al-Sadr is fighting the U.S. forces right now because, in the words of George Bush, he decided that "rather than allow democracy to flourish, he's going to exercise force."

The truth is rather different. Falluja, although heavily Sunni Arab, was hardly in Saddam's pocket. Its imams got into trouble for refusing to obey his orders to praise him personally during prayers. Many inhabitants were Salafists (Wahhabism is a subset of Salafism), a group singled out for political persecution by Saddam.

In fact, during the war, Falluja was not a hotbed of resistance. Its turn to resistance started on April 28, when U.S. troops opened fire on a group of 100 to 200 peaceful protesters, killing 15. They claimed they were returning gunfire, but Human Rights Watch investigated and found that the bullet holes in the area were inconsistent with that story -- and, furthermore, every Iraqi witness maintained that the crowd was unarmed. Two days later, another three protesters were killed.

These incidents caused many people in the area to join the resistance, forming their own groups.

The most recent incident, in which four mercenaries from Blackwater Security, a company formed by ex-Navy Seals (Blackwater people are performing many of the same functions as soldiers in Iraq and do get involved in combat), did not arise in a vacuum. In fact, just the week before, U.S. Marines had mounted heavy raids on Fallujah, killing at least seven civilians, including a cameraman. Residents spoke of this as the reason for the attack on the Blackwater people and the gruesome spectacle that followed.

With the recent fighting in Falluja, cordoning off the city, in which 12 Marines, two other soldiers, vand at least 66 Iraqis were killed, there is no chance to get off this track in the foreseeable future.

But, not satisfied with this massive problem with the Sunni, the CPA chose the same time to pick a fight with the Shi'a followers of Moqtada al-Sadr.

Whatever al-Sadr's views about democracy may be, Bush's claim that he started this violence to derail democracy is ridiculous. First of all, for all of al-Sadr's firebrand rhetoric, he and his followers had always stopped short of overt violence against the occupying forces. Second, the incident that precipitated this whole round of violence was the closing of his newspaper, al-Hawza, a blatantly undemocratic act. In fact, the paper was not closed for directly advocating violence, but simply for reporting one eyewitness claim that a supposed car bombing that killed numerous volunteers for the New Iraqi defense forces was actually done by plane (and therefore by the United States).

In general, there is no quicker way to get an Iraqi to laugh than to talk about how the United States is bringing freedom or democracy to the country. It's standard when talking about the latest problem the Americans cause, to say derisively, "This is the freedom." When I asked Rasool Gurawi, a spokesman at the al-Sadr office in Thawra, the slum of two million that is perhaps al-Sadr's strongest base of support, about Bush's claims, he said, "This is democracy? Attacking peaceful demonstrations? Killing people and destroying buildings?"

As the occupation simultaneously loses control in Basra, Najaf, Kerbala, Nasiriyah, Kufa, Kut, Diwaniyah, and in Thawra, Shuala, and Kadhimiyah in Baghdad, Bremer and Bush have backed off a little. Instead of wanting al-Sadr for his political role, they now say he is wanted in connection with the murder of Shi'a cleric Abdul Majid al-Khoei last April. And, indeed, one of the other precipitating factors in the recent violence was the arrest of Mustafa Yacoubi, a top Sadr aide, for the same killing. They even say it has nothing to do with them -- an Iraqi judge, acting independently, issued the warrant.

This explanation isn't getting very far with anyone here. It's already been revealed that the warrants were written long ago and have been sitting unused until the right time. In fact, claimed Gurawi, the Iraqi Minister of Justice proclaimed publicly that he had no information about Sadr's or Yacoubi's involvement with al-Khoei and that they were not wanted by the Iraqi government.

Whatever the case, the administration's militaristic response and hollow rhetoric cut no ice with any Iraqis here, and are certain simply to exacerbate a situation that has already spun out of control for the United States.

Although the situation with Fallujah seems to have been mostly happenstance (of the kind that was inevitable with the constant skirmishing), the signs seem to indicate that the move against al-Sadr's people was deliberately timed. If so, it was presumably an attempt to squeeze him out of the political sphere before the token "transfer of sovereignty" on June 30. [...]

Even though the violence that has broken out is major news right now, in a sense it's not the real story. The killing of over 100 people in the last ten days is a tragedy, but so is everyday life under the occupation.

The people in the Shi'a slums of Baghdad who are now furiously resisting the Americans hate Saddam with a passion to this day. They suffered under his repression and they also suffered from neglect, especially under the sanctions -- scarce resources and repairs went to politically more favored areas. They expected great improvements when the United States took over.

Shaykh Sadun al-Shemary, a former member of the Iraqi army who participated in the 1991 uprising and now a spokesman for the al-Sadr organization in Shuala, told me, "Things are exactly the same as in Saddam's time -- maybe worse."

That is all you need to know about the occupation of Iraq.

Comment: Our daily scrutinising of world events has lead us to understand that few events on the political world stage happen in isolation. As such, the fact that the uprising in Iraq is occurring at precisely the same time as the Bush regime is "on trial" back home seems a little too coincidental. As always, the end result of the events we are witnessing now will give a good idea of whose agenda is being served. It has been stated openly by a US politician that the Iraq war was waged at the behest of Israel. It is likely then that, as events progress in Iraq, we will see increasingly that the ground is being prepared for the fulfillment of a long term goal of the "powers that be" - war in Palestine and the destruction of both Jews and Palestinians alike.

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Coalition Shaken by Violence

The WSJ reports that the escalating violence is " putting new stress on the fragile U.S. military alliance.

"From "Australia to Poland, U.S. allies with troops in Iraq are facing growing unrest at home and may find it difficult to resist calls to scale back their involvement or even withdraw."

For example, "New Zealand has said it will pull out its detachment of 60 engineers by September. Kazakhstan may not renew its small troop commitment when it expires this summer. And in elections last month, Spaniards threw out their governing coalition and elected the Socialists, who have vowed to withdraw Spain's 1,300 troops from Iraq unless the United Nations takes control of the pacification and reconstruction effort."

Without the support of the international community, American troops, already stretched thin, will have to shoulder more of the burden. Global support is also vital for the U.S. to "legitimize the occupation of Iraq and assure the American people that they aren't fighting alone."

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Fostering Extremism

The NYT reports countries in the Middle East increasingly see the surge of violence in Iraq as a sign that the United States, "rather than helping to stamp out extremism, might have created a new, toxic incubator for it."

President Bush repeatedly said Iraq would serve as a model of democracy in the region. Instead, "there is an almost universal sense in the Arab world that Washington is paying the price for entering Iraq with no coherent plan beyond toppling Saddam Hussein, and that the anarchy they allowed to run unchecked in the first days of occupation a year ago has never really been tamed."

This has led to widespread concern in the region that "the violence will further inflame existing divisions in Iraq, which could easily provoke similar ethnic or religious schisms in neighboring states."

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A Case Not Closed

by Seymour M. Hersh
Issue of 1993-11-01
Posted 2002-09-27

The confrontation between the United States and Iraq has revived interest in a decade-old charge—that Saddam Hussein ordered the assassination of President George H. W. Bush. This alleged plot has been cited in recent days by the current President Bush as one of the U.S.'s grievances against Hussein. In this article, from 1993, Seymour M. Hersh investigates the assassination story.

On Saturday, June 26, 1993, twenty-three Tomahawk guided missiles, each loaded with a thousand pounds of high explosives, were fired from American Navy warships in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea at the headquarters complex of the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi intelligence service, in downtown Baghdad. The attack was in response to an American determination that Iraqi intelligence, under the command of President Saddam Hussein, had plotted to assassinate former President George Bush during Bush's ceremonial visit to Kuwait in mid-April. It was President Bill Clinton's first act of war.

Three of the million-dollar missiles missed their target and landed on nearby homes, killing eight civilians, including Layla al-Attar, one of Iraq's most gifted artists. The death toll was considered acceptable by the White House; after all, scores of civilians had been killed in the Reagan Administration's F-111 bombing attack on Muammar Qaddafi's housing-and-office complex in Tripoli, Libya, in 1986. Clinton Administration officials acknowledged that they had been "lucky," as one national-security aide put it, in that only three of the computer-guided missiles went off course. Nearly three hundred Tomahawks had been fired during the Gulf War, with a higher rate of inaccuracy.

The media and a majority of the American public saw the American raid on Baghdad as a success, and as evidence that the struggling new President had finally demonstrated toughness when toughness was needed. Public-opinion polls showed that Clinton's approval rating climbed by eleven percentage points on June 27th, the day after the attack; more than two-thirds of those polled approved of the bombing.

President Clinton and those aides who supported his decision may have been right: the Iraqi intelligence service may have developed and put in motion a plot to assassinate George Bush during his triumphant visit to Kuwait to celebrate the Gulf War victory over Iraq. And if such a plot did exist Saddam Hussein may have known of it, or should have known, and thus would have been personally responsible for not preventing it. But my own investigations have uncovered circumstantial evidence, at least as compelling as the Administration's, that suggests that the American government's case against Iraq—as it has been outlined in public, anyway—is seriously flawed.

The Administration, with its well-meaning but floundering leadership, spent two months investigating and debating the alleged assassination attempt, and then ordered the bombing just one day after receiving a written intelligence report on it. That report, delivered on June 24th by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, provided what the President and his advisers concluded was compelling evidence of Iraqi complicity at the top.

A senior White House official recently told me that one of the seemingly most persuasive elements of the report had been overstated and was essentially incorrect. And none of the Clinton Administration officials I interviewed over a ten-week period this summer claimed that there was any empirical evidence—a "smoking gun"—directly linking Saddam or any of his senior advisers to the alleged assassination attempt. The case against Iraq was, and remains, circumstantial.

Nonetheless, on June 24th the F.B.I.'s intelligence report was accepted at face value by the President and his senior aides, and some of those aides told me that the mere existence of the report and the expectation that it would be leaked to the press were what drove the President to act. "We had to move quickly," one diplomat said, with rancor. "Bill Safire obviously would have the report for a weekend column." Safire, the Times columnist and a frequent critic of Clinton policy, had bedevilled the White House that spring with his ability to obtain restricted information from the Justice Department. [...]

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A coalition showing signs of fracture

Strategy Insurgents are targeting forces of smaller countries, exposing the weaknesses in the Pentagon's plans

Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor
The Guardian
Friday April 9, 2004

The Shia uprising is exposing the fragility of the US-led coalition in Iraq and putting a strain on the smaller partners. While the 110,000-strong US force and the 8,700-strong British force are geared for combat, many of the other countries joined the coalition in expectation of peacekeeping and reconstruction.

To the dismay of US central command, Japanese and South Korean forces have retreated to their compounds after coming under fire, while Ukrainian and Kazakh forces have been driven out of the town of Kut by Shia fighters. The US military is considering whether it needs to redeploy 25,000 expected reinforcements from its sector around Baghdad to the south to bolster the coalition forces. The Pentagon has already shored up its troop levels to deal with the deepening chaos by halting the rotation of some 25,000 soldiers due to go home after a year in the war zone.

Hundreds more British troops flew out to Iraq yesterday. More than 300 members of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment plus Territorial Army soldiers from the Glasgow-based 52nd Lowland Regiment left for Basra, where they will form part of the 4,500-strong 1st Mechanised Brigade.

Without the support of either the UN or Nato, the US has been unable to call on countries such as France, Germany, India and Pakistan for troops. Instead it has had to rely on a ragtag coalition of about 40 countries as diverse as El Salvador and Mongolia. Between them they contribute 24,000 troops in non-combat roles, primarily engineering.

Soldiers from Spain, Ukraine, Italy, El Salvador and Poland have come under fire this week, as well as the Americans and British. One of the first casualties this week was a Salvadorean soldier in Najaf. A Ukrainian soldier was killed on Tuesday in Kut. A Ukrainian defence official said last night that his country's troops would not leave Iraq, but had withdrawn from Kut as "they are not fit for hostilities".

No country other than Spain has decided to pull its forces out of Iraq, but the heavy fighting has caused rethinks in many capitals. The chances of these countries responding positively to calls for extra troops are fast diminishing. [...]

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S. Korea to become second-largest military ally in Iraq

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Friday, April 9, 2004

South Korea has decided to become a major contributor to the U.S.-led military effort to stabilize Iraq despite the recent abduction of Korean nationals by insurgents.

South Korea will deploy more than 3,700 soldiers in Iraq by August, officials said. They said the soldiers would be deployed in northern Iraq, either in Irbil or Suleimaniya.

The commitment by Seoul will make South Korea the third largest contributor of military troops to Iraq. Britain and the United States have been the leading contributors. [...]

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One year after Saddam's downfall, Bush's turn to struggle

AFP
Friday April 9, 2:04 PM


One year after the fall of Baghdad, President George W. Bush's campaign in Iraq is an increasingly painful and divisive issue for Americans.

Opinion polls indicate a majority of the US public opposes his handling of the occupation. Democratic politicians openly talk of a new Vietnam. The families of the 130,000-plus US troops in Iraq are more boldy questioning the absence of their loved ones.

One year after Saddam Hussein was defeated, Bush is now fighting Sunni and Shiite Muslim insurgents. He has said he is determined to beat the "terrorists and thugs" and press ahead with the June 30 change to a civilian Iraqi government.

But even countries in the US-led coalition are wondering what the US leader will do to produce the stability needed for a successful transition, according to diplomats. [...]

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US mediation not more troops answer to Iraqi violence: Polish defmin

WARSAW (AFP) Apr 08, 2004

Polish Defence Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski called on the United States on Thursday to do more to mediate in Iraq, saying sending more troops was not the answer to easing spiralling tensions.

"We need a more active mediation by the administration of the US representative in Iraq, Paul Bremer," he said on Polish television, when asked whether an increase in the number of coalition forces was necessary.

"We need more politics and less military forces," he said on TVN24. "We will not put the lives of our soldiers in danger." [...]

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Kerry Urges Bush to Be Bold, Honest on Iraq

By Patricia Wilson
Thu Apr 8, 3:24 PM ET

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Democratic challenger John Kerry called on Thursday for humility and common sense on Iraq and urged President Bush to make a bold and honest appeal for help to end the chaos. [...]

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who is trying to walk a fine line between supporting U.S. troops and criticizing Bush, said Americans had a right to know why the United States was fighting a war virtually alone, bearing both the casualties and the costs. [...]

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Explosion Shakes Central Baghdad

The Associated Press
Friday, April 9, 2004; 10:38 AM

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A large explosion shook central Baghdad on Friday, and smoke was seen rising from near the Sheraton Hotel beside Firdos Square.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately known.

U.S. troops warned earlier in the day that followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr were planning possible bomb attacks near Firdos Square. Troops had imposed a curfew in the area.

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Iraqi Insurgents Say Seize Six Foreigners

Apr 9, 10:08 AM (ET)

ABU GHRAIB, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraqi insurgents said they had seized four Italians and two Americans on the western outskirts of Baghdad on Friday.

A Reuters journalist saw two captive foreigners, said by the insurgents to be Italians, in a mosque in a village in the Abu Ghraib district. One was wounded in the shoulder. Both were weeping.

U.S. soldiers in a tank in the area near the village of al-Dhahab al-Abyad said they knew some Americans had been taken hostage, but had no details.

"That's why we are sealing off the road," said one soldier. [...]

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Pull out troops or we burn hostages alive

By David Blair in Baghdad, Colin Joyce in Tokyo and Anton La Guardia, Diplomatic Editor
The Telegraph
09/04/2004

Iraqi gunmen took three Japanese civilians captive yesterday and threatened to burn them alive unless Tokyo withdrew its forces, sharply raising the stakes in the uprising that has swept central and southern Iraq.

As coalition troops fought house-to-house to subdue the town of Fallujah, having earlier lost control of several towns, the insurgents opened up a new front with a rash of kidnappings.

Footage of the Japanese, broadcast on the al-Jazeera satellite network, showed masked men holding knives to their throats as well as pictures of their passports.

The hostages are Miss Nahoko Takato, 34, Noriaki Imai, 18, both aid workers, and Soichiro Koriyama, 32, a press cameraman.

The gunmen standing behind them in a bullet-scarred room said they were members of the Mujahideen Brigades, a hitherto unknown group.

They issued a statement to Japan: "Three of your children have fallen into our hands and we give you two options - withdraw your forces or we will burn them alive and feed them to the fighters. You have three days."

Other non-Iraqis appeared to be among the hostages, raising speculation that one could be Gary Teeley, 37, a British contractor seized on Tuesday near Nasiriyah. A Canadian aid worker has also been kidnapped. [...]

Rejecting the ultimatum, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yasuo Fukuda, said: "Our Self-Defence Forces are providing reconstruction support for Iraqi people so there is no reason to withdraw.

"If innocent civilians are taken hostage as reported, it is unforgivable. We demand their immediate release." [...]

Comment: Yet another "unknown" terrorist group appears. One might wonder why these mystery terrorists would suddenly appear and then kidnap and threaten to kill Japanese civilians when Japan's work in Iraq thus far seems to be relatively peaceful.

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Hundreds stage rally against Japan's decision to keep troops in Iraq

AFP
Friday April 9, 2:24 PM


Some 600 people have staged a demonstration in Tokyo, calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops as demanded by militants in Iraq, who are holding three Japanese nationals hostage.

The rally was held near the Cabinet Office and the Diet building following reports that the three were taken hostage in Iraq by an armed group which threatened to kill them unless Japanese troops were pulled out within three days.

Demonstrators handed over a letter to an official of the Cabinet Office, calling on Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to pull Japanese troops out of Iraq and take responsibility for the crisis.

"You should take responsibility for following the Bush administration as you are fully aware that the dispatch of the Self-Defence Forces will hurt both Japanese and Iraqi people," the letter said.

The protestors carried banners reading: "Bring them home now, Koizumi. Why don't you go to Iraq instead of the three hostages?" [...]

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Bomb Alert Evacuates Paris Train Stations

By Associated Press
April 8, 2004, 3:10 PM EDT

PARIS -- A bomb alert prompted the evacuation Thursday evening of all stations on a train line that cuts across the French capital, as well as Metro stations connecting to it, police said.

Traffic on the RER-A line, which crosses Paris and links it to the suburbs, was interrupted at 8:15 p.m., police said. All stations, both in Paris and the suburbs, were evacuated so officers could search.

Also evacuated were subway stations that connect the underground network to the train line, the RATP public transport company said.

French authorities have been on high alert since the deadly March 11 train bombings in Madrid, Spain.

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Terror attack fears grow as alerts spread around Europe

AFP
Friday April 9, 4:50 PM

Europe is facing ever more serious fears of another major terrorism attack, perhaps even over the Easter holiday period, as a series of security alerts spread fear through Spain, France, Britain and Italy.

Paris was the latest city to find itself on the apparent frontline of efforts to avert an attack by extremists groups, with the city's rail traffic temporarily brought to a halt and five stations evacuated on Thursday evening.

The move alert followed a CIA alert about a possible bomb attack, French police and US officials said.

Police said that the warning had come to the CIA via an anonymous e-mail message from Madrid, where a series of massive and coordinated bomb attacks at rail stations on March 11 left 191 people dead.

Spain was on Friday also bracing itself for the prospect of another imminent attack as police hunted for Islamic militants still at large after the Madrid bombings. [...]

Comment: We hope that European countries are working with more information on terrorism than just anonymous e-mails passed along by the CIA... It seems there are two intelligence organizations that, above all others, are never to be trusted - the Mossad and the CIA. This is especially true in light of the fact that the US desperately needs help in Iraq, help that could be generated by manufactured attacks in certain European countries.

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Spain hunts for fugitive bomb suspects amid Easter alert

AFP
Friday April 9, 12:21 AM

Spanish police are hunting for suspects still at large after the Madrid bombings, fearing that the Islamic militants behind the attacks are planning to strike again during the Easter holidays.

One month after the country's worst-ever terror attack, Spain is on high alert ahead of its four-year Easter holiday, with 100,000 security personnel monitoring rail transport, airports and sites such as nuclear reactors and reservoirs.

Newspapers reported that those behind the March 11 bombings had planned to blow up a vast shopping centre in the same suburb of the capital where seven suspects blew themselves up, rather than face capture, during a police stakeout last weekend. [...]

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Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions Underway

A group of American professors published on Monday a statement calling for boycotting Israeli academic institutions in protest of the continued Israeli practices against the Palestinian people, including disruption of academic life in Palestinian cities, towns, villages and refugee camps.

The petition included a list of professors from the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Chile, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Egypt, Lebanon, Australia, Japan, Argentina, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Palestinian National Authority, Israel and others.

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France to "examine situation" after Rwanda genocide row

AFP
Friday April 9, 1:21 AM

France will consider the implications of the row over its alleged complicity in the Rwandan genocide ten years ago once this week of commemoration is over, Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said.

"We will examine the situation in depth, but because of this week of contemplation I have nothing to add at this stage," Barnier told a news conference.

Rwandan authorities on Thursday reiterated the allegation that France had been involved in the genocide, following a new onslaught by President Paul Kagame, who had accused France of complicity in the massacres of 1994. [...]

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Russia's Pacific in nuclear danger

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (AFP) Apr 09, 2004

Russia's Okhotsky Sea is in imminent danger of a nuclear disaster from two sunken power units, local lawmakers warned Friday.

The 2.5-tonne IEU-1 units were lost in the Pacific Ocean's Okhotsky Sea in 1987 and 1997 due to emergencies during their transportation by helicopters, lawmakers told reporters.

One unit now rests off Sakhalin island's eastern Nizky cape, while another lies only 300 meters (yards) away from the island's northern Maria cape. [...]

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French power workers cut electricity to protest against privatization

07:43 AM EDT Apr 09

PARIS (AP) - Striking French power workers switched off street lights and cut electricity to homes Thursday to protest against plans to partially privatize public utilities.

Even the famed Chateau de Versailles lost power. National protests by power and gas workers marked the first major trade union challenge to the conservative government since it was reshuffled last week. Electricite de France and Gaz de France employees marched in Paris, with smaller rallies in other cities, to protest against plans to sell stock in the state-owned power and gas utilities.

[...] Strikers also cut power to 30,000 homes for 90 minutes in the northern city Rouen, said the electricity company, known by its initials EDF. In other towns, protesting workers restored power to families that had been cut off for non-payment of bills and cut supplies to local officials and public buildings.

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Dangerous space rocks under watch

Thursday, April 8, 2004 Posted: 12:09 PM EDT (1609 GMT)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- They are out there, ready to smack into the Earth and wipe out human civilization, but astronomers said on Wednesday 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 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. [...]

If an asteroid was confirmed to be on a catastrophic collision course with Earth, the experts said it would take about 30 years to get ready to do anything about it.

"The Space Shuttle's main engines and the fuel contained in the large external tank could successfully deflect a 1 kilometer object if it were applied about 20 years in advance," of a projected collision, Griffin said.

Using a nuclear bomb might make matters worse because the pieces of the blown-up asteroid would stay in the same orbit and eventually come back together again. [...]

Comment: The reader can visit Nasa's NEO web page and see that there are a whole slew of potential near-miss asteroids. An even bigger list is found here.
The list goes out until the year 2100. The following excerpts are rather informative:

"The following table shows 1690 close-Earth approaches by NEOs (Near-Earth Objects) sorted by date. Only those close approaches within 0.1 AU occurring on or after 2004-Apr-02 are included and only if the encounter has a reasonably low uncertainty."
[Click to read on NEO site]

"We also note that Earth close-approach statistics for NEO's can change (often by large amounts) as new data become available to update their orbits.
[Click to read on NEO site]

It seems Nasa is telling us that there are other NEO's that are more unpredictable. So the list they provide consists of those NEO's that they are pretty sure won't hit Earth. Now add the line from the above article about how experts say it would take 30 years to prepare to deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. Well! We feel safe now...

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The Ends of the Earth

5 reasons why the planet is going to hell.

By Bruce Sterling
Wired.com

Global dimming: The sunlight reaching Earth's surface is getting feebler. Assuming there's nothing wrong with the sun, some unknown atmospheric factor is steadily darkening the planet. [...]

Unpredictable day length: Eighteenth-century astronomers suspected that Earth's daily rotation on its axis was slowing, and the advent of the quartz clock in the 1930s proved them right. But new evidence indicates the planet's spin has been speeding up since 1999. Nobody knows why. [...]

Interplanetary chaos: We're used to the strange idea that a giant asteroid killed off the dinosaurs. Newer findings suggest that the solar system might be chaotically unstable, and that this instability could have beckoned the monster monolith out of deep space. [...]

Killer supernovas: A rotten supernova may have once fried Earth's atmosphere, destroying ozone, killing sea life, and blasting the planet with cosmic rays. Evidence: In 2002, Jesus Maiz-Apellaniz, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute, found that a supernova-spewing cluster of stars was closer to Earth a few million years ago. Core samples dating to that era contain a rare iron isotope, likely debris from a stellar explosion. Massive extinctions of plankton at that time have yet to be explained. [...]

Planetary insolvency: How would insurance companies pay for the devastation if an extinction-level asteroid were to collide with Earth? They wouldn't. They'd go broke. Worse yet, storms, floods, fires, and earthquakes could do the job first. [...]

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Earthquake shakes part of Indonesia's Sumatra island

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - A powerful undersea earthquake shook parts of Indonesia's Sumatra island on Friday, panicking residents but causing no major damage.

There were no reports of causalities resulting from the magnitude 5.3 quake, which was centered underneath the Mentawi Straits about 95 kilometers (60 miles) west of the town of Padang Panjang, said Joharman from the region's meteorology agency.

Many people in the town, about 900 kilometers (560 miles) northwest of Jakarta, fled their homes in panic when the quake hit, said Joharman, who goes by a single name.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval because of its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire.''

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Moderate Earthquake Shakes E. Taiwan

Associated Press
Posted on Fri, Apr. 09, 2004

TAIPEI, Taiwan - A moderate earthquake shook eastern Taiwan Friday, the Central Weather Bureau said, but no damage or injuries were reported.

The 4.8-magnitude quake was centered close to the island's east coast, about four miles inland from Hsincheng, the weather bureau said.

Hsincheng is a coastal town 70 miles southeast of the capital, Taipei.

Earthquakes frequently rattle Taiwan. Most are minor and cause little or no damage, but a 7.6-magnitude quake in central Taiwan in September 1999 killed more than 2,300 people

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Dark Matter

As the presidential campaign reaches critical mass, the United States will break a long-held taboo and launch the first weapon into the global commons of outer space.

By Chris Floyd

This summer, the human race will pass a sinister milestone. It will come quietly, creeping like a thief in the night -- a starless night, the sky blanked by a minatory shadow.

For while the world's attention will be turned this July toward the bloody carnage erupting in Iraq after the illusory turnover of "sovereignty" by the still-entrenched occupation force, and riveted by the flood of sewage pouring from the White House as the presidential campaign reaches critical mass, the United States will break a long-held taboo and launch the first weapon into the global commons of outer space.

It's a small step, a test satellite called the "Near Field Infrared Experiment," set for launch -- by a Minotaur missile, no less -- this summer from a NASA base in Virginia. NFIRE is part of the Bush Regime's multibillion-dollar, crony-feeding boondoggle known as "missile defense." The satellite's primary mission is to gather data on the exhaust fumes of rockets in space, information that will then be used to help future space weapons differentiate more clearly between a target and its trailing plume.

But NFIRE is itself weaponized, carrying a projectile-packed "kill vehicle" that can destroy passing missiles -- or the satellites of the United States' military and commercial rivals, as ABC News reported last week. This marks the first time in history that any nation has put a weapon in space, despite America's still-official policy against such a practice. And as Pentagon officials made clear in an eye-opening presentation to Congress in February, NFIRE's test is just the first spark of a conflagration that will soon set the heavens ablaze with American weaponry capable of striking -- and destroying -- any spot on earth. As one top Pentagon official -- opposed to this lunatic proliferation, thus remaining anonymous -- said: "We're crossing the Rubicon into space weaponization."

The ABC report -- largely ignored, except by the Irish Examiner and some specialist web sites -- was strangely incomplete, however. It noted only that there is a $68 million appropriation for NFIRE buried in the 2005 military budget -- leaving the implication that the project is still on the drawing board.

But in fact, NFIRE is already operational. It began in August 2002 and has moved steadily toward its long-established Summer 2004 launch date, according to NASA and press releases from the private contractors involved. The Pentagon's own published specs for the mission state clearly: "The Generation 2 kill vehicle will be integrated into the near-field experiment payload" when the spacecraft launches in summer 2004. The Minotaur missile that will haul the weapon into orbit was ordered by the Pentagon in January 2003, Orbital Sciences Corporation reports. Doubtless there will more NFIREs burning in 2005 as well, but the weaponization of space is not some distant prospect: That dark future is now.

And the boys in Space Command are just getting warmed up. They wowed the salivating Bushist faithful in Congress with highly detailed plans for a whizbang space arsenal led by the "Rods From God" -- bundles of tungsten rods fired from orbiting platforms, hurtling toward earth at 3,700 meters per second, accurate within a range of 8 meters and able to destroy even the most hardened targets, the Center for Defense Information reports. They could be launched at only a few minutes' notice at any target on the planet.

"God's Rods" will be accompanied by orbiting lasers, "hunter-killer" satellites, and space bombers that needn't bother with silly-billy legal worries about "overflight rights" from other countries, but can descend out of the ether to swoop down on any uppity nation that displeases the world-Caesar in Washington. [...]

Comment: Of course the above is, as is usual of any analysis of weapons technology, very much behind the times. Operational space based weapons have been in existence for some time now. The fact that the Columbia shuttle was probably taken out with an EM pulse from a space based satellite is evidence of this.

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Where Did Noah Park the Ark?

By Kathy Louise Schuit
Telegraph Staff Writer
Thursday, April 8, 2004

Almost since Moses reported the great flood and the ark that survived it in the Bible's book of Genesis, men have searched Mount Ararat for remains of the life-saving craft.

In this century, Ed Davis of Albuquerque was one of the few who, before his death in 1998 at age 95, claimed to have seen the ark.

But it was Mountainair's Don Shockey who told Davis' story to the world in his book "Agri-Dagh, Mount Ararat— The Painful Mountain" and who continues trying to prove that what Davis saw in 1946 was indeed Noah's Ark.

In the book, Davis recounts to Shockey his experiences in and near Hamadan, Iran, while serving with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1943. Mount Ararat rises from within the Turkish borders near Iran and Russia.

Davis said he was shown artifacts from the ark and held them in his hands. Then, accompanied by the family of a man who represented himself as a guardian of the ark, Davis said he was taken to it. [...]

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Kensington Runestone looking more like a fake

Peg Meier, Star Tribune
April 8, 2004

Scholars who believe the Kensington Runestone is a 19th-century prank -- and not concrete evidence that Norsemen beat Columbus to America by 100-plus years - - say they have found the smoking gun to prove it.

The latest in the century-old Minnesota controversy came in documents written in 1885 by an 18-year-old Swedish tailor named Edward Larsson. He sometimes wrote in runes -- an ancient Scandinavian language that differs from the English alphabet. But Larsson's runes were not the usual runes used over the centuries.

The scholars contend that parts of his documents seem to be written in a secret runic alphabet used by tradesmen in Sweden in the late 1800s, rather like codes that tramps have used over time to leave secret messages for each other.

Swedish linguists happened upon Larsson's documents recently and found that his writing corresponds to pieces of the Kensington Runestone inscription. They say that the journeymen's code did not exist in medieval times, when the Kensington Runestone is purported to have been carved.

"My opinion is this once again nails down the case against the Kensington Runestone," said Michael Michlovic, professor of anthropology and chairman of the Department of Anthropology and Earth Science at Minnesota State University Moorhead. [...]

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Birds make mystery splash

Szdaily
2004-04-09 08:48:24

FLOCKS of sparrows seen floundering in a lake in Renmin Park in Luohu were thought to have part of a mass suicide, the Shenzhen Evening News reported Thursday.

The park's security guards said it seemed that the sparrows were trying to drown themselves.

Many guards jumped into the water to rescue the sparrows and saved more than 20.

One of the guards, Mr. Wang, said the sparrows seemed to spontaneously throw themselves into the lake at around 11:20 a.m.

Some guards said that the sparrows might have eaten poisoned food and been unable to fly when they fell into the water. The cause was unknown, the paper said.

Comment: A veritable "Sign of the Times" if we ever saw one.

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Secrets of Tatra Cave Still a Mystery 50 Years Later

Friday, Apr 9, 2004

From the time he was a child, Ted Phillips has been looking up into the sky. In those early years, growing up in rural Missouri, all Phillips saw was stars. But it wasn't long before he started hearing stories about things that went "whoosh" in the night -- things other people swore they had seen -- and he wanted to know what they were.

This weekend, Phillips will be preaching to the choir when he speaks at the 2004 Ozark UFO Conference in Eureka Springs. And he admits he'll hear stories even he doesn't believe. [...]

Although Phillips will speak this weekend about the two best cases of physical UFO evidence among his 3,059 investigations, that's not his primary subject. In fact, he's not sure that "Project Tatra" is related to UFOs at all. It is, however, a fascinating story.

The short version is that Phillips gained access to the diary of a Czech soldier injured in fighting in Slovakia during World War II. Rescued by a sheep herder, the soldier and two of his comrades were hidden in a cave in the Tatra Mountains -- and there, Phillips says, "Tony" found something extraordinary. It was a "huge black wall, overgrown by cave formations, 2 miles back in a cave, 2,700 feet below the top of the mountain."

The "artifact," as Phillips calls it, was 27 feet high, about 20 feet wide and curved. "It looked almost like looking in a mirror of steel," he describes, "totally smooth, no seams, no rivets."

The soldier slipped through a narrow crack in the wall and found himself inside a "huge structure, shaped like a fat crescent moon, with 7-foot-thick walls that extended up beyond the light of his torches," Phillips goes on. On subsequent visits, he found that he couldn't even scratch the surface of the artifact with a pick -- but he could dig down through the limestone floor. About 60 inches in, he found a prehistoric cave bear skeleton and, under it, grillwork with warmth coming up through it. He also heard a sound, which he described as "something like a distant turbine."

"Remember, this is a mining engineer with four degrees from the University of Prague," Phillips reminds. "He knows about the sound of dripping water versus a turbine."

When Tony left the cave, he sealed off the crawlways that led to his discovery. According to Phillips, bombing later in the war also damaged the cave. But on trips to Europe in 1998 and 2001, Phillips located the cave and found confirmation that it is indeed the one where three wounded soldiers were sheltered in 1944.

Now, he wants to shore up the cave's interior and look for the unexplained black wall.

"Of course, funding is always difficult," Phillips admits, "because it's such a farfetched story -- unless you've spent 30 years looking into it!"

In the meantime, Phillips has found two more artifacts that might be related to the one in Slovakia. He won't even venture a guess what they are or where they came from, except to note that the one described in the soldier's diary had 6,000 years of limestone deposits inside it, along with the skeleton of an animal that had been extinct for 11,000 years.

"At first I thought it might be some kind of directional beacon, some kind of transmitter, but why? And who?" he wonders. "If I can figure out some way to get down into the lower section, maybe I'll figure it out."

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Suffolk forest yields UFO surprises

April 9, 2004

IF you go down to Rendlesham Forest today, you could get more than a big surprise – according to a new list compiled by the country's leading UFO expert.

Nick Pope, who ran the Ministry of Defence UFO desk for three years, has drawn up a list of the top 40 places in Britain where you might come face to face with an extra-terrestrial.

And Rendlesham Forest, near Woodbridge, is in seventh position, while Clacton-on-Sea, in Essex, is ranked 20th.

The list, topped by Bonnybridge in Lanarkshire, is the result of months of research into reported UFO sightings and alien abductions across the country.

Rendlesham Forest has long been associated with mysterious sights and sounds, and UFO investigators believe its link with other worlds goes back hundreds of years.

But it shot to fame across the globe in 1980, when American service personnel and local civilians reported several sightings of UFOs at RAF Bentwaters. [...]

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Trio of spirits spook OAP

April 9, 2004

GHOSTLY goings on are creating a major paranormal disturbance for a pensioner near Great Yarmouth.

Percy Blyth, 86, a former BT engineer, has been seeing ghosts in his Bradwell home for the past four years.

The pensioner, who lives in a semi-detached bungalow with his handicapped daughter Jane, told the Evening News the apparitions were visiting him nearly every night, often two or three of them at a time.

Mr Blyth, who moved into the property when it was brand new 10 years ago, said: "We've been seeing things for a few years now and it seems like a week hasn't gone by without us seeing something. But now it's got much worse.

"My wife saw them when she was alive. She saw a lady walking up the hallway towards her.

"But I see two men and a woman at the end of my bed when I wake up in the night. The man comes towards me and then just disappears.

"Once the woman was offering me something. They never say anything but I've shouted at them to clear off. It's quite sinister."

The pensioner, whose wife died last year, has now moved out of his normal bedroom into the one next door to try to avoid the spooks, which only appear at night.

He has previously made attempts to find out why his home seems to be attracting paranormal activity and four years ago invited a priest there to say prayers in each of the rooms, but he said it had not seemed to make any difference.

Mr Blyth's daughter, Susan Goddard, said: "It's got so bad he's dreading going to bed. It is scary. If he has to get up out of bed in the night, he's terrified [...]

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Actors Whip Easter Bunny at Church Show

AP
Thu Apr 8,11:08 AM ET


GLASSPORT, Pa. - First, the Passion of the Christ. Now, the torment of the Easter Bunny?

It may not have been as gruesome as Mel Gibson's movie, but many parents and children got upset when a church trying to teach about Jesus' crucifixion performed an Easter show with actors whipping the Easter bunny and breaking eggs.

People who attended Saturday's show at Glassport's memorial stadium quoted performers as saying, "There is no Easter bunny," and described the show as being a demonstration of how Jesus was crucified.

Melissa Salzmann, who brought her 4-year-old son J.T., said the program was inappropriate for young children. "He was crying and asking me why the bunny was being whipped," Salzmann said.

Patty Bickerton, the youth minister at Glassport Assembly of God, said the performance wasn't meant to be offensive. Bickerton portrayed the Easter rabbit and said she tried to act with a tone of irreverence.

"The program was for all ages, not just the kids. We wanted to convey that Easter is not just about the Easter bunny, it is about Jesus Christ," Bickerton said. [...]

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