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The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity but the one that removes the awareness of other possibilities, that makes it seem inconceivable that other ways are viable, that removes the sense that there is an outside.
Allan Bloom The Closing of the American Mind

It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong. --Voltaire--

Faith of consciousness is freedom
Faith of feeling is weakness
Faith of body is stupidity [Gurdjieff]

Life is religion. Life experiences reflect how one interacts with God. Those who are asleep are those of little faith in terms of their interaction with the creation. Some people think that the world exists for them to overcome or ignore or shut out. For those individuals, the worlds will cease. They will become exactly what they give to life. They will become merely a dream in the "past." People who pay strict attention to objective reality right and left, become the reality of the "Future." [Cassiopaea, 09-28-02]

Ark's Jokes

The maker of this flash presentation deserves a medal.

Pentagoon: I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag

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Earthquake bulletins

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January 22, 2003

IMPEACH GEORGE BUSH! - Articles of Impeachment and the FAX number of your representative. Download, print and FAX.

Common Dreams Newscenter ~ Go Here to see Photos of the HUGE Crowds on Jan 18 ~ Go Here to see who's leading George Bush around by the nose!

A little experiment with google "adwords." Cassiopaea created an ad that said: As The World Burns Today's edition, brought to you by the Bush Junta; a cast of billions. - with a direct link to the signs page here. KEYWORD(S): iraq, saddam, george bush

Today, we received an email from google saying: "Action taken: Disapproved Issue(s): Keywords too General ~SUGGESTIONS: -> Keywords: We suggest that you try running on keywords such as "metaphysics", "quantum physics", "conspiracy", "conspiracies".

This means, of course, that anyone searching on information about George Bush or Saddam or Iraq must not ever be exposed to anything but the Mass Media spin... ???

Germany blocks the road to war - GERMANY will use its power as incoming president of the UN Security Council to try to head off war with Iraq by asking the chief weapons inspectors to report twice in three weeks, The Times has learnt. The surprise German effort to buy time appeared to be aimed at defusing the tension that is building around the chief inspector’s public report to the 15-nation council on Monday. [...] Berlin’s diplomatic move was launched as the allies’ simmering dispute over Iraq exploded into a heated row.

The French and German leaders vowed to use all their influence to stop the war, while Washington and London fumed that efforts to disarm President Saddam Hussein were being undermined at a critical stage. Behind the scenes ministers on both sides were involved in angry exchanges.

President Chirac confirmed the impression of a looming clash with Washington and London by announcing that he and the German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had agreed a common stand on Iraq. “Any decision belongs to the UN Security Council and to it alone, speaking after having heard the report of the arms inspectors, in conformity with the resolutions it has adopted,” he said after a Franco-German Cabinet meeting in the Elysée Palace. For us . . . war is always an admission of failure and the worst of all solutions. Everything should be done to avoid it.”

Herr Schröder, in Paris to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Franco-German friendship treaty, said: “We agreed completely to harmonise our positions as closely as possible to find a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis.” [...]

Tony Blair hit back instantly by warning that Britain would be prepared to take military action against Iraq with or without a second UN Security Council resolution. [...]

The widening divisions poisoned relations between the allies and led to angry scenes at Nato, where France and Germany blocked a decision on whether to prepare support for America’s military build-up in the Gulf. [...]

The row leaves Britain torn between its European and American allegiances. Diplomatic sources said Britain was unlikely to join America in declaring Iraq in “further material breach” next week, the trigger for war. “I do not think the inspectors will bring to the Security Council the basis for that,” one official said.

Kurt Vonnegut recently took some time to talk from his home in New York City about how he thinks things are going these days:

"I don't want to belong to a country that attacks little countries. I don't want to belong to that kind of a country. I wrote a piece for 7 Stories Press here in New York. They're about to publish a book of anti-war posters by a guy nobody's heard of before – he's a pretty good artist and so I was asked to write a piece for it. (Reading)

"These anti-war posters by Micah Ian Wright are reminiscent in spirit of works by artists like Kathe Kollwitz and Georg Grosz and on and on during the 1920s, when it was becoming ever more evident that the infant German democracy was about to be murdered by psychopathic personalities – hereinafter P.P.s – the medical term for smart, personable people who have no conscience. P.P.s are fully aware of how much suffering their actions will inflict on others but do not care. They cannot care.

"The classic medical text about how such attractive leaders bring us into unspeakable calamities is The Mask of Sanity by Dr. Hervey Cleckley. An American P.P. at the head of a corporation, for example, could enrich himself by ruining his employees and investors and still feel as pure as the driven snow. A P.P., should he attain a post near the top of our federal government, might feel that taking the country into an endless war with casualties in the millions was simply something decisive to do today. So to bed.

"With a P.P., decisiveness is all. Or, to put it another way, we now have a Reichstag fire of our own." - as Cleckley says, these people are around and do rise. Women are attracted to them. I mean, this is a defect, but women are attracted to them because they are so confident. They really don't give a fuck what happens – not even to themselves. But this is a serious defect and, no, we haven't been invaded and conquered by Martians. We have been conquered by psychopathic personalities who are attractive. Comment: Read Psychopaths and Organic Portals and the Adventure Series which goes into details about how this world has been taken over by psychopaths - an idea that seems to be gaining support among the intelligentsia.

After scolding European allies who may not support a war against Iraq, President Bush on Wednesday warned Iraqi military commanders not to unleash chemical or biological weapons on invading U.S. troops. Despite Bush’s anger, France and Germany remained unwavering in their opposition to war, saying they were determined to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

It is truly ironic that Mr. Bush should choose to lecture European leaders over World War 2. While pushing his case for war he said; "Surely our friends have learned lessons from the past." Bearing in mind the Bush family past and their support for the Nazis, Europe's resistance to Mr. Bush's plans demonstrate they may indeed, finally have learned their lesson.

Truth May Sink in Desert Sand In an Iraq War, Washington is Likely to Once Again Muzzle the News Media. - Those intrepid journalists who remain in Iraq may face challenges from the U.S. military too, in the form of electronic jamming of their satellite phones or other technology to thwart live coverage. But this will pale in comparison with those hapless souls "embedded" with the American forces. Reporters have been embedded before, in a shack in Panama, in a briefing room in Dhahran and in their hotels in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They've been denied timely access to events on the ground until Washington has in effect "sanitized" the terrain. There is nothing to suggest the Pentagon will change its policy or permit the kind of unfettered reportage we witnessed in Vietnam.

Special 9/11 panel facing obstacles - The commission, which holds its first meeting next Monday in Washington, will have just $3 million and 16 more months to explore the causes of, preparations for and response to the terrorist hijackings that killed more than 3,000 Americans at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. By comparison, a federal commission created in 1996 was given two years and $5 million to study legalized gambling. The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks came to life last year in a compromise between Congress and the Bush White House, which had initially opposed it. Relatives of Sept. 11 victims had lobbied strenuously for the independent panel. Comment: Of course! Bush and his cohorts in crime most definitely do NOT want the truth of 9-11 to come out - because they all have American blood on their hands!

Civil defense teams dug through demolished buildings after a strong earthquake rattled central Mexico, killing at least 23 people in the Pacific coast states of Colima and Jalisco. The quake late Tuesday measured about 7.6 on the Richter scale and caused widespread panic in a country that has still not forgotten a 1985 earthquake which left 20,000 dead.

Temperatures dropped to minus 35 degrees Wednesday as the cold wave hung on from the northern Plains into New England, keeping even the hardiest people indoors. Arctic air has been blowing south for more than a week, and has been felt especially hard in the Northeast, where the last couple of winters were unusually mild. "It's remarkable, the longevity of it," said Tim Morrin, a National Weather Service meteorologist at Upton, New York. "It just doesn't seem like we're getting a break." - The last time the mercury in New York City rose above freezing was January 13 -- nine icy days in a row as of Wednesday -- and the deep freeze was expected to continue there into the weekend. The chilly air extended as far south as North Texas, where Borger bottomed out at 20 degrees, and Kansas City, Missouri, fell to just 16 by late morning, with a wind chill of 3.

A lot of specialists and scientists believe that unpredictable natural disasters and several man-caused catastrophes that struck Europe and Asia in the summer of the year 2002 say that there might be certain global reasons that caused them all. First and foremost, it goes about a possibility of secret geophysical weapon tests. Those tests were either secret or unauthorized. The Russian Federation State Duma spent almost a year, considering the global threat of the HAARP program. The Duma finally prepared two addresses: to President Putin and to the UN, international organizations, parliaments and governments of all countries, to the scientific community of the world, as well as to mass media. The Russian parliament suggested the global banning of HAARP tests. In September of the year 2002 the State Duma of Russia discussed this question and conducted the voting in order to send the mentioned addresses to the adequate addressees. One hundred and eighty-eight deputies voted for the address to President Vladimir Putin, whereas the same subject for the UN returned 220 votes. This proved that Russian parliamentarians were rather concerned about the development and possible use of geophysical weapons.

It is well known that the USA and the USSR concluded an agreement at the end of the 1970s. Pursuant to the agreement, scientific developments in the field of geophysics for military purposes were banned. All the works in the field became secret too. However, the works continued anyway, despite the signed document. It was simply conducted under the disguise of the scientific research or the development of the double-purpose technology. The point and the purpose of those developments were rather vague and even mysterious.

A lot of specialists and scientists believe that a special American program HAARP is one of those developments. American scientist Bernard Eastlund is considered to be the godfather of this program. He received the patent for the method and for the device to measure the layers of the Earth atmosphere, the ionosphere and/or the magnetosphere. It is an open secret that the USA (probably, not the USA alone) has already constructed high-frequency transmitter facilities. Those devices can heat the earth environment up to the state of plasma by means of pumping ions. This makes it possible to control the environment, which might show considerable influence on the atmospheric phenomena. The owners of this weapon are able to program floods, twisters and storms, even earthquakes in any region of the planet. It is also possible to paralyze civil and military electric surveillance systems, and even to affect the mentality of whole nations.

There is a suspicion that the unusual natural disasters and man-caused catastrophes of the year 2002, the unexplainable indifference of several nations on the post-Soviet territory might be linked to USA’s tests of geophysical weapons of low capacities. However, neither American politicians and scientists, nor the world community know, if it is going to be possible to stop the work of the geophysical weapon, if it is used at its full capacity. This is the major problem. It is quite possible that the first full capacity use of the geophysical weapon might end up in a global catastrophe. Does it seem to be science fiction? Not really, as a matter of fact. High frequency transmitter facilities already exist. They are located in Norway and at an army base in Alaska. The short description of the program and some photographs can be found on the official site Another high power transmitter facility, a more powerful one, is going to be put into operation in Greenland soon. When this happens, the geophysical weapon will be capable of covering Eurasia from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast.

Killer Asteroid Approaching the Earth? - Robin Scagell, vice-president of the British Society for Popular Astronomy said: “Now we start realizing that we are living in the world that is a real shooting range in fact. Until now, the mankind was lucky.” He added that only when the last generation of telescopes appeared, astronomers understood that the space was polluted with “tiny” meteorites and asteroids, each of them may wipe a large city off the face of the Earth. Not so much time ago, a meteorite called 2000YA passed by the planet, it was just 800 thousand kilometers from the Earth, which is a short distance judging by the astronomic standards. The meteorite moved at the speed of over 36 km/sec. Scagell says that the meteorite could turn the central part of London into a mess if it hit London. To tell the truth, there are even larger meteorites that pass the planet.

Recently, on December 27, 2002 Ukraine’s newspaper Pravda Ukraini (Ukrainian Truth) published a sensation that attracted little attention in the fuss on the New Year’s eve. The newspaper reported that a meteorite called Eight (it is called so by its shape) was approaching the Earth and would hit the planet on January 25, 2003. It was also reported that “leaders and scientists of the world largest countries started incredibly heated disputes on the problem. The world practice witnessed such situation for the first time. It was also for the first time that projects of astrophysicists were discussed at parliamentary sessions in Central Europe. The reason to it was a huge meteorite hundreds times larger than the famous Tunguska meteorite, which can drop on the Earth on January 25, 2003. The most optimistic forecasts say that if the meteorite falls, it may raze to the ground the territory of several thousands of square kilometers.”

The newspaper cited President of the Boston Center for Space Research and Observation, Herbert Coliander who said that “no doubt that the meteorite discovered four years ago will fall on the Earth.” The problem was discussed at a G7 session in Warsaw, where it was suggested that a special group for averting a catastrophe must be created. The newspaper reported at that: “However, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly declared such hasty actions were ungrounded.” Baikal Lake is one of the possible spots of the meteorite’s falling; if the catastrophe occurs, the lake will turn into one more ocean, not to mention the accompanying climate cataclysms.

It is strange that the information about the approaching cataclysm caused just slightest anxiety. Probably, the Ukrainian newspaper made a misprint, and the meteorite may hit the Earth not in 2003, but in 2013 or even in 2113. This doesn’t change the situation radically, as the mankind is not yet ready for resistance to danger going from the sky and unlikely to be ready for it very soon. Indeed, the above mentioned 2000YA meteorite was detected when it already passed by the Earth. After that, a report of three scientists warning of a real meteorite danger was published in Great Britain. The report suggested that a system of anti-meteorite protection covering the whole of the planet must be created.

On June 14, 2002, asteroid 2002MN of about 100 meters in length passed by the Earth at a distance of 120 thousand kilometers (it is less than one third of the distance between the Earth and the Moon). And the asteroid was detected only in three days after it successfully passed the planet. The problem is that the “space guards” still have no equipment to detect such “small” objects.

A meteorite threat is not a myth, but reality. Let’s remember the Tunguska meteorite which explosion in 1908 was equivalent to the explosion of 500 nuclear bombs. Fortunately, the meteorite blew up over the Siberian taiga. What would happen if it didn’t? There is a hypothesis saying that dinosaurs were killed with an asteroid of 5 kilometers in diameter. About 40 meteorite craters with the diameter of more than 20 kilometers were discovered on the planet. It means that large celestial bodies collided with the Earth and will do in the future as well.

Western inaction, even indulgence, of North Korea - where Washington was overcome with eagerness to talk and to avoid force - proves not the risk, but the value of having weapons of mass destruction, or WMDs. Pyongyang has them, so the US leaves it alone; Baghdad does not yet have them, so it's set to get invaded. In other words, if you really do pose a threat, you're safe. If you don't, you're in danger. What better advert for the Bomb could there be! The lesson a second Gulf war will teach the dictators of the world is: buy weapons of mass destruction now. As Kim Jong Il has proved, a nuke a day keeps the Yanks away.

Comment from Reader: Reading the daily [news], it seems clear that there is such a massive opposition to war that practically the only people in favour of it are Bush and Blair. I personally don't know a single person who is in favour of war, and the general "feeling" I get from the population in general is the same. And yet, in one of the Signs updates today was the "BRITISH troops will seize control of Iraq's oilfields under a secret invasion plan" story, and various others like it.

The UK and US are supposed to be democracies and as far as I know, no outright decision by either country's governments has been made to go to war, BUT clearly the plans have already been made and the orders given! One Labour MP of the British parliament was quoted as saying, "I think this means war is inevitable now but that should not stop us doing everything, day and night, to oppose it."

I find that a somewhat unsettling comment from someone who is supposed to be a member of the ruling party of a supposedly democratic country. It seems to imply a feeling of powerlessness.

So this leaves me to wonder, just WHO is giving these orders? Is it the consortium? If so perhaps they are exposing themselves during this process. Or perhaps it is simply the direct orders of Bush and Blair respectively, and if that is the case then it is evidence that both counties are now essentially dictatorships.

Russian source: US 'will attack Iraq next month' - The Russian news agency Interfax quoted an unnamed, high-ranking source in the Russian general headquarters as saying that the US and its allies would attack once a battle-ready force of 150,000 troops reached the Gulf. "According to the information we have, the operation is planned for the second half of February. The decision to launch it has been taken but not yet been made public," the source said. The source claimed that toppling the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, was a pretext allowing the US to acquire control of Iraqi oilfields. "The military operation against Iraq will be conducted by a combination of means. Strikes will be from the air, land and sea," the source said, claiming that Washington expects the military campaign to last for around a month.

Selling A War In five weeks it is likely that United States soldiers will be fighting and dying in Iraq. While there is no doubt that we can defeat Sadam Hussein there is much debate on whether we should go to war and what will be the ultimate costs to Iraq and the United States.

Americans want to believe that our government officials tell the truth and don’t intentionally mislead us. Other governments manipulate the truth not ours. It is hard for Americans to accept that at times we are lied to or intentionally misled in order to build support for a foreign policy decision. While this may be disturbing it is our duty as citizens in a democracy to be open to this reality. We are the strongest military in the world and ultimately decide which governments will fall or stand.

If you followed the first Gulf War you remember the infamous story of how Iraqi soldiers removed babies from incubators in Kuwait city; left them to die and shipped the incubators back to Iraq. This was front page news in every newspaper in the U.S. and the lead story on every major news station as the public was deciding whether to support going to war. This story was repeated by President Bush senior in a number of speeches saying that such "ghastly atrocities," were like "Hitler revisited." There is only one problem with this story. It never happened! It was a complete fabrication! Months after the war ended TV Guide reported in Feb., 1992 that both 20/20 and Sixty Minutes interviewed doctors in Kuwait and determined no such incident ever happened. Bush Senior LIED.

When the invasion of Kuwait took place in August, 1990 US public opinion was not predisposed to the government of Kuwait. Only a few weeks before Amnesty International accused the government of Kuwait of jailing dozens of dissidents and torturing them without trial. To help build support for the war "Citizens for a Free Kuwait," which was the Kuwait government in exile, hired the Washington based public relations of Hill and Knowlton for $10.7 million to devise a campaign to win support for the war. The CEO of H & K at the time, Craig Fuller, had access to the power elite in Washington, as he had served as the President’s chief of staff when Bush was Vice President under President Reagan. One aspect of their campaign was to coach a young woman Nayirah, who appeared Oct. 10, 1990 in front of a Congressional committee. She testified to the committee that she saw Iraqi soldiers come into a hospital, remove babies from incubators and leave them "on the cold floor to die." It later came out long after the war was over that she was the daughter of Kuwait’s ambassador to the United States and hadn’t actually seen the incident she described taking place - an incident which was later proven to be a fabrication. Hill & Knowlton also coached a team of witnesses who appeared a few weeks later at the United Nations about atrocities in Iraq.

Another example from the first Gulf war, according to an article in the Christian Science Monitor was a report by Pentagon officials, citing top-secret satellite images. Pentagon officials estimated that up to 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks stood on the border of Saudi Arabia, threatening the major supplier of oil for the US. The St. Petersburg Times in Florida acquired two commercial Soviet satellite images of the same area, taken at the same time which showed no Iraqi troops visible near the Saudi border - just empty desert. Jean Heller, the Times Journalist who broke the story asked Secretary of Defense Cheney (now Vice President) for evidence refuting the Times photos, offering to hold the story if proven wrong. The official response: "Trust Us." To this day the photos cited by Pentagon officials remain classified.

In a September 7, 2002 news conference President Bush said that Iraq in 1998 was "six months away" from developing a nuclear weapon citing a report from The International Atomic Energy Agency. On Friday, Sept. 27, in a news interview Mark Gwozdecky, the IAEA’s chief spokesman said, "There’s never been a report like that issued from this agency." When questioned, the White House said the President was referring to a 1991 IAEA report. Mr. Gwozdecky said no such report was ever issued by IAEA in 1991. "I don’t know where they have determined that Iraq has retained this much weaponization capability because when we left in December 1998 we had concluded that we had neutralized their nuclear-weapons program. We had confiscated their fissile material. We had destroyed all their key buildings and equipment," he said. Buse Junior LIED. [...]

As citizens of the world’s most powerful country we have an obligation to critically examine the position of our government regarding the merits of going to war and each come to our own conclusion. If we are to be true to those who die defending our freedom this is our patriotic responsibility.
Peter Wirth CEO of GW Associates, a Syracuse public relations firm

White House Press Briefing with Ari Fleischer Tuesday, January 21, 2003 - 12:30 PM

Mokhiber: Ari, UPI reported last week that Prime Minister Sharon of Israel has given the green light to Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, to engage in targeted killings in the United States and other friendly countries. The report says that Mossad has in the past engaged in assassinations in Belgium, Norway, and other European countries, but never in the United States. Is the administration aware of this new Israeli policy and has the administration agreed to it?

Ari Fleischer: That's the first I've heard of it, so I have no comment to offer on it.

Mokhiber: Could we get comment from you?

Ari Fleischer: I'll see if there is something on it.

Comment: If this is the first Ari Fleischer has heard about the report that has raced around the world, he needs to step down from his post as he is totally incompetent.

Mokhiber: You and the President have repeatedly said that Saddam Hussein gassed his own people. The biggest such attack was in Halabja in March 1988, where some 6,800 Kurds were killed. Last week, in an article in the International Herald Tribune, Joost Hiltermann writes that while it was Iraq that carried out the attack, the United States at the time, fully aware that it was Iraq, accused Iran. This was apparently part of the U.S. tilt toward Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war. The tilt included billions of dollars in loan guarantees. Sensing he had carte blanche, Saddam escalated his resort to gas warfare -- graduating to ever more lethal agents. So, you and the President have said that Saddam has repeatedly gassed his own people. Why do you leave out the part that the United States in effect gave Saddam the green light?

Ari Fleischer: Russell, I speak for President George W. Bush in the year 2003. If you have a question about statements that were purportedly made by the administration in 1988, you need to address those somewhere other than this White House. I can't speak for that. I don't know if it is accurate, inaccurate, but you have all the means to ask those questions yourself.

Comment: Notice how Ari has completely weasled out of the question. The statements made by Ari Fleischer and George Bush are that "Saddam Hussein gassed his own people." If Fleischer and Bush are both unaware of the historical context of these purported events, again, they are incompetent in their positions and ought to step down or be impeached. Don't miss the other priceless question and answer sessions with Ari Fleischer on the above linked site. They are listed to the right of the page.

What is a "Material Breach?" - On January 27, senior United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix will deliver his first full report on Iraq's compliance -- or lack of compliance -- with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441. The resolution was adopted on November 8 of last year. It states that "false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq . . . and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the [resolution's] implementation" will be considered a "material breach of Iraq's obligations" under the resolution.

What is a "material breach"? Resolution 1441 does not define the term -- and this ambiguity could prove important both for the questions of whether there will be war with Iraq, and if there is, whether that war will enjoy international support. Based on how the term functions in other contexts, a material breach would appear to be, very roughly, a breach that is important, not trivial -- and one that is important, in particular, to the purposes the breached instrument serves. But defining a material breach in the Iraq context may be as tricky as it is significant. [...]

The Bush Administration and the news media have sometimes suggested that a finding of a "material breach" will automatically trigger war with Iraq. But in fact, Resolution 1441 states that in the event of a material breach or other Iraqi interference or failures to comply with disarmament obligations, the Security Council will "consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security." That is, the resolution itself expressly considers material breach to be a trigger for further deliberation, not automatic war.

Resolution 1441 appears to speak out of both sides of its mouth because it is a compromise document. It was the result of protracted negotiations between, on the one hand, the United States and the United Kingdom, and on the other hand, other permanent members of the Security Council such as France and Russia. Accordingly, Resolution 1441 may be seen as striking the following deal: The United States and Great Britain agreed that before going to war against Iraq, they will return to the Security Council for a determination by that body of whether Iraq is in material breach. Meanwhile, the other Security Council members agreed that if a material breach is found, they will authorize military action to oust Saddam Hussein from power.

For example, if U.N. weapons inspectors find nuclear warheads stashed underneath Saddam Hussein's mattress, that fact -- along with the Iraqi regime's prior failure to disclose the existence of these warheads -- would constitute an obvious material breach. Likewise, at the other extreme, if it turns out that some of the thousands of pages Iraq produced last month contain typographical errors (as they almost surely do), that would not constitute a "material breach." (Indeed, it probably would not constitute a breach at all.)

Absent a smoking gun, when it reconvenes to consider the coming Blix report, the Security Council will have to decide whether Iraq's various omissions and misstatements (those that are more serious than typos, of course) are so grave as to constitute a material breach. [More...]

HOW DO WE TELL OUR CHILDREN WE'RE GOING TO WAR? - As a children's author and journalist, I deal in stories which try to make sense of all that. And as a parent I tried my best to tackle the endless question, "Why?" as all parents must. Perhaps never more so than now. We live in a world full of terror and confusion. The trouble is many feel unsure of what to say. How can you answer your child's questions when you wake up full of gloom because you don't know what to think yourself? - Reality screams from newspapers, radio and television in the form of suicide bombers, murder in quiet villages, gang warfare on the streets, drugs, hatred ... and now this bad man Saddam who needs to be dealt with, somehow. Children will turn to us, the all-wise grown-ups, wanting answers. But how on earth are we supposed to explain why it's all happening?

The Guilt-Free Soldier - "It's the morning-after pill for just about anything that produces regret, remorse, pain, or guilt," says Dr. Leon Kass, chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics, who emphasizes that he's speaking as an individual and not on behalf of the council. Barry Romo, a national coordinator for Vietnam Veterans Against the War, is even more blunt. "That's the devil pill," he says. "That's the monster pill, the anti-morality pill. That's the pill that can make men and women do anything and think they can get away with it. Even if it doesn't work, what's scary is that a young soldier could believe it will." Are we ready for the infamous Nuremberg plea—"I was just following orders"—to be made easier with pharmaceuticals? Though the research so far has been limited to animals and the most preliminary of human trials, the question is worth debating now.

President Bush warned the Iraqi military Wednesday they would be prosecuted as war criminals if they used weapons of mass destruction on U.S. troops or their own people. "There'll be serious consequences for any general or soldier who were to use weapons of mass destruction on our troops or innocent lives within Iraq," Bush said. "Should any Iraqi officer or soldier receive an order from (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein or his sons or any of the killers who occupy the high levels of their government, my advice is don't follow that order," Bush said. "If you choose to do so, when Iraq is liberated, you will be treated, tried and persecuted as a war criminal." Bush has vowed to disarm Iraq forcibly unless it does so voluntarily under U.N. resolutions. He has said he has not yet decided on military action.

Flashback! US wants wider exemptions from war crimes court - America is negotiating with Britain and other European Union countries to expand blanket immunity to cover civilian as well as military personnel who might fall foul of the new international war crimes tribunal in the Hague. The move is expected to seriously undermine the credibility and effectiveness of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which opened for business in July. Comment: Why does the US want immunity from War Crimes Court? Well, the answer is obvious: Bush and the Warmongers intend to COMMIT War Crimes!

The United States sought to tighten the noose around Iraq, ordering two more carrier groups to the Gulf, but Baghdad hit back by accusing Washington of trying to sabotage the UN disarmament process. With chief inspectors set to demand more time to complete the weapons checks when they make a key progress report to the UN Security Council on Monday, US President George W. Bush launched a pre-emptive strike. "How much time do we need to see clearly that he's not disarming?" Bush snapped Tuesday, charging Saddam with using "the tricks of the past" to thwart UN inspectors as he did after the 1991 Gulf War.

Regardless of the outcome of weapons inspections, UN condemnation, worldwide outrage, or last-minute diplomacy, Jan. 26 is the day long range weather forecasts predict the "weather window" will open for a round-the-clock bombing sequel against a shattered country the size of California. The bombers' "window of death" will remain open until the end of February. - Secretary of State George Shultz earlier confirmed this timetable, telling the Financial Times last November 21 that "there will be military action. I would be surprised if we have not acted by the end of January." The day before, top Bush security advisor Richard Perle told British Labour Party MPs that President Bush intends to go to war "even if inspectors find nothing." Perle stunned the Parliamentarians by insisting that even a "clean bill of health" from UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix would not stop America's war machine. [Daily Mirror Nov. 21, 22/02] -

WHY BUSH CAN'T WAIT Referring to mounting pressure on an unelected President, a Republican Party aide adds that with anti-war opposition growing in the United States and Britain, "The longer he leaves it, the greater the political risk." [The Observer Dec. 8/02] -

US forces might be better advised to raid US corporate headquarters. Three Congressional investigations earlier documented extensive chemical and biological weapons and production facilities shipped to Baghdad with White House approval prior to - and after - the last Gulf "war". [Bringing The War Home by William Thomas]

Despite White House removal of more than 8,000 embarrassing pages from Iraq's 11,800-page weapons dossier, Geneva-based reporter Andreas Zumach has published pages documenting how 24 US corporations and several US government agencies "illegally helped Iraq to build its biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs." Hewlett Packard, Dupont, Honeywell, Bechtel, Rockwell, Tectronics, Unisys and Sperry were among more than two-dozen US sponsors "who gave very substantial support especially to the biological weapons program but also to the missile and nuclear weapons program," Zumach said. Records also show that US government nuclear weapons laboratories Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia trained Iraqi nuclear scientists, and provided non-fissile material for construction of a nuclear bomb. [Financial Times Dec. 19/02]

Just who is this fearsome "enemy" who must be crushed by a country that spends more money on weapons than the next 14 countries combined? As veteran British war correspondent John Pilger points out, "More than half the population of Iraq are children, and many of the rest are widows, the elderly and the poor."

A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER "The true danger is not Iraq, or Iran, or North Korea, or China," writes Pilger. "It is the United States, and the cabal of fanatics now in charge, led by a man who on television the other night failed to make sense in his native tongue."

Why would the US risk becoming a pariah nation, while destroying the world's oldest cities - birthplace of the mathematics, the alphabet, calendar, laws and 60 units of time taught in American schools?

"They know we own their country. We own their airspace. We dictate the way they live and talk," explained aptly-named Air Force Brig. General William Looney, describing the last carpet-bombing of Basra by B-52s. "It's a good thing, especially when there's a lot of oil out there we need." [Washington Post, August 30, 1999]

The last time the US went to war against a supposedly ragtag army defending their homeland was in a place called Vietnam.

As Rumsfeld and President Bush himself have made clear, the inability of the inspectors thus far to find a "smoking gun" in Iraq is further proof of perfidious deception of the Baghdad regime. "So far, I haven't seen any evidence that he is disarming," Bush said of Saddam Hussein. So far, the weapons inspectors haven't found evidence that Hussein has the kind of weapons he would have to get rid of in order to be "disarming." No matter. The way Rumsfeld explained it, it is the very absence of such evidence that proves Iraqi guilt.

"The fact that the inspectors have not yet come up with new evidence of Iraq's WMD program could be evidence, in and of itself, of Iraq's noncooperation," Rumsfeld explained. "We do know that Iraq has designed its programs in a way that they can proceed in an environment of inspections and that they are skilled at denial and deception."

Well, now, there you have it, proof of Iraq's guilt either way. As loathsome and despicable as the Baghdad regime is, you have to admit the Bush administration has set up this game in a way that Iraq can't win no matter what the weapons inspectors find or do not find. If they find weapons of mass destruction, it is proof, of course, of the regime's aggressive designs. If no evidence is found, it is evidence of Iraq's "denial and deception" and its "non-cooperation" with the inspectors. It's a perfect "Catch 22."

So why bother with inspections in the first place? Why not just go to war now? To appease our allies and the United Nations, no doubt. [...]

The Bush administration's attitude toward evidence — or the lack of same — of nuclear arms in Iraq is of a piece with its insistence on the right to imprison U.S. citizens — labeled "enemy combatants" — indefinitely, without the need for charges, much less evidence of guilt.

Evidence? What evidence? "We don't need no stinkin' evidence!"

Iraqi anti-aircraft fire downed a US pilotless Predator drone which entered the country from Kuwait, in the second such incident in just under a month. "Our heroic air defense soldiers succeeded in downing a US intelligence plane, a Predator, coming from Kuwait," a military spokesman told the official INA news agency. "The US surveillance plane that violated Iraq's international airspace is used by the US enemy to spy on our civilian and military installations and it is a very sophisticated plane with advanced electronic equipment," he said Wednesday. He said Iraq's defense forces "renewed their pledge to President Saddam Hussein to remain the striking force against any hand that wants to harm the security and sovereignty of Iraq's land, water and airspace." At least three other drones, which fly at relatively low speeds of about 240 kilometers an hour (150 miles per hour) or less, have been shot down over Iraq in the past two years, the last on December 23.

Tom Ridge won Senate unanimous confirmation on Wednesday as the first head of the Department of Homeland Security -- clearing the way for him to be sworn in and take office when the anti-terror operation opens on Friday. The vote was 94-0. During the next nine months, the department is to combine all or parts of 22 existing federal agencies -- including the Secret Service, Coast Guard and Border Patrol -- in the biggest U.S. government reorganization in a half century. Ridge has served the past 15 months as an adviser to President Bush as head of the White House Office of Homeland Security, following two terms as governor of Pennsylvania and 12 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. At his Senate confirmation hearing last week, Ridge testified that the nation is "undoubtedly safer" than when attacked on Sept. 11, 2001.

Comment: Horse hockey. We are now the most hated nation on earth and 95 percent of the planet's population is just waiting for a chance to see us get ours. Also, if the attack on America was done by Al-Qaeda, how does it compute that "America is now safer" when one considers that all we have been doing is gearing up for war with Iraq, and there is no known link between Iraq and al-Qaeda?????

UN says it has no evidence of ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda - The United Nations panel monitoring sanctions against Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network has no evidence of links between the terrorist group and Iraq, group chairman Michael Chandler said. "We don't have anything yet, and no-one has been able to produce anything," he told AFP in an interview. British Prime Minister Tony Blair told a parliamentary hearing in London on Tuesday that "there is some intelligence evidence about linkages between members of al-Qaeda and people in Iraq." He did not identify the individuals. Speaking a day after seven people were arrested in a dramatic police raid on a mosque in north London, Blair said it was "inevitable" that terrorists would try to target Britain. But he said he was unaware of any evidence that "directly links" al-Qaeda, Iraq and "terrorist activities" in Britain.

"Is there any link between al-Qa'ida, Iraq and terrorist groups in Britain?" Blair watchers were astonished when the Prime Minister said: "No." Frankness and clarity are not what we associate with Mr Blair, particularly when he is saying "to make it absolutely clear, to be completely frank, to be honest, to be perfectly honest, to be blunt about it, to be completely blunt," as he did all morning. "All I'm doing is being open with people," he repeated, in the middle of a deft evasion.

War is not inevitable All an attack on Iraq will do is fan the flames of terrorism. It's time for the anti-war camp to act decisively - The drums of war are getting louder. A total of 35,000 British troops are now heading to the Gulf, where they will join 125,000 US forces already gearing up for action. Together it's enough to start a decent-sized city, let alone crush the rag-tag army of Saddam Hussein. A colossal amount of kit - tanks, ships and planes - is on its way to the desert, too. A Bush-Blair council of war is planned for Camp David at the end of the month. The UN weapons inspectors' deadline will have passed a few days earlier. The orchestra has tuned up; the audience is hushed - all we are waiting for is the clamour to start. In this atmosphere the chief question for the organisers of the February 15 anti-war demos around the world must be: will we be too late? Over the last few days a change has been in the air, as if the phoney war has ended and the bloody real thing is about to begin.

What should opponents of the war, and doubters, do now? They might be tempted to give up, as if the argument has already been lost. That would be premature. Even if Washington (and perhaps London) has made up its mind - George Bush was drumming his fingers on the desk yesterday, saying "time is running out" - the rest of the world has not. France, from its current perch in the chair at the UN security council, is promising to lead the coalition of the unwilling. "We are mobilised, we believe war can be avoided," said French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin yesterday, launching his bid to become the George Galloway of international diplomacy. Public opinion has hardly been lost either: on the contrary, as the Guardian's own poll laid bare yesterday, outright opposition to war all but commands a majority in Britain. [...]

Of course a war against Iraq is not just a foolish diversion from fighting terror, it is a sure-fire way to fuel it. What more vigorous recruiting sergeants for anti-western militant Islamism could Bin Laden have hired than Bush, Blair and their 160,000 troops - westerners invading and occupying an Arab land?

Second, the anti-war camp is right to allege that at the heart of the current campaign is a severe double standard. Western inaction, even indulgence, of North Korea - where Washington was overcome with eagerness to talk and to avoid force - proves not the risk, but the value of having weapons of mass destruction, or WMDs. Pyongyang has them, so the US leaves it alone; Baghdad does not yet have them, so it's set to get invaded. In other words, if you really do pose a threat, you're safe. If you don't, you're in danger. What better advert for the Bomb could there be! The lesson a second Gulf war will teach the dictators of the world is: buy weapons of mass destruction now. As Kim Jong Il has proved, a nuke a day keeps the Yanks away.

What if America was really invaded?   If the U.S. government's defensive response was anything like it was on 9/11/2001, and the invasion was anything like we imagined during the Cold War, you could rest assured that all the targets would be destroyed, the perps would get away, and America would never figure out who actually did it. [...]

While the bombs were raining down on American cities, our president would remain in an elementary school classroom reading a story about goats to children, even though he had had advance warning that the attack was going to take place. Later he would pick some hapless country far away to obliterate, saying this was where the proof he refused to produce indicated he should bomb, even though the perpetrators he claimed to name all came from another country, a country that was a nominal ally and leading oil supplier. Oddly, it would later be discovered that the country he chose to obliterate had been chosen for obliteration long before the invasion for which it was blamed actually occurred. [...]

As enemy bombers streaked toward their targets, American air defenses would not be able to respond to the obvious threat because apparent orders from Washington mandated that they stand down until further notice, and because too few of the jet interceptors were loaded with actually live ammunition. Later, the president would say, "We had no idea this would happen," and promote the officers who carried out the nonaction to positions of much greater authority. The vice president would say, "I didn't know what was happening until I saw it on television." [...]

Very soon after that, the history books would show that the real cause of this unprecedented invasion was clearly that Americans had simply practiced too much freedom, and because faraway terrorists had come to envy that freedom, to covet it, and were willing to destroy it for everyone because they couldn't have it for themselves, it had become clear to the president that unabridged freedom was certainly the greatest threat to freedom in the world, and it simply had to be curtailed wherever it raised its ominous head.  

So this is what would happen if America ever was really invaded. The powers that be would determine - because they do have and have always had our best interests at heart - that unregulated freedom is the singlemost significant threat to the kind of "freedom" they seek to preserve.  

And this is what we now teach, what you hear on TV every single freaking day, the new American ethos: that freedom is a threat to freedom!  

Repeat it, roll it over on your tongue, sing it for me one time ... " ... freedom is a threat to freedom .... " Be sure to remember that when you cast your vote that won't matter. Because this is what would happen if America was really invaded.

Secretary of State Colin Powell promised that a U.S. military occupation would hold Iraq's oilfields "in trust" for the Iraqi people. In an interview with U.S. newspapers on Tuesday, released by the State Department on Wednesday, Powell said the Bush administration was studying different models for managing the Iraqi oil industry if the United States invades. "If we are the occupying power, it will be held for the benefit of the Iraqi people and it will be operated for the benefit of the Iraqi people," he said. "How will we operate it? How best to do that? We are studying different models. But the one thing I can assure you of is that it will be held in trust for the Iraqi people, to benefit the Iraqi people. That is a legal obligation that the occupying power will have," he added. Comment: Did anybody notice Colin's nose growing?

Disagreement between the United States and France over military action against Iraq was simply a "blip" in the relationship, Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Wednesday, adding that he hoped France would come around to the U.S. position. France has hinted it could use its veto in the U.N. Security Council if the United States seeks clearance for an attack on Iraq while U.N. inspectors are still at work in Iraq seeking weapons of mass destruction. France's view that the inspectors should be given more time in Iraq has diverged sharply from Washington's, which seemed to harden in recent days amid increasingly bellicose rhetoric.

France and Germany fired another shot across US threats to wage war on Iraq Wednesday by saying they shared a common position in opposing such a conflict. French President Jacques Chirac said at a joint media conference with Germany Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at his side that "Germany and France have the same judgement on the Iraq crisis" and that the two felt "everything must be done to avoid war". The comments add to warnings from French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin this week that France might use its veto in the UN Security Council to block a resolution backing a US-led war and that it was seeking a single EU position in the crisis. Schroeder, meanwhile, has said bluntly that his country -- which joined the UN Security Council as a temporary member this month -- would vote against a resolution for war and would not take part in any conflict with Iraq, even with UN backing.

The German Bundestag and government moved en masse to Paris for a day of celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the Franco-German Elysee treaty, as the two countries announced a series of measures to deepen their cooperation. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and President Jacques Chirac held a joint cabinet meeting Wednesday at the Elysee palace -- scene of the 1963 signing ceremony at which France and Germany officially laid to rest a century of hostility -- and together pledged to reinvigorate their historic alliance. In a statement the two leaders promised to set an example of integration for the rest of the European Union, to step up coordination between their governments, and to encourage the cross-border movement of citizens by changes to the law and -- eventually -- shared nationality. "France and Germany are tied by a common destiny. Our shared future cannot be separated from that of a European Union that is both wider and deeper. That is why we wish to offer our partners a common vision of the Europe of tomorrow," Chirac and Schroeder announced.

US President George W. Bush brushed aside allies' pleas to give Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein more time to disarm, as two more US carrier groups were ordered to the Gulf. And as Germany unequivocally refused any future UN vote for use of force in Iraq, Bush rebuffed calls by France, Russia and China for more time in order for UN disarmament inspectors in Iraq to fulfill their mandate. "How much time do we need to see clearly that he's not disarming?" Bush snapped, charging Saddam with using "the tricks of the past" to thwart UN inspectors as he did after the 1991 Gulf War. "He is delaying. He's deceiving. He's asking for time. He's playing hide-and-seek with inspectors," said Bush. "This looks like a re-run of a bad movie. And I'm not interested in watching it."

France and Germany break ranks on Iraq - France and Gerrmany served notice yesterday that it would press other European governments to oppose American plans for war against Iraq, setting themselves on a collision course with the United States and risking a damaging clash inside the European Union with Britain. France's Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, said in Brussels that he would use a summit of EU foreign ministers next week to rally opposition to an early war with Iraq. He said: "It is important Europe speaks on this issue with a single voice. We are mobilised; we believe war can be avoided." Chancellor Gerhard Schröder explicitly backed that position last night. He said: "Do not expect that Germany will agree to a resolution that legitimises war." At a joint news conference in Paris today, the French president said that both France and Germany believed that any decision on military force should be made by the UN Security Council only after UN weapons inspectors have reported on their findings. "For us, war is always the proof of failure and the worst of solutions, so everything must be done to avoid it," M. Chirac said.

How the world is split - US: Bush says time is running out and that US will go to war with "coalition of the willing" if UN fails to act. Huge troop build-up under way. Britain: Closest US ally despatching quarter of its army to Gulf. Saddam must be dealt with although UN route preferable. Kuwait: No love for Saddam after Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, where 17,000 US troops stationed. Pro-US stance triggered unrest. Israel: Ariel Sharon fears Israel could be target for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, after Scud missiles fired during Gulf War. Spain: Right-wing government of Spain, a non-permanent Security Council member, gung-ho behind Bush, ignoring public opinion. Italy: Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister, holds line behind Bush, although there are no plans for Italy to provide troops. Australia: Conservative government describes any opposition to war as "appeasement" and follows US closely. France: Has consiustently stuck to position that UN is the only body with right to declare war. Holds veto power in Security Council. Russia: Traditionally in camp of "friends of Iraq", believes there is no proof of Iraq still holding weapons of mass destruction. China: Wants UN inspectors to be given more time. Unlikely to use its Security Council veto as national interests not at stake. Germany: Gerhartd Schröder's coalition staked out anti-war position to stay in power and has held it since joining Security Council. Turkey: Pro-Islamic government, caught in a dilemma over US military demands, heading regional meeting tomorrow to avert war. Saudi Arabia: Conferring with Arab leaders to avert war, but denies offering oil strategy to Saddam. Hosts British military personnel. Jordan: Desperate for diplomatic solution to avoid war that could spill over border and cause unrest among pro-Saddam Palestinians.

We'll be in the front line whatever happens - Tony Blair warned yesterday it was "inevitable" that al-Qa'ida would seek to mount an attack in Britain. During two and a half hours of questioning by 33 senior MPs, the Prime Minister said there were "no limits" to the potential threat but insisted that Britain would not escape being a target by keeping out of the war on terror or military action in Iraq. "We are going to be in the front line of this whatever happens," he said. He told the House of Commons Liaison Committee that Britain could spend billions of pounds on protective measures without being able to thwart a terrorist attack. Mr Blair said: "I think it's inevitable that they [al-Qa'ida] will try in some form or other, and I think we can see evidence from the recent arrests that the terrorist network is here, as it is around the rest of the world. "That is why I think there is no point in us thinking – and I don't think it is actually particularly in the British character to think – well, let's go to the back of the queue and hide away," he said.

A prolonged war in Iraq could cost Britain more than £5bn – including a £1m bill for taxpayers every time a cruise missile is fired against Saddam Hussein's forces. The Treasury insisted last night that Gordon Brown's spending plans were robust enough to withstand the impact of a conflict. The Chancellor has so far set aside only £1bn for the cost of war, meaning he would have to dip into the Government's emergency reserves again if Britain joined a US-led onslaught on Baghdad. Expenditure of £5bn would be equivalent to about 2p in the pound on the basic income tax rate or to a 7 per cent boost to the nation's health spending.

The myth of the war economy - Markets loathe uncertainty and volatility. Conflict brings both - War is widely thought to be linked to economic good times. The second world war is often said to have brought the world out of depression, and war has since enhanced its reputation as a spur to economic growth. Some even suggest that capitalism needs wars, that without them, recession would always lurk on the horizon. Today, we know that this is nonsense. The 1990s boom showed that peace is economically far better than war. The Gulf war of 1991 demonstrated that wars can actually be bad for an economy. That conflict contributed mightily to the onset of the recession of 1991 (which was probably the key factor in denying the first President Bush re-election in 1992).

The current situation is far more akin to the Gulf war than to wars that may have contributed to economic growth. Indeed, the economic effects of a second war against Iraq would probably be far more adverse. The second world war called for total mobilisation, requiring a country's total resources, and that is what wiped out unemployment. Total war means total employment. By contrast, the direct costs of a military attack on Saddam Hussein's regime will be minuscule in terms of total US spending. [...]

Bush's (admittedly wavering) commitment to fiscal prudence means that much, perhaps most, of the war costs will be offset by cuts elsewhere. Investments in education, health, research, and the environment will almost inevitably be crowded out. Accordingly, war will be unambiguously bad in terms of what really counts: ordinary people's standard of living.

UK Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, recently floated the extraordinary idea that BAe Systems (formerly British Aerospace) is not really a British company because of the number of foreign shareholders it has. Leaving aside the fact that BAe is headquartered here, employs more than half its staff in the UK, and generates £6.3bn of its sales from British factories, Mr Hoon ought to ask himself why, if this is not a British firm, the Government keeps a "golden share" in it, restricts foreign shareholding, and vets board appointments. It was an odd thing to say. The only explanation, as is becoming increasingly apparent from well-sourced leaks, is that Mr Hoon and his officials want to soften the nation up for the news that the biggest defence contract since the Second World War is about to be awarded to a French company, Thales, rather than to BAe. As spin operations go, it has been a pretty transparent one.

FALKLANDS hero Simon Weston knows the agony and horror of war - now he begs for peace and says a strike on Iraq is WRONG. Yesterday the scarred veteran signed the Mirror's anti-war petition and dramatically appealed to Tony Blair to produce proof that would justify a US-British attack. Simon declared: "Blair says there's evidence of a worldwide terror network and Saddam Hussein has evil weapons of mass destruction. "Saddam may well have these weapons but where's the proof? Where's the evidence? At the moment Blair hasn't given us any, just trite statements asking us to believe him.

A HOST of stars queued up yesterday to sign the Daily Mirror's Not In My Name petition against war with Iraq. Leading names from music, film and TV, plus politicians, sent a clear and determined message to Tony Blair - stop this madness now.

The Pentagon has ordered two more U.S. aircraft carriers and another 37,000 combat troops to deploy to the Gulf region for a possible war with Iraq, defense officials said on Tuesday. The moves by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will bring to four the number of U.S. carriers within striking distance of Iraq and boost to more than 100,000 the number of U.S. troops ordered to the Gulf this month, the officials told Reuters. The USS Abraham Lincoln will move to the Gulf from Perth, Australia, and the USS Theodore Roosevelt will soon deploy from training exercises in the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast of the United States, according to the officials, who asked not to be identified. The carriers, each including 75 warplanes and battle groups of warships armed with cruise missiles, would join the USS Constellation and USS Harry S. Truman in the region. The Constellation is in the Gulf and Truman in the Mediterranean Sea. The new troop movement is centered around the high-tech 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, and other supporting units, including the division's 3rd Brigade at Fort Carson, Colorado.

Australia sends troops off to war -- against public wishes - Australia announced that a first military contingent would leave for the Gulf this week, despite strong political and public opposition to involvement in a US-led war in Iraq. Defence Minister Robert Hill said the troops would be farewelled from Sydney aboard the transport carrier HMAS Kanimbla by Prime Minister John Howard and defence chiefs on Thursday. The deployment, codenamed "Operation Bastille", will comprise a Sea King helicopter, an army landing craft, an army air defence detachment and a specialist explosives ordnance disposal team.

The Senate Wednesday rejected a Democratic attempt to delay a Bush administration plan to relax costly air pollution rules that apply when utilities, refineries and other industrial plants are repaired or expanded. [...] Environmentalists and many Democratic lawmakers complain the new rules will mean more pollution from power plants that harm the public health. U.S. utilities say the administration plan would allow them to enlarge or upgrade a plant without installing costly equipment to control smog, acid rain and soot.

Support for attacking Iraq has slipped to its lowest level since summer, according to a new poll out on Tuesday. The ABC News/Washington Post poll also showed that President Bush's approval rating for handling the Iraq situation was down eight points in the last month, to 50 percent. The poll of 1,133 adults showed that 57 percent of Americans support U.S. military action to remove Saddam from power, compared to 62 percent a month ago and as high as 78 percent in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday apologized to veterans who he said may have misunderstood comments he made about those who were drafted to serve in the Vietnam War. Disagreeing with legislation to reinstitute the draft, Rumsfeld said earlier this month that people were "sucked into the intake, trained for a period of months, and then went out, adding no value, no advantage, really, to the United States armed services over any sustained period of time." Three congressional Democrats -- Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Rep. Lane Evans of Illinois -- called on Rumsfeld to apologize for the comments, saying they had insulted draftees.

President Bush will use his State of the Union speech next week to underscore the threat posed by Iraq but will not deliver an ultimatum to Baghdad or declare war, White House officials said on Tuesday. Bush, in his speech before a joint session of Congress, will promote his proposals for spurring growth in the U.S. economy, letting religious organizations compete for federal funding and adding a prescription drug benefit for seniors. But the most closely watched section will be on Iraq, with the Jan. 28 speech coming a day after U.N. weapons inspectors report on whether Iraq is complying with a U.N. disarmament resolution.

Al Qaeda terror strategy turns to assassination - Al Qaeda has been associated with high-profile, explosive terror -- September 11, bombings in Pakistan, Kenya, Indonesia and the Philippines -- but appears to be turning from mass killings to the assassination of political figures. Coalition intelligence sources tell CNN that al Qaeda plans to target Western diplomats and other public officials wherever it can. - "The tactic of assassination is very important for al Qaeda and al Qaeda associated groups," said Rohan Gunaratna, the author of "Inside al Qaeda." "In fact, al Qaeda had a ... short, specialized course in assassination." - "Al Qaeda's current strategy is to assassinate two world leaders, the leader of Afghanistan, President Karzai, and President Musharraf, the leader of Pakistan," Gunaratna said. "It is because al Qaeda wants to create friendly governments in Pakistan and Afghanistan." Al Qaeda assassins posing as journalists were able to kill Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, just two days before the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Comment: Seems that this assassination mentioned was highly favorable for the U.S. and CIA. In fact, some of the same folks connected to that assassination were hanging out in Florida - one of them having breakfast with Bob Graham - on the morning of September 11, 2001 - Hmmm... a little "spin?" See The Secret Cult for details.

U.S. Christian clergy meeting in Washington on Tuesday were deeply divided on whether the use of force to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would be a religiously defensible "just war." Reflecting divisions in America generally, some said that if it were established that Iraq was building banned weapons then an attack would be "a righteous act," while others said an attack would be an act of aggression, not self-defense.

"I think (President Bush) has presented the case even though it's not full yet," the Rev. Alexander Webster, an Eastern Orthodox military chaplain in the Virginia National Guard told Reuters at a conference of the National Clergy Council where the issue was debated. "The overriding issue is the cause: the presence of weapons of mass destruction," said Webster, who studies the theory of just war. "I would always regard (war) as a tragedy. Nonetheless, if the conditions are met, it would still be a good act, a righteous act."

But others at the conference sharply disagreed on whether sending troops into Iraq over alleged development of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons was justified. "From the position of the just war tradition I think that the criteria are simply not met ... This is not self-defense but aggression," said Michael Gorman, a United Methodist layman and dean of the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary's Seminary, in Maryland.

India ordered four members of the Pakistani high commission (embassy) to quit the country within 48 hours, stepping up an ongoing diplomatic spat with its nuclear rival. The four were expelled because they were "indulging in activities incompatible with their diplomatic status, an euphemism for spying," an official from the Indian foreign ministry said Wednesday. But Indian government spokesman Navtej Sarna declined to assign a reason for the expulsion of high-ranking Pakistani diplomat Mansoor Saeed Sheikh, First Secretary Mian Mohammad Esif and two embassy staffers. "I am not at liberty to share that with the press," he said, when asked whether the four were being formally accused of espionage. "All the four have been declared persona non-grata," he said, adding the other two were non-diplomatic staff in the Pakistani mission.

The Israeli army said Tuesday it tore down 28 small businesses in a West Bank village, amid protests by Palestinians and foreign rights activists, although the mayor of Nazlat Isa put the number at 62.   An army spokeswoman told AFP the buildings near the northern town of Tulkarem were razed because their owners had no building permits, but mayor Ziad Salem said it was linked to the construction of Israel's security fence three kilometers (1.5 miles) away.   The spokeswoman said more owners had also been notified of the impending demolition of their businesses, although she declined to give a number.   Salem told AFP that 62 stores had been razed to the ground by seven army bulldozers as a crowd of 500 Palestinians and foreign rights activists protested the demolition.   "This will kill the village's economy," he said, adding that troops tear gas and sound bombs at the demonstrators.   "The army wants to clear the area around the fence," Salem said, referring to an army checkpoint already erected in the village.

Israeli border police beat two Palestinian photographers for international news agencies as they tried to take pictures of police driving with two youths strapped to the front of their jeep.   Jaafar Ashtiyeh of Agence France-Presse and Nasser Ashtiyeh of the Associated Press (AP) were punched by the policemen, one of whom threatened to shoot them if the photos were published, said the two men, both from the same family.  

The photographers, who were not seriously hurt, did not manage to get a shot of the jeep in the West Bank town of Nablus as it was moving too fast, they said. As they tried to take the picture, the police stopped, put the youths inside the jeep and then hit the photographers in the stomach and legs. Jaafar Ashtiyeh said one of the policemen had already beaten him and threatened his life on December 19 when he was stopped just outside Nablus.  

Last year, an AFP photographer in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, Hossam Abu Alan, was held for six months in an Israeli jail and released on October 23 without trial or explanation.  

In August, AFP's photographer in the northern West Bank town of Jenin, Seif Shauki Dahlah, charged that Israeli soldiers stole 2,000 dollars worth of jewelery and three mobile phones during a search of his house.   He was also advised to change jobs because he was running the risk of "ending up like Imad Abu Zahra," another Palestinian photographer in Jenin who was killed in June.  

An Israeli military spokesman said the army would investigate the Nablus incident.

Comment: Yeah. The same way Bush will investigate the 9-11 events.

Conditions under which North Korea was added to the notorious “axis of evil” a year ago resembled an untalented skit. Karen Hughes, then presidential aide for public relations cold have highly likely mentioned not Pyongyang, but Bhutan or Pakistan among the countries included into the “axis of evil.” In fact, it made no difference for George W. Bush which country to bomb and to curse before the Congress; he just wanted a war to be permanent. As it turned later, Pyongyang was rather inconvenient for the USA as a member of the “axis of evil”, as it actually upset Washington’s plans. This is the reason why Karen Hughes, so much devoted to George W. Bush, had to quit the post; however, other PR advisors devoted to the US president invented another “skit” in a year: they blamed North Korea for making fake dollars and for drug production. So, the substantiation of the doctrine appeared in a year after the doctrine itself was formed.

As it turns out, by the moment the “axis of evil” appeared, Bush was ready for another (after Afghanistan) mass execution. He asked his speech-writer David Frum to make up a speech to be delivered in the Congress; the speech must reveal a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda. The speech-writer suggested the phrase “axis of hatred”, on the analogy of the Nazis’ “axis” of WWII. At that very moment National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was in the room close to the US president. She said: “Axis sounds good, David, but now Iran is important for us, insert Iran instead of al-Qaeda.” Karen Hughes, in her turn added that in addition to the two elements of the axis, there must be one more member, like the axis of WWII (Berlin – Rome – Tokyo). George W. Bush understood that some third country must be added to the new “axis”, but couldn’t choose which one. Finally, he preferred Pyongyang’s regime.

On January 29, 2002 the three countries belonging to the “axis of evil” and picked out for execution were officially announced in the Congress. North Korea was included into the black list as a result of the ill fate, or because of Hughes’ erudition, rather unfavorable for North Korea. If the US public relations advisor had mentioned some other countries instead of North Korea, Kim Jong-il together with South Korea President Kim Dae Jung would have been currently busy with joining of railway and main roads and would be creating a free economic zone in Sinuiju following the Chinese model. George W. Bush himself would have felt much better as well.

Strengthening Russia's positions in the world and building up the Russian state's foreign policy and economic resource is the common task of all bodies of power at all levels, said Vladimir Putin as he opened a meeting of the State Council presidium in the Kremlin on Tuesday. The Russian president emphasised that in this sphere it is necessary to act "in a consolidated way, according to a single programme, and feeling each other's elbow". It is only in this case, believes the head of state, that "we will succeed in upholding our national interests and those of global stability". The latter, Putin said, are no less important, in view of the growing importance of the Russian factor in world-wide affairs.

JFK Library declassifies more presidential tapes - The newly released tapes span a nearly two-month period and cover "wide-ranging subject matters, including the economy and its political implications, the crisis in the Congo, Cuba and Latin America following the Cuban Missile Crisis, military assistance to Vietnam, and American relations with France and the European Community," a JFK Library statement said. The statement highlighted five excerpts as being of particular interest. Among those is President Kennedy commenting December 6, 1962, on the economy and the 1964 election: "If you are running for re-election in 1964 what is it you worry about most -- recession? That is what I'm worried about. ... I don't think the country can take another recession." Earlier in that same meeting, Kennedy said, "I think (the recession) ruined Nixon in '60."

Comment: It's gonna ruin Bush, too - and his stupid solutions are just compounding his errors. I believe history will look back on Bush as the most incompetent and most hated president America has ever suffered.

Saying it had exhausted other alternatives, Mexico appealed to the World Court on Tuesday to stop the execution of 51 of its citizens in the United States. Mexico had initially sought to spare 54 citizens, but said at the start of hearings that three were removed from death row by Illinois Gov. George Ryan, who this month commuted the sentences of 167 inmates, mostly to life in prison, over concerns about capital punishment in his state. The Mexican government is first seeking a court order to postpone the executions until a 15-member panel of judges can hear its arguments that the United States has violated international conventions in imposing the death penalty on its citizens. Although its judgments are binding under international law, the World Court has no way of enforcing its rulings.

Every Italian boy worships his mother, but does mama sometimes love too much? Apparently, yes. In a decision likely to strike fear into the hearts of doting mothers countrywide, Italy's supreme court ruled this week that sometimes a mother's love can go too far. Reviewing a case, Italy's highest appeals court in Rome said a Florence court was right to have granted a divorced father custody of his young child because the mother was too tense and smothering to properly nurture the boy. "The woman's excessive apprehension and hyperprotective behavior have created problems for the son," the court said. "In the material, moral and psychological best interests of the child, he should be looked after by the parent better able to reduce the damage derived from the family break-up." The mother, who the court recommended seek counseling, was distraught, as many an Italian mother might be. "The boy's always been with his mother. He wants to stay with the one he loves, the one who's made so many sacrifices to bring him up," she pleaded to the judges, but to no avail. Yet if it appeared the justice system was moving to cut the apron strings that often bind Italians into their early 30s to their mothers, another decision in the same week seemed to say the opposite.

A jury Tuesday convicted the fugitive heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune on charges of raping three women at his oceanfront home. Andrew Luster, who disappeared in the middle of his trial, was found guilty of 86 counts that included rape, sodomy, drug and weapons possession and poisoning. The jury deadlocked on one count of poisoning one of the victims. Prosecutors said Luster took the three women to his Mussel Shoals, California, home in 1996, 1997 and 2000 and raped them after drugging them with gamma hydroxybutyrate, also known as GHB -- or the date-rape drug -- and liquid Ecstasy. Luster, the 39-year-old millionaire great-grandson of Max Factor, was arrested in 2000 after a 21-year-old college student told police he had drugged and assaulted her. During a search of his home, authorities said they found videotapes of Luster apparently having sex with sleeping or unconscious women. Two women in the tapes testified at trial that they willingly took drinks laced with GHB from Luster but never consented to sex.

In a victory for prosecutors around the country, the Supreme Court Tuesday upheld broad government power against suspects in conspiracy cases, a ruling with potential implications in the fight against international terrorism. The Court ruled 8-1 that the government can charge suspects with conspiracy in undercover sting operations, even when the alleged crime has been discovered and prevented from occurring. Comment: What this really means is that the government can CLAIM someone was going to commit a crime with no evidence whatsoever... or even cooked-up evidence.

In California a mother is accused of killing her 3-month-old son, and the alleged weapon in this case was her own breast milk. Prosecutors told the Los Angeles Times that Amy Prien took methamphetamines while nursing her son Jacob. The baby later died from an overdose of the drug, and Prien was charged with second-degree murder.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of California confronted an important issue about how rape should be defined under the law. In People v. John Z., the court held that a woman who initially consents to sexual intercourse does not thereby give up her right to end the encounter at whatever point she chooses. In other words, when a woman tells her partner to stop, and he forces her to continue, he is guilty of rape.

The Nazi War on Smoking - Recently, we have been bombarded by a series of articles and TV documentaries, extolling the war against smoking conducted by authorities in Nazi Germany. These articles praise the Nazis for their foresight and vision, in "discovering" that smoking causes lung cancer (as well as nearly every other disease known to man). All of this stems from a book, written by Robert N. Proctor, entitled "The Nazi War on Cancer". In the book, Proctor goes on and on, raving about the great work the Nazis did in finding a cure for cancer: i.e., the abolition of tobacco smoking. In page after page, Proctor describes and praises the work of the Nazi scientists. He is, however, long on hyperbole and adulation and short on descriptions of any real scientific studies, until we get to page 194, where we are told about "an exquisite piece of scholarship" by one Hans Muller who, in a paper published in 1939, finally "proved" that smoking causes lung cancer. Let's take a look at this "exquisite piece of scholarship". [ More...] Comment: Kinda makes ya wonder... if smoking increases thinking abilities and is also distasteful to 4 D STS types as the C's have said, then it makes perfect sense that the Nazis were against it. And it makes perfect sense why the current world controllers are also against it.

Michelin this week revealed that it has begun fleet testing of an RFID transponder embedded in its tires to enable them to be tracked electronically. After it completes testing, which will likely last 18 months, Michelin will begin offering automakers the option of purchasing tires with embedded transponders.

Head Re-attached in AZ - In Phoenix, they are calling it a miracle operation - surgery that re-attached the head of a car crash victim. 18-year-old Marcos Parra doesn't remember the Click Here for More Bizarre News crash some months back - just some screaming. Technically, his skull separated from his body. The neck bone and ligament were cut. But his spinal cord and arteries were intact. Luckily, a doctor at the hospital had experimented with a new surgical technique. In fact Parra is back to doing one of things he loves most ... playing basketball.

A four-legged girl was born in one of Indonesian villages in Central Java. As the Jakarta newspaper Media Indonesia reported on Wednesday, the girl was the third child in a peasant family. She was born with several abnormalities; two pairs of legs that grew together were not the only remarkable thing about the girl. In addition to her accreted legs, the girl has two spines and the duplicates of all other organs in the lower part of her body. To crown it all, her heart is deformed, which causes the lack of oxygen in her blood, despite normal lungs. The child is very weak, although the girl is still alive owing to intravenous feeding. RIA Novosti reported that doctors plan to perform correcting operations on the girl. The surgery will take several stages. However, doctors need to help the girl to get better physically first. The management of the hospital, in which the girl stays, is not going to make the girl’s parents pay for the operations. There will be a special account opened in one of Indonesian banks to collect the funds for saving the girl's life.

A Japanese man who promised to exorcise evil spirits for a price has been arrested on suspicion of fraud along with eight followers who dressed in tennis garb to help them look "credible" when approaching young women. Dressed in tennis clothes and carrying racquets or violin cases, group members approached people near train stations and frightened them into going to a hotel room, where an "exorcism" was conducted, police said. "They fooled women by telling them that there was a spirit clinging to them and took money for getting rid of it," said a police spokesman in Kanagawa Prefecture outside Tokyo. The Daily Yomiuri newspaper said group members told potential victims: "Your back is possessed by the spirit of a dead woman and she has attached strings to your neck," or "the spirit of a dead man with severed legs is clinging to your waist." The alleged mastermind, Shunichi Miyazaki, 55, told the newspaper he had his followers dress in tennis garb because he thought it made them more credible. "When I was a high school student, I nearly drowned. After the incident I came to have psychic power. I didn't mean to cheat them and it is not a fraud," the Yomiuri quoted him as saying. Police said the group allegedly raked in more than $42,000 from eight victims over four months.

Attackers killed a 2-year-old girl and repeatedly stabbed her 10-year-old sister early Wednesday at a casino RV park in the desert town of Mesquite, authorities said. Three people were being held in Utah. The assailants may have argued with the children's parents before attacking the girls inside the family's motor home, Deputy Police Chief Joe Szalay said. "It doesn't seem to be a random home invasion," Szalay said. "There's probably some type of association through friendship or some prior dealings." The parents were not in the motor home when the children were attacked shortly before 2 a.m., Szalay said. He declined to identify the family or say where the parents were. "The 10-year-old said a man knocked on the door and told them that their mommy had been hurt," Szalay said. "When she opened the door, he held his hand over her mouth and started to stab her." The girl was in the pediatric intensive care unit Wednesday, said Rick Plummer, spokesman for University Medical Center. Szalay described the attackers as a 19-year-old man and his younger sister. Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Doug McCleve said troopers later stopped their car later Wednesday on Interstate 15 near Nephi, Utah, about 260 miles northeast of the casino resort.

A 23-year-old man was killed and seven others were injured in a brawl between two groups believed to be affiliated with two college fraternities, police said. There apparently had been "an incident the day before involving the two groups" and they decided to meet at a San Jose park early Wednesday, said Sgt. Steve Dixon of the San Jose police. He said one of the groups was composed of members of the Pi Alpha Phi fraternity from San Jose State University. The other group "may" have been members of a fraternity at nearby University of California at Santa Cruz, he said. Dixon said police are interviewing 63 people to "try and figure out what happened." No arrests have been made.

A Horse's Ass: Three Texan surgeons were arguing as to which had the greatest skill. The first began: "Three years ago, I reattached seven fingers on a pianist. He went on to give a recital for the Queen of England." The second replied: "That's nothing. I attended to a man in a car accident. All his arms and legs were severed from his body. Two years after I reattached them, he went on to won three gold medals for field events in the Olympics." The third said: "A few years back, I attended to a cowboy. He was high on cocaine and alcohol when he rode his horse head-on into a Santa Fe freight train, traveling at 100 miles per hour. All I had to work with was the horse's ass and a ten-gallon hat. Last year he became President of the United States."

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