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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

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." - Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural


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.
Love of consciousness evokes the same in response
Love of feeling evokes the opposite
Love of the body depends only on type and polarity.
Hope of consciousness is strength
Hope of feeling is slavery
Hope of body is disease. [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]


AlltheWeb indexes over 2.1 billion web pages, 118 million multimedia files, 132 million FTP files, two million MP3s, 15 million PDF files and supports 49 languages, making it one of the largest search engines available to search enthusiasts. AlltheWeb provides the freshest information because we update our index every 7 to 11 days and index up to 800 news stories per minute from 3,000 news sources.

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

Signs of the Times

Ark's Jokes

The maker of this flash presentation deserves a medal.

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

International Action Center

United for Peace

Not In Our Name

Iraq Peace Team

Nonviolent Peaceforce Canada

Christian Peacemaker Team

Friends Peace Teams

End The War

Global Nonviolent Peace Force

Earthquake bulletins

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January 29, 2003

Kurt Vonnegut on the Bush Gang - I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened, though, is that it has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d’etat imaginable. And those now in charge of the federal government are upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka “Christians,” and plus, most frighteningly, psychopathic personalities, or “PPs.”

To say somebody is a PP is to make a perfectly respectable medical diagnosis, like saying he or she has appendicitis or athlete’s foot. The classic medical text on PPs is The Mask of Sanity by Dr. Hervey Cleckley. Read it! [If you can't find a copy, write to us here at Cassiopaea. We have it scanned on a CD. Most important book you will ever read. Also, see our article on psychopaths.]

PPs are presentable, they know full well the suffering their actions may cause others, but they do not care. They cannot care because they are nuts. They have a screw loose! And what syndrome better describes so many executives at Enron and WorldCom and on and on, who have enriched themselves while ruining their employees and investors and country, and who still feel as pure as the driven snow, no matter what anybody may say to or about them?

And so many of these heartless PPs now hold big jobs in our federal government, as though they were leaders instead of sick. What has allowed so many PPs to rise so high in corporations, and now in government, is that they are so decisive. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they cannot care what happens next. Simply can’t. Do this! Do that! Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody’s telephone! Cut taxes on the rich! Build a trillion-dollar missile shield! Fuck habeas corpus and the Sierra Club and In These Times, and kiss my ass!

'Cyclops'-like remains found on Crete - Researchers on the southern Greek island of Crete have unearthed the fossilized tusk, teeth and bones of a Deinotherium Gigantisimum, a fearsome elephant-like creature that might have given rise to ancient legends of one-eyed cyclops monsters. The 7 million-year-old remains suggest the mammal moved around larger areas of Europe than previously believed, possibly swimming long distances in search of food.

BIGFOOT SIGHTINGS ON THE INCREASE - If You go down to the woods today, or into the hills, you may find Bigfoot alive and well and living in the wilds of northern Scotland. Geoff Lincoln, of British Hominid Research, claims there is a steady influx of reported sightings of the elusive beast throughout the UK, including several in the North. Described as 6-10ft tall with long arms, large feet and covered in hair, the beasts are frequently reported to have glowing eyes and a pungent odour, he added. He said there is now a "wealth of evidence" favouring the existence of the mysterious creatures, and there is a certain amount of logic that an "unknown species of hominid" could be living throughout the world. He said UK encounters were being reported with a "steady and unnerving regularity", despite the fear of being ridiculed.

I've seen the Beast of Bolam, says hunt man - Strange sightings of a giant man-ape have been backed up by monster hunters in Northumberland. Professional yeti-hunters armed with thousands of pounds' worth of gadgets have homed in on Bolam Lake near Belsay after a string of encounters late at night. The four-man investigation team from the Exeter-based Centre for Fortean Zoology have returned to base after their week-long mission to investigate reports of a yeti-like creature roaming through the woods. Team leader Jonathan Downes said: "The expedition was a success beyond our wildest dreams. The most exciting thing was that five people I interviewed had seen the beast at the same time - I was one of those people." Mr Downes said: "What I saw was a dark, man-shaped object approximately seven-and-a-half feet tall. "It had a barrel chest and thick muscular arms and legs. I had a very clear sighting but I saw no glowing eyes and wasn't able to tell whether or not it was covered in hair." But the Bolam Lake Bigfoot is only the latest in a diary of sinister sightings of strange beasts that have baffled North East folk down the ages.

“VISITORS” from another world are creating an out-of-season tourist invasion at Loch Ness. After the Inverness Courier revealed unexplained lights had been seen — and filmed — on successive nights in the sky over Drumnadrochit, UFO research groups and individual enthusiasts from around Scotland announced plans to head to the area to carry out their own investigations. Former Royal Navy submariner Lee Close, of the Anglo-Scottish UFO Research Agency, was one of the investigators who contacted the Courier to appeal for more information on the sightings. Mr Close, whose group is currently researching 17 UFO sightings in the Fife and Dundee area, now wants to investigate the Loch Ness sighting.

In late April 2002, the morning after strange lights had been seen over the city of Salliquelo - about 135 miles (225 km) southwest of Buenos Aires - cattle ranchers found three freshly dead cows bearing all the hallmarks of a classic 70s-style animal mutilation. By early August – deep winter in Argentina - the number of mutilated reports had reached 400, and was still rising, with no clues as to the perpetrators. The animals – the odd wild boar, Argentinean llama and domestic animals said to be among them – bore the now all-too-familiar marks of the mutilators: tongues, ears, eyes and internal organs including the lungs, larynx, pharynx and saliva glands have been excised. Genitalia and udders have been removed, strips of flesh have been peeled off, but the edible prime cuts remain untouched.

As the weeks progressed, the mutilations grew in number and became increasingly bizarre. . A green humanoid dwarf was spotted in the General Acha area and has been blamed for the attacks. It was seen on at least two occasions skulking around in people’s backyards, but darted off at speed when approached. Around 11 June in La Adela, La Pampa province, 11 cows were found mutilated, their bodies were arranged in a large circle. Other animals were found in areas accessible only on foot, or by air…

Argentina’s cattle mutilations occurred during a period of heightened UFO activity. On 1 May an ‘enormous’ 100-metre (330 ft) long cigar-shaped object was seen by three motorcyclists on Highway 33 near the town of Cahci in Salta province, 750km (450 miles) northwest of Buenos Aires. The object was described as metallic and reflecting the setting sun. It hovered silently about 200m (660ft) over the witnesses before shooting up into the sky at great speed. [...]

While many witnesses and the press connected these UFO sightings with the cattle mutilations, others stressed that they had been seeing the lights regularly for years, as in the case of the remote town of Campamento Vespucio, Salta province. It might be that these, at least, could have some natural explanation. B ut not everyone found the mutilations so puzzling, some vets remained adamant that the animals had died of natural causes before being attacked by scavengers. [...]

Mice or no mice, the mutilations continued unabated, if anything increasing in their intensity. Perhaps the most bizarre case took place on the very day that the SENASA report was released, 28 June. [...]

The killings, and the speculation as to their cause, continue, with many of the usual suspects raising their ugly heads: aliens, el chupacabras, Satanists, rival ranchers, the government. Tales are circulating in La Pampa of US scientists and soldiers arriving in the region in large trucks carrying unspecified expensive equipment. That the mutilations should take place during a time of unprecedented economic woes for Argentina just adds to the confusion.

Religion's Final Frontier Space holds keys for believers in extraterrestrials - Angels are one thing. You can talk about angels without being dismissed as a nutcase. But just try talking about extraterrestrials as your spiritual guides. These are trying times for followers of so-called spaceship religions, who believe we share the cosmos with other intelligent beings. First came the 1997 mass suicide by members of Heaven's Gate, who believed that the arrival of Hale-Bopp, an unusually bright comet, was a sign to shed their earthly "containers." Then, last month, the Raelians made world headlines after announcing they had cloned Baby Eve - a claim now generally considered a hoax perpetrated by the group that believes humans were "seeded" by little green men. "The Raelians have been the worst thing for UFO believers since Heaven's Gate," one believer grumbled recently in Manhattan.

Local people have reported strange objects in the sky above Dubbo (Oz) recently prompting an appeal from the Independent Network of UFO Researchers (INUFOR) for anyone with similar sightings to come forward. On Tuesday January 14 about 8pm a family on a property between Dubbo and Parkes saw something in the evening sky they couldn't explain, according to INUFOR co-ordinator Moira McGhee. - It is not the first report of strange objects in the central western sky with Ms McGhee recounting a "spate" of sightings about six years ago. "A Queensland couple was travelling through Dubbo on the Newell Highway on their way home from a holiday in Victoria," she said. "They were travelling in a coach following behind a truck, and they were seated in the front seat, in earshot of the UHF radio. "The truck driver said 'can you see that mate' and the bus driver replied ‘I sure can', and the couple looked up to see a giant glowing disc in the sky, much larger than the shops it was passing over." Ms McGhee is urging anyone with information about the recent glowing ball or any strange sighting in the sky to come forward and report it to INUFOR on (02) 4757 3848.

Satellites Uncover Ancient Mideast Road Networks - In photographs taken by once-secret American surveillance satellites, traces of the buried past show through the arid surface of the Middle East like pentimento. The traces are as intriguing to archaeologists as the ghostly painted-over layers on a canvas are to art historians. Examining the pictures in detail, archaeologists have found sites of ancient settlements that had previously escaped detection. They have begun to map the vanished roads that stretched across the landscape 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. - A satellite photograph shows the remains of ancient roads radiating from Tell Brak, an ancient settlement in Syria. Such photographs have helped archaeologists find settlements that had previously escaped detection.

Wisconsin reports 10 UFO sightings in new year - John Hoppe and his wife started in September of 2001, and since then, almost 80,000 people have visited the site. The site has two goals: to further the awareness of the UFO phenomena and to track the UFOs in our state's skies.

The trial of self-proclaimed mystic Sung Chi-li, who counts Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh among his followers, took a surprising U-turn yesterday when the high court overturned his previous conviction on fraud charges. The Taiwan High Court cited a constitutional protection for religion and the inability to prove that Sung does not possess supernatural powers as reasons for its decision. Sung was given seven years by a district court that convicted him of defrauding believers out of hundreds of millions of New Taiwan dollars. Also acquitted were his chief disciple, Cheng Chen-tung, Mayor Hsieh's wife, You Fang-chih, and 13 other defendants. "The judicial reform is making progress, vindicating me," Sung told reporters on his way out of the courthouse. About 100 Sung followers at the trial broke into cheers when the court's ruling was announced.

Residents of the Pakistani capital awoke to a blanket of soft ice for the first time ever on Wednesday morning after a freak hailstorm pounded the city overnight. A layer of hailstones as deep as 10cm covered streets and parks, drawing schoolchildren out of class to toss snowballs and play in the soft ice, an unprecedented sight in the 40-year old city. "This is the first time Islamabad looked like this," said a security guard surveying the carpets of white iceballs shrouding the grounds of parliament house. The 20-minute hailstorm late on Tuesday was the heaviest to hit Islamabad in six years, weather experts at the Meteorology Office said.

The alleged Satanist dubbed "Goggaman" has admitted to being "possessed by demons", his trial has heard. "I got goosebumps when I looked him in the eye when we met," Superintendent Riétta Everton told the Pretoria High Court on Monday. Robbie Classen, 38, is facing 10 charges, including rape, indecent assault and abduction. The state alleges he committed satanic and sadistic rituals on three small siblings - a girl aged seven at the time and her nine and 11-year-old brothers. Classen - who has pleaded not guilty - allegedly sodomised the boys, made the children eat insects, and even injected one of the boys with his own blood. Everton, an expert in occult-related crimes, said she met Classen after his arrest in 2001.

In the quantum world, multiple possible realities exist concurrently – particles flutter about in many locations at once, for example. And when two particles of light (photons) are emitted simultaneously from the same atom, they retain an ethereal connection – measuring one seems to affect the other (a situation called "entanglement"). It's the sort of thing that baffled Einstein. Still, many people do have fun contemplating the weirdness of quantum physics. And some are even playing quantum games. These are not the kind of games you'll see in the Olympics, or even on ESPN-2. Quantum games are the intellectual descendants of a branch of mathematics known as game theory. They have the potential power to explain some mysteries of economics, to disentangle the dynamics of societal interactions, and to suggest what door to choose when Monty Hall offers to make you a deal. [...]

Dozens of other papers have analyzed quantum versions of various games, including TV's Let's Make a Deal. In that old game show, Monty Hall would ask a contestant to guess which of three doors hid the big prize. After the contestant chose one door, Monty would reveal one of the other two (not the one with the big prize) and then ask if the contestant wanted to switch to the remaining door. You improve your chances of winning by switching. In a quantum version of the game, though, the big prize might be 50 percent behind door 1 and 50 percent behind door 2. So you'd have to work out some elaborate quantum math to make the best decision, as Mr. Flitney and Dr. Abbott (of Adelaide University in Australia) described in a paper published last year in the journal Physical Review A.

Meteorite hunters have found two Mars rocks in the western Sahara, bringing the total number of distinct Mars meteorites to 26. Some rocks in this total are actually broken into multiple pieces that arrived on Earth at the same time. The new findings come with the help of Seattle-based Adam and Greg Hupe, who purchased the rocks and worked with University of Washington scientists Anthony Irving and Scott Kuehner to confirm their origin. The meteorites were originally picked up by separate nomadic tribes. One rock, now designated NWA 998, was rumored to exist in Morocco as early as September 2001 -- a time when U.S. scientists were not inclined to travel to the Middle East. Tucson meteorite dealers Mike Farmer and Jim Strope eventually helped broker a deal. The other meteorite has been named NWA 1195. Scientists estimate a Mars rock lands on Earth about once a month. They were typically ejected long ago when asteroids struck Mars and kicked up debris, which left the planet's gravitational influence and wandered through space for thousands or millions of years.

T wo more Central Seismology teams from the India Meteorological Department have been sent to probe the 'mysterious blasts' being heard in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat for over a month. Though no one was injured, the blast like sounds have caused slight structural damage to buildings in certain areas of Rajkot and Jamnagar cities. Earlier, another team, that had set up various monitoring instruments, had failed to establish the real cause of the blasts, official sources said here today. The new teams would study earth movements in different parts of the region and set up seismographs in Surendranagar and Jamnagar districts also, the sources added. A devastating earthquake had rocked parts of Gujarat on this day in 2001, that left several hundred dead and many more injured besides flattening many buildings.

Enemies in the mind's eye For more than 20 years, the CIA funded psychic experiments - Far-fetched as it sounds, the remote viewers at Fort Meade were engaged in deadly serious work–an odd marriage of American intelligence-gathering and paranormal experimentation. Unbeknownst to themselves, viewers No. 1 and No. 29 seemed to be describing Lop Nor, a Chinese nuclear complex. - The experiment was only one episode in a remarkable research program run by the Defense Intelligence Agency and CIA from 1972 until 1996. The project, known variously as Grill Flame, Sun Streak, and finally Star Gate, explored a variety of parapsychological phenomena but especially one known as "remote viewing," the process by which someone in, say, Maryland visualizes an office in the Kremlin and describes it both in words and drawings.

The outlines of Star Gate have been sketched before, but new details of the project have come to light in 73,000 pages of previously classified records released by the CIA last November and made available just this month. (An additional 20,800 pages are undergoing review, and 17,700 pages were deemed too sensitive to release.) The documents illuminate a chapter of spying that bears closer resemblance to Miss Cleo than to James Bond. [...]

The CIA says it no longer funds remote-viewing research, but the military is less emphatic in its denials. In the end, the weakness of remote viewing, says Smith, "is the weakness of any phenomenon that deals with the threshold of human perception. There are false positives, vague notions, and confused data that go with the territory." Paradoxically, for nearly a quarter of a century of American spying, that was also a strength.

George W. Bush's nose has grown two feet. Report on the State of the Union Address by Bush from readers and members of the Quantum Future School:

#1: Here's a basic list of what Bush said (I probably missed some points, but this is the gist of it as I tried to take notes):

Claims the economy is improving
Tax cuts for married couples, and stock dividends -
Medicare improvements without cutting benefits to seniors
Curbing litigation against hospitals through medical liability reforms
Energy independence while improving the environment
Clear skies legislation, mandating 70% cut in air pollution from power plants over the next 15 years
Preservation of forests
Environmental controls will come through technology and innovation 1.2 billion dollars in research funding to develop hydrogen powered automobiles.
Wants to make air significantly cleaner
Better shelter for battered woman,
better care for seniors
Encourages "Acts of compassion" to transform America "one heart and one soul at a time"
$450 million dollar initiative to bring mentors to children in prison
$600 million program to help 300,000 receive "drug treatment" over the next three years
Urges an end to partial birth abortion
Urges the passage of a law against all human cloning
Claims to have liberated oppressed people in Afghanistan, and "will help educate their people"
continnue to seek peace between a "secure Israel" and a "democratic Palestine"
Says that 60% of worldwide food aid comes from United States [meanwhile countless people camp in the streets or empty lots of America]
Wants to help cure AIDS, says it can be prevented, and says drugs can help saves victim lives.
Proposes an emergency plan for AIDS relief to help Africans and Caribbeans for adults and children sufferers, asking for $15 billion over the next 5 years.
[ Next 30 minutes was talk about "terror" and "war" ]
Claims we are winning a "war on terror" and that "the war goes on"
Claims to have arrested Al-Quida leaders "responsible for the 9-11 attacks"
Says "we have terrorists on the run and we'll keep them on the run"
Deploying a network of sensors nationwide to "detect early warning signs of biological attack"
Protecting nation against ballistic missles
Proposes $6 billion for vaccines against ebola, plague, anthrax, and more saying "we must act before the danger is upon us"
Instructing FBI, CIA, DoD, and Homeland Security to merge all threat info in a single location to "protect all citizens"
Says "war against terror is a contest of will, where perserverence is power"
Says "free people will set the course of history"
Says "great threat" is regimes who possess biological and nuclear weapons
Says "Hitlerism was defeated by the Will of Free peoples ... and by the might of the United States of America"
Says "We are called upon to guard the safety of our people and the hopes of mankind, and we accept this responsibility"
Called on United Nations to stand by "its demand that Iraq disarm"
Says "the course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of other nations"
Says whenever action is required, whenever action is necessary "I will defend the freedom and security of the American people"
Says North Korea deceived the world by building nuclear weapons and is using its program to incite fear and that "America will not be blackmailed"
Working to show North Korea that having nuclear weapons will bring them economic isolation and hardship, and find relief only when it turns away from nuclear weapons. They will not allowed to threaten the United States.
Says Saddam Hussein has "weapons of mass destruction" and has shown "utter contempt for the United Nations and the opinion of the world"
Says "it is up to Iraq to show exactly where it is hiding its weapons, bring them out for the world to see, and destroy them....nothing like this has happened" Iraq hasn't accounted for bioweaponry nor its destruction.
Says "trusting the restraint and strategy of Hussein is not an option"
Points out what he considers to be Hussein's human rights violations to its own people, torture, killings, etc
Says to Iraqi people, "The enemy is not your country but is ruling your country and the day he and his regime is removed from power will be the day of your liberation"
Reaffirms that if Hussein doesn't disarm that "we will lead a coilition to disarm him"
Says "sending Americans into battle is the most profound decision a president can make . . . this nation fights reluctantly.... We seek peace, we strive for peace... future lived at the mercy of terrible threats is not peace at all ... if war is forced upon us then we'll fight with the full force of the U.S. military and we will prevail"
Says "as we and our coalition partners are doing in Afghantistan, we'll bring the Iraqi people food and medicines and supplies and freedom"
Says "we move forward in confidence because this call of history has come to the right country"
Says "we exercise power without conquest"
Says "the liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity"
Says "we're placing our confidence in a guiding god ... and may god continue to bless the United States of America" - he didn't mention which god he was referring to.

Then the CNN reporters talked about their interpretations of what Bush said, and how it "felt" to them, and that Bush is "returning to his roots of compassion and conservatism." In my opinion, Bush didn't say anything new about Iraq that he hasn't said over and over already. Wolf Blitzer said this wasn't a formal declaration of war against Iraq, but that it was very very close. Strange because I thought it was Congress who declares war. The reporters said Congress gave Bush permission to go to war in Iraq already (and I don't remember that happening, did it?), but that Kennedy wants another vote in Congress before the president goes to war.

#2: I just wanted to mention that this particular part is what caught my attention. Bush said: "All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. And many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies. " And I thought, did he say what I THINK he just said? Did he just intimate that these people have been taken out? This is the sort of remark that the police would sell their souls to get on tape from the mafia, or from drug kingpins. It's tantamount to an admission of having committed murder, on tape, in front of millions of people. And everyone just stood up and applauded. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more.....

#3: He also said "Whatever action is necessary *I* will defend......" emphasis was on the "I". And the very thing that came to my mind was that the chickenhawks will be in their bunkers and our children will do the "defending" and dying.

#4: Apparently Bush's speech didn't fool investors. Spot gold prices are still creeping upward at this moment. Savvy investors had told me yesterday that if his speech had anything of substance in it, the market jitters would settle down. The best indicator of this would be a drop in gold...this didn't happen...if anything, the opposite is occuring.

#5: Did anyone note that the 450 million was for "military mentors." Brain washing came to mind. What perfect opportunity in the guise of helping the children!

Anti-War Ads Rejected During Bush Speech - The Comcast cable television company rejected ads that an anti-war group wanted to air during President Bush's State of the Union speech, saying they included unsubstantiated claims. - "Comcast runs advertisements from many sources representing a wide range of viewpoints, pro and con," Comcast spokesman Mitchell Schmale said in a statement issued Tuesday evening. "However, we must decline to run any spot that fails to substantiate certain claims or charges. In our view, this spot raises such questions." The statement did not specify what Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, objected to. - The ads show citizens expressing opposition to war with Iraq and were to run twice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. The idea was to reach Congress members, Cabinet members and other Washington decision makers, said the Rev. Robert Moore, executive director of the 2,000-member peace group, which is based in Princeton. "This is an outrageous infringement on our First Amendment rights, in the center of our democracy, Washington, D.C.," he said.

Demonizing Saddam: Sure He’s Evil — But Does It Matter We’ve Heard All About It Before? - Saddam even allowed babies at a Kuwaiti hospital to be "pulled from incubators and scattered like firewood across the floor," the president said. [Which turned out to be all lies]

America's blood boiled. The president's popularity soared. The "Butcher of Baghdad's" mug was the bull's-eye on posters at gas stations. A Republican senator called him "a wolf knocking at our door." T-shirts and political cartoons showed Saddam as a gigantic, voracious spider consuming Kuwait and threatening America. Some called it "Iraqnophobia," a play on Arachnophobia, the then-hit movie about killer spiders.

But despite a year of tough "axis of evil" talk from the current Bush administration and a troop buildup in the Persian Gulf, polls show support for war with Iraq far from unanimous, and particularly weak if fought without international support.

Scholars of wartime propaganda say the new Saddam-the-demon message is playing more like "Iraqnophobia II" — a dull sequel with recycled plotlines, and few compelling new allegations or surprises.

"To be quite honest with you, I'm confused by it," said Anthony Pratkanis, co-author of Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion. "I don't understand the Bush administration's thinking on this. If they want a war with Iraq, they basically need to sell that war." That means details on fresh atrocities, fresh images of enemy depravity and enough public proof to convince the world. "It is hard to demonize [Saddam] when he hasn't really done anything [new] lately," said Garth Jowett, co-author of the book, Propaganda and Persuasion.

"I think the White House is losing its grip in the sense that its stories are no longer capturing the minds of the American public," added Jowett, director of the school of communication at the University of Houston. "It's not happening, I think, to any great extent because they are finding the public is ho-humming about it. Everybody knows Saddam is a bad guy."

That could be a problem for the Bush administration, which faces skepticism from foreign governments and a rising domestic anti-war movement, and which insists Iraq, not America, bears the burden of proving it meets conditions to avert an attack, Jowett and others say. But demonizing the enemy with names, ridicule and allegations — and making it stick — amounts to more than just schoolyard-style trash talk when selling a war. Such techniques are time-tested methods for governments to move the public to action with bloodthirsty war fever or bloodcurdling fear of the enemy threat. "War propaganda in the 20th century is getting the consent of the population for going on with the killing, and muzzling the population that feels otherwise," says Jay Winter, a history professor at Yale University. [...]

"What [officials] are failing to do is to convince the public that this sinister, evil guy has to be gotten rid of at a cost of $600 billion," he said. [...]

Abroad, predictably, the balance swings further against Bush. In a South African cartoon, Dubya is "Dr. Evil" being spurned by his own "Mini-Me," British Prime Minister Tony Blair. And a German official was fired for comparing Bush's tactics to Hitler's. Iraq has done plenty of anti-American demonizing, such as last month when the daily newspaper Al-Iraq, according to The Associated Press, denounced "the forces of evil and aggression, led by the great Satan — the United States — and its arrogant idiot President Bush." It may sound ridiculous to American ears, but Jowett says the foreign demonization cannot simply be laughed off. "The American public, I don't think, understands the incredible depth of feeling and hostility that this has created," he said. "We are going to start to see … people killing Americans indiscriminately."

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz on Wednesday denied President Bush's allegation that his country has ties to Osama bin Laden's militant Al Qaeda organization. "I absolutely deny that. I absolutely deny that," Aziz said in an interview on ABC News. "And I challenge Bush and his government to present any, any evidence of that." In his annual State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, Bush accused Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of aiding and protecting "terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda," held responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Bush, making the case for possible military action against Iraq, warned Hussein could secretly provide "one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own." Bush said his charge was based on "evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody." He repeated U.S. accusations that Hussein has "spent enormous sums, taken great risks, to build and keep weapons of mass destruction." In the television interview, Aziz dismissed Bush's speech as more of the same old rhetoric, adding that "now people are more unconvinced about the Bush allegations than any time before." He said Iraq would fight bravely in any war with the United States. "If they dare to invade Iraq, they will suffer great losses and they will lose in the end," he said.

Remember "Boxgate," the incident last week at a St. Louis warehouse in which President Bush touted small business and things made in America? And the problem was, he was standing behind a bunch of boxes that had tape over the words "Made in China"? Seems the person who did this, said by the White House to be an "overzealous volunteer," may have committed a federal offense. Covering up the "Made In" labels is against the law, a violation of venerable Title 19, Chapter 4, Subtitle II, Part 1, Sec. 134.11, which "requires that every article of foreign origin (or its container) imported into the United States shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly and permanently" as possible, "in such manner as to indicate to an ultimate purchaser . . . [the] name of the country of origin of the article." Further, "any person who, with intent to conceal the information . . . defaces, destroys, removes, alters, covers, obscures, or obliterates any mark required under the provisions of this chapter shall -- (1) upon conviction for the first violation . . . be fined not more than $100,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both. . . ." A year in the slammer? This is enforced by Customs, now part of the Department of Homeland Security. Might be a good place for Secretary Tom Ridge to start. Or wait! Is Ken Starr busy? Didn't Watergate begin with some tape on a door?

Blair applauds Bush speech - Downing Street said today that US President George Bush's state of the union address set out "very eloquently" the case against Saddam Hussein. Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman said that case now needed to be made "over and over again". Mr Bush said in his address earlier today that he would be presenting fresh evidence of Saddam Hussein's illegal weapons programmes to the United Nations Security Council next week. - And he issued a rallying call to all "free nations" to unite against the Iraqi dictator.

Susan Sarandon used the premiere of her new film to criticise Tony Blair and his relationship with President Bush. - Sarandon, wearing a red and black floral dress, purple leather jacket and matching boots said: "I'm tired of being labelled anti-American because I ask questions." She added that there were questions which needed asking about the prospect of war with Iraq. And the star of hit film Thelma And Louise said she could not understand President George W Bush's relationship with Tony Blair. "What's happened to Blair? I don't understand his reasoning or his logic. I don't understand his evolution. I can see him being seduced by (former US President) Clinton but don't understand what him and Bush speak about."

PILGER sez: BLAIR IS A COWARD - William Russell, the great correspondent who reported the carnage of imperial wars, may have first used the expression "blood on his hands" to describe impeccable politicians who, at a safe distance, order the mass killing of ordinary people. In my experience "on his hands" applies especially to those modern political leaders who have had no personal experience of war, like George W Bush, who managed not to serve in Vietnam, and the effete Tony Blair. There is about them the essential cowardice of the man who causes death and suffering not by his own hand but through a chain of command that affirms his "authority".

In 1946 the judges at Nuremberg who tried the Nazi leaders for war crimes left no doubt about what they regarded as the gravest crimes against humanity. The most serious was unprovoked invasion of a sovereign state that offered no threat to one's homeland. Then there was the murder of civilians, for which responsibility rested with the "highest authority".

Blair is about to commit both these crimes, for which he is being denied even the flimsiest United Nations cover now that the weapons inspectors have found, as one put it, "zilch". Like those in the dock at Nuremberg, he has no democratic cover. Using the archaic "royal prerogative" he did not consult parliament or the people when he dispatched 35,000 troops and ships and aircraft to the Gulf; he consulted a foreign power, the Washington regime.

Unelected in 2000, the Washington regime of George W Bush is now totalitarian, captured by a clique whose fanaticism and ambitions of "endless war" and "full spectrum dominance" are a matter of record. All the world knows their names: Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Cheney and Perle, and Powell, the false liberal. Bush's State of the Union speech last night was reminiscent of that other great moment in 1938 when Hitler called his generals together and told them: "I must have war." He then had it.

To call Blair a mere "poodle" is to allow him distance from the killing of innocent Iraqi men, women and children for which he will share responsibility. He is the embodiment of the most dangerous appeasement humanity has known since the 1930s.

The current American elite is the Third Reich of our times, although this distinction ought not to let us forget that they have merely accelerated more than half a century of unrelenting American state terrorism: from the atomic bombs dropped cynically on Japan as a signal of their new power to the dozens of countries invaded, directly or by proxy, to destroy democracy wherever it collided with American "interests", such as a voracious appetite for the world's resources, like oil.

When you next hear Blair or Straw or Bush talk about "bringing democracy to the people of Iraq", remember that it was the CIA that installed the Ba'ath Party in Baghdad from which emerged Saddam Hussein.

"That was my favourite coup," said the CIA man responsible.

When you next hear Blair and Bush talking about a "smoking gun" in Iraq, ask why the US government last December confiscated the 12,000 pages of Iraq's weapons declaration, saying they contained "sensitive information" which needed "a little editing". Sensitive indeed. The original Iraqi documents listed 150 American, British and other foreign companies that supplied Iraq with its nuclear, chemical and missile technology, many of them in illegal transactions.

In 2000 Peter Hain, then a Foreign Office Minister, blocked a parliamentary request to publish the full list of lawbreaking British companies. He has never explained why.

As a reporter of many wars I am constantly aware that words on the page like these can seem almost abstract, part of a great chess game unconnected to people's lives. The most vivid images I carry make that connection. They are the end result of orders given far away by the likes of Bush and Blair, who never see, or would have the courage to see, the effect of their actions on ordinary lives: the blood on their hands.

Let me give a couple of examples. Waves of B52 bombers will be used in the attack on Iraq. In Vietnam, where more than a million people were killed in the American invasion of the 1960s, I once watched three ladders of bombs curve in the sky, falling from B52s flying in formation, unseen above the clouds. They dropped about 70 tons of explosives that day in what was known as the "long box" pattern, the military term for carpet bombing. Everything inside a "box" was presumed destroyed.

When I reached a village within the "box", the street had been replaced by a crater. I slipped on the severed shank of a buffalo and fell hard into a ditch filled with pieces of limbs and the intact bodies of children thrown into the air by the blast. The children's skin had folded back, like parchment, revealing veins and burnt flesh that seeped blood, while the eyes, intact, stared straight ahead. A small leg had been so contorted by the blast that the foot seemed to be growing from a shoulder. I vomited.

I am being purposely graphic. This is what I saw, and often; yet even in that "media war" I never saw images of these grotesque sights on television or in the pages of a newspaper. I saw them only pinned on the wall of news agency offices in Saigon as a kind of freaks' gallery.

SOME years later I often came upon terribly deformed Vietnamese children in villages where American aircraft had sprayed a herbicide called Agent Orange. It was banned in the United States, not surprisingly for it contained Dioxin, the deadliest known poison. This terrible chemical weapon, which the cliche-mongers would now call a weapon of mass destruction, was dumped on almost half of South Vietnam. Today, as the poison continues to move through water and soil and food, children continue to be born without palates and chins and scrotums or are stillborn. Many have leukaemia.

You never saw these children on the TV news then; they were too hideous for their pictures, the evidence of a great crime, even to be pinned up on a wall and they are old news now.

That is the true face of war. Will you be shown it by satellite when Iraq is attacked? I doubt it.

I was starkly reminded of the children of Vietnam when I travelled in Iraq two years ago. A paediatrician showed me hospital wards of children similarly deformed: a phenomenon unheard of prior to the Gulf war in 1991. She kept a photo album of those who had died, their smiles undimmed on grey little faces. Now and then she would turn away and wipe her eyes. More than 300 tons of depleted uranium, another weapon of mass destruction, were fired by American aircraft and tanks and possibly by the British. Many of the rounds were solid uranium which, inhaled or ingested, causes cancer. In a country where dust carries everything, swirling through markets and playgrounds, children are especially vulnerable.

For 12 years Iraq has been denied specialist equipment that would allow its engineers to decontaminate its southern battlefields. It has also been denied equipment and drugs that would identify and treat the cancer which, it is estimated, will affect almost half the population in the south.

LAST November Jeremy Corbyn MP asked the Junior Defence Minister Adam Ingram what stocks of weapons containing depleted uranium were held by British forces operating in Iraq. His robotic reply was: "I am withholding details in accordance with Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information."

Let us be clear about what the Bush-Blair attack will do to our fellow human beings in a country already stricken by an embargo run by America and Britain and aimed not at Saddam Hussein but at the civilian population, who are denied even vaccines for the children. Last week the Pentagon in Washington announced matter of factly that it intended to shatter Iraq "physically, emotionally and psychologically" by raining down on its people 800 cruise missiles in two days. This will be more than twice the number of missiles launched during the entire 40 days of the 1991 Gulf War. A military strategist named Harlan Ullman told American television: "There will not be a safe place in Baghdad. The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never been contemplated before." The strategy is known as Shock and Awe and Ullman is apparently its proud inventor. He said: "You have this simultaneous effect, rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks but minutes."

What will his "Hiroshima effect" actually do to a population of whom almost half are children under the age of 14? The answer is to be found in a "confidential" UN document, based on World Health Organisation estimates, which says that "as many as 500,000 people could require treatment as a result of direct and indirect injuries".

A Bush-Blair attack will destroy "a functioning primary health care system" and deny clean water to 39 per cent of the population. There is "likely [to be] an outbreak of diseases in epidemic if not pandemic proportions".

It is Washington's utter disregard for humanity, I believe, together with Blair's lies that have turned most people in this country against them, including people who have not protested before. Last weekend Blair said there was no need for the UN weapons inspectors to find a "smoking gun" for Iraq to be attacked. Compare that with his reassurance in October 2001 that there would be no "wider war" against Iraq unless there was "absolute evidence" of Iraqi complicity in September 11. And there has been no evidence.

Blair's deceptions are too numerous to list here. He has lied about the nature and effect of the embargo on Iraq by covering up the fact that Washington, with Britain's support, is withholding more than $5billion worth of humanitarian supplies approved by the Security Council.

He has lied about Iraq buying aluminium tubes, which he told Parliament were "needed to enrich uranium". The International Atomic Energy Agency has denied this outright.

He has lied about an Iraqi "threat", which he discovered only following September 11 2001 when Bush made Iraq a gratuitous target of his "war on terror". Blair's "Iraq dossier" has been mocked by human rights groups.

However, what is wonderful is that across the world the sheer force of public opinion isolates Bush and Blair and their lemming, John Howard in Australia. So few people believe them and support them that The Guardian this week went in search of the few who do - "the hawks". The paper published a list of celebrity warmongers, some apparently shy at describing their contortion of intellect and morality. It is a small list.

IN CONTRAST the majority of people in the West, including the United States, are now against this gruesome adventure and the numbers grow every day. It is time MPs joined their constituents and reclaimed the true authority of parliament. MPs like Tam Dalyell, Alice Mahon, Jeremy Corbyn and George Galloway have stood alone for too long on this issue and there have been too many sham debates manipulated by Downing Street. If, as Galloway says, a majority of Labour backbenchers are against an attack, let them speak up now. Blair's figleaf of a "coalition" is very important to Bush and only the moral power of the British people can bring the troops home without them firing a shot.

The consequences of not speaking out go well beyond an attack on Iraq. Washington will effectively take over the Middle East, ensuring an age of terrorism other than their own. The next American attack is likely to be Iran - the Israelis want this - and their aircraft are already in place in Turkey. Then it may be China's turn.

"Endless war" is Vice-President Cheney's contribution to our understanding. Bush has said he will use nuclear weapons "if necessary". On March 26 last Geoffrey Hoon said that other countries "can be absolutely confident that in the right conditions we would be willing to use our nuclear weapons". Such madness is the true enemy. What's more, it is right here at home and you, the British people, can stop it. On Saturday, February 15, a great demonstration against an attack on Iraq will be held in London. Contact the Stop the War Coalition on 07951 235 915 and

The government will provoke a riot at next month's anti-war demonstration if up to half a million protesters are banned from rallying in London's Hyde Park, Labour MP George Galloway warned last night. Mr Galloway, a vehement critic of any attack against Iraq, said the culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, was wrong to outlaw plans for the march, on Saturday February 15, to climax in a rally at the park because of health and safety fears. He said: "I would want to warn Mrs Jowell, she can either choose between half a million people at the rally or half a million people in a riot. That is what will surely happen if we tell them that thanks to the British government they are not allowed to attend a meeting at the end of the march." Today the Stop the War Coalition (STWC), which is one of the organizers of the demonstration, was insisting that it will defy the Hyde Park ban. This morning its website was still advertising the rally, saying it was planned to end at 5.30pm.

When the UNO, the IAEA, the Secretary General of the UN, most of the international community and even the USA’s staunchest ally, the United Kingdom, all declare that more time has to be given to the weapons inspectors, George Bush declares that on February 5th the USA will present evidence to the UN Security Council that the Ba’ath regime in Iraq has ties to Al-Qaeda. Dr. Hans Blix, the leader of the UNMOVIC inspection team, told the security council on Tuesday that by and large, Iraq is cooperating: "The most important point to make is that access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect and with one exception, it has been prompt.” However, he also declared that more needs to be done to clear up whether or not there are missing documents and to find evidence that biological and chemical weapons have been destroyed.

The hasty tacking together by the Iraqi authorities of 12,000 pages on the weapons programmes left its mark: there are gaps and inconsistencies. For the UNO, these are questions that must be solved and clarified. For the USA, it is evidence that Saddam Hussein is lying.

It is not only Hans Blix who insists that the Iraqi regime is cooperating. Mohammed El Baradei, of the International Atomic Energy Agency declared also that there is no evidence that Iraq has a nuclear weapons programme, despite statements to the contrary by Washington. "With our verification system now in place, barring exceptional circumstances, and provided there is sustained proactive cooperation by Iraq, we should be able within the next few months to provide credible assurance that Iraq has no nuclear weapons programme," he stated.

Kofi Annan, meanwhile, is of the opinion that “if they do need time, they should be given the time to do their work and all of us, the Council when they sent them, must have realized that time will be necessary - a reasonable amount of time," the Secretary-General said in the UNO Headquarters in New York on Tuesday.

Washington repeatedly declares that it has “evidence” that Iraq is hiding its WMD programmes but when pressed, has not presented any hard facts. The British intelligence services, hard as they try, have been unable to find a link between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda.

Through its recent activities in Bosnia and Kosovo, the USA is far more likely to have ties with Al-Qaeda than Saddam Hussein.

Suspecting that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction is insubstantial. Fearing that some day in the future such weapons, if they exist, might fall into the wrong hands is also insubstantial and neither provide the grounds, under international law, to mount a full-scale war on a country. How many countries can declare that their nuclear power plants are 100% secure against terrorist raids to destroy or to steal? The fact that Al-Qaeda are present in tens of countries does not mean that these countries have links with Al-Qaeda.

The onus also remains very much upon Washington to back up its words with hard evidence, which the rest of the world would be very interested to hear. Constant half-statements and insinuations do not constitute hard evidence.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair echoed close ally George W. Bush Wednesday, claiming Iraq had links with al Qaeda militants, while recasting himself in a role as global ambassador ahead of possible war against Baghdad. Blair flies to Washington this week to meet Bush, talked to the leaders of France, Canada, Australia, Turkey and Greece on Tuesday, meets Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi Wednesday and will stop in Madrid en route to the United States. "We do know of links between al Qaeda and Iraq -- we cannot be sure of the exact extent of those links," he told parliament. Britain has been more equivocal up to now but appears to be firming up its language to match that from Washington. Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said Monday the government was aware of strong links between the Iraqi regime and terror organizations but said evidence of ties with al Qaeda were "much less strong."

U.S. allies Wednesday welcomed plans by President Bush to disclose new evidence on Iraq's alleged banned weapons, with a number of countries saying Washington had yet to make a clear case for war. Seeking to bolster support at home and abroad, Bush said Tuesday he had called on the U.N. Security Council to meet next week to hear evidence against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. In his State of the Union address, he said Secretary of State Colin Powell would present intelligence on "Iraq's illegal weapons programs, its attempts to hide those weapons from (U.N.) inspectors and its links to terrorist groups." U.S. allies in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, many of which feel evidence so far has been thin, seemed relieved Bush was coming forward with more evidence against Iraq and that he was still committed to working through the United Nations. But Russia, a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, disapproved of Bush's vow to use the full might of the U.S. military if necessary. "We are guided by the principles of international law and the prerogatives of the U.N. Security Council and, as we have said before, we do not see grounds for the use of military force," Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, one of the European leaders most strongly opposed to war on Iraq, said on Wednesday he was unsure whether diplomacy would succeed in averting a conflict. "The international situation, especially the crisis over Iraq is worrying me. I am worried about whether we will succeed in avoiding a war in Iraq," he told a conference in the western town of Wesel. Earlier on Wednesday, Schroeder welcomed a U.S. offer to give the United Nations Security Council evidence of Iraq's alleged banned weapons program. Schroeder has angered Washington with his vocal opposition to any U.S-led attack on Iraq. Last week he ruled out supporting a new Security Council resolution mandating war. Germany is due to chair the Council in February. "All information must be put on the table...," Schroeder told a joint news conference with Mexican President Vicente Fox after talks in Berlin. Mexico also holds one of the 10 rotating seats on the Council and Schroeder said the two leaders had agreed to work closely together to secure a peaceful outcome to the crisis.

NATO remained divided on Wednesday over whether to start planning indirect military support for a possible U.S.-led war on Iraq, diplomats said. While NATO Secretary General George Robertson wants the alliance to make some contingency plans, European heavyweights France and Germany still want to give the United Nations more time to find a peaceful solution to the Iraqi crisis. In a blow to U.S. efforts to build a military coalition against Iraq, there was no discussion of the planning issue at Wednesday's formal session of the 19-nation policy-making North Atlantic Council. Belgium and Luxembourg joined France and Germany at last week's council meeting in blocking a decision to start preparations in the event of war in Iraq. Diplomats said these countries had already made it clear at an informal meeting of NATO ambassadors Tuesday, ahead of Wednesday's meeting, that their position had not changed.

Egypt will not take part in any military action against Iraq even if the United Nations approves an intervention, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher told French daily Le Monde Wednesday. "In principle, if the U.N. takes a decision... the whole world must respect that. But that does not mean the whole world has to participate in the action which stems from this resolution," the paper quoted him as saying. "We will not engage in any military action. We will continue to participate in an action of peace." Asked if Egypt would allow its air space and Suez canal waters to be used during a possible war against Iraq, Maher said the use of the canal was determined by international rules which applied to all. From Egypt's point of view, a possible war would hit tourism and investment, and increase insurance costs on exports and imports, he added. "There will be no winner (in the war). So it is a political, moral and legal responsibility to do everything in our power to avoid it, and for that the cooperation of the whole world is necessary," Maher said.

North Korea demanded Wednesday that the United States withdraws all its nuclear weapons from South Korea -- an action Washington says it carried out 12 years ago. The demand appeared to be the latest attempt to portray the United States as the real military threat in the crisis over the communist North's nuclear weapons program. "The U.S. should immediately withdraw nuclear weapons from South Korea," the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said quoting state newspapers. "South Korea has turned into the biggest nuclear arsenal in the Far East and a nuclear attack base as over 1,000 U.S.-made nukes are deployed there," it said. In September 1991, then U.S. President George Bush announced the withdrawal of all U.S. tactical nuclear weapons deployed abroad, including about 100 based in South Korea. Although North Korea never publicly acknowledged the move, this helped to pave the way for the December 1991 South-North Joint Declaration on the De-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. Under that pact, the rival Korean governments pledged not to test, produce, receive, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons. They also agreed to mutual inspections. "The U.S. imperialists have gone ahead with the establishment of the "joint stealth operation force" for carrying out a pre-emptive nuclear attack operation... since they singled out the DPRK (North Korea) as part of an "axis of evil" and target of its pre-emptive nuclear attack," the Rodong Sinmun newspaper said. That reference came on the anniversary of a speech by President Bush in which he bracketed North Korea with Iraq and Iran in an "axis of evil." In his State of the Union speech this year, Bush accused North Korea of deceit and blackmail, but said Washington would work with its allies for a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

North Korea accused the United States and South Korea of planning a massive joint military attack against it, even as a Seoul envoy in Pyongyang pushed ahead with diplomatic efforts to resolve the Korean nuclear crisis. The North also said it was prepared to answer the threat of an attack with "the unlimited use of means," in a particularly forceful dispatch from its official news agency KCNA. The envoy of outgoing South Korean President Kim Dae-jung met with the second-highest leader of the isolated communist nation. It was a likely prelude to meeting with leader Kim Jong Il, considered the only one who can make a meaningful decision on the North's nuclear weapons program. While Seoul hoped the North's reception of its envoys signaled a new willingness for outside help in negotiating an end to the standoff which Pyongyang has insisted is a matter between it and Washington the North has continually tried to drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States, its closest ally. In its latest hostile rhetoric, the North said the U.S. State Department was making "a final examination" of an attack plan that U.S. forces could carry out only a few hours after receiving the order.

Tony Blair today pledged that after dealing with Iraq, the UN would confront North Korea about its nuclear weapons programme. The prime minister was giving an impassioned defence of the government's position on Iraq during his weekly question time when an anti-war MP shouted: "Who's next?" Replying to the heckle, Mr Blair said: "After we deal with Iraq we do, yes, through the UN, have to confront North Korea about its weapons programme". "We have to confront those companies and individuals trading in weapons of mass destruction," he added. To another cry of "When do we stop?", Mr Blair answered: "We stop when the threat to our security is properly and fully dealt with." The British and US governments have been accused of double standards over their treatment of Iraq and North Korea - threatening Saddam Hussein's regime with war, when there is no evidence that it has successfully developed nuclear weapons, while attempting diplomacy with Kim Jong Il's, which is known to possess them. Both countries were branded a part of Gaorge Bush's "axis of evil", alongside Iran. And Labour backbencher Lynne Jones suggested that it was that speech by the Mr Bush, rather than a significant change in circumstances, that had led to Iraq being identified as a "threat". Why, she asked, had President Saddam not used his weapons of mass destruction during the first Gulf war, and why had he not been considered a threat when Labour first came to power?

Russia, said Wednesday it saw no grounds yet for using force against Iraq and called for U.N. arms inspectors to have more time, a day after President Bush sought support for a possible war. "We are guided by the principles of international law and the prerogatives of the U.N. Security Council and, as we have said before, we do not see grounds for the use of military force," Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said. "The potential for political and diplomatic regulation has not been exhausted and we think that international inspectors should be given the opportunity to continue their work." A day after Bush promised to fight with the full force of the U.S. armed forces, Moscow said in the statement it agreed on the need to resist "terrorism" but did not see eye to eye with Washington on the source of threats. "We support the thesis that, to oppose terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other global security challenges, decisive joint efforts are needed from the whole of the world community," Yakovenko said. "Of course, we do not always assess the concrete source of threats in the same way." Russia, one of five veto-wielding permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, has consistently opposed unilateral U.S. action against Iraq.

The Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday projected deficits of $199 billion this year and $145 billion in 2004 if no new tax cuts or spending increases are enacted, worsening the government's fiscal outlook and enflaming a budget battle between President Bush and Democrats. The new figures marked the latest decline in what has been two years of steady decay in the government's economic expectations. In August, the nonpartisan agency envisioned shortfalls of $145 billion in 2003 and $111 billion in 2004. Some private economists have projected that including tax cuts, potential war with Iraq and other costs that could be incurred this year, the 2003 deficit will hit or surpass $300 billion. The worst ever was the $290 billion in red ink the government recorded in 1992, when Bush's father was president.

Stocks fall after Bush speech - During the Tuesday evening speech, Bush outlined his rationale for war against Iraq, and promised to provide evidence that Iraq is evading weapons inspections at a Feb. 5 meeting of the U.N. Security Council. Some analysts say Bush was long on Iraq and short on the economy as he pushed for a $674 billion economic stimulus plan centered on tax cuts, including the elimination of corporate dividend taxes. - The dollar's bounce lasted just one session, as disappointment over Bush's speech reignited selling interest. The buck fell 0.4 percent to $1.0866 versus the euro. Against the yen, the dollar slid 0.5 percent to 118.06.

Stocks slumped on Wednesday, erasing gains from a modest rally a day earlier, after strong words from President Bush heightened fears that a U.S. military strike against Iraq looms on the horizon. "It's one word, Iraq," said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer at First Albany Corp. "Investors are backing away from the market because we seem closer to a war and it may lead to a further rise in the price of oil and real economic problems, and they are really worried about U.S. chest-thumping, unilateral policy that could lead to further problems."

It may be recalled that America's prosperity in the 1990s began with a reduction of military spending - "dividends of victory in the Cold War" - but was supported by two extensive crises - a Yugoslav one in Europe and a financial one in Asia, with money fleeing the crisis-hit regions to America. So what kind of global cataclysm is to occur now for an economy handling 10 trillion dollars a year to again start growing at a pace able to absorb multi-billion budget deficits?

Maybe the Bush administration does not plan such a global upheaval - but this is what is most feared in Europe and the rest of the world and this is why Bush's foreign policy has already nearly isolated America. He might be pardoned a local gamble, with gnashing of the teeth. But the general fear is about a crushing of economies on the scale of continents. An Iraqi war, for example, would allow the US - theoretically - to flood the world with cheap oil and make some countries by far richer and others by far poorer, but also fully alter the political and military map of the Middle East. That is why almost no one wants that war, and not only for the reason that it is manifestly devoid of legal grounds.

This is a very big game, and it explains Washington's wavering. The main reason for the wavering is not that the administration has failed to convince the world, but that the Americans themselves have started to doubt. Recent Washington Post public opinion polls show that 58 per cent of the voters want more facts testifying to Saddam's guilt. Seventy-one per cent say that if the administration has evidence, it should go public with it. Lastly, an increasing percentage of the public wants to see UN inspectors working in Iraq, rather than American soldiers dying there. If this trend is not bucked literally now, there will be no time left to launch a war before the April heat. So the main novel feature of the Bush speech is an obvious plan of battle for American minds - other minds are understandably irrelevant. And the instantly famous words that "the course of this nation does not depend on decisions of others" is no longer news. This we have already heard.

Iraq overshadows economy in Bush address - Ahead of the State of the Union address, Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group policy analyst Andrew Parmentier said Wall Street would be looking for two things: more transparency on Iraq, and an indication of how much political capital he was willing to spend on the dividend proposal. - Some observers weren't surprised Bush made a seemingly lukewarm sales pitch for the tax plan. "Tonight was not the night that he was going to move the ball forward on his tax cuts," said Ethan Siegal of The Washington Exchange, a private firm that tracks policy and politics for institutional investors. Action on tax cuts and the rest of the domestic agenda, including Medicare reform, a prescription drug benefit for the elderly, and other measures highlighted in Tuesday's address, are likely to be frozen "until we get Saddam out of Iraq," said Siegal. He expects Congress to pass some sort of tax package by the August recess.

Kennedy to seek new measure on war with Iraq - 'Much has changed' since Congress authorized force, he says - Edward Kennedy will introduce a measure requiring President Bush to get new congressional approval before launching a military strike on Iraq, he announced Tuesday. "Much has changed in the many months since Congress has debated war with Iraq," the Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement released after President Bush's State of the Union address, in which Bush tried to rally the American people to the need to disarm Iraq. "U.N. inspectors are on the ground and making progress, and their work should continue," Kennedy said. "Osama bin Laden and the Korean nuclear crisis continue to pose far greater threats [than Iraq]." - But Kennedy's proposal could face a tough road in the GOP-controlled Senate. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said on CNN's "Larry King Live" that Bush made a "very powerful" case against Iraq in his speech and that another vote would be "absolutely unnecessary." "At the end of the day, the president will decide what's in the best interest of the safety of the American people and lead a coalition to disarm Saddam Hussein," the Tennessee Republican said.

Bush's weak case for war on Iraq - U.S. President George Bush struggled mightily last night to rally skeptical Americans to an unpopular war in Iraq. The State of the Union bully pulpit is a powerful one and he used it for all its worth. But the relentless, sweeping ferocity of Bush's vow to fight Saddam Hussein's "evil"and "terrible threats" — plus earlier hints that Washington is prepared to use nuclear weapons against Iraq and a firestorm of cruise missiles — suggest that the president is fighting his way out of a corner as he tries to persuade his country, and the world, that war is wise and necessary.

While Bush delivered a dire warning last night to Saddam to disarm, this was not the "war speech" itself. Bush will have to reappear before the American public before pulling the trigger. He has promised to consult allies, to argue his case again at the United Nations on Feb. 5, and to present evidence of his many assertions last night that Saddam is concealing a banned arsenal, with which he might arm Al Qaeda or other terrorists in a "day of horror." They will be closely scrutinized. Still, if Saddam is wise he will disarm in a hurry.

Yet for all his determination Bush has reason to tread cautiously and to build his coalition with care. Most Americans, about seven in 10, put more trust in the U.N. to decide this issue, than they do in their own government. The international community, if anything, is even more skeptical. And the U.N. wants more time for its weapons inspectors to probe Saddam's potential nuclear, chemical and biological materials. That could take weeks, months, even a year. The inspectors should get that chance.

For despite his denunciation of Saddam as a contemptuous dictator, outlaw and deceiver, and the small mountain of "evidence" he alluded to last night, Bush has made but an infirm case for rushing into a war that could isolate America, distract from the war on terror, inflame the Middle East, bring more suffering on the Iraqi people and encourage anti-American extremists. And while U.S. officials promise constantly to provide damning evidence on Saddam, they haven't yet.

Ultimately, Bush should be prepared to seek Security Council authorization for military action, and make a credible case there. That is best done after the weapons inspectors report back Feb. 14. Americans, like the rest of us, know perfectly well that Saddam is an evil man, a murderous despot with the deaths of a million people on his conscience, and a schemer who seeks to retain an arsenal of ugly weapons. The Mideast would not miss him. But Americans themselves are not persuaded that Saddam poses so major and urgent a threat that he must be removed by war. Most see him for what he is: a pariah with a shabby military and a ruined economy.

Most of America's allies, Canada included, take the same view. If U.N. trusteeship, American and British military pressure, economic sanctions and aggressive inspections can contain Iraq, what more is needed? For all its fierce eloquence, Bush's speech last night did not answer that basic question. Not in a persuasive way, at least. Americans, and the world, are still wondering: Why this rush to war?

Baghdad considers the situation around the inspections in Iraq paradoxical - Iraq is being demanded "to produce material evidence of the lack of something non-existent," Iraqi ambassador to Russia Abbas Halaf said on Wednesday. "That's why Baghdad insists that the absence of traces of weapons of mass destruction is the best evidence of the absence of weapons of mass destruction proper," Halaf said. The ambassador stressed that Iraq had given inspection teams "access to all facilities which [the inspectors] chose to examine." "One should be kamikaze to untie inspector's hands for the search of weapons of mass destruction while having them at the disposal," the ambassador added. According to him, Baghdad is not confused by the fact that UN Security Council Resolution 1441 almost openly places Iraq in the guilty position. "Baghdad's position of principle on the inspections in the country is: it is necessary to put an end to the situation around Iraq as soon as possible," the ambassador said.

Is Greece on the Edge of Volcano Catastrophe? - A message has recently arrived from the island of Nisiros in the Aegean Sea: a volcano is awakening there. Will Greece suffer from the tragedy, which happened in Italy at the end of the last year? - Another disturbing message came from Italy – about the eruption of Mount Etna in Sicily. The eruption started in the fall. It has recently started fading. This story is worth paying special attention to, for something like that might happen in Greece as well. - The eruption of Mount Etna volcano in Sicily was accompanied with underground shocks. Twenty-nine people were killed (26 children among them) and 65 people were seriously wounded as a result of the disaster. - The eruption started fading away, although scientists say that another Italian volcano might blow up – Stromboli, which is located on the island of the same name, to the north off Sicily. Stromboli, as well as Europe’s largest volcano Etna, are situated in the area of the geological split between the European and African continents. Franco Barberi, a well-known volcanologist, believes that there is a connection between powerful quakes in the south of Italy and Stromboli’s activity. Some scientists forecast the eruption of Vesuvius volcano, not far from Naples. This volcano has been silent for more than 50 years.

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