...But of these sophisms and elenchs of merchandise I skill not...
Milton, Areopagitica

Except he had found the
standing sea-rock that even this last
Temptation breaks on; quieter than death but lovelier; peace
that quiets the desire even of praising it.

Jeffers, Meditation On Saviors



money and intimidation

Regarding Iran, Chomsky and the others seem to be ignoring the campaign that the lobby is waging to get us into another war, one that will be far more catastrophic than the disaster that has taken place in Iraq. There is a coalition of the 12 leading Jewish women's organizations, representing a million Jewish women, calling itself "One Voice for Israel," that was formed in 2002 in response to the bad publicity Israel received over the destruction of Jenin. Each year, in what it calls "Take-5," it gets it members to call the White House at the same time and then on another day, to do the same to Congress. Each time they have done it, they have tied up the Capitol switchboard. It is one of the ways in which they show their power.
AIPAC is very unusual because while it is a registered lobby for Israel, it does not have to register as a foreign lobby. And that gives it a unique situation in the country. In every hearing in the Congress that involves Middle East issues, you have staff members of AIPAC sitting in these committee hearings. No other lobbies, foreign lobbies, have this privilege.
I have been attacked as a "self-hating Jew", as an anti-Semite, but it does not matter to me because I consider the accusation of anti-Semitism to be the first refuge of scoundrels. Patriotism is the last refuge, anti-Semitism is the first. In this country it has been used to silence so many people.
Jeffrey Blankfort interview
Silvia Cattori/Voltairenet 23.Feb.06
Blankfort at PIWP
Blankfort at counterpunch
link rw


Privatizing the Apocalypse
Bechtel moves into Los Alamos

In Boston, Bechtel was put in charge of the "Big Dig," the reconstruction of Interstate 93 beneath the city. In 1985, the price tag for the project was estimated at about $2.5 billion. Now, it is a whopping $14.6 billion (or $1.8 billion a mile), making it the most expensive stretch of highway in the world. Near San Diego, citizens are still paying the bills for cost over-runs at a nuclear power plant where Bechtel installed one of the reactors backwards.
In 2003, Bechtel took this winning track record to Baghdad, where it blew billions in a string of unfinished projects and unfathomable errors. The company reaped tens of millions of dollars in contracts to repair Iraq's schools, for example, but an independent report found that many of the schools Bechtel claimed to have completely refitted, "haven't been touched," and a number of schools remained "in shambles." One "repaired" school was found by inspectors be overflowing with "unflushed sewage."
Bechtel also has a $1.03 billion contract to oversee important aspects of Iraq's infrastructure reconstruction, including water and sewage. Despite many promises, startling numbers of Iraqi families continue to lack access to clean water, according to information gathered by independent journalist Dahr Jamail. The company made providing potable water to southern Iraq one of its top priorities, promising delivery within the first 60 days of the program. One year later, rising epidemics of water-borne illnesses like cholera, kidney stones and diarrhea pointed to the failure of Bechtel's mission.
Outside of its ill-fated reconstruction contracts in Iraq, Bechtel is not known as a large military contractor, but the company has been quietly moving into the nuclear arena. It helped build a missile-defense site in the South Pacific, runs the Nevada Test Site where the United States once performed hundreds of above-and underground nuclear tests. Bechtel is also the "environmental manager" at the Oak Ridge National Lab, which stores highly-enriched uranium, and is carrying out design work at the Yucca Mountain repository where the plan to store 77,000 tons of nuclear waste has environmentalists and community activists up in arms.
Frida Berrigan/TomDispatch/commondreams 30.Mar.06

A regime is "the organization that is the governing authority of a political unit"
A regime is "A system by which a political unit is controlled"
A regime is "An administration, or a system of managing government"
A regime is "the organization that is the governing authority of a political unit"
A regime is "any system of social control, or more specifically, a form of government, especially one which is closely associated with a specific individual"

In theory, the term need not imply anything about the particular government to which it relates, and most political scientists use it as a neutral term. The term is sometimes used colloquially by some in reference to governments which they believe are repressive, undemocratic or illegitimate, such that in these contexts the word conveys a sense of moral disapproval or political opposition.

MR. MCCORMACK: Steve, we've talked about the fact that introduction of a nuclear weapon by Iran into the region is a destabilizing event, not only for the region but for the rest of the world. It is a threat. It certainly is a threat.
And that's why the international - and everybody agrees that that is an action that we want to avoid. Everybody. I don't think - you might find a few outliers, maybe some of the countries that voted with Iran in the IAEA Board of Governors, but I don't think you're going to find any disagreement with the idea that Iran can't be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon because it would be destabilizing and it would be a threat.
So we are seeking to deal with that situation, that potential situation, to avoid that situation through the use of diplomacy. And we have over the course of the past -- certainly over the past year built a larger and larger consensus among the members of the international community that that can't be allowed to happen.

State Dept. Daily Press Briefing March 29, 2006
Sean McCormack, Spokesman

Last April, China's Southern Metropolis Daily printed a story about Sun Zhigang, a migrant worker in Guangzhou beaten to death in official custody after being detained by police for not carrying ID. The story touched off a wave of public outrage that reached Beijing: in June, Premier Wen Jiabao led a Cabinet vote that proscribed the detention of migrants simply for straying far from their hometowns. The next morning, the paper editorialized: "This is a milestone in the history of citizens' rights that we should cherish forever."
The rights of citizens might have been buttressed by the Daily's scoop - but at a price. Officials in Guangdong province had previously censured the paper for its aggressive coverage of last year's SARS outbreak. At 3 a.m. on March 19 - one year to the day after Sun was killed - authorities raided the Guangzhou home of Daily editor Cheng Yizhong, confiscating books, magazines and computer documents and taking him into custody. Last week, two senior staff members of the paper were sentenced to hefty jail terms on charges of corruption. (The prosecution said the two had embezzled company money. Their defense attorney asserts that the payments were standard performance-based bonuses.)

Neil Gough/TimeAsia 29.Mar.06
China, which keeps the number of people it executes under wraps, is believed to have carried out about 8,000 executions in 2005, said Liu Renwen, a scholar at the Law Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Amnesty International (AI) documented at least 3,400 executions in 2004 - 90% of the total of capital punishments recorded around the world - but workers in the human-rights lobby said they believe the actual number to be higher.
Political pressure intensifies particularly during the periodic Yan Da (Strike Hard) campaigns against crime. Initiated in 1983 by China's late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping to counter the downsides of the country's opening to the outside world, Yan Da campaigns were revived in 1996 by then-president Jiang Zemin.
During these crackdowns, legal institutions are required to speed up normal legal procedures to meet quotas for solved crimes. Death sentences are carried out swiftly by a bullet to the back of the head.
Since the first Strike Hard campaign in 1983, the number of crimes punishable by death has doubled from 32 to 68, including economic offences such as smuggling, tax evasion and embezzlement.

Antoaneta Bezlova/IPS 31.Mar.06
Eight countries since 1990 are known to have executed prisoners who were under 18 years old at the time of the crime - China, Congo (Democratic Republic), Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, USA and Yemen.
China, Pakistan and Yemen have raised the minimum age to 18 in law, and Iran is reportedly in the process of doing so.
The USA executed more child offenders than any other country (19 between 1990 and 2003).
Amnesty International recorded four executions of child offenders in 2004 - one in China and three in Iran.
Eight child offenders were executed in Iran in 2005.

Amnesty International


"They are going to do it again, I thought. A pillow was put over my head to muffle my scream. I panicked. I must be able to breathe and scream in order to survive, I thought. I must be able to breathe. After about the third time that the electric current was applied, I figured what I thought was a brilliant maneuver. I waited until the pillow was put on my head, then right before the hands holding it pushed down hard on it, I turned my head sideways and was so relieved to be able to take in a breath. I just had to be really alert so I could move my head back in upright position before the pillow was pulled up. It was a project, and it helped me focus."
Olga Talamante
interview with Bill Berkowitz/WorkingForChange


Talking to the enemy
Fighting with friends

Iraq's Deputy Finance Minister Kamal Field al-Basri said it was "reasonable" for the United States to sharply cut back its reconstruction efforts after spending about US$21 billion. "We should be very much dependent on ourselves," al-Basri said in an interview with USA Today.
That will prove to be a very tall order. In 2003, the World Bank estimated the total rebuilding cost would be $60 billion. Current estimates put the bill at $70-100 billion.

William Fisher/AsiaTimes 29.Mar.06
Since the invasion of Iraq three years ago, the US military has lost more than 2,300 troops in combat, roadside explosions, insurgent attacks and friendly fire. But that figure is dwarfed by estimates for the number of Iraqis killed, which range from a conservative 30,000 to 100,000, according to a Lancet report in November 2004. As many as 50 people are killed every day. Britain has lost 103 soldiers in Iraq, while other nations together have lost 94 troops. But the cost of war has not just been measured in human terms. There is the financial cost. The US is still spending $6bn a month in Iraq, primarily on the 130,000 troops it still maintains in the country.

Julian Borger and Jonathan Steele/GuardianUK/commondreams 28.Mar.06

We've got a truly exceptional Category 5 tropical cyclone in the waters off of the Western Australia coast to discuss

"There is no more bird flu here, thank God. We killed all the birds," the man said, as he tried to block the clearly visible duck from view.

Freeloader? Illegal immigrant? Criminal? Or hero?

"90 percent of the people who are HIV positive don't know it"
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton called on Tuesday for mandatory testing for HIV/AIDS in countries with high infection rates and the means to provide lifesaving drugs.

Reuters 28.Mar.06

“I think it’s an invasion of privacy,” said Freeman Roberts, a barge captain. “The government shouldn’t be in the business of looking at people.”

$SENDER_NAME whatever - Hi Buy viagra or die! Have a nice day
spam rec'd 25.Mar.06
Two patents granted in the United States between 2000 and 2002 and another for which an application has been filed have put "maca", a high altitude Andean plant that is used by indigenous people in Peru, at the centre of a new battle against biopiracy, which involves the construction of an international network against the misappropriation of traditional knowledge.
One of the patented maca-based products claims to raise testosterone levels. But the countries that registered the plant "did not invent a thing," said lawyer Isabel Lapena, with the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law. "They merely took advantage of indigenous, campesino knowledge of the plant, which is known as 'natural viagra'," she told IPS.
Mario Osava IPS/commondreams 27.Mar.06


...that will end abruptly if the disease starts spreading to humans. There will be, he predicted, a "period of wonderment," while the authorities figure out whether the first cases are real, then borders will close, airports will shut down, and travelers everywhere will be stranded.

Interview with Dr. David Nabarro, chief avian flu coordinator for the UN
NYTimes/IHT 27.Mar.06

Another gem on the plus side is the impassioned work of Dave Evans, a US veteran who lost both of his legs in the Vietnam War. The beneficiary of artificial legs supplied by our government, Dave and a dedicated group of Salvadorans work in a clinic in downtown San Salvador to provide prosthetic devices to soldiers and civilians who lost limbs in the war. Their services go to needy people--regardless of their current politics or which side they fought on during the civil war. And if a child comes in who has lost a leg or an arm in picking up an unexploded shell or a landmine--or because of cancer or some other affliction--Evans and his staff fit the child with a prosthetic limb. All of these services are provided within the limitations of a tightly administered, underfunded budget. They're short on money and are currently getting no direct help from either the Salvadoran or US governments.
On a broad scale, what we were privileged to witness in El Salvador was a dramatic demonstration of alternative sources of power that in the long run may prove to be stronger than military or material power. Call it spiritual or moral power, or compassion and courage, or faith, or love--but do not overlook it if you wish to see a brighter, more hopeful future for Central America.
We are thinking of the four American churchwomen who lost their lives in service of the poor.
A quarter of a century later the light of these brave women shines as an inspiration to the multitudes across El Salvador. Who remembers except with a shudder the heavily armed soldiers who brutalized these women?

Rep. James P. McGovern


"We know how much the planet is going to warm. It is a small amount, and we can't do anything about it."
-Pat Michaels
ABC News bends ever so slightly toward the world the rest of us are living in with a slimy pseudo-admission of complicity and deceit by someone somewhere about global warming.
It says "American attitudes about global warming are shifting, according to a new poll by ABC News".
As though American attitudes are something ABC only reports, not something they've worked hard to create.
As though most Americans get their news about global warming from some other unnamed, indescribable place that has nothing to do with the Bush government or compromised orifices of corporate intent like ABC.
It says "it has taken years for the public perception of the problem to catch up with the warnings". Then it gives top billing to a "skeptic" who's a paid hack and a shill for corporate interests.
It says "That lack of concern may have been just what big oil wanted."
It says "The vast majority of scientists have determined global warming to be a real threat. So why has it taken so long to convince Americans?"
As though "big oil" was over there skulking in the murky dark, and ABC News is over here with us, getting taken advantage of and lied at, too.
It says "Virginia's top climatologist doesn't buy it."
"The American people have just been bludgeoned with climate disaster stories for God knows how long," said the climatologist, Pat Michaels, "and they're just, they've got disaster fatigue."
That cute, humanizing, almost folksy real-speak stutter - he's just, he's fed up with this nonsense.
He's a man with a job to do.
For whom you might enquire, but not of ABC News, because they're working for the same bosses.
Deltoid consistently disassembles Pat Michaels with his own tools.
Pat Michaels is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute in addition to being Virginia's "top climatologist".
Cato "receives most of its financial support from entrepreneurs, securities and commodities traders, and corporations such as oil and gas companies, Federal Express, and Philip Morris that abhor government regulation" according to Source Watch.
Geoff Morrell wrote the story.
It positions the media in an implied neutrality in distinct contradiction to that mean old White House, which is being set up to take a hard fall.
What needs to be emphasized is that the media that now step away from the wreckage of the Bush Administration and its clouds of deceit created every last bit of it.
Bush was elected by the media, not the people.
The fact of global warming was hidden by the media at the bidding of the men who run the corporations that caused it
Liars like Pat Michaels were given a pulpit in the media while honest scientists were denied any public voice.
The lies haven't stopped yet.

The Pen and The Sword:

A Kurdish writer was sentenced to 1-1/2 years in prison on Sunday for defaming Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, in a case that has raised questions about the freedom of the press in postwar Iraq.
Kamal Karim, an Iraqi-born Kurd with Austrian citizenship, was originally sentenced to 30 years in jail for defaming Barzani but was retried.
The Rapid Action Network (RAN) is an e-mail network that is activated from the PEN Canada office in Toronto. Each week, an appeal is sent out on an urgent freedom of expression case. Click the name of the person to find out what you can do to help.
Syrian security forces have arrested a dissident writer after at least four other people including his son were detained for speaking out against the government, rights activists say.
Both the Syrian Human Rights Organisation and Anwar Bunni, a human-rights lawyer, said Ali Abdullah, who spent five months behind bars last year, had been arrested at his home for "unknown reasons".
'I have not been alone. Not in prison, nor on the torture bed, nor while they announced my death sentence. PEN was with me. I was rescued from prison and death. Where do I belong to in exile? To nowhere except literature, the only concern that remained for me. To nowhere except PEN, the only family that remained for me.'
On 23 November the Belfast home of Gary Mitchell - whose prize-winning plays As the Beast Sleeps, filmed by the BBC, and The Force of Change have exposed the realities of life in working-class, Protestant Northern Ireland - was attacked by loyalists and the family car petrol-bombed. Since then Mitchell, his wife and their eight-year-old son have been forced into hiding.
more here, and here
English PEN has learnt that the Microsoft Corporation has aided the Chinese authorities in closing down the website of Zhao Jing, a blogger who had discussed a high-profile newspaper strike.
English PEN abhors this abuse of Mr Zhao's freedom of speech and calls on Microsoft to offer Zhao Jing a full apology and to reinstate his blog. The case follows last year's imprisonment of Shi Tao, when Yahoo co-operated with the Chinese government in disclosing details of his account usage. It marks a disturbing trend in the willingness of multinational corporations to aid and abet the Chinese authorities in their infringement of Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
While in no way condoning David Irving's position on the Holocaust, English PEN nonetheless deplores the decision of an Austrian court to sentence him to three years imprisonment for 'Holocaust Denial'. It should not be a crime in a free society to publish opinion, however poorly dressed up as fact.
At a time when freedom of expression is under increasing pressure and attack from governments around the world, it is more important than ever that democracies deal with contentious issues through debate and ridicule rather than through suppression by law.
Adolfo Fernandez Sainz, independent journalist, translator and advocate for democracy in Cuba, was among those arrested in March 2003. His trial was conducted in violation of internationally accepted judicial standards; it was held behind closed doors and there was insufficient time for the accused to put together a cogent defence. Sainz was convicted under Law 88 and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.
Sainz is held in Holguin, 730 kilometres from his home and family in Havana. He is reported to have been on several hunger strikes in protest against harsh prison conditions, violence against fellow prisoners, and limited visiting rights for his family.
Harold Pinter's God Bless America
'Writing or reading a book on the abuse and trade of children is neither easy nor enjoyable. Nevertheless, it is more dangerous for society to remain silent about this phenomenon. While society and the State looks on, thousands of children are victims of dealers who turn them into sexual objects to be traded and enjoyed by millions of men who find in child pornography and the sexual abuse of children a thing of delight which has no ethical repercussions'.
Factories of Lost Children
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today that significant reductions in American forces in Iraq in the coming year were "entirely possible," apparently seeking to offset any impression that they might not come for years.
Basque parties and unions have called for a national demonstration on April 1 in Bilbao,in favor of a democratic process to resolve conflict, Gara daily reiterated Saturday.
The call was made by over 40 social representatives from several organizations agreeing that after ETA's cease fire came into effect, there is a possibility to build a democratic process and overcome the conflict, the daily reads.

It has now been revealed that two historical figures inside Sinn Fein and Father Alec Reid appear to have been instrumental in getting an ETA ceasefire. Alex Maskey, a former boxer who almost died from being shot in the stomach, and Gerry Kelly, who became famous after participating in an incredible escape from the Maze prison in Belfast, are the two Sinn Fein members who participated in the talks, traveling to the Basque Country dozens of times over the last ten years, whilst Father Reid spent the last four years practically domiciled in Bilbao.


Feingold, of Wisconsin and the ranking Democrat in the U.S. delegation joined McCain in pressing for the quick formation of a government, but he spoke bluntly of his concern that the continued presence of American forces was prolonging the conflict.

"It's the reality of a situation like this that when you have a large troop presence that it has the tendency to fuel the insurgency because they can make the incorrect and unfair claim that somehow the United States is here to occupy this country, which of course is not true," Feingold said.
Vanessa Arrington/AP 26.Mar.06


So, let me state clearly: I believe unequivocally in a secure, prosperous Israel. But I also believe with the same passion that the occupation is draining the moral and economic strength of Israel and that there will only be a just peace agreement when a Palestinian state -- a strong, vibrant, prosperous, independent state, able to provide jobs and a good life for its people -- thrives alongside Israel.
Jonathan Tasini
Huffington/commondreams 24.Mar.06

Morning thoughts:
Boot camps for the elderly.

  • Would give them something to do all day / Would quickly and greatly diminish the income stream of HMO's etc.
  • Would select for fitness in observable ways that could then be applied to progeny if any, enabling benign eugenic matchmaking programs etc. / Would create controversy and petulant disunity among the superstitious and bleeding-heart minorities.
  • Would help build and confirm a national spirit of endurance and toughness, the walk as opposed to the talk / Might tip the balance toward dystopic cynicism before Triumph-of-the-Will kicks in
  • Reality videos of actual boot-camp discipline scenes and terminal failures would be instructive for all age groups, and vicariously cathartic for the young and middle-aged fit / Would at least temporarily create bands of the outlaw old resistant to the idea - possibly violently, leading to increase in social chaos
  • Would elevate Darwinian fact above the fictions of caritas and compassion / Might produce a super-predator reaction in the young once they understand that's what's ahead for them
  • Would dramatically increase the desire and subsequent funding for "fountain of youth" type medical research, possibly leading to physical "immortality" / Would generate massive demand for cosmetic camouflage of aging process, requiring additional layers of bureaucracy devoted to identification and verification of true "elders"
  • CCTV feeds would be amusing generally and effective distraction from increasingly bad news / Would increase the need for dissociation and dis-identification in relatives of the interned
  • Would enable, once the public was accommodated to the overall concept, the creation of Elder-Corps military troops - fierce, motivated, determined, merciless - whose disposability would be unquestioned / Could backfire due to mostly accurate feelings of being unloved and unwanted, creating an independent force with no loyalty to the status quo


Thematic Updatery:

A Nation of Guinea Pigs
There's a new outsourcing boom in South Asia - and a billion people are jockeying for the jobs. How India became the global hot spot for drug trials.
U.S. advisers on Wednesday called for new information about psychiatric and heart risks on the labels of attention deficit drugs but stopped short of recommending the strongest possible warning, saying they did not want to frighten patients or parents from effective treatment.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has been a source of contention ever since the term was first adopted by committee at the American Psychiatric Association back in 1987.
As the multi-million-dollar ADHD industry has grown

Medical Notes:

World TB Day March 24
At least fifteen Bushmen have died suddenly of unknown causes this year in New Xade resettlement camp and three remain in a critical condition. The deaths come as British Baroness Jenny Tonge and other peers insist in the House of Lords that the evictions have benefitted the Bushmen.
Gaseitsiwe Gaorapelwe died very suddenly after spots appeared all over his body. After being tortured by wildlife guards in 2000 for hunting, he said to a Survival researcher, ‘Who will look after my children? The government is killing me.'
"I took the precaution," Pearson reported, "of hiring my own interpreter, so I was able to hear exactly what some of the 200 bushmen and their families who had recently been forcibly resettled in a camp at New Xade were saying. I heard them describe it as a place of death, where they had nothing to do but drink, take drugs and catch Aids. Many of them felt that they had been evicted because Debswana wanted their land for its diamonds ... I, for one, came home more convinced than ever that a great injustice was being done."
He might have added that Debswana was being assisted by Hill and Knowlton, the public-relations company famous for the unsavoury nature of its clients. It advised the Chinese government in the wake of the Tiananmen massacre, set up lobby groups for the tobacco companies and coached the girl who told the false story about Kuwaiti babies being thrown out of incubators that helped to launch the first Gulf war.
GlaxoSmithKline has begun distributing one of its main HIV/AIDS medicines tagged with a tiny electronic chip, as part of an effort to fight counterfeiting.
The group, which is the world's largest producer of AIDS treatments, said on Thursday that radio frequency identification (RFID) tags would be placed on all bottles of Trizivir shipped in the United States.
The tagged bottles of Trizivir -- a three-in-one combination pill -- will begin appearing on pharmacists' shelves in mid-April.
To some, it is a recreational intoxicant with milder health side effects than alcohol. To others, it is a moral scourge that Americans should "just say no" to. To still others, it is medicine, and the [San Mateo, CA]City Council on Wednesday night approved the first Peninsula measure on marijuana that regulates where it can be grown and how people can get it for medicinal use.
The state has filed a motion seeking to dismiss a San Diego County lawsuit that challenges a decade-old law permitting in California the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
The attorney general's office filed the court documents Tuesday. In them, the state contends county officials simply "disliked" the law and that there was no legal reason for the court to consider the lawsuit.
Many depressed patients who didn't get better on one medicine were able to overcome their crushing dark spells with another, according to the largest study ever of treatments for America's top mental health problem.
Up to one-third of those who added or changed medicines recovered. When viewed with earlier results, the new findings mean that roughly half the people who suffer from serious, long-term depression can get over it — not just improve their symptoms — with adequate medication.
Infomercial news is consistently a great source of good cheer.
We can predict assume the study in question was financed by the companies marketing the drugs. As was the journalist who wrote the story. But the good news is priceless, and free to the reader.

The right to safe water must be enshrined in international law and policed by the United Nations if millions of people are to be spared death from want of water or from water-borne diseases, activists told governments and business at international talks ending Wednesday.
Young women under 45 years old diagnosed with early breast cancer have a higher risk of dying from the disease than older patients, scientists said on Thursday.
"The younger the woman, the poorer the chance of survival," said Dr Vincent Vinh-Hung, of University Hospital in Brussels.
In a rare show of co-operation, Israel conducted the tests for bird flu on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
A spokeswoman for the Israeli agriculture ministry said it was "highly likely" the birds in Gaza had died of the H5N1 virus.

She said initial tests had only confirmed the presence of the H5 part of the strain and that it was not yet known whether the birds had been infected with H5N1 or a less deadly virus.
With four African countries stricken by avian flu - including one with a human infection - UN agencies and African leaders have called for sweeping measures to contain the deadly virus, notably the need to come up with funds on the world's poorest continent.
Bird flu likely would be detected in the United States this year, federal officials warned Monday as a top UN official said efforts to fight a pandemic in Africa were hamstrung by a lack of money.
Migratory birds are increasingly likely to bring ashore avian influenza to the United States and would be subject to increased monitoring under government plans to reduce the risks of a viral wildfire, Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt told journalists.
Mexico's agriculture ministry denied rumors in U.S. commodities markets on Thursday that a case of H5N1 bird flu had been found near the U.S. border.
"We are free of highly-pathogenic bird flu," Jose Angel del Valle, the ministry's animal health director, told Reuters.

and, tying yesterday's theme with today's:
Australia has bombed and sank a North Korean freighter caught smuggling heroin into the country three years ago, saying the military exercise should serve as a warning to Pyongyang to halt its rogue trading in drugs and weapons.


Boom boom boom boom:

Insurgents attacked a police station Wednesday for a second day in a row, but U.S. and Iraqi forces captured 50 of them after a two-hour gunbattle.
A bomb scare shut down a commuter train station during rush hour Wednesday, causing major delays throughout the east San Francisco Bay area, authorities said.
Attackers have killed two Shia pilgrims and wounded dozens in Baghdad, raking their vehicles with gunfire.
Afghan troops killed at least 15 suspected Taliban members during an attack near the border with Pakistan, an army commander said on Wednesday.
The two-hour gun battle erupted late Tuesday local time near the border town of Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, officials said.

As he and his wife Sheila drive me through downtown San Diego in the glare of midday, he suddenly exclaims, "Look at that structure!" I glance over and just across the blue expanse of the harbor is an enormous aircraft carrier. "It's the USS Ronald Reagan," he says, "the newest carrier in the fleet.It's a floating Chernobyl and it sits a proverbial six inches off the bottom with two huge atomic reactors. You make a wrong move and there goes the country's seventh-largest city."
Police sealed off the front gates of the White House and a bomb squad was called in on Wednesday to check on what officials said was a suspicious package left outside.
Bomb blasts that ripped through two budget hotels overnight in La Paz killed two people, and Bolivian authorities said on Wednesday they were questioning two foreigners arrested after the explosions.
The Bath School disaster was a series of bombings in and around Bath Township, Michigan, USA, on May 18, 1927, which killed 45 people and injured 58. Most of the victims were children in second to sixth grades attending the Bath Consolidated school.
Since last year, the city of Muqdadiya had not been considered especially vulnerable. There were shootings and bombings from time to time, but police would round up suspected rebels in nearby villages, as they did last weekend, and haul them to cells in the downtown courthouse.
Seven men accused of planning al Qaeda-linked terrorist attacks in Britain discussed several possible targets including a nightclub in London, and one of the plotters had tried to obtain an atomic bomb, a prosecutor told a court Wednesday.
Basque separatist group ETA on Wednesday declared a permanent cease-fire after almost four decades of bombings and shootings in Spain during its campaign for independence.



The recent killing of an unarmed Virginia doctor has raised concerns about what some say is an explosion in the use of military-style police Swat teams in the United States.
Armed with assault rifles, stun grenades - even armoured personnel carriers - units once used only in highly volatile situations are increasingly being deployed on more routine police missions.
Dr Salvatore Culosi Jr had come out of his townhouse to meet an undercover policeman when he was shot through the chest by a Special Weapons and Tactics force.
It was about 2135 on a chilly January evening. The 37-year-old optometrist was unarmed, he had no history of violence and displayed no threatening behaviour.
A U.S. Army dog handler was found guilty on Tuesday of abusing detainees at Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghraib prison and faces up to eight years and nine months in prison, an Army spokeswoman said.
President Bush said on Tuesday he believes "we'll succeed" in Iraq and that if he didn't believe so, he would withdraw U.S. forces.
"I'm confident, I believe, I'm optimistic we'll succeed -- if not, I'd pull our troops out," Bush said during a White House news conference.
A video of civilians who may have been killed by U.S. Marines in an Iraqi town in November showed residents describing a rampage by U.S. soldiers that left a trail of bullet-riddled bodies and destruction.
A copy of the video, given to Reuters by Iraq's Hammurabi Organisation for Monitoring Human Rights and Democracy, showed corpses lined up at the Haditha morgue which residents said were the result of a Marine assault on several houses.
The judge deciding whether an Afghan man should be executed for converting to Christianity does not understand what all the fuss is about.
The spiritual leader of the world's Anglicans does not believe that creationism, the biblical account of the world's origins, should be taught in schools.
Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, said: "I don't think it should, actually. No, no." He was reflecting on the education debate over religion and science that has divided the United States in particular.
Israel's vast separation wall slices Nazlet Isa off from one of the richest water sources in the arid northern West Bank where the fight for water is a fight for survival.
Israel is believed to monopolise about 75% of Palestinian water resources in a region where rainfall is infrequent and water a strategic asset.
For more than a decade, the idea that private companies would be able to bring water to the world's poor has been a mantra of development policies promoted by international lending agencies and many governments.
It has not happened. In the past decade, according to a private water suppliers trade group, private companies have managed to extend water service to just 10 million people, less than 1 percent of those who need it. About 1.1 billion people still lack access to clean water, the United Nations says.
The reality behind those numbers is sinking in.
President Bush's job-approval rating fell to an all-time low -- 34 percent -- in a poll published Tuesday. That puts him not far above Richard Nixon's Watergate-era nadir and raises questions about how effectively he can govern in his remaining years in office.
Russell Feingold, the Democratic senator from Wisconsin, immediately raised his public profile here this past week when he stood up in Congress demanding that President George W. Bush be censured over his domestic eavesdropping program, which Feingold considers illegal.
His proposal - a congressional action that has only been used once, in 1834, to reprimand Andrew Jackson - sent reverberations through both the Democratic and Republican ranks, with Vice President Dick Cheney issuing an unusual rebuttal, calling the motion "outrageous."
The United Nations should protect the world's oceans from deep sea fishing and pollution in the same way as environmentally sensitive land, the lobby group Greenpeace said on Tuesday.
A Greenpeace report, published to coincide with a U.N. meeting in Brazil on biodiversity, said that 40 percent of the world's oceans should be placed in nature reserves.
Across the frozen North Slope of Alaska, the region's largest oil accident on record has been sending hundreds of thousands of litres of crude pouring into the Arctic Ocean during the past week after a badly corroded BPO pipeline ruptured. The publicity caused by the leak in the 30-year-old pipeline could seriously damage BP's image, which has been carefully crafted to show it as a company concerned about the environment.


If Americans Knew

The Israeli air force launched a missile yesterday afternoon into a residential neighborhood in the north of Gaza City, killing five Palestinians. Two of those killed were the targets of the attack, and were suspected by Israel of firing Qassam rockets at Israeli towns. Three bystanders, all of them minors, were also killed in the attack: brothers Ra'id (age 8) and Mahmoud (age 15) Al-Batash; and Ahmad a-Sweisi (age 14). Nine other bystanders were wounded, one of them critically.
B'Tselem 07.Mar.06
...the soldier asked me where our weapons were, and why we drove the car up to the gate and then drove away. I told him that we did that because the gate was closed and that we decided to park the car next to our friends' house. Before I finished what I wanted to say, he punched me three times in the face and asked, "Where are the weapons? Where are the weapons?" He kicked me in my right leg, and hit me in the stomach with the butt of his rifle. I screamed.
The soldier told me to pick a rock up from the ground. I picked up a small stone. He told me to pick up a big rock. I picked up a big rock, about the size of a fist. The soldier told me to hit him with it. I didn't do what he said. I didn't know what to do. If I weren't in such pain from the beating, I would have laughed. The soldier told me to put the stone in my mouth. I refused.
B'Tselem Feb.06
Pick a Topic
March 8, 2005
Members of Congress, State Department Officials
The Family of Rachel Corrie
Department of State's 2004 Human Rights Report Listing for Rachel Corrie

On February 28, 2005, the Department of State submitted to Congress its 2004 Human Rights Report entitled "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices."
The report included reference to the killing of our family member, Rachel Corrie. Members of Congress, as well as our family, indicated in testimony and in written statements to the Department that concerns existed regarding the Department's reference to Rachel in the 2003 Human Rights Report.
Therefore, we find it disturbing that the 2004 Human Rights Report continues to publicly perpetuate inaccuracies regarding Rachel's killing and the Department's own statements regarding the credibility of the Israeli investigation into the incident.
We respectfully request that the following concerns be addressed with the Department of State and members of Congress, that the report's inaccuracies be changed, and that the Department as well as all Government officials work to ensure accurate reporting of the killing in all official correspondence, reports, and documentation.
Rachel Corrie died defending the home of a Palestinian family who she knew well - Palestinian pharmacist, Khaled, Nasrallah, his wife and children. There was no tunnel in the Nasrallah home, and the Israeli army never asserted that there was a tunnel in the Nasrallah home. Nonetheless, the Nasrallah home, like thousands of others, was eventually demolished by the Israeli army. The international organizations Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International (LINK, LINK), and the respected Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem ( have all documented that homes in Rafah were bulldozed as part of an Israeli government policy of systematically demolishing entire Palestinian neighborhoods, irregardless of any relationship to arms smuggling, in clear violation of international law.
ISM/ScoopNZ 09.Mar.06
We have our holocaust deniers too; among them those who would deny what was done to Rachel Corrie out of their mistaken belief that allegiance to Judaism means that the State of Israel can do no wrong and that any and every blemish on its history must be whitewashed. Among the stakes in the current controversy: the possibility of making memory what the Holocaust has taught us it must be - an act of mourning in which facing the truth is the agent of genuine change. That possibility too must be banished from our stages. And apparently from our movie houses as in the current campaign against the Palestinian film Paradise Now, a film fraught with doubt and anguish that in no way condones terrorism.
Walter A. Davis/Counterpunch 06.Mar.06
Rachel Corrie's parents scorned
at Frontpagemag by Steven Plaut 10.Jan.06
Rachel Corrie scorned
at lgf in 2004
links, bibliography, references at wikipedia

Bill Mauldin still timely cartoon

On the one hand:

The war in Iraq, budget deficits, the damaged case against Zacarias Moussaoui, port security -- all the bad news that is sapping American morale and undercutting President George W. Bush's popularity comes from one source, according to opposition Democrats: incompetence.
The word figures prominently in speeches delivered by leading members of the opposition, who have turned charges of incompetence into a common refrain that can be heard in discussion of any issue at hand.
On the other hand:
The U.S. Middle East policy is not in America's national interest and is motivated primarily by the country's pro-Israel lobby, according to a study published yesterday by researchers from Harvard University and the University of Chicago.
Observers in Washington said yesterday that the study was liable to stir up a tempest and spur renewed debate about the function of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby.
But then on the other hand again:
Iraqi police have accused American troops of executing 11 people, including a 75-year-old woman and a 6-month-old infant, in the aftermath of a raid last Wednesday on a house about 60 miles north of Baghdad.
The villagers were killed after American troops herded them into a single room of the house, according to a police document obtained by Knight Ridder Newspapers. The soldiers also burned three vehicles, killed the villagers' animals and blew up the house, the document said.
On the one hand:
"The facts are straightforward," Feingold said during his introduction of the resolution on the Senate floor. "Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as 'FISA,' nearly 30 years ago to ensure that as we wiretap suspected terrorists and spies, we also protect innocent Americans from unjustified government intrusion. FISA makes it a crime to wiretap Americans on U.S. soil without the requisite warrants, and the president has ordered warrantless wiretaps of Americans on U.S. soil. The president has broken that law, and that alone is unacceptable."
But then on the other hand:
In five internal reports made public yesterday as part of a lawsuit, New York City police commanders candidly discuss how they had successfully used "proactive arrests," covert surveillance and psychological tactics at political demonstrations in 2002, and recommend that those approaches be employed at future gatherings.
Among the most effective strategies, one police captain wrote, was the seizure of demonstrators on Fifth Avenue who were described as "obviously potential rioters."
On the one hand, but then on the other hand at the same time:
The loss of glaciers is probably part of a natural process that began with the ending of the last ice, but man-made climate change could also be playing a role.
"Global warming is one factor, but if humans went extinct, glaciers would still be in retreat," Dr Molnia said. "Should we be worried? If glaciers are the source of your drinking water or if you live in an area that is vulnerable to sea-level rise, then yes, you should be worried. But in the longer term, the advance and retreat of glaciers is part of a natural cycle."


Aristide Briand
Briand at the World Disarmament Conference, Washington D.C. 1921

Three years after President Bush launched the invasion of Iraq, the war grinds on amid escalating costs - in lives, money and U.S. influence abroad.
Three years ago today, President George W. Bush told the American people that the war with Iraq had begun, in order to "disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger."
President Bush says "more fighting and sacrifice will be required" in Iraq before American troops can withdraw.
Three years ago tonight, President Bush announced to the American people that U.S. military forces had begun an invasion of Iraq.
When the U.S.-led coalition attacked Iraq three years ago, the Bush administration was brimming with confidence that this would be a war only in the sense that a lot of bombs would be dropped and the military would seize, temporarily, a foreign capital.
There was no ambiguity when President Bush declared three years ago this evening that "the security of the world requires disarming Saddam Hussein now.''
President George W. Bush on Saturday urged Americans growing increasingly impatient with the Iraq war to resist a temptation to retreat, even as he acknowledged setbacks and the prospect of more bloodshed.
President Bush on Saturday braced Americans for more bloodshed in Iraq but said recent civil strife has motivated warring political factions to move quickly to set up a representative government.
President George W. Bush said Iraqi political leaders are "making good progress'' toward forming a unity government, and that recent violence in the country has spurred them to set aside their differences.
President George W. Bush on Saturday urged Americans to resist a temptation to retreat from Iraq but Democrats pressed him to offer a plan...
As President Bush marks the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq with stepped up speechmaking in an attempt to explain his strategy for success, Democrats are calling on Bush to exert greater pressure on the Iraqis to form the government that will be needed to maintain stability there - one of the three pillars of Bush's formula for success.
On the eve of the third anniversary of the Iraq war, George W. Bush is out on the hustings again, trying to make the case for continued US engagement there. It has worked before.
On the eve of the third anniversary of the U.S-led war in Iraq, President Bush said Saturday "more fighting and sacrifice" will be required.
President Bush asked Americans in his weekly radio address today to look beyond the dramatic television footage and disconcerting newspaper headlines coming out of Iraq to see the clear progress that country is making
President Bush has spent much of the month battling -- battling to win Americans' approval for the war in Iraq, battling to improve his poll numbers, battling to shape his place in history.



Police put the number attending at 15,000, but organisers said between 80,000 and 100,000 were at the rally.
the secret headquarters of a shadowy military unit known as Task Force 6-26
For example, showing one's buttocks in public can get you two to six years in jail, though for some reason showing your genitals or breasts is less of an offense, earning you only one to five years in the clink.
About 10,000 protesters have marched in Mexico City, where 11,000 delegates and representatives met at the 4th World Water Forum to discuss ways to improve supplies for the poor.
Opponents say that the seven-day forum, which began on Thursday, is a cover for privatisation.
Fisk: In the paper, I mentioned how an Israeli major called Haim extorted money from the inhabitants of the south Lebanese village of Haris and gave the code name of an Israeli agent - "Abu Shawki" - who was present at the murder of two Irish soldiers. I had published these details many times, both in my own newspaper and in my previous book on the Lebanon war, Pity the Nation. Major Haddad died of cancer more than 10 years ago.
Mr Carter also questioned Israel's commitment to the US-led "road map" peace process. "Israel has officially rejected its basic premises with patently unacceptable caveats and prerequisites," he said.
He said Israel was insincere at peace negotiations during the 1990s when it offered to withdraw only a small proportion of the 225,000 settlers living in the West Bank.
"Their best official offer to the Palestinians was to withdraw 20% of them, leaving 180,000 [Israelis] in 209 settlements, covering about 5% of the occupied land," he said.
The government wasted millions of dollars in its award of post-Katrina Hurricane contracts for disaster relief, including at least $3 million for 4,000 beds that were never used, congressional auditors said Thursday.
The [Philippine]Army chief, Lt. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, said Saturday that they have gathered enough evidence to recommend the filing of charges against Lim and a number of other officers and men they have investigated about the thwarted coup
Iran's most prominent political dissident, Akbar Ganji, has been released from prison after six years behind bars for criticising some of the most powerful figures in the Islamic Republic.
Ganji, a journalist, was jailed in 2000 after writing articles linking senior officials to the serial killings of political dissidents in 1998.
Paul Street: Herbert is right to say that "an ocean of blood has been shed" in the criminal occupation of Iraq whether the total Iraqi body count is as low as president Bush says (30,000) or (as numerous responsible investigators say) well into six figures.
Herbert is right to say that "there's no end to this tragic {blood} flow in sight."
He's right to observe that many of the war's supporters hold a fundamentally "depraved" thought: "that the best way to fight {the current Iraq war} is with other people's children." He's right to remind us of "the formerly healthy men and women who have come back to the United States from Iraq paralyzed or without their arms or legs or eyes or the full use of their minds."
Riverbend: It has been three years since the beginning of the war that marked the end of Iraq's independence. Three years of occupation and bloodshed.
Spring should be about renewal and rebirth. For Iraqis, spring has been about reliving painful memories and preparing for future disasters. In many ways, this year is like 2003 prior to the war when we were stocking up on fuel, water, food and first aid supplies and medications. We're doing it again this year but now we don't discuss what we're stocking up for.
Bombs and B-52's are so much easier to face than other possibilities.
Four Black Hawk helicopters landed in a wheat field and dropped off a television crew, three photographers, three print reporters and three Iraqi government officials right into the middle of Operation Swarmer. Iraqi soldiers in newly painted humvees, green and red Iraqi flags stenciled on the tailgates, had just finished searching the farm populated by a half-dozen skinny cows and a woman kneading freshly risen dough and slapping it to the walls of a mud oven.
The press, flown in from Baghdad to this agricultural gridiron northeast of Samarra, huddled around the Iraqi officials and U.S. Army commanders who explained that the "largest air assault since 2003" in Iraq using over 50 helicopters to put 1500 Iraqi and U.S. troops on the ground had netted 48 suspected insurgents, 17 of which had already been cleared and released.
A U.S. raid near Balad on Wednesday resulted in the deaths of between nine and 13 civilians. An Associated Press photographer recorded pictures of the bodies of two men, five children, and four covered corpses reported to be women. The victims had bits of rubble tangled in their hair and were covered in dust. Police Capt. Hakim Azzawi said in an interview with the Washington Post that 13 in total were dead, two men, five children, and six women. The U.S. military confirmed the attack but said only four people died — two women, a man and a child.
In a radio address on the eve of the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Bush also urged Americans growing increasingly impatient with the war to resist a temptation to retreat, even as he acknowledged the prospect of more bloodshed.
"I urge them to continue their work to put aside their differences, to reach out across political, religious and sectarian lines," he said of Iraqi politicians, still deadlocked over who will lead a new government three months after polls.

Washington sees a government of national unity embracing Sunnis, Kurds and Shi'ites as the best hope of stabilising Iraq and allowing it to begin pulling out its 133,000 troops.
But a Sunni Arab insurgency and a surge in sectarian killings has complicated efforts to form a government. Police said 16 bodies had been found dumped around the capital since Saturday morning, all apparent victims of sectarian bloodshed.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams missed a St Patrick's Day event in the US after being delayed at a Washington airport for "secondary screening".
He had been invited by Congressman Brian Higgins to speak in Buffalo.
It's that moment at Columbine when the guns are out and the first victims are down and everyone's terrified attention is on those two cold-eyed angry boys who are winning, winning - even if it's only for that moment, they're winning - and what are you going to do about it?
That moment stretched out and become a way of governance, of being, of living, of perpetuating absolutely lost and pointless lives. And what are you going to do about it?
The United States ended routine childhood vaccination against smallpox in 1971. After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, however, the Bush administration ordered some military personnel vaccinated and recommended shots for front-line health care workers.
The government has stockpiled enough smallpox vaccine for everyone in the U.S., Perino said. The government also has helped develop a new vaccine, which is in clinical trials, that does not appear to have the same potential negative side effects as the earlier one, she said.
In 2004, President Bush signed an order directing government agencies to help protect the country from an attack with biological agents. A revised version had 59 instructions for agencies to improve the nation's defenses, including improving the Biowatch system of sensors that continuously monitor and analyze the air in 31 cities.
Drugmaker Acambis tumbled today after it sank deep into the red from a profitable position last year, while it expects news of a potential order for its smallpox vaccine during the second quarter.
The group reported a pre-tax loss for the year ended 31 December of 27.7m[pounds] versus a profit of 27m in 2004, with fourth quarter losses at 5.1m from a 4.4m profit a year ago.
Last year the company's coffers benefited from a big order from the US government for its smallpox vaccine MVA3000.
They also note that Martin's death shouldn't have happened in the aftermath of the death of 17-year-old Omar Paisley. Omar died of a ruptured appendix in June 2003 after pleading with guards and nurses at the state's Miami-Dade Juvenile Detention Center for three days for medical care.
Two nurses have been charged with manslaughter and third-degree murder in that case. And more than two dozen DJJ officials were fired or resigned, including the agency's highest-ranking officials.
Its name is Longmeng which means Dragon Dream in Mandarin. It is a low-cost laptop, developed by the Institute of Computing Technology (ICT) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. There are conflicting reports about the pricing; Bloomberg reported the laptop would be priced at 1,500 yuan (about USD 187 or EUR 153), while People's Daily and Shanghai Daily reported a lower pricing of 1,000 yuan (about USD 125 or EUR 102). The lower pricing would make the laptop competitive with the One Laptop Per Child project initiated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Putin spoke of the development of the Shtokman field, which contains 3 trillion cubic meters of gas, oil and gas pipelines such as the ones under the Baltic Sea, and a pipeline from eastern Siberia to the Pacific. The country has more than doubled oil exports from 3 million barrels a day to 7 million barrels a day.
The stock markets of the Middle East have been in severe decline over recent weeks, with Saudi Arabia leading the field with a drop of almost 30 percent. The other oil states have also seen their share indexes dip considerably. Dutch investment strategist Jaap van Duijn says this is sign of yet more to come, and not only in the Middle East.
The Denny's Corporation, which operates or licenses over 1,600 diner-style restaurants nationwide, issued a statement Friday calling the shootings "three separate and random acts of violence."
The latest reports bring to seven the number of reported deaths following drug-induced abortion. That's out of more than half a million performed since the pill was approved in September 2000.
Two industry sources familiar with the situation told Reuters Comedy Central pulled the "Trapped in the Closet" episode from its "South Park" rerun rotation after Cruise threatened to cease promotion of his upcoming Paramount film, "Mission: Impossible III."
Cruise spokesman Paul Bloch said neither the actor nor his representatives "had anything to do" with the scheduling of "South Park" reruns and that Cruise had never said to anyone he would refuse to promote his film. Paramount spokeswoman Janet Hill denied any knowledge of such a threat.
"South Park," heading into its 10th season next week as one of Comedy Central's biggest hits, centres on the antics of four foul-mouthed fourth-graders in a small Colorado town.
Leonov was one of the 20 air force pilots selected as the first cosmonaut group in 1960. His spacewalk was originally to have taken place on the Vostok 11 mission, but this was cancelled, and the historic moment happened on the Voskhod 2 flight instead. He was outside the spacecraft around 5 meters away for nearly 12 minutes on March 18, 1965. After the 12 minute spacewalk, Leonov's spacesuit had inflated in the vacuum to the point where he could not reenter the airlock. He opened a valve to allow some of the suit's pressure to bleed off, and was barely able to get back inside the capsule.
Becoming the leader of the Indian National Congress, Gandhi led a nationwide campaign for the alleviation of the poor, liberation of Indian women, for brotherhood amongst communities of differing religions and ethnicity, and for an end to untouchability and caste discrimination, but above all for Swaraj — the independence of India from foreign domination. Gandhi famously led Indians in the disobedience of the salt tax through the 400 kilometre (248 miles) Dandi Salt March in 1931, and in an open call for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years on numerous occasions in South Africa and India.
She received her first kiss ever as a teenager from soul singer Jackie Wilson, who hauled her onstage during a concert and she taught the members of the Clash to play guitar and later married Sex Pistol Sid Vicious after compensating him with "2 quid", so that she wouldn't have to return to her native Akron from England in the mid 1970s.


The U.S. administration formalized its plan to sell more than 120,000 hectares of national forest to help pay for rural schools in 41 states, submitting legislation to Congress on Thursday to funnel $800 million to the schools over the next five years.
The schools would receive $320 million next year but the figure would drop sharply after that, to just $40 million in its final year, officials said. That would be a 90-per-cent decrease from current spending - a figure some legislators called unacceptable.
U.S. military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan will average 44 percent more in the current fiscal year than in fiscal 2005, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said.
Spending will rise to $9.8 billion a month from the $6.8 billion a month the Pentagon said it spent last year, the research service said.


Haruspex, Falgoosh, Mazda, Cozy Rotas, Doha, ANZAC, Agua, TALON
plus Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Kertono Wangsadisastra, Samarra and Swarmer, Sherbet and Meswak

Katherine Harris - harbinger

Her pollster, Ed Goeas, and fundraiser Anne Dunsmore said Wednesday they are quitting.
Dunsmore, a GOP fundraising wizard from California, was hired with great fanfare in December to revive Harris' sluggish fundraising.
Nancy Watkins, of Tampa, treasurer for Harris' congressional campaigns as well as her Senate drive, left the campaign three weeks ago. Her finance director, Mike Miller, has departed as well.
An ancient Persian myth about the spring equinox says that a bull balances the Earth on one horn. On the first day of spring, he tosses his mighty head and the Earth shifts from one horn to the other. The New Year arrives at the moment the Earth is in the air, balanced, before landing on the other horn. This shift can supposedly be felt on the Earth and is used to determine the exact time of the spring equinox. Iranians mark this moment in their homes by placing a leaf in a bowl of water or an egg on a mirror. According to legend, when the egg rolls or the leaf turns in the water, the bull has tossed the Earth and the New Year has begun.
Iran has an awkward relationship with its Zoroastrian religion
Separately, the Commerce Department has reported that retail sales were down 1.3% in February, indicating that a consumer pullback is beginning. The combination of slower-growing consumer spending and a widening trade gap will dampen US economic growth by mid-year. Real GDP growth will likely be about 3.8% in the first half and 3.3% in the second half.
Among US corporates, slower second-half growth will hit Ford and General Motors particularly hard. Consumers will become more value-conscious in vehicle selection, and this will play into the strengths of Asian, and in particular Korean, brands. Ford and GM are not well positioned with attractive, smaller and reliable vehicles in the value segments of the market. Among these companies' offshore brands, Mazda is best positioned.
In 2005, the United States had a $1.6 billion surplus on income flows and a $58.0 billion surplus on trade in services. Even together, however, these were hardly enough to offset the massive $781.6 billion deficit on trade in goods.
The vote to replace the largely discredited Commission on Human Rights with the new council was 170-4, with the United States, Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau voting against the resolution and with three abstentions.
The attorney general last night threatened newspapers with the Official Secrets Act if they revealed the contents of a document allegedly relating to a dispute between Tony Blair and George Bush over the conduct of military operations in Iraq.
It is believed to be the first time the Blair government has threatened newspapers in this way. Though it has obtained court injunctions against newspapers, the government has never prosecuted editors for publishing the contents of leaked documents, including highly sensitive ones about the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
The attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, last night referred editors to newspaper reports yesterday that described the contents of a memo purporting to be at the centre of charges against two men under the secrets act.
Under the front-page headline "Bush plot to bomb his ally", the Daily Mirror reported that the US president last year planned to attack the Arabic television station al-Jazeera, which has its headquarters in Doha, the capital of Qatar, where US and British bombers were based.
Australia was among one of the first countries to offer troops to help with the U.S. war effort in Iraq and still has about 1,300 in and around Iraq, with a promise to stay into 2007.
But with support dwindling for the war in Australia, Rice sought to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and said Iraqis were now more free.
Earlier, at a news conference with Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, Rice said it would take several years for Iraqis to build a stable and secure Iraq but she was confident they would do it.
"We are going to look one day at a stable and secure Iraq and be very grateful to those like Australia and the United States who were determined to see the Iraqi people have this chance," she added.
Gordon Young, the coordinator of the U.N. World Water Assessment Programme and of the 2nd U.N. World Water Report titled "Water, a Shared Responsibility" - released last week in Mexico City told IPS that there is a global consensus that water is a public good that must reach everyone. But differences emerge when the subject turns to privatisation versus state control of water resources and services. . At present, less than 10 percent of water-related services are in private hands.
According to the recently released U.N. report, multinational companies involved in this sector have begun to scale back their activities, especially in developing countries, because of perceived political and financial risks.
"We are on different sides, because the Council promotes the privatisation of water, while we demand that water be recognised as a shared resource that must be publicly managed," Claudia Campero, spokesperson for the Coalition of Mexican Organisations for the Right to Water, commented to IPS.
The center, founded in 1972, describes itself as a group of people from diverse faiths who believe in "nonviolent struggle" for peace and justice. Merton, an American Roman Catholic monk, author and poet, died in 1968.
An FBI report dated Nov. 29, 2002, identified the center as "a left-wing organization advocating, among many political causes, pacifism."'
"The TMC holds daily leaflet distribution activities in downtown Pittsburgh and is currently focused on its opposition to the potential war in Iraq," said the report. "According to these leaflets, Iraq does not possess weapons of mass destruction and that, if the United States invades Iraq, Saddam Hussein will unleash bio-chemical weapons upon American soldiers."
The report also noted that the center had cooperated with an Islamic organization in staging an event to promote understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims in Pittsburgh.
Students were swarming everywhere. They burned tyres on the road. They felled coconut trees and blocked the road with the trunks.
They were angry and they were loud. They want to see the Freeport mine operations stopped.
They collected stones and were throwing them at the police and the mobile brigades. They shouted out:
"Indonesia you are lying. You are robbers. You have been here for years and you have been stealing from us. Go home!"

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