Citizens for Legitimate Government, a multi-partisan activist group established to expose the Bush Coup d'Etat and oppose the Bush occupation in all of its manifestations.


Citizens For Legitimate Government
is a multi-partisan activist group established to expose the Bush coup d'etat, and to oppose the Bush occupation in all of its manifestations.

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March 2005 Archives, Page Two

59 Ex-Diplomats Oppose Nominee --Rejection of Bolton for U.N. Urged --Challenging the White House, 59 former American diplomats are urging the Senate to reject John R. Bolton's nomination to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "He is the wrong man for this position," they said in a letter to Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Lugar has scheduled hearings on Bolton's nomination for April 7.

Pentagon to Take Over Air Force Programs --In a highly unusual move, the Pentagon's top weapons buyer on Monday took away the Air Force's authority to oversee 21 major programs with a combined value of $200 billion.

Panel's Report Assails C.I.A. for Failure on Iraq Weapons --The final report of a presidential commission studying American intelligence failures regarding illicit weapons includes a searing critique of how the C.I.A. and other agencies never properly assessed Saddam Hussein's political maneuverings or the possibility that he no longer had weapon stockpiles, according to officials who have seen the report's executive summary.

U.S.-Installed Iraqi Dictatorship Shoots Demonstrators (Saddam Hussein's government appears to be the better deal...) Iraq Official Discourages Demonstrations --Iraq's interior minister warned citizens Monday not to hold protests, saying the gatherings were an invitation for a large-scale terrorist attack. His comments came a day after government bodyguards opened fire on a group of employees demanding higher wages, killing one person.

Army Probe Finds Abuse at Jail Near Mosul --Newly released government documents say the abuse of prisoners in Iraq by U.S. forces was more widespread than previously reported. An officer found that detainees "were being systematically and intentionally mistreated" at a holding facility near Mosul in December 2003.

3 Romanian Journalists in Iraq Abducted --Three Romanian journalists were kidnapped in Iraq on Monday, Romanian President Traian Basescu said.

Illegal Nuclear Deals Alleged --Officials say Pakistan has secretly bought high-tech components for its weapons program from U.S. companies. A federal criminal investigation has uncovered evidence that the government of Pakistan made clandestine purchases of U.S. high-technology components for use in its nuclear weapons program in defiance of American law.

Mexicans Boo U.S. Anthem At World Cup Game --Mexico topped the United States 2-1 and the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying group on Sunday, and upheld its 71-year unbeaten record at home against the Americans. The crowd booed the U.S. national anthem and a spattering of fans chanted "Osama! Osama!" before play started, and shortly after Eddie Lewis's goal.

Man charged under Terrorism Act; suspect 'had soldier's address' -- A 21-year-old man charged under the Terrorism Act for allegedly having a soldier's name and address on a piece of paper is to appear in court. Abu Baker Mansha was charged under Section 58 (1b) of the Terrorism Act, which deals with the collection of information which could be of use to terrorists.

Animal Rights Groups and Ecology Militants Make DHS Terrorist List, Right-Wing Vigilantes Omitted --The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not list right-wing domestic terrorists and terrorist groups on a document that appears to be an internal list of threats to the nation’s security. The DHS document, entitled "Integrated Planning Guidance, Fiscal Years 2005-2011," is dated January 2005. Its pages are marked "Sensitive — Do Not Distribute Outside the Department of Homeland Security — Draft." [Oops! Looks like that point is *moot.*]

Doubt over TSA air passenger screening system --According to the latest report of GAO for a new air passenger screening system, nine of the 10 criteria set by Congress such as accuracy and privacy protection have not been met.

Feds get set for Net rules --The Federal Election Commission has begun the perilous process of including political blogs and Web sites in campaign finance rules that were created long before the Internet became such a powerful political tool.

3 Million Truckers to Undergo Background Checks --In the coming months, roughly 3 million drivers across the nation will begin to be fingerprinted and put through FBI criminal background checks. The program is part of the USA Patriot Act, which Congress adopted in October 2001 to expand the government's surveillance powers after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Artists take aim at USA Patriot Act --Hasan M. Elahi's response to being targeted by the FBI as a potential terrorist after Sept. 11 ran contrary to what most people would think to do: Instead of clamming up, the Rutgers University professor decided to swing open the doors to every aspect of his life for public consumption. The result is "Tracking Transience," a multimedia piece that is part of an exhibition examining challenges to civil liberties under the USA Patriot Act. "PatriART: Artists Defend Civil Liberties" features submissions from artists in New York and New Jersey and runs Saturday through May 1 at the Puffin Cultural Forum.

Tough on terror, weak on guns --Politicians in Washington are poised to give unprecedented freedom to the gun industry -- and they're so beholden to the NRA they're allowing potential terrorists to buy weapons over the counter. --by Mark Benjamin "When I showed the provision to some industry experts, they were stunned that Congress was poised to make gun dealers and manufacturers virtually free from the authority of both the courts and law enforcement. Robert Ricker, a gun control advocate and former gun industry lobbyist, said the new provision is a dream for the industry."

Leon supervisor wary of bill creating voter registration list (FL) A Senate committee Monday approved creation of a statewide voter-registration master list despite warnings from one elections supervisor that thousands of voters lose their rights every time the state tries to set up a new database. The bill (SB 2176) passed on a 4-1 vote and now goes to the Senate Governmental Oversight and Productivity Committee for hearings next month. Leon County Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho said the state got so many complaints in 1998 that it told counties to stop using the database. In 2000, he said, "between 5,000 and 50,000 voters were disenfranchised" by inaccurate listings.

TV reporter earned money from state --At the same time one of Florida's most visible television reporters brought the news to viewers around the state, he earned hundreds of thousands of dollars on the side from the government agencies he covered.

Pharmacists' 'Rights' at Front of New Debate --Because of Beliefs, Some Refuse to Fill Birth Control Prescriptions --Some pharmacists across the country are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and morning-after pills, saying that dispensing the medications violates their personal moral or religious beliefs. "There are pharmacists who will only give birth control pills to a woman if she's married," said Adam Sonfield of the Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York, which tracks reproductive issues. "There are even cases of pharmacists holding prescriptions hostage, where they won't even transfer it to another pharmacy when time is of the essence."

List of Schiavo Donors Will Be Sold by Direct-Marketing Firm --The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized a conservative direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups.

Parents Appeal to Fla. Governor to Help Schiavo --Terri Schiavo's parents appealed desperately to Florida governor Jeb Bush on Monday to intervene as their brain-damaged daughter slipped toward death 10 days after her artificial feeding was halted by court order.

Complex Medicare Applications Sent to Low-Income Americans --The Bush administration said Monday that it had sent the first of some 20 million applications to low-income people who might qualify for financial assistance with Medicare's new prescription drug benefit. But lawyers and other advocates for low-income people said the form was so complex that they expected fewer than 5 percent of the people to respond.

UK firms caught in illegal waste dumping --More than 1,000 tonnes of contaminated household refuse disguised as waste paper on its way to be recycled in China is to be sent back to Britain after being intercepted in the Netherlands.

5 in Vietnamese family infected with bird flu 29 March 2005 --A five-person family from Vietnam's northern Hai Phong city have been infected with bird flu virus strain H5N1, local newspaper Labor reported Tuesday.

Ebola-like virus kills 122 in Angola 29 March 2005 --The toll from the Ebola-like Marburg virus in Angola rose with the death of a baby to 122, just one fatality short of the most serious outbreak recorded anywhere, a health ministry spokesman said yesterday.

Ebola-like virus deaths rise in Angola, travel warning issued 27 March 2005 --Another young woman died of the Ebola-like Marburg virus in Angola, officials said, as the death toll in the deadly outbreak rose to almost equal the most serious outbreak ever recorded. Some 121 people died since the haemorrhagic virus first broke out in the northern town of Uige in October, while five more people have been hospitalised, bringing the toll of sick to 132.

U.S. in 'battle mode' following quake --The United States is moving into "battle mode" following Monday's magnitude 8.7 earthquake in southern Asia, alerting U.S. posts in the region and contacting aid workers, a State Department spokesman said.

About 1,000 Dead on Indonesian Isle After Quake --Around 1,000 people are dead on Indonesia's Nias island off the coast of Sumatra following the 8.7 magnitude earthquake that struck overnight, officials said on Tuesday.

Three-metre tsunami hit island: reports --A three-metre-high tsunami struck Simeuleu Island near Aceh minutes after the huge earthquake that struck off Indonesia's western coast, Kyoto and Agence France-Presse news agencies reported.

Magnitude 8.2 Earthquake Off Coast Off Sumatra 28 March 2005 --An 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra Monday close to where a quake triggered a tsunami that left nearly 300,000 people dead or missing, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Octopuses sometimes try to walk away from predators --Octopuses, known for using camouflage to avoid predators, have been observed apparently trying to sneak away by walking on two arms while pretending to be a bunch of algae. Two kinds of octopus were seen to use different ways of walking along the sea floor, researchers reported Friday in the journal Science.

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U.S. Secret Court Ignored Evidence on Detainee --U.S. Military Intelligence, German Authorities Found No Ties to Terrorists --A military tribunal determined last fall that Murat Kurnaz, a German national seized in Pakistan in 2001, was a member of al Qaeda and an enemy combatant whom the government could detain indefinitely at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The three military officers on the panel, whose identities are kept secret, said in papers filed in federal court that they reached their conclusion based largely on classified evidence that was too sensitive to release to the public. In fact, that evidence, recently declassified and obtained by The Washington Post, shows that U.S. military intelligence and German law enforcement authorities had largely concluded there was no information that linked Kurnaz to al Qaeda, any other terrorist organization or terrorist activities.

Judge: Man In Gitmo Despite Proof --A federal judge has criticized a secret military tribunal for keeping a German national jailed in Guantanamo Bay indefinitely based on a flimsy unsigned memo, despite information suggesting he had no terror ties, the Washington Post reports. In a declassified portion of a January ruling obtained by the Post, the judge criticized the panel for ignoring the conclusions of U.S. military intelligence and German law enforcement authorities, in nearly 100 pages of documents, that Murat Kurnaz has no terrorist links.

U.S. Troops Tortured Iraqis in Mosul, Documents Show --American soldiers tortured Iraqi prisoners at a military base in Mosul but nobody was court martialed over the abuse, U.S. army documents say. The documents show that mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners was not confined to the Abu Ghraib jail, where abuse and sexual humiliation of inmates caused worldwide outrage last year.

Soldiers Told to "beat the fuck out of" detainees: Army's Own Documents Acknowledge Evidence That Soldiers Used Torture (ACLU Press Release) March 25, 2005 --Government is Manipulating Release of Torture Documents in an Attempt to Minimize Scandal, ACLU Charges "The American Civil Liberties Union today charged that the government is attempting to bury the torture scandal involving the U.S. military by failing to comply with a court order requiring release of documents to the ACLU. The documents the government does release are being issued in advance to the media in ways calculated to minimize coverage and public access, the ACLU said. The reason for the delay in delivering the more than 1,200 pages of documents was evident, the ACLU said, in the contents, which include reports of brutal beatings, 'exercise until exhaustion' and sworn statements that soldiers were told to 'beat the fuck out of' detainees. One file cites evidence that Military Intelligence personnel in Iraq 'tortured' detainees held in their custody.

US Army says prison deaths are homicides --Iraqi, Afghan detainee cases documented --The Army has concluded that 27 of the detainees who died in US custody in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2002 were the victims of homicide or suspected homicide, military officials said in a report released yesterday. The number is higher than Pentagon officials have previously acknowledged, and it indicates that criminal acts caused a significant portion of the dozens of prisoner deaths that occurred in US custody.

Troops 'face uranium danger' --Australian troops being sent to Iraq in May could be at risk of contracting cancer or conceiving deformed children, doctors said today. The Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW) has written to Defence Minister Robert Hill advising him against deploying troops to the Al Muthanna province in southern Iraq.

2 U.S. soldiers, 1 Marine killed in Iraq --Two U.S. soldiers were killed and two others were wounded when a car bomb exploded in southwestern Baghdad Saturday morning, a U.S. military statement said.

Four U.S. soldiers killed in mine blast in Afghanistan --A U.S. military vehicle apparently trigged a land mine explosion Saturday southwest of Afghanistan's capital, killing four soldiers.

Pentagon denies mother's plea for photo --A single red rose in hand, Karen Meredith leans over her son's simple white stone marker at Arlington National Cemetery... It's her first visit since she buried 1st Lt. Kenneth Michael Ballard, a fourth generation soldier, last fall... Meredith wanted to capture the way fellow soldiers respectfully draped the American flag across the casket, tucking the sides just so, and the way an honor guard watched over him as he was unloaded from a cargo plane. But the Pentagon firmly said "no." ..."It's dishonorable and disrespectful to the families," said Meredith. "They say it's for privacy, but it's really because they don't want the country to see how many people are coming back in caskets." ...What isn't so well known is that the Pentagon refuses to allow the families of dead soldiers access to the caskets returning to Dover and other military bases.

British Attorney General under pressure over Iraq war advice -- The British Attorney General is facing accusations of failing in his "constitutional duty" to advise Parliament. MPs are calling on him to account over his legal advice on the war on Iraq.

Blair clashes with Cabinet over Wolfowitz nomination --Tony Blair has clashed with Cabinet members in a bitter row over the nomination of the neo-conservative US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, as president of the World Bank. International Development Secretary Hilary Benn is said to be furious that Blair kept him in the dark over the nomination, which was announced by Dictator George Bush two weeks ago.

F.B.I. Gave Personal Escorts to Departing Saudis After 9/11 --...In the frenzied days after Sept. 11, 2001, when some flights were still grounded, dozens of well-connected Saudis, including relatives of [Rove freelancer] Osama bin Laden, managed to leave the United States on specially chartered flights. Newly released government records show previously undisclosed flights from Las Vegas and elsewhere and point to a more active role by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in aiding some of the Saudis in their departure. The F.B.I. gave personal airport escorts to two prominent Saudi families who left the United States, and several other Saudis were allowed to leave the country without first being interviewed, the documents show. [Lest we forget, from 22 March: Document: Bin Laden Evaded U.S. Forces --A terror suspect held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba helped al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden escape his mountain hideout at Tora Bora in 2001, according to a U.S. government document. The document, provided to The Associated Press in response to a Freedom of Information request, says the unidentified detainee "assisted in the escape of Osama bin Laden from Tora Bora."]

Panel to Warn Bush of Intelligence-Sharing Problems --A commission reviewing U.S. intelligence operations will warn this week that major obstacles remain to intelligence sharing among spy agencies, despite calls for change after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, people who have seen a draft report said on Sunday.

CDP director placed on leave by Homeland Security IG --The director of the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston (AL) has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Homeland Security Department inspector general's office, the agency says. No details were available about the reasons for Marion Cain's removal Monday as the head of one of the nation's premier terrorist-response agencies.

US arms Coast Guard terror units --Helicopters are tested on Cape Cod --The United States is dramatically expanding its seacoast defenses by arming Coast Guard helicopters with machine guns, training security teams to rappel onto a hostile ship and take control of it through force, and deploying sensors, satellites, and surveillance cameras that feed new high-tech harbor command centers.

New city police cars will have cameras (Chicago) On Thursday, Fleet Management Commissioner Michael Picardi disclosed plans to install cameras on 125 new squad cars scheduled for delivery over the next two months: front-wheel-drive Chevrolet Impalas that will replace the old rear-wheel-drive Ford Crown Victorias. Big Brother microphones tested --Picardi said he's even experimenting with a Big Brother bonus for unmarked police cars: a tiny microphone positioned near the windshield so powerful it can pick up conversations on the street.

John Nichols: Bush flunky unfit to lead UNICEF --by John Nichols "Think of Ann Veneman as the Paul Wolfowitz of food policy. Just as Wolfowitz used his position as the Bush administration's deputy secretary of defense to spin whacked-out neoconservative theories into the justification for an illegal and unnecessary war, so Veneman used her position as the administration's secretary of agriculture to spin equally whacked-out theories about the genetic modification of food and free trade into disastrous policies for farmers and consumers. And, just as Wolfowitz is being rewarded for his missteps and misdeeds with a prominent new position as president of the World Bank, so Veneman is also moving onto the world stage, as the likely nominee to be the next executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)."

Bush hits a new low in polls for job approval --Dictator Bush's job-approval rating has sunk to 45 percent, the worst of his pResidency, amid public opposition at his intervention in the Terri Schiavo case and growing concern over gasoline prices. Polls showed that big majorities of Americans — 70 to 82 percent — opposed the intervention in the Schiavo case by Bush and Congress.

Holy hypocrisy, Batman!! Lawmaker Involved In Schiavo Case Let His Comatose Father Die --In 1988, Tom DeLay's family endured its own end-of-life crisis. The man in a coma, kept alive by intravenous lines and oxygen equipment, was DeLay's father, Charles Ray DeLay. Today, as House Majority Leader, DeLay [R-Terrorist-Texas] has teamed with his Senate counterpart, Bill Frist (R-Sociopath-Tenn.), to champion political intervention in the Schiavo case... DeLay has denounced Schiavo's husband, as well as judges, for committing what he calls "an act of barbarism" in removing the tube. In 1988, however, there was no such fiery rhetoric as the congressman quietly joined the sad family consensus to let his father die.

Schiavo Family Asks Protesters to Go Home --With their hopes fading and legal options exhausted, Terri Schiavo's family appeared quietly resigned Sunday to watching her die and asked protesters to spend Easter with their families as the severely brain-damaged woman went a ninth day without food or water.

Schiavo Judge Protected After Threats --Amid the pitched legal battle over Terri Schiavo that has been fought through his court, Pinellas County Circuit Judge George Greer has been under the protection of armed guards, and friends say his family also is protected. Death threats have been made against him for allowing Michael Schiavo to remove his wife's feeding tube, and the Southern Baptist church that Greer belonged to for years has asked him to leave the congregation.

Florida judge rejects latest Schiavo appeal --Lawyers for parents say no more federal challenges --A Florida state judge on Saturday rejected another attempt by Terri Schiavo's parents to reconnect their brain-damaged daughter's feeding tube.

Bush Decries School Rampage; Critics Question Delay --Dictator Bush broke his public silence on Saturday about the deadliest U.S. school shooting in six years, touting the government's response "at this tragic time" after some American Indian leaders complained he paid little attention to the rampage.

Teaching Darwin splits Pennsylvania town --Since last year, the Dover, PA school board voted to have high school biology teachers raise doubts about Darwin's 145-year-old theory and suggest an alternative Christian explanation for life. In January the 'school board' [whackjobs] ordered teachers to tell students that Darwinism is not proved, and to teach as well an alternate theory, "intelligent design," which posits that a grand creator, God, is responsible for the development of living organisms.

Business Sees Gain In GOP Takeover --Republicans seem to have gained legislative muscle to push pro-business proposals through Congress. Fortune 500 companies that invested millions of dollars in electing Republicans are emerging as the earliest beneficiaries of a government controlled by Dictator Bush and the largest GOP House and Senate majority in a half century.

Where the rich stash their cash --Nick Mathiason on a new study that reveals the amazing wealth the super-rich hold in offshore tax havens - depriving governments of hundreds of billions of dollars - and the looming crackdown by the world's tax collectors --Rupert Murdoch last week floated his family's £3.8 billion personal investment company in Bermuda - saving himself £522 million in taxes. Bermuda was chosen because the media tycoon, who chairs News Corporation, wanted to avoid the taxman after his firm changed domicile from Australia to the United States recently.

Scientists Say Stored Nuclear Rods at Risk --Classified report by National Academy of Sciences challenges decision to allow commercial facilities to store radioactive spent fuel in pools of water. Science Academy Study Points to Risk of Attack --A classified report by nuclear experts assembled by the National Academy of Sciences has challenged the decision by federal regulators to allow commercial nuclear facilities to store large quantities of radioactive spent fuel in pools of water. The report concluded that the government does not fully understand the risks that a terrorist attack could pose to the pools and ought to expedite the removal of the fuel to dry storage casks that are more resilient to attack.

Drug Companies Launch Aggressive Counterattack --The industry raises $8.6 million to defeat a California ballot initiative for cheaper drugs. Facing pressure from many states to provide cheaper prescription drugs, the pharmaceutical industry has launched its most aggressive counterattack in California, where the issue is threatening to explode on the ballot as early as this fall. [LOL, electronic 'voting' will insure that the pharma-terrorists win any 'ballot' initiatives.]

Chess Legend Bobby Fischer: U.S. Is 'Evil' --His hair and beard were neatly trimmed, but his opinions were still bristling. On his first full day of freedom after nine months' detention in Japan, Bobby Fischer said Friday he was happy to be in Iceland and denounced the United States as "evil."

Man Sells Device That Blocks Fox News --It's not that Sam Kimery objects to the views expressed on Fox News. The creator of the "Fox Blocker" contends the channel is not news at all. Kimery figures he's sold about 100 of the little silver bits of metal that screw into the back of most televisions, allowing people to filter Fox News from their sets, since its August debut.

Coffee with steam --Some conservatives are angered by opinionated quotes that Starbucks puts on its cups. The Seattle coffee chain has raised some eyebrows over its "The Way I See It" campaign, which prints quotes from thinkers, authors, athletes and entertainers on the side of your morning machiatto. ...Some Reichwing nutballs have complained to Starbucks' Web site, labeling the campaign "offensive" and the company a proponent of "the destruction of family values and virtues."

Emergency services plan for 750,000 deaths in flu pandemic 27 March 2005 --Mortuaries and emergency services are to be put on alert and told to prepare for up to three-quarters of a million deaths from a bird flu pandemic, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. Emergency planners have begun to look for sites for special mortuaries, each capable of storing 1,000 bodies, and the Home Office is to hold an exercise this summer to practise coping with mass fatalities. The instruction, to go out from the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, the Cabinet Office body in charge of emergencies, explodes the Government's public position that the pandemic could be expected to kill only "around 50,000" people in Britain.

Killer flu hits North Korea 28 March 2005 --North Korea yesterday acknowledged an outbreak of bird flu for the first time, saying hundreds of thousands of chickens were killed to prevent its spread, and that the disease wasn’t passed on to humans.

One killed by avian flu 26 March 2005 HANOI —Three more cases of avian flu were reported yesterday including one fatality in the northern and central regions.

Ebola-like virus death toll rises 27 March 2005 --People have been warned against travel to Angola after the death toll from the Ebola-like Marburg bug rose to 121.

Cda sends unique lab to test for fatal virus in Angola; more than 100 dead 26 March 2005 --Canada is sending a one-of-a-kind portable laboratory to Angola to help contain an Ebola-like fever that has killed more than 100 people since October.

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A New Antiterror Agency Is Considered --The Bush regime is considering a major restructuring of the Justice Department that would create a powerful new national security division in an effort to consolidate and coordinate terrorism and espionage investigations better, officials say.

MPs accuse U.S. of human rights violations --The United States has committed "grave violations of human rights" against prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq, Parliament's Foreign Affairs has said. The report on Friday also called on the government to make clear whether it uses intelligence passed on by other countries that may have been gathered by torturing suspects.

Army: 27 Captives Die in U.S. Custody --Investigators looking into the deaths of detainees killed in U.S. custody in Afghanistan and Iraq say 21 soldiers could face murder or other serious charges.

Pentagon Will Not Try 17 G.I.'s Implicated in Prisoners' Deaths --Despite recommendations by Army investigators, commanders have decided not to prosecute 17 American soldiers implicated in the deaths of three prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, according to a new accounting released Friday by the Army.

Five Women Translators Gunned Down --In Baghdad on Thursday, five women translators who worked for the U.S. military were gunned down by 'insurgents' [Negroponte's death squads?] as they returned home from work, police Capt. Ahmed Aboud said. [I guess they translated a little too much...] Near Abu Ghraib, firefighters worked to extinguish an oil-pipeline blaze ignited by resistance fighters' bombs.

23 Are Killed in a Series of Attacks Across Iraq --A string of suicide bombings and armed attacks across central and northern Iraq on Thursday and Friday left at least 23 people dead, officials said.

Suicide car bomber kills 11 Iraqi police in Ramadi --A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle near the restive central city of Ramadi, killing 11 Iraqi police commandos and injuring 14 other people including two U.S. soldiers, the U.S. military said Friday.

Bush lawyers urge justices to dismiss POWs' suit --Bush regime lawyers urged the Supreme Court yesterday to dismiss a lawsuit against Iraq brought by U.S. pilots and soldiers who were captured and tortured by Saddam Hussein's regime during the Persian Gulf War of 1991, saying Dictator Bush believes it could hurt the 'rebuilding' [privatizing] effort in Iraq.

Bush Sells F-16s to Pakistan As Reward For Terrorism Fight --Dictator Bush announced today that the United States would sell F-16 fighter jets to both India and Pakistan this year. A senior government official told the Associated Press on conditions of anonymity that the sale to Pakistan was due to their support for American anti[pro]terrorism policies since September 11, 2001.

BP Texas Plant Had Fire Day Before Blast --A day before a thunderous explosion that killed at least 15 people at the BP oil refinery in Texas City, Texas, a small fire broke out in the same unit that blew up, officials said on Friday.

Terrorism Ruled Out In Texas Blast --FBI agents have ruled out terrorism, but federal regulators estimate it will take them months to determine what caused an oil refinery explosion that killed 15 and injured more than 100.

'We all want to know what happened and why' --Terrorism ruled out in blast, but may take a year to find cause --The roiling black smoke that erupted from BP's stricken Texas City refinery was gone Thursday, seemingly vanquished by a sun-filled azure sky. ...Federal investigators, some of whom arrived within half an hour of Wednesday afternoon's explosion, acknowledged it may take up to a year to determine the blast's cause. [Yes, when everyone has forgotten about it, as they have with another blast at the same plant, on March 31, 2004. See: Explosion rocks Texas City refinery (3/31/04 - TEXAS CITY, TX) — An explosion apparently caused by a fire at the BP refinery forced the evacuation of the plant Tuesday night.]

Homeland Security to Launch Anthrax Review --The Department of Homeland Security on Friday will launch a review of the anthrax scare at the Defense Department's mail facilities earlier this month.

Former FEMA director: Separate agency from Homeland Security -- A former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says putting it in the Department of Homeland Security has hampered its ability to deal with hurricanes and other disasters.

Portland may pull out of FBI task force (OR) Portland's mayor is threatening to pull the city out of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force unless the federal agency gives him and the city police chief a higher security clearance.

FEC Weighs Internet Political Activity Rules --The Federal 'Election' Commission took its first step Thursday in extending campaign finance controls to political activity on the Internet, asking for public input on limited regulations for the Internet. The draft guidelines suggest applying limits that exist in other media to certain political advertising on the Web and political spam e-mail. [Translation: any news update/newsletter that criticizes the Bush regime and is forwarded to news outlets and/or congresscritters, will be designated as *spam.* You can be sure that those spam rules will be enforced.]

White House payments to columnist probed --Congressional investigators will look into whether the Bush regime violated any laws when it paid syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher to help promote a marriage initiative, Democratic Sens. Edward Kennedy and Frank Lautenberg said.

Report: TSA Misled on Passenger Data --A government investigation has found that the Transportation Security Administration misled the public about its role in obtaining personal information on 12 million airline passengers to test a new computerized, terrorist-screening system.

Meanwhile..., dumped in the GOP-owned media on a Friday night on a *holiday* weekend (i.e., no one is 'paying attention') Seniors face Medicare premiums jump Friday, March 25, 2005 Posted: 11:04 PM EST (0404 GMT) Senior citizens can expect at least a 12 percent increase in their Medicare premiums for doctor visits next year, and that could rise even higher, if physician reimbursements aren't reduced.

Trophy Hunting Advocate Named Acting Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service --The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) expressed its strong disappointment that Interior Secretary Gale Norton has named Matthew J. Hogan to be acting director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. ...Hogan was formerly the chief lobbyist for Safari Club International (SCI), an extreme trophy hunting organization that advocates the killing of rare species around the world.

Polls Show Drop for Bush's Job Approval --Dictator Bush's job approval slipped into the mid 40s in national polls released this week as he lost some support among men and other groups of core supporters. The polls come after Congress and Dictator Bush intervened in the case of Terri Schiavo... The federal intervention was widely unpopular, even with conservatives and evangelicals.

Some lash out at Gov. Bush for not defying courts for Terri Schiavo -- Gov. Jeb Bush is a Catholic who carries rosary beads with him wherever he goes... So after six years of praise from Christian conservatives, it's almost startling to hear him compared to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who sentenced Jesus to crucifixion. But some desperate protesters who see Bush as Terri Schiavo's savior are doing just that, choosing to judge Bush on his refusal to defy a court order rather than his nearly two-year-old effort to keep the brain-damaged woman alive.

Death threats rattling pols --Some 'activists' [*Terrorists.* Stop sugar-coating it for the Reichwing.] are making ugly [terrorist] threats, making up "Wanted" posters for lawmakers and handing out the home addresses of judges who rejected legal appeals to keep Terri Schiavo alive. "I am afraid," said state Sen. Frederica Wilson (D-Miami), who has received numerous death threats by phone and mail because she voted against a measure to reinsert Schiavo's feeding tube.

Man arrested for Michael Schiavo threat --A man has been arrested and charged with offering a $250,000 reward for killing Michael Schiavo. ...The [same] email placed an additional $50,000 bounty for the elimination of a judge who recently denied a request to intervene in the Schiavo case.

Agents readied in case 'legal window' opened --Gov. Jeb Bush on Wednesday asked Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents in Clearwater to stand ready to seize Terri Schiavo should a "legal window of opportunity come," an FDLE spokesman said Friday.

Police 'showdown' averted --Hours after a judge ordered that Terri Schiavo was not to be removed from her hospice, a team of state agents were en route to seize her and have her feeding tube reinserted -- but they stopped short when local police told them they would enforce the judge's order, The Herald has learned.

Man Tries to Steal Gun to 'Rescue Schiavo' --A man was arrested after trying to steal a weapon from a gun shop so he could "take some action and rescue Terri Schiavo," authorities said.

Protesters in Schiavo case flood Florida abuse hot line --Hundreds of protesters trying to keep Terri Schiavo alive are calling the Florida Department of Children & Families hot line each day, and officials are concerned they could be jamming the line for people who are trying to report abuse unrelated to the case.

Few Options for Schiavo's Parents as U.S. Judge Denies Request -- A Federal District Court judge here today refused, for a second time, to order that a feeding tube be reinserted into the severely brain-damaged Terri Schiavo, and with time and options running out, Ms. Schiavo's parents turned again to the federal appeals court in Atlanta.

Cracks may force shutdown of UK reactors --Reactors in many UK nuclear power stations are in danger of developing cracks in their graphite cores. This could force some plants to close down earlier than expected, dealing a blow to the idea that nuclear power can become a "green" option in the fight against global warming.

Kofi Annan expresses hope of "containing the spread of new infectious diseases, whether natural or man-made" --Transcript of Press Conference by Secretary-General Kofi Annan At United Nations Headquarters, 21 March 2005 "...[I]f governments take the decisions that I am suggesting in this report, I believe we will have a much better chance of turning the tide against HIV/AIDS and malaria in the next 10 years; a much better chance of containing the spread of new infectious diseases, whether natural or man-made; ... -- through a strengthened Security Council and a new and authoritative human rights council, both working closely with regional organizations -- to put a stop to major crimes against innocent people, such as those we are witnessing in Darfur."

SARS may spread in air, new studies warn 25 March 2005 --New research suggests the SARS virus, which killed 800 people after emerging in China in 2003, may spread through the air, and not just through human contact, making it more dangerous than previously thought.

Ebola-Like Virus Death Toll Up in Angola 25 March 2005 --The death toll from an Ebola-like fever in Angola rose to 112 on Friday, with three deaths reported in Lusaka for the first time.

Cambodia confirms village bird flu outbreak 26 March 2005 --Cambodia on Saturday confirmed an outbreak of bird flu at a village near the Vietnamese border but cleared one suspected human case of the deadly disease.

Two New Bird Flu Cases Found in Vietnam, One Dead 25 March 2005 --Two more Vietnamese have caught bird flu, one of whom who has died, local health officials said, as the World Health Organization met with the government to discuss reports of a flu-like illness in central Vietnam.

Octopuses Seen Walking From Predators --Octopuses, known for using camouflage to avoid predators, have been observed apparently trying to sneak away by walking on two arms while pretending to be a bunch of algae. Two kinds of octopus were seen to use different ways of walking along the sea floor, researchers were reporting in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

Australian octopus 'walks' on two tentacles --Two little species of Indian Ocean octopus, including one from Australia, can tuck up six of their tentacles while running on the other two, US researchers say. They can use their other six arms to disguise themselves from predators, either as rolling coconuts or clumps of floating algae.

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State records show Bush re-election concerns played part in FEMA aid --Consultant predicted a 'huge mess' --As the second hurricane in less than a month bore down on Florida last fall, a federal consultant predicted a "huge mess" that could reflect poorly on Dictator Bush and suggested that his re-[s]election staff be brought in to minimize any political liability, records show. Two weeks later, a Florida official summarizing the hurricane response wrote that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was handing out housing assistance "to everyone who needs it without asking for much information of any kind." Democrats in Washington said the records confirm suspicions that the federal government used the hurricanes to funnel money to Florida, a key battleground state in the presidential election.

Halliburton will honor existing contracts in Iran; forgo new ones --US oil services giant Halliburton agreed to forgo any new business in Iran, according to New York city pension fund official who has been pressing for the move as a shareholder in the company. New York City Comptroller William Thompson released a letter from Halliburton vice president Margaret Carriere stating that ... "existing contracts and commitments which the subsidiaries have previously undertaken will be honored."

War resignation letter censored --Suppressed passage suggests that attorney general still believed invasion was illegal less than two weeks before the troops went in --The government yesterday tried to suppress evidence that the attorney general believed war against Iraq was illegal less than two weeks before British troops joined the US-led invasion of the country. It has removed a key passage in the resignation letter written by Elizabeth Wilmshurst, deputy chief legal adviser at the Foreign Office, on March 18 2003, the eve of the invasion. The remainder of her letter - in which she described the planned invasion as a "crime of aggression" - was released yesterday under the Freedom of Information Act.

Straw facing war advice critics --Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is answering claims the attorney general changed his mind about the legality of the Iraq war just before it began. Lord Goldsmith initially thought the war was illegal without a new UN resolution but backed the invasion 10 days later, it is claimed. The revelations came in a censored part of ex-Foreign Office lawyer Elizabeth Wilmshurst's letter, obtained by Channel 4 News.

Straw denies attorney general was 'leant on' over war advice --The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, today rejected opposition claims that the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, was "leant on" to change his view on the legality of war with Iraq.

Doubts Surface On Iraq Raid --Claim of 85 Rebel Deaths Questioned --New details about an intense battle between insurgents and Iraqi police commandos supported by U.S. forces cast doubt Thursday on Iraqi government claims that 85 rebels were killed at what was described as a clandestine training camp. ...Two U.S. military officials said Thursday that no bodies were found by American troops who arrived at the scene after the fighting.

Oops! Five Killed by Friendly Fire in Iraq --Police mistook a group of Iraqi soldiers wearing civilian garb for insurgents [?!? Yeah, right] Thursday, sparking a gunbattle that killed five in northern Iraq. In the former rebel stronghold of Fallujah, police patrolled the streets and imposed a sudden, late-afternoon curfew, shouting through loudspeakers: "Close your stores and go home!" They also set up checkpoints and searched cars in the city. [Gee, when all is said and done... I think life under Saddam Hussein was a far, far better deal. Hopefully, the resistance fighters in Iraq will step up to the plate, and force the corpora-terrorists *out* of Iraq... bye-bye Halliburton, Monsanto, and Negroponte's death squads.]

Woman, Children Die in U.S. Attack on Taliban --U.S.-led troops killed three Taliban militants in a firefight in which two children and a woman also died in southeast Afghanistan, the U.S. military said. Another child died in a separate gunbattle east of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Red Sox minority owner confirms jet used by CIA --The CIA has chartered a private jet owned by a minority partner of the Red Sox to overseas destinations that include Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Red Sox vice president Phillip Morse says he’s "stunned" to learn of a published report suggesting the plane might be used to forcibly return arrested terror suspects to their native countries for interrogation [torture].

Canada Denies Refugee Status to American --A U.S. Army paratrooper who fled to Canada to avoid serving in Iraq was denied political asylum Thursday, dealing a blow to other deserters here who argue such duty would force them to commit atrocities against civilians.

Canadians Back Martin On Missile Defence --Many adults in Canada believe their prime minister was right to reject the United States-proposed missile defence system, according to a poll by Decima Research released by Canadian Press. 57 per cent of respondents support Paul Martin’s stance on the issue.

U.S. court mulls overseas Web censorship --Yahoo urges free speech shield for U.S.-based content --Lawyers for Yahoo Inc. asked a federal appeals court Thursday for legal protection for U.S.-based Internet portals whose content is protected by the First Amendment in the United States, but illegal in foreign countries.

Court prevents release of most September 11 emergency calls --The emergency phone calls made by people trapped inside the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, need not be released to the public, a New York court ruled Thursday. The New York State Court of Appeals declined to grant the wish of September 11 families who joined in a lawsuit seeking release of all tapes and transcripts of calls made from inside the Twin Towers to 9-1-1 operators.

Pentagon Official: U.S. Needs Allies to Defeat Terrorism --A top architect of the Pentagon’s plan to revamp the services and refine the military’s response to the global war on [of] terrorism said defeating America’s enemies will be impossible without the help of allies.

London "faces election terrorism threat" --Terrorists may try to strike the country in the runup to an election expected within weeks, just as bombers struck Spain shortly before a vote there, London's police chief says in an interview. [The act of *terrorism* would be the reelection of Tony Blair.]

E.P.A. Report Finds Lag in Monitoring Attacks --The effort for quick detection of a biological attack in major cities is faltering because of shortcomings in the Environmental Protection Agency's management of the program, its inspector general said in a report released on Thursday. Under the program, BioWatch, air monitors have been set up over the last three years in at least 30 metropolitan regions in an effort to detect within 36 hours the release of deadly pathogens like anthrax, smallpox or plague.

EU requires new biometrical passports for Russia as a condition to join the world community --Russian authorities are currently working on the requirement of the European Union to introduce changes to Russian passports for traveling abroad. According to the EU's requirement, Russian passports are supposed to contain the biometric identification of their owners.

Death Toll in Texas Plant Blast Hits --The lone worker unaccounted for after an explosion at a BP oil refinery has died, raising the death toll to 15 in a blast that also injured more than 100 people, officials said Thursday. [Let's see... no determined cause of the explosion (and no media coverage, due to Terri Schiavo) -- which *coincidentally* occurred at the *same plant* on March 31, 2004. *See: Explosion rocks Texas City refinery (3/31/04 - TEXAS CITY, TX) — An explosion apparently caused by a fire at the BP refinery forced the evacuation of the plant Tuesday night.]

Cui bono??? Crude Oil, Gasoline Jump After Fire at BP Refinery in Texas March 24 (Bloomberg) Crude oil rose and gasoline futures surged to a record after an explosion at BP Plc's Texas City crude- oil refinery, the third-largest in the U.S., raised supply concerns before the peak summer driving season.

Oil Prices Up After U.S. Refinery Blast --Oil prices rose on Thursday as a deadly explosion at a Texas refinery stemmed a selloff triggered by a firmer dollar and rising U.S. crude stocks. U.S. light crude (CLc1) rose 61 cents to $54.38 a barrel, after falling more than $3.50, or 6 percent, in the previous two sessions.]

Options, and Time, Running Out for Schiavo Parents --Terri Schiavo completed a week without food or water on Friday, sliding closer to death despite a frenetic legal offensive by her parents and efforts by the U.S. Congress and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to intervene.

Judge rejects Bush's Schiavo argument --A state judge has refused to hear Governor Jeb Bush's arguments to take custody of Terri Schiavo, leaving the brain-damaged woman's parents with only the slimmest hopes in their fight to keep her alive. Bush's request cited new allegations of neglect and challenges the diagnoses Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state, but Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer wasn't convinced.

Supreme Court Won't Hear Schiavo Case --The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to order Terri Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted, rejecting a desperate appeal by her parents to keep their severely brain-damaged daughter alive.

DeLay Goes on Offense in Ethics Battle --House Majority Leader Tom DeLay [R-Nutball] often plays defense in public in his fight against allegations of ethical misconduct, saying he didn't know about specific fund-raising practices under investigation in Texas or groups in Washington that paid for his travel.

IRS probes politics at church --A Liberty City church's tax-exempt status is in jeopardy as the IRS has launched a probe into a visit by former candidate John Kerry last fall. Some wonder if the probe is politically motivated. The IRS has notified a Liberty City church that it is under investigation for possibly engaging in political activity -- putting its tax-exempt status into question. The probe is related to an appearance last October by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and several black leaders.

Cost-Cutting Medicare Law Is a Money Loser for States --In passing the new Medicare law, Congress intended to relieve states of prescription drug costs for low-income elderly people. But as states do the arithmetic, many find that they will lose money, because they will have to give back most of the savings to the federal government.

Carter to Head Elections Panel --Bipartisan Group Will Look for Ways to Improve [Allow] Voting in U.S. --Former president Jimmy Carter will lead a bipartisan commission to examine problems with the U.S. 'election' system, American University's Center for Democracy and Election Management said yesterday.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Awards Design Contract for the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (DHS Press Release) March 23, 2005 --"The U.S. Department of Homeland Security today announced another important step towards stronger biodefense capabilities by awarding an $11 million design contract for the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) facility at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, to architecture, design, and planning firm Perkins+Will, Inc. The NBACC facility, managed by Homeland Security's Science & Technology Directorate, will strengthen America’s ability to defend against biological terrorism by delivering dedicated scientific research to better assess, anticipate, prevent, and mitigate [create] biological threats."

U.S. to create a bird flu virus mutation 24 March 2005 --The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has begun a series of experiments to see how likely the bird flu virus could result in a human pandemic. The six-month series of experiments seeks to simulate the mixing and matching of genes from the H5N1 avian flu virus that has plagued Asia and a common human flu virus that public-health experts fear could turn avian flu into a pandemic, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. CDC scientists inside an ultra-secure laboratory [?!?] have started swapping the genes of the H5N1 avian virus with the genes of an H3N2 virus, the strain behind most recent human flu outbreaks.

Gene From 1918 Virus Proves Key to Virulent Influenza (University of Wisconsin News Release) 10/6/2004 Contact: Yoshihiro Kawaoka "Using a gene resurrected from the virus that caused the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, recorded history's most lethal outbreak of infectious disease, scientists have found that a single gene may have been responsible for the devastating virulence of the virus. Writing Oct. 7 in the journal Nature, virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Tokyo, describes experiments in which engineered viruses were made more potent by the addition of a single gene. The work is evidence that a slight genetic tweak is all that is required to transform mild strains of the flu virus into forms far more pathogenic and, possibly, more transmissible... Using a comparatively mild form of influenza A virus as a template, Kawaoka's team added the two 1918 genes that code for hemagglutinin and neuraminidase and infected mice with the engineered viruses."

Influenza vaccine uses insect cells to speed development 21 March 2005 --Using a strategy involving a genetically modified baculovirus and caterpillar cells scientists from Protein Sciences Corporation have been able to speed up a key step in the development of an experimental cell-based influenza vaccine. They report their findings today at the 2005 American Society for Microbiology Biodefense Research Meeting.

US starts bird flu vaccine test in humans 23 March 2005 --The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said Wednesday it has started human tests of a vaccine against H5N1 bird flu in efforts to prepare to respond to [create?] a possible bird flu pandemic.

Vietnam Flu Outbreak Sparks Fresh Concerns 24 March 2005 --Health experts are rushing to investigate reports of a widespread flu outbreak in central Vietnam. The reports come just two weeks after a five-year-old boy in the same area was found to have avian flu.

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Systematic Concealment of Detainees by CIA Is Found --Army Documents Shed Light on CIA 'Ghosting' --Senior defense officials have described the CIA practice of hiding unregistered detainees at Abu Ghraib prison as ad hoc and unauthorized, but a review of Army documents shows that the agency's "ghosting" program was systematic and known to three senior intelligence officials in Iraq.

Afghan Detainee's Leg Was 'Pulpified,' Witness Says --An Afghan detainee in U.S. custody was so brutalized before his death that his thigh tissue was "pulpified," a forensic pathologist testified Tuesday at a preliminary hearing for a military police officer charged in the 2002 assault. "It was similar to injuries of a person run over by a bus," said Lt. Col. Elizabeth Rouse, who performed an autopsy on the detainee, identified only as Dilawar.

U.S. bars Italians from examining victim's car --The U.S. military command in Iraq has blocked two Italian policemen from examining the car in which an Italian intelligence agent was shot to death in Baghdad, a newspaper said Wednesday... The car, a Toyota Corolla, is reportedly still in American hands, at Baghdad airport where it was originally rented.

Iraqi Legal Calls for Trying Bush, Blair --US Dictator George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair should be tried as war criminals for their role in the heinous crimes and abuses, from the use of banned weapons, raping of Iraqi women to the stealing of the body parts of Iraqi resistance fighters, according to Iraqi legal experts. During a conference held in the Iraqi capital Baghdad March 22, the legal activists broadcast a video tape showing the scale of destruction caused by US occupation forces during its massive offensive on the western Iraqi city of Fallujah. ...Kamal Hamdoun, chairman of the Fallujah Bar Association, accused US occupation forces of using banned weapons during its massive onslaught on the city. "Practices of US occupation forces in Fallujah are blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which ban the killing of the wounded, captives and civilians," Hamdoun said. "The American thugs and their collaborators, chiefly Bush and Blair, must be tried before the International Criminal Court for their grisly crimes in Iraq."

Bush, Cheney lied about bin Laden escape from Tora Bora --Both President [sic] George W. Bush and Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney lied during the 2004 Presidential campaign when he claimed U.S. forces did not miss a chance to capture Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora in 2001. A U.S. government document shows a terror suspect held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was a commander for bin Laden during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s and helped the al-Qaida leader escape his mountain hide-out at Tora Bora in 2001. [*See: Document: Bin Laden Evaded U.S. Forces]

US military denies air strikes in western Iraq --The US military denied on Wednesday an earlier report about airstrikes in two cities west of Baghdad. Local residents and medics told Xinhua earlier that the airstrikes took place after the US forces were attacked by insurgents near the Haditha hospital and four people were wounded in the raids.

More Than 80 Die in Iraq Attack --An Iraqi official said Wednesday that 85 insurgents were killed on Tuesday when Iraqi commandos, assisted by U.S. air and ground support, staged a midday attack on a suspected training camp in a rural area northwest of the capital.

84 Insurgents Killed in Joint US-Iraq Security Operation --Colonel Mohammed Ibrahim from the Iraqi Army has said in a statement that 84 insurgents were killed in an operation on a training camp near Lake Tartar north of Bagdat (Baghdad).

Army Orders Further Involuntary Troop Call-Up --The U.S. Army is ordering more people to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan involuntarily from a seldom-used personnel pool as part of a mobilization that began last summer.

U.S. and Argentina Fail to Renew Military Exercises --Argentina and Washington failed on Tuesday to reach an agreement granting U.S. troops immunity from prosecution in the South American country, a major stumbling block in efforts to resume joint military exercises... Washington has asked some countries like Argentina to sign immunity agreements which exempt U.S. mercenaries and terrorists ['nationals'] from the International Criminal Court.

Perle, Ex-Pentagon Aide, Faces SEC Suit on Hollinger --The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has warned former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle that it may sue him for his role in the alleged looting of Hollinger International Inc., the Chicago-based media company once controlled by Conrad Black. [When are the Neo-Con-jobs going to be sued for looting Iraq?]

Army Captain, 4 Drill Sergeants Charged --An Army captain was charged with dereliction of duty for allegedly failing to stop his drill sergeants from abusing basic-training recruits.

Capitol bill aims to control 'leftist' profs --The Law Could Let Students Sue For Untolerated Beliefs. Republicans on the House Choice and Innovation Committee voted along party lines Tuesday to pass a bill that aims to stamp out "leftist totalitarianism" by "dictator professors" in the classrooms of Florida’s universities. The Academic Freedom Bill of Rights, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-[Whackjob]-Ocala, passed 8-to-2 despite strenuous objections from the only two Democrats on the committee. [I hope Baxley enjoys this essay: Arming the Left: Is the time now? --by Charles Southwell ]

New Jersey Man Who Shone Laser Beam at Small Jet Indicted on Patriot Act Charge --A man accused of pointing a green laser beam at a small passenger jet, temporarily blinding the pilot and co-pilot, was indicted Wednesday under the federal anti-terror Patriot Act.

Oakland County teen charged with threatening terrorism --An Oakland County (MI) teenager has been charged with threatening terrorism after authorities found a hit list in his backpack, prosecutors said Wednesday. The 14-year-old boy is being charged as a juvenile.

14 Feared Dead in Texas Refinery Blast --At Least 100 Injured; Cause of Blast Under Investigation --An explosion rocked a BP oil refinery Wednesday, injuring more than 100 people and sending flames and black smoke billowing into the sky in a blast so thunderous it could be felt for miles. At least 14 people were feared dead. [*Note: a similar explosion occurred at the *same plant,* March 31, 2004. Here is that link: Explosion rocks Texas City refinery (3/31/04 - TEXAS CITY, TX) — An explosion apparently caused by a fire at the BP refinery forced the evacuation of the plant Tuesday night.]

Explosion at BP Amoco plant in Texas City (TX) Texas City residents reportedly felt an explosion just after 1pm. The explosion occurred at the BP Amoco plant on Highway 146 at Texas Avenue. There's no word on what caused the explosion, or any injuries. It's not yet clear if the explosion was at the refinery or the chemical plant on site. A plume of black smoke rising into the air could be seen for miles.

Pipeline Spills Oil in Los Angeles Area Lake --An oil pipeline ruptured and spilled about 42,000 gallons of oil into Pyramid Lake in the mountains north of Los Angeles, Pacific Energy Partners LP said on Wednesday.

Political Fallout Over Schiavo Law --Congressional leaders have insisted their only motivation in getting involved in the Terri Schiavo case was saving a life. But Americans aren’t buying that argument, a CBS News poll finds. Public approval of Congress has suffered as a result; at 34 percent, it is the lowest it has been since 1997, dropping from 41 percent last month. Now at 43 percent, Dictator Bush’s approval rating is also lower than it was a month ago. CBS Poll: Why did Congress get involved in the Terri Schiavo case? Concern for Terri Schiavo: 15.49% - Politics: 84.51% [Poll snapshot, 04:00 GMT 23 March 2005]

Schiavo's Parents Appeal to Supreme Court --Terri Schiavo's parents made a desperate appeal to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, asking justices to order resumption of nourishment for their severely brain-damaged daughter.

State officials may place Schiavo under protective custody --For the second time in less than a day, a federal appeals court in Atlanta today rejected a bid by Terri Schiavo's parents to have her feeding tube re-inserted. Florida lawmakers, meanwhile, debated another last-ditch effort to prolong her life.

Court Rejects Schiavo Parents' Request --For the second time in less than a day, a federal appeals court Wednesday rejected a bid by Terri Schiavo's parents to have her feeding tube re-inserted. Florida lawmakers, meanwhile, debated another last-ditch effort to prolong her life. In a 10-2 decision, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused Bob and Mary Schindler's request for an "expedited rehearing" by the full court.

Bush Renews Call for Help in Schiavo Case --Their options dwindling after two failed federal court appeals, Terri Schiavo's parents and brother vowed Wednesday to take their fight to the U.S. Supreme Court and state Legislature as the brain-damaged woman was in her fifth day without a feeding tube. Gov. Jeb Bush renewed his call for the Legislature to step in and "spare Terri's life.''

Appeals Court Refuses to Order Schiavo's Feeding Reinstated --A federal appeals court panel in Atlanta refused early Wednesday to order that the feeding tube of the brain-damaged Terri Schiavo be reinserted, saying her parents had "failed to demonstrate a substantial case on the merits of any of their claims." [Text: The 11th Circuit Court's Decision]

Tons of genetically altered corn seed mistakenly in U.S. --Swiss biotechnology company Syngenta AG said Tuesday that it mistakenly [?!?] sold to farmers an experimental corn seed genetically engineered to 'resist bugs' that was never approved by U.S. regulators, bolstering critics' claims that the industry needs tighter government scrutiny.

Bush regime kept mum about unapproved modified corn sold --The federal government kept it secret for three months that genetically modified corn seed was sold accidentally [?!?] to some U.S. farms for four years and may have gotten into the American food supply.

Japan tests for modified corn from U.S. --Japan said Wednesday that it would start monitoring U.S. corn cargoes to verify whether they contained an unapproved strain of genetically modified corn developed by the Swiss agrochemicals group Syngenta.

Consumer Prices Increase, Adding to Concerns on Inflation --Prices paid by consumers rose by 0.4 percent in February, in large part because energy costs have gone up, according to Labor Department statistics released today.

Men's magazine plays a photo prank on the Bush twins --As an April fool's joke, Maxim is taking on the Bush twins. The April issue of the men's magazine, which hit newsstands Tuesday, has a photo illustration of Jenna and Barbara Bush, plumage in the air and sporting lingerie in what is meant to be the aftermath of a pillow fight. [OOps! Maxim's editors better be careful... the Bush terror team may not be finished with the anthrax from Fort Detrick that was sent to The Sun and The National Enquirer, in 2001. BTW, whatever happened with that investigation?]

Bird flu kills 48th victim 24 March 2005 --Bird flu had killed a 28-year-old Cambodian man, officials said today, the 48th Asian victim of a virus experts fear could unleash a global influenza pandemic capable of killing millions of people.

Bird flu spreading in Makassar, C. Java 24 March 2005 --In the Central Java town of Boyolali, thousands of quails have reportedly died in Klego district over the last 10 days due to a suspected outbreak of bird flu.

Spread of Deadly Flu Virus Imminent? 23 March 2005 --Clouds of uncertainty are gathering over whether this coming winter will bring with it the deadly Avian Flu Virus which could claim lives if serious preventative measures are not taken.

Myanmar Asked to Check Bird Flu Report - FAO 23 March 2005 --The United Nations food agency has asked Myanmar authorities to check a report of a possible outbreak of Asia's deadly bird flu in the military-ruled country, a U.N. official said on Wednesday.

Angola: Health officials identify Marburg virus, 96 dead 23 March 2005 --A deadly hemorrhagic fever which has claimed the lives of 96 people, mainly children, in Angola's northern Uige province has been identified as the rare Marburg virus, officials from the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation (WHO) said late on Tuesday. The illness was first spotted in Uige and is from the same family as the deadly Ebola virus.

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Document: Bin Laden Evaded U.S. Forces --A terror suspect held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba helped al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden escape his mountain hideout at Tora Bora in 2001, according to a U.S. government document. The document, provided to The Associated Press in response to a Freedom of Information request, says the unidentified detainee "assisted in the escape of Osama bin Laden from Tora Bora." ...The events at Tora Bora were a point of contention during last year's presidential race, and Dictator Bush as well as Vice pResident Dick Cheney asserted that commanders did not know whether bin Laden was there when U.S. and allied Afghan forces attacked the area in December 2001.

Due to Dictator Bush and the Neo-con-jobs: Iraq invasion may be remembered as start of the age of oil scarcity --Production tumbles in post-Hussein era as more countries vie for shrinking supplies --Instead of inaugurating a new age of cheap oil, the Iraq war may become known as the beginning of an era of scarcity. Two years ago, it seemed likely that Iraq, with the world's third-largest petroleum reserves, would become a hypercharged gusher once U.S. troops toppled Saddam Hussein. But U.S. corpora-terrorists and the Bush regime ['chaos and guerrilla sabotage'] have slowed the flow of oil to a comparative trickle.

Roadside Bomb Kills 4 Civilians in Iraq --Insurgents targeted a U.S. patrol with a roadside bomb Tuesday that killed four nearby civilians in the northern city of Mosul, where an assassination attempt against top police officials sparked clashes that left more than two dozen insurgents dead or captured.

Iraq: Demonstrators defy eviction --Over 300 people demonstrated on Tuesday at the gates of the heavily fortified Green Zone in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, calling on the government to allow them to stay in government buildings as they have no homes following the illegal bombing ['conflict' - Reuters refers to 'Shock & Awe' as a 'conflict.'] in 2003.

Bomb hits shopping centre in Lebanon --Three people have been killed and two injured in an explosion at a shopping centre near Lebanon's port of Jounie, north of Beirut, according to local media reports.

Prime Minister Blair appeals for Muslim vote in wake of Iraq war [ROFL] --Prime Minister Tony Blair appealed for British Muslim voters not to withdraw their support for his party in the wake of the Iraq war, according to an interview published Tuesday.

Transfer of Guantanamo Detainees on Hold --Federal Judge Considers Authority of Courts, Need to Notify Lawyers --A federal judge expressed skepticism yesterday about the legality of possible Bush regime plans to transfer dozens of men from the U.S. military prison in Cuba to the custody of foreign countries, saying that would remove detainees from the reach of U.S. courts and eliminate their legal claims for freedom.

Detainee Interrogation Memo Redacted --FBI Criticism Of Interrogations Was Deleted --U.S. law enforcement agents working at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, concluded that controversial interrogation practices used there by the Defense Department produced intelligence information that was "suspect at best," an FBI agent told a superior in a memo in May last year. But the Justice Department, which reviewed the memo for 'national security secrets' [?!?] before releasing it to a civil liberties group in December, redacted the FBI agent's conclusion.

Navy SEALs sue AP over detainee photos --A federal lawsuit filed by several Navy SEALs and the wife of a special forces member claims The Associated Press violated copyright and privacy laws and endangered the servicemen's lives by publishing photographs of them with [torturing] Iraqi prisoners. The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in San Diego, seeks unspecified damages. It also asks the court to bar the AP from further use of the photos and to require the news agency to protect the SEALs' identities.

U.S. Is Faulted Over Algerian's Detention --U.N. Panel Calls Confinement 'Arbitrary' --A United Nations human rights group has accused the Bush administration of arbitrarily detaining an Algerian man for three years and subjecting him to eight months of a "high security prison regime . . . that could be described as torture."

Federal Judge Apologizes to Former Detroit Terrorism Case Defendant for Prosecutorial Misconduct --A federal judge apologized on behalf of the U.S. government Tuesday to a Moroccan immigrant who was tried on terrorism charges in a case marred by prosecutorial misconduct, including the withholding of evidence.

Anthrax matches 2001 strain --The anthrax that a private Richmond-area laboratory says it found at a Pentagon mail facility is the same strain used in the 2001 mail attacks that killed five people and injured 17 others.

Va. to study anthrax scares --Regional review will coincide with one by Homeland Security --Virginia will lead a regional review of what happened -- and what failed to happen -- during a false alarm last week over the possible presence of anthrax at two Defense Department mail centers in Northern Virginia.

Coalition Forms to Oppose Parts of Patriot Act --Battle lines were drawn Tuesday in the debate over the government's counterterrorism powers, as an unlikely coalition of liberal civil-rights advocates, conservative libertarians, gun-rights supporters and medical privacy advocates voiced their objections to crucial parts of the USA Patriot Act that expanded those powers after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Most terrorism suspects 'remain free' [Well, Bush and Cheney are on the loose.] The director-general of Australian spy agency ASIO says less than 10 per cent of those people associated with Jemaah Islamiah or Al Qaeda in Australia will ever face court. Speaking at an international law conference on the Gold Coast, ASIO director-general Dennis Richardson defended Australia's often-criticised anti[pro]-terrorism laws.

Homeland officials in town to discuss port security (MS) Members of the U.S. House of Representatives' Homeland Security Committee toured the Port of Vicksburg and met with local officials Monday in preparation for a hearing this morning at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

Intelligence: A Warning to Cheney About Terror—In 1976 --A White House aide warns of growing terror threats and urges the president to act. "It is impossible," the aide writes in a memo, "to rule out the possibility of a major terrorist attack in the United States." It could have been written during the early Bush regime when counterterror adviser Richard Clarke was warning that Al Qaeda was poised to strike. In fact, it was 29 years ago, when Gerald Ford was president, though the memo's recipient is still around: Dick Cheney, then Ford's chief of staff. [Click here to read memo.]

Holy disinfo, Batman! Big names get behind NBC's 9/11 miniseries --NBC hasn't announced any of the in-front-of-camera talent for its upcoming miniseries focusing on the events of Sept. 11, 2001, but the behind-the-scenes profile continues to rise.

Court upholds law requiring people on probation to submit DNA --A federal law that requires prisoners, parolees, and some people on probation to submit DNA samples for inclusion in an FBI database is constitutional, a federal appeals court has decided.

Support falters for the 'nuclear option' --Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist does not have firm support among his caucus to employ the so-called "nuclear option" for dislodging the Democratic filibusters against Dictator Bush's judicial nominees.

Poll: Support wanes for Bush's Social Security plan --Support for Dictator Bush's proposal to eliminate ['revamp'] Social Security -- allowing younger workers to invest part of their Social Security taxes in private retirement accounts -- is sliding, according to a poll out Tuesday.

Bush Warns Democrats About Opposing Accounts --Dictator Bush concluded a three-state swing to sell his plan to eliminate ['restructure'] Social Security, warning Democratic opponents Tuesday that they will suffer political consequences [?!?] if they continue to oppose his proposal without providing one of their own.

Fed Raises Interest Rate to 2.75 Percent --The Federal Reserve raised U.S. interest rates a quarter percentage point on Tuesday for a seventh straight time and nodded to growing inflation concerns, while saying it should still be able to lift rates gradually.

After Signing Schiavo Law, Bush Says --'It Is Wisest to Always Err on the Side of Life' --After a private bill-signing ceremony in the middle of the night, Dictator Bush made a public case for helping Terri Schiavo on Monday, praising Congress for sending him the legislation that allowed federal courts to intervene. "This is a complex case with serious issues, but in extraordinary circumstances like this, it is wisest to always err on the side of life," Mr. Bush said at the beginning of an event on Social Security at the Tucson Convention Center. [Why didn't Bush 'err on the side of life' before bombing and invading Iraq?]

Keep faith out of politics, says Blair --Tony Blair chose a faith audience in south London yesterday to proclaim his belief that he was opposed to US-style faith politics in British public life. The prime minister, battered by Tory tabloid pressures on abortion, insisted: "I do not want to end up with an American-style of politics with us all going out there beating our chest about our faith."

'A Great Political Issue' --by Richard Cohen "Sen. Bill Frist watched a videotape last week of Terri Schiavo made by her parents in 2001. He did this in his capacity as Senate majority leader and as a renowned physician. In both roles he performed miserably. As a senator, he showed himself to be an unscrupulous opportunist. As a physician, he was guilty of practicing medicine without a brain... Someone -- no one knows who -- committed candor and truth in Washington (a federal offense?) by circulating a memo to Republicans alerting them to the obvious: Schiavo was 'a great political issue.'"

Schiavo ruling appealed --Warning that Terri Schiavo might be close to death, her parents yesterday asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to overturn an hours-old lower court ruling and order that a feeding tube be reattached to their brain-damaged daughter.

Judge Refuses to Intervene in Schiavo Case --A federal judge refused early Tuesday to order the reinsertion of a brain-damaged woman's feeding tube, turning down a request from her parents after Congress and Dictator Bush transferred jurisdiction in her case from state to federal courts.

Santorum rethinks death penalty stance --A new poll showing that Catholics are backing off support for the death penalty was no surprise to U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, an outspoken conservative Catholic, who says he has been re-examining his own view.

Schwarzenegger Asks London Court to Block Libel Suit --Lawyers for GOP-installed California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger asked a U.K. court to block a libel suit brought by a British television host who has accused the actor- turned-politician of groping her during an interview.

Minn. Gunman Found Haven on Nazi Web Site --Teen who killed nine before committing suicide had vented frustrations on a neo-Nazi Web forum.

Rare virus blamed for 96 deaths 23 March 2005 --An illness that had killed nearly 100 people in northern Angola was identified today as the rare Marburg virus, which is from the same family as the deadly Ebola disease, state and UN officials said. Described as "very virulent" and "very contagious" and transmitted through bodily fluids, the haemorrhagic fever threatens to spread from the northern Uige province to other parts of the country.

Bird Flu Pandemic Coming, U.S. Not Prepared, Infectious Diseases Society of America 23 March 2005 --Immediate action is needed to prepare the United States for a deadly pandemic of influenza, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) is telling policymakers.

Bird flu epidemic could kill as many as 750,000 in Britain: estimate 22 March 2005 --Hundreds of thousands of people may die and one quarter of the work force could be absent if Britain were hit by a bird flu pandemic, a senior government official said. "It may be somewhere between 20,000 and 750,000 extra deaths and it may be 25 percent of the population off work," the government official, speaking on a non-attributable basis, told a conference in London.

Vietnamese man suspected to contract bird flu 23 March 2005 --A middle-aged man from Vietnam's central Quang Binh province has been hospitalized for being suspected of contracting bird flu virus strain H5N1, according to local newspaper Youth on Wednesday.

Damning verdict on GM crop --Final report on world's most comprehensive field trials says oil seed rape varieties would harm wildlife and environment --The long-awaited final results of the GM trials for Britain's biggest crop, winter oil seed rape, show that wildlife and the environment would suffer if the crop was grown in the UK, in effect ending the biotech industry's hopes of introducing GM varieties in the foreseeable future.

Oops! Farmers Inadvertently Receive Biotech Corn --Swiss biotechnology company Syngenta AG said Tuesday it mistakenly sold to farmers an experimental corn seed genetically engineered to resist bugs that was never approved by U.S. regulators, bolstering critics' claims that the industry needs tighter government scrutiny.

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Two labs confirmed Pentagon anthrax --Anthrax was confirmed twice in samples collected from a Pentagon mail facility initially closed last week and then opened after being declared free of the pathogen, United Press International has learned... Robert B. Harris, president and chief executive officer of Commonwealth Biotechnologies Inc. in Richmond, Va., said the anthrax found at the Pentagon was the same genetic strain used in the 2001 attacks.

Feds spied on the CIA --WMD team dug for post-9/11 secrets --A secretive government commission recently scrutinized the CIA for expanding its spy activities inside the U.S. and for failing to share key intelligence with the FBI, the Daily News has learned. The presidentially appointed WMD Commission was created to investigate the CIA's failures on assessing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, but surprised many by also probing the agency's post-Sept. 11 intelligence gathering on American soil. ...One veteran FBI street agent said the two services are often at odds during U.S. operations. "We've threatened to handcuff [CIA officers] face down in a hotel room to keep them from running amok," the FBI agent said.

CIA uses [torture] jet, Red Sox partner confirms --'Stunned' by report of controversial prisoner transfers [Yeah, right!] --Phillip H. Morse, a minority partner of the Boston Red Sox, confirmed yesterday that his private jet has been chartered to the CIA and said he was aware that it had been flown to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where more than 500 terrorism suspects are held, as well as other overseas destinations. [*See: Boston Red Sox Torture Jet]

FBI Report Questions Guantanamo Tactics --U.S. law enforcement agents at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison for terrorism suspects concluded that the military's aggressive questioning yielded information that was "suspect at best," according to newly released portions of an FBI document.

Negroponte's $181 Million Welcome --An "emergency" spending bill that passed the House last week includes $181 million requested by the White House to fund his death squads ['for a new building to house the intelligence chief and his staff'].

Lawyer was paid £50,000 to give advice on Iraq invasion --A private sector lawyer who gave legal advice to the Government on the invasion of Iraq has received more than £50,000 of public money for his opinion.

U.S. troops kills 26 insurgents in clash southeast of Baghdad 21 March 2005 --Dozens of insurgents attacked a U.S. convoy with gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades, sparking a clash that saw U.S. troops kill 26 militants in one of the largest fights since Iraq's Jan. 30 'election.'

Army Raises Enlistment Age for Reservists to 39 --The U.S. Army, stung by recruiting shortfalls caused by the Iraq war, has raised the maximum age for new recruits for the part-time Army Reserve and National Guard by five years to 39, officials said on Monday.

Rumsfeld details big military shift in new document --Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld outlines in a new, classified planning document a vision for remaking the military to be far more engaged in heading off threats prior to hostilities and serve a larger purpose of enhancing U.S. influence around the world... Deeply informed by both the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and by the military's bloody struggle in Iraq, the document emphasizes newer problems, such as battling terrorists and insurgents, over conventional military challenges.

Rice Hints at Sanctions for North Korea --Rice Hints North Korea Faces Possible Sanctions if It Flouts Effort to Halt Nuclear Weapons Program --Raising the stakes in a standoff with nuclear North Korea, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice suggested Monday that the Pyongyang government could face international sanctions.

U.S. Using Anti-Terror War to Gain World Oil Reserves — Soviet Intelligence Chief --On the pretext of fighting international terrorism the United States is trying to establish control over the world’s richest oil reserves, Leonid Shebarshin, ex-chief of the Soviet Foreign Intelligence Service, who heads the Russian National Economic Security Service consulting company, said in an interview for the Vremya Novostei newspaper.

Unocal settlement with Myanmar villagers finalised --US oil giant [corpora-terrorist] Unocal and a group of villagers who accused it of condoning slave labour while building a key gas pipeline in Myanmar said they had finalised a settlement of the case.

While the media dwells on Terri Schiavo: Wolfowitz Closing In On Bank Post --Germany Softens Stance As Nominee Woos Others --Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz closed in on the presidency of the World Bank yesterday when Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Germany would not try to block Wolfowitz's candidacy.

Rumsfeld Warns Nicaragua on Anti-Aircraft Missiles --Nicaragua's government must destroy more than 1,000 shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft missiles or face the loss of $2.1 million in frozen U.S. military aid, Defense Secretary [W-ar criminal] Donald Rumsfeld said on Monday.

Court Denies Moussaoui Access to Alleged Al Qaeda Figures --The Supreme Court on Monday rebuffed an effort by accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui to question three alleged Al Qaeda members as potential witnesses in his trial in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks.

New EPA Mercury Rule Omits Conflicting Data --When the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a rule last week to limit mercury emissions from U.S. power plants, officials emphasized that the controls could not be more aggressive because the cost to industry already far exceeded the public health payoff. What they did not reveal is that a Harvard University study paid for by the EPA, co-authored by an EPA scientist and peer-reviewed by two other EPA scientists had reached the opposite conclusion. That analysis estimated health benefits 100 times as great as the EPA did, but top agency officials ordered the finding stripped from public documents, said a staff member who helped develop the rule.

Tour Rush Seen in Alaska Refuge Before Oil Drilling --As Congress moves closer to approving the Bush regime's controversial plan for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, some Alaskans are expecting a rush of visitors who want to hike, raft and camp before any drilling starts.

Dustin Barnes, 25, left, is escorted from a town hall meeting while trying to shout questions at U.S. Vice pResident Dick Cheney at California State University, Monday, March 21, 2005, in Bakersfield, Calif. Cheney and Republican Congressman Bill Thomas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, used the meeting to discuss Social Security elimination ['reform']. (AP Photo/Ric Francis)

US stocks tumble on oil, rates --US stocks fell sharply overnight as a flurry of deals failed to calm investors who continued to focus on rising crude oil prices ahead of the upcoming US Federal Reserve decision on interest rates.

Cities, agencies seek right to sue --Governments are pursuing the power to take citizens to court over access to records and meetings --State law gives you the right to see public records and attend government meetings. But now the government wants the power to sue you for asking. North Carolina's cities and other government agencies are pursuing that authority in two ways: First, lawyers for local governments and the University of North Carolina are talking about pushing for a new state law allowing pre-emptive lawsuits against citizens, news organizations and private companies to clarify the law when there is a dispute about providing records or opening meetings. Second, the city of Burlington is appealing a ruling last year by the state Court of Appeals that said the government can't take people to court to try to block their access to records or meetings. [Oh. I thought the GOP hated the 'lawsuit culture.']

GOP Governors Cut State Workers' Rights --Republican governors in a few spots across the country are angering state employees by removing one of organized labor's strongest tools — the right to collective bargaining.

Analysts: GOP May Be Out of Step With Public [Nah... 'ya think?] By 63 to 28 percent, Americans support the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube, which her husband says would be her wish. Seventy percent of the respondents said it was inappropriate for Congress to get involved as it has. And 67 percent said they believe that elected officials trying to keep Schiavo alive are doing so mainly for political reasons. ...Rather than incurring the cost of flying back to Washington on Air Force One -- pegged in 1999 at $34,000 an hour -- Bush could have signed the bill in Texas a few hours later without significantly endangering Schiavo's life, critics said.

Poll: Most Think Congress Wrong on Schiavo Case --Americans broadly and strongly disapprove of the intervention by Congress in the case of Terri Schiavo and most believe lawmakers are using her case for political gain, according to an ABC News poll published on Monday.

Doctors in Congress Criticized on Schiavo --At least three physicians in Congress -- Sen. Bill Frist, and Reps. Dave Weldon and Phil Gingrey, Republicans from Tennessee, Florida and Georgia -- disputed whether there was sufficient medical evidence to pull the feeding tube from Terri Schiavo, allowing her to die... "It's disturbing that doctors who would never venture a comment about the health of anybody from a homemade video are sitting on the floor of Congress making declarations,'' said Art Caplan, chairman of the Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine. "My own impression, from a distance, is that they've subverted what they know to be good medicine for the aim of achieving a political goal.''

Bush Approves Schiavo Review in U.S. Court --Capping a day and night of political, legal and emotional drama, Congress passed and Dictator Bush signed legislation early this morning permitting the parents of a brain-damaged Florida woman to ask a federal judge to order her feeding tube reconnected.

Emergency vote puts Schiavo case in federal court --Bush signs bill transferring jurisdiction from state judge --The fight over whether Terri Schiavo's feeding tube should be restored moved to federal court Monday after Congress passed emergency legislation in the severely brain-damaged woman's case.

The end for GM crops: Final British trial confirms threat to wildlife --Yet another nail was hammered into the coffin of the GM food industry in Britain yesterday when the final trial of a four-year series of experiments found, once more, that genetically modified crops can be harmful to wildlife.

Vietnamese commune under scrutiny over suspected flu epidemic 22 March 2005 --A Vietnamese commune where a five-year-old boy tested positive to avian flu last week is under scrutiny after local inhabitants reported a flu epidemic, doctors said. Health authorities were investigating after a local newspaper said 200 people had flu symptoms at the Chau Hoa commune in central Quang Binh province, 400 kilometers south of Hanoi.

Expert: Asia flu cases may be undercounted 21 March 2005 --The incidence of a particularly lethal variation of influenza in Southeast Asia is probably greater than has been reported so far, a flu expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.

Health care shortages could feed a flu pandemic --Scientists are racing against an evolving virus to prevent what could be millions of deaths from a flu pandemic, but what could trip them up is the simple lack of nurses and hospital beds, a top flu expert says.

School-shooting suspect admired Hitler ST. PAUL, Minn. --Although his people had long suffered oppression and were nearly annihilated, Jeff Weise identified with the oppressor and annihilator. "I guess I've always carried a natural admiration for Hitler and his ideals, and his courage to take on larger nations," Jeffrey Weise, an American Indian, wrote in an online forum frequented by neo-Nazis and wannabes last year. [*See: 10 Dead After School Shooting]

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Boston Red Sox Torture Jet --Last June, the Boston Red Sox chartered an executive jet to help their manager make a quick visit home in the midst of the team's championship season. But what was the very same Gulfstream - owned by one of the Red Sox's partners, but presumably without the team's logo on its fuselage - doing in Cairo on Feb. 18, 2003? Perhaps by coincidence, Feb. 18, 2003, was the day an Islamic preacher known as Abu Omar, who had been abducted in Italy the previous day and forced aboard a small plane, also arrived at the Cairo airport. Omar, whose given name is Osama Nasr Mostafa Hassan, was imprisoned by the Egyptians and, he claims, brutally tortured...

Guantanamo Bay abuse 'videotaped' --Video footage of the treatment of prisoners by the US military at Guantanamo Bay would reveal many cases of substantial abuse as "explosive as anything from Abu Ghraib", a lawyer says. Adelaide lawyer Stephen Kenny, who represented Australian David Hicks during the early part of his detention at the military prison in Cuba, told a law conference 500 hours of videotape of prisoners at the US base existed.

Blair was told US 'fixed' case for war --The head of Britain's foreign intelligence agency told the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, that the case for war in Iraq was being "fixed" by Washington to suit US policy, a BBC documentary will claim today. Richard Dearlove, head of MI6, briefed Blair and a group of ministers on the United States' determination to launch the invasion nine months before hostilities began in March 2003, the Sunday Times reported, citing the BBC program, which is due to be aired later in the day.

Blair manipulated intelligence to justify war, says BBC film --The BBC last night gave another sign that it is determined to maintain its editorial independence by screening a Panorama programme strongly critical of Tony Blair's manipulation of thin intelligence, on the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. In the programme, Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6, was reported as having told Mr Blair that Washington had fixed policy on a war against Iraq and was going to fit the intelligence around that policy.

24 Insurgents Die in Attack Near Baghdad --Iraqi insurgents ambushed an American military convoy in daylight outside Baghdad on Sunday, igniting a battle that left 24 of the attackers dead and 7 wounded, American military officials said. The unusually bold assault appeared to be the largest by insurgents against an American target since the Jan. 30 'elections.'

45 dead in Iraq unrest --At least 45 people have died in violence in Iraq, including a US soldier, as Washington defended its decision to lead an invasion exactly two years ago amid protests around the world.

Assassin kills Iraqi police chief --The man in charge of the police anti-corruption ['Anti-corruption?' There is $8bn missing, LOL. I guess he's not doing a very good job - unless you're on the Halliburton team.] unit in the northern city of Mosul was assassinated yesterday by a suicide bomber as insurgents marked the second anniversary of the US-led war against Saddam Hussein with a wave of violence across Iraq.

Tens of thousands mark second anniversary of invasion of Iraq --On Saturday, tens of thousands of people - the organisers said 100,000, the police 45,000 - converged outside the US embassy to mark the second anniversary of the start of the Iraq war.

Thousands rally against Musharraf --Tens of thousands of people from all religious parties have staged a rally in Karachi against Pakistan's president [Bush troll], Gen. Pervez Musharraf, declaring him unacceptable because of his pro-American policies.

Hindu nationalists torch Pepsi warehouse in protest --Hindu nationalists torched a PepsiCo warehouse and picketed US government offices in western India on Saturday to protest the cancellation of a US visa for the elected head of Gujarat state. ...Nearly 150 activists from the Bajrang Dal party barged into the American soft drink manufacturer's warehouse in Surat city in Gujarat, smashed bottles and set fire to parts of the building, said Dharmesh Joshi, a witness. They also ransacked a nearby PepsiCo office, he said.

'One huge US jail' --Afghanistan is the hub of a global network of detention centres, the frontline in America's 'war on terror', where arrest can be random and allegations of torture commonplace. Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark investigate on the ground and talk to former prisoners --"'All I do nowadays is chart complaints against the US military,'" he [Dr Rafiullah Bidar, regional director of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission] said. 'Many thousands of people have been rounded up and detained by them. Those who have been freed say that they were held alongside foreign detainees who've been brought to this country to be processed. No one is charged. No one is identified. No international monitors are allowed into the US jails.' He pulled out a handful of files: "People who have been arrested say they've been brutalised - the tactics used are beyond belief." The jails are closed to outside observers, making it impossible to test the truth of the claims."

Negroponte's Time In Honduras at Issue --Focus Renewed on Intelligence Pick's Knowledge of [Creation of] Death Squads in 1980s --It has been two decades since John D. Negroponte left his post as ambassador to Honduras, but the man Dictator Bush has chosen to become the United States' first intelligence czar is still being hounded by human rights activists such as Zenaida Velasquez.

Blockade to Cuba is Genocide, UN Rapporteur Asserts --The blockade the US government has kept over Cuba for over four decades is a genocide, the United Nations for Food rapporteur Jean Ziegler has asserted here Sunday. Ziegler, a renowned Swiss lawyer and sociologist, denounced the policy as "a flagrant violation of human rights", adding that the US hostile policy had not caused more catastrophic damage on the Island because the Cuban government had given full priority to public health, feeding and education for people. ...Ziegler attended a meeting of solidarity with Cuba, in which he accused Washington of violating international law and regarded Dictator Bush as "a Pinochet in the White House" in reference to the victims by the war in Iraq.

Aid for poor nations 'should be linked to defence needs' --Aid for some of the poorest countries should be linked to their defence and security needs, a Government paper says.

UN in dramatic climbdown after American pressure --The security of America and other wealthy countries will for the first time be declared a key priority for the United Nations under reforms designed to restore confidence in the crisis-ridden international body.

Israeli photographs show extensive new illegal settlements --Palestinian officials and Israeli peace campaigners accused Ariel Sharon's government of undermining peace efforts by expanding West Bank settlements even as it hands control of Arab towns to the Palestinian security services.

EU fury grows at Wolfowitz appointment [link fixed] --The US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, has been summoned to Brussels to explain to an angry Europe how he would run the World Bank, in an escalation of the international row over his nomination to head the world's most important development body.

Army experiments with raising maximum age for Reserve recruits --Battling recruiting and retention shortfalls among its part-time soldiers, the Army is launching a new experimental policy approving the acceptance of not-so-young recruits into the ranks of the Army National Guard and Reserve. Dubbed a three-year "test," the new policy will bump up the maximum age for new enlistments from 34 years to 39 years, according to an Army announcement.

FEC Considers Restricting Online Political Activities --New Rules May Apply to Web Ads, Bloggers' Endorsements --The Federal Election Commission has begun considering whether to issue new rules on how political campaigns are waged on the Internet, a regulatory process that is expected to take months to complete but that is already generating considerable angst online. The agency is weighing whether -- and how -- to impose restrictions on a host of online activities, including campaign advertising and politically oriented blogs.

Weak choice / The World Bank deserves better than Wolfowitz (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) "Last week President [sic] Bush nominated Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz as president of the World Bank, the primary institution for international economic development. The choice has two major problems. First, Mr. Wolfowitz has no business or financial background... The second count against the Wolfowitz nomination will be his role as one of the key U.S. hawks responsible for the Iraq war."

Deficit bigger risk than terrorism-US businesses --The budget deficit has overtaken terrorism as the greatest short-term risk to the U.S. economy, and concern about the current account gap is rising, a survey of American businesses released on Monday showed.

Survey: U.S. gas prices rise to record --U.S. average retail gasoline prices rose over the past two weeks to a record and could go higher as crude oil prices rise, demand increases and reformulations kick in, according to an industry analyst.

House-passed budget strips funding from homeland security agency --Two years after Alabama became the first state in the country to establish a separate homeland security department, the state House has approved a budget that strips state funding from the agency.

GOP protest [?!?] strips state funding for children's programs --Action in the Alabama House stalled Thursday over bills to fund programs for children and victims of domestic abuse as Republicans protested the manner in which a $1.53 billion General Fund budget passed the body.

Catholic Bishops Plan Drive Against Death Penalty --Leaders Shift Priorities, Sensing Public Opinion Has Changed on Capital Punishment --In the week before Easter, as Christians reflect on the execution of Jesus, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is launching a campaign to end the use of the death penalty in the United States.

U.S. Congress Allows Letting Federal Court Review Schiavo Case --The U.S. Congress voted in a hastily convened early morning session to allow the case of Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged Florida woman, to be placed under federal review.

U.S. Congress Sends Bush Legislation Schiavo Case --The U.S. Congress on Monday rushed legislation to Dictator Bush aimed at prolonging the life of a brain-damaged woman, Terri Schiavo, in an extraordinary intervention to move the Florida case into the jurisdiction of federal courts.

U.S. Senate unanimously passes Schiavo bill --Legislation aimed at prolonging the life of a brain-damaged Florida woman was unanimously passed Sunday by the U.S. Senate. It moves the case of Terri Schiavo into the jurisdiction of the federal courts.

Bush cuts his holiday short over right-to-die case --Members of Congress scrambled to return to Washington from their Easter recess last night for an extraordinary midnight debate on legislation that could prolong the life of brain-damaged Florida woman, Terri Schiavo.

Death of Vietnamese girl attributed to bird flu 21 March 2005 --A 13-year-old girl from Vietnam's central Quang Binh province, who died on March 9, has just been found to contract bird flu virus strain H5N1, local newspaper Young People reported Monday.

Bird flu hits central province, 195 locals show symptoms 20 March 2005 --A commune in central Vietnam has been severely hit by the bird flu, with 195 patients showing symptoms and two children testing positive with the virus, reported a top provincial official.

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U.S. Misled Allies About Nuclear Export --In an effort to increase pressure on North Korea, the Bush regime told its Asian allies in briefings earlier this year that Pyongyang had exported nuclear material to Libya. That was a significant new charge, the first allegation that North Korea was helping to create a new nuclear weapons state. But that is not what U.S. intelligence reported, according to two officials with detailed knowledge of the transaction. North Korea, according to the intelligence, had supplied uranium hexafluoride -- which can be enriched to weapons-grade uranium -- to Pakistan. It was Pakistan, a key U.S. ally with its own nuclear arsenal, that sold the material to Libya. The U.S. government had no evidence, the officials said, that North Korea knew of the second transaction.

Blair 'Could Not Be Honest About Iraq War' --The head of MI6 told Prime Minister Tony Blair that the case for war against Iraq was being fixed by the Americans to suit the policy, a BBC documentary claims today. In a meeting chaired by Mr Blair in July 2003, Sir Richard Dearlove, head of the Secret Intelligence Service, is on record as saying "the facts and the intelligence" were being "fixed round the policy" by the Bush Administration, according to the programme.

US frees Iraqi kidnappers so they can spy on insurgents --Americans undermining local police attempts to crack down on wave of abductions --US intelligence and military police officers in Iraq are routinely freeing dangerous criminals in return for a promise to spy on insurgents, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

Iraq insurgency has worsened: US intelligence --Though US Dictator George W Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have been giving the impression that the insurgency situation in Iraq is improving, the American Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), which monitors the situation daily, says it has worsened.

British troops 'were supplied with blank ammunition' --Report reveals devastating logistical failures, as anti-war protesters march in London --British troops in Iraq have been supplied with blank rounds instead of live ammunition, one of a catalogue of failures during the occupation that have put their lives at risk, according to a hard-hitting report to be published this week.

Iraq War Anniversary Marked By Violence --Resistance fighters killed five police officers -- including a police commissioner -- today, the second anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq...

Bomb Kills 3 Iraqi Policemen in Procession --Three police officers were killed Saturday morning in the northern city of Kirkuk when a bomb exploded near the funeral procession of an officer who was shot the day before, Iraqi officials said.

One U.S. Soldier Killed; 51 'Terror' Suspects Detained --A Task Force Baghdad soldier was killed and 51 'terrorist' suspects were detained in March 18 security operations in Iraq, Multinational Force Iraq officials reported.

Car bomb at Qatar theatre kills Briton, wounds 12 --A car bomb killed one Briton and wounded at least 12 people on Saturday at a theater frequented by Westerners in Qatar, the command center for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq which began exactly two years ago.

Iraq veterans sue over war trauma --Thirty Iraq War veterans are taking legal action against the British Army, claiming they were thrown out of the ranks after ruining their mental and physical health in the battle to oust Saddam Hussein.

Freed Italian Reporter Urges Iraq Withdrawal --Adding to pressures on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, freed Italian hostage Guiliana Sgrena urged to stick to his plans to begin pulling out troops from Iraq as early as September.

Quit Iraq, Europe tells U.S. --Anti-war protesters cry out against occupation from Sweden to Turkey. Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters demonstrated across Europe yesterday to mark the second anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, with 45,000 marching from London's Hyde Park past the American Embassy. In Istanbul, Turkey, about 15,000 people protested in the Kadikoy neighbourhood against the U.S. presence in Iraq.

Tens of thousands protest in Europe two years after Iraq invasion --Tens of thousands of people marched through European cities, denouncing the "war on terror" on the second anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq. In London, pictures were cited of US Dictator George W. Bush under the title "World's Number One Terrorist" and banners saying "No War in Iran" mingled with others warning British Prime Minister Tony Blair that people would not vote for him in a general election expected in May due to his support for the invasion.

Iraq War Opponents Stage Protest Near Fort Bragg --N.C. Demonstration Is Largest of 800 Held Across the U.S. to Mark 2nd Anniversary of War --Here at the heart of one of the nation's most deeply rooted military communities, nearly 3,000 peace activists, war veterans and their family members gathered Saturday to call for an end to the Iraq conflict on the second anniversary of the day it began.

U.S. Says Can't Wait Forever for N.Korea Talks --The United States and regional powers will intensify efforts to restart stalled six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear ambitions but delays cannot go on forever, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday.

Irish terror groups 'to hit London' · Police and MI5 issue warning to British businesses · 'Substantial threat' from dissident republican groups --Police have issued a stark warning that mainland Britain faces a 'substantial threat' of an Irish republican bombing campaign, The Observer can reveal.

Bird flu a big security challenge: Rudd --Bird flu was emerging as a large scale security concern for Australia, opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said. ...Health officials are concerned that avian influenza strain H5N1 could spark a deadly global pandemic if the virus mutates into a form that spreads easily from person to person. Mr Rudd, who heads off on a visit to South-East Asia later on Sunday, said he would be discussing the issue with officials in Thailand and Cambodia and canvassing the effectiveness of quarantine and border controls.

Homeland security funds often spent to meet political needs --Federal money is often used for unrelated causes --Four years into the rush to safeguard the nation, the grants have been picked over by pork-barrel politics, rewarding some home districts that don't appear to be under any terrorist threat. Money was used for programs unrelated to terrorism.

Governor vetoes eco-terrorism bill --For the second year in a row, Gov. Janet Napolitano has vetoed a bill to create a new crime of animal or ecological terrorism. Senate Bill 1333 would have allowed certain acts of animal or ecological terrorism to be prosecuted as racketeering, thus allowing confiscation of property gained through criminal activity.

EU fury grows at Wolfowitz appointment --The US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, has been summoned to Brussels to explain to an angry Europe how he would run the World Bank, in an escalation of the international row over his nomination to head the world's most important development body.

Candidate to Lead World Bank Gets Thumbs Down in Europe --George Bush on Wednesday nominated the neoconservative Paul D. Wolfowitz as the next president of the World Bank. But Wolfowitz is seen by many here as a unilateralist hawk and Europeans are outraged. Analysts across the continent spend Thursday venting on an appointment widely seen as "the absolutely wrong decision."

Don't deposit Wolfowitz with us, plead World Bank workers --Washington's nomination of Paul Wolfowitz as the World Bank's next president has triggered an outcry among the bank's staff, who have demanded the right to have a say in his confirmation, it emerged yesterday.

U.S. needs to watch extremists, Fox says --Anti-immigrant sentiment appears to be growing in the United States, Mexican President Vicente Fox said Wednesday, and he urged U.S. officials to act quickly to control movements such as the 950-member-strong Minuteman Project on the Mexico-Arizona border.

Former Conn. Gov. Rowland Gets Jail for Corruption --Former Connecticut Gov. John Roland was sentenced on Friday to a year and one day in prison for corruption after the fallen star of the Republican Party told the court he was ashamed of himself.

Bush Changing Schedule to Return to Washington to Sign Emergency Legislation on Schiavo Case --Dictator Bush is changing his schedule to return to the White House on Sunday to be in place to sign emergency legislation that would shift the case of a brain-damaged Florida woman to federal courts, the White House said Saturday.

Congress Ready to Approve Bill in Schiavo Case --Congressional leaders reached a compromise Saturday on legislation to force the case of Terri Schiavo into federal court, an extraordinary intervention intended to prolong the life of the brain-damaged woman whose condition has reignited a painful national debate over when medical treatment should be withdrawn.

Congress Intervenes In Schiavo Case --DeLay pushes legislation that would force a federal review --Congress thrust itself back into the legally murky, emotionally charged fight over Terri Schiavo on Saturday, working out a bipartisan bill that would force a federal court review in the long-running right-to-die case.

Florida Coral Reefs in Deeper Peril --Coral reefs all over the world are in great peril, but coral reefs in Florida are suffering and near death, according to John Ogden, director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography, professor of biology at the University of South Florida and co-author of a study published in the Mar. 18 issue of SCIENCE.

*****

'Preemptive Strikes' Become Policy --National defense [sic] now extends beyond U.S. borders to include acts of 'active deterrence.' A new "National Defense Strategy" for the first time makes the kind of preemptive strike used in Iraq part of the nation's military policy in dealing with rogue nations, Pentagon officials said today. The plan that specifies the Bush regime's goals in protecting the nation describes a muscular policy of "active deterrence."

Policy OKs First Strike to 'Protect' U.S. --Pentagon strategic plan codifies unilateral, preemptive attacks. The doctrine marks a shift from coalitions such as NATO, analysts say. Two years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon has formally included in key strategic plans provisions for launching preemptive strikes against nations thought to pose a threat to the United States. The doctrine also now stipulates that the U.S. will use "active deterrence" in concert with its allies "if we can" but could act unilaterally otherwise, Defense officials said.

New U.S. policy supports more military intervention --A new national defense strategy revealed yesterday by the Pentagon calls for greater U.S. military efforts to keep foreign nations from becoming havens for 'terrorism' or being undermined internally by such additional threats as insurgency, drugs [?!?] and organized crime.

Europeans Protest Iraq War on Anniversary --Thousands of anti-war protesters gathered in cities around Europe on Saturday to mark the second anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. ...In Istanbul, Turkey, an estimated 15,000 people marched in the Kadikoy neighborhood to protest the U.S. presence in Iraq. "Murderer Bush, get out," read one sign.

Some 100,000 to protest in London two years after Iraq invasion --Some 100,000 people are expected to march through central London to protest against the invasion of Iraq two years ago and other elements of the US-led war on terror, organisers said.

Anti-War Demonstrators Place Coffin Outside Embassy --Demonstrators against the Iraq war today placed a coffin outside the American Embassy in London. The black cardboard coffin had "100,000 dead" plastered across its lid and was strewn with daffodils.

Two Years Later, Iraq War Drains Military Heavy Demands Offset Combat Experience --Two years after the United States launched a war in Iraq with a crushing display of power, a 'guerrilla conflict' [resistance movement] is grinding away at the resources of the U.S. military and casting uncertainty over the fitness of the all-volunteer force, according to senior military leaders, lawmakers and defense experts.

More UK troops set for Iraq tour --British Army chiefs admitted today more troops could be sent to Iraq as the Government admitted the insurgency will not be defeated for many months.

Britain 'could send more troops to Iraq' --Britain could send more troops to Iraq if Italy pulls its soldiers out, the head of the British Army has said. Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, has been quoted as saying he would begin a "progressive withdrawal" of his country's 3,000 troops from September.

British MP removed from parliament after claiming Blair misled lawmakers over Iraq --A British lawmaker was on Thursday ordered to leave the House of Commons after refusing to withdraw comments that Prime Minister Tony Blair misled the lower house of parliament over the war on Iraq two years ago. MP Adam Price said that Friday will be the second anniversary of the vote on going to war with Iraq and the "motion of impeachment (of Blair) is before us. There is compelling evidence that the prime minister misled this house in taking us to war," he said, "Isn't it high time we held him to account?" Commons Speaker Michael Martin asked Price twice to "withdraw that remark" but Price said he was unwilling to do so, according to a Sky News report. Then Martin said: "I ask you to withdraw from the chamber. Leave the chamber."

Ex-MI5 officer Shayler seeks anti-war vote to oust Blair in Sedgefield --David Shayler, the former MI5 officer, announced yesterday that he intends to stand against Tony Blair in Sedgefield in the general election. He will be representing neither left nor right, he said yesterday. He said he would campaign on three issues: Mr Blair's credibility and ability to lead "in the light of his lies over the war"; the prime minister's support of "the illegal invasion of Iraq", which had put the lives of the British people at greater risk from terrorism; and Mr Blair's "attacks on democratic rights".

Bulgaria to Pull Troops Out of Iraq by Year's End --Bulgaria intends to cut the number of its troops in Iraq in July and to completely pull them out by the end of the year, the defense minister said Thursday.

Attackers Kill 4 Iraqi Police Officers --Attackers gunned down a police officer Saturday in Kirkuk, then bombed a funeral procession carrying his corpse, killing three other policemen and wounding two, officials said, as protesters in Europe marked the second anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Study: Media Self-Censored Some Iraq Coverage --Many media outlets self-censored their reporting on the Iraq invasion because of concerns about public reaction to graphic images and content, according to a survey of more than 200 journalists by American University's School of Communications.

Fake Cable Labeled Writer a Spy for Iraq --Someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to produce a document accusing journalist and activist William Arkin of serving as a spy for Saddam Hussein. The Pentagon says the supposed Defense Intelligence Agency cable is a forgery. Arkin says it's "chilling" and is demanding an investigation.

Family of Activist Killed in Gaza Sues Caterpillar --The family of a 23-year-old activist killed two years ago in the Gaza Strip by an Israeli bulldozer accused its maker Caterpillar Inc. of "war crimes" in a federal lawsuit, according to court papers.

CIA, White House Defend Transfers of Terror Suspects --The CIA and the White House yesterday defended the practice of secretly transferring suspected terrorists to other countries, including some with poor human rights records, and reiterated that proper safeguards exist to ensure detainees are not tortured.

Web to have 'terror watch' team --Five European governments are setting up a hi-tech team to monitor how terrorists and criminals use the net. The group will make recommendations on shutting down websites that break terrorism laws. [Translation: websites that expose the criminal cabal behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks or that criticize Bush, Blair, and/or the Iraq war.]

3 Cities Seek Freer Hand on Terrorism Fund --The mayors of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago sent a letter yesterday to Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security secretary, asking that they be allowed to use federal antiterrorism money to pay salaries for police officers and other security-related personnel.

Contract to College With Ties to Ridge Draws Fire --Democrats in Congress are questioning a small no-bid contract that the Department of Homeland Security recently awarded to a college in Erie, Pa., the hometown of Tom Ridge, the former department secretary.

Senator Asks FCC to Probe Gov't Videos --Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, has asked federal regulators to investigate whether any laws were broken by broadcasters who aired video news releases produced by the government. Stations may have violated the law if they used the video releases without disclosing that the government was the source of the information, Inouye wrote in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission.

Republicans Raise Over $20M in 2 Months --The Republican National Committee raised $11.6 million in the month of February to give it more than a 2-1 advantage in money raised over the Democrats during the first two months of this year.

Provisional Ballot Counts Vary by State --Two-thirds of the more than 1.6 million provisional ballots cast in last year's presidential election were counted, but there were wide differences from state to state. Alaska counted 97 percent of its provisional votes, Delaware just 6 percent.

Gov. Blasts Plan to Cut Vets' Benefits --While states are spending more to extend benefits to their National Guardsmen called to duty, the Bush administration is reducing benefits, Pennsylvania's Democratic governor said Saturday.

Civil Rights Panel In Budget Crisis --Rent Not Paid Last Year, Director Says --The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, mired by debt and partisan infighting for years, was so short of cash last year that it did not pay rent at the downtown District building where it is headquartered, according to testimony yesterday by the agency's staff director in a congressional oversight hearing.

Former Conn. governor gets year in prison --Former Republican Gov. John G. Rowland 47, pleaded guilty in December to a corruption charge, admitting he sold his influence for more than $100,000 in trips to Las Vegas, vacations in Vermont and Florida, and improvements at his lakeside cottage. He resigned last summer amid a gathering drive to impeach him. "He has corrupted the office of the governor as if he took a bag of cash in a dark alley," Assistant U.S. Attorney Nora Dannehy told Dorsey. "He was corrupt. It was a six-year conspiracy to deprive this state of honest services." Dorsey sentenced Rowland to a year plus one day in prison, four months of home confinement and three years of supervised release.

IMF Chief: Oil Prices High for 2 Years --The world will have to live with lofty oil prices for at least the next two years due to 'a combination of strong demand and supply constraints' [corpora-terrorists' greed], Rodrigo Rato, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said on Saturday.

Ohio Utility to Pay $1 Billion in Pollution Case --An Ohio company will pay $1.1 billion in fines and cleanup costs at four power plants in the second-largest federal settlement with an electric utility over air pollution.

Native Americans decry Alaska exploration ruling --There has been an angry reaction from native Americans in Alaska to the decision by the United States Senate to open up a remote wildlife refuge to oil drilling.

EU official warns of deadly flu pandemic 19 March 2005 --EU officials are already preparing for the possibility that a global flu epidemic, which could cause up to 30 million deaths, might break out in the next few years, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Markos Kyprianou said during a press conference in Athens yesterday.

Angola: Death toll from mystery fever rises to 77 --The number of people killed by a mystery illness in Angola's northern Uige province has risen to 77, health officials said on Friday. The cause of the outbreak, characterised by fever, coughing and vomiting, sometimes with blood, is still unknown.

Acute Hemorrhagic Fever in Angola and Bird Flu Similarities (Recombinomics) "There are a number of parallels between the mystery Ebola/dengue hemorrhagic fever-like disease in Angola and bird flu. Like the hemorrhagic fever disease in Angola, H5N1 in Vietnam began as a mysterious disease primarily infecting children..."

*****

Iran, Syria Undermine Efforts in Iraq, U.S. Officials --The director of the CIA accused Iran on Thursday of meddling in Iraq [?!?] and said Syria was not working hard enough to stop militants entering the country to undermine Baghdad's efforts at stability. "I think it's fair to say that just about everybody who's been watching understands that Iran has been meddling in the affairs of Iraq," CIA Director Porter Goss told a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. [OMG, the U.S. is accusing *another country* of *meddling in the affairs of Iraq!* Hello, Pot? This is Kettle...]

Ex-Halliburton Worker Indicted for Fraud --An ex-employee of a Halliburton Co. unit and a Kuwaiti citizen have been indicted for defrauding the U.S. government of more than $3.5 million by inflating the cost of fuel tankers for military operations in Kuwait, U.S. prosecutors said on Thursday.

Italian troops to stay, after all --To biting criticism from the Italian Opposition and the press, Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister, backtracked yesterday over his announcement that Italian troops would start withdrawing from Iraq in September, claiming that this had only ever been a “hope” rather than a commitment.

Berlusconi accused of climbdown over troop withdrawal -- Opposition parties and the press in Italy on Thursday accused Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of yielding to pressure from the United States and other allies on a plan to withdraw troops from Iraq.

Un-Volunteering: Troops Improvise to Find Way Out --In Georgia, Sgt. Kevin Benderman, 40, whose family ties to military service stretch back to the American Revolution, filed for conscientious-objector status and learned that he will face a court-martial in May for failing to report to his unit when it left for a second stint in Iraq. One by one, a trickle of soldiers and marines - some just back from duty in Iraq, others facing a trip there soon - are seeking ways out.

Secret US plans for Iraq's oil --by Greg Palast, reporting for BBC's Newsnight --The Bush regime made plans for war and for Iraq's oil before the 9/11 attacks, sparking a policy battle between neo-cons and Big Oil, BBC's Newsnight has revealed. ..."Big Oil" appears to have won. The latest plan, obtained by Newsnight from the US State Department was, we learned, drafted with the help of American oil industry consultants.

Afghanistan again delays elections --Parliamentary 'elections' scheduled for spring will not take place until at least September, 'President' [U.S.-installed drug lord] Hamid Karzai said Thursday, confirming a long-rumored delay in a key step toward 'democracy.'

Afghan Blast Kills 5; Elections Delayed --A bomb killed five people and U.S.-installed 'President' Hamid Karzai announced a delay in parliamentary 'elections' Thursday, underlining the challenges for Afghanistan more than three years after the fall of the Taliban.

Questions Left by C.I.A. Chief on Torture Use --Porter J. Goss, the director of central intelligence, said Thursday that he could not assure Congress that the Central Intelligence Agency's methods of interrogating terrorism suspects since Sept. 11, 2001, had been permissible under federal laws prohibiting torture.

Goss Defends U.S. Interrogation Tactics --CIA Director Porter Goss defended U.S. interrogation [torture] practices and rejected any notion that the intelligence community engages in torture following months of criticism of Americans' treatment of foreign prisoners.

Doomsday plan for London revealed --The first details of how London would cope with a terrorist atrocity on the scale of the September 11 attacks can be revealed today. They include setting up prefabricated mortuaries and using Tubes, trains and buses for a mass evacuation of the capital.

Carlyle Group bought CSX Transport in December, 2002 ... so this was only a matter of time: Shipping may be terrorists' next target --Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the southern Philippines have trained as scuba divers in preparation for attacks on shipping outside the country, a Philippine military report says.

AP: Terrorists Train for Seaborne Attacks --Two of the most dangerous al-CIAduh-linked groups in Southeast Asia are working together to train militants in scuba diving for seaborne terror attacks, according to the interrogation of a recently captured suspect.

Canada joins US, Britain in major terror response drill --Canada will join the United States and Britain this spring in a major terrorism response exercise aimed at testing each country's ability to react to the real thing. The five-day drill, dubbed Triple Play in Canada, will involve "a complex terrorist campaign," including a biological attack in New Jersey and a chemical assault in Connecticut, prompting national and international response.

Department of Homeland Security Announces Partnership with the United Kingdom and Canada for TOPOFF 3 (Homeland Security Press Release) "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security today announced that the United States, United Kingdom and Canada will cooperate in conduct of TOPOFF 3, a Congressionally-mandated counterterrorism exercise for top officials. DHS will conduct the TOPOFF 3 full scale exercise in April 2005, with terrorist attack scenarios staged in Connecticut and New Jersey. Additional activities will occur in related exercises within the United Kingdom (Atlantic Blue) and Canada (Triple Play)."

Dems reject terror link to cigarette tax State --Liberal Democratic legislators from Los Angeles and Northern California on Wednesday flatly rejected Bush regime 'anti-terrorism' concerns about higher cigarette taxes, vowing to push ahead with environmentalists' butt-cleanup bills. Assembly members Fran Pavley, D-Woodland Hills, and Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood, were among lawmakers who held a news conference responding to U.S. officials saying they want to head off the legislation because higher cigarette costs would fuel smuggling that is becoming a primary source of terrorists' funds. [?!? LOL, the 'terrorists' are the installers of the Bush regime - which include the tobacco companies.]

US questions UN commitment to fighting terrorism -- US lawmakers pushing for 'reforms' at the United Nations on Thursday questioned the organization's ability and commitment to fighting terrorism.

Europe Alarmed by Wolfowitz Nomination --US Dictator George W. Bush has invoked wariness by putting forward Paul Wolfowitz, his deputy defense secretary, as World Bank chief. In Europe, the nomination has met with widespread skepticism.

Europeans Resist Wolfowitz for World Bank --Lack of Consultation, War Role Criticized --Battle lines hardened yesterday over Dictator Bush's nomination of Paul D. Wolfowitz to become president of the World Bank, as U.S. officials pressed for swift approval by the bank's board and some European officials vowed to resist. The deputy defense secretary's nomination, already hugely controversial because of his role as a key architect of the Iraq war, drew fresh denunciations in European capitals, where critics fumed that Washington had failed to consult other member countries of the bank before springing its choice on them.

A poor choice for the World Bank (The Financial Times) "George W. Bush, like the Bourbons, learns nothing and forgets nothing. That is how the rest of the world will view the nomination of Paul Wolfowitz as president of the World Bank. To put the unilateralist architect of the Iraq war in charge of the world's premier multilateral development agency is, many must think, to put a fox in charge of the chicken coop."

Michigan Man Pleads Guilty to White House Explosive Threat -- A man who threatened to blow up his van near the White House during inauguration week pleaded guilty Thursday to making a false explosives threat.

Wayland man pleads guilty to threatening Vice pResident Cheney -- A Wayland man accused of threatening the life of Vice pResident Dick Cheney pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday.

Judge Rules Police Violated Protester's Rights During Cheney Visit (IN) Police violated a protester's rights when they arrested him for leaving a designated protest area during a visit by Vice pResident Dick Cheney to Evansville, a federal judge ruled Thursday. The restrictions police placed on protesters' movements went beyond what was needed for security even in the post-9/11 climate, U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney wrote.

FBI Whistleblower Edmonds Files New Lawsuit --Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI contract linguist who was terminated in 2002 after becoming a whistleblower regarding the 9/11 tragedy, today filed the most detailed lawsuit to date outlining her allegations.

Bless the Beasts and the Children --Photographer for White House child sex ring arrested after Thompson suicide --by Tom Flocco, tomflocco.com "Photographer Russell E. 'Rusty' Nelson was recently arrested two days after journalist Hunter Thompson reportedly committed suicide four weeks ago on February 10, according to two phone interviews with attorney John DeCamp last week. Nelson was allegedly employed by a former Republican Party activist to take pictures of current or retired U.S. House-Senate members and other prominent government officials engaging in sexual criminality by receiving or committing sodomy and other sex acts on children during the Reagan-Bush 41 administrations."

Panel Resends Blocked Bush Judge Nominees --The first of Dictator Bush's blocked judicial nominees [Reichwing nutballs] advanced to the full Senate on Thursday, setting up a showdown over filibusters that could shut the Senate down.

Senate blocks $1 billion to fund Amtrak --The Senate narrowly rejected a measure to restore more than $1 billion in funding for Amtrak on Wednesday, upholding Dictator Bush's plan to force the struggling rail line into bankruptcy and 'restructuring.'

Senate votes against proposed Medicaid cuts --The Senate voted Thursday to strip all proposed Medicaid cuts from the $2.6 trillion budget for next year, killing the heart of the plan’s deficit reduction and dealing an embarrassing setback to Dictator Bush and Republican leaders.

In Blow to Bush, Senators Reject Cuts to Medicaid --The vote, a rebuke to both the White House and the Senate leadership, put the House and Senate on a collision course.

Alaskans Wary of Vote on Oil Drilling --The tiny north coast town of Kaktovik officially supports responsible development of oil and gas. But many reacted warily to the Senate vote to allow drilling in their back yard.

Bears resting

No Stopping Global Warming, Studies Predict --Even if people stopped pumping out carbon dioxide and other pollutants tomorrow, global warming would still get worse, two teams of researchers reported on Thursday.

Vietnam detects new bird flu patient --Specimens from a five-year-old boy from Vietnam's central Quang Binh province has just been tested positive to bird flu virus strain H5N1, raising the total number of infection in the country to 25 since mid-December 2004, the newspaper Saigon Liberation reported Friday.

Martha Stewart seeks to have conviction thrown out --Less than two weeks after her release from prison, US lifestyle magnate Martha Stewart was back in court, arguing that her conviction for lying about a share deal should be overturned.

*****

US plans for plague, flu and nuclear bomb attack --A nuclear bomb in a big city, plague released into an airport washroom and food stocks laced with anthrax are three of fifteen doomsday scenarios inadvertently published by American security chiefs yesterday. One of the most deadly of the 15 scenarios is a flu pandemic, which begins in southern China and spreads within months to four leading American cities, claiming the lives of 87,000 and putting 300,000 in hospital, the plans estimate.

Mistake Made in Terrorism Report Release-US Agency --Hawaii made a mistake by posting on its Web site a confidential report by the U.S. Homeland Security agency that listed potential ways [Bush's?] terrorists might attack the United States, including detonating a nuclear bomb, the head of the agency said on Wednesday.

Hawaii official says Homeland Security report not marked confidential --A spokesman for state Defense Department says a Homeland Security document cataloguing possible terrorist attacks that was posted on a state Web site was NOT marked confidential. The Department of Homeland Security's National Planning Scenario outlines possible scenarios for terrorist attacks.

Tiny School Gets No-Bid Work From Homeland Security --by Bob Williams "A tiny college located in the hometown of ex-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is negotiating a no-bid contract to train intelligence analysts for the sprawling agency. In doing so, the agency is short-circuiting a selection process that would normally include a host of bigger and better known institutions already working in that field such as George Washington University and Georgetown University."

Senate bill aims to limit homeland security secrecy --The "Restore FOIA Act" would change the secrecy provisions of the 2002 Homeland Security Act. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) reintroduced a bill Tuesday intended to "restore integrity" to the Freedom of Information Act by limiting the scope of the secrecy provisions in the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

More Than 100 Die in U.S. Custody in Iraq --At least 108 people have died in U.S. custody in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and roughly a quarter of the cases have been investigated as possible U.S. abuse, according to government data provided to The Associated Press.

'26 criminal homicides in US military custody' --At least 26 prisoners have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002 in what US military investigators have concluded or suspect were acts of criminal homicide, the New York Times reported today.

CIA's Assurances On Transferred Suspects Doubted --Prisoners Say Countries Break No-Torture Pledges --The system the CIA relies on to ensure that the suspected terrorists it transfers to other countries will not be tortured has been ineffective and virtually impossible to monitor, according to current and former intelligence officers and lawyers, as well as counterterrorism officials who have participated in or reviewed the practice.

Interrogator disciplined over techniques now teaching soldiers --An ex-Army interrogator punished for sexually humiliating detainees at the Guantanamo prison is now teaching soldiers interrogation techniques, the Daily News has learned. Former Staff Sgt. Jeannette Arocho-Burkart, 37, is an instructor at the Army Intelligence School in Fort Huachuca, Ariz., despite being reprimanded in 2003 for her sexually taunting tactics at the prison.

House Backs $81.4 Billion War Spending Bill --The House of Representatives on Wednesday easily approved an $81.4 billion war spending bill that would slash Dictator Bush's foreign aid request and add nearly $2 billion more than he sought for 'defense.'

Bush: No Timetable for Troops Coming Home --Dictator Bush said Wednesday he understands the desire of U.S. 'coalition' partners to withdraw troops from Iraq, but he declined to set a timetable for bringing American forces home and said he hoped others would also stay the course.

U.S. soldier killed by roadside bomb in Iraq --A U.S. soldier has been killed by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad, the U.S. military said on Thursday.

Secret U.S. Plans For Iraq's Oil --by Greg Palast (BBC Newsnight) "The Bush administration made plans for war and for Iraq's oil before the 9/11 attacks sparking a policy battle between neo-cons and Big Oil, BBC's Newsnight has revealed... 'Big Oil' appears to have won. The latest plan, obtained by Newsnight from the US State Department was, we learned, drafted with the help of American oil industry consultants. Insiders told Newsnight that planning began 'within weeks' of Bush's first taking office in 2001, long before the September 11th attack on the US."

Myers: U.S. Weighs Long-Term Afghan Bases --America's top general said Wednesday that Afghanistan is secure and the United States is considering keeping long-term bases here as it repositions its military forces around the world.

But they had an election... (whatskeezelblogging.blogspot.com) "One of the singers in our church band... said that she couldn't be there Sunday because her boyfriend had a family member in the military who was being shipped overseas... He's in the Airborne... He's going to Afghanistan... I said, 'Airborne? What do they need with Airborne over there at this point?' And she said, 'Well, he couldn't tell us much, all he said was that we were losing Afghanistan and they were getting ready to pump a lotta guys in there.'"

Bush Chooses a Top Pentagon Aide to Head the World Bank --Dictator Bush said today that he would nominate Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense and one of the chief architects of the invasion of Iraq two years ago, to become president of the World Bank. The announcement, coming on the heels of the appointment of John R. Bolton as the new American ambassador to the United Nations, was greeted with quiet anguish in those foreign capitals where the Iraq conflict and its aftermath remain deeply unpopular, and where Mr. Wolfowitz's drive to spread 'democracy' [LOL!] around the world has been viewed with some suspicion.

Bush Recommends Wolfowitz for World Bank --Dictator Bush on Wednesday tapped Defense Deputy Secretary [Neo-Con Whackjob] Paul Wolfowitz, who has been a lightning rod for criticism of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and other defense policies, to take over as head of the World Bank.

Former CIA Agent Affirms Possibility of Chavez's Assassination in Venezuela --In an interview on Miami’s Spanish-language channel 22, the former CIA agent Felix Rodriguez said that the U.S. government has plans to "bring about a change in Venezuela." When pressed as to what type of plans these might be, Rodriguez responded that the Bush administration "could do it with a military strike, with a plane."

Bush Defends Packaged News Stories from Government --Dictator Bush said on Wednesday that the U.S. government's practice of sending packaged news stories to local television stations was legal and he had no plans to cease it. His defense of the packages, which are designed to look like television news segments, came after they were deemed a form of covert propaganda by the Government Accountability Office watchdog agency. GAO, an arm of Congress, said this ran counter to appropriation laws and was a misuse of federal funds.

GOP boards up the 'town hall' --Republicans in Congress have a game plan when they go home this weekend to talk to constituents about Social Security during a two-week holiday recess. Shaken by raucous protests at open "town hall"-style meetings last month, House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce of Ohio and other GOP leaders are urging lawmakers to hold lower-profile events this time.

Bush Supports DeLay as Investigations Widen --Dictator Bush expressed crucial support on Wednesday for Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, who is facing growing inquiries here and his home state, Texas, over accusations of illegal fund-raising and improper ties to lobbyists.

U.S. Dollar Slides as Current Account Deficit Soars --The dollar slid against the euro Wednesday on data that showed the U.S. current account deficit soaring more than expected in the fourth quarter and far exceeding its previous record for the full year.

Trade Deficit at All-Time High of $665.9B --The U.S. deficit in the broadest measure of international trade surged to an all-time high last year, increasing a potential threat to the economy as the country sank deeper into debt to Japan, China and other nations.

Senate votes to open Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling --GOP backers evaded filibuster threat by adding plan to budget --Amid the backdrop of soaring oil and gasoline prices [generated by corpora-terrorists, Exxon Mobil, etc.], a sharply divided Senate on Wednesday voted to open the ecologically rich Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling, delivering a major energy policy win for Dictator Bush [and his installers].

Senate Votes for Oil Drilling in Alaskan Refuge --The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted to keep, in a broad federal budget legislation, the language that would open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling.

Senate OKs oil drilling in Alaska's ANWR --Democrats vow that the fight is not over for wilderness area --With a hard-fought Senate vote yesterday clearing the way, supporters of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge said survey teams could arrive on the harsh landscape within a year and leases for tapping its significant deposits of oil and natural gas could be sold as soon as 2007.

Popular electric cars headed for junk pile --A revolutionary attempt to bring electric automobiles to American drivers sputters to a halt this week in the Arizona desert. But not without cries of protest...

Yucca Mountain Papers May Have Been Falsified --Government employees may have falsified documents related to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project in Nevada, the Energy Department said Wednesday. The disclosure could jeopardize the project's ability to get a federal permit to operate the dump.

Mercury Pollution, Autism Link Found --Mercury released primarily from coal-fired power plants may be contributing to an increase in the number of cases of autism, a Texas researcher said on Wednesday.

Gov. Faces Widening Network of Opposition --Inspired by what began as an isolated protest by California nurses, opponents of GOP-installed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are working in a loose but widening network to thwart his policy proposals. They are deploying an aggressive blend of demonstrations, legal action and legislative maneuvers, forcing him to defend his agenda on multiple fronts.

Pinochet hid cash in Miami banks, other U.S. havens --Former [U.S.-installed] Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet used a baffling array of 125 accounts in U.S. banks -- many of them in Miami -- to hide a 25-year money trail that was much bigger and deeper than previously thought, a Senate report showed Tuesday.

Case Stirs Fight on Jews, Juries and Execution --The convictions of dozens of death-row inmates in California are coming under legal scrutiny because of accusations that Jews and black women were excluded from juries in capital trials in Alameda County as "standard practice."

Harvard Chief Loses Faculty Confidence Vote --Harvard University President Lawrence Summers on Tuesday lost a symbolic vote of confidence by undergraduate faculty who censured him over his comments on women and his general leadership of the Ivy League school.

Vietnam detects one more suspected bird flu case 17 March 2005 --A person from Vietnam's northern Bac Ninh province has just been hospitalized for being suspected of contracting bird flu virus strain H5N1, according to local newspaper Pioneer on Thursday.

Bird flu may have hit N Korea 16 March 2005 --The World Health Organisation (WHO) was investigating on Wednesday reports of a bird flu outbreak last month in North Korea that may have killed thousands of chickens, a news report said.

New tsunami fear as scientists find dangerous stresses on ocean floor --Second major earthquake could strike Indian Ocean within a year --The seismic slip off the coast of Sumatra that triggered the tsunami has piled dangerous levels of stress on to two vulnerable parts of the fault zone, significantly raising the chances of a magnitude 7.5 earthquake.

*****

Pentagon 'hid' damning Halliburton audit --The Pentagon yesterday stood accused of sitting on a damaging report from its own auditors about a $108.4m (£56.6m) overcharge by Halliburton for its services in Iraq. In a scathing letter to Dictator Bush, Democratic congressmen Henry Waxman of California and John Dingell of Michigan said the audit by the Defence Contract Audit Agency was finished in October last year - before the election.

Shipping was extra — a lot extra --KBR spent millions getting $82,100 worth of LPG into Iraq --Iraq needed fuel. Halliburton Co. was ordered to get it there — quick. So the Houston-based contractor charged the Pentagon $27.5 million to ship $82,100 worth of cooking and heating fuel.

Nations leaving Iraq amid anti-war gains --Italy said Tuesday it will start drawing down its 3,000-strong contingent in Iraq in September, putting a fresh crack in Dictator Bush's crumbling 'coalition.' Bulgaria also called for a partial withdrawal, and Ukraine welcomed home its first wave of returning troops.

Berlusconi to pull out troops from Iraq --PM forced into pledge after outrage at killing of Italian officer --Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, yesterday announced that he would begin withdrawing his country's troops from Iraq in September under pressure from public opinion. [Looks like Negroponte's death squad overplayed its hand.]

Italy to Withdraw Troops from Iraq --Prime Minister Tony Blair’s hopes of restoring stability in Iraq were dealt a fresh blow tonight after Italy announced plans to start withdrawing its troops. Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi said in Rome that he would begin a "progressive reduction" of the 3,000-strong Italian contingent from September.

Australia May Increase Its Troops in Iraq After Italy Withdraws --Australia may increase its troops in Iraq after Italy withdraws its 3,000 soldiers, Prime Minister John Howard said.

Top US General Predicts Surge in Iraq Violence --The insurgency in Iraq, dominated by Saddam Hussein loyalists and foreign fighters, is increasingly being fuelled also by organised crime and criminals-for-hire [Negroponte's death squads], the top US general said today. General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters travelling with him that US-trained Iraqi and US security forces were making progress in stabilising the country. However, he predicted that insurgent violence would surge in the weeks ahead as members of the national assembly took their seats and more building blocks of a transitional government were put in place.

Five Killed in Three Baghdad Car Bombs --Three car bombs exploded Tuesday in Baghdad, killing at least five people, police said.

UN: Fallujah cost nears $500 million --The U.S.-led November assault on Fallujah and ensuing battle caused $493 million in damage to private homes, according to a new United Nations report.

U.S. Military Says 26 Inmate Deaths May Be Homicide --At least 26 prisoners have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002 in what Army and Navy investigators have concluded or suspect were acts of criminal homicide, according to military officials. The number of confirmed or suspected cases is much higher than any accounting the military has previously reported.

Army Documents Raise Fresh Concerns of Abuse by Navy SEALs --Newly released Army documents suggest that soldiers at a makeshift Iraqi detention camp suspected that detainees were being mistreated by a Navy SEAL team whose members were photographed posing with bloodied prisoners.

Pentagon Has Far-Reaching Defense Spacecraft in Works --Bush Regime Looking to Space to Fight 'Threats' --The Pentagon is working to develop a suborbital space capsule within the next five years that would be launched from the United States and could deliver conventional weapons anywhere in the world within two hours, defense officials said.

Security Boosted for Venezuelan President --Venezuela's presidential guard has boosted security measures to protect President Hugo Chavez in response to an alleged assassination plot, a government official said Tuesday. Information Minister Andres Izarra provided no details regarding the new security for Chaves who has accused the Bush regime of being behind a purported plot to kill him.

News of Halliburton stealing $108 million, 11 year-olds held in Guantanamo Bay, Social Security 'plans' tanking in the polls, the criminal actions of Tom Delay --are all taking their toll on the Bush dictatorship. Rove's response? Roll out new terror threats! U.S. Lists Possible Terror Attacks and Likely Toll --The Department of Homeland Security has identified a dozen possible strikes it views as most plausible or devastating, including detonation of a nuclear device in a major city, release of sarin nerve agent in office buildings and a truck bombing of a sports arena. The document, known simply as the National Planning Scenarios [?!?], reads more like a doomsday plan, offering estimates of the probable deaths and economic damage caused by each type of attack.

Anthrax Scare Is Attributed to a Testing Error --Health officials believe that a mix-up of samples in a Defense Department contractor's laboratory was behind an anthrax scare Monday and Tuesday that rattled the stock market, set the White House on alert, shut three post offices in the Washington area and led to more than 800 people being offered antibiotics.

Pentagon Officials Retrieving Mail From Distribution Points --Pentagon officials are working to collect an estimated 8,000 pieces of mail that passed through the building’s mail-processing facility between March 10 and 14.

Anthrax Detected at Two Defense Mailrooms --Investigators are trying to learn why sensors at two military mail facilities in the Washington area detected signs of anthrax on two pieces of mail. They are not sure whether the discoveries are signs of an attack.

Biological Alarm Shuts Down Second DoD Facility --Local officials shut down three buildings leased by the Defense Department in suburban Virginia after a biological-agent detection system sounded an alarm in one of the buildings March 14. Initial test results indicated the presence of anthrax in the building, located in the Skyline office complex in Falls Church.

Senate Work May Come to Halt If GOP Bars Judicial Filibusters --Senate Democrats formally threatened yesterday to bring the chamber to a virtual standstill if Republicans carry out a plan to change Senate rules and bar filibusters of judicial nominations.

Group tied to Norton says it is tax exempt --IRS status, lobbying at issue in probes --A Republican 'environmental' group with links to Interior Secretary Gale Norton and former powerhouse lobbyist Jack Abramoff claims it is a tax-exempt corporation and does not have to account publicly for at least $250,000 that Indian tribes report contributing to it at his urging. But the IRS says it has no record that the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy has been granted tax-free status as a corporation.

Secret justice hides risks --Secrecy can kill, as Americans found out during the summer of 2000. (USA Today) "Scores of victims had sued Bridgestone/Firestone, and the tiremaker had settled — but the terms were secret. Documents were suppressed at the company's insistence, and lawyers couldn't discuss them. ...[S]imilar conspiracies of secrecy continue. Courts have allowed lawyers to seal evidence about incompetent doctors, hazardous products and priests accused of child abuse. The secrecy proliferates because it benefits everyone involved — everyone, of course, except ordinary Americans who may become the next victims."

Bush Helps House GOP Raise Millions --Dictator Bush encouraged House Republicans to stick with his goal of 'overhauling' [eliminating] Social Security as he helped them raise $8 million at a gala dinner Tuesday night.

Fed chief: Expect Social Security cuts -- Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told Congress that the mounting financial pressure of [Halliburton's theft of $108 million] 'a wave of retiring baby boomers' is so great that cuts in future government retirement benefits are all but inevitable.

The $600 Billion Man -by Paul Krugman "In his Jan. 15 radio address, President [sic] Bush made a startling claim: 'According to the Social Security trustees, waiting just one year adds $600 billion to the cost of fixing Social Security.'... In fact, the trustees never said that waiting a year to 'fix' Social Security costs $600 billion... So anyone who repeats the $600 billion line is helping to spread a lie. That's why it was disturbing to read a news report about the deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration, who must know better, doing just that at a pro-privatization rally. But in his latest radio address, Mr. Bush - correctly, this time - attributed the $600 billion figure to a 'Democrat leader.' He was referring to Senator Joseph Lieberman [puke], who, for some reason, repeated the party line - the Republican party line - the previous Sunday."

Group plans suit against Minnesota over faith-based initiatives -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty [R-Nutball] is asking the Legislature to approve $300,000 to hire a coordinator and create a Minnesota Council of Faith-based Initiatives.Twenty governors have established similar offices, but the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation says the initiatives violate the constitutional separation of church and state...

US tries to sink forests plan --British initiative on illegal logging opposed --The US plans to wreck a British initiative to commit the G8 states to combatting illegal logging in the world's threatened rainforests, a leaked memorandum revealed last night.

Photos Show Climate Change; Ministers Meet in UK --A photo of Mount Kilimanjaro stripped of its snowcap for the first time in 11,000 years will be used as dramatic testimony for action against global warming as ministers from the world's biggest polluters meet Tuesday.

EPA's mercury regulations raising a ruckus --Opponents fear 'hot spot' will be created --The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today will announce controversial new mercury control regulations that will use a market-based reduction strategy favored by utility companies but, according to critics, produce mercury contamination "hot spots."

NJ official says Bush rule on mercury emissions harmful to state --The Bush regime's new rule on mercury emissions does nothing to protect the health of New Jersey residents, and the state will challenge the order in court, the Garden State's top environmental official said Tuesday.

Bill calls for reporting of sexually active teens (MO) A bill that seeks to overhaul Missouri's child abuse [?!?] reporting laws could require teachers, doctors, nurses and others to report sexually active teenagers and children to the state's abuse hot line.

Bill targets low-slung pants wearers (FL) Pull 'em up or pay up. That's the gist of a bill filed by an Orlando senator, intent on keeping wearers of low-riding and baggy pants from exposing too much of their unmentionables — or too much skin. Those caught flaunting their boxers or thongs above their pants could be facing up to 10 days in jail or a $50 fine.

6 U.S. Banks Held Pinochet's Accounts --Senate Report Details 'Secret Web' --Former [Bush-installed] Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet had more than 125 accounts at a half-dozen U.S. banks, including Citibank, during the 1990s, according to a Senate report.

WorldCom's Ebbers Found Guilty --Former WorldCom Inc. Chief Executive Bernard Ebbers, a one-time milkman who turned an obscure long distance phone carrier into a telecommunications giant, was found guilty on Tuesday of orchestrating an $11-billion accounting scandal that drove the company into bankruptcy.

WHO fears bird flu will be the next pandemic 15 March, 2005 (ABC Radio, PM) Reporter: David Mark "MARK COLVIN: The Great Flu epidemic of 1918 killed more people than had died in the entire four years of the First World War. No other statistic can convey so starkly why health authorities now are so worried about the potential of avian influenza, or bird flu. H5N1 is its scientific name, and the World Health Organisation says it could be the next great pandemic. The virus has killed 46 people in South East Asia in the past year, but WHO believes it could kill 100-million."

Doctors Suspect Bird Flu Killed Vietnamese Man 15 March, 2005 --A Vietnamese man who died at the weekend may have been killed by the bird flu virus that has claimed the lives of 46 people in Asia since 2003, a doctor said Tuesday.

Storm Dumps 3 Feet of Snow on N.M. Town --A slow-moving storm dumped 2 to 3 feet of snow on parts of northern and eastern New Mexico, closing major highways, schools and some government offices Tuesday.

*****

Excess Fuel Billing by Halliburton in Iraq Is Put at $108 Million --Excess billing for postwar fuel imports to Iraq by the Halliburton Company totaled more than $108 million, according to a report by Pentagon auditors that was completed last fall but has never been officially released to the public or to Congress. In one case, according to the report, the company claimed that it had paid more than $27 million to transport liquefied petroleum gas it had purchased in Kuwait for just $82,000 - a fee the auditors tartly dismissed as "illogical."

Pentagon Sees $108 Million in Overcharges by Halliburton --Overbilling for postwar fuel imports to Iraq by the Halliburton Company totaled more than $108 million, according to a report by Pentagon auditors that was completed last fall but has not been officially released to the public or to Congress.

Pentagon Auditors Conclude Halliburton Overcharged $100 Million --Reps. Waxman and Dingell reveal that Defense Department auditors have determined, in a report withheld from Congress, that Halliburton overcharged by more than $100 million under its no-bid Iraq oil contract.

Army Failed to Act on Warnings --The $283 million arms deal was supposed to display the power of Iraq's new government... The U.S. contractor working on the project repeatedly warned the task force headed by Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus that a Lebanese middleman involved in the deal might be routing kickbacks to Iraqi Defense Ministry officials. But senior U.S. military officials did not act on the contractor's pleas for tighter financial controls, according to documents and interviews. "If we proceed down the road we are currently on, there will be serious legal issues that will land us all in jail," the contractor, Dale Stoffel, wrote in a Nov. 30 e-mail to a senior assistant to Petraeus. Eight days later, Stoffel was shot dead in an ambush [by Negroponte's death squad?] near Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.

Pentagon Data on Iraq Security Forces Unreliable -GAO --The Pentagon told Congress on Monday that there are 142,472 trained and equipped Iraqi security forces, but a Capitol Hill watchdog agency said data on the forces was unreliable and it was difficult to gauge whether billions of U.S. dollars were being used effectively.

Blast rocks Baghdad's northern side --A powerful blast today rocked the area around Bab al-Mozam on Baghdad's northern side, an AFP correspondent witnessed. The blast occurred about 8:30 am (1630 GMT) and a large plume of white smoke was seen rising from behind the Madinat al-Tob, a Medical City complex.

US troops kill woman, kids --Three civilians were killed and another 10 injured, including five children, when US troops retaliated to an earlier missile attack by insurgents from a residential region in Qaim on Monday, said hospital sources.

Iraq Elections And The Liberal Elites: A Response To Noam Chomsky --by Ghali Hassan "In a recent opinion piece, Noam Chomsky writes, 'In Iraq, the January elections were successful and praiseworthy. However, the main success is being reported only marginally: The United States was compelled to allow them to take place. That is a real triumph, not of the bomb-throwers, but of non-violent resistance by the people, secular as well as Islamist, for whom Grand Ayatollah Al Sistani is a symbol' (Khaleej Times Online, 4 March 2005). Mr. Chomsky is either completely out of touch with reality in Iraq, or simply ignorant of the legitimate rights of the Iraqi people to self-determination. Firstly, the elections were a farce. The majority of the 14 million eligible Iraqis to vote have boycotted the elections..."

Journalism Becomes More Hazardous in 2004 --Fifty-six journalists around the world were killed in 2004 because of their jobs, the deadliest 12 months for reporters in a decade, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported Monday.

Intellectuals Back Cuba Over Rights Record --About 200 intellectuals, activists and artists from Latin America and elsewhere issued a letter Monday urging the top United Nations human rights watchdog to side with Cuba in an expected battle over that country's rights record.

Alleged Bush assassin claims torture --A northern Virginia man who admitted to Saudi police he joined al-Qaida and plotting to assassinate US Dictator George Bush wants a forensic examination of scars on his back. Ahmad Umar Ali, 23, insists an examination would prove that Saudi officials had extracted a confession about the assassination plot from him through torture.

Oops! Pakistan 'lost' Bin Laden trail --Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf says his country's forces have lost track of al-CIA-duh chief Osama Bin Laden. Speaking to the BBC, Gen Musharraf said Pakistani intelligence services had their strongest indication about his whereabouts eight to 10 months ago.

Hundreds Locked Down at Defense Facility --Mailroom Alarm Sparks Long Ordeal in Fairfax, Just Hours After Pentagon Alert --A sensor at a Department of Defense mailroom in Fairfax County signaled the presence of a suspicious biological substance yesterday, forcing hundreds of workers to remain inside three buildings for almost six hours.

Signs of Anthrax at Two Pentagon Mailrooms --Sensors at two military mail facilities in the Washington area detected signs of anthrax on two pieces of mail Monday, but Pentagon officials said the mail had already been irradiated, rendering any anthrax inert.

Positive Initial Detection for Anthrax at Pentagon --Defense Department officials confirmed that a positive test for the presence of anthrax bacteria during routine mail operations today led to the evacuation of a Pentagon outbuilding. However, officials stressed, subsequent tests have been negative.

Pentagon checked for chemical agents --A hazardous materials team investigated an alarm Monday that was triggered by sensors which detected the presence of chemical or biological agents at the Pentagon's mail delivery building, a military spokesman said.

Hazardous Materials Teams Investigating Pentagon Alarm --Hazardous materials teams from the Pentagon and Arlington County, Va., are investigating an alarm that indicated the possible presence of chemical or biological agents in the facility that handles the Pentagon’s mail. Officials evacuated the Remote Delivery Facility, an outbuilding of the Pentagon that processes mail and deliveries, after the alarm sounded around 10:30 a.m. today.

DOT Agency Backs CSX on D.C. Hazmat Ban --Washington, D.C., has no authority to ban train shipments of hazardous materials near the city, despite its dissatisfaction with federal efforts to address freight rail security, a U.S. government 'advisory panel' found on Monday. The [Bush-owned] Transportation Department's Surface Transportation Board, which settles railroad industry regulatory disputes, upheld a petition by [Carlyle Group-owned] CSX Corp. that contends a City Council prohibition on hazardous materials within two miles of the Capitol building should be ruled invalid.

British anti-terrorism law permits curfews --Britain’s governing Labour Party claimed victory Saturday for pushing through its anti[pro]-terrorism law after an acrimonious two-day debate in Parliament. Ten suspects who had been detained without trial for up to three years were freed, although they faced "control orders" imposing a nighttime curfew and restrictions on their activities.

Press review: Anti-terror bill 'The politics of the bear pit' --The government's legislation finally gets on to the statute book

9/11 panel to hit loose ID controls --The United States has not yet tightened the asylum system and eliminated the ability of terrorists to obtain key documents such as driver's licenses, the September 11 commission's 'expert on terrorist travel' is expected to tell Congress today... Although Janice L. Kephart doesn't endorse a specific bill, her strong endorsement of further action on driver's licenses and asylum comes as House Republicans are putting pressure on the Senate to pass the Real ID Act, which includes provisions both to restrict asylum claims and to set national standards for identification that would be used for federal purposes such as boarding an aircraft. [BTW, how do you become an 'expert on terrorist travel?']

Homeland Security taps Arizona for bioterrorism drill --Arizona has been chosen as a counterterrorism site for a U.S. Department of Homeland Security drill in May 2007. Dubbed "TopOff 4," the test is the largest counterterrorism exercise in the United States.

Illegals at power plant prompt call for legislation --Illegal aliens using false Social Security numbers were able to enter and work as contract painters at a power plant in Florida, including work near one nuclear reactor.

Paying by Fingerprint at the Supermarket --Customers of a German supermarket chain will soon be able to pay for their shopping by placing their finger on a scanner at the check-out, saving the time spent scrabbling for coins or cards.

Mega barf alert! Bush picks Hughes to be ambassador for public diplomacy --Dictator Bush, making another attempt to reach out to the Islamic world [Uh, after 'Shock & Awe?'] and burnish the U.S. image abroad, has nominated Karen Hughes, his loyal fellow Texan and former senior adviser, to be ambassador in charge of public diplomacy.

Support for Bush on Social Security Wanes --Barely a third of the public approves of the way Dictator Bush is dealing with Social Security and a majority says the more they hear about Bush's plan to reform the giant retirement system, the less they like it, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Gas Price at Second Highest Level Ever -Govt --The average price U.S. consumers pay to fill their cars with gasoline climbed to the second highest level ever, and is less than a penny from the all-time record, the government said on Monday.

White House Defends Video 'News' Releases --The White House on Monday defended the regime's use of video 'news' releases that are sent to television stations across the country and frequently used without any acknowledgment of the government's role in their production.

Liberal Bloggers Reaching Out to Major Media --Bloggers, who describe themselves as liberal or progressive, say the conference calls are intended to counter what they regard as the much stronger influence of conservative pundits online. Bob Fertik, president of Democrats.com, the host of the two calls so far, views them as a step toward getting their reports out to mainstream news organizations.

Former NAACP Leader to Run for Senate --Former NAACP President, and five-term U.S. congressman, Kweisi Mfume said Monday that he will run for the U.S. Senate in 2006.

Bush to Permit Trading of Credits to Limit Mercury --Under a new Environmental Protection Agency rule, some utilities will be able to buy allowances rather than cleaning up emissions. Environmentalists and some state officials have argued that this approach will lead to so-called hot spots posing significant risks to local populations.

State Abortion Law Won't Take Effect 3/30 --A new state law that bans a procedure critics call partial-birth abortion will not take effect this month so that the state has more time to respond to a federal lawsuit challenging the statute.

Impetus seen for constitutional ban --Conservative backers of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage say a San Francisco judge's ruling Monday that may pave the way for such marriages in California will help spark their renewed effort in Congress to pass the constitutional ban.

California Judge Voids Ban on Gay Marriage --In a victory for city officials here, a state judge ruled on Monday that California's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, overturning a statewide proposition passed in 2000 that defined marriage as between a man and woman.

The peak of Mt Kilimanjaro as it has not been seen for 11,000 years --Mt. Kilimanjaro's trademark snowy cap, at 5,895 metres (1,934ft), is now all but gone - 15 years before scientists predicted it would melt through global warming, writes Paul Brown. In Swahili Kilima Njaro means shining mountain, but the glaciers and snow cap that kept the summit white, probably for 11,000 years - despite the location, in Tanzania, 200 miles south of the equator - have almost disappeared.

WHO warns of human bird flu mutation --The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the bird flu virus may be changing into a form that humans can pass on. The WHO is worried that bird flu, which has killed 47 people in Asia, could mutate into an easily spread form that sparks the next influenza pandemic.

*****

Secret FBI report doubts al-Qa'ida can stage 9/11-type strikes in US --A secret FBI report has cast doubt on al-Qa'ida's ability to stage another "spectacular" attack in the US, three and a half years after the 9/11 suicide hijackings and a year after the Madrid bombings the network's only other major strike in the West. [?!? See: Aznar 'wiped files on Madrid bombings' --All computer records in PM's office destroyed, says Zapatero --December 14, 2004 --"Spain's former prime minister José María Aznar wiped all computer records at his office referring to the March 11 Madrid train bombings and the rest of his period of government, his successor José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero said yesterday. Mr Zapatero told a parliamentary commission on the bombings that he had no idea whether records were made of crisis meetings held at the prime minister's office after the attacks that killed 191 people, as computer hard-drives and security copies were wiped clean." Who was behind the Madrid bombings?]

Zarqawi Planning U.S. Hit? --Intelligence [sic] officials tell TIME that interrogation of a member of al-Zarqawi's organization, who was taken into U.S. custody last year and has been described as a top aide, indicates that al-Zarqawi has given ample consideration to assaults on the American homeland. According to a restricted bulletin that circulated among U.S. security agencies last week, the interrogated aide said al-Zarqawi has talked about hitting "soft targets" in the U.S., which could include "movie theaters, restaurants and schools." [Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!! Isn't it ironic? The operative was taken into U.S. custody *last year.* And yet... This is *new* information... announced right after the U.K. passes a sweeping 'anti'-terrorism law, and the Bush regime likely wants it implemented in the U.S.]

Qaeda Ally May Target U.S. Theaters, Schools -Report --Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda's chief ally in Iraq, may be planning attacks on "soft targets" in the United States including movie theaters, restaurants and schools, Time magazine reported on Sunday.

Law 'could create more terrorism' --Labour's approach to the war on terror is destroying the British way of life, Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Öpik claims. He said Labour's "hopeless prejudice" had led to laws which could be a "recruiting sergeant for terrorism".

Flu bigger threat than 9/11 --Britain's capital city is "more at risk" from bird flu than a terrorist atrocity on the scale of the September 11, 2001 attacks on Washington and New York, London mayor Ken Livingstone said on Sunday. "We're more at risk of dying from bird flu that we are of being blown up by a terrorist," he told BBC television.

Bird flu greater risk than terrorists, says Livingstone --Ken Livingstone, the London Mayor, has hit out at the new anti-terror laws, saying people were at more risk from bird flu than al-Qa'eda.

Scientists slams UK bird flu plans --A leading scientist has attacked the government's preparations to deal with a potential human bird flu pandemic.

Bird Flu Clusters May Signal Virus Change - WHO 14 March 1005 --A cluster of human bird flu cases among relatives and possibly health workers in Vietnam may show the virus is changing into a form that can be passed on by humans, the World Health Organization said. The WHO is worried that bird flu, which has killed 47 people in Asia, could mutate into an easily spread form that sparks the next influenza pandemic, killing millions.

Resistance Attacks Kill 10 Iraqi Soldiers, 6 Iraqi Civilians, 3 US Soldiers, 3 US Contractors, a Turkish Driver, Scores of Iraqis Arrested --The Saudi newspaper Aljazirah reported on 13 March, 2005 that three people were killed during resistance attacks on Friday-Saturday...

Two U.S. 'security contractors' killed in Iraq --Two Americans working for a 'company that provides security' [Halliburton, Custer Battles, Blackwater, Monsanto or other Cheney overpriced mercenaries that U.S taxpayers are forced to hire/insure] for the U.S. Embassy were killed by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad, the embassy said Sunday.

Five Iraqi civilians wounded in US chopper attack --At least five Iraqi civilians, including a woman, were wounded in the northern city of Mosul when a US military helicopter opened fire on insurgents.

U.S. Marines Attacked in Afghanistan --Two U.S. Marines were wounded March 12 in an ambush by anti-occupation militia while conducting routine 'security' patrols north of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border.

Dropout recruits raise Army quality concerns --Struggling to boost its ranks, the U.S. Army is recruiting a higher number of high school dropouts and recruits who score in the lowest category on military aptitude tests, raising concerns among senior officers and defense analysts that the quality of the force will suffer.

Limits on military recruiting proposed --Bill would protect teens personal info --A federal bill that shields high school students from military recruiters is gaining both local and national support. U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, introduced the bill, called the Student Privacy Protection Act of 2005, last month in the House of Representatives.

Iran Says U.S. Offer Makes No Difference --Iran scoffed at U.S. incentives aimed at coaxing it to drop its nuclear ambitions and declared Saturday that Washington's overtures had done nothing to change its plans.

Bush orders policy to 'contain' Chávez --Senior US regime officials are working on a policy to "contain" Hugo Chávez, the [legitimately elected and popular] Venezuelan president, and what they allege is his drive to "subvert" Latin America's least stable states. [Can some country please implement a policy to 'contain' Bush?]

North Korea warns US-S. Korean military drill could result in "actual war" --North Korea warned on Sunday that annual US-South Korean military exercises due to start this week and designed to deter any military threat from North Korea could turn into "an actual war".

China's President Tells Army to Be Prepared for War as Parliament Prepares to Pass Anti-Secession Law Aimed at Taiwan --China's President Hu Jintao was named chairman of a government military commission on Sunday, capping a generational transfer of power, and told the 2.5 million-member People's Liberation Army to be prepared for war on the eve of the expected passage of a law authorizing an attack if Taiwan declares formal independence.

China Puts Threat to Taiwan Into Law --China enacted a law Monday authorizing the use of force against Taiwan if it moves toward formal independence, codifying its long-standing threat to attack the island. The move could provoke a popular backlash in Taiwan and quickly unravel recent progress in cross-strait relations.

Security Report on U.S. Aviation Warns of Holes --Despite a huge investment in security, the American aviation system remains vulnerable to attack by Al Qaeda and other jihadist terrorist groups, with noncommercial planes and helicopters offering terrorists particularly tempting targets, a confidential government report concludes.

Watchdog Details Run-Ins With Ridge --The Homeland Security Department's former independent watchdog says he was twice summoned to then-Secretary Tom Ridge's office last year and asked why his reports criticizing the agency were being sent to Congress and whether they could be presented more favorably to the department. Ridge "was trying to get me not to give things to Congress and also to try to spin reports in a way most favorable to the department, and I resisted both of those," former Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin said in an interview.

Newsman says dissent stifled --Louisville native Bob Edwards warned last night that the United States is in a period like the McCarthy era of the 1950s, in which the government is stifling political dissent while the news media and the public fail to speak out in vigorous opposition. Speaking at Centre College, Edwards, a host for XM Satellite Radio, said the "Bush administration holds reporters in contempt" and has become the "all-time champion of information control."

AP Review: Gov't Reducing Access to Info --Since 1998, many federal departments have been reducing the amount of information they release to the public — even as the government fields and answers more requests for information than ever, an Associated Press review has found.

Across U.S., Citizens Fight for Records --Ed Lambert, Al Lima and Mike Miozza never thought of themselves as activists, just regular guys. Then an energy company announced plans to build a liquefied natural gas terminal in this small community on the Taunton River. The men — the mayor, a city planner and an engineer — had nightmare visions of gas igniting into a huge fireball on the river, and asked for government-held reports that studied the threat to the town if the plant or a tanker were attacked. But like many people who ask for government records these days, they didn't get what they were looking for. "It's a farce," Miozza says. And it's happening across the country.

Democrats Cry Foul Over Schwarzenegger Videos Packaged As News --Recent disclosures that several California state agencies have distributed video press releases masquerading as TV news reports have Democrats crying foul and news directors re-examining their policies about airing such material.

AOL's Terms of Service Update for AIM Raises Eyebrows --America Online, Inc. has quietly updated the terms of service for its AIM instant messaging application, making several changes that is sure to raise the hackles of Internet privacy advocates. The revamped terms of service, which apply only to users who downloaded the free AIM software on or after Feb. 5, 2004, gives AOL the right to "reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote" all content distributed across the chat network by users.

Battle Over Evolution Intensifies --Propelled by a polished strategy crafted by activists on America's political right, a battle is intensifying across the nation over how students are taught about the origins of life. Policymakers in 19 states are weighing proposals that question the science of evolution.

E.P.A. Nominee Supports Testing of Chemicals on Human Subjects --by Gene C. Gerard "President [sic] Bush recently nominated Stephen L. Johnson, a 24-year veteran of the Environmental Protection Agency, to be the agency's new administrator. Mr. Johnson has been the acting administrator since January, and prior to that oversaw the EPA office handling pesticides and other toxic substances... During President Bush's first term, Johnson was a strong supporter of pesticide testing on humans. During President Clinton's administration, the E.P.A. would not consider the results of controversial trials that tested pesticides on people. But after Mr. Bush was [s]elected, Johnson changed the policy to permit consideration..." [OK, let's have Johnson and the members of the Bush regime who allow the testing to be implemented to be the first subjects.]

Money: So Where Did It Go? The FBI is trying to trace what happened to $2.5 million in payments to a conservative Washington think tank that were routed to accounts controlled by two lobbyists with close ties to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, NEWSWEEK has learned. [Newsweek Poll: Should the House Ethics Committee open a probe into Tom Delay's conduct? Results, 13 March 2005: Yes 93%; No 5%; I don't know 2% - 1386 responses]

DeLay Ethics Allegations Now Cause of GOP Concern --House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Criminal-Tex.) has dismissed questions about his ethics as partisan attacks, but revelations last week about his overseas travel and ties to lobbyists under investigation have emboldened Democrats and provoked worry among Republicans.

Huge Billing Fraud Is Cited by Health Plans at California Clinics --Twelve Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, working with the F.B.I., said Friday that they had broken up an elaborate insurance scheme in which thousands of patients from 47 states were sent to California to undergo unnecessary surgical and diagnostic procedures, for which doctors filed more than $1 billion of fraudulent insurance claims.

High levels of mercury found in Vt. birds --Scientists have found high levels of mercury in songbirds on Vermont mountaintops. Researchers at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science announced this week that mercury was found in the blood and feathers of the rarely seen Bicknell's thrush on Mount Mansfield and Stratton Mountain.

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CIA Role in Abductions Probed --Italy, Germany and Sweden suspect U.S. agents broke local laws in treatment of alleged 'terrorists.' A radical Egyptian cleric known as Abu Omar was walking to a Milan mosque for noon prayers in February 2003 when he was grabbed on the sidewalk by two men, sprayed in the face with chemicals and stuffed into a van. He hasn't been seen since. Milan investigators, however, now appear to be close to identifying his kidnappers. Italian authorities suspect the Egyptian was the target of a CIA-sponsored operation known as rendition, in which terrorism suspects are forcibly taken for interrogation to countries where torture is practiced.

Europeans Probe CIA Role in Detentions -Report --European authorities are investigating whether CIA agents broke local laws by detaining suspected terrorists on European soil and taking them to other countries where torture is practiced, the Washington Post reported in its Sunday editions.

Judge Blocks the Transfer of 13 Detainees From Guantánamo --A federal judge on Saturday prohibited the government from transferring 13 Yemeni prisoners from the military's detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, until a hearing could be held on their lawyers' fear that they might face torture if sent to another country.

Group: Afghan prison abuse began in 2002 --Unreleased U.S. Army reports detailing the deaths of two Afghan men who were beaten to death by American soldiers show that military prison abuses began in Afghanistan in 2002, and were part of a systematic pattern of mistreatment, a human rights representative said Saturday.

Looting at Weapons Plants Was Systematic, Iraqi Says --In the weeks after Baghdad fell in April 2003, looters systematically dismantled and removed tons of machinery from Saddam Hussein's most important weapons installations, including some with high-precision equipment capable of making parts for nuclear arms, a senior Iraqi official said this week in the government's first extensive comments on the looting.

International health experts demand inquiry into number of Iraqi war casualties --by Rick Kelly "The British Medical Journal has published a statement issued by 23 public health and epidemiology experts condemning the US and British governments for their ongoing failure to monitor the number and rate of Iraqi war-related casualties... The signatories reproached the coalition’s policy of relying on the Iraqi Ministry of Health to issue casualty figures. The extremely limited information released through this channel only counts violent deaths reported through the health system, beginning in April 2004."

Montana Governor Sets Off Fight With Call to Bring Guard Home -- Gov. Brian Schweitzer has touched off a political fight with Montana Republicans after calling for the return of National Guard troops serving in Iraq to help out in what many fear will be a record-setting wildfire season. Mr. Schweitzer, a newly elected Democrat, infuriated Republican lawmakers who see his request as a way to criticize the Bush regime over Iraq. [Schweitzer should be careful (not fly in any planes that don't carry Black Boxes) -- lest he be 'Wellstoned.']

Iran Dismisses Economic Offer From the U.S. --Iran reacted testily on Saturday to a statement from the United States offering modest economic incentives if it permanently ended the enrichment of uranium, saying that it would not give up its right to nuclear power.

Revealed: Israel plans strike on Iranian nuclear plant --Israel has drawn up secret plans for a combined air and ground attack on targets in Iran if diplomacy fails to halt the Iranian nuclear programme. The inner cabinet of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, gave "initial authorisation" for an attack at a private meeting last month on his ranch in the Negev desert.

Syria Promises to Leave Lebanon --Some Personnel to Depart by March 31; U.S. Wants Prompt Final Pullout --In talks with a top U.N. envoy, Syria promised yesterday to withdraw one-third of its 15,000 troops and 5,000 intelligence agents in Lebanon by the end of March, as the first stage of an operation that would end its 29-year military presence in that country, according to U.S. and U.N. sources.

Converging U.S. Navy aircraft carrier groups in Middle East send strong message to Iran and Syria --by Sudhir Chadda "The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is on the move in Atlantic Ocean and is possibly headed towards the Mediterranean Sea. The convergence of three carrier groups in the corridor of the Middle East will send very strong message to the Syrians and Iranians... This will be the first time since February 2004 that US will have three major carrier groups stationed on and around Middle East."

Chaos as first terror orders are used --Chaos last night surrounded the first 'control orders' served on suspects following last week's dramatic passage of new anti[pro]-terror laws through Parliament. Lawyers acting for 10 former detainees released on bail last week have already identified a series of serious problems with the new system, which also applied to British subjects from yesterday.

Ten receive "terrorism" control orders under new British rules --Britain’s Home Secretary Charles Clarke signed control orders on Saturday to restrict the movements of 10 "terrorism" suspects under legislation passed in an epic overnight battle this week between the two houses of Parliament. The 10 men will be confined to their private addresses, must observe a 7:00 pm to 7:00 am curfew, wear an electronic tagging device, do not have access to mobiles phones or the Internet, and are allowed only limited outside contacts.

Anti-Terrorism Law Takes Effect in Britain --Britain's governing Labour Party claimed victory Saturday for pushing through its contentious anti-terrorism law after an acrimonious two-day debate in Parliament. Prime Minister Tony Blair won the support of Parliament for the Prevention [sic] of Terrorism Bill on Friday after one of the longest and most bitter standoffs in recent Parliamentary history.

Bloggers must reveal sources - judge --Apple won the green light to subpoena amateur publishers for their confidential sources, a Californian Judge ruled today. Apple Computer, which wants to discover who leaked product information to three web sites, can now proceed with its subpoena against one of the ISPs hosting two of the websites, Santa Clara county court Judge James Kleinberg has ruled, as well as the websites themselves.

Poll: 7 in 10 Worried About Gov't Secrecy --Americans feel strongly that good government depends on openness with the public, with seven out of 10 people concerned about government secrecy, a new poll says.

Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged News --Under the Bush regime, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production.

Calif. Gov. 'News' Videos Cause a Stir --GOP-installed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration has acknowledged making several videos masquerading as news stories to promote its agenda, creating an uproar from Democrats and labor leaders in a controversy parallel to one ignited by the Bush regime. "When the governor produces official government propaganda and tries to fake it to look like news it's very, very corrosive to democratic values,'' said Barry Broad, a labor lobbyist who compared it to efforts by totalitarian regimes.

Gee, here's a big *bleeping* surprise: Republicans stymie bills aimed at better elections (WA) Republicans in the Democrat-controlled Senate used their limited power yesterday to defeat an earlier date for the state's primary election and hold up action on a second bill aimed at improving elections.

Voting Bill Leads to Walkout in Ga. Senate --The state Senate's Democratic caucus, led by the chamber's black members, walked out of the Legislature Friday after an emotional vote on voting rights. Immediately after a 7 p.m. vote that would eliminate 12 of the 17 forms of identification that may be used at Georgia polls, a majority of Senate Democrats, including all black members, left the chamber. "This is wrong!'' Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, shouted before the exit. "We will not go back.'' The bill, which passed 32-22 along party lines, would require a photo ID to vote. It would remove other forms of ID, including a Social Security card, birth certificate or student identification, from the list. "What's happening today is just an updated form of Jim Crow,'' said Fort, referring to segregation-era laws that suppressed black voting.

Asa Hutchinson to Run for Ark. Governor --Asa Hutchinson, the former Republican congressman [Reichwing nutball] who just left his post as Homeland Security undersecretary, announced Saturday that he will run for Arkansas governor in 2006.

As DeLay's Woes Mount, So Does Money --A legal defense fund established by Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, has dramatically expanded its fund-raising effort in recent months, taking in more than $250,000 since the indictment last fall of two his closest political operatives in Texas, according to Mr. DeLay's latest financial disclosure statements.

Tax bill would benefit richest Texans, analysis finds --Only Texans making more than $100,000 a year would receive a net tax cut under the tax overhaul bill being considered by the House, according to a nonpartisan legislative analysis. The Legislative Budget Board says the poorest 1.7 million households — those making less than $23,000 a year — would see their tax burden increase more than 5 percent under the bill...

Congress May Cut Food Aid, Not Farm Aid --Cuts in food programs for the poor are getting support in Congress as an alternative to Dictator Bush's idea of slicing billions of dollars from the payments that go to agribusiness ['large farm operations'].

Dollar catching Asian flu --by Alan Boyd "They may be telling a different story to money markets, but Asian central banks have been quietly switching their dollar holdings to regional currencies for at least three years, confirm global banking data. In a further, and so far the biggest, setback for the greenback's status as the undisputed reserve currency, Japan on Thursday said it might diversify its holdings, though monetary chiefs later sought to play down the prospect."

Demonstrators plead innocent in federal court (MI) Four antiwar demonstrators pleaded innocent during an arraignment in federal court Friday, maintaining their stance that they were upholding international law during a 2003 protest in which they poured out their blood at a U.S. Military recruiting office in Lansing.

U.S. Customs Agent Found Dead in Atlanta --Police searching for a man suspected in a courthouse triple slaying said a U.S. customs agent was discovered shot to death in north Atlanta on Saturday, and his blue pickup truck, pistol and badge were missing. [Bush, the suspect in mass murder case is still at large, however.]

Bush still at large, but: Massive Manhunt Comes to an End --After a nearly 26-hour manhunt, one that some observers called the largest in state history, Brian Nichols, the man suspected of shooting to death a state judge, a court reporter, a deputy, and injuring another deputy, was captured by authorities Saturday morning.

Howard urges limits on 'too easy' abortions --Tory leader sparks right-to-choose row --Michael Howard is to make an explosive foray into the politics of personal morality by declaring that abortions are too easy to obtain in Britain and should be curbed.

Anger at MSPs' priority for life-saving flu drug 13 March 2005 --Scottish ministers and their civil servants are set to be issued with the antiviral drug that will be used to combat the impending flu pandemic – ahead of children, pregnant women and the elderly. The Sunday Herald can reveal that Jack McConnell’s colleagues in the Executive will be among the first workers providing "essential" services to be protected from a health threat that could kill up to 50,000 Scots. News of the special treatment has angered opposition MSPs who believe that politicians should not be jumping the queue for vital treatments.

Bird flu could kill 2 million Britons 13 March 2005 --Two million Britons could die in the bird flu pandemic that experts warn is both imminent and inevitable, one of the country's leading authorities has told The Independent on Sunday.

Scientist attacks UK bird flu preparation 13 March 2005 --A leading scientist has attacked the government over its contingency plans to deal with a human bird flu pandemic, saying over two million Britons could die. Professor Hugh Pennington, president of the Society for General Microbiology, told the Independent on Sunday a pandemic was both imminent and inevitable.

Pandemic fear as bird flu infects nurses 13 March 2005 --Health experts are watching the spread of deadly bird flu among humans with increasing concern after doctors reported a second suspected case yesterday among medical staff treating a victim. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has given a warning that the flu, which has killed 47 people in Asia, could mutate into a form that spreads quickly between humans and trigger a global pandemic.

Bird flu epidemic a matter of time, CDC says --Fear-Mongering? After making predictions using computer models, the Center for Disease Control warned that an outbreak of bird flu is not a matter of if but when. --Amid rising fears of a spread of bird flu to humans, the Center for Disease Control yesterday fleshed out plans to battle a potential flu epidemic that could hospitalize as many as 75,000 people, according to some estimates.

HAARP? Mystery object lights up Northwest sky March 12, 2005 --A flaming object was spotted streaking through the Saturday night sky across Western Oregon and the impact was heard all the way from Salem to Medford, according to various reports. Newspapers across the western half of the state and KPTV were getting phone calls from people who saw the object.

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