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 Thursday, April 28, 2005

President Bush's Global War on Terrorism: Current Status Report

  by
Susan B. Glasser

April 27, 2005

Read here full article by Susan Glasser in Washington Post

Edited article

According to U.S. government figures, the number of serious international terrorist incidents more than tripled in 2004, a sharp upswing in deadly attacks.

The State Department has decided not to make public in its annual report on terrorism due to Congress this week. The State Department announced last week that it was breaking with tradition in withholding the statistics on terrorist attacks from its congressionally mandated annual report.

Critics said the move was designed to shield the government from questions about the success of its effort to combat terrorism by eliminating what amounted to the only year-to-year benchmark of progress.

  • Overall, the number of what the U.S. government considers "significant" attacks grew to about 655 last year, up from the record of around 175 in 2003.

  • Terrorist incidents in Iraq also dramatically increased, from 22 attacks to 198, or nine times the previous year's total.

  • Terrorist attacks doubling over the previous year in Afghanistan, to 27 significant incidents,

  • In Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, the attacks rose to about 45, from 19 the year before.
  • Also occurring last year were such deadly attacks as the seizure of a school in Beslan, Russia, by Chechen militants that resulted in at least 330 dead, and the Madrid train bombings that left nearly 200 dead.

    The State Department did not disclose to the aides the overall number of those killed in incidents last year.

    Larry C. Johnson, a former senior State Department counterterrorism official, said his count shows it was well over 1,000. Johnson said, "Last year was bad. This year is worse."

    The State Department said the data would still be made public by the new National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which prepares the information.

    They are deliberately trying to withhold data because it shows that as far as the war on terrorism internationally, we're losing." said

    Top aides from the State Department and the NCTC acknowledged for the first time the increase in terrorist incidents, calling it a "dramatic uptick."

    Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) wrote to Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice to release the data.

    Waxman said that "the large increases in terrorist attacks reported in 2004 may undermine administration claims of success in the war on terror, but political inconvenience has never been a legitimate basis for withholding facts from the American people."

    According to Hill aides, the State Department's acting counterterrorism chief, Karen Aguilar, said that Rice decided to withhold the statistics on the recommendation of her counselor, Philip D. Zelikow. He was executive director of the Sept. 11 commission that investigated the terrorist attacks on the United States.

    Under the standards used by the government, "significant" terrorist attacks are defined as those that cause civilian casualties or fatalities or substantial damage to property.

    Attacks on uniformed military personnel such as the large number of U.S. troops stationed in Iraq are NOT included.

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    Disney Executives Kow-Tow to Feng Shui

      by

    Laura M. Holson

    April 25, 2005

    Read here full article by Laura Holson in New York Times

    Read here related article "The ancient design philosophy is showing up in suburban homes, office parks, even theme parks "by Sarah Max CNN

    Edited article

    To ensure that Hong Kong Disneyland will be a huge success, Walt Disney executives look to Feng Shui.

    They consulted the Feng Shui specialist, who made the following recommendations:


  • For the new entrance to Hong Kong Disneyland, Walt Disney executives decided to shift the angle of the front gate by 12 degrees.

  • A bend is put in the walkway from the train station to the gate, to make sure the flow of positive energy, or chi, did not slip past the entrance and out to the China Sea.

  • One of the park's main ballrooms, which will surely be used for Disney's popular wedding services, measures 888 square meters, because 8 is thought to be a number of fortune.

  • In Chinese, the number four (4) is considered bad luck so there are no fourth-floor buttons in the elevators at the Hollywood Hotel or other hotels in the park.

  • Cash registers are close to corners or along walls, where such placement is believed to increase prosperity.

  • In the park's upscale restaurant, Crystal Lotus, Disney installed a virtual koi pond where computer-animated fish dart away from guests who walk on a glass screen. The pond is one of five feng shui elements in the restaurant; the others are wood, earth, metal and fire, which glows on a screen behind bottles in the bar.

  • Disney burns incense ritually as each building is finished in Hong Kong,

  • Disney executives have picked a lucky day (Sept. 12) for the opening of the Hong Kong Disneyland.
  • Heeding the advice of a feng shui consultant is one of many steps Disney executives have taken at the park to make sure they do NOT repeat some mistakes of the past.

    When Disney opened Disneyland Paris, the company was roundly criticized for being culturally insensitive to its European guests.

    Tourists sniffed at California Adventure when it opened in 2001, saying it looked more like a shopping mall than a theme park.

    After the mishaps at Euro Disney and, closer to home, problems with attendance at its California Adventure park in Anaheim, it is easy to understand why the company would take such pains.

    Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University commented:

    "It used to be Disney was exported on its own terms. But in the late 20th and early 21st century, America's cultural imperialism was tested.

    Now, instead of being the ugly Americans, which some foreigners used to find charming, we have to take off our shoes or belch after a meal."

    Jay Rasulo, President of Disney's theme parks and resorts division said,


    "I don't know anything about fire and kitchens and where fire belongs and what doesn't.

    But I certainly have learned that you need to respect people."

    The financial stakes are high.

    Disney invested $316 million for a 43 percent equity stake in Hong Kong Disneyland; the rest is owned by the Hong Kong government, which contributed $419 million. (The park has $1.1 billion in debt.)

    Mainland China is expected to become one of the world's largest tourist destinations in the next 15 years, according to the World Tourism Organization, an international group that oversees policy issues.

    In Asia, Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear and Winnie-the-Pooh are hardly household names, and Disney wants to change that.

    Plans for Hong Kong Disneyland, Disney's 11th theme park and a replica of the original Disneyland, began in 1999 for the undeveloped Lantau Island, a 30-minute train ride from downtown Hong Kong.

    Built on Penny's Bay and flanked by mountains, the park is a venture with the Hong Kong government and the first of the parks that Disney wants to build in China, including one in Shanghai.

    Feng Shui

    Feng Shui in Chinese means wind and water.

    Notable followers of feng shui include Madonna, Oprah, and Donald Trump.

    Former president Bill Clinton is said to have had the White House "feng shuied," and progressive school administrators and city officials have given a nod to the practice as well....

    Other celebrities include: Tommy Hilfiger, Boy George, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Cher, Brooke Shields, Sharon Stone, Cybil Shepherd, Eric Clapton, Shirley MacLaine, Andie McDowell, Patricia Arquette, Fran Drescher, Rosanne, Susan Lucci, Sarah Jessica-Parker, Mariah Carey, Ricky Martin, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Kevin Spacey, Johnny Depp, George Clooney, Lily Tomlin, Julie Andrews, Ellen Degeneres & Anne Heche.

    The list includes companies such as: British Airways, CBS TV Studios, Motorola, Panasonic, Hyatt Hotels, Kellogg's and Chase Manhattan Bank, The Body Shop, Merrill Lynch, Motorola and Universal Studios are just some of the companies said to have incorporated the practice into design.

    Donald Trump consulted a feng shui specialist before building his hulking Trump International Hotel in New York -- hence the blinding silver globe out front at Columbus Circle.

    Salomon Smith Barney is reported to have employed the services of feng shui specialists, and Credit Lyonnaise Securities Asia puts out a yearly feng shui index for the Chinese New Year.

    Carol Cannon, founder of Corporate Creatives in Dunedin, Fla., took up feng shui as a hobby after quitting her job as a vice president of commercial real estate for Chase Manhattan Bank. Clients now pay her $200 an hour to assess the commercial properties they're looking to buy or build. Cannon's fees for her largest project to date have already passed the $20,000 mark.

    ... Read here for more

    Read here on Basic Principles of Feng Shui

    The origins of Feng Shui date back several thousand years to ancient China.

    The geography of that vast land requires careful consideration when constructing a building since the mountain winds are severe and the lower areas are prone to flooding.

    Hence the name, Feng Shui, refers to wind and water.

    Feng Shui guides you to look at how the placement of objects can bring harmony to the environment. It can be as simple as placing your couch in the best location in your living room or as complex as placing your house in the best location on your property.

    Dr. Stephen L. Field, of Trinity University writes: 'In it's earliest form, Feng Shui was utilized to orient the homes of the dead rather than the homes of the living.

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     Monday, April 25, 2005

    Association of University Teachers (UK) Voted to Boycott Two Israeli Universities

      by

    Polly Curtis and Matthew Taylor, and Conal Urquhart

    Update on Runar Sogaard
  • SWEDEN: Celebrity Christian preacher Runar Søgaard is under protection by Swedish police after receiving death threats. Sögaard had called Islam's Prophet Mohammed "a confused pedophile" . "Even if I see Runar while he has major police protection I will shoot him to death," a radical Islamist told Swedish newspaper Expressen. Persons connected to the Kurdish group Ansar al-Islam claim to have received a fatwa, a decree from a Muslim religious leader, to kill Søgaard.Muslim organizations have called Søgaard's sermon, which is on sale on CD at the Stockholm Karisma Center's web site, a hateful attack on Islam and fear the type of violent conflict that scarred the Netherlands after filmmaker Theo van Gogh was killed by an Islamic extremist for a controversial film.Islam expert Jan Hjärpe at the University of Lund told Expressen that such an assassination is a real risk, and he wondered if conflict was the motive for the sermon."It was a statement from an odd man in an odd sect but the effect is stronger antagonism between different groups. It becomes a pure religious polemic and is extremely unpleasant. It (Sögaard's sermon) has power and influence. It seems to have been Runar's intention to provoke and promote antagonism." Søgaard said he fears for his life and understands that he has angered the wrong people. He received police protection after questioning by Swedish police. Imam Hassan Moussa, head of Sweden's imam council, demanded that Christian communities repudiate Søgaard's remarks, and promised that Sweden would avoid the ugly scenes experienced in Holland.


  • Read here full article by Polly Curtis and Matthew Taylor, and Conal Urquhart in Guardian UK.

    April 23, 2005

    Edited article

    The Association of University Teachers, which represents 48,000 lecturers, voted yesterday to boycott two Israeli universities.

    It accused (the two universities ) of being complicit in the abuse of Palestinians in the occupied territories.

    The union voted to sever links with University of Haifa and Bar-Ilan University.

    The union would consider boycotting a third (Hebrew University) .

    In recent weeks, the debate has focused international attention on the Association of University Teachers(AUT).

    Sue Blackwell, a lecturer at Birmingham University who co-wrote the motion, said she was overwhelmed by the result at the AUT's annual conference in Eastbourne. She added:

    "We now have a boycott against a quarter of the universities in Israel, and we intend to continue the fight.

    I am proud today to be a member of a union that is prepared to stand up for human rights around the world."

    The AUT claimed University of Haifa had restricted the academic freedom of staff who spoke out against government policies.

    Bar-Ilan University was boycotted because of its links to a college in the disputed settlement of Ariel.

    Both institutions have contested the allegations.

    Many of the 200 representatives at yesterday's conference reported receiving dozens of emails, letters and faxes from around the world.

    Delegates voted to reject their union executive's call to postpone the vote on the two universities.

    But they did delay a decision on the Hebrew University, which was accused of evicting Palestinian families from their homes to build dormitories.

    Sources in the Palestinian Authority welcomed "a gesture of solidarity with the Palestinian people", and hoped that "more international groups will put pressure on Israel".

    Omar Barghouti, a founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, said:

    "The taboo has been shattered at last.

    From now on, it will be acceptable to compare Israel's apartheid system to its South African predecessor."

    Jocelyn Prudence, who heads the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, told the Guardian:
    "This would appear to run contrary to contractual law, race and religious discrimination law, and academic freedom obligations, which are built into the contracts of staff in pre-1992 universities."
    The Board of Deputies of British Jews called the vote "blinkered, irresponsible and dangerous".

    Last night the deputy Israeli ambassador in London, Zvi Ravner, told the Guardian that he was amazed and disturbed by the AUT's decision. He asked:

    "Are they really intending to boycott the Palestinians and the Israeli Arabs who study and work in these institutions, or are they really calling for a boycott of Jews?

    The last time that Jews were boycotted in universities was in 1930s Germany."

    The Israeli ministry of foreign affairs said:

    "This decision is misguided and unbalanced in the extreme.

    The fact that the AUT is dealing with Israel in a critical way when it is the only country in the Middle East where there is genuine academic freedom is indeed perverse."

    Danny Stone, of the Union of Jewish Students, urged the government to establish an inquiry into extremism on campuses - among students and staff.

    The Guardian understands that Jewish academics had been in contact with the AUT executive, and had received assurances that the Israeli position would be put forward and the executive would push for dialogue rather than a boycott.

    However, a full debate was suspended when time ran out, threatening to edge the issue off the agenda for the day.

    Yesterday, Sally Hunt, the AUT's general secretary, refused to comment but issued a statement promising members advice on the boycott.

    Universities UK, which represents vice-chancellors, condemned the boycott.

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    THE LAVON AFFAIR: Is History Repeating Itself?

      Read here full article from whatreallyhappen.com

    Read here for more on the "Lavon Affair" and HERE, and HERE and HERE


    In 1954, Israeli agents working in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including a United States diplomatic facility, and left evidence behind implicating Arabs as the culprits.

    The ruse would have worked, had not one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to capture and identify one of the bombers, which in turn led to the round up of an Israeli spy ring.

    Some of the spies were from Israel, while others were recruited from the local Jewish population. Israel responded to the scandal with claims in the media that there was no spy ring, that it was all a hoax perpetrated by "anti-Semites". But as the public trial progressed, it was evident that Israel had indeed been behind the bombing.

    Eventually, Israeli's Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon was brought down by the scandal, although it appears that he was himself the victim of a frame-up by the real authors of the bombing project, code named "Operation Susannah."

    It is therefore a fact that Israel has a prior history of setting off bombs with the intent to blame Arabs for them.

    This is not the only example of a "False Flag" operation designed to trick the United States into attacking Israel's enemies.

    According to Victor Ostrovsky, a Mossad defector now living in Canada, Ronald Reagan was tricked into bombing Libya by means of a radio transmitter smuggled into Tripoli by the Mossad, which broadcast messages designed to fool the United States into thinking Libya was about to launch a massive terror attack on the west. On the basis of this fake evidence, the US bombed Libya, killing Khadaffi's daughter. Read here for more on Mossad's role in the bombing of Libya. And HERE and HERE.

    The Jews of Iraq is a story by a Jewish writer revealing yet another false flag operation where Israelis used bombs and planted the blame on Arabs.

    More recently, Captain Ward Boston, who served as senior legal counsel for the Navy's Court of Inquiry into the Israeli attack on USS Liberty, has come forward to report that the Court of Inquiry was ORDERED to conclude that the attack was an accident by President Lyndon Johnson.

    In hindsight, given the use of unmarked aircraft and boats by Israel during the actual attack, it appears that Israel intended to sink the US ship and frame Egypt for the attack, tricking the US into the war against Egypt. Read here for more on the attack on USS LIberty and HERE and HERE


    So, with this established history, it is now time to re-examine some facts about the World Trade Towers:

    1. There is no proof at all of who was actually on the hijacked airplanes last 9/11.

    Even the head of the FBI admits that the only hard evidence are the names used by the hijackers on faked IDs. At least 7 of the men whose names were on those IDs have since turned up alive. Another had died back in 1999.

    None of the names of the alleged hijackers were on the passenger lists of the four aircraft.

    We do not know who was on those planes, only that we are supposed to think they were Arab Muslims.
    2. The night before the attacks on the World Trade Towers, men using those stolen identities visited bars and strip clubs, making sure they would be noticed and remembered by all they met.

    Students of Islam will confirm that NO Muslim devout enough to be willing to commit suicide would spend the night before he was to meet Allah violating so many of Islam's laws regarding alcohol and nude women.

    This suggests the planting of a false trail ahead of time, doubly so because we know the identities were stolen.

    Coupled with the deception of the faked Osama "confession" video tape , it is beyond question that deception and fraud exists in the World Trade Towers case.
    3. NO Israelis working in or near the World Trade Towers died.

    Contrary to early reports (including a statement by George Bush) of large numbers of Israelis being killed in the 9-11 attacks, only TWO Israelis died, both passengers on the airplanes. Read here for more The foreign press has long rumored that Israelis were given an advance warning not to go to work on 9-11.

    In the case of Odigo, an Israeli company with offices located near the World Trade Towers, the existence of a warning message sent before the four aircraft had even left the ground is an established fact.

    That someone in Israel knew of the attacks ahead of time is beyond question.
    4. There is an Israeli spy ring.

    As in the Lavon Affair, Israeli assets have been trying to dismiss the spy ring story (apparently with the FBI's help) while accusing those who refuse to be silent of "anti-Semitism".

    The lesson from the Lavon case is that Israel's strident denials and smear campaigns are a sure sign that something is indeed being covered up, even as the "art students" continue to be deported.

    And, as a US Official stated in Carl Cameron's suppressed story on the Israeli Spy/Bugging Ring, evidence does exist that links the arrested Israeli spies with 9-11, but that this evidence has been classified by the United States Government, probably to keep from looking like total idiots at having been so easily fooled for the Nth time.

    The United States has been deceived before by Israeli covert operations with the intention of harming American relations with the Arab nations.

    Israel has never hesitated to kill Americans (USS Liberty) or allow Americans to be killed (The bombing in Beirut that killed 241 American Marines) when it serves a purpose.

    And, the fact remains that Israel has exploited 9-11 from the instant when Ehud Barak appeared on the BBC moments after the attacks on the World Trade Towers (holding a prepared speech) to the aggression against the Palestinian people which has escalated non-stop ever since 9-11.

    Who is responsible for the World Trade Towers attacks?

    We truly do not know.

    What we do know beyond all doubt is that someone went to a great deal of effort to provide an easy and at times all-too-obvious a target to blame.

    Our nation was fooled by that stunt before.

    The result was that our money and the blood of our children was spent to attack someone else's enemies.

    There is an old saying that goes, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on ME!"


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     Sunday, April 24, 2005

    Da Vinci Code: Book of the Year

      Read here full article

    21 April 2005.

    The Da Vinci Code was named Book of the Year at the British Book Awards.The awards was broadcast on Friday April 22 on Channel 4.

    With worldwide sales of more than 17 million copies and translation into 42 languages, the book has become one of the biggest sellers of all time.

    It had the number one sales ranking at Amazon.com, held for 47 weeks on the New York Times Best-Seller List, and inspired a one-hour ABC News special.

    It is now being made into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Tom Hanks and Sir Ian McKellen.

    The novel sparked debates about the legitimacy of Western and Christian history and has enraged the Vatican ( and HERE) and been derided by highbrow literary critics.

    The Da Vinci Code is a quasi-historical thriller which claims Leonardo Da Vinci's painting The Last Supper holds the key to the Holy Grail.

    According to the book, the Grail is not a chalice, as traditionally believed, but Mary Magdalene.

    It claims Jesus and Mary married and had a child and that their bloodline survives to this day - a secret kept by the Catholic Church.

    The Da Vinci Code is a fictional thriller, which supposes a marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene that produced a royal bloodline in France.


    Rennes-le-Chateau in southern France, where Father Berenger Saunier was the priest

    (Note: Rennes le Chateau is located in southern France in the Aude departement of the Languedoc-Roussillon region near the Aude river south of Carcassonne. The closest village is Couiza.)

    Read here "Mysteries of Rennes-le-Chateau".

    The Da Vinci Code also contains many more claims about Christianity's historic origins and theological development.

    The central claim Brown's novel makes about Christianity is that "almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false."

    Senior figures in the Vatican have dismissed the book as "lies". Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Archbishop of Genoa and right-hand man to the new Pope Benedict XVI, recently spoke out against the book.
    "It astonishes and worries me that so many people believe these lies.

    The book is everywhere. There is a very real risk that
    many people who read it will believe that the fables it contains are true."
    Brown, a former teacher who rarely makes public appearances, sent a videoed acceptance speech to the awards ceremony held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London

    He told of his delight that the book had sparked worldwide religious debate but added: "For the record, it is a novel."

    The 16th annual British Book Awards were hosted by TV presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan.

    Related Non-Fiction Book

    In 1982,Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln published a NON-FICTION book called "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" .

    The story in both books, the novel, the Da Vinci Code, and the non-fiction, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, is this:

    "In 1885, the Abbe Berenger Sauniere discovered a collection of parchments beneath a church in Rennes-le-Chateau.
    One of the complex ciphers and codes read: 'To Dagobert II King And To Sion Belongs This Treasure And He Is There Dead.'


    Sauniere quickly became part of the Parisian esoteric underground and extracted a fortune from the (Catholic) Church, which was spent on unusual interior designs that prominently featured unusually dark interpretations of Christ's crucifixion".

    In the book, the author asked, and went about doing a detective work, the following questions:

    1. Is the traditional, accepted view of the life of Christ in some way incomplete?

    2. Is it possible that Christ did not die on the cross?

    3. Is it possible Jesus was married, a father, and that his bloodline still exists?

    4. Is it possible that parchments found in the South of France a century ago reveal one of the best-kept secrets in Christendom?

    5. Is it possible that these parchments contain the very heart of the mystery of the Holy Grail?
    This non-fiction book, like the novel, the Da Vinci Code, is provocative, and meticulously researched. The authors' conclusion from their detective work? The answers to the questions posed: Yes and probably true!

    The detective work began with the story in which Father Berenger Saunier, as priest of the Rennes-le-Chateau, stumbled upon a parchment hidden in one of the pillars in the Chateau.

    Supposed copies of this parchment are in existence and have been decoded to show the following message:
    BERGER PAS DE TENTATION QUE POUSSIN
    TENIERS GARDENT LA CLEF PAX DCLXXXI PAR LA
    CROIX ET CE CHEVAL DE DIEU J'ACHEVE CE
    DAEMON DE GARDIEN A MIDI POMMES BLEUES.
    It was translated as:
    SHEPHERDESS NO TEMPTATION THAT POUSSIN
    TENIERS HOLD THE KEY PEACE 681 BY THE CROSS
    AND THIS HORSE OF GOD I COMPLETE(or translated as DESTROY)
    THIS DAEMON GUARDIAN AT MIDDAY BLUE APPLES

    Painting by Nicolas Poussin entitled "Les Bergers d'Arcadie"

    Excerpt:Pages 409-410. "Holy Blood, Holy Grail"
    "There are at least a dozen families in Britain and Europe today-with numerous collateral branches who are of Merovingian lineage.

    These include the houses of Hapsburg-Lorraine (present titular dukes of Lorraine and kings of Jerusalem), Plantard, Luxembourg, Montpezat, Montesquiou, and various others. According to the 'Prieure documents,' the Sinclair family in Britain is also allied to the bloodline as are various branches of the Stuarts. And the Devonshire family, among others, would seem to have been privy to the secret.

    All of these houses could presumably claim a pedigree from Jesus; and if one man, at some point in the future, is to be put forward as a new priest-king, we do not know who he is."
    For further readings on related stories:

  • Read here on "The Holy Grail, the House of David, the Jacobite Movement and Rennes Le Chateau"

  • Click on Rennes le Chateau Homepage Choose languages in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian

  • Read here about Berenger Saunière

  • The genesis of the story of the Holy Grail

  • Click here the "Priory of Sion Website" that claims to debunk the thesis of the novel Da Vinci Code and Holy Blood, Holy Grail

  • Other related books

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     Saturday, April 23, 2005

    Swedish Christian Preacher Insults Prophet Muhammad, Angers Muslims

      Read here full article

    Runar Sogaard, 38, a celebrity Christian evangelist preacher in Sweden, and Norwegian by birth,stepped out of line in his sermon on March 20, provoking anger in the Muslim world, by calling Prophet Muhammad, a "confused pedophile".

    In a sermon at Filadelfia church in Stockholm on March 20, Sogaard made repeated claims against Prophet Muhammad– whose Birthday Muslims worldwide celebrated Thursday – saying Prophet Muhammad was “a confused pedophile” since his wives included a girl aged nine years old, alluding to the Prophet’s wife `Aisha.

    Marie Thorsensson, an official at Sogaard's church, told Reuters that the Christian preacher would not make any comment on the issue “except that the extract from his sermon is correct, but the sermon was not about Islam or Muhammad”.

    A top Muslim scholar urged his fellow Swedish Muslims NOT to take the law into their own hands or commit any violent acts to avenge the repulsive remarks of the Christian cleric.

    Last November , Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gosh, known for his criticism of Islam, was killed , allegedly by a Muslim extremist after he directed an anti-Islam script that trigged anger of the Muslim minority in the Netherlands.

    Van Gogh made his film in collaboration with a controversial politician of Somali descent, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who is a vocal critic of women’s treatment in Islamic countries and who was also under police protection after receiving death threats.

    Hassan Moussa, the head of Sweden’s council of imams said:

    “Do not under any circumstances take the law into your own hands.

    We beg those who threatened (Runar) Sogaard, in the name of Islam, to let Swedish law judge between him and us.Those who cast stones against us will not get stoned in return."

    The Muslim imam said Sogaard's comments “injured millions of Muslims all over the world". He added, " but they must not lead to violence like the murder last year of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh who was critical of Islam.”

    The Swedish Muslim community is suing Sogaard for hate crimes.

    Islam has become the second official religion in Sweden after Christianity, despite the fact that the Muslim community is a relatively new one, unlike that of other European countries such as France.

    Runar Devik Sogaard- Profile

    Sogaard in his homepage lists his occupation as "motivator and minister" and claims, to ".. inspire and motivate people to reach their dreams and improve their lives. I travel all over the world and do what I do today. Working with my own TV-shows".

    He described himself as "loyal, caring and impassioned".

    His favorite travel destinations: Australia, South Africa and California.

    Sogaard was born in Kongsvinger, Norway in 1967. His father was a local evangelical pastor who ran a Christian music studio in Oslo on the side.

    When he was a 16-year-old, he began to lead a Christian talk show on the local radio station in his hometown in Norway. " We preached and prayed for the sick - live," he said.

    The radio program became very popular as hundreds tried to reach the boy-preacher for prayer at the same time.

    In 1988, Sogaard attended Christ for All Nations Bible College in Dallas, USA.

    The following fall he moved back to Sweden, this time to Uppsala, where he was taken on full time at Word of Life Church as a preacher and youth leader.

    He runs his own ministry.

    Sogaard claimed:

    "I'm constantly trying to break down the things of the Kingdom to people who have no understanding or even believe what I believe, it keeps me sharp to the real needs of people……. I see how Jesus was in the Gospels and find myself doing the things he did.

    God is going to raise up warriors, in the likeness of David, who will take on the giants of this world; television, Hollywood, the media, politics, sport and enter into the promised land of the 21st Century."

    He has his own clothing store in Sturegallerian, a fashionable Stockholm shopping mall.


    Ironically, a lot of people imagine that Sogaard lives a double life in much the same way he thought the preachers of his youth did.

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     Thursday, April 21, 2005

    Scanning... Scanning... Scanning..

      Italy:Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi handed in his resignation to President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi on Wednesday, but promised to quickly form a new government to end the worst political crisis in his four years in office. By law, the president could call early elections and give someone else an opportunity to form a new government, but observers expect him to give Berlusconi another chance. Announcing his resignation to the senate, Berlusconi said he nonetheless aimed to serve out his full five-year term. Read here for more
    ______________________________________________________________

    Ecuador
    : Ecuador's ousted President Lucio Gutierrez has been granted political asylum in Brazil, a day after he was removed from office by Congress. Vice-President Alfredo Palacio has been named in his place. Mr Gutierrez took refuge in Brazil's embassy and sought asylum as the new president ordered his arrest following a week of escalating protests. People are angered by his attempts to overhaul the Supreme Court and apparent effort to pack it with supporters.Read here for more
    _____________________________________________________________

    Iraq
    : Iraq's outgoing prime minister, Iyad Allawi, has escaped a car bomb assassination attempt which targeted his convoy in Baghdad.At least two policemen were killed in the attack that occurred late on Wednesday night while Allawi was being driven home from a meeting. Read here for more
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    Iraq:Al-Qaida in Iraq, the country's most feared terror group, claimed responsibility Thursday for a suicide car bombing that targeted interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's convoy but did not harm the Iraqi leader. In a separate attack, a roadside bomb exploded on the highway leading to Baghdad's airport Thursday, heavily damaging three SUVs carrying civilians. Police Capt. Hamid Ali said two foreigners were killed and three wounded in the burning vehicles. But U.S. Embassy and military officials could not confirm the casualties. Read here for more
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    Iraq: An advance party of 43 Australian soldiers began deploying in Iraq on Wednesday at the forefront of Australia's additional troop commitment there, top officers said."They started moving into Iraq today, and should be finished Thursday ... They are driving across the border into Iraq," Captain Kate Noble, a spokeswoman for the force, told Reuters.The 43 soldiers form part of a group of 450 troops arriving over coming weeks bound for southern Iraq to provide security services and train the Iraqi army. They will bring to about 1,400 the number of Australian troops in Iraq and the Gulf. Read here for more
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    Iraq: The Iraqi interim President Jalal al-Talibani said that the bodies of more than 50 persons, supposedly for hostages held in al-Madayen town near Baghdad held earlier this week, were found.Talibani told journalists in Baghdad that these bodies were taken out of the river Tigris to the south of Baghdad and that the authorities have the full names of the killed persons and the criminals. Read here for more
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    USA: The U.S. government plans to force foreign airlines flying over American soil to turn over the names of passengers on board or check the names against U.S. government watch lists in an effort to prevent terrorists from entering U.S. airspace.The proposal has angered European, Mexican and Canadian airlines, which operate most of the 500 estimated daily overflights. If foreign airlines do not comply with the order, which is expected to be issued in coming weeks, they could have to reroute flights, adding time and cost to the journeys. At least one carrier, Aeromexico, claims the rule would violate international aviation agreements.Read here for more
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    Russia: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, arriving in Russia for the first time since assuming her post, yesterday voiced her sharpest criticism yet of Russian President Vladimir Putin's rule and said he should stick to his pledge not to seek another term in office. Read here for more
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    Afghanistan: Afghanistan's Finance Minister, Anwar Ul-Haq Ahady, has said non-government organisations are running a "parallel" unaccountable government in his country as it seeks to rebuild its economy.Mr Ahady said yesterday aid to Afghanistan needed to be funnelled to the Government directly instead of through aid agencies, which had "become a parallel government". "The function of the Government has been taken over by others," he said in a speech at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Mr Ahady questioned why most health services and education were administered by non-government organisations instead of the education or public health ministries. Read here for more
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    Palestinian Territory: Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has complained that the Israeli government is inciting public sentiment against him and that it has violated agreements reached at a summit in February. In remarks published on Wednesday, Abbas made his harshest public criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon since the Palestinian leader took office three months ago. Sharon has accused Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, of not doing enough to rein in Palestinian fighters, and voiced his criticism of Abbas in a meeting with US President George Bush earlier this month. Read here for more
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    UK: A British university teachers union will propose a boycott of three Israeli universities they accuse of direct involvement in the Jewish state's occupation of Palestinian land.Members of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) are expected to put forward a motion to cut ties with the Israeli institutions at its annual meeting on Wednesday. Authors of the motion say they are responding to a call from Palestinian academics to boycott Israel's cultural and academic institutions. Read here for more
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    USA: GEORGE W. Bush has stepped up the pressure on China to revalue its currency amid alarmist rhetoric from US congressmen accusing Beijing of a weapons build-up "aimed at America".The US President, under increasing pressure from both sides of a Congress growing impatient that he is playing it too softly with China, urged Beijing to liberalise its currency regime. Californian republican Duncan Hunter, chairman of a House Committee in Congress told CNN that China's huge reserves of US dollars were allowing it to buy sophisticated weapons that could destroy US aircraft carriers. Read here for more
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    Pakistan:A Pakistani general says US claims that Pakistan is planning a new offensive against militants in its Waziristan region are "highly irresponsible". Lt Gen Safdar Hussain, who commands Pakistani forces in Waziristan, was responding to comments by David Barno, head of US forces in Afghanistan. Gen Hussain, who met Gen Barno this week, said: "I told Gen Barno he should better take care of Afghanistan and we can do ourselves in Pakistan." Read here for more

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     Wednesday, April 20, 2005

    German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict the Sixteenth (XVI)

      At just after 6 pm on 20th April 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI.



    He will become the 267th Pope of the Catholic Church following the death of Pope John Paul II.

    The Malachy Prophecies

    Read here on "The last 10 Popes" prophesied by the Irish saint St.Malachy.

    St. Malachy was well-known for his gift of prophecy. He was born in 1094 in Armagh in Ireland and died on November 2, 1148. He is also known as Maolmhaodhog ua Morgair, Maol Maedoc, and Malachy O'Morgair. He was canonized by Pope Clement III in 1190.

    Read here article by Dr. H. T. Spence written immediately after the death of Pope John Paul II and BEFORE the election of Pope Benedict XVI.

    According to Malachy, the 267th pope is called "Gloria Olivae," or "glory of the olive." Traditionally, the olive branch has been associated with peace, but in both the Old and New Testaments, it also serves as an emblem for the Jews.

    Some believe that Malachy's description of the 267th Pope may instead refer to St. Benedict's sixth-century prophecy that a member of his (Benedictine) order will lead the Church in its fight against evil just before the Apocalypse.

    If this is true, the next pope (267th) will go by the name of Pope Benedict XVI, in imitation of Saint Benedict and Pope Benedict XV. Benedict XV was a pope obsessed with peace: he sought peace and spoke of peace and wrote documents seeking peace.

    When Malachy was in Rome in 1139, he had a vision showing him all the Popes from his day till the end of time. He wrote descriptions of each of the pontiffs and presented the manuscript to Pope Innocent II.

    The manuscript was forgotten until 1590. The manuscript was first published by Arnold de Wyon. Since their publication, there has been much discussion as to whether they are genuine predictions of Malachy or later culminations by the Jesuits. It has been in print - and hotly debated, both authenticity and correctness - ever since.

    Malachy assigned short descriptions in Latin to each pope when he committed his vision to paper. These mottoes usually refer to a family name, birthplace, coat-of-arms, or office held before election to the papacy.

    John Paul II was the 266th pope and the 110th pope mentioned by Malachy since his list commenced.

    Malachy called John Paul II "De labore Solis," or "of the eclipse of the sun," or "from the labour of the sun."

    Karol Wojtyla,his baptismal name,who became Pope John Paul II was born on May 18, 1920, during the solar eclipse.

    Being born in Poland, he came from behind the former Iron Curtain. Because of his obsessive devotion to the Virgin Mary, this Pope was viewed by certain Catholic historians to be the fruit of the intercession of the Woman clothed with the sun and in labor (Revelation 12).

    According to these prophecies, there are only two Popes remaining after John Paul II.

    The Last Ten Popes in St Malachy's Prophecies

    1. The Burning Fire.
    PIUS X. 1903-1914. This Pope showed a burning passion for spiritual renewal in the Church.

    2. Religion Laid Waste.
    BENEDICT XV. 1914-1922. During this Pope's reign saw Communism move into Russia where religious life was laid waste, and World War I with the death of millions of Christians who were carnage in Flanders Field and elsewhere.

    3. Unshaken Faith.
    PIUS XI. 1922-1939. This Pope faced tremendous pressure from fascist and sinister powers in Germany and Italy, but he was an outspoken critic of Communism and Fascism which enraged Hitler.

    4. An Angelic Shepherd.
    PIUS XII. 1939-1958. This Pope had an affinity for the spiritual world and received visions which have not been made public. Peter Bander says Pius XII "has emerged as one of the great Popes of all time," and he "was in the truest sense of the word an Angelic Pastor to the flock..."

    5. Pastor and Mariner. JOHN XXIII.
    1958-1963. John was a pastor to the world, much beloved, and the Patriarch of Venice. The connection to "mariner" is thus remarkable.

    6. Flower of Flowers.

    PAUL VI. 1963-1978. Paul's coat-of-arms depicts three fleurs-de-lis, corresponding to Malachay's prophecy. His coat of arms included three fleurs-de-lis (iris blossoms).

    7. Of the Half Moon.
    JOHN PAUL I. 1978-1978. John Paul I was elected Pope on August 26, 1978, when there was a half moon. He reigned 33 days, that is, about one month, when he died, although many think he was murdered. He was the 109th Pope - is "De Medietate Lunae" (Of the Half Moon). The corresponding pope was John Paul I (1978-78), who was born in the diocese of Belluno (beautiful moon) and was baptized Albino Luciani (white light). He became pope on August 26, 1978, when the moon appeared exactly half full. It was in its waning phase. He died the following month, soon after an eclipse of the moon.

    8. The Labor of the Son.

    JOHN PAUL II. 1978-2005. Pope John Paul II was the most traveled Pope in history. He circled the globe numerous times, preaching to huge audiences everywhere he went. He survived an assassination attempt. He has written a book which has enjoyed a large circulation. Like the sun which never ceases to labor and provides light daily, this Pope has been incessant. He was born on May 18, 1920. On that date in the morning there was a near total eclipse of the sun over Europe. Prophecy - The 110th Pope is "De Labore Solis" (Of the Solar Eclipse, or, From the Toil of the Sun). Like the sun he came out of the East (Poland).

    9. The Glory of the Olive.
    The Order of St. Benedict has said this Pope will come from their order. It is interesting that Jesus gave his apocalyptic prophecy about the end of time from the Mount of Olives. This Pope will reign during the beginning of the tribulation Jesus spoke of. The 111th prophesy is "Gloria Olivae" (The Glory of the Olive). The Order of Saint Benedict has claimed that this pope will come from their ranks. Saint Benedict himself prophesied that before the end of the world his Order, known also as the Olivetans, will triumphantly lead the Catholic Church in its fight against evil.

    10. PETER THE ROMAN
    This final Pope will likely be Satan, taking the form of a man named Peter who will gain a worldwide allegiance and adoration. He will be the final antichrist which prophecy students have long foretold. If it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived.

    The 112th prophesy states:

    "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Petrus Romanus, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations; after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End."

    Malachy's final words:

    "Rome, the seat of the Vatican, will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people."


    Pope Benedict XVI - Profile

    Read here for more

    Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 78 is now to be known as Pope Benedict XVI.

    He presided over the Pope's funeral earlier this month and was said to be among the pontiff's closest friends.

    Cardinal Ratzinger was born into a traditional Bavarian farming family in 1927, although his father was a policeman.

    At the age of 14, he joined the Hitler Youth, as was required of young Germans of the time, but was not an enthusiastic member.

    His studies at Traunstein seminary were interrupted during World War II when he was drafted into an anti-aircraft unit in Munich.

    He deserted the German army towards the end of the war and was briefly held as a prisoner of war by the Allies in 1945.

    His supporters say his experiences under the Nazi regime convinced him that the Church had to stand up for truth and freedom.

    Cardinal Ratzinger's conservative, traditionalist views were intensified by his experiences during the liberal 1960s.

  • Cardinal Ratzinger has been head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - formerly known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition - since 1981.

  • One of his first campaigns was against liberation theology, which had gained ground among priests in Latin America and elsewhere as a means of involving the Church in social activism and human rights issues. He has described homosexuality as a "tendency" towards an "intrinsic moral evil". During the US election campaign, he called for pro-choice politicians to be denied Communion.

  • He has also argued that Turkey should not be admitted into the European Union.

  • He speaks 10 languages and is said to be an accomplished pianist with a preference for Beethoven.

  • In 1966 he took a chair in dogmatic theology at the University of Tuebingen. However, he was appalled at the prevalence of Marxism among his students.

  • He moved to Regensburg University in his native Bavaria in 1969, eventually rising to become its dean and vice-president.

  • He was named Cardinal of Munich by Pope Paul VI in 1977.


    Wolfgang Cooper, a commentator on religious affairs in Germany, fears that the cardinal could become a divisive figure in the papacy.
    "I think if Cardinal Ratzinger was pope, a large distance could grow between the leadership of the Church and the faith. The cardinal is a "scientist" who "prefers intellectual discussions, whereas many Catholics want priests and bishops who will touch the hearts".
    Brief Background of Pope Benedict XVI

    April 16, 1927: Born in Marktl am Inn in Germany's southern region of Bavaria near the Austrian border on the day before Easter. Baptized the same day.

    1929: Family moves to town of Tittmoning.

    1932: Family moves to Traunstein after his father has conflicts with local Nazi Party supporters in Tittmoning.

    1941: Enrolled against his will in Hitler Youth. Dismissed shortly afterward because of his intention to study for the priesthood.

    1943: Drafted as helper for anti-aircraft unit, serves in battery defending BMW plant.

    1944: Dismissed from unit, but returns home to find draft notice for forced labor.

    1944: Leaves home to dig anti-tank trenches.

    1944: Released from labor force and returns home only to receive army draft notice three weeks later.

    1945: Deserts from army and returns home. Captured by Americans as war ends.

    1945: Released from U.S. POW camp, hitches a ride home on milk truck.

    1945: Begins study for priesthood in Freising.

    1951: Ordained a priest along with his brother Georg.

    1953: Receives doctorate in theology, University of Munich.

    1959: Begins teaching theology in Bonn, first of several appointments in German universities.

    1969: Leaves University of Tuebingen concerned about student unrest which had interrupted his lectures with sit-ins. Takes teaching job in Regensburg in native Bavaria, near his brother.

    1977: Elected Archbishop of Munich und Freising.

    1977: Elevated to cardinal three months later by Pope Paul VI.

    1978: Participated in conclave that elected Pope John Paul II.

    1979: Vatican revokes theology teaching license of liberal German theologian Hans Kueng, who helped Ratzinger get a teaching post at University of Tuebingen in the 1960s. Ratzinger was sharply critical of Kueng.

    1981: Summoned to Rome as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under John Paul II.

    1985: On behalf of John Paul II, he denounces a work by Leonard Boff, a Latin American pioneer of Liberation Theology.

    1985: Publication of "The Ratzinger Report."

    1997: Publication of "Salt of the Earth."

    1998: Publication of "Milestones. Memoirs: 1927 to 1997."

    2000: Publication of "God and World," "Spirit of the Liturgy."

    2002: Named Dean of the College of Cardinals.

    April 13, 2005: Publication of "Values in a Time of Upheaval."

    April 19, 2005: Elected Pope Benedict XVI.

    Papacy Legitimacy and Authority within the Catholic Church

    The papacy is based is the declaration of Christ to Peter in the New Testament Gospel, Matthew 16. Jesus said: "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church: and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it".

    The word "Peter" is the masculine term for "a stone, or little rock, or a small detachment of a massive ledge."

    "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:19). In Matthew 16:19, Peter held the keys precisely as every biblical preacher and teacher does today.

    This binding and loosing authority is given to all the disciples (Matthew 18:18). This authority was first demonstrated when Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost and later when he opened the Gospel to the Gentiles in Acts 10.

    Dr. H. T. Spence wrote:
    It is interesting to note that Peter was openly rebuked by Paul for his hypocrisy among the brethren (Galatians 2:11-14). If Peter was the first pope, and popes cannot be questioned by anyone, then from this line of reasoning, Paul would be in a GREATER position than Peter to be made the foundation of the Church.

    It is also interesting to note that Peter was married (Luke 4:38; I Corinthians 9:5) although Popes and priests are not allowed to marry.


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     Monday, April 18, 2005

    Triclosan:Dangerous Pesticide used in Toothpastes and Household Products

      A London newspaper reported:

    "Dozens of toothpastes sold at supermarkets are at the centre of a cancer alert today.

    ... dozens of products (are found) on supermarket shelves containing the chemical (Triclosan) from brand names including Colgate, Aquafresh, Dentyl and Sensodyne.

    Marks and Spencer confirmed today it was removing products containing triclosan from all its stores.
    Several major grocery and home product chains in Great Britain have declared their intention to phase out triclosan from their products. The chains include Marks & Spencer, Asda, B&Q, and Sainsbury’s.


    Household products containing the pesticide Triclosan.

    The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered Triclosan as a dangerous Pesticide. The EPA gives triclosan high scores both as a human health risk and as an environmental risk.

    Read here for more on the health risks of Triclosan and HERE

    Triclosan is a chemical with antibacterial properties. Read here on its chemical properties and HERE

    It is an ingredient in many detergents, dish-washing liquids, soaps, deodorants, cosmetics, lotions, anti-microbial creams, various toothpastes. It is also used as an additive in plastics and textiles.

    Triclosan belongs to a class of chemicals called chlorophenol. It is claimed that this class of chemicals is suspected of causing cancer in humans. Externally, phenol can cause a variety of skin irritations, but since it can temporarily deactivate sensory nerve endings, contact with it may cause little or no pain. Taken internally, even in small amounts, phenol can lead to cold sweats, circulatory collapse, convulsions, coma and death.

    Additionally, chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides can be stored in body fat, sometimes accumulating to toxic levels. Triclosan is a chlorinated aromatic , similar in molecular structure and chemical formula to some of the most toxic chemicals on earth: dioxins, PCB’s, and Agent Orange.

    Long term exposure to repeated use of many pesticide products can damage the liver, kidneys, heart and lungs, suppress the immune system, and cause hormonal disruption, paralysis, sterility and brain haemorrhages.

    However, the Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) claimed the attack on triclosan is a "false alarm".

    Read here the counter-claim to SDA

    Triclosan has been on the market for around 30 years and it is currently estimated that between 60 and 90 tonnes of the agent goes into consumer and household products in the UK each year. There is a very significant body of scientific research on Triclosan including information to show that it is finding its way into the environment.

    What is less well understood is whether are there any implications for wildlife, the water environment or the wider natural environment.

    The EPA in UK is asking manufacturers of Triclosan to look at whether the chemical might be having any effect on the environment and wildlife.

    According to Pollution Information website that monitors hazardous chemicals, it ranks triclosan as "More hazardous than most chemicals in 1 ranking system.".

    Triclosan is found in the following toothpasts and mouthwash:

  • Dentyl mouthwash
  • Colgate Total fresh stripe
  • Colgate Total
  • Sensodyne Total Care
  • Mentadent P
  • Aquafresh



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     Thursday, April 14, 2005

    History Repeats Itself: Lessons of Iraq NEVER Learnt

      by

    William R. Polk

    Other Breaking News
  • IRAQ: AT least 11 people have been killed and 35 wounded in a double suicide car bombing against an Iraqi highway protection force convoy in Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said.The latest attack occurred at 10am (1600 AEST) in an area where the unoccupied Australian embassy, Baghdad University, an abandoned Interior Ministry building and hotels popular with westerners are located.Read here for more

  • IRAQ:The Indiana man shown with gun-toting captors in a videotape Wednesday is a 47-year-old businessman who went to Iraq to provide drinking water to its people.Jeffrey Ake, ashen-faced and shaken, appeared in a grainy video on the Arab satellite network Al-Jazeera, clutching what looked like a photo and an identification card.Read here for more

  • USA: President Bush yesterday likened the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad two years ago to the fall of the Berlin Wall and called it part of a "global democratic revolution." Mr. Bush told 25,000 cheering soldiers on a sun-drenched field. "Many of you have recently returned from Iraq. Others are preparing to head out this fall -- some for a second tour of duty. Whether you're coming or going, you are making an enormous difference for the security of our nation and for the peace of the world." Read here for more

  • UK:From boots to baseball caps, the Caterpillar fashion range is marketed as upmarket outdoor wear for label-conscious youth. But customers are now being urged to boycott the construction and clothing company because it supplies bulldozers to the Israeli government, which uses the vehicles to destroy Palestinian homes, roads and olive groves. They have also been used to build the controversial "security wall" which has attracted international opprobrium.Read here for more

  • The Netherlands: Dutch airline KLM has demanded the US explain how it gained insight into passenger details of a flight US authorities turned back from its airspace despite the fact it was not scheduled to land on American territory.KLM said on Monday US authorities are not allowed to have access to passenger details on flights that do not land in America. The airline said US authorities are only given restricted access to details on US-bound flights.Read here for more

  • Palestinian Territory: ANGRY Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas has accused Ariel Sharon of trying to undermine his authority at the Israeli prime minister's summit with US President George W. Bush.As Israeli officials tried to downplay differences with Washington exposed during the summit in Texas, Abbas said he was “astonished” by Mr Sharon's “campaign against the Palestinian Authority during (his) visit to the United States”.Read here for more

  • China/Japan: A ROW between Japan and China intensified yesterday as Tokyo took steps towards granting Japanese companies the right to test-drill for oil and gas in a disputed area of the East China Sea. China protested furiously. Defence analysts believe that by giving Japanese companies the right to send in drilling ships, the chances of a clash possibly involving naval patrol boats, are now much higher. Read here for more



  • Read here full article "The Lessons of Iraq We Refuse to Learn" by William Polk

    (Mr. Polk taught at Harvard from 1955 to 1961 when he was appointed a member of the Policy Planning Council of the US State Department. In 1965 he became professor of history at the University of Chicago and founded its Middle Eastern Studies Center. Subsequently, he also became president of the Adlai Stevenson Institute of International Affairs. Among his books are The United States and the Arab World, The Elusive Peace: The Middle East in the Twentieth Century, Neighbors and Strangers: the Fundamentals of Foreign Affairs and the just-published Understanding Iraq. )

    April 14, 2005

    Edited article:

    Are there any lessons to be learned by the American venture into Iraq?

    Writing about the Vietnam war, the neo-conservative American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington suggested that it would be best if policy makers “simply blot out of their mind any recollection of this one.”

    It seems to me that they DID.

    So, in at least some ways, the Iraq war has been proof of George Santayana’s admonition that, having done so, we were doomed to repeat it.

    The urgent question today is, will the Iraq war itself be similarly blotted out and similarly repeated?

    Mr. Huntington’s argument was based on the notion that Vietnam was unique since, as he saw it, imperialism and colonialism have “just about disappeared from world politics.” That is, they were fading memories of a now irrelevant past.

    But is this true?

    Foreign domination has faded from our memory but NOT from the memories of many of the peoples of Asia and Africa.

    FOCUS ON IRAQ

    Iraq became “independent” by treaty with Britain in 1922.

    Then it became “independent” by recognition of the League of Nations in 1932. But few Iraqis believe that it became really independent by either of these acts.

    Britain controlled the economy and maintained a military presence while it continued to rule Iraq behind a façade of governments it had appointed. It then reoccupied the country during World War II. After the war it ruled through a proxy until he was overthrown in 1958.

    So was 1958 the date of independence?

    On the surface yes, but below the surface American and British intelligence manipulated internal forces and neighboring states to influence or dominate governments; they helped to overthrow the revolutionary government of Abdul Karim Qasim and to install the Baath party which brought Saddam Husain to power.

    Knowing what they had done and fearing that they would do so again, shaped much of the policy even of Saddam Husain.

    By giving or withholding money, arms and vital battlefield intelligence, Britain and America influenced what Saddam thought he could do.

    So worried was he about his American connection that, before he decided to invade Kuwait, he called in the U.S. ambassador to ask, in effect, if the invasion was ok with Washington. Only when he was assured in 1990 that the U.S. had no policy on the frontiers with Kuwait by official testimony before Congress, government press releases and a face-to-face meeting with our ambassador in Baghdad did he act.

    Either he misread the omens or we changed them. Our ambassador later said, incredibly, that we had NOT anticipated that he would take ALL of Kuwait.

    When he did, we invaded, destroyed much of his army and the Iraqi economy and imposed upon the country UN-authorized sanctions and unauthorized “no-fly” zones.

    Finally, in 2003 we invaded again, occupied the country and imposed upon it a government of our choice.

    Whatever the justification for any or all of these actions, they do not add up to independence. So even Iraqis who hated and feared Saddam always felt that they were living under a form of Western control.

    The simple fact is that the “memories” had NOT faded because they were based on current reality.

    There are many things to be said about the American invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    But one thing stands out above all to me as a historian:


  • We were (and I believe still are) ignorant of Iraqi history and culture.

  • More pointedly, we had (and still have) NO sense of how Iraqis saw their own past and their relationships with us. This ignorance has caused us, often inadvertently, to take actions that many or perhaps most Iraqis have read as imperialist.

  • This has been true even of actions that we felt were generous, far-sighted and constructive.
  • CONSTITUTION

    Constitutions are surely “good.”

    We believe that other countries should have them because they are the bedrock of democracy. At the end of the First World War, the British made giving the Iraqis one a high priority.

    Experts were called in, phrases were debated, studies were made of the best then in operation, and finally, in 1924, a wonderful document emerged. It was greeted with great satisfaction but mainly by those who had given it, the British.

    Iraqis paid it little heed because it was not grounded in the realities of Iraqi society, practices or even hopes.

    Time after time, governments came into power that overturned or simply neglected every paragraph it contained.

    So what did the American occupation government do? Was it aware of this history?

    Apparently not.

    It set about writing a new constitution.

    The occupation authorities wrote the constitution without any Iraqi input and just handed it to their appointed interim government.

    That, to my mind, amounted to astonishing insensitivity.

    Somehow it never occurred to the American lawyers who wrote it that it would become worthless, that is, illegal, when the interim administration was replaced by even a quasi-independent government. It was surely the shortest-lived constitution ever written.

    ELECTIONS

    If constitutions are necessary for democracies, elections are even more so.

    Iraq had to have one. Organizing and controlling it turned out to be a difficult task.

    Many Iraqis interpreted “our” election to mean:

    - Not to express a national consensus on democracy,

    - But to solidify our control over the country.

    Because at least some Iraqis were determined to get us out of their country, using guerrilla warfare tactics and terrorism against us and those Iraqis who supported us, we had to use our military forces to set parameters on the issues, the personnel and the form of this expression of freedom.

    The elections were held was hailed as a great victory for democracy.

    I remain unconvinced.

    I suspect that two fatal flaws will soon become evident:

    - A heightening of the divisive tendencies already inherent in Iraqi
    society and

    - A devaluation of the very concept of representative
    government.


    What we have done (is) in the name of security, (but) our critics in Iraq have sought sovereignty. We believed that security had to come first.

    A close reading of history leads me to believe that the order is usually the reverse.

    When foreigners get out, insurgencies stop; they do not stop, no matter how massive the force used against them or how costly in blood and treasure the cost of fighting is, until the foreigners leave. This surely is the lesson of Ireland, Çeçhneya, Algeria, and even of our own Revolution.

    I predict it will be of Iraq too.

    Believing that security comes first has led our government to concentrate on rebuilding an Iraqi army since doing so appeared to offer security at a bargain price.

    But, Iraqis remember the terrible costs to their society of the creation of armies. The one the British created, time after time, subverted or overthrew civil governments. A new army, absent balancing civic institutions, which can grow only slowly and by internal developments, will surely again pave the way for a military dictatorship.

    OTHER LESSONS

    What happened to Iraq showed other governments that they live at the sufferance of the United States. Iraq could not defend itself; nor can most other states.


  • Those that can are those that have the ultimate weapon. Acquisition of even a few nuclear weapons provides “security” because the cost of attacking a power armed with them is too costly.I am told that at least some African, Asian and even European observers believe that if Saddam Husain had waited until he had a nuclear weapon before attacking Kuwait, we would not have gone to war.

  • North Korea today reinforces this assessment. There, we react with anger, economic sanctions and propaganda but NOT with military force. So governments that decide to acquire them (nuclear weapons) naturally try to move with the utmost secrecy and speed.

  • They also usually seek to avoid provocations that might bring down upon them the wrath of the existing nuclear powers. That too is a lesson of Iraq: had Saddam not provided a provocation, we would probably have done nothing.

    Indeed, we were supplying him with the components and equipment to make weapons of mass destruction right up to the time of our intervention.

    Surely, this “lesson” is in the minds of the Persians today as it was in the minds of the Russians, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis and Israelis.

    Finally, there is a grab-bag of other lessons again laid before us by Iraq:

    1. the first is that war is always unpredictable no matter how powerful the advantages one side seems to have at the beginning;

    2. the second is that they are always horrible. Not only are people killed or severely harmed, but whole societies, even of the victors, are brutalized . This was true of the British in Kenya, the French in Algeria, the Americans in the Philippines, the Russians in Central Asia, and the Chinese in Tibet.

    3. Finally, guerrilla wars are, at best, unwinnable – lasting as in Ireland for centuries and in Algeria for a century and a half. Çeçhneya suffered massacre, deportation, rape and massive destruction for nearly four centuries and still is not “pacified.” No one wins a guerrilla war; both sides lose.
    The only sensible policy is one that aims to stop them not to win them. Hegel and Santayana may be right, we may NOT learn, but certainly, Huntington is wrong in urging that we “blot” the lessons out of our minds.

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     Wednesday, April 13, 2005

    China Raising Military Stakes to ALTER Regional Balace of Power

      by

    Edward Cody

    Read here full article " China Builds a Smaller, Stronger Military" in Washington Post

    April 12, 2005

    Edited article

    A top-to-bottom modernization is transforming the Chinese military, raising the stakes for U.S. forces long dominant in the Pacific.

    Several programs to improve China's armed forces could soon produce:

  • a stronger nuclear deterrent against the United States,

  • soldiers better trained to use high-technology weapons, and

  • more effective cruise and anti-ship missiles for use in the waters around Taiwan.

    President Bush and his senior aides, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Director of Central Intelligence Porter J. Goss, have expressed concern over the recent pace of China's military progress and its effect on the regional balance of power.

    Chinese leaders have sought to field enough modern weaponry to ensure that any U.S. decision to intervene again would be painful and fraught with risk.

    As far as is known, China's military has not come up with a weapon system that suddenly changes the equation in the Taiwan Strait or surrounding waters where Japanese and U.S. forces deploy.

  • China has been trying to update its military for more than two decades, seeking to push the low-tech, manpower-heavy force it calls a people's army into the 21st-century world of computers, satellites and electronic weapons.

    U.S. and Taiwanese military officials pointed in particular to China's rapid development of cruise and other anti-ship missiles designed to pierce the electronic defenses of U.S. vessels that might be dispatched to the Taiwan Strait in case of conflict.

    The Chinese navy has taken delivery of two Russian-built Sovremenny-class guided missile destroyers and has six more on order, equipped with Sunburn missiles able to skim 4 1/2 feet above the water at a speed of Mach 2.5 to evade radar.




    Sovremenny-class Destroyers

    In addition, it has contracted with Russia to buy eight Kilo-class diesel submarines that carry Club anti-ship missiles with a range of 145 miles.



    Kilo-Class Submarine

    "These systems will present significant challenges in the event of a U.S. naval force response to a Taiwan crisis," Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in testimony March 17.

    The Nuclear Deterrent

    Strategically, China's military is also close to achieving an improved nuclear deterrent against the United States, according to foreign officials and specialists.

    1. The Type 094 nuclear missile submarine, launched last July to replace a trouble-prone Xia-class vessel, can carry 16 intercontinental ballistic missiles. Married with the newly developed Julang-2 missile, which has a range of more than 5,000 miles and the ability to carry independently targeted warheads, the 094 will give China a survivable nuclear deterrent against the continental United States, according to "Modernizing China's Military," a study by David Shambaugh of George Washington University.

    2. In addition, the Dongfeng-31 solid-fuel mobile ballistic missile, a three-stage, land-based equivalent of the Julang-2, has been deployed in recent years to augment the approximately 20 Dongfeng-5 liquid-fuel missiles already in service, according to academic specialists citing U.S. intelligence reports.

    It will be joined in coming years by an 8,000-mileDongfeng-41, putting the entire United States within range of land-based Chinese ICBMs as well. "The main purpose of that is not to attack the United States" Lin said. " The main purpose is to throw a monkey wrench into the decision-making process in Washington, to make the Americans think, and think again, about intervening in Taiwan, and by then the Chinese have moved in."

    With a $1.3 trillion economy growing at more than 9 percent a year, China has acquired more than enough wealth to make these investments in a modern military.

    The announced defense budget has risen by double digits in most recent years. For 2005, it jumped 12.6 percent to hit nearly $30 billion.

    The Pentagon estimates that real military expenditures, including weapons acquisitions and research tucked into other budgets, should be calculated at two or three times the announced figure.

    That would make China's defense expenditures among the world's largest, but still far behind the $400 billion budgeted this year by the United States.

    Taiwan has long been at the center of this growth in military spending; one of the military's chief missions is to project a threat of force should Taiwan's rulers take steps toward formal independence.

    The 2nd Artillery Corps has deployed more than 600 short-range ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan from southeastern China's Fujian and Jiangxi provinces, according to Taiwan's deputy defense minister, Michael M. Tsai. Medium-range missiles have also been developed.

    Much of China's modernization campaign is directed at acquiring weapons and support systems that would give it air and sea superiority in any conflict over the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait.

    According to foreign specialists and Chinese commentators, China's navy and air force have set out to project power in the South China Sea, where several islands are under dispute and vital oil supplies pass through, and in the East China Sea, where China and Japan are at loggerheads over mineral rights and several contested islands.

    China has acquired signals-monitoring facilities on Burma's Coco Islands and, according to U.S. reports, at a port it is building in cooperation with Pakistan near the Iranian border at Gwadar, which looks out over tankers exiting the Persian Gulf.

    According to a report prepared for Rumsfeld's office, China has developed a "string of pearls" strategy, seeking military-related agreements with Bangladesh, Cambodia and Thailand in addition to those with Burma and Pakistan.

    Unifying Taiwan with the mainland has become more than just a nationalist goal. The 13,500-square-mile territory has also become a platform that China needs to protect southern sea lanes, through which pass 80 percent of its imported oil and tons of other imported raw materials.

    It could serve as a base for Chinese submarines to have unfettered access to the deep Pacific, according to Tsai, Taiwan's deputy defense minister. "Taiwan for them now is a strategic must and no longer just a sacred mission," Lin said.

    China's amphibious forces had the ability to move across the strait only one armored division -- about 12,000 men with their vehicles. That would be enough to occupy an outlying Taiwanese island as a gesture, they said, but not to seize the main island.

    If a conflict arose, they would expect a graduated campaign of high-tech pinpoint attacks, including cruise missile strikes on key government offices or computer sabotage, designed to force the leadership in Taipei to negotiate short of all-out war.

    The 1996 crisis, when China test-fired missiles off the coast, cost the Taiwanese economy $20 billion in lost business and mobilization expenses, a senior security official recalled.

    High-Tech Emphasis

    A key facet of China's military modernization has been a reduction in personnel and an intensive effort to better train and equip the soldiers.

    Premier Wen Jiabao told the National People's Congress last month that his government would soon complete a 200,000-soldier reduction that has been underway since 2003. That would leave about 2.3 million troops in the Chinese military, making it still the world's biggest, according to a report issued recently by the Defense Ministry.

    Air Superiority

    The air force has acquired from Russia more than 250 Sukhoi Su-27 single-role and Su-30 all-weather, multi-role fighter planes.


    The Pentagon has forecast that the air force will field about 2,000 warplanes by 2020, of which about 150 will be fourth-generation craft equipped with sophisticated avionics.

    Many of China's Su-27s have spent most of the time on the ground for lack of maintenance.

    China has remained at the beginning stages of its effort to acquire the equipment and skills necessary for midair refueling, space-based information systems, and airborne reconnaissance and battle management platforms.

    Chinese pilots (have) started training on refueling and airborne battle management several years ago, but so far have neither the equipment nor the technique to integrate such operations into their order of battle.

    Similarly, China has been testing use of Global Positioning System devices to guide its cruise missiles but remains some time away from deploying such technology.

    Buying such electronic equipment would be China's most likely objective if the European Union goes ahead with plans to lift its arms sales embargo despite objections from Washington.

    A Chinese effort to acquire Israel's Phalcon airborne radar system was stymied in 2000 when the United States prevailed on Israel to back out of the $1 billion deal.


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