Wednesday, May 7, 2008

FBI Raids Special Counsel, Seizes Data

Federal agents raided the Office of Special Counsel, a government agency involved in several high-profile and politically sensitive investigations. The agents seized computer files and documents from its chief, Scott Bloch, and his staff.

Mr. Bloch, who was appointed by President Bush, has been under investigation since 2005 by the Office of Personnel Management for employee claims that he abused his agency's authority, retaliated against its staff and dismissed whistleblower cases without adequate examination. Mr. Bloch couldn't be reached to comment.

The Justice Department joined the case as the inquiry was widened last year to include possible obstruction of justice, which is a criminal offense. The Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 28 that in the midst of the inquiry Mr. Bloch used an agency credit card to hire a commercial firm, Geeks on Call, to erase data from his computer and those of former staff.

[ ... ]

The Office of Special Counsel, created in the 1970s in the wake of the Watergate scandal, probes sensitive personnel and whistleblower claims by government workers. It also enforces the Hatch Act, which forbids the use of federal resources for partisan political purposes.

Among the office's recent inquiries was whether former White House political director Karl Rove and others improperly used U.S. agencies to help elect Republicans.

Mr. Bloch's investigation of the White House political operation began after a Rove deputy gave a series of political presentations to government agencies on Republican prospects in specific congressional races. Mr. Bloch's office wanted to know whether such presentations violated the Hatch Act. A task force interviewed officials at more than a dozen agencies and examined White House emails but found few clear violations, lawyers close to the case said. The investigations remain pending.

~ full article ~


NY businessman linked to probe of Ehud Olmert

A New York-area businessman and philanthropist has emerged as a key figure in an Israeli investigation into financial dealings of Ehud Olmert that have cast a new cloud over the embattled prime minister.

Morris "Moshe" Talansky of Woodmere, Long Island, was questioned by police in Israel about reported payments he made to Olmert in the 1990s, when the prime minister served as Jerusalem's mayor, according to the New York Post, which first reported the story Tuesday.

The investigation, which emerged last week, threatens to embarrass Olmert as the country marks its 60th anniversary of independence on Thursday. Dozens of world leaders, including President Bush, are scheduled to join celebrations next week.

An Israeli court has barred publication of most details of the case. A court statement Tuesday said police and prosecutors have submitted a request "to take testimony from a foreign resident."

It did not identify the witness.

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US Methodists call for justice for migrants

The United Methodist Church is urging justice for migrants worldwide and reform of U.S. immigration laws. Delegates to the denomination's top legislative body, meeting from 23 April - 2 May 2, adopted resolutions covering both global migration and immigration issues in the United States - writes Andrew J Schliecher.

The US domestic resolution calls for "full protection of all workers, which includes the opportunity to gain legal status for all migrants." It also urges US lawmakers to ensure that immigrant laws do not rip apart families.

"To refuse to welcome migrants to this country and to stand by in silence while families are separated, individual freedoms are ignored, and the migrant community in the United States is demonized by members of Congress and the media, is complicity to sin," it states.

General Conference also added a new section on "Rights of Immigrants" to the denomination's Social Principles. It states in part, "We affirm the right of all persons to equal opportunities for employment, access to housing, health care, education and freedom from social discrimination." The global economic system has led to migration and many challenges for migrants.

The resolution, "Welcoming the Migrant to the United States," was written to incorporate six other resolutions that currently appear in the church's Book of Resolutions. Amendments in legislative committee further incorporated proposed actions dealing with immigration.

Reflections on UN Declaration of Human Rights

This year, 2008, is specially notable because it is the sixtieth anniversary of the adoption and Proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization on December 10th., 1948.

[ ... ]

Even before the formation of the United Nations Organization, and the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in December 1948, the Institute of International Law, in its session held in New York on October 12th., 1929, adopted an International Declaration of the Rights of Man which is of particular interest today. The Declaration reads as follows:

“The Institute of International Law, considering that the juridic conscience of the civilized world demands the recognition of the individual’s rights exempted from all infringement on the part of the State;

That the Declaration of Rights inscribed in a great many constitutions and notably in the American and French constitutions of the end of the eighteenth century, enacted laws not only for the citizen, but for the human being;

That the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States declares that no State shall ‘deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of the law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws’;

That the Supreme Court of the United States, in a unanimous decision, ruled that, by the terms of this amendment, it applied within the jurisdiction of the United States, ‘to all persons without distinction of race, colour or nationality, and that the equal protection of the laws is a guarantee of the protection of equal laws’;

That, moreover, a certain number of treaties explicitly provided for the recognition of the rights of man;

That it is all important to spread throughout the entire world the international recognition of the rights of man;


Article 1
It is the duty of every State to recognize for every individual the equal right to life, liberty and property and to accord to every one on its territory the full and complete protection of the law without distinction of nationality, sex, race, language or religion.

Article 2
It is the duty of every State to recognize for every individual the right to the free exercise, both public and private, of every faith, religion or belief of which the practice is not incompatible with public policy and good morals;

Article 3
It is the duty of every State to recognize the right of every individual to the free use of the language of his choice and for instruction in this language;

Article 4
No motive whatsoever based directly or indirectly on differences of sex, race, language or religion can authorize a State to refuse to any of its nationals private and public rights and especially the admission to institutions of public instruction and the exercise of different economic activities, professions and industries;

Article 5
The equality already provided is not to be nominal but really effective and excludes all discrimination, direct or indirect;

Article 6
No State has the right to withdraw, except for reasons taken from its legislation, its nationality from those who for reasons of sex, race, language or religion it might wish to deprive of the rights guaranteed by the preceding articles.”

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Musical Innerlube: Ambi & L. Subramaniam Ensemble

Also: Dr. L Subramaniam (Global Fusion)

Quantum consciousness revisited

Hope for the Blue Planet: A Conversation with Edgar Mitchell, Ph.D.
VM: How can Social Healing contribute to environmental awareness?
EM: One of the fundamental principles in my understanding confirms the mystical notion that we're all one; we're all interconnected and the universe is all connected in some way. The study of quantum physics brings this notion into play; when we start realizing that we're all part of the same pattern. The physical reality of our world and universe is that we are all interphysically connected, which is a part of the epiphany I had in space. Using this notion to help us understand our environment, we can answer the questions of who are we? Where are we going? How did we get here? What is this really all about? And it's about our relationship to the cosmos which helps us to try and understand how we must work together as a team to resolve the problems of a non-sustainable future. We happen to be at a place in the early 21st century that is not sustainable from an environmental point of view, or a consumption point of view, or from the natural resources point of view.
Everything in modern civilization is headed for disaster unless we can turn it around and resolve the problems created. We must come together as a civilization and as a species to correct this notion that we can do anything we choose and the world makes up for it.
[ ... ]
VM: What do you believe are the most momentous discoveries in the last twenty years?
EM: One of the most powerful is the photograph from the Hubble Space Telescope that lets us see deeper into the cosmos so that we can understand the enormity and magnificence of all of this.
It's recognizing that this is the beginning of a space age; a concept of the universe that's more sophisticated than god in the heavens and man in the middle and everything else below; a pretty simplistic notion of this universe, but that's what has prevailed.
I think the Hubble Space Telescope and its magnificent pictures of the universe are one of the most powerful discoveries.
The other is a discovery by a colleague of mine, Dr. Walter Schempp which demonstrates that the world we live in is indeed a quantum world, as opposed to the belief, since the 1920s, from academic physicists, that quantum worlds only existed in subatomic matter and didn't have to do with our scaled size. The discovery of the quantum hologram demonstrates that that simply isn't true, and that quantum principles apply to everything. This discovery is helping us with the understanding of interconnectedness; it's helping us with a whole new approach to physics, biology and chemistry, as well as to help us see our systems and ourselves in a brand new way.

Healing the Cosmic Wound: Physicist Mani Bhaumik suggests his tonic
Mani Bhaumik, PhD, has written a memoir called "Code Name God: The Spiritual Odyssey of a Man of Science." In 218 pages, he has also presented social commentary set in recent history and present day; a juxtaposition of world religions; a lay-person's science textbook; and a case for healing the cosmic wound by re-uniting science and spirituality.

[ ... ]

Bhaumik's awakening came on a breezy night following yet another soiree at his Bel Air estate. As he walked the ground afterward, he felt an emptiness. As a child, though his stomach ached from hunger and his pulse throbbed with the anxiety of an uncertain tomorrow, he never walked alone; he felt the "undeniable presence of that living web from which all things are born and continually unfold." The presence he had felt – which the Vedic rishis called Brahman, which Lao-Tsu called the Tao, which the prophets of the Book called Yahweh or Allah – Bhaumik would later come to call the one source – code name God.

"I set about to learn what I had once known intuitively." Despite the paucity of Bhaumik's childhood, the richness of a "communitarian spirit" eased their despair. "To earn the respect of one's fellow human was the social aim. To feel unity with God, of whom we were all a part, was the supreme spiritual goal."

The "silken threads" that have run through Dr. Bhaumik's life as he pursued his quest, came in the soulful bodies of Norman Cousins, Ashley Montague and Eddie Albert. "Eddie's sense of humor leavened my sober nature …" Bhaumik explains. "Ashley was arguably the social conscience of a generation," as evidenced in his books, "The Fallacy of Race," "The Natural Superiority of Women," and "The Elephant Man." Bhaumik calls Norman Cousins his guardian angel. Cousins is best known for his remarkable self-cure with laughter, as related in "Anatomy of an Illness." Bhaumik tells us he was also a diplomat and a world healer who believed in "the limitlessness of human potential and the primacy of consciousness."

[ ... ]

"This is the same question asked by many scientists. Is it that our consciousness is not an accident but a part of a connectivity to the scheme of the whole universe? Freeman Dyson said, 'The universe in some sense must have known that we were coming.' Because, in the beginning, the conditions were perfect so that eventually an intelligent being like us could evolve."

Dr. Bhaumik says the verification of the one source – code name God – is well documented and accepted in science. Since the 60s, physicists have proved that forces come from a single source. Nobel prizes have been given for the discovery. "In the past we went on blind faith, but, now, as Einstein thought, that if everything is made of energy, why does nature need so many different forces: gravity, electro-magnetism, and weak forces to make its magic? He spent the last 30 years of his life thinking nature must have had a simple beginning. And, in fact, science now knows everything comes from a tiny negative space."

Reaching Beyond The Dogma: New Book By Renowned Physicist Smashes Old Theories And Brings To Light The Truth About Quantum Waves
American physicist-astronomer Milo Wolff's newest release is Schrödinger's Universe, a book that takes readers on an adventure to discover the mystery behind quantum waves, matter, and space. This reader-friendly journey into the physics of our Universe bridges the work of revolutionary physicists from 1845 to Wolff's discoveries today, as it takes us beyond current scientific dogma to an expanded understanding of our physical world, Natural Laws, and the real truth about our interconnectedness.
In his previous book, Exploring the Physics of the Unknown Universe, Wolff wrote about "science not yet known," and introduced the concept of the wave structure of fundamental particles (electrons, protons, neutrons). Now, in Schrödinger's Universe: Einstein, Waves and the Origin of the Natural Laws, he speaks in depth about the Wave Structure of Matter (WSM). He has taken the theories of an elite pedigree of Nobel scientists--Clifford, Einstein, Schrödinger--and worked our their ideas, conclusively proving that there are but two principles that describe the properties of the quantum space around us, and that they provide us with knowledge of the Universe. Expecting his discoveries to be hailed by the scientific community, he discovered instead a familiar intransigence that continues to refuse to let go of the old discrete particle theory first propounded by the ancient Greeks.
As Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Planck wrote, "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
Wolff asks questions and puts forth enigmas for us to delve into. He shows us that there are two distinct ways to view the Universe. He analyzes the Big Bang theory and explains why it could never have happened. He discusses astronomy and cosmology, the wonderful world of the electron, and talks about the methods and pitfalls of finding scientific knowledge. For those who are mathematically inclined, he provides all the equations that stand behind his work. Perhaps most importantly, Wolff examines the human realm versus the quantum and cosmic realms, looking at our attitudes, assessments, and the psychological prisons that keep us from expanding our consciousness.

Obama is riding the whirlwind
Gary Hart, blinded by the light of Obama, said, "He is not operating on the same plane as ordinary politicians." He is "the agent of transformation in an age of revolution, as a figure uniquely qualified to open the door to the 21st century." New Age cultists think that when a critical mass of people ascend to a higher plane of consciousness, the New Age will magically dawn. Supposedly, an "agent of transformation" can lead millions to be part of that critical mass,

Celebrity guru Deepak Chopra, drunk on his own juices, says that an Obama victory will bring about "a quantum leap in American consciousness." Obama will magically draw the consciousness of millions of Americans to a dizzying height, and then the world will magically change.

James Bond production halted amid fears of a curse

After a week of mysterious mishaps, including the destruction of 007's Aston Martin, the rumours are starting to fly that the latest Bond film has been hit by a jinx.

Shooting by Lake Garda, in northern Italy, of Quantum of Solace was suspended yesterday after a series of near-fatal accidents to a driver and two stuntmen.

[ ... ]

Mr Dunn Fraser said that he must have lost consciousness because the next thing he knew he was upside down, in the car, at the bottom of the lake. "I was shaken but not stirred," he wryly told the media, and said that he had been able to kick one of the doors open and swim to the surface. He was then taken to hospital.

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'We didn't elect them. We can't throw them out. And they're getting more powerful every day.'

From: The deciders you don't elect

Call them the superclass.

Americans fixated on the political campaign may be missing a reality of the global era that may matter much more than their presidential choice: On an ever-growing list of issues, the big decisions are being made or profoundly influenced by a little-understood international network of business, financial, government, cultural and military leaders who are beyond the reach of American voters.

In addition to top officials, these people include corporate executives, leading investors, top bankers, media moguls, heads of state, generals, religious leaders, heads of terrorist and criminal organizations and a handful of important cultural and scientific figures. Each of these roughly 6,000 individuals is set apart by his or her power and ability to regularly influence millions of lives across international borders.

'Convening power'

Doubt it? Just look at the current financial crisis. As government regulators have sought to head off further market losses, they've found that perhaps the most effective tool at their disposal is what the president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank described to me as their "convening power" - their ability to get the big boys of Wall Street and world financial capitals into a room or on a conference call to collaborate on solving a problem.

This has, in fact, become a central part of crisis management, both because national governments have limited regulatory authority over global markets and because financial flows have become so large that the real power lies with the biggest players - such as the top 50 financial institutions that control almost $50 trillion in assets, by one measure nearly a third of all assets worldwide.

Will the Mideast Go Up in Flames this Summer?

The truth would seem to be that Israel can neither wage a full-scale war against its opponents nor make peace with them. It is therefore condemned to continue to rely on its present policies of besieging Gaza, intimidating its opponents by long-distance air and commando strikes, and decapitating hostile resistance movements by assassination, says Patrick Seale.

These are dangerously unsettled times in the Middle East. There are so many bitter scores to settle, so much violent dissension, such implacable hatreds, that it would take only a spark to set the whole region alight. Or so it would seem. Many observers predict a hot and bloody summer.

What they have in mind is not only a continuation of the calamitous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the possible extension of the Afghan conflict to the tribal areas of Pakistan, but rather a major war in the Levant.

The fear in the region is of another war breaking out between Israel and its neighbours, a war which would engulf Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territories -- and even risk an intervention by Iran. In view of America's close alliance with Israel, American interests would inevitably be affected.

In a new warning this week, the US State Department urged Americans to defer traveling to Lebanon and advised those in the country to "consider carefully the risk of remaining."

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'When your protest slogans essentially are, "We love torture" and "Murder rocks," it kind of kills the vibe'

Actually, I had trekked to the University of Michigan to hear the Dalai Lama opine on our imploding planet. Pope Benedict XVI was doing much of the same on Sunday as he made a pilgrimage of sorts to Ground Zero in New York.

But there was no time to meditate on spiritual serendipity as a scowling Chinese grad student almost knocked me over with his floppy, sloppily scrawled sign: "Dalai Lama - 50 years of CIA funding isn't enough for you." He was one of about 500 "dissidents" waiving Chinese flags outside the arena.

Now I have to admit, I'm always a bit shocked to see demonstrations by non-lefties. The unions, the hippies, - these guys are pros, coming armed with professionally printed placards, a killer sound system and even creepy lifelike puppets to make their point. They know how to set the mood of righteous indignation and usually throw a cool afterhours party to boot.

[ ... ]

Look, the idea of blasting a spiritual icon who won the Nobel Peace Prize is somewhat disconcerting. But when you stop to consider that 1.2 million Tibetans have died since the Chinese invaded in 1949, it becomes mindblowing.

Some protesters were there solely in support of the summer Olympics in Beijing, which the Dalai Lama supports. The games have come under fire because of the Middle Kingdom's abysmal human rights record, leading the world in executions (take that, Texas) and its brutalization of Tibet, which was bloodied by another crackdown last month.

But most were citizen-bots content to pass out colorful pamphlets promising "the beginning of wisdom" by telling the truth about Tibet, which was always a part of China, don't you know? They do, for the state-run media tell them so. Oh, and that pesky, persistent violence in Tibet? Blame it on His Holiness in cahoots with the CIA, of course.

[ ... ]

The most hilarious part of the brochure was when it stiltedly admonished, "Principles of Journalism require news organizations to commit loyalty to its citizens. The coverage should not be slanted for friends or advertisers and should represent all constituent groups in society."

Nothing like being lectured on ethics by Big Brother. If journalists were to slant coverage to mollify our advertisers, I reckon we'd do nothing but puff pieces on how cheap plastic trinkets from Guangdong will save the world. Almost every major U.S. corporation has an operation in China, which happens to own about $500 billion of our national debt.

Media outlets, by the way, gave extremely sanitized coverage to the demonstrators, perhaps feeling it was in bad taste to point out China's track record on murder.

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'Police in the town of Amstetten arrested 13 photographers'

Despite a plea for the family at the centre of the Austrian incest case to be left in peace, by yesterday police in the town of Amstetten had arrested 13 photographers attempting to get pictures.

Ruses employed by the photographers looking to get access to the Fritzl family have included donning camouflage gear to climb trees, wearing fake police uniforms and posing as cleaning staff.

The story of Elisabeth Fritzl, who was locked in a secret cellar dungeon and repeatedly raped by her father over 24 years, having seven children by him during that period, has resulted in hundreds of media organisations sending staff to Amstetten.

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IntelliClear Selects Doctors Without Borders as Its 2007 Clarity Trust Recipient

IntelliClear announced the selection of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) as the 2007 recipient of its annual Clarity Trust donation. Under the yearly program, IntelliClear contributes 1% of its corporate profits to an outstanding charitable organization as part of an on-going corporate commitment to supporting communities and charitable activities across the globe.

"With another extraordinary year behind us we are honored to share our blessings and contribute to the selfless efforts of Doctors Without Borders who served hundreds of thousands of needy individuals across the globe in 2007," says Eric Shuster, President and CEO of IntelliClear. "We urge companies of all sizes to give whatever contributions they can to make a difference in the lives of those suffering in impoverished countries across the world," says Alex Kalamarides, Ph.D., Managing Director and General Partner of IntelliClear.

Winner of the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize, MSF is an independent international medical organization made up of medical and non medical volunteers dedicated to providing assistance to populations in distress caused by armed conflict, epidemics, natural or man-made disasters, or exclusion from health care. Receiving a four star rating from the online Charity Navigator, MSF observes neutrality and impartiality in the name of universal medical ethics to deliver humanitarian assistance regardless of race, religion, creed or political convictions. MSF volunteers respect their professional code of ethics in order to render services under often difficult and risky circumstances, while receiving a modest financial stipend in return. On any one day, close to 27,000 doctors, nurses, logisticians, water-and-sanitation experts, administrators, and other qualified professionals can be found providing medical care in international teams made up of local aid workers and their colleagues from around the world.

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Carter: Hamas ready to accept Israeli-Palestinian peace

The Islamic Hamas movement would be willing to accept a peace treaty with Israel negotiated by President Mahmoud Abbas, if the deal was approved by Palestinians in a referendum, former US president Jimmy Carter said Monday.

'They said they would accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders if approved by the Palestinians and that they would accept the right to live as a neighbour next door in peace, provided the agreements negotiated by Prime Minister (Ehud) Olmert and President (Mahmoud) Abbas will be submitted to the Palestinians for their overall approval,' he told an audience in Jerusalem.

The comments, and similar remarks by exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in a recent interview with a Palestinian daily, reflect a major change in the stance of Hamas, whose leaders have repeatedly said they will never recognise Israel, which they want replaced by an Islamic state in all of historic Palestine.

Hamas has also said that Abbas, in his peace talks with Israel, does not represent the Palestinian people. Hamas defeated Abbas' Fatah faction in the January 2006 elections, but last year routed forces loyal to the Palestinian leader in the Gaza Strip, leading the president to dissolve a short-lived unity government.

Carter met over the weekend in Damascus with Mashaal, a parley which drew heavy criticism from both Israel and the US and led to the frosty reception he received in the Jewish state when he visited last week.

Israel, the United States and Western Europe boycott the Hamas leadership because of the Islamist organization's refusal to renounce violence and change its charter to recognise Israel's right to exist.

But Carter deflected the criticism of his meetings, saying, 'We believe the problem is not that I met with Hamas in Syria; the problem is that Israel and the United States refused to meet with these people, who must be involved.'

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Turkish schools offer Pakistan a gentler vision of Islam

They prescribe a strong Western curriculum, with courses, taught in English, from math and science to English literature and Shakespeare. They do not teach religion beyond the one class in Islamic studies that is required by the state. Unlike British-style private schools, however, they encourage Islam in their dormitories, where teachers set examples in lifestyle and prayer.

"Whatever the West has of science, let our kids have it," said Erkam Aytav, a Turk who works in the new schools. "But let our kids have their religion as well."

That approach appeals to parents in Pakistan, who want their children to be capable of competing with the West without losing their identities to it. Allahdad Niazi, a retired Urdu professor in Quetta, a frontier town near the Afghan border, took his son out of an elite military school, because it was too authoritarian and did not sufficiently encourage Islam, and put him in the Turkish school, called PakTurk.

"Private schools can't make our sons good Muslims," Mr. Niazi said, sitting on the floor in a Quetta house. "Religious schools can't give them modern education. PakTurk does both."

The model is the brainchild of a Turkish Islamic scholar, Fethullah Gulen. A preacher with millions of followers in Turkey, Mr. Gulen, 69, comes from a tradition of Sufism, an introspective, mystical strain of Islam. He has lived in exile in the United States since 2000, after getting in trouble with secular Turkish officials.

Mr. Gulen's idea, Mr. Aytav said, is that "without science, religion turns to radicalism, and without religion, science is blind and brings the world to danger."

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Antichrist will fool many as the false prophet

Daniel mentions that the Antichrist gets power from Satan, but John deals heavily with the symbiotic relationship between the Antichrist, Satan and the false prophet — the Devil's version of the Holy Trinity.

And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Men worshipped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, 'Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?'"
— Revelation 13:1-4

Here, John shows us the dragon (Satan) and the Antichrist's (beast) coming out party to the world. To a deceived public, it appears they can perform miracles and the people turn to them and give them their allegiance.

"The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast — all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world."
— Revelation 13:5-8

With John, we realize that the Antichrist will unveil his true self to the masses during the first half of the Tribulation, but the people won't care, they will still worship him, even though he stands against everything that is holy to God and true. It will only be those who have put their faith in trust in Jesus Christ that will be able to see through this pretender to the throne.

There may still be a few stragglers out there not quite sure about the Antichrist, but that's OK, because Satan has a plan to bring them into the fold — enter the false prophet, the last unholy leg of the Devil's trinity.

"Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive the mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name."
 — Revelation 13:11-16

We see in this chapter that the first beast had suffered a wound, which looked like it killed him, but he recovered — Satan's nod to Christ's resurrection, but foisted on the beast to make him look divine. While the world did not accept Christ's sacrifice and resurrection, they do the beast's and worship him for it.

The Antichrist will be a political and military leader while the false prophet will become the world's spiritual leader whose job it is to bring the world to bow before Satan. Of course it won't be much of a chore, as "The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all who will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness."
— 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

NPC condemns Rev Fr Karunaratnam assassination

The assassination of Rev. Father M X Karunaratnam, Chairman of the North East Secretariat on Human Rights (NESoHR), who succumbed to injuries sustained in a remote controlled claymore mine attack that had targeted him within the LTTE controlled territory where he lived and worked is a shocking and callous act. Fr Karunaratnam died in close proximity to his residential prayer and counseling centre which was a haven to those who suffered the travails of the ongoing war. As head of NESoHR which was set up in July 2004, as part of the 2002 Peace Process, Fr Karunaratnam worked tirelessly to strengthen the human rights protection mechanisms in the North East of Sri Lanka, the NPC said.
[ ... ]
As head of NESoHR which was set up in July 2004, as part of the 2002 Peace Process, Fr Karunaratnam worked tirelessly to strengthen the human rights protection mechanisms in the North East of Sri Lanka. He was active in highlighting recruitment of children by the LTTE and worked tirelessly for their release. Fr Karunaratnam also sought to publicise the human rights violations to which the people living in the north east, particularly the Wanni region, were subjected to. He publicly criticised the government for many of the sufferings inflicted upon the Tamil people and challenged the national human rights institutions to live up to their mandates.

Fr. Karunaratnam entered the priesthood relatively late in life having started his career with Bank of Ceylon before opting to become a priest. He had many friends among the majority Sinhala community. He was fluent in the Sinhala language and saw the whole country as his home.

The LTTE has accused the deep penetration unit of the Sri Lankan military for the killing of Fr Karunaratnam. Whoever perpetrated this evil act has taken away yet another bridge builder who loved the whole country. While it may never be known who was responsible for his assassination we are convinced that another moderate voice has been stilled. Fr Kili, as he was popularly known, had a deep love and commitment to build bridges between ethnic and religious communities in Sri Lanka. The National Peace Council laments his loss.

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Conspiracy Of Silence

The Franklin child abuse allegations refers to allegations of a child prostitution ring serving high level U.S. politicians. "Franklin" refers to the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union, a Nebraska financial institution. The relationship with Franklin was indirect via charges of involvement by a former Franklin officer, Lawrence E. King, in the alleged child sex ring.

The allegations of the child sex ring made national news on June 29, 1989 when the front page of the Washington Times bore the headline Homosexual Prostitution Inquiry ensnares VIPs with Reagan, Bush. The Washington Times article by journalists Paul M. Rodriguez and George Archibald alleged that key officials of the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations were connected to an elaborate Washington, D.C male prostitution ring, and reported that two of these prostitutes even entered the White House late at night. The allegations included, among other things, "abduction and use of minors for sexual perversion."

In July, 1990, a county grand jury in Nebraska's Douglas County concluded that the charges were a "carefully crafted hoax", although they failed to identify the perpetrators of said hoax.conspiracy theories regarding a coverup of the original allegations persist to the present day. Various

Key persons named in the allegations were Craig J. Spence, a Washington, D.C.-based Republican lobbyist who committed suicide in 1989, and Lawrence King, who was eventually convicted of embezzling thirty-eight million dollars as manager of the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union in Nebraska. King had been one of the Republican party's rising stars, performing the national anthem at the 1984 and 1988 Republican National Conventions. According to the December 18, 1988 New York Times, unidentified people present at a closed meeting reported that Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers said he had heard credible reports of "boys and girls, some of them from foster homes, who had been transported around the country by airplane to provide sexual favors, for which they were rewarded."

[ ... ]

Unaired investigative program about the case

In 1993 the British-based TV station, Yorkshire Television, sent a team to Nebraska to launch its own investigation of the Franklin case. Yorkshire had a contract with the Discovery Channel
to produce a documentary on the case for American television. The documentary, titled Conspiracy of Silence, was to air nation-wide on the Discovery Channel on May 3, 1994. It appeared in TV Guide and in newspaper listings, however, it was never broadcast. Conspiracy of Silence, which is available for viewing on the Internet, claims influential members of Congress applied pressure to stop the documentary from airing and to destroy of all its copies in exchange for reimbursing The Discovery Channel and Yorkshire Television the $250,000-400,000 production costs. The Internet reincarnation of this film has the rough, unfinished look of a documentary missing some portions of video, which is consistent with the story told by former Nebraska state senator John DeCamp that the footage of this film appeared on his doorstep a year after it was supposedly destroyed.

Isabelle Allende, writer's block and Ayahuasca

Through all her spiritual ruminations Allende's mischievous sense of humour saves the book from excessive sentimentality. She dedicates whole chapters to the epic saga of her best friend Tabra's pneumatic breasts, which she had installed by a maverick cosmetic surgeon from Venezuela.

But it's her perpetual war against creative drought that provides the most surprises. Following the advice of Celia, Isabel and her mother smoke marijuana all night in an attempt to awaken the spirits of creation.

After nine spliffs and no discernible effect other than a lot of giggling, she decides soft drugs are not for her. Looking for something a little more inspirational she and her husband ingest a draught of ayahuasca - a shamanic potion used by Amazon Indians to induce visions.

After a horrifying two days spent shivering in a corner of a room and vomiting a strange white liquid, Isabel emerges convinced that 'the material world is an illusion' and armed with more than enough material for a trilogy of children's books.

If some of her tales seem fanciful, Allende warns us, that's because they probably are; her fictional inventions and autobiography blend into each other. For Allende the hidden realm of emotions always distorts the physical world, even without the help of hallucinogens.

When her granddaughter bumps her head, her weeping 'peels the paint off the walls', and when Allende mourns Paula's death with her son Nico their grief is 'unleashed in the form of a hailstorm'. The innocent logic of unusual and poignant associations is central to Allende's vision that has survived intact since her first and still best-loved novel, The House of the Spirits.

'Mystery', she tells us, 'is not a literary device; it's part of life itself.'


From: Isabel Allende: kith and tell

The novelist Isabel Allende once took a potent hallucinogen to overcome writer's block. But no such stimulants were needed to fuel her most gripping work yet - a devastatingly candid portrait of life in her soap-opera-like family. She talks to Catherine Elsworth

'It was the most intense, out-of-my-mind experience that I have ever had. It was very revealing and very important and opened up a lot of spaces inside me. But I don't ever want to do it again.'

Isabel Allende is describing the time she experimented with a powerful hallucinogen in an attempt to punch through the writer's block that was preventing her from completing a trilogy of adventure books she had promised her three grandchildren. It was a few years ago, and the Chilean novelist, now 65, decided to travel to South America with her second husband to 'subject myself to the shamanic experience of ayahuasca', a potent vision-inducing potion made from jungle vines by Amazon Indians.

But after forcing down the foul-tasting brew, she was catapulted to a place so dark her husband feared he had 'lost his wife to the world of spirits'. Her life flashed before her as the hallucinogen took hold. She faced demons, saw herself as a terrified four-year-old and curled up on the floor, shivering, retching and muttering for two days.

'I think I went through an experience of death at a certain point, when I was no longer a body or a soul or a spirit or anything,' Allende says matter-of-factly. 'There was just a total, absolute void that you cannot even describe because you are not. And I think that's death.'

Nevertheless, the process proved transformative. Allende emerged aching but lucid and was able to complete the trilogy, now being adapted for film by the co-producers of The Chronicles of Narnia.

She relates this experience in her latest book, The Sum of Our Days, a memoir and intimate portrait of her own and her family's lives since the death of her daughter, Paula, in 1992. In the book, which is addressed throughout to Paula, Allende writes that the only event that can match the profundity of the experience was her daughter's death. 'I was never the same after your last night in this world or after I drank that powerful potion,' she writes. 'I lost my fear of death and experienced the eternity of the spirit.'


Witchcraft 2008

Psychics may face regulations that help tell which is witch
Possibly they saw it coming, but after decades of lenient regulation, British mediums, psychics and healers will this month find themselves subject to tougher consumer protection laws.

These laws leave them open to legal action if they don't provide a series of disclaimers before performing their services.

Motivated by concerns that some spiritualists prey on the vulnerable, inducing or prolonging emotional suffering, Australian sceptics are calling for a similar toughening of legislation here.

Seventy people have contacted Consumer Affairs Victoria over the past year seeking advice or lodging complaints about psychics, clairvoyants and fortune tellers.
Lynne Kelly, Melbourne author of The Skeptics Guide to the Paranormal, says regulating spiritualists is difficult, but the damage they may do, intentionally or unwittingly, can be immense.

Bell Witch Cave Becomes National Historic Site
Caves don't often make the list. Visitors first came to the cave in Robertson County 1817.
It made the prestigious list due to its rich role in local legend and culture.
Each year, about 17,000 people visit the cave looking for the spirit of the Bell Witch.
John Bell, Sr. owned the land where the cave sits and reported seeing the witch in 1817.

Czechs celebrate 'Čarodějnice' – an annual witch-burning festival
 Dancers hop and skip about to welcome in spring at Ladronka park in Prague 6. Wednesday's 'Čarodějnice' or witch-burning is an annual event in this country, which is said to put a definitive end to winter. On Wednesday, the weather was suitably sunny, and hundreds of children and parents turned out to take part in the festivities.

Rush for stickers in support of Warboys witch
After more than 200 individual letters of protest, a petition with over 900 signatures and sales of car stickers at an all-time high, the Warboys witch is still not safe.

Warboys Primary School said yesterday (Tuesday) it has still not reached a decision about the future of the witch, a logo that has been on the school uniform for 60 years.

As reported by The Hunts Post, the school governors decided in March to "ditch the witch" from the school, causing uproar in the village, particularly from parents.

The logo, on the school sign, the sweatshirt, the fleece and the school bag, goes back to 1946 - when it was chosen by a schoolboy who won a competition to design it.

News on the future of the witch was expected following a governors' meeting on Monday, but the village and the children are still awaiting a decision.

Aid workers teach Sierra Leone's poor to shun witch doctors' malaria remedies
They don't look like witches, whatever witches are supposed to look like. They are often old, shrivelled, hardy farm workers who toil with the rest of the villagers, bent over in the searing heat of the sun. Sometimes they are young and bounding, in trainers and bright, funky shirts, displaying their wares with the eager eyes of an entrepreneur. And, in any case, many of these witch doctors have a point.
he treasures hidden deep in the jungles of Sierra Leone are powerful. Potions cooked up from bits of bark in bubbling vats genuinely have healing properties. But they can also kill, and this is why medical charities are going into battle with the witch doctors of the west African country.

Framingham witch hunt asylum given historic nod
A house that offered asylum from what Selectman Ginger Esty called the "worst part of human nature," was given a refuge of its own at Town Meeting last night.
Meeting members approved establishing a historic district for the Sarah Clayes property at 657 Salem End Road.
The designation could open up state funding for the property and give the Historic District Commission a seat at the permitting table with potential developers.
Clayes was persecuted during the Salem witch trials of the 1690s.
She escaped the gallows and fled to the house on what would later become Salem End Road. Two of her sisters were not as fortunate - they were hanged for witchcraft.
Later, it was discovered the witchcraft persecutions were a facade for the corrupt politics of a local minister who branded as witches those who did not support him, said Esty.
The house, which has been expanded and renovated several times, was originally built around 1693.

They thought 'she was a witch', so left baby girl to die
The Dahod police have succeeded in tracing a couple who had abandoned their 15-day-old girl on April 15. The girl later died in a Vadodara hospital on April 17.
The couple, Bhalu Damor and Sukhiben, arrested from a border village in Madhya Pradesh, confessed that they had abandoned their baby girl born with a deformity on her back. The reason: they thought "she was a witch".

Woman branded witch, beheaded
A man in Jharkhand beheaded a woman he thought was a witch and surrendered to the police after walking with the severed head for five kilometres, police said on Monday.
Jairam Hansda, 37, killed Renti Hansda, 40, on Sunday in Tirildih village of Jamshedpur district, around 190 km from here. He then picked up her head and walked to the Mousabini police station.

Jairam told the police that the dead woman was into black magic, which he claimed killed his father and brother.

Liberia: Mobs Burned Witch, Wizards' Homes
Reports gathered by this paper indicate that the homes of people accused of witchcrafts activities were burned down by angry residents following their release on the orders of Solicitor General, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe.
The accused were reportedly chased out of the town by angry residents, most of them are youths. Some times ago, four persons were arrested in connection with the disappearance of Yonjay Togba in Manneh Town, Timbo District, Rivercess County.
Those arrested included the paramount Chief Dixon Nyeneh, his wife Mowee Dixon, Jay Payleh, and Nyensieh Woen. However, during his visit, Cllr. Gongloe reportedly ordered their release on grounds of the lack of evidence against them was not enough.
He is quoted as saying that the practice of using Iron Wood Bark as ordeal is no longer acceptable in the country. According the Program Director of the Rivercess Radio, Perry Chea, the accused were resisted by the youths of the Beach Town.

Writer witch may be a warlock
The witchhunt for which witch wrote the new veiled Channel 9 tell-all Boned has taken a new turn - is the author a warlock, not a witch, after all?

While the protagonist in the Penguin novel is a female who has worked in the Australian TV industry for 20 years, the latest rumour from within book circles is that the anonymous writer is actually a bloke.

The other kind of witch: Wiccans, Pagans discuss their spiritual life
When TV Land first wanted to place a Samantha Stephens statue in downtown Salem in honor of "Bewitched," and the controversy was just winding up, Salem resident Jerrie Hildebrand was asked to look into what the local Wiccan and Pagan community thought.

 Hildebrand agreed, but there was small problem: She wasn't entirely sure who or what the local Wiccan and Pagan community entailed. Things had come a long way for people of that spiritual orientation, especially in Salem, but there remained many residents who still weren't "out" to the world.

 And with good reason, Hildebrand explained at a No Place for Hate panel discussion held April 12, because there are still so many stigmas against Wicca and Paganism. During the stir over the "Bewitched" statue, someone who knew little about Hildebrand's faith labeled her a modern-day Samantha.

[ ... ]

A major part of the public's confusion is the word "witch," used sometimes to describe a Wiccan. While Salem is home to many who cast spells and wear pointy hats, that's not what Wiccan and Pagan faiths are about. And although lovers of the magic and psychic world are fairly well received in Salem, in the larger world that type of witch has a bad reputation.

 As a result, there's a debate in the Pagan faiths over whether the word witch can be salvaged for them, since "as well all know, this word witch has such negative connotations in our society," said panelist Margot Adler, an NPR host, author and 35-year Wiccan priestess.

 In the simplest form, Wicca is a religion, said Adler. Many of the faith arrived at it the way Adler did, born to more mainstream cultures and searching for people with beliefs like her own. While there are many variations, as with any religion, their common faith is ecology based and focuses on a communion with nature with an emphasis on ritual.

 "I was constantly looking for an 'ecological religion,'" Adler said of her youth.

 The author of the landmark 1979 Wicca book "Drawing Down the Moon," she notes that much of the modern religion is based on customs from ancient times when paganism was the norm. Many of the beliefs and rituals have been passed down, so for some people, paganism is a return to one's roots.

 "There have always been earth traditions, always been indigenous traditions …" she said.

Woman branded witch by villagers, set ablaze
Suspecting that a woman was practising witchcraft, villagers set her ablaze at a remote village in Dibrugarh district on this Thursday.

Agitated villagers pounced on Champa Bora (55) this morning accusing her of  "casting evil spells" and thrashed her severely, police said, adding someone from the group then set her ablaze.
Bora was badly burnt before she could be rescued and was shifted to Assam Medical College and Hospital, where her condition is stated to be critical, they said.

EU: The lobby against lobbyists

In an effort to reduce the influence of lobbyists in the European Union, the European Parliament will vote on a report that would regulate their activities, a proposal that has picked up support from MEPS and alarm from the targets. "Today's rules for lobbying date back to a time when the only role of the European Parliament was to give opinions. We clearly need stricter rules now that Parliament has become a powerful legislator," MEP Satu Hassi of Finland, the vice-chairwoman of the parliament's Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee said after a seminar sponsored by the Greens/EFA party in Brussels.
The parliament on May 8 will take up a report prepared by former MEP Alexander Stubb of Finland, who has just been appointed foreign minister of his country. Hassi said, "It is an essential part of democracy that various stakeholders can approach decision makers, but in the current system money buys lobbying power. If you have the finances, you can employ lobbyists to meet MEPs one-toone or invite them to dinners. Among professional lobbyists, the number of business representatives is disproportional compared to citizens' interests groups such as consumer or environmental organisations and trade unions.
"The lack of transparency in lobbying is a key 'democracy deficit.' There is currently no obligation for lobbying organisations to publish their funding and the identity of their clients. Everybody knows that lobbyists are often behind legislative amendments tabled by MEPs, yet it is impossible to fully trace the real sources," she said. The Greens are driving for a mandatory register for all lobbyists starting from 2009 and a public blacklist of those who break the rules and calling for full financial disclosure, which has run into fierce opposition from lobbyists, who have managed to quash restrictive regulations.

Interview: 'NATO sent the wrong signal to Russia'

Russia is destabilising the breakaway region of Abkhazia because Moscow wants to divert Georgia from its NATO bid, Salome Samadashvili, the Georgian ambassador to NATO and the EU, told EurActiv in an interview.

According to Samadashvili, who was a member of the Georgian Parliament before being appointed to Brussels in 2005, the current tensions and last week's increase of the Russian military presence in Abkhazia are direct results of the failure of the Bucharest NATO summit in April to open the door to Georgia and Ukraine by granting them 'Membership Action Plans'. 

Noting that the EU itself was divided over the issue, with some countries insisting that Tbilisi should first solve the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Samadashvili urged the bloc not to link the two subjects.

"Russia has made it a foreign policy priority to prevent Georgia and Ukraine from joining NATO," Ambassador Samadashvili said. Dismissing Russian accusations that Georgia is positioning troops close to Abkhazia, she nevertheless admitted that her country is using unmanned spy planes to survey the situation in the conflict zone. She insisted that the use of such drones is legitimate. 

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Brown and Sarkozy seal 'Entente Formidable'

Three months before France takes over the EU Presidency, President Nicolas Sarkozy used his state visit to Britain to revive the Franco-British alliance, seeking stronger cooperation on energy, climate change, immigration and defence.

"It is not simply a matter of a one-night stand. I believe that we can go into the next day's breakfast as well," Sarkozy said during a joint press conference with Brown following the bilateral summit, held at the Emirates Stadium home of Arsenal football club in North London. 

In the tradition of the British-Franco "Entente Cordiale" dating from 1904, Brown offered France an "Entente Formidable", responding to Sarkozy's invitation of an "Entente Amicable" in his speech to both chambers of the UK Parliament on Wednesday (26 March). 

In his speech, which was greeted with a standing ovation, Sarkozy urged both countries to "overcome our long-standing rivalries and build together a future that will be stronger because we will be together". However, he also called upon the UK to play a bigger role within the EU.

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NATO agrees common approach to cyber defence

Leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation have endorsed a common policy on cyber defence at their summit in Bucharest, agreeing to set up a new authority that will coordinate NATO's "political and technical" reactions to cyber attacks.

NATO leaders on Thursday (3 April) decided to develop the "structures and authorities" to carry out a new coordinated approach to cyber attacks. The new approach will aim to prevent and counter situations like the one seen in Estonia in summer 2007, when cyber terrorists crippled strategic network infrastructure, including banks.

The new tasks will be carried out by the Cyber Defence Management Authority (CDMA), the launch of which was expected at the Bucharest Summit. However, the launch of the new authority was delayed due to "technical and bureaucratic problems" despite there already being "a substantial agreement on the concept," according to a NATO official who spoke to EurActiv in Bucharest.

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How 'smart growth' caused the housing bubble

These policies, often referred to as "smart growth," create a scarcity of land, artificially raise the price of housing, and, again, have increased the exposure of the market to risky mortgage debt. When more liberal loan policies were implemented, metropolitan areas that had adopted these more restrictive policies lacked the resilient land markets that would have allowed the greater demand to be accommodated without inordinate increases in house prices.

A few voices in the wilderness on both sides of the political spectrum have pointed to the role of excessive land use policies in driving up housing costs. For example:

  • Liberal economist Paul Krugman of The New York Times put most of his conservative colleagues to shame in noting that the house price bubble has been limited to metropolitan areas with strong land use regulation.
  • Conservative Thomas Sowell, no stranger to being a voice in the wilderness, has made similar points.
  • More recently, Theo Eicher of the University of Washington produced a working paper placing much of the blame for house price escalation on land use regulation in cities around the nation.

Capitalism at $4 a Gallon?

If the Bush invasion of Iraq was a "war for oil," it has been a war for expensive not cheap oil. The crackpot assertions of Bush administration policy planners – that war would "pay for itself" or the U.S. would take oil profits from the Iraqis as the price of their "liberation" – aside, the price of a barrel of crude oil is today at an all time high. Meanwhile, the U.S. government has done absolutely nothing to advance alternative energy programs.

Instead, the administration, which has a "special relationship" with the most reactionary sectors of the capitalist class in the U.S., that is, the energy companies and the large military contractors, has done everything in its power to sabotage international alternative energy programs, which has not only increased the price of oil but has also obstructed international environmental protection policies.

Why is the administration doing this? Mainly, it is indifferent to the consequences to most working families of expensive oil because expensive oil both enriches its backers and also increases their power in the capitalist class against other sectors of large capital. The capitalist class like the working class is highly stratified and while all capitalists defend their larger class interests against all workers, different sectors of capital fight for increased profits and power against others.
Expensive oil strengthens both the energy companies and also the military contractors, since it helps to create the catch-22 mentality that military intervention is necessary to keep other countries from gaining control of oil producing regions and making the costs of oil even greater. It is not unlike the old Cold War "mutually assured destruction" argument that fueled the arms race where a country had to build more and more weapons of mass destruction so your enemies would not get the drop on you, and they would do the same so that you would not get the drop on them.

Problems of Hajj thru private operators

 The process of privatizing Hajj in Pakistan started from Hajj-2005, when selection of Hajj Tour Operators was made purely on merit, strictly observing the laid down criteria of having at least three years experience in providing services to Hajjis. Unfortunately, this criterion could not be followed during subsequent years. As a result, Travel Agents and other private persons, having no experience of Hajj jumped into this field. In the absence of a regulatory mechanism, they started charging heavy profit from Hajjis. This attracted a large number of people towards this business. Last year, the number of applications for grant of license was around 2,200 which is likely to further increase this year. Hajj Tour Operators are earning huge profit without any check. Sometimes, this profit margin goes up to Rs. 30,000/- per Hajji. The craze of people to get license for organizing Hajj Groups has become a nuisance for the Government. Ministry of Religious Affairs is facing tremendous pressure from Parliamentarians, Military Officers and Bureaucrats in this respect. This flood needs to be stopped.

The main issues leading to the above complex situation can be summarized as follows:-
a) Privatization of Hajj was made in haste. Nobody at that time thought that a strong and perfect regulatory mechanism is always a pre-requisite for privatization. Hence Hajj Tour Operators are earning huge profit as there is no law for taking action against them.

b) During first year of privatization, selection of Tour Operators was made purely on merit after prescribing a criteria (i.e. at least 3 years experience of providing Hajj services), which was strictly adhered to for Hajj-2005. Thus they provided services to Hajjis in all seriousness, although they earned a lot of profit also.

c) During Hajj-2006, Travel Agents (with no experience of Hajj) were included in the list of Hajj Tour Operators. During Hajj-December 2006, even those who had no experience of running travel agencies were also approved. Thus most of them sold their quota to others and many of them failed to provide services to their Hajjis.

d) During Hajj 2007, a few more inexperienced Tour Operators were added to the list. Those who could not get quota went to the High Court and Supreme Court where litigation is going on.

e) M/o. Religious Affairs is now in a fix and does not know how to proceed further for Hajj- 2008. A large number of new entrants are eagerly waiting for submitting applications for new license. Tremendous pressure is building up on Ministry of Religious Affairs from Parliamentarians and senior military officers for grant of quota to new entrants. In case Ministry reopens the issue and grants new licenses, it will open a Pandora's Box and it would become impossible to stop this flood of inexperienced tour operators.

5 Psychological Experiments That Prove Humanity is Doomed

Psychologists know you have to be careful when you go poking around the human mind because you're never sure what you'll find there. A number of psychological experiments over the years have yielded terrifying conclusions about the subjects.
Oh, we're not talking about the occasional psychopath who turns up. No, we're talking about you. The experiments speak for themselves:
#5. The Asch Conformity Experiment (1953)
The Setup:
Solomon Asch wanted to run a series of studies that would document the power of conformity, for the purpose of depressing everyone who would ever read the results.
Subjects were told that they would be taking part in a vision test, along with a handful of people. The participants were then shown pictures, and individually asked to answer very simple and obvious questions. The catch was that everybody else in the room other than the subject was in on it, and they were were told to give obviously wrong answers. So would the subject go against the crowd, even when the crowd was clearly and retardedly wrong?
The Result:
All they had to do was say which line on the right matched the one on the left. As you can see, Asch wasn't exactly asking these people to design the next space station...
Yet, sadly, 32 percent of subjects would answer incorrectly if they saw that three others in the classroom gave the same wrong answer. Even when the line was plainly off by a few inches, it didn't matter. One in three would follow the group right off the proverbial cliff.

Media Ignore Enron Connection to Higher Oil and Gas Prices

If a Senate study concluded that legislation signed by President George W. Bush and supported by Halliburton was partially responsible for today's high oil and gas prices, do you think you would have heard about it?

Well, such a report was released by the Senate. However, the president that signed the law in question was William Jefferson Clinton, and the company that strongly lobbied for its passage was Enron.

Yet, mysteriously, this study was almost completely ignored.

On June 26, Senators Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota) and Carl Levin (D-Michigan) released a comprehensive report [1] detailing how speculation on various commodities exchanges around the world is impacting energy prices. Six weeks later, virtually no media coverage has been given to this bipartisan, 60-page study that should have been of great interest to Americans with gasoline over three dollars a gallon.

Even more curious than the lack of media attention to this report was its continued reference to Enron, a regular target of the press in the past five years. The Senate study strongly pointed an accusatory finger at "The Enron Loophole," a part of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 [2], approved by Congress and signed into law by former President Clinton on December 21, 2000.

[ ... ]

The key here is that CFMA allowed for the creation of electronic futures exchanges that would not be governed by the CFTC, and determined that energy futures and derivatives could be traded on such exchanges. In the view of this Senate report, this precipitated a tremendous expansion in the demand for energy related contracts – and the potential for manipulation by large investors around the world – that has likely increased the price of oil by as much as $25 per barrel.

This is important, because despite conventional wisdom, existing supply-demand ratios in oil and oil-related products in no way justify current prices. As the Senate report accurately stated:

While global demand for oil has been increasing – led by the rapid industrialization of China, growth in India, and a continued increase in appetite for refined petroleum products, particularly gasoline, in the United States – global oil supplies have increased by an even greater amount. As a result, global inventories have increased as well. Today, U.S. oil inventories are at an eight-year high, and OECD oil inventories are at a 20-year high.

The report also gave an accurate historical reference to current oil supply levels:

As a result, over the past two years crude oil inventories have been steadily growing, resulting in U.S. crude oil inventories that are now higher than at any time in the previous eight years. The last time crude oil inventories were this high, in May 1998 – at about 347 million barrels – the price of crude oil was about $15 per barrel. By contrast, the price of crude oil is now about $70 per barrel. The large influx of speculative investment into oil futures has led to a situation where we have high crude oil prices despite high levels of oil in inventory.

Similarly contrary to the recent hysteria surrounding this issue, supply is expected to grow faster than demand for the foreseeable future:

In its monthly report for March 2006, the International Energy Agency(IEA), stated, "Additions to OPEC and non-OPEC capacity are forecast to keep global supply trends broadly in line with global demand in 2007 and 2008." The U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently forecast that in the next few years global surplus production capacity will continue to grow to between 3 and 5 million barrels per day by 2010, thereby "substantially thickening the surplus capacity cushion."

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Doing the Troops Wrong

Who wouldn't support an effort to pay for college for G.I.'s who have willingly suited up and put their lives on the line, who in many cases have served multiple tours in combat zones and in some cases have been wounded?

We did it for those who served in World War II. Why not now?

Well, you might be surprised at who is not supporting this effort. The Bush administration opposes it, and so does Senator John McCain.

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Secret Wiretap Warrants Double Since 9/11

For 2007, the department confirms that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the secret court that approves such warrants, approved 2,370 requests, compared to 1012 in 2000.

“Give me a half tanker of iron, and I will give you an ice age”

These inflammatory words centered around a theory known as the iron hypothesis. Martin professed that by sprinkling a relatively small amount of iron into certain areas of the ocean, known as high-nutrient, low-chlorophyll zones (HNLCs), one could create large blooms of those unicellular aquatic plants commonly known as algae. If enough of these HNLC zones were fertilized with iron, he believed the growth in algae could take in so much carbon from the atmosphere that they could reverse the greenhouse effect and cool the Earth.

Martin's theory sparked a tremendous debate. Unlike most of the unusual, somewhat esoteric theories that float about the scientific community at any given time, Martin's idea had teeth. It could be tested and it had the potential to impact the world on a short time scale. Many of Martin's contemporaries reacted strongly by claiming his iron hypothesis was ill founded. They felt that his "Geritol" solution to climate change was careless and hazardous for the environment. Corporations and even some countries, however, embraced the idea. They saw Martin's results as a way to reduce the effects of their own carbon dioxide and bring themselves within the emissions standards set up by the proposed Kyoto Protocol. Meanwhile, the press portrayed Martin as a renegade scientist that came out of nowhere with a mission to prove everyone wrong, calling him "Johnny Ironseed" and "Iron Man."

Martin, a burly, bearded oceanographer with an iconoclastic streak and wry sense of humor, reveled in the controversy and didn't back down. He stuck to his hypothesis to the end. Several months after his death in 1993, the theory was proven to be correct by his colleagues at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. They spread an iron solution into an HNLC zone near the Galapagos Islands and algae bloomed.

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Former UN weapons inspector says attack on Iran 'virtual guarantee'

Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who was among the original experts to question Bush Administration claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, now says he believes an attack on Iran is a "virtual guarantee."

"We take a look at the military buildup, we take a look at the rhetoric, we take a look at the diplomatic posturing, and I would say that it's a virtual guarantee that there will be a limited aerial strike against Iran in the not-so-near future—or not-so-distant future, that focuses on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command," Ritter said last week in a little-noted interview with Amy Goodman's Democracy Now. "And if this situation spins further out of control, you would see these aerial strikes expanding to include Iran's nuclear infrastructure and some significant command and control targets."

The Pentagon denied the claim again Monday.

~ read on... ~


United States is drawing up plans to strike on Iranian insurgency camp

The US military is drawing up plans for a "surgical strike" against an insurgent training camp inside Iran if Republican Guards continue with attempts to destabilise Iraq, western intelligence sources said last week. One source said the Americans were growing increasingly angry at the involvement of the Guards' special-operations Quds force inside Iraq, training Shi'ite militias and smuggling weapons into the country.

Despite a belligerent stance by Vice-President Dick Cheney, the administration has put plans for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities on the back burner since Robert Gates replaced Donald Rumsfeld as defence secretary in 2006, the sources said.

However, US commanders are increasingly concerned by Iranian interference in Iraq and are determined that recent successes by joint Iraqi and US forces in the southern port city of Basra should not be reversed by the Quds Force.

"If the situation in Basra goes back to what it was like before, America is likely to blame Iran and carry out a surgical strike on a militant training camp across the border in Khuzestan," said one source, referring to a frontier province.

~ read on... ~


False flag terror

Everyone has heard the saying "if we don't learn our history, we're doomed to repeat it".

Let's see if history can teach us anything about 9/11:

* Historians agree that the Japanese bombed one of their own railways, and then blamed it on Chinese dissidents, as a justification for war against China

* It is widely accepted that the Nazis, in Operation Himmler, faked attacks on their own people and resources which they blamed on the Poles, to justify the invasion of Poland

* It has now been persuasively argued — as shown, for example, in this History Channel video — that Nazis set fire to their own government building and blamed that fire on others (if you have trouble playing the clip, it is because the website hosting the clip requires you to download the clip before playing it). The fire was the event which justified Hitler's seizure of power and suspension of liberties

* In the early 1950s, agents of an Israeli terrorist cell operating in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including U.S. diplomatic facilities, in the hope that radical muslims would be blamed as the culprits (one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to identify the bombers). Israel's Defense Minister was brought down by the scandal, along with the entire Israeli government. See also this confirmation

* The Russian KGB apparently conducted a wave of bombings in Russia in order to justify war against Chechnya and put Vladimir Putin into power (see also this short essay and this report)

* The Turkish government has been caught bombing its own and blaming it on a rebel group in order to justify a crackdown on that group

* The well-respected former Indonesian president said that the government had a role in the Bali bombings

* As documented by the New York Times, Iranians working for the C.I.A. in the 1950's posed as Communists and staged bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected president (see also this essay)

* As confirmed by a former Italian Prime Minister, an Italian judge, and the former head of Italian counterintelligence, NATO, with the help of the Pentagon and CIA, carried out terror bombings in Italy and blamed the communists, in order to rally people's support for their governments in Europe in their fight against communism. As one participant in this formerly-secret program stated:

"You had to attack civilians, people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security."

* Recently declassified documents show that in the 1960's, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on a plan to blow up AMERICAN airplanes (using an elaborate plan involving the switching of airplanes), and also to commit terrorist acts on American soil, and then to blame it on the Cubans in order to justify an invasion of Cuba. If you view no other links in this article, please read the following ABC news report; the official documents; and watch this interview with the former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings

* The FBI had penetrated the cell which carried out the 1993 world trade center bombing, but had -- at the last minute -- cancelled the plan to have its FBI infiltrator substitute fake powder for real explosives, against the infiltrator's strong wishes (summary version is free; full version is pay-per-view)? See also this TV news report

* The anthrax attacks -- which were sent along with notes purportedly written by Islamic terrorists -- used a weaponized anthrax strain from the top U.S. bioweapons facility, the Fort Detrick military base? Indeed, top bioweapons experts have stated that the anthrax attack may have been a CIA test "gone wrong"; and see this article by a former NSA and naval intelligence officer; and this statement by a distinguished law professor and bioterror expert (and this one). It is also interesting that the only congress people mailed anthrax-containing letters were key democrats, and that the attacks occurred one week before passage of the freedom-curtailing Patriot Act, which seems to have scared them and the rest of congress into passing that act without even reading it

* The former director of the National Security Agency said "By any measure the US has long used terrorism. In '78-79 the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism - in every version they produced, the lawyers said the US would be in violation"(the audio is here)

* A former National Security Adviser told the Senate that the war on terror is "a mythical historical narrative"

* Famous leaders have stated again and again that false flag terror is the name of the game:

* U.S. President James Madison said: "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."

* Adolph Hitler said: "Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death".

* Nazi leader Hermann Goering said:

"Why of course the people don't want war ... But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship ... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country".

* Josef Stalin said:

"The easiest way to gain control of a population is to carry out acts of terror. [The public] will clamor for such laws if their personal security is threatened"

~ source ~


Continuity of Government Plan currently in effect?

In two previous posts (here and here), I showed that Continuity of Government (COG) plans were implemented on September 11th, and I argued that it is possible that they have never been suspended.

Now, one of the top investigative journalists in the country, Larisa Alexandrovna (the lead journalist at Raw Story), says:
"it seems to me that this administration has justified its crimes by NOT suspending the state of emergency that went up on September 11, 2001. They are using emergency powers if you look at the whole of the spying, military actions inside the US, etc. I would wager that if asked, this administration will admit that we have been in a state of emergency for their tenure in office."
Remember that Continuity of Government plans -- that is, the measures that go into effect in case of emergency -- suspend the Constitutional form of government, cut elected officials out of the loop, and may even allow the government to tell the media what it can and cannot report.

Remember also that the entire Homeland Security Committee of the U.S. Congress has been denied access to the government's Continuity of Government Plans even though it has clearance to view such plans (video; or here is the transcript). Indeed, a member of that Committee has said "Maybe the people who think there's a conspiracy out there are right".


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