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29 October 2004

Osama Bin Laden - The dead man speaks...

Excerpts: Bin Laden address

Arabic TV station al-Jazeera has broadcast a videotape of Osama Bin Laden addressing the American people.

"O American people, my talk to you is about the best way to avoid another Manhattan, about the war, its causes and results...

"Security is an important pillar of human life. Free people do not relinquish their security. This is contrary to Bush's claim that we hate freedom...

"Let him tell us why we did not strike Sweden, for example. It is known that those who hate freedom do not have proud souls, like the souls of the 19 people [killed while perpetrating the 11 September 2001 attacks], may God have mercy on them...

"We fought you because we are free and do not accept injustice. We want to restore freedom to our nation. Just as you waste our security, we will waste your security...

"Despite entering the fourth year after 11 September, Bush is still deceiving you and hiding the truth from you and therefore the reasons are still there to repeat what happened."

Bin Laden added that the idea of striking the towers in New York occurred to him when "we saw the injustice of the US-Israeli alliance against our people in Palestine and Lebanon", when, in 1982 "the United States gave permission to the Israelis to invade Lebanon" with, he alleged, the help of the US Sixth Fleet.

He said that these events had generated a "strong determination to punish the "unjust ones". "We did not find it difficult to deal with Bush and his administration, because it is similar to regimes in our countries, half of which are governed by the military and the other half of which are governed by the sons of kings and presidents; and we have a long experience with them. In both categories, you find many who are characterised by hubris, arrogance, greed, and unlawful acquisition of money...

"Your security does not lie in the hands of Kerry, Bush, or al-Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands. Each and every state that does not tamper with our security will have automatically assured its own security."

(news.bbc.co.uk)

(The story from aljazeera.net)
(The story from cnn.com)
(The story from reuters.com)

BLOG vs THE COPS

PORTUGAL PROIBIDO
(Correio da Manha)

Eram 7h00 quando dois agentes da Polícia Judiciária (PJ) de Leiria, acompanhados por um procurador adjunto do Ministério Público (MP), bateram à porta de António Caldeira, autor do blogue ‘Do Portugal Profundo’. Um caso de “censura” e “tentativa de intimidação”, considera o professor universitário de Alcobaça, que tem divulgado na internet pormenores do processo Casa Pia.

O blogue ‘Do Portugal Profundo’ continua ‘on-line’, com vários documentos relativos ao processo Casa Pia “Eles entraram e apreenderam disquetes, CD e o meu computador. Fizeram isso também em casa da minha mãe, de onde levaram um computador que eu já não usava há dez anos”, contou Caldeira ao CM. O professor de Marketing terá sido constituído arguido do crime de desobediência, por ter desrespeitados os autos que proibiram a reprodução das peças processuais ou documentos incorporados no processo Casa Pia. “Sou notificado de desobediência, mas isso pressupõe que eu conhecesse os autos. Como podem eles ter a certeza disso?” Caldeira terá também sido sujeito a termo de identidade e residência.

ENTRE A BÉLGICA E A ITÁLIA

António Caldeira não tem dúvidas: “há uma rede pedófila de controlo do Estado a tentar silenciar o meu blogue e intimidar a minha acção”, considera, dizendo ter sido essa rede a fazer a denúncia que motivou o MP. O blogue ‘Do Portugal Profundo’ nasceu há mais de um ano como um ‘site’ generalista, e a dada altura passou a dar grande atenção ao processo Casa Pia. “Tomei conhecimento de que a questão era equivalente ao escândalo de pedofilia da Bélgica, só que mais grave. A rede pedófila é semelhante à Máfia de Itália, com a diferença de que ainda não fez mortos”, diz o professor. “Escrevo em nome do País e da democracia. Move-me a necessidade de limpeza do Estado desta rede pedófila.”Apesar daquilo que considera ser uma “tentativa de intimidação e limitação da liberdade de expressão”, António

Caldeira promete continuar a alimentar o seu blogue, que continua activo no endereço http://doportugalprofundo.blogspot.com. “Enquanto eu puder, no cumprimento da lei, continuarei a falar do que acho importante”. Contactado pelo CM, Jorge van Krieken, autor do ‘site’ ‘ReporterX’, que também publica informação de cariz semelhante, não quis revelar se alguma vez foi alvo de acções do MP. “Não vou prestar quaisquer declarações ao vosso jornal”, disse.

AINDA NO AR

Na sua mensagem mais recente o blogue ‘Do Portugal Profundo’ publica na íntegra o relatório do Serviço de Informações e Segurança (SIS), concluído em 1999, intitulado ‘A Pedofilia em Portugal: ponto da Situação’. “Este documento, apresentado no Conselho de Informações e Segurança, foi transmitido à Polícia Judiciária e motivou a investigação consequente”, explica Caldeira. O ‘site’ nunca divulgou os nomes das vítimas.
(www.correiomanha.pt)

Another slow step forward

EU leaders sign constitution
Matthew Tempest, political correspondent


The 25 leaders of the European Union today signed the EU's first constitution, in the Rome palace which saw the creation of the original common market 47 years ago. The illustrious ceremony, hosted by the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, leaves the treaty with two years to be ratified by each member-state, either through their national parliaments or individual referendums - leaving its eventual enactment in doubt.

The 300-page constitution, if ratified, would give the EU a president, a foreign minister and a charter of fundamental rights - all deeply controversial in many EU nations. The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, today confirmed that a UK referendum on the constitution was "likely" to be in spring 2006 - after both a general election and the UK's rotating presidency of the EU.

The new "rulebook" for the EU replaces over 80,000 pages of legal documentation accumulated through a variety of treaties bonding the original European Economic Community of 1957, and was prompted by the accession this year of 10 new member states, mostly from the former Soviet block.
(www.guardian.co.uk)

Good News for those, who like me, believe that the future of Europe is Europe.
Problem is getting it ratified by the indivual states when most europeans have lost faith in Europe, or never had it to begin with.


(the same story from news.bbc.co.uk)

An interesting scenario

President Edwards?
By STEPHEN J. MARMON


It's Jan. 20, 2005, and a stunned America watches as John Edwards is sworn in as both vice president and acting president of the United States. Impossible? No, nor is a Bush-Edwards administration.

There are just a few upsets needed in states where the presidential race is very close. Even if President Bush wins Wisconsin and Minnesota - two states he lost in 2000 - Senator John Kerry would force a 269-269 Electoral College tie if he carries Colorado, Missouri, Nevada and New Hampshire, and Al Gore's states. But Colorado's ballot initiative to divide its electoral votes by popular ballot, rather than have them be winner take all, could change all that. If it's approved, and voting in that state splits as it did in 2000, Mr. Bush would pick up four votes, and win 273-265.

If recounts, challenges to provisional ballots and other legal actions don't overturn that result, the Supreme Court could again be called upon to decide the election. Imagine a ruling that applies the results of the Colorado initiative only to future presidential elections, not the 2004 contest.That would reinstate the Electoral College 269-269 deadlock, and send the tied contests to Congress; the House would choose the president and the Senate the vice president.
(www.nytimes.com)

But so hellishly unlikely...

Microsoft, Others File More Anti-Spam Lawsuits
Thu 28 October, 2004 23:12


SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. MSFT.O and other Internet access providers filed three new lawsuits on Thursday to stop the spread of unsolicited e-mail messages touting everything from home refinancing to miracle health cures. At the same time, America Online, a unit of Time Warner Inc. TWX.N , filed a lawsuit in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, targeting "spim," or unsolicited messages sent to users of its instant messaging service.

Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, and AOL, EarthLink Inc. ELNK.O and Yahoo Inc. YHOO.O filed the lawsuits "against those who strain our consumers' inboxes with unwanted and deceptive e-mail, many carrying and transmitting malicious code, spyware and links to phishing sites."

"Phishing" is the practice of sending bogus e-mails that try to trick people into revealing private financial information for purposes of identity theft.
(www.reuters.co.uk)

My inbox thanks you...

Spain gives the go-ahead for stem cell research

Spain authorises stem cell research
Fri 29 October, 2004 17:22


MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's Socialist government has authorised research with embryonic stem cells, the latest in a string of laws set to rile the Catholic church. Spain's previous right-wing, pro-church Popular Party government passed a law last year to allow stem cell research on embryos but only under a string of conditions. It never took the necessary steps to put the law into effect. But the new government stripped out some of the conditions and issued guidelines on Friday so that scientists can start their work. The move came despite opposition from the Vatican. Ninety percent of Spain's population calls themselves Catholic but liberal views increasingly coexist with traditional Catholic values. "It is not ethical to place obstacles and difficulties in the way of scientists who are using their talent and knowledge to improve our capacity to treat illness," Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega told a news conference.
(www.reuters.co.uk)

When will Portugal do the same?

Things do change II

Charter on Women’s Rights Getting Ready
P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News


JEDDAH, 29 October 2004 — The King Abdul Aziz National Dialogue Center in Riyadh is drafting a charter on women’s rights, its President Saleh Al-Hosayn said. The charter will be considered a reference on women in Saudi Arabia. He said the recommendations of the third national dialogue on women in Madinah would be given precedence in the charter. He did not say when the charter would be ready.The Madinah dialogue, which was held in June, ended with a call to respect the equality of sexes granted by Islam. “Islam guarantees equality and does not differentiate between people based on race, sex or color,” Hosayn said while opening the forum.“It is a natural situation achieved by ensuring that people enjoy the same legal rights, dignity and obligations,” he added. But he had warned that women working outdoors would not find enough time to raise their children and demanded a balance between women’s rights and their obligations. Both male and female participants called for a review of the taboo shrouding local customs governing women’s lives. However, defenders said it was such customs that provided a sense of identity to Saudi people.

“The forum lifted a virtual taboo that has existed for years about discussing women’s issues. It initiated a social dialogue and triggered and renewed interest in women’s rights and roles in the future of Saudi Arabia,” says Samar Fatany, a Saudi radio journalist based in Jeddah. “The dialogue reflected the Saudi leadership’s opinion that women are an integral part of the reform process. It conveyed the message very clearly that both men and women are partners in reform,” she added.

Saudi women play an active role in society despite the problems facing them. They own some 20,000 firms — some five percent of all registered businesses — ranging from ordinary retail businesses to various types of industry.

(www.worldpress.org)

If this leads to change then it is good news!

28 October 2004

Censorship II - Blogger Antonio gets a nasty visit from the cops...

António from the Blog "Do Portugal Profundo" was censored by the Portuguese Cops when they walked into his house with a warrant and ended taking away with them his computer, amongst other things. This happened last night and is related to the "Casa Pia" Child molestation case. For a long time now António has been revealing excerpts from documents pertaining to this case allowing many portuguese (and others) in on details of the case, which is an example of the extreme mess the portuguese legal system is in (This too has been done by some newspapers who have, till now, suffered no midnight raids). Seems recently censorship has become a way of life in Portugal, with cases like "Marcelo Rebelo Sousa" still making headlines. The question is who will be next?

"Sete horas, ainda de noite. Bateram à porta. Sem medo, ainda meio estremunhado, abro. Três vultos. O primeiro diz:

- "Polícia Judiciária de Leiria. Temos um mandado de busca da sua residência".

Franqueio a porta. Entram dois agentes e um procurador-adjunto. Mostram-me o mandado de busca domiciliária, assinado por um juiz, às minhas residências (sic) e veículos (o meu carro e outro que vendi há oito anos)."
(Taken from "Do Portugal Profundo")

Cry the Beloved Country

South Africans 'armed to the hilt'

South Africans own more guns than the police and army. South African civilians own more guns than the police and military combined, according to a study by Gun Free South Africa and Cape Town University. Some 8.4% of the population own a gun, which amounts to 3.7 million firearms, the researchers found. In the region, on average 2.27% of the population own guns, while Mozambique has a rate of 0.04%, the study says. South Africa has one of the world's highest incidences of gun-related crime which has led to new fire arm laws.

Apartheid legacy

According to the legislation, which came into effect in July, gun owners now have to reapply for their licences, undergo stringent checks and sit an exam. South Africa's high rate is a result of the legacy of apartheid where members of the white community were encouraged to own a firearm. The act also raised the legal age for owning a firearm from 16 to 21.

"South Africa's high rate is a result of the legacy of apartheid where members of the white community were encouraged to own a firearm," report author, Guy Lamb, from Cape Town University's Centre for Conflict Resolution, told BBC News Online. He said South Africans widely regard their environment as dangerous and so are looking for ways to protect themselves. Additionally, members of the security forces were previously allowed to keep their firearms when they left the force. He said that gun shops reported that black South Africans now accounted for most of their customers. There are some 500 gun shops in the country.

(news.bbc.co.uk)

That's why I left, had guns pointed at me, once too often. Sad though, South Africa is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Pity that humans live there, otherwise it would have been perfect...

Censorship?

Foreigners Blocked From Bush Site

LONDON -- President Bush's official campaign website has blocked access to foreign surfers since Monday, an internet monitoring company said Wednesday. Netcraft, based in Bath in western England, said the site "appears to be rejecting visitors from most points outside the United States, while allowing access from U.S. locations." Netcraft did not report any reason for the blockage. "We can't say precisely, except that it seems to be a decision by the maintainers of the website," said Rich Miller, an analyst at Netcraft. Miller said the company detected a six-hour blackout last week which affected the Bush website and the site of the Republican National Committee. The latter site was accessible Wednesday from Britain.

"Last week's simultaneous outages for GeorgeWBush.com and RNC.org prompted speculation that an electronic attack may have occurred, as the two sites are hosted on separate web servers," Miller said in a statement posted on Netcraft's site. "The Bush campaign told media the outage was 'no big deal' and offered no specific explanation for the outage." Netcraft said it monitors website response times from four locations within the United States and three in other countries. "Since Monday morning, requests to GeorgeWBush.com from stations in London, Amsterdam and Sydney, Australia, have failed, while the four U.S. monitoring stations show no performance problems. Web users in Canada report they are able to visit the site," Netcraft said.

(Wired News)

What is George Bush afraid of, that some trigger happy european will hack his site with anti-Bush messages?

26 October 2004

Who is to Blame?

Iraq Blames US-Led Forces for Army Massacre
By Michael Georgy


BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq (news - web sites)'s U.S.-backed government said on Tuesday that "major neglect" by its American-led allies led to a massacre of 49 army recruits at the weekend. In one of the bloodiest attacks on Iraq's fledgling security forces, the unarmed recruits were shot in the back of their heads after being stopped by guerrillas posing as policemen as they traveled home for leave. "There was an ugly crime in which a large group of National Guards were martyred," Prime Minister Iyad Allawi told Iraq's interim national council. "We believe this issue was the outcome of major neglect by some parts of the multinational (forces)," he said without elaborating.

Al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the attack. Iraq's Minister of State for national security affairs later softened the government's tone, saying he was not assigning blame but waiting for the findings of that inquiry, which is due in three weeks. "The investigation will seek to determine whether inside information was obtained on the movement of troops and why the troops were unarmed and without armed escort," Minister of State Kassim Daoud told Reuters.

(news.yahoo.com)

Is this the end of the Honeymoon!

Mais jornais americanos votam em Kerry que em Bush

O "Washington Post" declarou ontem o seu apoio a John Kerry nas presidenciais dos EUA - e, mais importante para o democrata, o "Orlando Sentinel" também. Kerry tem mais jornais a seu favor que Bush - incluindo nos "estados decisivos". O apoio da imprensa terá influência?John Kerry vai à frente de George W. Bush na corrida aos apoios na imprensa. Segundo uma contagem da "Editor & Publisher", 102 jornais americanos apoiam o candidato democrata, contra 70 a favor de George W. Bush; os jornais "pró-Kerry" têm uma tiragem total de 14,2 milhões de exemplares, para 8,6 milhões dos jornais "pró-Bush". No entanto, nem todos os "endorsements" têm o mesmo peso; nestas eleições, mais importantes que jornais nacionais são os dos "estados indecisos" como a Florida ou o Ohio.

( Jornal Público, 25 de Outubro de 2004 )

Shortage of Girls in China

China Offers Parents Cash for Girls
Mail & Guardian (liberal), Johannesburg



China is offering to pay couples a premium for producing baby girls to counter an alarming gender imbalance created by the country's one-child population control policy. Last year, 117 boys were born for every 100 girls in China, compared with a global average of 105 to 100. Faced by a socially destabilising shortage of more than 30-million women by 2020, senior family planning officials said on Thursday that they will offer welfare incentives to couples with two daughters and tighten the prohibition on sex-selective abortions. "China has set the goal of lowering the sex ratio to a normal level by 2010," said Zhao Baige, vice-minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission. To reverse the trend, pilot programmes are already under way in China's poorest provinces. In some areas, couples with two daughters and no sons have been promised an annual payment of R430 (about $80 US) once they reach 60 years of age. The money, which is a significant sum in areas where the average income is about R5 (less than $1.00 US) a day, will also be given to families with only one child to discourage couples with a daughter from trying again for a boy. Some regions have gone further. In parts of Fujian province, local governments have given housing grants of approximately R11000 ($1700 US) to couples with two girls. The state will expand welfare programmes so poor couples rely less on producing a son to care for them in their old age. It will also push a "caring for girls" propaganda campaign to counter the preference for boys.

But it is far from certain that the measures will be any more successful than previous attempts to reverse the preference for boys. Many families, particularly in rural areas, place greater value on sons, who are considered best suited to continue the family line, generate income and ensure that parents are cared for during their old age. A disproportionate number of female fetuses are aborted and girls are at greater risk than boys of being abandoned or sold.

(worldpress.org)

To all the lonely girls, here's your chance...

25 October 2004

Some Things do Change

Trading their guns for pens
Sat Oct 23, 4:27 PM ET
By Bay Fang

KABUL--They were three years younger then, playing at adulthood with wispy beards and Kalashnikovs. They spent their days sniping at Taliban fighters from trenches along the front line, operating radios from mountaintop bunkers, and serving tea to the local warlord and his guests. For these teenagers living in Dashti Qala, the frontline town in northern Afghanistan (news - web sites), daily life had one focus and one focus only--the enemy outlined on the next hill.

Today their faces are thinner, with age and a student diet, and they talk not of fighting and of the enemy but of their futures. Hedayatullah studies engineering. Osman is preparing for medical school. Mukhtar wants to be a teacher. Jalaluddin harbors hopes of going abroad. In the three years since the Taliban fell, these young men and their lives--as soldiers turned students--are the faces of change in Afghanistan.

Mukhtar was 15 when the Taliban came to the village of Khoja Ghar. Stories of their atrocities -- raping young women and burning the old -- live on in Northern Alliance lore, and most boys of fighting age took up a weapon and joined the local commander. Mukhtar was given a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher--which, his friends laugh, was taller than he was then. "At the time, our feeling was only to defend our nation," says Mukhtar, now 19. "We had no chance to study. No one knew if the Taliban would be there forever. We couldn't think about becoming an engineer, a teacher, a doctor. We only thought about fighting."

Today, nine of them live in one tiny room, above the bus station where passengers headed to Kandahar throng. Mats line the floor, and pieces of clothing hang haphazardly from a rod across the ceiling. The one desk is piled high with notebooks and papers. There are so many young men like them that the university has run out of space in the dormitories. Their fellow students come from all different backgrounds -- some fought with the Northern Alliance, some with the Taliban. Some men are starting the equivalent of middle school in their late 20s, having never before had the chance to study. "No one looks down on anyone else," says Hedayatullah, "because we all know we had no other choice."

(USNEWS.com)

At least for some, things seem to be getting better...

Welcome to the Brave, New World

Security for Internet Users Deemed Weak
Mon Oct 25,10:00 AM ET Technology - AP
By TED BRIDIS, AP Technology Writer



WASHINGTON - Internet users at home are not nearly as safe online as they believe, according to a nationwide inspection by researchers. They found most consumers have no firewall protection, outdated antivirus software and dozens of spyware programs secretly running on their computers. One beleaguered home user in the government-backed study had more than 1,000 spyware programs running on his sluggish computer when researchers examined it. Bill Mines, a personal trainer in South Riding, Va., did not fare much better. His family's 3-year-old Dell computer was found infected with viruses and more than 600 pieces of spyware surreptitiously monitoring his online activities. "I was blown away," Mines said. "I had a lot of viruses and other things I didn't know about. I had no idea things like this could happen." The Internet always has had its share of risky neighborhoods and dark alleys. But with increasingly sophisticated threats from hackers, viruses, spam e-mails and spyware, trouble is finding computer users no matter how cautiously they roam online.

The technology industry is feeling the pain, too. Spurred by the high costs of support calls from irritated customers — and fearful that frustrated consumers will stop buying new products — Internet providers, software companies and computer-makers are making efforts to increase awareness of threats and provide customers with new tools to protect themselves. Still, many computer users appear remarkably unprepared for the dangers they face. The study being released Monday by America Online and the National Cyber Security Alliance found that 77 percent of 326 adults in 12 states assured researchers in a telephone poll they were safe from online threats. Nearly as many people felt confident they were already protected specifically from viruses and hackers. When experts visited those same homes to examine computers, they found two-thirds of adults using antivirus software that was not updated in at least seven days.

Two-thirds of the computer users also were not using any type of protective firewall program, and spyware was found on the computers of 80 percent of those in the study.

(Associated Press)

The Internet Jungle is getting wilder all the time. Where will it end?

Breaking News!

"Latest In

From our sources in the Prime Minister's office we have learnt that next month the government is going to be initiating substantial changes to the Portuguese Legislation.

One of the most important measures will be a 30% hike in income tax for all those earning above €2000 a month. This will be to bring the Portuguese deficit under control, thus complying with the European Union limits on state deficits. This move is likely to bring about wide ranging protests. However the government feels sure that it is the best way to improve social equality."

(FakeNews.pt)



This is a fictional news article to prove a point. When the mass media claims sources in well placed positions I'm always left wondering about the veracity these reports. The problem with sources is that they are rarely named. The chance of confirming these sources are close to zero. Like the article above there are some options as to "Truth" behind the article.

1) There really is a source and the story is true
2) The source lied about the story and thus it is false.
3) There is no source and the story was fabricated by the actual journalist or News Entity.

How does one tell the difference between these three situations? One doesn't!

E ele disse ...

" ... acabaremos por cair num organismo autoritário dissimulado sob os mais belos parâmetros da democracia."

(José Saramago)

24 October 2004

Bush vs Kerry - The end is Nigh and the World holds it's breathe!

Dumb show
Charlie Brooker - The Guardian


Heady times. The US election draws ever nearer, and while the rest of the world bangs its head against the floorboards screaming "Please God, not Bush!", the candidates clash head to head in a series of live televised debates. It's a bit like American Idol, but with terrifying global ramifications. You've got to laugh.
Or have you? Have you seen the debates? I urge you to do so. The exemplary BBC News website (www.bbc.co.uk/news) hosts unexpurgated streaming footage of all the recent debates, plus clips from previous encounters, through Reagan and Carter, all the way back to Nixon versus JFK.

Watching Bush v Kerry, two things immediately strike you. First, the opening explanation of the rules makes the whole thing feel like a Radio 4 parlour game. And second, George W Bush is... well, he's... Jesus, where do you start?

The internet's a-buzz with speculation that Bush has been wearing a wire, receiving help from some off-stage lackey. Screen grabs appearing to show a mysterious bulge in the centre of his back are being traded like Top Trumps. Prior to seeing the debate footage, I regarded this with healthy scepticism: the whole "wire" scandal was just wishful thinking on behalf of some amateur Michael Moores, I figured. And then I watched the footage.

Quite frankly, the man's either wired or mad. If it's the former, he should be flung out of office: tarred, feathered and kicked in the nuts. And if it's the latter, his behaviour goes beyond strange, and heads toward terrifying. He looks like he's listening to something we can't hear. He blinks, he mumbles, he lets a sentence trail off, starts a new one, then reverts back to whatever he was saying in the first place. Each time he recalls a statistic (either from memory or the voice in his head), he flashes us a dumb little smile, like a toddler proudly showing off its first bowel movement. Forgive me for employing the language of the playground, but the man's a tool.

(www.guardian.co.uk)

No Comment...No Comment...NO COMMENT...

The Royal Navy and Satanism - Freedom of Religion.

Royal Navy to allow devil worship


LONDON, England (CNN) -- A devil-worshipping sailor in the Royal Navy has become the first registered Satanist in the British Armed Forces. Chris Cranmer, 24, a technician serving on the Type 22 frigate Cumberland, has been officially recognized as a Satanist by the ship's captain. That allows him to perform satanic rituals aboard and permits him to have a non-Christian Church of Satan funeral should he be killed in action. A spokesman for Britain's Ministry of Defence told CNN Sunday that it had a duty to allow members of the forces to practice their religion. He added that the MoD was an "equal opportunities employer" which did not stop anyone having their own religious values. "The Royal Navy allows this kind of approach because it is clearly in line with current regulations. We are not aware of any other individuals who want to be registered as Satanists."

(CNN)

Freedom of Religion is alive and well in the U.K.

A PEDOFILIA EM PORTUGAL

A report finished in 1999 from the SIS (Information and Security Service), which I found at Do Portugal Profundo (In Portuguese), about child molestation in Portugal.
(Image)


It is time to protect those who are least able to protect themselves

José Manuel Durão Barroso

Hard Nose
Incoming European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso has stared down soldiers and tamed Portugal's budget. His greatest challenge lies ahead
By Karen Lowry Miller


When Barroso's first transition adviser, Brussels insider Mario David, heard that Barroso might have a rough go in parliamentary approval hearings, David insisted that the normally closed sessions be made public. This played to Barroso's strengths: he fielded questions in several languages, made self-deprecating jokes and won the M.E.P.s over by a vote of 413 to 251.

Europe soon got a hint of what Barroso is made of when it came to selecting his commission. The big powers, including France, Germany, Britain and Italy, demanded the posts governing internal markets or competition, which will be critical to the reform process. So Barroso denied them all and gave the posts to small countries. He spoke personally to the leaders of all the European member states about their nominees, and, he says, insisted that at least three change their choices. "Voices were raised," says a close aide. Yet so deft was Barroso's bargaining, even the French and Germans insist they are now pleased. One suspects he will settle the Buttiglione brouhaha just as easily. As for his broader agenda, Tim Evans, a prominent liberal analyst, says that "once or twice a century you get a politician who makes a profound difference," and that Barroso "could just have the sheer will to change the direction of Europe." The moment is right. Is the man?

(Newsweek)

Our ex-prime minister seems to have his work cut out for him!

Timeless belief...

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. - Isaac Newton

You see things and you say, "Why?" But I dream things that never were and say, "Why not?" - George Bernard Shaw

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.Galileo Galilei

Another use for Depleted Uranium

Depleted Uranium Released During Canadian Plane Crash
Little-Known Use of DU in Commercial Jets Exposed
By Christopher Bollyn


The recent crash of a Boeing 747 in Halifax, Canada, raises a number of questions about the use of depleted uranium (DU) in airplanes, public health concerns and the 9-11 attacks. When a Boeing 747 crashed and burned on takeoff at Halifax International Airport in Nova Scotia, Canada, on Oct. 14, an official accident investigator said the aircraft probably contained radioactive depleted uranium. Bill Fowler, an investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, said the plane was likely equipped with DU as counterweights in its wings and rudder. “A 747 may contain as much as 1,500 kilograms [3,300 lbs.] of the material,” the Canadian Press reported. It took 60 firefighters and 20 trucks about three hours to control the fire. Fowler said: “there is no threat or concern” about DU exposure to those working on the wreckage. “That’s baloney,” Marion Fulk, a retired staff scientist from Lawrence Livermore National Lab, told American Free Press. Fulk, 83, is currently researching how low-level ionizing radiation causes cancer, birth defects and a host of other health problems. Burning depleted uranium creates a “whole mess of oxides,” Fulk said, “which is what makes it so wicked biologically.”

(www.americanfreepress.net)

One has to wonder where else depleted uranium is being used. We seem to live in the world of the three monkeys...
Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil


Found This on the Uncommon Thought Journal

23 October 2004

Nickelodeon's kids pick Kerry as president


If kids could vote, Sen. John Kerry would be the next U.S. president,Nickelodeon network's "Kids' Vote" indicates. Children across the country exercised their votes in the network's poll held online Tuesday.

Nickelodeon said it has held the "Kids' Vote" every election year since 1988, and its voters have correctly predicted the winner in the last four presidential campaigns. In this year's vote, Kerry received 57 percent of the vote, to President George W. Bush's 43 percent. The vote tally was almost 400,000, the announcement said. In 2000, Bush was predicted the winner over Vice President Al Gore with 55 percent of the vote. "The 'Kids' Vote' seems to work as a good barometer of the actual presidential vote because, developmentally, kids between the ages of 2 and 11 share the same opinions and outlooks as their parents," said Nickelodeon President Cyma Zarghami. "What really counts, though, is the fact that kids got interested in the campaign and let their voices be heard. That's a great habit to develop and hold on to as they grow into responsible adults."

John Kerry's testimony in Congress about Vietnam

What Was Found and Learned in Vietnam

We found that not only was it a civil war, an effort by a people who had for years been seeking their liberation from any colonial influence whatsoever, but also we found that the Vietnamese whom we had enthusiastically molded after our own image were hard put to take up the fight against the threat we were supposedly saving them from.

We found most people didn't even know the difference between communism and democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without helicopters strafing them and bombs with napalm burning their villages and tearing their country apart. They wanted everything to do with the war, particularly with this foreign presence of the United States of America, to leave them alone in peace, and they practiced the art of survival by siding with whichever military force was present at a particular time, be it Vietcong, North Vietnamese, or American.

We found also that all too often American men were dying in those rice paddies for want of support from their allies. We saw first hand how money from American taxes was used for a corrupt dictatorial regime. We saw that many people in this country had a one-sided idea of who was kept free by our flag, as blacks provided the highest percentage of casualties. We saw Vietnam ravaged equally by American bombs as well as by search and destroy missions, as well as by Vietcong terrorism, and yet we listened while this country tried to blame all of the havoc on the Vietcong.

We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. We saw America lose her sense of morality as she accepted very coolly a My Lai and refused to give up the image of American soldiers who hand out chocolate bars and chewing gum.

We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of Orientals. We watched the U.S. falsification of body counts, in fact the glorification of body counts. We listened while month after month we were told the back of the enemy was about to break. We fought using weapons against "oriental human beings," with quotation marks around that. We fought using weapons against those people which I do not believe this country would dream of using were we fighting in the European theater or let us say a non-third-world people theater, and so we watched while men charged up hills
because a general said that hill has to be taken, and after losing one platoon or two platoons they marched away to leave the high for the reoccupation by the North Vietnamese because we watched pride allow the most unimportant of battles to be blown into extravaganzas, because we couldn't lose, and we couldn't retreat, and because it didn't matter how many American bodies were lost to prove that point. And so there were Hamburger Hills and Khe Sanhs and Hill 881's and Fire Base 6's and so many others.

Now we are told that the men who fought there must watch quietly while American lives are lost so that we can exercise the incredible arrogance of Vietnamizing the Vietnamese.

The lighter side of life

Search and rescue operation leads to apartment

EUGENE, Oregon (Reuters) -- TV hardly gets much better than this.

An Oregon man discovered earlier this month that his year-old Toshiba Corporation
flat-screen TV was emitting an international distress signal picked up by a satellite, leading a search and rescue operation to his apartment in Corvallis, Oregon, 70 miles south of Portland. The signal from Chris van Rossmann's TV was routed by satellite to the Air Force Rescue Center at Langley Air Base in Virginia. On October 2, the 20 year-old college student was visited at his apartment in the small university town by a contingent of local police, civil air patrol and search and rescue personnel.
(CNN)

Remind me to turn the TV off...

Brazil and Nuclear Energy

Brazil Reacts Angrily to Report on Nukes

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Brazil on Friday denounced a U.S. magazine report saying Brazil's uranium enrichment plant will give it the potential to build nuclear warheads. In its latest issue, Science magazine said that Brazil's uranium enrichment plant in Resende, about 60 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro, will be able to refine enough uranium to build up to six nuclear warheads. The report said that at its "announced capacity" the plant will be able to enrich enough uranium "to make five to six implosion-type warheads per year. By 2010, as capacity rises, it could make enough every year for 26 to 31 and by 2014 enough for 53 to 63."

But the president of Brazil's National Nuclear Energy Commission, Odair Dias Goncalves, called the magazine's arguments "frivolous." "They can only be the result of misinformation or motivated by shadowy interests," he said. "Both motives are incompatible with the tradition of such a prestigious magazine like Science." The magazine report, "Brazil's Nuclear Puzzle," was written by two writers from the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control. Goncalves said the Resende plant was designed to enrich uranium to low levels for fuel to generate nuclear power plants. For nuclear warheads, he said, the uranium has to be enriched to 90 percent, "and we simply do not have the technology for that."
(news.yahoo.com)

When a Stranger comes to town.

Stranger moves in, redecorates while woman's on vacation

DOUGLASVILLE, Georgia (AP) -- A woman came home from vacation to find a stranger living there, wearing her clothes, changing utilities into her name and even
ripping out carpet and repainting a room she didn't like, authorities said. Douglas County authorities say they can't explain why Beverly Valentine, 54, broke into an empty home and started acting like it was her own. During the 21/2 weeks the owner, Beverly Mitchell, was on vacation in Greece, Valentine allegedly redecorated the ranch home, ripping up carpet and taking down the owner's pictures and replacing them with her own. Mitchell was a complete unknown to Valentine, said Chief Sheriff's Deputy Stan Copeland. He said he had no idea how Valentine knew Mitchell was gone.

"In 28 years, I've never seen something this strange," Copeland said

(CNN)

The John Kerry endorsement?

Terrorists Endorse Kerry

"Praise be to Allah, it increased the joy in our hearts that John Kerry, the presidential candidate criticized the Bush governmentfor taking so long in making this declaration. The one who may be president of America [John Kerry] is already struck with terror by our brothers from the Tawheed wal-Jihad Movement[Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group]. The repeated atacks that have targetted the evil Bush are now echoing on Kerry, even though he is not yet a president. This is what Allah means when he commands us to 'terrorize your enemy and the enemy of Allah."
(The PDF document at globalterroralert.com)

Thanks to the Outside the Beltway

I don't know what to make of this. Fact or Fiction? The circus has definately come to town

22 October 2004

Hostage Margaret Hassan

Aid worker pleads for UK Iraq withdrawal

The aid worker said she did not want to 'die like Bigley'. Hostage Margaret Hassan has made an emotional appeal for British forces to withdraw from Iraq in a video broadcast on Aljazeera TV. "Please help me, please help me," Hassan, who works for aid agency Care International, was shown saying while crying. "This might be my last hour." "Please, the British people, ask Mr Blair to take the troops out of Iraq and not to bring them here to Baghdad ... That's why people like Mr Bigley and myself are being caught," she said, referring to British captive Kenneth Bigley, who was decapitated by his captors earlier this month. "Maybe ... I will die like Mr Bigley," Irish-born Hassan appealed, before burying her head in her hands in tears.

Hassan, has lived in Iraq for 30 years and holds Iraqi, Irish and British citizenship. She was kidnapped in Baghdad on Tuesday

(aljazeera.net)

This saga has no end in sight. Hostages kidnapped and then murdered for the world to see. The "Big Brother" show of the 21st century. It doesn't shock me anymore. Instead it leaves me so angry I can barely contain it. These cretins have gone way too far. Not only do they totally disregard the tenets of a religion they profess to follow but so to any other human standard of dignity and moral.

And for what?

They are obviously not stupid. They know that their demands will not be meet. So they do it for the shock value it has on those watching at home...



Couldn't agree more...

NEGATIVE EXPOSURE

Now that George Bush and John Kerry no longer have to face one another, they have also decided to turn their backs on facts and reasoned argument, as they continue to campaign across our nation's battleground states.

At a rally with the faithful in New Jersey, President Bush attacked Kerry, saying, "In our debate a few weeks ago, he declared when we went into Iraq, there were three
countries: Great Britain, Australia, and the United States. He left out Poland." With that, he gave considerable pause to some undecided polka musicians standing nearby.

At least the senator wasn't resorting to scare tactics, unless, of course, you have ever known an elderly person or a mother. He told the crowd at a speech in Florida, "With senior citizens standing in line for hours, mothers frantic about how to protect their children, the president gave the public his solution: don't get a flu shot." To drive his point home, the senator then sneezed on everyone in the front row.

As it happens, President Bush was also in Florida – there’s just something about that state that makes the candidates want to focus on it - but unlike Senator Kerry, the president decided to let his opponent's own liberal words destroy him, saying, "He doesn't like that label. He dismisses it as just a word. He must have seen it differently when he told a newspaper, 'I am a liberal and proud of it.'" Perhaps it is possible that Senator Kerry could have seen things a bit differently when he said that. After all, it was in July of 1991.

Though the candidates’ sometimes misleading statements of possible fact could be a matter of honest misinterpretation, when it comes to what can only be described as the most egregious lie told on the campaign trail to date, that honor goes to President George W. Bush, who said, "It is great to be back in the state of New Jersey."

Both candidates also invoked the name of an earlier beloved president, although for different reasons. Bush said, "After the war was over, Harry S. Truman, president of the United States, believed that liberty could transform an enemy into an ally." Meanwhile, elsewhere in Florida, Kerry offered, "In a message that was sent to congress nearly 60 years ago, president Harry Truman said, and I quote, we should resolve now that the health of this nation is a national concern." The two candidates then returned to bitchslapping each other after learning that Harry Truman was dead and therefore ineligible to vote.

(The Daily Show Headlines)

Serious political debate is all but dead in the U.S. presidential elections. Here we have two candidates whose greatest strengths seem to be the verbal attacks against the opposite number. Is this the best that the "inspirational" U.S. democracy can dish up? I'm at times horrified by the lack of class in these two candidates.

And then I remember Abraham Lincoln

"Elections belong to the people. It is their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters."

Rua da Judiaria

Cabala - as Morfologias de um Velho Ódio

"A palavra cabala é um dos vocábulos da língua portuguesa onde a linguística e a filologia se intersectam com o fanatismo histórico e a intolerância. E com o antisemitismo institucional que durante séculos vigorou em Portugal graças à
Inquisição"

Um post excelente na Rua da Judiaria sobre a palavra "Cabala".

20 October 2004

Meditate on this...

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble. - Helen Keller

If you don't understand yourself you don't understand anybody else.
- Nikki Giovanni

Everything you are against weakens you. Everything you are for empowers you.
- Wayne Dyer

Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours." - John Locke

I have often been afraid, but I would not give in to it. I made myself act as though I was not afraid and gradually my fear disappeared. - Theodore Roosevelt

You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor. - James Allen

If you put a small value upon youself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price. - Unknown

Every morning you are handed 24 golden hours. They are one of the few things in this world that you get free of charge. If you had all the money in the world, you couldn't buy an extra hour. What will you do with this priceless treasure? Remember, you must use it, as it is given only once. Once wasted you cannot get it back.- Unknown

I don't believe in pessimism. If something doesn't come up the way you want, forge ahead. If you think it's going to rain, it will. – Clint Eastwood

It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others. - John Andrew Holmes

Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty. - Anne Herbert

In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don't have the first, the other two will kill you." - Warren Buffet

19 October 2004

As usual we may have the cat by the Tail!

Scientists ponder the problem with gravity
By Robert Roy Britt


Imagine the weight of a nagging suspicion that what held your world together, a constant and consistent presence you had come to understand and rely on, wasn't what it seemed. That's how scientists feel when they ponder gravity these days. For more than three centuries, the basics of gravity were pretty well understood. Newton described the force as depending on an object's mass. Though it extends infinitely, gravity weakens with distance (specifically, by the inverse square of the distance). Einstein built on these givens in developing his theory of relativity. Then more than a decade ago a researcher noticed something funny about two Pioneer spacecraft that were streaming toward the edge of the solar system. They weren't where they should have been. Something was holding the probes back, according to calculations of their paths, speed and how the gravity of all the objects in the solar system — and even a tiny push provided by sunlight — ought to act on them. Now scientists have proposed a new mission to figure out what's up with gravity.

Staggering possibilities

Pioneer 10 and 11 launched in 1972 and 1973. Today each is several billion miles away, heading in opposite directions out of the solar system. The discrepancy caused by the anomaly amounts to about 248,500 miles (400,000 kilometers), or roughly the distance between Earth and the moon. That's how much farther the probes should have traveled in their 34 years, if our understanding of gravity is correct. (The distance figure is an oversimplification of the actual measurements, but more on that in a moment.) Scientists are quick to suggest the Pioneer anomaly, as they call it, is probably caused by the space probes themselves, perhaps emitting heat or gas. But the possibilities have been tested and modeled and penciled out, and so far
they don't add up. Which leaves open staggering possibilities that would force wholesale reprinting of all physics books:

- Invisible dark matter is tugging at the probes
- Other dimensions create small forces we don't understand
- Gravity works differently than we think
(www.msnbc.msn.com)

Reminds of one of my favorite quotes " There is more in heven and hell, Horatio, than is dream't of in your philosophies"

Spain Disrupts Terror Plot

Islamic Radicals Planned to Blow Up Court Complex

By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Foreign Service



PARIS, Oct. 19 -- Spanish authorities said Tuesday they disrupted a plot by a cell of Islamic radicals to blow up a Madrid court complex that serves as the home for the country's top anti-terrorism investigators and judges. Police arrested eight suspects in six different cities on Monday and Tuesday in an effort to break up the cell, which was composed primarily of people with criminal records, according to statements released by the Spanish Interior Ministry. Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso said the suspects were planning an attack on the National Court building in Madrid. "Police are not ruling out other possible targets," he told reporters Tuesday.

Authorities carried out searches in several locations across Spain but said they did not find any explosives or signs that an attack was imminent. Investigators also said they found no evidence to suggest that the alleged plotters were connected with the train bombings in Madrid in March that killed 191 people. The Interior Ministry said the cell included four Algerians and one Moroccan. Some members of the group had been in touch recently with individuals in other European countries, as well as the United States and Australia, according to ministry officials, who did not elaborate on the contacts or give other details about the alleged plot.

(www.washingtonpost.com)

Other Reports of the same Story
(cnn.com)
(www.cbsnews.com)
(Reuters)


So much for pulling their troops out of Iraq to prevent futher attacks. What was at the time, a classic knee-jerk reaction, is now proving to have been useless. All countries are viable targets...

The price for helping Iraq...

Charity worker kidnapped in Iraq

The humanitarian aid group Care International today announced that the British-born head of its Iraqi operation had been kidnapped in Baghdad. Al-Jazeera, the Arabic language news channel, later broadcast a video of Margaret Hassan - an Iraqi national - who was abducted this morning. Ms Hassan had been working for Care in Iraq for more than a decade. The Reuters news agency said the video showed her sitting in a room, looking anxious. No audio could be heard. The station showed close-ups of her identification cards, and said the video had been accompanied by a claim of responsibility from an unnamed Iraqi group.

Earlier, a spokesman for Care International confirmed that Ms Hassan, who was employed by Care Australia, had been kidnapped at 7.30am local time (0930 BST) today. Although born in the UK, she has lived in Iraq for 30 years. Spokesman Robert Glasser told Sky News that, as far as the charity knew, Ms Hassan was unharmed. Officials were being careful not to reveal too many details, fearing that could jeopardise Ms Hassan's chances of being released.
(www.guardian.co.uk)


Other News Sites with the same Story
(www.abc.net.au)
(www.reuters.co.uk)



Is this the price that humanitarian aid organisations are going to keep on paying for helping Iraq?

17 October 2004

What the Bleep Do We Know?

"WHAT THE BLEEP DO WE KNOW?!” is a new type of film. It is part documentary, part story, and part elaborate and inspiring visual effects and animations. The protagonist, Amanda, played by Marlee Matlin, finds herself in a fantastic Alice in Wonderland experience when her daily, uninspired life literally begins to unravel, revealing the uncertain world of the quantum field hidden behind what we consider to be our normal, waking reality.

She is literally plunged into a swirl of chaotic occurrences, while the characters she encounters on this odyssey reveal the deeper, hidden knowledge she doesn’t even realize she has asked for. Like every hero, Amanda is thrown into crisis, questioning the fundamental premises of her life – that the reality she has believed in about how men are, how relationships with others should be, and how her emotions are affecting her work isn’t reality at all!"
"http://www.whatthebleep.com"

I´m keen to see this one. Seems the critics can't decide wether it's a good or not, but that's usual...

(www.usatoday.com)
(www.filmjournal.com)
(seattlepi.nwsource.com)

16 October 2004

Oil Prices Fall...

Posted by Hello

Bush vs Kerry...

Posted by Hello

The Battle of the Bulge

Posted by Hello


Found this at Gregorian Rants

Global defense spending!

World --------------------------- $950 billion(2004 estimate)
Rest-of-World [all but USA] -- $500 billion(2004 estimate)


(www.globalsecurity.org)

That's around $150 for every man,woman and child on the planet.

John Stewart and "The Daily Show"

'The Daily Show' covers America in a hilarious book
Frazier Moore


NEW YORK - Jon Stewart knows the key to democracy is an informed electorate. How he acts on this knowledge is another matter. Some would say "The Daily Show," a fake newscast where he's the phony anchorman, is a half-hour of silliness meant to poke fun at politicians and everyone else who warrants it, with no higher goal than making you laugh. Others argue that, by accepting the presidential race on its own twisted terms, "The Daily Show" can treat you to rare moments of clarity - while making you laugh, too. "The Daily Show" makes a convincing case that, with journalism, bogus is the new real. But even in a political season when fact and fantasy seem more interchangeable than usual, Stewart shoots down any notion that "The Daily Show" is some kind of truth teller.

(www.azcentral.com)


Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, left, and CNN's Tucker Carlson, getting cross with each other on "Crossfire," which Carlson hosts with Paul Begala.

Jon Stewart and Tucker Carlson got into a brawl yesterday when the faux newsman began to lecture CNN's Richie Rich about journalism on the cable news network's "Crossfire."

Stewart, who set the tone by asking Carlson why he and Paul Begala argue so much on the show, noted that he made a "special effort" to come on the daily program, in which hosts representing the political left and right scream at each other. Stewart said he made this special effort because he has said so publicly, so often that "Crossfire" is very, very bad.

"I felt that wasn't fair, and I should come here and tell you that it's not so much that it's bad, as it's hurting America," Stewart told Carlson and Begala. "So I wanted to come here today and say . . . stop. Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America. "You're helping the politicians and the corporations."

"By beating up on them?" Begala asked, one of the few times he got involved in yesterday's melee. "You just said we're too rough on them when they make mistakes."

"No, you're not too tough on them. You're part of their strategies. You are partisan -- what you call it? -- hacks!" Stewart snapped.

But Carlson had a trick or two up his sleeve, noting that on "Crossfire" they ask politicians "pointed questions." "I want to contrast our questions with some questions you asked John Kerry recently."

At that moment, up on the screen popped some of the questions Stewart had asked the candidate when he appeared on "The Daily Show," Stewart's Comedy Central late-night program. "If you want to compare your show to a comedy show, you're more than welcome to," Stewart sneered.

(www.washingtonpost.com)


'Daily Show' viewers ace political quiz
Survey reveals late-night TV viewers better informed
By Bryan Long


Viewers of Stewart, Letterman and Leno scored better on a quiz of political knowledge than people who do not watch late-night comedy. One turns on Jay Leno. One tunes into David Letterman. And the other watches Jon Stewart. Who's better informed politically?

In a recent survey, viewers of Stewart's "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central tested better than Letterman and Leno viewers on a six-question politics quiz. Viewers of all three shows know more about the background of presidential candidates and their positions on issues than people who don't watch late-night TV. On top of that, "Daily Show" viewers know more about election issues than people who regularly read newspapers or watch television news, according to the National Annenberg Election Survey.

(CNN.com)

The Daily Show is one of my weekly Must See. Fortunately here in Portugal we can watch on SIC Radical (a cable TV channel).

THE DAILY SHOW

Was it Mutiny?

Probe Iraq 'mutiny'
BY CELESTE KATZ
and CORKY SIEMASZKO


The U.S. military was investigating a possible mutiny in Iraq yesterday after a platoon of Army reservists refused to go on what they called a "suicide mission." If confirmed, it would be the first time a group of American soldiers defied a direct order in the Iraq conflict - and a worrisome sign that there might be cracks in the overstretched military's resolve.Sharon Walker, spokeswoman for the U.S. military in Baghdad, called the defiance by up to 19 members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company from Rock Hill, S.C., "an isolated incident."

"The investigating team is currently in Tallil taking statements and interviewing those involved," Walker said in a prepared statement. "It is far too early in the investigation to speculate as to what happened, why it happened or any action that might be taken." Nadine Stratford, of Rock Hill, whose godson Colin Durham is in the 343rd, said the soldiers balked at being sent on a potentially deadly missions in unarmored fuel trucks - and were now being treated like captured Iraqi insurgents. "They had them in a trailer, and then they moved them to a tent," she told the Daily News. "They won't let them go to sleep - and this is American soldiers that are holding them." The military denied it was holding any U.S. soldiers prisoner.
(www.nydailynews.com)

And here at washingtontimes.com

Orçamento de Estado 2005 - Budget 2005 (Portugal)

OE: Oposição fala em ataque à classe média
PSD e CDS-PP elogiaram o documento e destacam descida da taxa mínima de IRS e o aumento das pensões


Os partidos da oposição criticaram hoje a proposta de Orçamento de Estado (OE) para 2005 por considerarem que provocará uma perda de poder de compra para a classe média, enquanto PSD e CDS-PP elogiaram o documento.
Do lado do PS, o deputado João Cravinho considerou que o documento é "frágil e com pés de barro" e representa "um sério ataque" ao poder de compra da classe média. O deputado considerou "insuficiente" a actualização de dois por cento prevista para os escalões do IRS e frisou que os valores inscritos para o aumento das pensões de reforma não chegam para cumprir o que prometeu o primeiro-ministro, Pedro Santana Lopes. O PS apontou como sinal de fragilidade das previsões constantes na proposta de orçamento entregue hoje pelo Governo à Assembleia da República o facto de se tomar como referência para o preço médio anual do petróleo o valor de 38,7 dólares, bastante abaixo das cotações actuais.
(www.portugaldiario.iol.pt)

(Proposta de Lei do Orçamento de Estado para 2005 em PDF)

As usually happens, The coalition parties (PSD and CDS-PP) praised the Budget for 2005 while all opposition parties criticized it for being an attack on the middle-class. In this Budget a number of tax benefits removed but at the same time the IRS rate is also cut. To me it seems like one of the better Budgets in the last couple of years which seeks to curb Goverment spending while at the same time giving most Portuguese some good News. The best news is that finally the banks, which for many years have had huge profits while paying very little in taxes are going to have to fork out more.

Ozymandias - Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said -- "two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert ... near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lips, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

The Second Coming - W. B. Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

14 October 2004

A Verdade e A Politica

Parece-me claro que, cada vez mais os políticos são os donos da “verdade”. Ainda mais que isso, cada politico é o dono da sua verdade! O que se passa na política estrangeira também acontece aqui em Portugal: os “factos” citados contradizem os “factos” que são citados…

Raramente são mentiras. Em vez disso, são erros de omissão, falácias de lógica e ocultação do que não convêm. Isto acontece dos dois lados do espectro político. Promessas não faltam enquanto a verdade é refém da vontade. Sinto arrepios ao ouvir debates políticos que nada servem, nada acrescentam e nada constroem; com os governos cada vez mais frágeis e as oposições cada vez mais obcecadas pelo "bota a baixo". Aonde andam as propostas alternativas e construtivas? Porque, não basta dizer que está mal sem dar alternativas para melhorar. Dizer o que está mal é trabalho da comunicação social e da crítica do próprio povo. Dizer como pode ser melhorado é o trabalho dos políticos.

Parece-me também ser óbvio que, cada vez mais os melhores profissionais evitam a todo o custo a vocação de ser político. Essa vocação desce, de uma das vocações mais nobres a um dos vícios mais perigosos.

The Bush VS Kerry Third round and still no definate K.O.

Kerry scores third win, but race far from over
CARLOS WATSON


TEMPE, Arizona (CNN) -- In my opinion and according to a CNN post-debate snap poll, Sen. John Kerry won his third debate in a row Wednesday night and for the first time since this spring will probably become the unanimous front-runner in the race for the White House.

In contrast with the first two debates, however, Kerry did not start the night off well. Instead, President Bush scored points early on taxes and terrorism. The president also handled difficult questions well on job losses and same-sex marriage. But while he started out a bit slowly, Kerry ultimately found his groove, offering meatier answers than Bush on a variety of issues, including Social Security, the minimum wage, health care and immigration. Both men also answered questions about their wives and faith in real and impressive ways.

While Kerry was ultimately better at offering thoughtful answers supported by facts, it is fair to say that neither candidate was truly outstanding. That's partly because neither Yale graduate did a great job of personalizing issues with colorful anecdotes and personal examples despite topics voters can relate to such as jobs and health care. Neither of them channeled Bill Clinton. Both candidates also missed a significant opportunity to lay out a compelling job creation plan as well as a simple but comprehensive domestic vision for the next four years. Those critiques notwithstanding, the four debates (including the vice presidential one) have clearly transformed the campaign.

(CNN.com)

Well That's it for the debates... Now comes the crunch and with the race still tied I really think that in 19 days time either man has the potential to win. I hope Kerry wins, not because I´m a liberal but for one simple reason, I think the States needs a change...

Another report from FOX News

13 October 2004

Iraqi mass grave

Babies found in Iraqi mass grave

A mass grave being excavated in a north Iraqi village has yielded evidence that Iraqi forces executed women and children under Saddam Hussein. US-led investigators have located nine trenches in Hatra containing hundreds of bodies believed to be Kurds killed during the repression of the 1980s. The skeletons of unborn babies and toddlers clutching toys are being unearthed, the investigators said.

They are seeking evidence to try Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity. It is believed to be the first time investigators working for the Iraqi Special Tribunal (IST) have conducted a full scientific exhumation of a mass grave.
"It is my personal opinion that this is a killing field," Greg Kehoe, an American working with the IST, told reporters in Hatra, south of the city of Mosul. "Someone used this field on significant occasions over time to take bodies up there, and to take people up there and execute them."

(news.bbc.co.uk)

As usual the ones with least chance of defending themselves pay the price of the powerful. When do we really realise that those are the ones who most need our protection?

Big Brother?

FEC May Regulate Web Political Activity
By SHARON THEIMER


WASHINGTON (AP) - With political fund raising, campaign advertising and organizing taking place in full swing over the Internet, it may just be a matter of time before the Federal Election Commission joins the action. Well, that time may be now.

A recent federal court ruling says the FEC must extend some of the nation's new campaign finance and spending limits to political activity on the Internet. Long reluctant to step into online political activity, the agency is considering whether to appeal. But vice chairwoman Ellen Weintraub said the Internet may prove to be an unavoidable area for the six-member commission, regardless of what happens with the ruling.

"I don't think anybody here wants to impede the free flow of information over the Internet," Weintraub said. "The question then is, where do you draw the line?"

This election season has been a groundbreaking one online, as interest groups, campaigns and political parties use Web sites and e-mail to advertise, organize volunteers, reach out to donors and collect information about voters. Former Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean made the most pronounced splash online when he stunned his rivals by raking in tens of millions of dollars through Web-a-thons, a far cheaper fund-raising method than traditional dinners and cocktail parties. And Internet message boards, known as blogs, have become as common a place for people to air their political views as talk shows and newspaper editorial pages

(apnews.myway.com)

"The question then is, where do you draw the line?" That is my question Too!

Learning languages 'boosts brain'

Learning a second language 'boosts' brain-power, scientists believe.

Researchers from University College London studied the brains of 105 people - 80 of whom were bilingual. They found learning other languages altered grey matter - the area of the brain which processes information - in the same way exercise builds muscles. People who learned a second language at a younger age were also more likely to have more advanced grey matter than those who learned later, the team said. Scientists already know the brain has the ability to change its structure as a result of stimulation - an effect known as plasticity - but this research demonstrates how learning languages develops it.

(news.bbc.co.uk)

So, the moral of the story is, Teach your children a second language and if there is time, a third and a fourth!

The Birth of the Cosmos

Liquid universe

The cosmos was born in a churning fluid 300 million times hotter than the sun. We've recreated this hell, and it's not just hot, it is also very, very strange, says Amanda Gefter ( science writer based in London). TO LOOK deep into the fundamental structure of matter is to look billions of years back in time, to the moment when matter first blinked into being. Recreating the conditions of that moment has long been an aim for physicists wanting to understand how the universe evolved from the cosmic fireball that existed a fraction of a second after the big bang. Now researchers at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, have, almost certainly, finally recreated the moments after creation. By colliding nuclei together at enormous speeds, RHIC experimenters were able to break down the structure of nuclear matter. This resulted, most experts agree, in the formation of a long-sought-after plasma that is believed to be the primal stuff of the cosmos, the state of matter at the beginning of time. It turns out, though, that the nature of matter is inextricably tied to the vacuum in which it resides. And the RHIC experiments have thrown up some surprises. They seem to show that the vacuum is a richer and more complicated place than was previously imagined. They suggest the boundary between something and nothing is more blurred than experts had predicted. The stuff made at RHIC is a plasma consisting of quarks and gluons, the most basic building blocks of everything we see around us. Quarks combine in threes to form the protons and neutrons that comprise the nucleus of every atom. But while we can observe a single proton or neutron, we cannot observe a single quark. Quarks are perpetually confined to group living. In fact, the harder you try to pull quarks apart, the stronger the force between them becomes. This is part of the theory of quantum chromodynamics (QCD), which describes how the force between the quarks is carried by the massless gluons.

(www.eurekalert.org)

12 October 2004

Is this the Future - Number of Votes proportional to Intelligence

Democratic Reform: The Perils of a Pliable Populous
by ferrethouse


Democratic Reform: The Perils of a Pliable Populous
When Kasparov challenged the world to a chess match he knew it would be one of the easiest challenges he had faced in years. Fortunately for him, most people thought that the collective minds of millions of people would provide for an entertaining chess match. Kasparov made millions, those who watched witnessed the brutal defeat of our collective mediocrity.

The recent presidential and vice-presidential debates offer a similar glimpse into the pliability of the average American mind. The fact that more Americans are swayed by the perception of who won the debate than by the actual debate itself speaks volumes about the ability of the average American to understand the issues and make judgements of their own.

Now, I wouldn't be much of a conservative if I was to argue that the elite should rule the country because they know what is best for the lowly peons but I do find it disconcerting that the debate about the issues is merely a distraction from the real contest of determining who won. Declaring a victor in these debates should be irrelevant. Every person should be making this judgement themselves and the very fact that it is debated draws light to the ignorance of most voters.

I propose a system whereby the number of votes cast is proportional to the intelligence of the voter. Every single person in the country would still be allowed to vote regardless of how stupid they are (even Michael Moore could vote) but those with an IQ above 100 would be granted an additional vote. An additional vote would be granted for every 20 points beyond 100. The IQ test would be taken at the age of 18 and would be required every 10 years. We could add complexity to this reformed democracy by deducting votes from people who watch reality television or wrestling. Anyone convicted of a crime would be punished by having negative votes and anyone who figured out that that wouldn't work would gain a bonus vote.

(conservativelife.com)

Food for Thought... However a High IQ doesn't even come close to guaranteeing a "good vote". This would be tantamount to a Modern Day Aristocracy!

The French switch off at the Cinema

Mobiles silenced in French cinemas
Amelia Gentleman in Paris


Responding to years of lobbying by the film industry, the French government has legalised the use of mobile phone jamming devices in cinemas, theatres and concert halls, to prevent audiences being disturbed by ring tones and telephone conversations. Sophisticated technology means people can be prevented from receiving and making mobile telephone calls within 30 metres of the device. Only emergency calls will be able to override the block.

French film-makers have said the use of mobile phones in cinemas was resulting in a "disastrous" impact on ticket sales. The change in the law is part of the government's campaign to make cinemas more enticing. Patrick Devedjian, the French industry minister, said: "It's the same for concerts. You know how it is when thugs let their phones ring during a concert."

He added: "But that's all over now."

Until now, the use of blocking devices has been punishable with a fine of €30,000 (£20,660) or a six-month prison sentence.

The Guardian

Women Barred from Saudi Vote

Women Barred from Saudi Vote, Election Body Says
By Dominic Evans


RIYADH - Saudi Arabia's election committee said on Tuesday women will not take part in the country's first nationwide vote, blaming problems over special polling arrangements for women in the conservative Muslim kingdom.

The widely expected announcement marks a victory for Saudi Arabia's religious establishment, alarmed by even modest reforms in the birthplace of Islam.

"Because of the shortage of time it is difficult to create favorable conditions for women to participate," Prince Mansour bin Mutib bin Abdul Aziz, head of the general municipal elections committee, told a news conference.

(Reuters)

Ex-director diz que Santana pressionou jornal

"António Tavares, antigo director do jornal «Linha do Oeste», da Figueira da Foz, disse à TSF que Santana Lopes, ex-autarca da cidade, fez várias pressões para acabar com o jornal por estar desagradado com um editorial publicado."
(TSF Online)

Well, seems like here we go again. Where has this guy been for the last 6 years? Why did he choose today to come forward? This type of story puts bees under my bonnet. I am supposed to believe that António Tavares suddenley decided to let the country in on his little secret. I am worried about the Marcelo affair. Limiting freedom of speech is always worrying. but this guy looks like one of those swift-boaters in the U.S. out to make a name for himself by creating some interesting publicity.

Fuel Prices in Portugal

Galp announced another rise in prices here in Portugal today. Petrol rises 1cent and Diesel rises two. Seems very clear to me that the rise in prices is not only related to the rise of crude on the world market, but is also a clear attempt to equalize the price of Petrol and Diesel. For a long time now, Diesel has been much cheaper but in the last year the gap has been steadily closing. Continuing current trend we are soon going to be paying the same for Petrol and Diesel. This is going to have a serious effect on the transport sectors. I suppose the only ones left smiling will be the auto-sellers for it is easier to sell the cheaper Petrol vehicle if the price of the fuel is the same.

A Galp Energia anunciou esta terça-feira o aumento dos preços do gasóleo em dois cêntimos e o das gasolinas em um cêntimo. TAP, Portugália e Air Luxor também aumentaram as tarifas."

(TSF Online)

11 October 2004

Son of Jor-el returns to Krypton...

This is my tribute to a gutsy actor who showed us what it means to fight adversity. Christopher Reeve, may your rest in peace

George Bernard Shaw

"Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for the appointment by the corrupt few. "

"Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history. "

"If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience."

"Newspapers are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization."

"Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it."

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

10 October 2004

Iraq - US

Gulliver's travails: The U.S. in the post-Cold-War world
by John O'Sullivan


At the same time the intervention has had undeniably valuable benefits. The Iraqi people are free for the first time in almost fifty years. There is a free press, freedom of association, a multiplicity of political parties, and all the apparatus of a liberal democracy. Political prisoners have been freed from torture and captivity-an achievement that has received far less media coverage than the failure to find WMDs. And now an internationally recognized Iraqi government-not yet an elected one, but still the most representative government in the Arab world-has been established. If elections follow next January then the most important American promises will have been kept.

Of course, a final judgment on Iraq will not be possible for some years. If, in a decade, there is a flourishing democracy in Baghdad, then we will judge the U.S. intervention to be an unqualified success. We would even think it a worthwhile effort if, as Mark Steyn has speculated, the Iraqis end up with a moderate authoritarian regime that allows free speech, free markets and some kind of parliament-and that generally votes with Tunisia and Morocco at international forums. If Iraq has descended into a Lebanon-like chaos or a Taliban-like autocracy- either of which would provide a base for international terrorism directed against the United States-then the Iraqi intervention would have proved an actual setback in the war on terror. And that, alas, cannot be ruled out.

(www.newcriterion.com)