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ADVENTURES

Sunday, July 27, 2003

WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER SUCKS USE REAL ALTERNATIVE!

I'm a video junkie - I watch all sorts of video, I make my own, encode my old tapes and back up DVDs on my computer. I like to put clips on my web site, too. The best format for clips on a website in my experience is Real Media. Windows Media is pretty close, but that's owned by Micro$oft so I try to stay away from it. The only problem with Real Media is that their players are always expiring and therefore you are forced to upgrade your player to the latest popup-ridden RAM-jamming nightmare version from Real Networks.

BUT NOW THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE.

And it's called Real Alternative. But really it's way more than that.

Okay, so I just upgraded to WindowsXP. I know, I'm trying to avoid M$ stuff, but those other OS's scare me... I'll try them out one day. ANYWAY, so I install XP and to be honest, it does pretty well. It's an obvious improvement over Win98 - a bigger improvement than 98 was over 95. But with XP came the latest version of Windows Media Player. I played one of my MPEG-2 files and it wouldn't play the file at it's proper resolution - and I couldn't figure out how to get it to play properly, either. Hell, I couldn't even figure out how to get it to admit what the proper resolution was! All it would tell me was the length of the file! STUPID...

But I had already downloaded Real Alternative and thought "Hey, why not see if Real Alternative can play anything else, aside from Real Media?"

Well, it CAN. Not only does it play Real Media, but it also plays DivX, MPEGs and OGMs. AND it tells you everything you need to know, too - like frame rate and everything else you might need. The only confusing thing is when you DL it, it's called "Real Alternative". When you install it, it ends up in your programs menu in the subsection caled "Real Alternative". But, when you pull up the player itself it calls itself "Media Player Classic" and resembles the interface of the original Windows Media Player from Win-duhs 98se.

So, I do a search and what do I find? A web page by a guy called Gabest - turns out, he programmed Media Player Classic and on his web site doesn't call it "Real Alternative" at all. I'm not sure what's going on, so I thought I'd email the guy and let him know what's up.

In the meantime, IT'S A GREAT FRIGGIN' PLAYER!! Blow off Windows Media Player and go with this baby!! IT ROCKS.

Download Media Player Classic from Sourceforge.net! (Scroll down a bit - there are a lot of files to DL on that page.)

And check out Gabest.org for the straight scoop on MPC.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER: CRADLE OF LIFE (2003)

Lara Croft Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life (Widescreen Edition)Entertaining? YES! Surprisingly, so.
Technically any good? Stunts were impressive, FX pretty good and story fairly interesting. It's not the most brilliant action movie ever, but it does have some fairly nice moments mixed in with some cool action. And it does set the bar higher for other summer action films. (I know that's not saying much these days, but at least SOME film is trying!!)
How did I feel as the credits rolled? Surprisingly satisfied. I really had a good time with this one and, of course, Angelina Jolie is stunning...
Final Rating? GSN (Seriously, it's the best actioner of the summer.)

LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN

Entertaining? Um, no. Painful, actually.
Technically any good? FX were passable, but designs weren't terribly interesting and the story is a big fat joke. Nothing made sense pretty much ever.
How did I feel as the credits rolled? Fatigued and frustrated - HOW DO YOU SCREW UP A PREMISE SO COOL???
Final Rating? DNS (This movie is just slightly better than T3!!)

Friday, July 25, 2003

IMHO: HUSSEIN SONS PICS = BREAD AND CIRCUSES

Why would the USGov/USMil feel the need to release the pictures of Saddam Hussein's dead sons to the media? Better yet, why would the USMedia feel the need to display them for all to see?

Simple:

This is the USGov/Mil/Media's way of cutting off Hussein's sons' heads and parading them around on a pike for all to be in awe of. We're all supposed to see this and fear/respect the USGov/Mil because they have killed (caused the death of, really) two of Saddam Hussein's closest thugs - his sons.

It's not like any of this makes any difference either - no WMD have been found in Iraq and King George still lied about the intelligence regarding Niger and that delicious yellow cake uranium Hussein wasn't trying to get from there.

Don't let yourself be distracted by the conveniently timed deaths of Hussein's sons.

Fact #1) Bush 43 was never properly elected. (The 12th Ammendment says Congress handls electoral disputes, NOT the Supreme Court.

Fact#2) Bush has presented no evidence that Saddam Hussein or his regime was after materials that would allow them to build and posses WMD. No such evidence has been presented by anyone else, either.

Fact #3) Bush knowingly presented intelligence that HE HAD ALREADY BEEN TOLD MAY NOT BE ACCURATE.

Conclusion based on Facts 1, 2 and 3: Bush is a liar and will say anything to go to war, pass laws, or do anything else that he wants.

Can the same be said about Clinton?

If so, shouldn't Bush be impeached, too?

Thursday, July 24, 2003

911 REPORT SLAMS EVERYONE AND SAYS WE'RE STILL SCREWED

That's the nutshell - basically, according to several articles posted July 24, 2003, the FBI, CIA and NSA might have stopped 911 if only they shared a brain among them.

Check it out:

From WashingtonPost.com on July 24, 2003:
FBI, CIA Bungled Chances to Catch 2 Sept. 11 Hijackers, Report Says
The FBI and CIA bungled chances to capture two key figures in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and possibly stop the catastrophe before it happened, according to a report released today on the joint investigation by the congressional select committees on intelligence.

From MSNBC.com on July 24, 2003:
9/11 failures still threaten, report says
THE CIA FAILED to act on intelligence it had about hijackers, the FBI was unable to track al-Qaida in the United States and key communications intercepted by the National Security Agency were never circulated, the investigation by the House and Senate intelligence committees concluded.

and

Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, a member of the Intelligence Committee, issued a statement that called the report “scathing” and derided efforts by the FBI to refocus the bureau’s mission after the terrorist attacks as “too little too late.”
Sen. John Kerry said in a statement: “The truth is that this nation has a dangerous preparedness gap. The president can’t walk away from the truth.”


Oh yeah and:

Dozens of pages were heavily edited or even blacked-out to protect classified information. An entire section on whether there was Saudi support for the hijackers was deleted, as were 26 pages on their foreign financing.
“The most significant set of events, in my opinion, are in the section of the report that has been censored and therefore won’t be available to the American people,” said Graham, another presidential candidate.
Asked on CBS’ “The Early Show” whether he thought the attacks could have been prevented, Graham replied, “probably, yes.”


From the Associated Press and ABC News on July 24, 2003:
Probe Reveals Lapses Before 9/11 Attacks
The "best chance to unravel the Sept. 11 plot" was lost because intelligence agencies failed to let the San Diego FBI office know that two men were suspected terrorists and would later turn out to be among the hijackers, according to the final report Thursday of a congressional inquiry into the attacks.

The report also said that in May 2001, the suspected mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, was identified in an intelligence report as seeking recruits to travel to the United States for terrorist activities. Those individuals would be expected to make contact with "colleagues" already there, it said.

The report raises new questions about Saudi links to the hijackers, saying that Omar al-Bayoumi, a student who provided the terrorists with financial help, "had access to seemingly unlimited funding from Saudi Arabia."


Isn't it interesting how all this is being buried under news that Hussein's sons were killed yesterday?

WHAT a co-inky-dink...

What is even more disturbing is that redacted stuff about Saudi support for the 911 attacks - it's completely absurd that their support of these attacks could have any connection with US National Security. And if it some how does? Then shouldn't we KNOW about it and put pressure on the USGov to CHANGE that situation?? Why does the USGov have so many allies and ties to despotic governments when the US is the most powerful nation on the planet?


Tuesday, July 22, 2003

TheBeauty Week 26: Angelina Jolie

The first time I remember seeing Angelina Jolie was in the movie Hackers. It was a movie that while fun, just couldn't pull of a 90s version of WarGames. Anyway, Jolie played this mysterious hacker-chick who had a thing for the lead (in real life they got married). Since that movie, she has not only proven herself an excellent actor and a bonafide sex symbol, but she has also proven herself to be one of the most beautiful people in that she is more than just nice to look at. She became a UNICEF ambassador and travelled around the world trying to draw attention to famine-stricken countries. She even adopted a Cambodian baby.

The woman is an incredible example for everyone - men and women alike. Dynamic, exciting, beautiful, moral, responsible, what more could you ask for in a person?

THE WORLD IS A MESS - THANK YOU, GOOD NIGHT!

Okay, things are just screwed up hardcore. That's the best way to put it.

Last week opened with things messy for Bush and messier for Blair. One of Tony's WMD/Iraq experts had said he had spoken with the BBC in secret and later cracked under the scrutiny of both the media and the UKGov scrutiny and killed himself. He must have totally lied to the BBC or had been totally honest. Either way, it's sad he decided he couldn't deal. His actions single wristedly (sorry) threw the credibility of both the UKGov and the BBC out the window causing any reasonable person to trust absolutely no one's words.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, the credibility of the good King George is almost as far gone as Tony's. See, it's more than just Bush saying crap about Hussein going for uranium from Niger (which has been known for months, BTW), this is a buttload of other stuff, too. Apparently a good amount of intelligence data was not only not vetted by the CIA for release in any of King George's speeches, but it couldn't be confirmed as well. There are stacks of articles on this stuff. Just look around on the 'net, I'm sure you'll find them.

But Bush is suddenly having deaths to deal with, too.

Check it out - in the face of his credibility waning hardcore, as if on cue, Hussein's sons are killed in a firefight. No doubt, King George will use Uday and Qusay's deaths as a distraction.

"See? Everything's fine! We're slowly getting all the bad guys!"

When he really should be saying:

"I'm George W. Bush - and I always get my... man's... sons..."

And that's what will be really bad about the Hussein-babies distraction attempt. He couldn't get Osama, he couldn't get Hussein, but THANK GOD, HUSSEIN'S KIDS ARE DEAD!! Who cares, anyway? Supposedly, getting Hussein out of power was the important bit...

Ah well, it doesn't matter, anti-American sentiment will still exist even if the USMil parade Hussein's head on a stick in front of them. Come on, you think you'd be happy that someone just marched into your town, killed the neighbor nobody likes and then refused to leave?

I really could go on, but I won't...

The world is a freakin' mess. Thank you, good night!

Please tip you're waitresses - I'll be here my whole life! (sadly)

GREENSPAN DOESN'T LIKE BIZARRO WORLD

Bizarro is a character from Superman comics going back many years. He lives on a planet where everything is horrible and backwards and makes no sense, yet, to him, it all makes sense.

It sounds like Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan doesn't like it here on Bizarro World.

From WashingtonPost.com on July 20, 2003:
As Budget Deficit Grows, Greenspan Speaks Softly
"I would prefer to find the situation in which spending was constrained, the economy was growing, and that tax cuts were capable of being initiated without creating fiscal problems," Greenspan said.

"I would prefer a world in which Julia Roberts was calling me," replied an exasperated Rep. Bradley J. Sherman (D-Calif.), "but that is not likely to occur."


Sherman has a point. But so does Greenspan.

The article goes on:
As the government's red ink rises to historic levels, Democrats -- and a few quiet Republicans -- have become impatient with the man they say bears some responsibility for the burgeoning budget morass. In January 2001, as President Bush began his term after the disputed election and even allies were saying his proposed $1.6 trillion tax cut was too large, Greenspan unambiguously flashed a green light to Congress to push it through.

Now some members of Congress complain that the Fed chairman flashed no clear red lights as the country's fiscal fortunes changed.


Huh, sounds like Bush is always doing what he wants, expecting someone to stop him if it's the wrong thing. Between this story and the "Hussein got uranium from Niger" claim - he's always expecting someone else to stop him from putting his foot in it.

Perhaps, he should ask his dad to bail him out of this one again...

Oh yeah, and the headline says that Greenspan speaks softly - yeah, because he doesn't want to scream out that it's George W Bush's fault the economy is in the crapper.


Monday, July 21, 2003

NOT MUCH TO REPORT, BUT...

I've been fighting my addiction for jamming my HD with stuff. It seems like I never have enough crap on my HD. And what's worse is that my priorities are totally wacked. My movie, which I *think* I finished shooting on the 12th is still uncapped and fully on miniDV and/or 8mm tape. The movie's only going to be 12 minutes or so, so I don't know why I'm putting all this other junk in front of my movie. I guess I'm scared I'll edit it and it'll suck.

Stupid, I know. I guess it's just that this is my first real attempt to shoot something in over ten years, so...

Anyway, I've come up with an idea for another short film - this one is called "The F-Word". I can't tell you what it's about... yet...

Man, I'm in the mood for some Duran Duran... ever get like that?

Strange...

IRAQUAGMIRE: MORE US DEATHS, MORE SPENT MONEY AND STILL NO SIGN OF WMD

In chronological order starting with the oldest headline first:

From Hindustan Times on July 19, 2003:
Thousands of Shiites rally in Baghdad against US forces
Thousands of Shiite Muslims staged an angry protest in Baghdad on Saturday, denouncing US forces for encircling the house of a leading Shiite cleric who gave a vitriolic anti-American sermon the day before.

The crowd, estimated around 3,000, shouted "down, down USA" and raised their fists in the air at the demonstration, near coalition headquarters in the Iraqi capital.

The crowd was demonstrating against US troops who surrounded the house of Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr in the holy city of Najaf earlier on Saturday.

Protesters shouted "we are all soldiers of Sadr," and flew Iraqi flags, while vowing to continue their demonstration on Sunday in Najaf, 180 kilometres south of Baghdad.

Two US military vehicles drove past the crowd, with soldiers brandishing handguns. There was no confrontation.

The protest followed an angry demonstration in Najaf earlier today in response to the US action in which troops encircled Sadr's house, while a helicopter buzzed overhead. The troops left after a few hours, Sadr's spokesman Mustafa Yaccoubi said.


From WashingtonPost.Com on July 19, 2003:
Top U.S. Commander Cites Progress in Iraq
The top U.S. military commander in Iraq said today that the effort to secure and rebuild the country was "way ahead of schedule" just over 100 days after U.S.-led forces captured Baghdad.

"It is truly amazing and heartwarming how far we've come," Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez told reporters. "I spent a year in Kosovo in the aftermath of a war. We were nowhere near the level of progress that has been made in this entire country in 100 days."


Clearly, this man is on crack. More from the article:
He said that even Fallujah and Ramadi, towns which have been hotbeds of anti-American violence and where a U.S. soldier was killed Friday by a bomb detonated remotely, have been "fairly quiet."

From the Associated Press and Statesman.com on July 20, 2003:
Two U.S. Soldiers Killed Near Mosul, Iraq
Two soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division were killed and one was injured in an ambush early Sunday when their convoy came under rocket-propelled grenade and gunfire in northern Iraq, the U.S. military said.

The deaths brought to 151 the number of American soldiers killed in action since the March 20 start of the war, four more than the total killed in the 1991 Gulf war.


And as they promised, those protestors mentioned in the first article above were back on Sunday, this time in Najaf...

From FinancialTimes.com on July 20, 2003:
Iraqi protest calls for US troops to leave
Thousands of demonstrators poured into the streets of Najaf, Iraq, on Sunday demanding the US pull its forces from the southern town, as spokesmen for a prominent cleric accused US troops of surrounding his home.

The US commander in Najaf denied to Reuters news agency that he had surrounded the home of the cleric, Muqtada al Sadr.

Mr Sadr gave a fiery sermon on Friday at a mosque declaring his opposition to the new US-backed Governing Council in Baghdad, and asked Iraq's Shia Muslims to form their own council to "confront" it.

A spokesman for Mr Sadr, insisted on Al-Jazeera television on Sunday that US troops had surrounded his leader's home, but said they were withdrawing on Sunday afternoon. He said that US forces had three days to leave Najaf, a Shia holy city, or face the wrath of the population.


From the Associated Press International Herald Tribune on July 21, 2003:
Roadside bomb kills U.S. soldier
An American soldier and his Iraqi translator were killed Monday by a remote-controlled roadside bomb, a weapon that Iraqi resistance fighters have increasingly used as they battle their American occupiers.
.
The attack Monday destroyed two U.S. Humvees in northern Baghdad and wounded three other members of the 1st Armored Division squad.


How much has to go wrong before the USGov learns from its experience in Vietnam?


BLAIR YOU'RE IN IT NOW, UP TO YOUR NECK (DOSSIER MESS NEWS ROUND-UP)

Where to begin?

From AFP and Yahoo News UK on July 19, 2003:
British weapons expert bled to death from slashed wrist: police
"The cause of death was haemhoragging from a wound to his left wrist," the police spokesman said.

"The injury is consistent with having been caused by a bladed object.

"We have recovered a knife and an open packet of (painkilling) Co-Proxymol tablets at the scene. Whilst our inquiries are continuing there is no indication at this stage of any other party being involved."

Kelly, 59, was a Ministry of Defence consultant on biological weapons and former UN arms inspector in Iraq.

His body was found in a wooded area near his home in Oxfordshire on Friday, a day after he was reported missing by his family.

His disappearance came two days after he denied being the source of a BBC report that a February dossier on weapons of mass destruction, which was used to justified the war in Iraq had been "sexed up" by British government officials.


From the New York Times on July 19, 2003:
Blair Calls Weapons Expert's Suicide a Tragedy
Prime Minister Tony Blair said today that the suicide of the British weapons expert Dr. David Kelly was "an absolutely terrible tragedy," and he appealed for politicians and the press to end speculation about the causes of it while a judicial inquiry proceeded.

and

The police would not discuss whether there was any note or other explanation, but his wife said Friday that she had had no indication he was contemplating suicide when he left his home in the village of Southmoor Thursday afternoon, saying he was going for a walk.

and

In early July, Dr. Kelly told his managers in the Defense Ministry that he had met with the BBC reporter in question and might be the anonymous security official cited by the broadcaster as its source. He said he could deny that he had made the claim at the center of the report that the government was responsible for inserting evidence that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons deployable in 45 minutes into the document.

The government apparently saw in Dr. Kelly an opportunity to embarrass the BBC. Dr. Kelly was hauled before a parliamentary committee on foreign affairs where on Tuesday he was subjected to badgering questions that left him visibly uncomfortable.

In an e-mail message to a reporter for The New York Times shortly before he left on his walk Thursday, Dr. Kelly discussed his appearance before the committee and referred to "many dark actors playing games."


From Reuters and MSNBC.com on July 20, 2003:
Blair in crisis after Iraq expert's suicide
Haunted by accusations he over-sold the need for war in Iraq and now by the suicide of a key player in the affair, Britain's Tony Blair stood mum when asked: ''Have you got blood on your hands Mr Prime Minister?''

From the New York Times on July 20, 2003:
Scientist Who Killed Himself Was Source of Report, BBC Says
The BBC said today that Dr. David Kelly, the British weapons expert who committed suicide last week, was the source for a report on doctoring intelligence files that led to a battle between the broadcaster and the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The announcement by the BBC's director of news, Richard Sambrook, cast doubt on the network's credibility, because Dr. Kelly had told a parliamentary committee two days before his death that he had not provided the report's central contention — that the government had "sexed up" a government intelligence dossier by incorporating a claim that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons that could be deployed in 45 minutes.

The announcement further undermined the authority of the hotly contested report in that Dr. Kelly, 59, a former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq and an adviser to the Ministry of Defense, was not a senior intelligence official involved in preparing the dossier, as the network had called its anonymous source.


What a sad mess. If Kelly had just kept his mouth shut he'd probably still be alive. But then perhaps we'd never know if the dossier had been 'sexed-up'. Do we know that know? It's awfully hard to keep track. The general opion seems to be that the UKGov did jazz things up a bit, but 'sex' them up? That seems to be too strong a word...


Sunday, July 20, 2003

911 REPORT: FBI SCREWED THE POOCH

From Newsweek/MSNBC.com on July 18, 2003:
Exclusive—The 9-11 Report: Slamming the FBI
THE LONG-DELAYED 900-page report also contains potentially explosive new evidence suggesting that Omar al-Bayoumi, a key associate of two of the hijackers, may have been a Saudi-government agent, sources tell NEWSWEEK. The report documents extensive ties between al-Bayoumi and the hijackers.

and

In January 2000, al-Bayoumi had a meeting at the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles—and then went directly to a restaurant where he met future hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, whom he took back with him to San Diego. (Al-Bayoumi later arranged for the men to get an apartment next to his and fronted them their first two months rent.)

and

A few months after al-Bayoumi took them to San Diego, Almihdhar and Alhazmi moved into the house of a local professor who was a longtime FBI “asset.” The prof also had earlier contact with another hijacker, Hani Hanjour. But even though the informant was in regular touch with his FBI handler, the bureau never pieced together that he was living with terrorists.

The report is due for release during the last full week of July, 2003 and is reported to be 900 pages long.

Perhaps it will be available in paperback?


Friday, July 18, 2003

UN FINDS URANIUM TRACES IN IRAN

LOOK OUT IRAN!!

From WashingtonPost.Com on July 19, 2003:
Enriched Uranium Traces Found in Iran
U.N. nuclear inspectors have detected traces of enriched uranium at an Iranian nuclear facility south of Tehran, a finding that intensified concerns that Iran is secretly pursuing technologies that could produce nuclear weapons, Western diplomatic sources and weapons experts said yesterday.

The enriched uranium was discovered in environmental samples taken at a nuclear complex near the town of Natanz, where the Iranian government is constructing a massive uranium processing plant that could someday produce fuel for commercial power plants -- or, potentially, for weapons.

Iran has denied producing enriched uranium, which can be used in nuclear weapons. The discovery of such material in Iran, if confirmed, would suggest at minimum a serious breach by Iran of its agreements under the international nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.


Well, at least this time the UN is involved and has evidence... to bad it may mean more killing...


HUNDREDS OF SUPOENAS FOR FILE-SHARERS APPROVED

From the Associated Press and CNN.com on July 19, 2003:
Music industry wins approval of 871 subpoenas
The music industry has won at least 871 federal subpoenas against computer users suspected of illegally sharing music files on the Internet, with roughly 75 new subpoenas being approved each day, U.S. court officials said Friday.

The effort represents early steps in the music industry's contentious plan to file civil lawsuits aimed at crippling online piracy.


Be careful, guys... you're going to make a movement out of this and then you're going to make yourselves look like the big, bad greedy bastards that you are...


IRAQUAGMIRE: NO FREEDOM OF SPEECH, US GI DEATHS DAILY, SOLDIER/MORALE SHORTAGE

From San Francisco Chronicle/SFGate.com on July 18, 2003:
Pentagon may punish GIs who spoke out on TV
CAREERS OVER FOR SOME

"It was the end of the world," said one officer Thursday. "It went all the way up to President Bush and back down again on top of us. At least six of us here will lose our careers."

First lesson for the troops, it seemed: Don't ever talk to the media "on the record" -- that is, with your name attached -- unless you're giving the sort of chin-forward, everything's-great message the Pentagon loves to hear.


Nice... just a quick reminder to anyone thinking about going into the military or even those of you in the military already: They OWN you when you join up. They can send you off to die, perform bizarre experiments on you, whatever they want. That's the deal when you join the USMil. You also get to serve your country and when the leadership is good, it's a pretty good job. But with Rumsfeld and Bush in charge... keep your mouth shut, apparently...

Meanwhile, from the Associated Press and Boston.com on July 19, 2003:
U.S. soldier killed guarding Baghdad bank, military wraps up two operations
A U.S. soldier was fatally shot guarding a bank Saturday in the capital, while the U.S. military concluded two separate sweeps in and around Baghdad arresting more than 1,200 people and seizing weapons, explosives and ammunition, the military said.

The death came a day after two separate attacks on convoys in which one soldier was killed. It brought to 149 the number of U.S. personnel killed in combat since the March 20 start of the war two more than the 1991 Gulf War total for U.S. deaths in combat.


Nice to see that it's not just freedom of speech the USMil is limiting, but also the Iraqi's right to bear arms! Let's hear it for the AMERICAN WAY!!

Ah-ha and then from SanLUisObispo.com on July 18, 2003:
U.S. struggling to find replacement troops
The Pentagon is scrambling to find enough fresh troops to begin an orderly rotation program that would bring home some of the 147,000 soldiers spread thinly across troubled Iraq.

With the new commanding general of U.S. Central Command, Gen. John Abizaid, confirming what others in the Defense Department had been reluctant to admit - that United States forces face an increasingly deadly guerrilla war - the question of relief and rotation for weary GIs moved to the front burner.


They're not talking a draft yet, but how far away can it be with US soldiers dying every day and those that aren't dying want to go home?

Again, we sink deeper...


HEY ARBUSTO, FULL DISCLOSURE, HUH?

From the latest newsletter emailed out to members of GeorgeWBush.com dated July 18, 2003:
The FEC requires donor information on individuals who have given more than $200. The Bush-Cheney '04 second quarter report includes nearly 20,000 names and occupation and employer information for a remarkable 92% of those donors. The campaign has also released information for an additional 85,591 individuals, not required by law, who have given less than $200 to support the President's re-election. 78% of these files include occupation and employer information.

"The President believes in transparency and full disclosure. His 2000 campaign set the standard for releasing donor information and it is important that we continue to make this information available," said Ken Mehlman, Bush-Cheney '04 Campaign Manager.
Uh-huh... full disclosure... is that what happened when he lied about the Niger Evidence?

That's really great, George, we know who owns you, now, if you could just stop pretending we don't know who owns you. (Like oil, the military industrial complex and oil.)

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN (2003)

Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl (2-Disc Collector's Edition)Entertaining? Surprisingly enough for a Bruckheimer film, YES. This is a major crowd pleaser, without being stupid!
Technically any good? While the structure is a little messy, over all, it has a really nice tone of adventure and swashbuckling. Plus, the script has some nicely smart moments. Johnny Depp, steals the show, of course. I think without him I would have enjoyed the film a lot less.
How did I feel as the credits rolled? Good - like singing that dumb old song and joining a pirate ship! ...Yo-ho, yo-ho! A pirate's life for me!
Final Rating? SIYL (Seriously, this movie is a lot of fun!! And not bad, dumb fun, either!)

Get it on UMD for your Sony PSP or click the poster image above to get it on old fashioned DVD!

BUSH POPULARITY DIVES, BLAIR AND CIA TRY TO DISTRACT AND GRAHAM WANTS IMPEACHMENT

From Zogby.com on July 18, 2003:
Bush Job Performance Slips to 53% Positive, 46% Negative; More Voters (47%) Say It's Time for Someone New Than Say He Deserves Re-election;
Two-in-Three Say it Makes No Difference if WMDs Are Never Found, According to Newest Zogby America Poll

President George W. Bush's job performance rating has slipped to 53% positive, his lowest since the terrorist attacks in 2001, according to a poll of 1,004 likely U.S. voters by Zogby International. His negative rating reached 46%, just under his pre-9/11 unfavorable of 49%


That last bit is just absurd - as though Saddam Hussein was as bad as Hitler - Hussein had no plans to take over the middle east as Hitler had plans to take over Europe. The reason the US went in was justified by his threat to the US. If no WMDs are found, then why kill all those people? While let all of the US and UK soldiers be killed in battle with an army that is no threat to the US or the UK?

Meanwhile, from SkyNews on July 17, 2003:
'HISTORY WILL JUDGE US'
History will forgive the Coalition invasion of Iraq, even if no link is proven between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, Tony Blair has said.

Speaking before a joint meeting of Congress in Washington, the Prime Minister said America must "listen as well as lead" in the fight against terrorism.

"Can we be sure that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction will join together?

"Let us say one thing. If we are wrong, we will have destroyed a threat that, at its least, is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering.


Of course, under that criteria, we have a LOT more work to do - if the US were to invoke that same responsibility toward other evil dictators, we'd have to take down half the governments in Africa, all of the governments in the Middle East, aside from Palestisrael/Isralistine and don't forget China's government.

From the Associated Press and WashingtonPost.com on July 18, 2003:
White House Releases CIA Info on Iraq
An intelligence assessment by the CIA last October cites "compelling evidence" that Saddam Hussein was attempting to reconstitute a nuclear-weapons program, according to documents released Friday by the White House.

Mounting a campaign to counter criticism that it used flawed intelligence to justify war with Iraq, the White House made public excerpts of the intelligence community's October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate. That report helped shape now-challenged comments by President Bush in his State of the Union address that Iraq was attempting to buy uranium in Africa.


This is clearly an attempt to distract from the issue - Bush made specific comments that were incorrect. Regardless of any other intelligence that existed the comments about Iraq trying to buy uranium from Niger were false - hands down and it's likely Bush was aware of this.

"But! Look at this stuff over here! Isn't it cool? LOOK!"

Sorry, George. You lied.

From Reuters and Yahoo News on July 17, 2003:
Democrat Eyes Potential Grounds for Bush Impeachment
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham said on Thursday there were grounds to impeach President Bush if he was found to have led America to war under false pretenses.

While Graham did not call for Bush's impeachment, he said if the president lied about the reasons for going to war with Iraq it would be "more serious" than former President Bill Clinton's lie under oath about his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

"If in fact we went to war under false pretenses that is a very serious charge," Graham, the senior U.S. senator from Florida, told reporters in New Hampshire.

"If the standard of impeachment is the one the House Republicans used against Bill Clinton, this clearly comes within that standard," he said.


'Nuff said!!

Well, really, he should be impeached - the whole WORLD knows the USUK-led Iraq Attack was built on false pretenses. If the USGov knows what's right, they'll bring impeachment charges.


IRAQUAGMIRE: WHO IS BEHIND THE RESISTANCE?

Finally a press article that admits that this "well organized resistance" could just be a bunch of pissed off Iraqi citizens who don't want America in their country any more. Check it out - from a July 18, 2003 Associated Press article posted at SFGate.com:
As American casualties mount in Iraq, so do questions about who is behind the guerrilla campaign. The list of suspects, which already includes Saddam Hussein loyalists, freelance Arab fighters and Iraqis angered by the U.S. occupation, is growing each day.
Of course, the news is still bad, since that list has grown. Also from the article:
On Friday, a previously unknown group, the "Muslim Youths" movement, added its name, warning in a videotaped message broadcast on Arabic television that it would target any country that agrees to send peacekeeping troops to Iraq.


Deeper and deeper... meanwhile where is all that oil?

Read the AP article for yourself at SFGate.com.


UK IRAQ DOSSIER EXPERT AND POSSIBLE BBC SOURCE FOUND DEAD

This one is truly bizarre - David Kelly had just spoken with the UKGov explaining that he may have been the source of the BBC claim that an unnamed UKGov official said that the UK dossier on Iraq's Nuclear WMD was 'sexed-up'. On July 18, 2003, less than 48 hours after he had spoken with the UKGov, he was found dead 5 miles from his house.

From a July 18, 2003 article at the BBC News website:
Dr Kelly left his home in Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, at about 1500 BST on Thursday and his family reported him missing at 2345 BST the same day.

The body was found lying on the ground, around five miles from Dr Kelly's home, a police spokeswoman said.

Acting superintendent Dave Purnell said formal identification would take place on Saturday and the case was being treated as an "unexplained death".

"We will be awaiting the results of the post mortem and also waiting while the forensic examination continues at the scene at Harrowdown Hill," he added.


From the same article:
Robert Jackson, the Conservative MP in whose constituency Dr Kelly lived, said the "responsibility of the BBC should not go unmentioned" in the case.
The insinuation here is that Kelly killed himself, despite the fact that there has been no evidence mentioned. If the stress led to a heart attack for the 59 year-old man, there is still no room for laying responsibility at the BBC's feet for his death. The truth is the truth and if he was the source and was promised anonymity, than that is that. Also, since the BBC has not confirmed he was the source, then what else could be done?

Sad? Without a doubt. The BBC's fault? Not even close. We'll have to wait to find out what the coroner says.

Read the BBC News coverage of this story.


UK IRAQ DOSSIER EXPERT AND POSSIBLE BBC SOURCE FOUND DEAD

This one is truly bizarre - David Kelly had just spoken with the UKGov explaining that he may have been the source of the BBC claim that an unnamed UKGov official said that the UK dossier on Iraq's Nuclear WMD was 'sexed-up'. On July 18, 2003, less than 48 hours after he had spoken with the UKGov, he was found dead 5 miles from his house.

From a July 18, 2003 article at the BBC News website:
Dr Kelly left his home in Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, at about 1500 BST on Thursday and his family reported him missing at 2345 BST the same day.

The body was found lying on the ground, around five miles from Dr Kelly's home, a police spokeswoman said.

Acting superintendent Dave Purnell said formal identification would take place on Saturday and the case was being treated as an "unexplained death".

"We will be awaiting the results of the post mortem and also waiting while the forensic examination continues at the scene at Harrowdown Hill," he added.


From the same article:
Robert Jackson, the Conservative MP in whose constituency Dr Kelly lived, said the "responsibility of the BBC should not go unmentioned" in the case.
The insinuation here is that Kelly killed himself, despite the fact that there has been no evidence mentioned. If the stress led to a heart attack for the 59 year-old man, there is still no room for laying responsibility at the BBC's feet for his death. The truth is the truth and if he was the source and was promised anonymity, than that is that. Also, since the BBC has not confirmed he was the source, then what else could be done?

Sad? Without a doubt. The BBC's fault? Not even close. We'll have to wait to find out what the coroner says.

FOX PARODY JAPANESE GAMESHOW ANGERS ASIAN-AMERICANS

And who can blame them - it does more than just poke fun at Japanese gameshows, but apparently makes them all look psychotic and since the American public is not familiar with real Japanese game shows, it's likely most people will assume that Fox's Banzai is more accurate than it is.

From a July 17, 2003 Retuers article at Yahoo News UK:
The programme, which debuted to strong ratings last Sunday, features an off-screen announcer speaking in a clipped parody of a Japanese accent, fake Japanese language graphics, and a karate-chopping middle-aged Asian host known as Mr. Banzai.
and:
"It's just all the backward images of Asian-American people," Guy Aoki, co-founder of the group, which monitors the depiction of Asian Americans in media, told Reuters.

This is like an Asian minstrel show," Aoki said. "Can you imagine the black version of Banzai?"


Sounds like more typical dumb network execs trying to make money cheaply on cheap humor and on the stupidity of the American viewing public. Don't give in - skip this one.

Read the Yahoo News UK article.


MASTERBATION CAN PREVENT COLON CANCER! ALL RIGHT!!!

From a July 18, 2003 article at DrKoop.com:
The more often young and middle-age men ejaculate, the less likely they are to develop prostate cancer, Australian researchers report in the journal New Scientist.
THIS IS AWESOME!! And here we were all told it was BAD for us!!

Hey, have you lessened your chances of colon cancer today?

Read more about this GREAT news at DrKoop.com!


REPUBS PLOT TO "KILL DAVIS SOFTLY" IN CALIFORNIA RECALL FUN

From July 18, 2003 San Francisco Chronicle article at SFGate.com:
A private memo from a prominent Republican strategist offers a rare glimpse at the bare-knuckle approaches being considered to oust Gov. Gray Davis, outlining numerous ways to "kill Davis softly" in the recall effort without turning the unpopular governor into a sympathetic figure.

"While it is important to trash the governor," reads the blunt, 17-page memo from Virginia-based communications expert Frank Luntz, "it should be done in the context of regret, sadness and balance."
While California Governor Davis has done a truly rotten job in the state, it's sad that Repubs feel the need to add to the mess by bad mouthing him. Davis' record speaks for itself - he has a rotten habit of trusting people that he shouldn't and not seeing people (and businessmen) for the untrustworthy people they are. (Davis took advise from Bush and Cheney during the California power crisis and next thing you know, California is $9 billion in debt... THANKS FOR THE ADVICE, DICK! (And George!)

Read the whole article.


UN: NKorea IS A NUCLEAR THREAT, IRAN MAY BE, TOO

Is that even something the UN could agree on about Iraq? Perhaps the latter, but the former? Regardless, they've now said it about NKorea, despite previous suggestions in the media and elsewhere of a lack of proof of nuclear weapons. And UN officials are now officially urging Iran to allow inspectors into their nuclear facilities to make sure no weapons are being developed.

What a mess...

Read more about it in a July 18, 2003 article at Guardian.co.uk.


Thursday, July 17, 2003

DITCH MICRO$OFT INTERNET EXPLORER, NOW!!!

Hey, like you, I use the Internet. I used to be a Netscape guy - years ago, when browsers still cost money, I used the Netscape free version. Then, when Bill Gates decided to not care about profits from selling his browser, (he gave it away for free) I tried out M$IE and found that hands down, it really was a better browser. And for around 5 years I continued to believe that.

That is, until NOW...

Not too long ago, I read about how Netscape had created a small non-profit group to serve as a sort of low-budget test bed for it's Netscape browser. This testbed browser was called Mozilla. Every Netscape browser that came out, had previously been a version of Mozilla. As a result, Mozilla browsers always had the newest features before Netscape did, so as I built my myriad web sites/site designs, I came to test my pages on M$IE and Mozilla instead of Netscape. That's when I noticed how much better a browser Mozilla had become compared to Netscape.

Then, M$IE began to not function properly on my desktop system. I came to use Mozilla more and more. Then I discovered Mozilla Firebird... and now, I'm willing to ditch M$IE completely and just go with Firebird - it's a nice, simple, lean but very handy browser that doesn't come with email or a newsgroup reader, but then, who needs extras like those anyway? To avoid viri, I use Eudora and my newsgroup reader is the popular Agent from Forte Inc.

In the end Firebird is the browser of choice for me. I highly recommend DLing it. Here are more reasons why you should at least check it out:

1) By using Mozilla Firebird you are not helping advertise Micro$oft - you are using software written by a completely NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION.

2) It allows you to easily control your cookies.

3) It's skinable.

4) It's just as fast as M$IE.

5) Man, it's NOT from MICROSOFT!! That should be enough!!

6) It's cross-platform!! There are versions for Winduhs, Linux AND MAC OSX!!!

GO DOWNLOAD MOZILLA FIREBIRD!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

NIGER EVIDENCE NEWS ROUND-UP

From the Associated Press and SFGate.com on July 16, 2003:

Lieberman, Dean call for CIA director's resignation
Two of the Democratic presidential candidates called for the resignation of embattled CIA director George Tenet on Wednesday as the rest of the field faulted President Bush for misleading the public about Iraq.

"The president has to accept some responsibility," Joe Lieberman told supporters during a campaign appearance. "This president seems to be saying, 'The buck never stops here."'


From the Associated Press and Boston.com on July 16, 2003:

CIA didn't get disputed documents until February 2003 after Bush claim
When the Bush administration issued its prewar claims that Iraq had sought uranium in Africa, the CIA had not yet obtained the documents that served as a key foundation for the allegation and later turned out to be forged, U.S. officials say.

The CIA didn't receive the documents until February 2003, nearly a year after the agency first began investigating the alleged Iraq-Africa connection and a short time after it assented to language in President Bush's State of the Union address that alleged such a connection, the officials said.


Hm, that would seem to place the responsibility square on Bush's shoulders to know what the hell he was talking about... but there's more.

From Atlanta Journal-Constitution on July 17, 2003:

Senate panel probes possible White House blame
The Republican chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee suggested Wednesday that the White House might bear some responsibility for President Bush's faulty charge that Iraq tried to buy nuclear weapons fuel from Africa.

DO YA THINK??


IRAQUAGMIRE: SINKING DEEPER (NEWS ROUND-UP)

From CNN.com on July 16, 2003:

U.S. soldier killed in Baghdad convoy attack
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A U.S. soldier was killed Wednesday in an attack on a convoy in Baghdad, bringing the number of American battle deaths in the Iraqi conflict to 148 surpassing the 147 killed in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

From ABCNews.com on July 16, 2003:

A Big Letdown
F A L L U J A H, Iraq, July 16— The sergeant at the 2nd Battle Combat Team Headquarters pulled me aside in the corridor. "I've got my own 'Most Wanted' list," he told me.

He was referring to the deck of cards the U.S. government published, featuring Saddam Hussein, his sons and other wanted members of the former Iraqi regime.

"The aces in my deck are Paul Bremer, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush and Paul Wolfowitz," he said.

He was referring to the four men who are running U.S. policy here in Iraq — the four men who are ultimately responsible for the fate of U.S. troops here.


From Reuters and WashingtonPost.com on July 16, 2003:

U.S. General Says Iraq Has Become a Guerrilla War
U.S. troops are facing a classic guerrilla war in Iraq spearheaded by Saddam Hussein loyalists, and American forces need to adapt their tactics to crush this increasingly organized resistance, the head of the U.S. Central Command said on Wednesday.

This contrasted with an assessment given by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on June 30 that it was not "anything like a guerrilla war or an organized resistance."

But Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid, who commands U.S. forces in Iraq, said a guerrilla war is exactly what U.S. troops are confronting.


Well, as long as we've got that straight!


US NOW $UPPORTING PALESTINE AS WELL AS ISRAEL

From a July 16, 2003 Voice of America News article:
The United States has handed over to the Palestinian Authority $20 million to help restore public services and infrastructure affected by almost three years of fighting with Israel.

The ceremony Wednesday, marks the first time Washington has given financial aid directly to the Palestinian people. Previously Washington has funneled money to the Palestinians through international organizations, but the Bush administration has recently expressed its confidence in Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.
Seems only fair since American money did so much to help the Israeli efforts to stop Palestine from creating it's own state...

Of course, there is a possibility that the USGov is spending ENOUGH money on overseas-issues and not enough at home...

Read the VOANews.com article and learn all about it...


BOOTLEGGING A TERROR-RELATED OFFENSE?

From a July 16, 2003 Reuters article at Yahoo News UK:
Terror groups are increasingly using money from sales of bootleg property like pirated music and video games to finance their organisations, the head of Interpol has told U.S. lawmakers.

"Interpol is sounding the alarm that intellectual property crime is becoming the preferred method of funding for a number of terrorist groups," Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble testified before the U.S. House Committee on International Relations on Wednesday.
Isn't this convenient? Right when the RIAA and the MPAA are screaming the loudest about bootleggers and "lost sales", it's now determined to be a terrorist act to bootleg. Now the DMCA and the Patriot Act are one in the same... YAY.

Don't you feel safer already?

Read the Reuters article over at Yahoo News UK.


DEMOCRAT BILL WILL PUT FILE-SHARERS IN JAIL

That's right, in a move that's sure to alienate at least a handful of Democratic voters, two Democrats from the House are sponsoring a bill that would make a prison sentence something file-sharers would face were they caught. So, if you happen to be trading one CD for a another that a friend has on his hard drive, you could both face jail time.

Just more politicians telling us all what we can do with our stuff.

Read Reuters' coverage of this story over at Yahoo News Australia.


MAN CAN'T SELL HIS OWN "BLOOD PURIFICATION ORGAN"

Oops. Well, who'd have thought in today's day and age that it would be illegal anywhere on Earth to sell a bodily organ. In a time when just about everything and anything can be bought, apparently the government of Germany has decided (as most "cool" governments have) that selling your own organs is illegal. One German man discovered this when he tried to auction off a kidney billed as a "Blood Purification Organ".

It's always nice to have someone else tell you what you can and can't do with yourself... it's amazing masterbation was ever legalized...

Of course, there is a punchline to the story. Apparently, the seller was glad he was caught before he could sell a kidney since he'd been having trouble with one of them lately... man, that would suck to sell off your good kidney!! Customer satisfaction be damned!

Read all about it at CNN's website.CNN.com:

Man fined for Internet kidney sale

Wednesday, July 16, 2003 Posted: 10:49 AM EDT (1449 GMT)

BERLIN, Germany (Reuters) -- A German court has sentenced a man for trying to sell one of his kidneys on the Internet to a four month suspended jail sentence and fined him 2,000 euros ($2,300), authorities said Tuesday.

A spokesman for the court in the western town of Kassel said the 48 year-old Austrian mechanic was accused of violating laws on illegal organ trading for offering his kidney as a "blood purification organ" online at a starting price of 66,500 euros.

He was hoping to use the proceeds to ease his girlfriend's financial worries, said court spokesman Theodor Weber.

"Apparently the firm she worked for was in trouble and he wanted to help them out," he said.
Journalist poses as buyer

A journalist later spotted the advert, and posed as a potential buyer before exposing the unusual money-spinning ruse.

The man made a full confession in court and said he was pleased he still had both kidneys.

"He said he was glad because he'd been having a problem with one of them for a while," Weber said.

Copyright 2003 Reuters.

FILM MAKERS GET MULAN FEVER

Check it out, three new productions are being put together for new movies about the mythical Chinese young woman who pretends to be a man to fight in a war so her ailing (and old) father won't have to. We've got a sequel to Disney's 1998 Mulan as well as two live-action versions, one coming out of Korea also called simply Mulan and another one from Hong Kong from Michelle Yeoh's production company called Hua Mulan. This film will star Michelle Yeah and her Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon love interest, Chow Yun-Fat.

Check out that last one - it'll probably be the best. All of the films are due out in 2004 or 2005.

Read more about the films at Yahoo News UK.


MICRO$OFT ANNOUNCES BRILLIANT NEW SECURITY FLAW IN FLAGSHIP OS

It was a big day in Redmond, Washington as Bill Gates' world dominating mega-company, Micro$oft announced that their flagship software, Windows XP contains an exciting new feature that allows users' computers to be controlled by total strangers over the Internet!! Isn't that exciting? It will revolutionize EVERYTHING ABOUT COMPUTING....

It might even drive people to use Linux or just buy a Mac... ;)

Read more about it at Reuters.


BUSH MISLED ABOUT MORE THAN NIGER EVIDENCE

Check this out: A July 16, 2003 Washington Post article points out just how much evidence for an Iraq Attack was in King George's State of the Union address contained. Zero. Nada. Nothing. Zilcherino...

From the article:
...a review of speeches and reports, plus interviews with present and former administration officials and intelligence analysts, suggests that between Oct. 7, when President Bush made a speech laying out the case for military action against Hussein, and Jan. 28, when he gave his State of the Union address, almost all the other evidence had either been undercut or disproved by U.N. inspectors in Iraq.

By Jan. 28, in fact, the intelligence report concerning Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa -- although now almost entirely disproved -- was the only publicly unchallenged element of the administration's case that Iraq had restarted its nuclear program. That may explain why the administration strived to keep the information in the speech and attribute it to the British, even though the CIA had challenged it earlier.


The sad thing is how obvious this was to a good chunk of the rest of the world before the Iraq Attack. Now, 6000+ dead Iraqi civilians later, who wants to be the first person to yell "TOLD YA SO!"?

Read the whole article at the Washington Post website.


Tuesday, July 15, 2003

IRAQUAGMIRE: AT-A-GLANCE! HOW DEEP ARE WE?

KSAT News out of San Antonio, Texas has posted a handy little list of things going on in Iraq that was put together by the Associated press. Including:
# Iraq's new governing council says it will set up tribunals to hear criminal cases brought against former members of Saddam Hussein's regime. However, the group, Human Rights Watch, warns against having former victims of Saddam and his regime serve as judges over accused tormentors.

# The U.S. administrator for Iraq says the length of time American forces stay in the country is up to the Iraqi people.

# An Iraqi town known as a hotbed of U.S. resistance now is openly opposing Iraq's new governing council. The city council of Fallujah is rejecting the national group's authority, saying it was selected along ethnic lines.

# Iraq's first postwar national political body will begin forming a Cabinet next week, a spokesman for one group on the council said Tuesday, scoffing at criticism that it won't have serious authority.

# One of the members of Iraq's newly selected governing council says once Iraq has an elected parliament and security is brought under control, the American and British troops should leave immediately.
Check out the full list at KSAT.com.


BIG BROTHER TAKES A HIT!

In a move that will no doubt shock conspiracy theorists and the people they are most scared of, the US Senate has said that it will be, according to a July 15, 2003 AP article posted at the Washington Post website, "eliminating all money for the Pentagon's development of a vast computerized terrorism surveillance program that has raised privacy concerns."

This includes cutting funding to the infamous "Terrorism Information Awareness" program (which had to change it's name from "Total Information Awareness" for obvious reasons...)

Read the AP article at the Washington Post website.


MOZILLA.ORG SPLITS WITH NETSCAPE... FINALLY!

What with the browser wars thoroughly over and with Netscape the obvious loser, it's non-profit, half-brother Mozilla is surprisingly left standing. Mozilla, the test bed for all previous Netscape browsers, is now it's own non-profit company, dedicated to creating it's own software - but not for profit. Neat, huh?

Download the Mozilla.org browser.

Read a July 16, 2003 article at InternetNews.com covering this very story.


IRAN DISCOVERS 38 BILLION+ BARRELS OF OIL UNDERNEATH THEIR FEET

HEY, IRAN! YOU'VE JUST DISCOVERED MORE THAN 38 BILLION BARRELS OF OIL MAKING YOU THE OWNERS OF ONE OF THE EARTH'S BIGGEST UNDEVELOPED OIL FIELDS, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NOW?

Iran: Uh... get invaded by the US?

Probably...

Read all about Iran's "lucky" find at Yahoo News.


A JEW, A KRAUT AND THAT KUCINICH GUY BLOW OFF A BUNCH OF BLACKS

At the NAACP's 94th national conference in Miami Beach, Florida held July 14, 2003, but missing were three of the nine Democrat presidential hopefuls. Attending were Howard Dean, Bob Graham, Carol Moseley Braun, Al Sharpton, John Edwards and John Kerry. According to people who attended the conference as well as the NAACP's head, Kweisi Mfume, this is like the missing candidate saying that they don't care about the black vote.

It's no surprise they feel that way that way what with the crappy excuses given for not attending:

Lieberman: said he had campaign events in New York. (Then perhaps he should have scheduled them differently!!) UPDATE: According to a July 16, 2003 New Haven Register article, Lieberman was busy making an appearance on the Bill O'Reilly show... is that really the audience you want to blow off blacks in favor of? Nice one, Joe...

Gephardt: said he was spending time with family... (So, he couldn't do that on TUESDAY???)

Kucinich: said he wanted to be in Washington DC since he is a US Representative from Ohio and didn't want to miss any voting... (Yeah, right - like THAT ever kept a politician in DC before!)

There are an awful lot of black people in the US these days... it might not be a bad idea to court their votes - especially since they're feeling pretty disenfranchised after the 2000 (s)election...

Read about the no-shows at the Palm Beach Post website.


MOUSSAOUI PROSECUTORS SCREW THE POOCH

There's one guy in the US who's actually been charged in connection with 911 and now the prosecution can't seem to produce their main witness despite a federal court order to get the guy into the court room, a move that a July 15, 2003 Washington Post article says will most certainly cost prosecutors the case.

Once again we see that the USGov has... everything wrong....

Read more about it at the Washington Post website.


MORE BS FROM BUSH ADMIN RE: WMD U.S. ENEMIES HAVE OR NOT?

Check it out, a July 15, 2003 New York Times article posted at StarTribune.com's headline reads:

North Korea says it's ready to produce nuclear weapons

Meanwhile a July 15, 2003 article at The Straits Times website had a headline that read:

No proof of N. Korea's nuclear claim: Seoul

And finally a July 15, 2003 article at the Philly.com has a headline that reads:

CIA: Assessment of Syria's WMD exaggerated

So, the next time you hear somebody from the USGov talking about how NKorea or Syria has WMD, remember Iraq... the USGov said they had WMD and they're still looking for 'em!


GREENSPAN SEZ: DON'T BE CAUTIOUS - BUT NOBODY LISTENS

In one of his two trips a year to the USGov to let them know what our financial system is up to, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan warned of excessive caution. In an ironic twist, the market didn't shoot through the ceiling, so Al's going back to DC in an abnormally short amount of time to try to convince investors to SPEND, SPEND, SPEND!

If that doesn't work? Who knows, perhaps the USGov might actually have to do something real about the economy...

Read about Greenspan's address to the USGov at the Financial Times website.

Read about Greenspan's second trip to visit with the USGov (scheduled to take place on July 16, 2003) over at Reuters.


PLAN TO CLONE WOOLLY MAMMOTH

Well, finally cloning is being put to a more useful task instead of all this "helping people" business... yep, scientists are going to try and recreate a woolly mammoth Jurassic-Park-Style, since the wolly mammoth as a species died out 13,000 years ago.

Now we can finally ask the woolly mammoth clone the famed question: "Do you itch like all the time?"

See, because he's a woolly mammoth...


Read all about this story at Independant.co.uk.


Monday, July 14, 2003

WE SHOT AGAIN THIS WEEKEND...

And things went pretty well... well, mostly. It was hot as hell, which was no great suprise since we knew we'd be shooting in direct sunlight in the middle of the day on the UCLA campus in July. However, at around 1:45, in the middle of a take, a few people appeared in the amphitheater we were shooting just off of, sat down and began talking somewhat loudly. I said "cut" and approached the group of people, as I did, I noticed that they had stacks of musical instruments and equipment ready to be set up.

"Are you guys going to be here a while?" I asked, pretty sure of the answer.

"We've got to set up for a concert we're performing at 2:45."

"Ah..."

I quickly set about shooting the absolute minimum required to finish shooting the project and luckily, I was able to get that list of shots done. Now, the objective becomes capping and editing the thing.

WISH ME LUCK!!

AS GAS PRICES RISE AGAIN, WHAT ABOUT HYDROGEN?

According to a July 13, 2003 Associated Press article at CNN.com, gas prices are on their way (albeit slowly) back up. The average price of gasoline at the pump creeped up 1.07 cents per gallon between June 6 and July 6 and it is believed that it will continue rising.

So, what about hydrogen? A July 13, 2003 Time.com article delves into this, explaining that the hydrogen card has been played by both parties in Washington before and is just a symptom of how the US has continually "bungled" it's energy policy.

From the Time article:
At the time of the first energy crisis, in 1974, President Richard M. Nixon put forth Project Independence to end American reliance on foreign oil through a series of energy programs, among them "hydrogen-fueled vehicles" that could be developed "to enable a shift away from oil." Takeoff date for the new technology: 1990. Members of Congress were enthusiastic about the hydrogen car then too. "Hydrogen offers us great potential as a fuel for the future," said Representative Charles Vanik, Ohio Democrat. Representative Robert Wilson, a California Republican, was equally excited: "We can now look forward to running our automobiles on water."

But hydrogen power went nowhere then, just as it went nowhere when it was trumpeted nearly a century ago. It will probably go nowhere today, for many reasons, most notably a chronic case of short attention span among American politicians when it comes to energy policy. With great fanfare, lawmakers and Presidents—both Democrats and Republicans—announce sweep- ing plans to end or ease American dependence on foreign oil and find other stable sources of energy. When the headlines and television sound bites fade away, however, they scrap the programs, which then are often reintroduced to an unsuspecting public as new in later years by another generation of lawmakers and Presidents. But changing anything as deep-seated as America's habits of energy use calls for consistency and follow through, so the failure of Washington to stick with hardly any of its plans has wound up making the U.S. more dependent than ever on foreign sources.
Read about Washington Politicians playing the Hydrogen card at Time.com.

Read about the slow rise of gas prices in the US at CNN.com.


IRAQUAGMIRE: $100 BILLION PRICE TAG ON IRAQ ATTACK POSSIBLE

From a July 13, 2003 Washington Post article:
The cost of the war and occupation of Iraq could reach $100 billion through next year, substantially higher than anticipated at the war's outset, according to defense and congressional aides. This is raising worries that other military needs will go unmet while the government is swamped in red ink.
Just imagine how much of that will end up in the pockets and bank accounts of the defense industry... and Bush 43's dad...

Read more about in a Washington Post article.


IRAQ/NIGER/URANIUM LIE NEWS ROUND-UP

From Time.com on July 13, 2003:
A Question of Trust
The CIA's Tenet takes the fall for a flawed claim in the State of the Union, but has Bush's credibility taken an even greater hit?

From Reuters and WashingtonPost.com on July 13, 2003:
Bush Aides Seek to Put Out Credibility Firestorm
Top aides to President Bush insisted on Sunday he did not hype Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction as they sought to put out a political firestorm ignited by a disputed statement he made in his case for war.

But questions about Bush's credibility persisted, threatening to further erode public support for the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq and create more difficulty at home for U.S. ally British Prime Minister Tony Blair.


From NYTimes.com on July 13, 2003:
Rumsfeld and Rice Adjust Defense of Iraq-Africa Claim
Senior Bush administration officials adjusted their defense today of President Bush's claim in his State of the Union address that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa, insisting that the phrasing was accurate even if some of the underlying evidence was unsubstantiated.

From SunTimes.com on July 14, 2003:
Blame Tenet? He's just trying to please his boss
You almost wonder if you should feel sorry for CIA Director George Tenet, who is taking the blame for President Bush's little pre-war fib to the American people about Iraq trying to buy uranium from Africa, theoretically for use in nuclear weapons.

After all, with all the hooey the Bush administration was spreading around in those days, how was Tenet supposed to know that this was the one questionable assertion where somebody would draw the line?


From Alternet.org:
Intelligence Unglued
"I will bring honor to the process and honor to the office I seek. I will remind Al Gore that Americans do not want a White House where there is 'no controlling legal authority.' I will repair the broken bonds of trust between Americans and their government."
– George W. Bush, March 7, 2000



DOES THE FED KNOW WHAT IT'S DOING NEXT?

What with the Euro strong against the USDollar but exports suffering both in the European Union and the US, economists wonder just what with FED Chairman Alan Greenspan do next, according to a July 14, 2003 article at the Financial Times website. Greenspan is scheduled to speak to the USGov on July 15, 2003 in one of his two visits with the USGov per year.

Read more about it at FT.com.


DON'T BE LIKE BUSH: REALLY CARE ABOUT WHAT AFRICANS THINK

Seriously, don't be like Bush 43. Care about what Africans really think about Bush 43's visit to their continent and countries by checking out a compilation of excerpts from editorials that appeared in African newspapers around the continent. The compilation was put together by the Washington Post - apparently, they think people actually actually do care about what happens in Africa...

Oh yeah, and it's not all pretty for Bush, either...

Read the compilation.


HONG KONG Gov IGNORES CITIZENS' INTEREST IN DEMOCRACY

The HKGov blew off the urgings of thousands of demonstrators who mobbed a fashionable area of Hong Kong on July 13, 2003, according to a New York Times article. Seems that despite the success of Hong Kong as a financial success under Britain's rule for a hundred years seems to undeter HKGov's interest in taking their time when heading toward the inevitable democratic future of their island city.

Read a lot more about it at the New York Times web site.


COLUMBIA DISASTER BLAME GAME BEGINS

From a July 12, 2003 article at The Statesman website:
But Linda Ham, the head of the mission management team, told a dozen or so of her colleagues that day she saw no need for a crash effort to obtain better imagery of the damage, repair a breach of the wing, or try to rescue the astronauts. "I don't think there is much we can do," she said in remarks not previously disclosed.

Members of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board — which stumbled across Ham's comments when they listened to tape recordings of the mission management meetings — privately describe them as "chilling" or "outrageous" in light of what the board concluded was NASA's missed opportunity to try to save the crew.
But by blaming her, we let everyone else involved in the mission off. It was everyone's responsibility to simply say "Hey, shouldn't we check out the part of the wing that got hit by that chunk of foam?"

But no one did. No single person should be blamed for this.

Read more about this story at Statesman.com.


BLAIR'S POPULARITY FIZZLES - HARDCORE

A July 14, 2003 article at the Globe and Mail web site paints a very un-pretty picture of Blair's popularity (or lack thereof) in the UK, citing everything from laws barely being passed that he sponsored, a crumbling public infrastructure in the UK and of course, the Iraq situation and in particular, the WMD problem...

Read more about Blair's problems in Britain.


NEOCON FOX NEWS SAYS DEAN'S RECORD IN QUESTION BUT RECORD OF WHAT?

In a July 14, 2003 article posted at the Fox News web site, Democractic Presidential hopeful Howard Dean is made out to seem like a confrontational loud mouth. The article quotes several people who claim he has a problem controlling his temper. This is the crux of the article and yet, the headline of the article reads "Dean Record Is Source of Dispute".

His record of what? Getting angry? Do we as a society keep records on such things? Seems a rather one sided direction to take an article in, even for a well-known one-sided news source like Fox News. Especially since the headline claims one thing and basically delivers another. The article does mention some of Dean's pluses, but the tone is definitely not "un-biased". Sure, no one's surprised about this from Fox News...

From the article:
“Personally, I think he’ll self-destruct at some point,” said Ruth Dwyer, a former Republican state legislator who ran against Dean in 1998 and 2000 re-elections, but failed to beat the six-term popular governor.

“When push comes to shove, and he’s under pressure, he won’t make it, he never could,” said Dwyer.

Vermont state Rep. Frank Mazur, a nine-year Republican legislator, agrees. “He’s got a very short temper; he gets rattled very easily, and when he gets rattled he says dumb things.”
Dumb things, sure like that Republican in the White House NEVER says dumb things, rattled or not! And HE was elected...

WASN'T HE?

If his temper is the only thing you can find wrong with this guy, you probably focus your news-gathering abilities (as questionable as they are) on something more worthy...

Read the article for yourself.


IRANGov JOURNALIST-MURDER COVER-UP?

According to a July 14, 2003 article at the Globe and Mail web site, a female photojournalist working in Iraq may have been murdered - at least that's what her son in Montreal believes. Iranian authorities who were questioning her after she was caught taking pictures in a Tehran prison, say that she died of "brain failure". Now Iranian authorities have announced that the photojournalist's mother (a native Iranian) has decided that her photog daughter's body should be burried in Iran, which is against the photog's wishes, according to the son in Canada. This is why he believes the Iranians are trying to cover-up the murder.

After all, just what is "brain failure", anyway? (WEBMASTER'S NOTE: I had it all through high school, never hurt me any...)

Read more about this story at the Globe and Mail web site.


Saturday, July 12, 2003

TERMINATOR 3 (2003)

Terminator 3 - Rise of the Machines (Widescreen Edition)Entertaining? No. It was an honest chore to sit through.
Technically any good? No. Story was convoluted and full of absurd plot holes. However, there was one action sequence that Matrix Reloaded could have learned a thing or two from.
How did I feel as the credits rolled? Frankly, offended. If you want stupid in a good way, see Charlie's Angels 2 if you want stupid in a bad way, see T3. It really was frigging stupid.
Final Rating? DNS

IRAQ/URANIUM/NIGER USUKGov SPIN ROUND-UP

From Observor/Guardian.co.uk, July 13, 2003:
Blair ignored CIA weapons warning
Intelligence breakdown after Britain dismissed US doubts over Iraq nuclear link to Niger

Excerpt:
...when the CIA, having seen a draft of the September dossier on Iraq's WMD, demanded that the Niger claim be removed, it was ignored because the agency did not back it up with 'any explanation'.

READ: The CIA didn't tell us why we shouldn't use it, so we decided they were wrong and we should use the Niger claim anyway, despite the fact that any rational adult would NOT do such a thing.

From Associated Press/Washington Post, July 11, 2003:
Tenet Takes Responsibility for False Iraq Intelligence
CIA Director Admits Analysts Had Doubts About Information

Excerpt:
Director George Tenet acknowledged Friday his agency wrongly allowed President Bush to tell the American people that Iraq was seeking nuclear material from Africa when analysts had doubts about the quality of the intelligence.

READ: Tenet is sacrificing himself as the voluntary fallguy - this is being done because Tenet, and the rest of the Bush 43 admin hope his "responsibility-taking" will distract from the fact that Bush knew the evidence was shady and should not be trusted but used it anyway.

From Voice Of America News, July 12, 2003:
Bush Publicly Backs CIA Director

Excerpt:
President Bush says he still has confidence in Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet, who has taken full responsibility for a false claim on Iraq's alleged nuclear program.

During his visit to Nigeria Saturday, Mr. Bush said he "absolutely" trusts Mr. Tenet and considers the controversy over.


READ: Bush realizes Tenet's the voluntary fallguy and in return defends him. Quid pro quo.

From the Financial Times, July 11, 2003:
Bush expresses 'confidence' in CIA director

Excerpt:
"The CIA cleared the speech in its entirety," said Condoleezza Rice, Mr Bush's national security adviser. She added: "If the CIA, the director of Central Intelligence, had said 'Take this out of the speech', it would have been gone without question."

Mr Tenet said the CIA had approved the speech before it was delivered, despite serious doubts within the agency about the accuracy of intelligence suggesting that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from the African nation of Niger.


READ: SEE? SEE? It's HIS fault! Despite the fact that if Bush 43 and the rest of his team knew the evidence was a forgery it would still be up to them to do the right thing. Just because your mom doesn't tell you to play with matches, you know not to play with matches, right? Blaming it on your mom doesn't absolve you of any responsibility, does it?

From New York Newsday, July 13, 2003:
White House Says Case Closed

Excerpt:
The White House yesterday said that the CIA's statement that it erred in approving inconclusive intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program cited in President George W. Bush's State of the Union address puts the controversy to rest. But intelligence officials contend that CIA Director George Tenet's mea culpa Friday produced instead clear evidence that the administration knowingly exaggerated data to press for war against Iraq.

Also from the same article at New York Newsday:

Excerpt:
But independent intelligence experts, who have reviewed Tenet's carefully crafted response after Bush and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice blamed the CIA for clearing the speech, said in interviews yesterday that it shows agency officials tried several times to warn the White House that the uranium ore claims were unsubstantiated. The CIA finally caved after the White House deleted a reference to Niger as the purported supplier of the ore, which is a precursor for nuclear bombs, and changed the amount of ore intended to be shipped. In addition, the intelligence was attributed to the British government.

" officials who were reviewing the draft remarks on uranium raised several concerns about the fragmentary nature of the intelligence with National Security Council colleagues," Tenet said in his statement. "Some of the language was changed. ... officials in the end concurred that the text of the speech was factually correct -- i.e. that the British government report said that Iraq sought uranium from Africa."

Tenet also indicated that an October National Intelligence Estimate, which Rice confirmed served as the underpinning for many of the claims about Iraq's weapons program, was full of warning flags. Among them, he said, was that Iraq already had a "significant 550-metric-ton uranium stockpile" -- implying that cash-strapped Iraq did not have to waste funds or risk getting caught by shopping abroad. As to the credibility of the alleged Niger deal, he said that the intelligence estimate cautioned that U.S. intelligence could not confirm it.

Bush, in his State of the Union speech, was unequivocal in his assertion that the British government had "learned that Saddam Hussein sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."


That last bit speaks for itself.

Click on the above bold headlines to read the articles, they're all very informative one way or the other.


EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK ECON TO GERMAN CHANCELOR: DO YOUR JOB!

European Central Bank chief economist Ottmar Issing played down demmands from Germany's Chancelor Shroeder that the ECB should do more to weaken the Euro in an attempt to help European exporters. Issing explained, according to a July 11, 2003 Financial Times article that competitiveness was not tied to the exchange rate alone and suggested strongly that EU politicians needed to do more work to help out exporters.

The ECB has done enough to help control the rise in value of the Euro.

The European Central Bank is the European Union's answer to the Federal Reserve.

Read more about it at the Financial Times website.


IRAQUAGMIRE: HARSH REALITIES GREET USGov

In an informative column at the Washington Post website, Columnist Colbert I. King breaks down the mess that the Iraq Attack has become and describes why the nickname "Iraquagmire" is so appropriate (without mentioning it by name, of course.)

From the column:
How many of us knew, before this week, that the monthly cost of military operations in Iraq was about $3.9 billion? Or that the administration has now resorted to juggling billions from an Iraq contingency fund and other military accounts to cover unanticipated costs? Add to that the suggestion by Gen. Tommy Franks, who testified alongside Rumsfeld, that nearly 150,000 American troops will have to remain in Iraq for the "foreseeable future."

At $4 billion a month?

The rising U.S. casualty rate was also high on the list of committee concerns. No wonder. American troops in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq are being killed at the rate of one a day -- and that's not counting the wounded or the Iraqi rockets and gunshots that have missed their targets. Once again, the committee pried out answers that portray a postwar Iraq sharply at variance with the one the Bush administration led the nation to expect.

Only a month ago, in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was playing down any notion of surprise at the extent of postwar fighting. "As we expected and planned for," he told the House committee, "smaller combat operations in Iraq continue, even as we work with Iraqis to establish stable and secure areas throughout Iraq."

"Expected and planned for"? Mortar attacks, drive-by shootings, ambushes in broad daylight, 32 U.S. soldiers slain since May -- all this after President Bush declared Baghdad a done deal? Yeah, Wolfowitz and company saw it coming, all right. Chickens also have lips.
Do check out the rest of King's great column.


BLACKS LOSE BETTER JOBS FASTER BUT WE'RE ALL LOSING JOBS

From a July 12, 2003 New York Times article posted at CNN.com:
Unemployment among blacks is rising at a faster pace than in any similar period since the mid-1970's, and the jobs lost have been mostly in manufacturing, where the pay for blacks has historically been higher than in many other fields.

Nearly 2.6 million jobs have disappeared over all during the last 28 months, which began with a brief recession that has faded into a weak recovery. Nearly 90 percent of those lost jobs were in manufacturing, according to government data, with blacks hit disproportionately harder than whites.


Well, at least we're into a weak recovery... (???)

Read the whole article at CNN.com.


ARBUSTO LOVES HIS CAMERAMAN... ONLY HIS CAMERAMAN...

A July 12, 2003 New York Times article exposes another side of the Bush 43 admin's attempts to control how the world sees King George. This time 'round we get to see that Bush (as with other recent Presidents) has his own photog who follows him around and releases only pictures approved by Bush, himself.

God forbid we see him doing something stupid...

Read a LOT more about Bush's chosen photographer at NYTimes.Com.


NEW BELGIAN GOVERNMENT CASTRATES SELF IN NAME OF BUSH

According to a July 12, 2003 article at Canada.com, the first thing the newly elected government of Belgium did upon taking office was striking down the law that allowed non-Belgian citizens to be tried for war crimes. This was a bone of contention with US King George and UKPM Tony Blair since Bush had some of his own staff brought up on war crimes and Blair himself was an accused in Belgian court all after the Iraq Attack took place.

Thanks for standing up, guys! (Yeah, right.)

Read more about it at Canada.com.


ISRAEL TO ARAFAT: SHUT UP OR YOU'RE OUT!

According to a July 12, 2003 Reuters article posted at the Washington Post website, Israel has threatened to boot Yasser Arafat from Palestisrael (Or Israelistine, whichever you prefer) if Arafat tries to slow the new Israeli prime minister down in his efforts to use the infamous "Road Map To Peace" to actually get to peace.

Meanwhile Sharon himself thinks everything is under control. An interview with the British paper Observor's Peter Beaumont, Sharon insisted that he was the right man to bring peace to Israel. Beaumont himself was quick to point out in the article that Sharon's comments came dispite his own bloody history as an Israeli soldier and despite his 75 years on this planet. Beaumont's impression seemed to be that Sharon may not have it in him.

Read more about Arafat's possible deportation at Washington Post's website.

Read Peter Beaumont's interview with Ariel Sharon at the website of the Guardian.


From Reuters.com and WashingtonPost.Com:

Israel Threatens Arafat as Prisoner Issue Simmers

Reuters
Saturday, July 12, 2003; 4:36 PM

By Dan Williams and Wafa Amr

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel could deport or arrest Palestinian President Yasser Arafat if he holds up his prime minister's efforts to implement a U.S.-backed "road map" to Middle East peace, Israeli diplomatic sources said Saturday.

"Israel conveyed to Washington that if Arafat continues to undermine Abu Mazen, we will reconsider his location and status," a source said, using Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas's nom de guerre. "By status we mean immunity."

Abbas, a moderate and reformer, became prime minister earlier this year following pressure from the United States, which has sidelined Arafat, accusing him of fomenting violence in a 33-month-old Palestinian uprising. He denies it.

Palestinian officials say Arafat is trying to weaken Abbas, viewing him as too soft on Israel when it comes to implementing reciprocal measures required by the road map en route to Palestinian statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by 2005.

On June 29, Abbas coaxed a temporary truce out of militant groups spearheading the uprising. Israeli troops withdrew from the West Bank city of Bethlehem and areas of Gaza.

But tensions still simmer over 6,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails. Israel has said several hundred "minor offenders" could be freed -- not enough to satisfy Palestinians who view the release of prisoners as key in any peace process.

Abbas spoke with British Prime Minister Tony Blair by telephone Saturday and asked him to pressure Israel to release prisoners, a senior Palestinian official said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is to meet Blair in London Monday and push for Arafat's deeper isolation.

Palestinian officials say Abbas's credibility is at stake over his failure to win concessions from Sharon. "Sharon is working on obstructing the road map," Arafat told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where he has been blockaded by Israel after waves of suicide bombings last year.

Israeli officials have in the past said deporting, arresting or even killing ex-guerrilla leader Arafat were viable options.

FATAH ELECTIONS MOOTED

A top Palestinian official said the Arafat-Abbas fracas could be solved with a shakeup of the Fatah national movement at whose helm both men have stood for decades.

The Palestinian cabinet called on the international community to continue dealing with Arafat and said it would pursue prisoner releases.

Though not part of the road map, the issue is likely to be raised during Sharon's visit to Washington, which an Israeli official said was expected in the last week of July.

In the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, 45 prisoners' children aged 10 to 15 held a one-day hunger strike to pressure Abbas to win their parents' release.

Palestinians also seek further Israeli withdrawals. Sharon has demanded the dismantling of militant groups first, but a top Palestinian official said no crackdown was needed.

"Until now we have done 90 percent of the work through internal dialogue. We are pursuing the other 10 percent and will convince them (militants) of the value of our vision," Minister for Security Affairs Mohammed Dahlan said.

Syria said Saturday it was willing to restart negotiations with Israel, but rejected the Jewish state's demand for talks without preconditions. Syria wants Israel to return the Golan Heights, captured during the 1967 Middle East war.

(Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi and Joseph Logan)

(c) 2003 Reuters
From Observer.Guardian.co.uk:

Sharon: I'll solve the Palestinian problem in four years

The Israeli leader, who flies into London tonight, is the last man standing from the 1948 generation who assisted at the country's bloody birth. He spoke to Peter Beaumont in a rare interview

Sunday July 13, 2003
The Observer

There is a cruel mimicry that some Israeli journalists perform when their Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, stands up to speak. As he begins each sentence, they finish it for him with an unerring accuracy. So he will intone 'I am prepared to make painful concessions' and his mockers will murmur their reply like the responses at a Mass: 'But I will never sacrifice Israel's security.'

It became noticeable during his campaign for re-election in January at a press conference for the foreign press in a central Jerusalem hotel, when after each question the mockers would finish his slow answer with a little giggle.

Preparing for a rare interview with Sharon last week, his repetitions jump out from piles of cuttings, some of them carried word for word across the decades.

In the past, it was part of the political persona of a man who has never been one for sophisticated similes and complex perorations. Sharon's familiar rhetoric was part of the point for many Israelis - reassurance that Israel will never surrender, never be defeated - and part of a folksy appeal that he plays up to as the simple soldier-farmer-politician.

It is not his only attribute. When he turns on his charm, you can see the point of him. Even with the knowledge of all his bloody history, of all the dead left in his wake, you can see why he has carried it off for so long. Even as his powers fail, you can still see how he has managed to connect. When he talks about the land and its history, he radiates a kind of heat. There is a love there that you can see, for all that it is brutal, selfish.

But the point is, his powers are failing. Ariel Sharon looks all of his 75 years. Despite his famous bulk, there is a frailty about him, a passivity. He may hope that, like the title of the volume on his shelves by Hart Haston, I Shall Not Die, but he is an old man. His skin has the translucent sheen of age. When his face becomes still, his eyes disappear beneath the weight of his sagging features.

He knows it. And seems to fear it as a sign of weakness.

For our interview, he is carefully arranged behind his desk. Only his hands and features move. A photographer at this rare interview gets too close and is warned in Hebrew by Sharon's aides that he must not take a 'tight' picture of the Prime Minister's face. It is not only the body, but his mind, too. His verbal repetition does not seem to come from the language of reassurance, but from an effort to remind himself where he is in a plot that sometimes seems to be slipping from his grasp.

At times, his aides shore up his performance with written notes. When he becomes lost, he breaks into Hebrew, and Ranaan Gissin, his foreign press adviser, supplies answers and prompts.

It is all a long way from the Sharon pictured on his wall: the soldier in his prime, arrogant, beefy, sly, but full of life. That younger Sharon is framed by pictures of dead contemporaries - Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin. He is the last of the generation that made Israel, an endangered species. And with men around him all half his age, Sharon insists it is only he who can solve the Palestinian problem. He says he is optimistic and that in his next four years in office he will bring it about. But his ideas have become thickets through which sometimes he seems to grope.

'The right thing will be if someone from our generation who has seen everything we saw. You remember well now ... I remember well. From the age of five ... I remember those years well now, everything that happened here. And ... it is our generation's role to try to achieve this peace. It is a result of things we have seen. I think that makes it ... easier to do, that we will make that, and we will make less mistakes knowing what really happened here. And that is how I see. How I see it. There are many things I would like to do, but it was something I had to try to solve.'

It is a constant thread in the Sharon story, this history. A favourite theme is of his responsibility to 3,000 years of Jewish history, and the responsibility for the next three centuries. The present, he has said, is important only in the way it guarantees a Jewish future in a Jewish state in the cradle of the Jewish people's birth. He reminds us this is the Promised Land. Promised to the Jews - no one else.

But Sharon's relationship with history is complicated. In his old age there has been a curious elision between his personal history and Israel's. For him, occupying the office of the Prime Minister, it has come to mean the same thing. Sharon feels that he has earned it as the last man standing of the generation of 1948 who created Israel.

'As one who participated in all the wars of the state of Israel, I saw the horror of wars. I saw the fear of wars. I saw my best friends being killed in battles. I was seriously injured twice ... I believe I understand the importance of peace, not more but not less than many of the politicians who speak about peace, but never had this experience. I saw these things...'

Sharon's sense of entitlement is that of the veteran, the man who in his autobiography Warrior expressed the fear that Israel had become a less 'exceptional' place. 'That is my responsibility, to take care of the security of the Jewish people and, when it comes to this thing, Israel will not be able to make any compromise whatsoever.'

I ask him whether he would not rather be at his ranch in the Negev, spending his days with his sheep and cattle.

'Look,' he says, 'I would like to be on the farm. To ride the horses. To watch the cattle, and the plantations, and the beautiful vegetables that my sons are growing there. I would like it. I am one of those who do not have to worry about what I am doing later. I love the fields. I love ... My strength never came from political echelons, it came from the family. And from the fields and the lands and the flowers and everything I see there. My strength came from there.

'But now to give an answer to your question. I believe that as long as I worry, and I have the strength, I'll have to continue. There'll be problems and complicated problems, and I will continue because I feel this responsibility. And I think, as long as I can do that, I will do that. And, as one who has been through hard situations, I believe I know how to do that. Now, the horses will wait. And the cattle will wait.' And Sharon insists that he has time. He may be 75, but he has four more years in office.

The difficulty, too, is that the problems that Israel faces are very complicated indeed. And it is not clear whether he has the skill - or, crucially, the will - to solve them. For while Sharon has signed up to the US-inspired 'road map', a document designed to lead Israelis and Palestinians to peace and the Palestinians to an odd, truncated form of statehood, it is not the vision of the document that Sharon has really embraced, but the mechanism that, one suspects, he regards as a useful tool for getting the international community off Israel's back. And it is here that his repetitions are not folksy or confused, but cynical.

'I ... um ... said that, if there will be Palestinian government and there will be real reform there, it will be a plan based on stages. In the first stage, there will be full cessations of terror, hostility and incitement, [then] I will be ready to make painful compromises. And I am committed to what I said. I was the one who suggested this plan, let's say - more or less - it is similar to the vision of President Bush when he spoke on 24 June last year about this kind of plan.

'Once [it has] been completely quiet and the weapons have been taken from them and given to a third party to be taken out of the Palestinian Authority area and destroyed, if [the Palestinian Authority] takes serious steps and stops incitement and educating for peace, [then] I believe Israel will be able to ... I mentioned the Palestinian state? ... I mean no military; a demilitarised state. I said without final borders because the final borders should only be agreed on the third stage, the final stage. I think in this plan - the plan is called a performance-based plan - things should be fully implemented. You don't move from one stage or sub-stage to the next one unless the former one been fully implemented...'

Forgetting the small matter of his rewriting history over the conception of Bush's road map, it seems that Sharon's interpretation differs from the way that it was conceived. In Sharon's mind, all the onus is on the Palestinians, because that, too, is where all the guilt resides.

I ask him if he has changed his mind that creating a Palestinian state is still the 'national suicide' he called it in 1999. 'You know, sometimes I am jealous of people who say so many things and no one remembers. For good or worse, the things I said - I don't know how many years ago - everyone remembers.'

It is a question that comes up during the interview in different ways. Has he - once the champion of the settlers, exhorting them to 'run and grab the hills' - been so transformed that he will negotiate away their communities. The best he manages is: 'I made it very clear, at a difficult time for a politician, before and during the election and the primaries in my own party. It is how I lost the majority in my own party. I made it very clear what were my plans in order no one says after the elections: "Look, I did not know what I was voting for. Everything is clear".'

If there is another absolute constant in Sharon's universe, beyond his identification of his own and Israel's destiny, then it is in his obsession with his great enemy - Yasser Arafat - whose physical decline has hurried on before his own.

'The problem is that Arafat is undermining the new government. It is a good thing Mahmoud Abbas was nominated as Prime Minister. I met him several times. He is one of those who has understood that Israel cannot be defeated by terror and that he understood very early that the suffering of the Palestinians was caused by Arafat and his strategy.'

He is scathing, too, about the continued contact with Arafat by European governments, including Britain, calling it a brake on progress. But, in the end, it seems Sharon believes that, despite the partnership with Abbas, this is a process that will fail despite his alleged desire for a deal. And then what?

'I'll tell you what we will be doing, what we are doing now, what my grandfather and my parents have done, myself, my sons, and families here facing Arab terror for five, six generations, I tell you what they're going to do. First, they are going to hold the sword in one hand, and they're going to carry on, that's what we've been doing up to now.'

� Sharon gave a joint interview to The Observer and the Daily Telegraph in his Jerusalem office before leaving for London