These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. ~~~ Thomas Paine, 1776
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Chinese Forces Swarm Tibet As Protests Turn Violent

Chinese security forces swarm Tibet

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SLIDESHOW

By AUDRA ANG, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 36 minutes ago
March 15, 2008

BEIJING - Soldiers on foot and in armored carriers swarmed Tibet's capital Saturday, enforcing a strict curfew a day after protesters burned shops and cars to vent their anger against Chinese rule. In another western city, police clashed with hundreds of Buddhist monks leading a sympathy demonstration.
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The violence erupted just two weeks before China's Summer Olympic celebrations kick off with the start of the torch relay, which passes through Tibet. China is gambling that its crackdown will not draw an international outcry over human rights violations that could lead to boycotts of the Olympics.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on China "to exercise restraint in dealing with these protests," while the State Department issued a travel alert for Americans in the region. Her statement also called for China to release monks and others jailed for protesting.

The latest unrest began Monday on the anniversary of a 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. Tibet was effectively independent for decades before communist troops entered in 1950.

Initially, the protests were led by Buddhist monks demanding the release of other detained monks. Their demands spiraled to include cries for Tibet's independence and turned violent Friday when police tried to stop a group of protesting monks. Pent-up grievances against Chinese rule came to the fore, as Tibetans directed their anger against Chinese and their shops, hotels and other businesses.

It was the fiercest challenge to Beijing's authority in nearly two decades.

China's official Xinhua News Agency reported at least 10 civilians were burned to death on Friday. The Dalai Lama's exiled Tibetan government in India said Chinese authorities killed at least 30 Tibetans and possibly as many as 100. The figures could not be independently verified.

In the Tibetan capital Lhasa on Saturday, police manned checkpoints and armored personnel carriers rattled on mostly empty streets as people stayed indoors under a curfew, witnesses said. The show of force imposed a tense quiet.

Several witnesses reported hearing occasional bursts of gunfire. One Westerner who went to a rooftop in Lhasa's old city said he saw troops with automatic rifles moving through the streets firing, though did not see anyone shot.

Foreign tourists in Lhasa were told to leave, a hotel manager and travel guide said, with the guide adding that some were turned back at the airport.

"There are military blockades blocking off whole portions of the city, and the entire city is basically closed down," said a 23-year-old Canadian student who arrived in Lhasa on Saturday and who was making plans to leave. "All the restaurants are closed, all the hotels are closed."

Even as Chinese forces appeared to reassert control in Lhasa, a second day of sympathy protests erupted in an important Tibetan town 750 miles away.

Police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of Buddhist monks and other Tibetans after they marched from the historic Labrang monastery and smashed windows in the county police headquarters in Xiahe, witnesses said.

Also Saturday, fresh demonstrations by Tibetan exiles and their supporters sprouted up in neighboring Nepal, New York, Switzerland and Australia.

The Chinese government is hoping a successful Olympics will boost its popularity at home as well as its image abroad. But Beijing's hosting of the Olympics has already attracted scrutiny of China's human rights record and its pollution problems.

So far, international criticism of the crackdown in Tibet has been mild. The U.S. and European Union called for Chinese restraint without any threats of an Olympic boycott or other sanctions.

"What is happening in Tibet and Beijing's responses to it will not affect the games very much unless the issue really gets out of control," said Xu Guoqi, a China-born historian at Kalamazoo College in Michigan.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said Saturday he opposed an Olympic boycott over Tibet.

"We believe that the boycott doesn't solve anything," Rogge told reporters on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. "On the contrary, it is penalizing innocent athletes and it is stopping the organization from something that definitely is worthwhile organizing."

China restricts access to Tibet for foreign media, making it difficult to independently verify the casualties and the scale of protests and suppression.

Yet the details emerging from witness accounts and government statements suggested Beijing was preparing a methodical campaign — one that if carefully modulated would minimize bloodshed and avoid wrecking Beijing's grand plans for the Aug. 8-24 Olympics.

The China-installed governor of Tibet vowed to deal harshly with the protesters in Lhasa, but said no shots had been fired and promised that "calm will be restored very soon."

"Beating, smashing, looting and burning — we absolutely condemn this sort of behavior," Champa Phuntsok, an ethnic Tibetan, told reporters in Beijing.

In Lhasa, law-enforcement agencies issued a notice offering leniency for demonstrators who surrender before the end of Monday and threatening severe punishment for those who do not.

Neighborhood committees went door-to-door handing out the notices, telling locals defiance would be treated as a criminal act and hinting of rewards if they turned protesters in, said Robbie Barnett, a Tibet specialist at Columbia University, who talked with Lhasa residents by phone.

The calculated mix of threats and inducements underscored the difficulties the communist leadership faces in trying to quell a serious challenge to its 57-year rule in Tibet while saving the Olympics.

Preparing the public for tough measures, state-run television on the evening newscast showed footage of red-robed monks battering bus signs and Tibetans in street clothes hurling rocks and smashing shop windows as smoke billowed across Lhasa.

"The plot by an extremely small number of people to damage Tibet's stability and harmony is unpopular and doomed to failure," a narrator said as the footage played.


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No Surprise Here - Canadian Commons votes to extend Afghan mission to 2011


Canadian PM Stephen Harper will have good news when he attends a Nato Leader's Summit in Bucharest, Romania this April. On Thursday, after 30 hours of debate over a period of five days, the Canadian Government voted by a 197 -77 margin to extend the Afghan mission to 2011.
From the Vancouver Sun

OTTAWA -- As a chorus of protest rang out from Parliament's public galleries, the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly Thursday night to extend Canada's military mission in Afghanistan to 2011.

Though the result was never in doubt, the outburst of more than two dozen anti-war protesters chanting, "End it, don't extend it," from the public galleries added a poignant dramatic twist as they were peacefully escorted out by security guards.

Both the minority Conservative government and the Liberal opposition heralded the vote as a historic compromise that set aside partisan politics and advanced Canada's international interest, as they easily passed the motion by a 197-77 margin.

...The NDP and Bloc Quebecois opposed the motion but lacked the numbers in the Commons that would have toppled the government and plunged the country into a federal election.

Apparently, the cost of our excellent adventure wasn't much of a concern to the MP's who were busy discussing the "high political ideal of why we are in Afghanistan". Considerations of costs didn't enter into the debate until it's waning hours when "MPs began to consider the question of financial cost, with published reports that the war was $1 billion over budget".
From The Canadian Press

...Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, head of the Senate security and defence committee, says MPs paid too much attention to the high political ideal of why we are in Afghanistan.

They often failed to ask substantive questions, he said, such what the ramifications might be on both the federal treasury and a military that increasingly relies on reservists and equipment under stress from continuous combat.

"This war is going to take a lot more money than this government is prepared to admit," said Kenny.

...It was only in the waning hours of debate that MPs began to consider the question of financial cost, with published reports that the war was $1 billion over budget. The Defence Department countered that the figures were only projections until 2009 and that estimated costs beyond that had not been made final.

...Thursday's vote ended the most extensive and wide-ranging debate in Canada's Parliament since it began sending soldiers to Afghanistan. Contrary to the compressed 48-hour debate that preceded the last vote in Parliament in May 2006, this current round unfolded over five days beginning on Feb. 25. The May 2006 vote extended the mission by two years to February 2009 by a slim 149-145 margin.

This 'historic' debate couldn't have been of much interest to the "20 Liberals [that] didn't show up, including such notables as chronic absentee and former prime minister Paul Martin, whose government made the initial call to deploy troops to the Kandahar danger zone" but then as noted "the result was never in doubt".

The vote is good news for Harper who now has "the clear political mandate he wanted heading into a meeting of NATO leaders in Bucharest, Romania, early next month". And thanks to the "historic compromise" of the governing Conservatives and the opposition Liberals, Canadians won't be going to an election over our continuing mission in Afghanistan.

From the National Post

Before this mission's next end date in December, 2011, another 12,500 soldiers will decamp from their families in bases across Canada, some doing a second or third rotation, and head into war.

If current casualty rates continue, more than 150 will not return -- a horrifying one-in-80 chance of dying for their home country and a foreign one with a history of chronic conflict and unbeaten insurgency.

...Far from pulling out of combat and leaving Canadian troops armed with shovels and good intentions, the decision essentially endorses the status quo with a preferred emphasis on training and humanitarian work.

So just in case the Taliban are reading this, let me translate: Bomb or shoot at Canadian troops and our soldiers will shoot back, aiming to kill, for at least another three years.

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Vatican Adds A New 'Social' Component To The Seven Deadly Sins

#'s 4, 5, 6 & 7 should pretty much take care of the PTB's.
I wonder if they have a figure in mind for #6.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Vatican updates seven deadly sins
http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/vatican-updates-seven-deadly-sins...
Barney Zwartz
March 11, 2008

People who don't pick up their dogs' addition to the environment in the park may be risking more than a fine - they may be putting their souls at risk of damnation, according to a new Vatican list of seven deadly sins for the 21st century.

As the seven ancient wonders of the world were matched by seven modern wonders, the seven deadly sins have been given a modern version for a globalised world, announced by a Vatican official yesterday.

Polluting, genetic engineering, obscene riches, taking drugs, abortion, pedophilia and causing social injustice join the original seven deadly sins defined by Pope Gregory the Great in the sixth century: pride, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, wrath and sloth.

Gianfranco Girotti, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, responsible for absolving Catholics from their sins, named the new mortal sins in an interview with the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, yesterday.

He did not spell out details but said the original seven deadly sins had an individualistic dimension, while the new seven had a social resonance and showed worshippers that their vices affected other people.

"New sins have appeared on the horizon of humanity as a corollary of the unstoppable process of globalisation," he said.

God was offended not only by stealing, blaspheming or coveting your neighbour's wife but by ruining the environment, conducting immoral scientific experiments and genetic manipulation.

Traditional Catholic doctrine divides sins into mortal and venial (lesser) and holds that mortal sins, if unrepented, lead to eternal damnation. The Catholic catechism says "mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God's law", while venial sin allows charity to subsist but offends and wounds it.

Mortal sins are not officially listed, but include murder, abortion, perjury and adultery. They can be absolved after confession, and Monsignor Girotti has acted to make this more palatable, launching a course to teach priests to be less aggressive in the confessional booth.

He wrote in the newspaper last week that many Catholics found it hard to be open about their sins to their priest, and the new course would help priests to be ministers of reconciliation.

The course includes instruction on "special cases", such as divorcees and homosexuals.

The seven social sins are:

1. 'Bioethical' violations such as birth control
2. 'Morally dubious' experiments such as stem cell research and genetic engineering
3. Drug abuse
4. Polluting the environment
5. Contributing to widening divide between rich and poor
6. Excessive wealth
7. Creating poverty

The original deadly sins:

1. Pride
2. Envy
3. Gluttony
4. Lust
5. Anger
6. Greed
7. Sloth

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A few site updates


Construction is ongoing here and plans continue to develop.

Here are a few recent changes:

  • changed the front page to list the most recent blog posts instead of my initial welcome message.
  • enabled avatars (if you have an account, click "My account", then "edit" to upload your avatar. If you don't have an account, well what are you waiting for?)
  • enabled italics and font tags, for more customization of posts, comments, signatures, what have you
  • added the custom favicon (that little "WP" in your browser's location bar)

And future changes:

  • At some point i bet the spambots will find us; at that time we'll need to turn off unfiltered anonymous posting.
  • Rules. So far only friends have posted here. If and when that changes, we'll need to establish some rules.
  • Development of the Forums into an R&D area for specific topics and articles, so we can pitch in and help research & develop new & useful material - we'll see how this goes.

Have fun and don't be afraid to experiment!
Any suggestions for a default avatar to use with Anonymous posts?
-NJT

Overt WARNING to Dissidents?

March 2008 -- Pentagon Ray Gun
CBS 60 Minutes Video Clip

Correspondent David Martin conducts a biased review of the Pentagon’s Ray Gun.
Check out video at 1:38 – Is this an overt warning to dissidents?

[Picture] Ray Gun Targets

Southern Beale - 60 Minutes Shills for the Pentagon

"Watching 60 Minutes National Security Correspondent David Martin introduce the Pentagon’s “Active Denial System” as the best life-saving advancement since the invention of Kevlar was nothing short of surreal. I actually had to watch the segment twice because I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears the first time.

... David Martin and 60 Minutes Producer Mary Walsh must be either incredibly stupid or on the Pentagon’s payroll. “End The War” and “World Peace” placards are a scene from Iraq? Really? This looks less like a scene from Iraq than a scene from America.

This certainly tells us everything we need to know about who the Pentagon views as the enemy. And it speaks volumes about the incurious stenography offered by 60 Minutes reporter David Martin and producer Mary Walsh.

Martin and Walsh seem particularly clueless about any moral or ethical issues which a crowd control device of this type presents. They spin this story as a tale of government bureaucracy holding up a really wonderful life saving device. "

~~more at Southern Beale link above~~~

Read more about the “Ray Gun” in these articles:

September 2007

Run away the ray-gun is coming : We test US army's new secret weapon
[snip] … here's how it works in the field.

A square transmitter as big as a plasma TV screen is mounted on the back of a Jeep.

When turned on, it emits an invisible, focused beam of radiation - similar to the microwaves in a domestic cooker - that are tuned to a precise frequency to stimulate human nerve endings.

It can throw a wave of agony nearly half a mile.

November 2007


Military Zips Lips on Pain Ray Accident

August 2005 --

Alternet – Rumsfeld’s Ray Gun [ADS – Active Denial System]

[snip] … Long Term Problems

Aside from thermal injuries like blindness or burns, could a protestor who got zapped by an overzealous ADS controller eventually wind up with disease such as cancer? Another way of stating it: Do millimeter waves at the frequency of 95 gigahertz cause long term biological changes unrelated to heat?

The military says no. Others aren't so sure. And these things are often hard, if not near impossible, to prove.

In 2004, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization report on non-lethal weapons raised warnings. "The long-term physiological effects of the microwaves received by an individual are still being studied (maximum acceptable dose, cumulative effect of successive exposures)," the report states. "The absence of definitive results is the main obstacle to the use of radio frequencies."

The report goes on to note that "excessive power levels can have serious consequences for human targets."


Leveraging whatever it is ...

I've been thinking about ways in which we can use this site to leverage whatever it is that we have going for us. Here's one possibility:

I've got research for half a dozen stories partially finished, but not getting anywhere. For reasons I can't get into here, nothing will happen with any of them unless I can recruit some assistance. So here's your chance!

If you're interested in throwing some time and energy into one or more of these projects, any of which could wind up being really depressing, speak up.

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