February 2004

In Port-au-Prince, Haitians set up more blazing barricades to protect President Jean Bertrand Aristide. (Reuters)

LYDIA POLGREEN, The New York Times, Reports::

ORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Feb. 27 With a rising panic creeping across Haiti’s capital, truckloads of armed men, many in ski masks, patrolled the city today, vowing to slaughter anyone who dared challenge the embattled presidency of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Deborah Zabarenko, REUTERS, Reports:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 10,600 children said they were molested by priests since 1950 in an epidemic of child sexual abuse involving at least 4 percent of U.S. Roman Catholic priests, two studies reported on Friday.

Local 6 News Reports:

ORLANDO, Fla. — An 83-year-old man was found lying dead in his yard next to his wife after he fell, became stranded and ordered his wife not to get help for three days despite heavy rainstorms, according to authorities.

Richard Spencer, The Telegraph (UK) Report:

BEIJING — After 50 years of Communism China now has the biggest divide between urban rich and rural poor in the world, according to the government’s own researchers.

A report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, one of the Communist Party’s leading research schools, compared the country gloomily with Zimbabwe.

It said the earnings of urban residents were now more than three times those of residents of rural areas. If non-cash factors were taken into account - such as the fact that only urban residents receive health care and social security benefits - the difference could be six times.

New Scientist Reports:

After the worldwide alarm triggered by 2003’s SARS outbreak, it might seem reckless to set about creating a potentially far more devastating virus in the lab. But that is what is being attempted by some researchers, who argue that the dangers of doing nothing are even greater.

We already know that the H5N1 bird flu virus ravaging poultry farms in Asia can be lethal on the rare occasions when it infects people. Now a team is tinkering with its genes to see if it can turn into a strain capable of spreading from human to human. If they manage this, they will have created a virus that could kill tens of millions if it got out of the lab.


A mysterious viral infection has forced military authorities in Germany to close 4 bases, ordering nearly 4000 personnel and their dependents to stay at home, authorities said on Fri 20 Feb 2004. The bases at Schwalmstadt, Schwarzenborn, Stadtallendorf, and Neustadt will be closed for 3 weeks while the premises are disinfected. “This is the worst single such infectious situation we’ve ever had,” a Defence Ministry spokesman.

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie with displaced Chechens in Bella camp, Ingushetia. The camp has since been closed. UNHCR/T.Makeeva

UNCHR Reports:

GENEVA, Jan 26 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency’s Goodwill Ambassador, Angelina Jolie, has released a new online journal documenting her mission to the Russian Federation, where she met displaced Chechens as well as refugees in Moscow and North Ossetia.

Mark Townsend and Paul Harris in New York, The (UK) Observer, Report:

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a ‘Siberian’ climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.


We regret to inform you that on Saturday February 14, 2004 at approximately 8:35 am EST, FOONET/CIT’s data center in Columbus, Ohio temporarily ceased operations.

AP Reports:

ST. PAUL (AP) The Food and Drug Administration has sent Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty a harsh warning, calling a state program to help Minnesotans buy low-priced prescription drugs from Canada “unsafe, unsound and ill-considered.”

REUTERS Reports:

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A weekend collision between two vessels caused a growing traffic jam on the Mississippi River in Louisiana on Monday where dozens of ships were blocked from getting in or out of one of the main U.S. shipping arteries, officials said.

The river could remain blocked for several days as rescuers sought five crew members missing from the 178-foot supply boat Lee III, which sank after colliding with the 534-foot container ship Zim Mexico III in fog on Saturday near where the river empties into the Gulf of Mexico, the Coast Guard said.

Bergen kids shocked their elders by turning simple bracelets into a sex challenge. (PHOTO: TOR JARILD)

Aftenposten Reports:

The colorful plastic bracelets are popular with youngsters in the Bergen area, and to the eye are nothing more than the latest fad. Now a principal will ban the trinkets after learning that students use them to color code demands for sex, newspaper Bergensavisen reports.

Agence France-Presse Reports:

MOSCOW (AFP) - Moscow’s latest bid to flaunt its military might backfired dramatically when three failed missile tests revealed that even Russia’s final line of defense — a fearsome nuclear arsenal — was not immune from the rot eroding the post-Soviet military.

FRANK MAIN, Sun-Times Crime Reporter, writes:

Chicago Police officers infiltrated five protest groups in 2002 and launched four other spying operations in 2003 — actions that civil rights activists are calling outrageous.

The investigations have come in the wake of a court decision that expanded the department’s intelligence-gathering powers.

In 2002, undercover officers were assigned to attend meetings, rallies and fund-raisers of the Chicago Direct Action Network, the American Friends Service Committee, The Autonomous Zone, Not in Our Name, and Anarchist Black Cross.

Police zeroed in on the groups because protesters were threatening to disrupt the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue — a meeting of international business leaders held in Chicago in 2002 — according to an internal police audit obtained by the Sun-Times. The department made video and audio recordings of the protests, the audit said.

FRAN SPIELMAN, Sun-Times City Hall Reporter , reports:

Mayor Daley said Wednesday he would have “no problem” with County Clerk David Orr issuing marriage licenses to gay couples — and Orr said he’s open to a San Francisco-style protest if a consensus can be built.

The Associate Press Reports:

Morse code is entering the 21st century — or at least the late 20th.
The 160-year-old communication system now has a new character to denote the “@” symbol used in e-mail addresses.

In December, the International Telecommunications Union, which oversees the entire frequency spectrum, from amateur radio to satellites, voted to add the new character.

The new sign, which will be known as a “commat,” consists of the signals for “A” (dot-dash) and “C” (dash-dot-dash-dot), with no space between them.

The new sign is the first in at least several decades, and possibly much longer. Among ITU officials and Morse code aficionados, no one could remember any other addition.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” said Paul Rinaldo, chief technical officer for the American Radio Relay League, the national association for amateur radio operators. “There certainly hasn’t been any change since before World War II.”

The man who co-founded and headed radio manufacturer SGC Inc — Pierre Goral, KI7UA (ex-N7VRJ), of Kirkland, Washington–died February 12. He was 67. Goral, who established SGC in 1971 with the late Don Stoner, W6TNS (the company originally was called Stoner-Goral Communications, later shortened to SGC), was “an internationally recognized designer, entrepreneur and leader in the field of RF engineering,” the company said this week in announcing his death. “He led an adventurous life, working in the jungles of Brazil as a young engineer and traveling the world to represent his company,” SGC said. “RF engineering was his passion, and he devoted himself and his company to producing only the very finest, professional HF SSB products.” Outside of his professional life, SGC said, Goral was an artist, photographer, skier and snowboarder who “demonstrated an appreciation of life in everything he did.” SGC is a manufacturer of both commercial and amateur gear. Condolences may be sent care of SGC Inc, 13737 SE 26 St, Bellevue, WA 98005 or via e-mail to .
(via ARRL.org)

Rona Marech, Chronicle Staff Writer, Reports:

The story of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s bold dictum to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and the thousands who have descended on San Francisco City Hall has captivated people around the country — and advocates on both sides of the issue say the media attention has galvanized their forces.

BBC Reports:

Plans for a tax on fatty foods such as cakes and biscuits are being considered by government advisers.

The Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit is considering extending VAT on some food and having a national sports drive to fight obesity, according to the Times.

On November 25, 2003, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas announced that two
men had been sentenced to prison after being convicted for conspiring to operate the largest
complete LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) laboratory ever seized by the DEA. One man was
sentenced to life and the other was sentenced to 30 years, both without the possibility of parole.
In March 2003, a federal jury found the two California residents guilty of conspiracy to
manufacture and distribute LSD and possession with the intent to distribute LSD. During the
11-week trial, prosecutors entered evidence showing that in October 2000 law enforcement
authorities received information regarding an LSD laboratory located in a decommissioned
missile silo in Wamego, Kansas. DEA agents obtained and executed a search warrant for the
silo and discovered a nonoperational LSD laboratory. The agents also discovered 41.3
kilograms of LSD, 23.6 kilograms of iso-LSD (a by-product of LSD production), 97.5 kilograms
of lysergic acid (a chemical used in LSD production), and 19 kilograms of ergocristine (an LSD


TheStreet.com reports:

SCO Group (SCOX:Nasdaq - commentary - research) was forced to set up a new temporary Web site after the so-called “Mydoom” computer virus morphed into a massive denial-of-service attack on the software company.

Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing, writes:

MoveOn.org organized the BushIn30Seconds campaign to raise the money to air a 30-second spot during the SuperBowl detailing the problems with the Bush administration. The spots were produced by MoveOn fans, released under a Creative Commons license, and juried by a distinguished panel.

Only one snag: CBS wouldn’t run the winning ad. They claimed that it would be too topical for them (though an ad equating drugs with terrorism and a Janet Jackson’s nipple were both peachy keen). So much for open political discourse in America.

Here’s the SuperBowl ad you didn’t see. It’s licensed under a Creative Commons license, so you can make copies, you can share it with your friends, you can put it on your hard-drive and show it to your kids when they ask you what happened to America.


WILLIAM SAFIRE, The New York Times, writes:

Intelligence shortcomings, as we see, have a thousand fathers; secret intelligence triumphs are orphans. Here is the unremarked story of “the Farewell dossier”: how a C.I.A. campaign of computer sabotage resulting in a huge explosion in Siberia all engineered by a mild-mannered economist named Gus Weiss helped us win the cold war.

From Jeff Wilson, Chapel Hill, NC (USA), Edited and Published on The Buddhist News Network, Feb 2, 2004:

After hectic mobilization from Buddhist activists, mainly from California, the detained Tibetan nun Sonam who came to the United States seeking asylum has been released from a central Virginian jail.

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