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July 31, 2003

Stalin attempted to whack John Wayne
Independent Online | Submitted by: Tim Howard
"Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin was so outraged by the anti-communistic attitude of film star John Wayne that he tried to have him assassinated. A new biography of the American icon -- John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth by British writer and actor Michael Munn -- says there were several attempts in the late 1940s and early 1950s to kill the man known to movie audiences worldwide as 'The Duke.' ... The book says the Soviet plots were cancelled after Stalin's death in 1953 by his successor Nikita Krushchev who was a fan of the larger-than-life star of more than 100 films."

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Woman gives birth on Boston mass-transit
Boston Globe | Submitted by: ringo
"A 42-year-old Braintree woman gave birth to a baby boy while standing on an inbound Red Line train yesterday morning, refusing help from stunned passengers who heard her moan and seconds later looked down to find her baby on the floor. ... With the JFK-UMass stop still three minutes away, passengers, some of whom vomited in the wake of the bloody birth, inundated State Police with cell phone calls. ... At one point, Judge took some nearby newspapers and placed them on the floor to soak up the blood. Some witnesses heard Judge apologize for the mess."

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John Poindexter is about to quit
Houston Chronicle | Submitted by: Reid Fleming
"John Poindexter, the Iran-Contra scandal figure who headed two criticized Pentagon projects, including one that would have enabled investors to profit by predicting terrorist attacks, will quit his post within weeks, defense officials said today. ... Disclosure of his planned departure from the Defense Department came just two days after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld terminated a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, project supervised by Poindexter for a potential futures trading market in predictions of assassinations, terrorism and other events in the Middle East. ... Poindexter served as President Ronald Reagan's national security adviser in the 1980s."

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Anti-terror programs expanding into non-terror applications
Washington Post | Submitted by: Reid Fleming
"A passenger-screening system designed to help capture terrorists could also be used to target people suspected of violent crimes... The new proposal shows that officials intend to use the system -- potentially the largest surveillance network created by the government -- more broadly to keep dangerous people off planes. That could include people wanted for domestic terrorism or violent crimes. Anyone flagged by the system would receive extra screening or, in some circumstances, be detained. ... David L. Sobel, general counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said he worries that CAPPS II will become a 'massive enforcement mechanism.' 'It opens the door for invasive background checks on all citizens,' Sobel said."

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White House: Condoleezza Rice wasn't lying, exactly
Baltimore Sun | Submitted by: Adam Wilks
"The congressional report on pre-Sept. 11 intelligence calls into question answers that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice gave the public last year about the White House's knowledge of terrorism threats. ... President Bush's adviser told the public in May 2002 that a pre-Sept. 11 intelligence briefing for the president on terrorism contained only a general warning of threats and largely historical information, not specific plots, the report said. But the authors of the congressional report, released last week, stated the briefing given to the president a month before the suicide hijackings included recent intelligence that al-Qaida was planning to send operatives to the United States to carry out an attack using high explosives."

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Bush kills nuclear advisory group
Guardian | Submitted by: A. P. Palled
"A US department of energy panel of experts which provided independent oversight of the development of the US nuclear arsenal has been quietly disbanded by the Bush administration, it emerged yesterday. The decision to close down the national nuclear security administration advisory committee -- required by law to hold public hearings and issue public reports on nuclear weapons issues -- has come just days before a closed-door meeting at a US air force base in Nebraska to discuss the development of a new generation of tactical 'mini nukes' and 'bunker buster' bombs, as well as an eventual resumption of nuclear testing. ... The committee's charter said that its meetings 'will be held approximately four times each year.' In fact, it was not summoned at all in the last year of its existence."

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Bank apologises for praising Hitler
BBC | Submitted by: Julian Jowl Mullet Masta
"A Chicago bank has apologised after praising Adolf Hitler as a great economic leader. Glenview State Bank said it had received "many letters and calls" from people offended by its July economic newsletter, which credited sound economic policies for the German boom of the 1930s -- a decade when most economies were in severe depression. ... 'We sincerely apologise for this error. We did not intend to offend anyone. Please forgive us for this mistake,' the bank wrote in an apology posted on its website."

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TSA apologizes to passenger, pledges improvements
Philadelphia Inquirer | Submitted by: Reid Fleming
"The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has promised to make changes to its Federal Air Marshal service and admits that two officers erred last year when they arrested a South Asian passenger in Philadelphia. ... On Aug. 31 last year, Rajcoomar, 56, of Lake Worth, Fla., a naturalized citizen, was forcibly taken from his first-class seat on Delta Flight 442 after the jetliner landed in Philadelphia from Atlanta. He was grabbed by two Federal Air Marshals who had just held the cabin at gunpoint for a half-hour because of a disturbance by another passenger."

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Israel bans mixed marriage
Guardian | Submitted by: Adam Wilks
"Israel's parliament on Thursday passed a new law that would force Palestinians who marry Israelis to live separate lives or move out of Israel despite charges from human rights groups and Israeli Arabs that the law is racist. The law would prevent Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip who marry Israeli Arabs from obtaining residency permits in Israel. 'This is a racist law that decides who can live here according to racist criteria,' said Yael Stein from the Israeli rights group B'tselem."

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Elephant taken to Tennessee, fed doughnuts
Los Angeles Daily News | Submitted by: Adam Wilks
"It's bad enough that Ruby the elephant was whisked away from her longtime companion at the Los Angeles Zoo for solitary confinement in Knoxville, Tenn., animal rights activists said Wednesday. The 9,000-pound pachyderm is now being tossed glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts. ... The Tennessee Network for Animals claims Ruby has been confined for nine weeks to a small cage atop a shadeless concrete pad -- with neither exercise nor companionship. An observer said she saw zoo keepers feed Ruby doughnuts."

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Nobody talking about executive order 13303
Earthrights International | Submitted by: Katie
"President Bush has issued an Executive Order, so far completely unreported, that purports to grant broad legal immunity to oil companies operating in Iraq. ... Executive Order 13303, issued on May 22, 2003, claims to be essential to Iraqi reconstruction efforts. A cursory reading of the Order indicates that its real purpose is to protect oil companies by giving virtual impunity for any activities undertaken relating to Iraqi oil."

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Guatemala burning, America only vaguely aware
counterpunch.com | Submitted by: Adam Wilks
"All hell is breaking loose in Guatemala and few outside that tragic nation seem to care or even notice. ... Led by FRG militants, the crowds, including many members of the Guatemalan army, have marched on the nation's courts, opposition parties and newspapers, torching buildings, shooting out windows and bullying opponents of the Bible-spouting dictator. ... Hooded men ransacked buildings, fired machine guns from SUVs, smashed windows and set fire to cars and piles of tires. The situation in Guatemala City became so chaotic over the weekend of July 26th that the both the UN mission and the US embassy were closed."

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Bush overdue for monthlong vacation
news8austin.com | Submitted by: Adam Wilks
"Fundraisers will help will fill President Bush's schedule during his month-long working vacation at his ranch near Crawford. In August, Bush will mix public policy events with six fund-raisers -- in Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington and Minnesota. The practice allows the administration, in certain cases, to bill taxpayers for half the travel costs of the political activity."

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Daughter sent to stay with man who molested her
Centre Daily | Submitted by: JuTravler
"A couple allowed a relative who had been convicted of molesting their 10-year-old daughter to babysit the girl, police said. Police have charged the parents, who live in Hopewell, with endangering the welfare of a child for allowing Ronald E. Dodson, 53, of Saxton, to watch the girl two years after he was convicted of molesting her. ... Dodson, who is the father's uncle, was sentenced in 2001 to four years' probation and a $500 fine. He was still on probation when he allegedly molested the girl this spring."

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Grandparents beat, rape, cage, starve 3-year-old
iAfrica | Submitted by: Tim Howard
"A three-year-old White River girl was locked in a cage while her grandparents allegedly sexually assaulted her and failed to provide for even her most basic needs, Mpumalanga police said on Wednesday. Visser said that when police went to investigate they found the girl had already been removed from the cage. However, she said there was evidence the child had been battered with sticks or other weapons and had been sexually assaulted. It also seemed the child had no clothes of her own and had to beg naked for food. She slept on bits of plastic in the cage."

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Guard dog blocks emergency workers from saving owner
Houston Chronicle | Submitted by: Tim Howard
"A Russian man paid the price for training his guard dog too well when the snarling animal held off paramedics long enough for him to die of heart failure. The ferocious Staffordshire bull terrier kept doctors at bay as they tried to approach the middle-aged patient Wednesday. 'Doctors and the man's wife tried to approach the man for a long time, but the dog was furious and would not allow it,' Andrei Rudomyotov, a regional police chief, said by telephone from the city of Chelyabinsk near the Ural mountains."

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California spending on $400,000 on Quetzalcoatl
World Net Daily | Submitted by: Adam Wilks
"Opponents of an AIDS memorial designed in the form of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl thought they had scored a victory when California Assembly members removed a line from the state budget that reappropriated $400,000 for the project. But through last-minute maneuvers, backers of the controversial plan managed to set aside the taxpayer money by shifting the project from the budget bill, passed Tuesday, to a trailer bill where it was buried at the bottom of a collection of unrelated items."

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Tourists turning Italian churches into dumps, open latrines
Chicago Sun-Times | Submitted by: Tim Howard
"Monsignor Timothy Verdon, on the staff at Florence's Duomo, or cathedral, held a news conference this week to denounce the lack of respect shown to that church. He decried the dozens of souvenir vendors outside the cathedral's exit and the messy trash cans in the piazza, 'which are already spilling over by midday.' Even worse, Verdon added, officials at several churches in Florence, a city renowned for grace and beauty, say that the areas around their churches have been transformed into 'open toilets.' 'There's always more and more bums and tourists sleeping outside,' Livi said in a telephone interview Wednesday. 'The tourists sit on the steps and leave all the crumbs.'"

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Trans-Atlantic rower calls Mommy for help
Independent Online | Submitted by: Tim Howard
"A Frenchman attempting to row across the Atlantic called his mother for help as he sat atop his capsized boat in rough waters 160km off Cape Cod, the head of the American Ocean Rowing Society said on Tuesday. Emmanuel Coindre, who set off for France from the coast of Massachusetts last week, capsized early on Monday due to inclement weather and used a satellite phone to call for help as the boat took in water. 'After five hours (trying to right the boat) he phoned his mother in France who called the French coast guard who called the US Coast Guard.'"

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Tom Daschle, blogger
argusleader.com | Submitted by: Adam Wilks
"Tom Daschle is coming soon to a blog near you. The Senate minority leader and South Dakota Democrat will post a daily diary on his official Web site as he drives around the state next month during Congress' annual August recess, he said Wednesday. ... The blogging idea came from aides, inspired by the growing popularity of the informal journals. Hundreds of thousands of people around the country write blogs... 'My staff told me a while back about a blog,' Daschle said. 'I learned a new word. ... This new blog concept appealed to me.'"

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Ecstasy unconscionably overpriced in Toronto
toronto.cbc.ca | Submitted by: Kareeshus
"Police busted a massive drug lab in Scarborough Tuesday, seizing almost 100,000 ecstasy pills with an estimated street value of $22 million dollars." $22,000,000 divided by 100,000 equals $220 per pill.

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Gay party to become Death Penalty Party
iAfrica | Submitted by: Tim Howard
"The Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GLA) on Thursday voted in favour of a name and identity change to the Death Penalty Party of South Africa (DPP). Party leader Juan-Duval Uys said the 19-2 vote in favour of the name change was taken during a national executive board meeting. He said the party's members would 'continue to exist' as the 'lesbigay' league of the newly formed DPP. The DPP would campaign for the death penalty to be reinstalled. It would also campaign for the rights of criminals to be restricted and for rapists to be castrated."

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