No need for war? CBS News reports what the alternative press has been saying for months: the Bush administration drew up plans to invade Iraq within days of his inauguration, not eight months later (after the attacks of 9/11) as was widely reported. In related news, Colin Powell admitted that, despite his UN testimony to the contrary, he saw no concrete evidence of links between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. (For more, tune into tonight's edition of 60 Minutes to hear fired Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill discuss Bush's fixation on attacking Iraq. "It was all about finding a way to do it. ...The president saying 'Go find me a way to do this.' For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap.")

Brothers in arms: He survived the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu (inspiration for the movie Black Hawk Down), then testicular cancer, but he didn't survive Iraq. Thirty-two year old Aaron Weaver was among the nine GIs killed near Falluja when a US helicopter was shot down; now his parents are urging the Pentagon to shift their other two sons' deployments away from the front lines so they don't meet the same fate.

Lunacy: Amid war, unprecedented anti-Americanism abroad, and a record-shattering national debt, Bush's dream to send manned missions to Mars and the moon seems like little more than a distraction plan: "Hey, look up there!" When Bush's father proposed the same program the pricetag was some $500 billion--cash that could go a long way for domestic security, tracking down Osama, environmental preservation, or a slew of other neglected programs.

During last week's excitement over the Mars probe's photos of the red planet, artist Oliver Kellhammer compared two shades of orange:
Jim Bell of Cornell University and member of NASA's Mars probe team told a press conference he was "in shock and awe" over the quality of the images delivered by Spirit's panoramic camera. The orange tinted picture, shows a desolate plain full of small boulders and dust. It was eerily reminiscent of another kind of picture that we have been seeing a lot of lately. It seems sad, while humanity mounts its most determined effort ever to see if life once existed on the planet named for the god of war, that back here on earth life has never been cheaper. The picture on the right appeared on the ElectronicIraq.net site last March 27 and shows the aftermath of American cluster bombs dropped on a farm, just outside Baghdad. Four people were killed and many others gravely injured. The journalist recounted: "Even the farm animals were killed. We were told that yellow cylinders landed in their yard, and when they and the animals crept closer to investigate, the bombs detonated."

One eyewitness describes the aftermath: "The sky took on colors I've never seen before in my 43 years. Every Iraqi I've talked to says they've never seen anything like it."
(Thanks Ruth.)

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