Pentagon Tries to Explain Secret
By ROGER T. BURNS, AP
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon sent its top intelligence official to
Capital Hill on Monday to explain the mission
makeup of a secret battlefield intelligence group that some lawmakers
suggested may have skirted congressional oversight and not been
coordinated fully with the CIA.
The Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, John Warner, R-Va., and
the panel's top Democrat, Carl Levin of Michigan, met for over an hour
with Stephen A. Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence.
After the meeting, Warner said he thought a full hearing was unnecessary
on the unit, for now, but there was a need "to make sure the functions
are in line with the new law" on intelligence reform passed last year.
"It could require, perhaps, more oversight than we've given it in the
past," Warner said.
The group was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to
expand the military's ability to collect human intelligence —
information from spies as opposed to listening devices or satellites.
Larry Di Rita, spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
acknowledged the existence of the branch, which he said was managed by
the Defense Intelligence Agency's Human Intelligence Service.
Another official, who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity
because he was not authorized to reveal details, said the unit's origins
can be traced to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, when
commanders of special operations forces found they lacked the
interrogation experts they needed.
This official, who has direct knowledge about the unit, said it is not a
standing force but rather a "task-organized" group that is put together
to meet a battlefield commander's special needs.
Population of Fog-Covered Roanoke, VA Disappears
LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA — The Lynchburg police station has
been inundated by reports from terrified motorists who
report that the nearby town of Roanoke has vanished from the
face of the earth. Travelers on Highway 220 and I-81 report
that a strange, low-lying fog blankets the area.
phones will not function in the region,
radios emit an eerie sound that witnesses describe as the
“howls of the damned.” Several reports also included
sighting vehicles stopped at various points along the
highway with their lights on, doors open and engines
running, but no sign of their owners.
enforcement and scientists have no explanation for the
phenomenon at this time. Some self-appointed paranormal
experts point out that Roanoke Island, North Carolina was
the last known location of the "Lost Colony," a settlement
of 117 English that disappeared under Queen Elizabeth I and
Sir Walter Raleigh's watch, leaving behind only the word "Croatoan"
carved onto a tree on the deserted island. Their
disappearance was confirmed by John White in 1590, and never
men, 17 women, and 9 children had disappeared; there was no
sign of a struggle or battle of any kind, and the people
seemed to have left suddenly in the middle of other tasks.
The only clue was the word "Croatoan" carved on to a tree.
White took this to mean that they had moved to Croatoan (now
Croatan) Island, near Cape Hatteras, but no evidence of them
was found there either.
Island, nestled in the Outer Banks, was part of Virginia at
the time this occurred, and transferred to North Carolina ("Carolana")
in 1633 under King Charles. The Jamestown, Virginia
settlers, charged with amongst other duties, trying to find
the Colony, never did, and fell upon hard times of their own
just a decade later, including plagues and rampant
no scientific evidence to suggest that Roanoke Island and
current events in Roanoke, Virginia are related in any way.
[OOC Note: Special and heartfelt thanks to the National
Parks Service of Fort Raleigh, Manteo, NC for historical
data on Roanoke Island. Your tax dollars well spent, for
Illegally Cut Off From Shelter
By Theola S. Labbe
On a cold night recently, the McCulloughs, a
homeless family, dialed the District's 24-hour emergency hotline to
request a warm place to sleep. They were turned away.
McCullough, 38, said a hotline worker told him that D.C. Village, an
emergency family shelter in Southwest Washington, was full. When he
asked about other options for his family, he said, the worker told him
he didn't have any and abruptly ended the call.
McCullough called a homeless advocacy group that night, Feb. 1, to
complain. Then, with his wife, Michelle, 37, and their son, Matthew, 11,
at his side, McCullough put his faith in the public.
The family sat on the ground on First Street NE near Union Station, with
a gray blanket as a buffer from the cold sidewalk, and they displayed a
cardboard sign: "Homeless Family Please Help God Bless." With quick
thanks, the McCulloughs accepted folded $1 bills from strangers. They
collected $54.50 to rent a hotel room in Virginia and enough to buy
City officials confirmed that the city had violated the law by turning
away the McCulloughs on a night a hypothermia alert was declared by the
District. They said the city had investigated the incident and had taken
steps to prevent it from happening again. "Our policy is that no one
gets turned away, especially on a frigid night," said Lynn C. French,
senior adviser to Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) on homeless policy.
Last year, there were 3,326 applications for family shelter space in the
District, according to the Community Partnership for the Prevention of
Homelessness. The number of family shelter units, which by law are
supposed to be apartment-style for the safety of children, declined from
a high of 1,216 in 1991 to 110 this year, according to the Washington
Legal Clinic for the Homeless.
On any given day, there are about 200 pending applications for family
shelter, French said. On nights that the city has declared a
cold-weather alert, she said, there were a few times when there were
only two or three vacancies for families out of 191 beds set aside. "We
know we're dancing on the edge here," French said.
The city also has been unable to meet a commitment to open 75 additional
beds for families this winter because it could not secure a building
that it had planned to use as a shelter.
Marta I. Beresin, a staff attorney for the Legal Clinic, said the city
needs to have better contingency plans.
On Sunday, the city referred the family to a shelter for families on the
grounds of the former D.C. General Hospital in Southeast that is open
during the winter season. The McCulloughs were given a seven-day
placement. They are not sure where they will go next.
ADULT FANTASY CLUB OFF TO A SECOND FALSE START -
The Foxxx's Den adult
entertainment and dance club, in the
U Street corridor as Bound and the Black Cat,
endured another rocky, abortive attempt to reopen
under new management. Just a few months after the
club suffered numerous structural problems, the
repairs delayed by Black November even further, the
Den reopened to enjoy just a few days of decent crowds, when
another strange collapse took out a gaping hole in
the front bar area, closing the building for repairs
yet again. The DC Zoning Board is investigating the
matter, as well as the buildings flanking the Den on
either side, looking for clues as to what continues
to cause these strange architectural anomalies.
LOCAL POLITICAL ASPIRANT'S CAREER GOES UP IN FLAMES
Sidelined political hopeful Democrat Aesik
Baird saw the rest of his life go the way of his Capitol
career, literally up in flames, as his Northwest DC home experienced a
devastating propane gas explosion last week.
Arson investigators say the blast was
suspicious in nature and is therefore treating it as an arson case for
the time being. Baird has not been seen since the explosion, but neither
has his body been recovered. He is currently being treated as a Missing
Person pending further investigation of the property.
Neighbors reported seeing a suspicious
utility vehicle near his exclusive home, which was still boarded up from
damage due to Black November.
None of the 3 mystery women linked to Baird
in recent gossip columns have been located either.
Shrieking Frogs Unnerve
By B.G. KEYES, Associated
HONOLULU, HAWAII - A
tiny frog with a huge shriek has invaded the Big Island and won't
Mayor Harry Kim is looking for $2 million to begin controlling the
spread of the nocturnal coqui frog, a beloved
native in Puerto Rico
but considered an annoying pest in Hawaii since hitching a ride over
in shipments of tropical plants around 1990.
The frogs have been mating easily — and shattering quiet island
nights — ever since.
Aside from the noise, the frogs have a voracious appetite for
spiders and insects, competing with native birds and fauna. And
coqui frogs are adaptable to many ecosystems and breed heavily in
Hawaii, experts said.
More than 150 communities on the Big Island are now infested with
the coin-sized frogs, named after their high-decibel "ko-KEE, ko-KEE"
Woman charged with killing daughter with hammer,
ROSELLE PARK, New Jersey (AP) --
Police charged a woman Monday with
fatally bludgeoning her 14-year-old daughter with a hammer and
shovel as the girl slept.
Giovanni, 45, was charged with murder and was being held at a
psychiatric hospital on $250,000 bail. Authorities would not
comment on a possible motive.
Several hours after Sunday's slaying, the mother tried to kill
herself by crashing her car into a guardrail along a highway in
a nearby town, authorities said. She sustained only minor
State police investigating the accident questioned Giovanni, who
told them "of a possible homicide," said
County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow.
Police then broke into the house where Giovanni had been staying
with her mother and daughter, and found the bloodied body of
The girl was a freshman at Roselle Catholic High School, where
administrators described her as popular and an accomplished
indoor track runner. Grief counselors were called to the school
Appears Simultaneously in LA and Florida
YORK CITY, NEW YORK — Executives at both Disney/ABC and
General Electric/NBC today denied involvement in the strange
an African-American man calling himself "Dante" in the live
broadcasts of the February Super Bowl game between the New
England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, and of the
final episode of the live reality show Who Wants to Marry
a Movie Star?
appearing simultaneously to witnesses on both the Movie
Star set in Los Angeles, and at Jacksonville, Florida's
Alltel Stadium, issued an enigmatic warning to “everyone who
knows the truth.”
Monster star burst was brighter than full Moon
PARIS (AFP) - Stunned
astronomers described the greatest cosmic explosion ever monitored
-- a star burst from the other side of the galaxy that was briefly
brighter than the full Moon and swamped satellites and telescopes.
The high-radiation flash, detected last December 27, caused no harm
to Earth but would have literally fried the planet had it occurred
within a few light years of home.
Normally reserved sky watchers struggled for superlatives.
is a once-in-a-lifetime event," said Rob Fender of Britain's
Southampton University. "We have observed an object only 20
kilometers (12 miles) across, on the other side of our galaxy,
releasing more energy in a 10th of a second than the Sun emits in
"It was the mother of all magnetic flares -- a true monster," said
Kevin Hurley, a research physicist at the University of California
Bryan Gaensler of the United States' Harvard-Smithsonian Center for
Astrophysics, described the burst as "maybe a once per century or
once per millennium event in our galaxy. "Astronomically speaking,
this explosion happened in our backyard. If it were in our living
room, we'd be in big trouble."
The blast was caused by an eruption on the surface of a known,
exotic kind of neutron star called Magnestar SGR 1806-20, located
about 50,000 light years from Earth in the constellation of
Sagittarius and about three billion times farther from us than the
To give an idea of this in earthly terms, the magnetic field of such
a star is so powerful that it could strip the data off a credit card
at a distance of 200,000 kilometers (120,000 miles).
Many questions will be thrown up by the event, including the
intriguing speculation that the dinosaurs may have been wiped out by
a similar, closer gamma-ray explosion 65 million years ago, and not
by climate change inflicted by an asteroid impact.
"Had this happened within 10 light years of us, it would have
severely damaged our atmosphere and possibly have triggered a mass
extinction," said lead-author Gaensler.
Shaolin kung fu master appeals to legislators for
BEIJING (AFP) - A top kung fu
master from Shaolin Temple has urged China's legislature to enact a
law to better protect the world-renowned martial arts centre's
trademark rights, state press reported.
needs to make a law at an earlier date so that Shaolin kung fu and
other intangible heritage are better protected within a legal
framework," Xinhua news agency quoted master Shi Yongxin as saying.
The 1,500-year-old temple, known as the cradle of China's martial
arts, is under siege from competitors taking advantage of its name,
said Shi, a deputy to the National People's Congress, China's
Shi cited a brochure that read: "Want to practice Shaolin kong
fu? Come to Japan."
Shaolin Temple, in central Henan province, has also recently applied
to the United Nations to protect the site as a world heritage area.
Today Shaolin is inundated by tourists and the monastery's monks and
practitioners have few places left for quiet contemplation or the
rigorous practice of kung fu.
supermarket chain uses fingerprint ID for payment
From Wikinews, the free news source (BETA)
The future of grocery shopping has changed
in the Palatinate region of Germany. Last November, the Edeka
chain offered in one of its Rülzheim stores fingerprint identification
as method of payment. Customers can have their fingerprint put on file
and begin using the system as an alternative to cash or card. Customers
then place their finger on the scanner to complete a purchase.
The supermarket owner Roland Fitterer claims the system shaves 40
seconds off checkout time and plans to introduce it into his other 5
Internet and biometrics services provider, it-Werke, is the technology
company behind the effort. The supermarket is their third client to
adopt what it-Werke calls its digiPROOF technology.
There was sufficient interest among store customers that 100 registered
to use the system. The chances are one in 220 million that two people
have the same fingerprint.
Star-"Crossed" Lovers? - Seen
noshing and canoodling at the trendy
Vault Nightclub in Midtown, were former British Invasion fan Crucifico
"Cross" Sanchez and newest gal pal, Aria Pirezelli, known amongst the
Cap Hill set for her aspirations and her law firm contacts. The two came
separately, enjoying a light dinner and bar drinks, before dancing
together rather intimately. They soon left the Vault, presumably to do
some debriefing of their own.