Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Pentagon: Rumsfeld misspoke on Flight 93 crash

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A comment Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made during a Christmas Eve address to U.S. troops in Baghdad has sparked new conspiracy theories about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

In the speech, Rumsfeld made a passing reference to United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers attempted to stop al Qaeda hijackers.

But in his remarks, Rumsfeld referred to the "the people who attacked the United States in New York, shot down the plane over Pennsylvania."

A Pentagon spokesman insisted that Rumsfeld simply misspoke, but Internet conspiracy theorists seized on the reference to the plane having been shot down.

"Was it a slip of the tongue? Was it an error? Or was it the truth, finally being dropped on the public more than three years after the tragedy" asked a posting on the Web site WorldNetDaily.com.

Some people remain skeptical of U.S. government statements that, despite a presidential authorization, no planes were shot down September 11, and rumors still circulate that a U.S. military plane shot the airliner down over Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

A Pentagon spokesman insists Rumsfeld has not changed his opinion that the plane crashed as the result of an onboard struggle between passengers and terrorists.

The independent panel charged with investigating the terrorist attacks concluded that the hijackers intentionally crashed Flight 93, apparently because they feared the passengers would overwhelm them.



That sure was a quick response. dak


Monday, December 27, 2004

During surprise Christmas Eve trip, defense secretary contradicts official story

WASHINGTON – Ever since Sept. 11, 2001, there have been questions about Flight 93, the ill-fated plane that crashed in the rural fields of Pennsylvania.

The official story has been that passengers on the United Airlines flight rushed the hijackers in an effort to prevent them from crashing the plane into a strategic target – possibly the U.S. Capitol.

During his surprise Christmas Eve trip to Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld referred to the flight being shot down – long a suspicion because of the danger the flight posed to Washington landmarks and population centers.


Was it a slip of the tongue? Was it an error? Or was it the truth, finally being dropped on the public more than three years after the tragedy of the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000?


Donald Rumsfeld

Here's what Rumsfeld said Friday: "I think all of us have a sense if we imagine the kind of world we would face if the people who bombed the mess hall in Mosul, or the people who did the bombing in Spain, or the people who attacked the United States in New York, shot down the plane over Pennsylvania and attacked the Pentagon, the people who cut off peoples' heads on television to intimidate, to frighten – indeed the word 'terrorized' is just that. Its purpose is to terrorize, to alter behavior, to make people be something other than that which they want to be."

Several eyewitnesses to the crash claim they saw a "military-type" plane flying around United Airlines Flight 93 when the hijacked passenger jet crashed – prompting the once-unthinkable question of whether the U.S. military shot down the plane.

Although the onboard struggle between hijackers and passengers – immortalized by the courageous "Let's roll" call to action by Todd Beamer – became one of the enduring memories of that disastrous day, the actual cause of Flight 93's crash, of the four hijacked jumbo jets, remains the most unclear.

Several residents in and around Shanksville, Pa., describing the crash as they saw it, claim to have seen a second plane – an unmarked military-style jet.

Well-founded uncertainly as to just what happened to Flight 93 is nothing new. Just three days after the worst terrorist attack in American history, on Sept. 14, 2001, The (Bergen County, N.J.) Record newspaper reported that five eyewitnesses reported seeing a second plane at the Flight 93 crash site.

That same day, reported the Record, FBI Special Agent William Crowley said investigators could not rule out that a second plane was nearby during the crash. He later said he had misspoken, dismissing rumors that a U.S. military jet had intercepted the plane before it could strike a target in Washington, D.C.

Although government officials insist there was never any pursuit of Flight 93, they were informed the flight was suspected of having been hijacked at 9:16 am, fully 50 minutes before the plane came down.

On the Sept. 16, 2001, edition of NBC's "Meet the Press," Vice President Dick Cheney, while not addressing Flight 93 specifically, spoke clearly to the administration's clear policy regarding shooting down hijacked jets.

Vice President Cheney: "Well, the – I suppose the toughest decision was this question of whether or not we would intercept incoming commercial aircraft."

NBC's Tim Russert: "And you decided?"

Cheney: "We decided to do it. We'd, in effect, put a flying combat air patrol up over the city; F-16s with an AWACS, which is an airborne radar system, and tanker support so they could stay up a long time ...

"It doesn't do any good to put up a combat air patrol if you don't give them instructions to act, if, in fact, they feel it's appropriate."

Russert: "So if the United States government became aware that a hijacked commercial airline[r] was destined for the White House or the Capitol, we would take the plane down?"

Cheney: "Yes. The president made the decision ... that if the plane would not divert ... as a last resort, our pilots were authorized to take them out. Now, people say, you know, that's a horrendous decision to make. Well, it is. You've got an airplane full of American citizens, civilians, captured by ... terrorists, headed and are you going to, in fact, shoot it down, obviously, and kill all those Americans on board?

"... It's a presidential-level decision, and the president made, I think, exactly the right call in this case, to say, I wished we'd had combat air patrol up over New York.'"

Rumsfeld says Flight 93 shot down in pennsylvania

The following is from a December 24 CNN transcript of that network's report from Iraq. Xmas with the troops and a visit from Rumsfeld. Near the end of the report, we get this:

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:

"And to change that way of living, would strike at the very essence of our country.

And I think all of us have a sense if we imagine the kind of world we would face if the people who bombed the mess hall in Mosul, or the people who did the bombing in Spain, or the people who attacked the United States in New York, shot down the plane over Pennsylvania and attacked the Pentagon, the people who cut off peoples' heads on television to intimidate, to frighten -- indeed the word "terrorized" is just that. Its purpose is to terrorize, to alter behavior, to make people be something other than that which they want to be.

And that is exactly what we cannot allow to happen."

-- end CNN transcript snip from Rumsfeld.

Well, well. "SHOT DOWN THE PLANE OVER PENNSYLVANIA" ?

Did Don just let a cat out of a bag?

If so, who shot down the plane? "Al Qaeda people" on the ground?

Of course, the CNN team let this go by like scrambled eggs in a diner when the patron actually ordered ice cream.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Laboratory director fired for questioning official federal Sept. 11 scenario

SOUTH BEND, Ind.—A former laboratory director of a division of Underwriters Laboratories (UL) in South Bend generated considerable heat in professional circles on Nov. 11 when he fired off a letter via email to a prominent metallurgist, questioning the theory that jet fuel fires set by the 9-11 terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center were hot enough to soften or melt structural steel.

Sending that email led to Kevin R. Ryan being fired from his job as site manager at the UL-affiliated Environmental Health Laboratories Inc., in South Bend.

Ryan wrote his professional opinion to metallurgist Frank Gayle at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) because NIST, with Gayle at the helm, is conducting a $16 million, two-year investigation of the twin towers’ collapse, with a draft report expected in January.

UL has played “a limited role in the investigation,” noted The South Bend Tribune on Nov. 22. The investigation reportedly involves testing the type of steel used to construct the World Trade Center—mainly its ability to withstand fires.

The federal probe postulates that burning jet fuel was a primary factor in the structural collapse that led to the “pancaking”-style, vertical demolition of the 110-story WTC towers on Sept. 11, 2001. However, any clear information that throws water on that theory is bound to furl some brows among those who accept the government’s story of how the WTC towers were destroyed.

Ryan, whose firing may be in response to his decision to share his letter beyond the confines of his company and its affiliates, did not return phone messages left for him by AFP on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30.

According to the 911Truth.org News Service, he copied his letter, via email, to David Ray Griffin, author of the book about 9-11 called The New Pearl Harbor. Ryan also copied it to Catherine Austin Fitts, a member of the 911Truth.org board.

Griffin reportedly received permission to distribute Ryan’s letter to other parties.

On Nov. 12, the letter was published at septembereleventh.org, the web site of the 9-11 Visibility Project.

AFP obtained a copy of Ryan’s letter, in which Ryan said he was speaking for himself only, not on behalf of UL or his laboratory. The recipient, Gayle, is deputy chief of the Metallurgy Division of the NIST.

“The buildings should have easily withstood the thermal stress caused by pools of burning jet fuel,” Ryan noted in his rather lengthy letter, referring to the results of performance tests on models of the floor assemblies used in the Twin Towers, as he described it. In the letter, Ryan refutes Dr. Hyman Brown from the WTC construction crew, who claims that the WTC buildings collapsed “due to fires at 2,000 [degrees] F melting the steel.”

Ryan also noted that a newspaper, which he did not name, commented on Brown by saying, “Just-released preliminary findings from a National Institute of Standards and Technology study of the World Trade Center Collapse support Brown’s theory.”

Ryan pointed out in his letter that the steel components would have had to have been exposed to temperatures around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours.

“And as we all agree, the steel applied met those specifications. Additionally, I think we can all agree that even un-fireproofed steel will not melt until reaching red-hot temperatures of nearly 3,000 F. Why Brown would imply that 2,000 F would melt the high-grade steel used in those buildings makes no sense at all.”

Referring to the summer 2003 results of Gayle’s own published metallurgical tests, Ryan noted that “weak steel” was virtually ruled out at that time as a “contributing factor in the collapse.”

Ryan wrote to Gayle: “Your comments suggest that the steel was probably exposed to temperatures of only about 500 degrees (250 C), which is what one might expect from a thermodynamic analysis of the situation.”

However, Gayle later released additional findings that, according to Ryan, “seem to ignore” the 2003 results.

Ryan pointed out that the summary of the new findings “states that the perimeter columns softened, yet your findings make clear that ‘most perimeter panels (157 of 160) saw no temperature above 250 C.’ To soften steel for the purposes of forging, normally temperatures need to be above 1,100 C. However, this new summary report suggests that much lower temperatures were able to not only soften the steel in a matter of minutes, but lead to rapid structural collapse.”

In the letter to Gayle, Ryan added: “This story just does not add up. If steel from those buildings did soften or melt, I’m sure we can all agree that this was certainly not due to jet fuel fires of any kind, let alone briefly burning fires in those towers. That fact should be of great concern to all Americans. Alternatively, the contention that this steel did fail at temperatures around 250 C suggests that the majority of deaths on 9-11 were due to a safety-related failure. That suggestion should be a great concern to my company.”

Noting that the events of 9-11 “are the emotional driving force behind the War on Terror,” and that the WTC collapse “is at the crux of the story of 9-11,” Ryan told Gayle: “My feeling is that your metallurgical tests are at the crux of the crux of the crux.”

Ryan summarized, “Either you can make sense of what really happened to those buildings, and communicate this quickly, or we all face the same destruction and despair that come from global decisions based on disinformation and ‘chatter.’ . . . Please do what you can to quickly eliminate the confusion regarding the ability of jet fuel fires to soften or melt structural steel.”

The 911Truth.org News Service, quoting a Nov. 12 New York Times report, noted that “the NIST team under Gayle is planning to hold some of its deliberations in secret” and that some 9-11 victims were considering filing a lawsuit “to force the agency to open the meetings to the public.”

The NIST investigation was started in 2002 after lobbying by the Skyscraper Safety Campaign, created by Monica Gabrielle and Sally Regenhard, both of whom lost family members on Sept. 11, 2001.

UL media spokesman Paul Baker had not returned two phone messages as this story went to press.

An unattributed UL-linked comment in the above-mentioned Nov. 22 South Bend Tribune story denied that UL ever certified the materials for building the WTC.

However, Ryan stated in his letter: “. . . [T]he company I work for certified the steel components used in the construction of the WTC buildings.”

Mystery Martian 'Carwash' Cleaned Rover Panels

LONDON (Reuters) - An unexplained phenomenon akin to a space-borne car wash has boosted the performance of one of the two U.S. rovers probing the surface of Mars, New Scientist magazine said on Tuesday.

It said something -- or someone -- had regularly cleaned layers of dust from the solar panels of the Mars Opportunity vehicle while it was closed down during the Martian night.

The cleaning had boosted the panels' power output close to their maximum 900 watt-hours per day after at one stage dropping to 500 watt-hours because of the heavy Martian dirt.

By contrast, the power output of the solar panels of Mars Spirit -- on a different part of the Red Planet -- had dropped to just 400 watt-hours a day, clogged by the heavy dust.

"These exciting and unexplained cleaning events have kept Opportunity in really great shape," the magazine quoted NASA rover team leader Jim Erickson as saying.

Close but no cigar

Astronomers spotted an asteroid this week after it had flown past Earth on a course that took it so close to the planet it was below the orbits of some satellites.

The space rock was relatively small, however, and would not have posed any danger had it plunged into the atmosphere.

The object, named 2004 YD5, was about 16 feet (5 meters) wide, though that's a rough estimate based on its distance and assumed reflectivity. Had it entered the atmosphere, it would have exploded high up, experts figure.

Satellite territory

The asteroid passed just under the orbits of geostationary satellites, which at 22,300 miles (36,000 kilometers) altitude are the highest manmade objects circling Earth. Most other satellites, along with the International Space Station, circle the planet at just a few hundred miles up.

2004 YD5 is the second closest pass of an asteroid ever observed by telescope, according to the Asteroid/Comet Connection, a web site that monitors space rock discoveries. The closest involved a rock that flew by last March and was not announced until August.

2004 YD5 was discovered Tuesday, Dec. 21 by Stan Pope, who volunteers his time to examine images provided by the FMO (Fast Moving Object) project, an online program run by the University of Arizona's Spacewatch Project. After the initial detection, other observers noted the object's position during the day and its path was then calculated back. Closest approach occurred on Dec. 19.

The rock approached Earth from near the Sun and so would have been nearly impossible to detect prior to close passage. It soared over Antarctica -- underneath the planet, Washington State University researcher Pasquale Tricarico told the Asteroid/Comet Connection.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

It Can't Happen Here

By Rep. Ron Paul 12-21-4

In 2002 I asked my House colleagues a rhetorical question with regard to the onslaught of government growth in the post-September 11th era: Is America becoming a police state?

The question is no longer rhetorical. We are not yet living in a total police state, but it is fast approaching. The seeds of future tyranny have been sown, and many of our basic protections against government have been undermined. The atmosphere since 2001 has permitted Congress to create whole new departments and agencies that purport to make us safer- always at the expense of our liberty. But security and liberty go hand-in-hand. Members of Congress, like too many Americans, don,t understand that a society with no constraints on its government cannot be secure. History proves that societies crumble when their governments become more powerful than the people and private institutions.

Unfortunately, the new intelligence bill passed by Congress two weeks ago moves us closer to an encroaching police state by imposing the precursor to a full-fledged national ID card. Within two years, every American will need a "conforming ID to deal with any federal agency -- including TSA at the airport. Undoubtedly many Americans and members of Congress don,t believe America is becoming a police state, which is reasonable enough. They associate the phrase with highly visible symbols of authoritarianism like military patrols, martial law, and summary executions. But we ought to be concerned that we have laid the foundation for tyranny by making the public more docile, more accustomed to government bullying, and more accepting of arbitrary authority -- all in the name of security. Our love for liberty above all has been so diminished that we tolerate intrusions into our privacy that would have been abhorred just a few years ago. We tolerate inconveniences and infringements upon our liberties in a manner that reflects poorly on our great national character of rugged individualism. American history, at least in part, is a history of people who don,t like being told what to do. Yet we are increasingly empowering the federal government and its agents to run our lives.

Terror, fear, and crises like 9-11 are used to achieve complacency and obedience, especially when citizens are deluded into believing they are still a free people. The loss of liberty, we are assured, will be minimal, short-lived, and necessary. Many citizens believe that once the war on terror is over, restrictions on their liberties will be reversed. But this war is undeclared and open-ended, with no precise enemy and no expressly stated final goal. Terrorism will never be eradicated completely; does this mean future presidents will assert extraordinary war powers indefinitely?

Washington DC provides a vivid illustration of what our future might look like. Visitors to Capitol Hill encounter police barricades, metal detectors, paramilitary officers carrying fully automatic rifles, police dogs, ID checks, and vehicle stops. The people are totally disarmed; only the police and criminals have guns. Surveillance cameras are everywhere, monitoring street activity, subway travel, parks, and federal buildings. There's not much evidence of an open society in Washington, DC, yet most folks do not complain -- anything goes if it's for government-provided safety and security.

After all, proponents argue, the government is doing all this to catch the bad guys. If you don,t have anything to hide, they ask, what are you so afraid of? The answer is that I,m afraid of losing the last vestiges of privacy that a free society should hold dear. I,m afraid of creating a society where the burden is on citizens to prove their innocence, rather than on government to prove wrongdoing. Most of all, I,m afraid of living in a society where a subservient populace surrenders its liberties to an all-powerful government.

It may be true that average Americans do not feel intimidated by the encroachment of the police state. Americans remain tolerant of what they see as mere nuisances because they have been deluded into believing total government supervision is necessary and helpful, and because they still enjoy a high level of material comfort. That tolerance may wane, however, as our standard of living falls due to spiraling debt, endless deficit spending at home and abroad, a declining fiat dollar, inflation, higher interest rates, and failing entitlement programs. At that point attitudes toward omnipotent government may change, but the trend toward authoritarianism will be difficult to reverse.

Those who believe a police state can't happen here are poor students of history. Every government, democratic or not, is capable of tyranny. We must understand this if we hope to remain a free people.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Live Seismic Server

http://aslwww.cr.usgs.gov/Seismic_Data/heli2.shtml

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Politician Who Won't Say Pledge Of Allegiance May Be Recalled

DENVER -- A recall election is now set for an Estes Park, Colo., trustee who refuses to stand up and recite the Pledge of Allegiance during the Town Board meetings.

David Habecker sits while others stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

"I have not been standing for the Pledge of Allegiance due to a conflict I have with the wording of the pledge, specifically the words 'under God,'" Councilman David Habecker said.

Habecker said it's a violation of church and state to include the words in the pledge and for that reason, he won't stand.

The board began reciting the pledge before meetings earlier this year at the suggestion of Trustee Lori Jeffrey-Clark. She suggested it as a way to show respect for the country during wartime.

Jeffrey-Clark said Habecker is expressing his personal views, not representing townspeople, when he sits down.

Habecker, who's served on the Town Board for 12 years, said he doesn't oppose the meaning of the pledge, and considers himself a patriot.

But some other council members and residents are upset about his actions and have enough signatures to hold a recall election. That recall election will occur Tuesday, Feb. 15.

All residents will vote on whether to recall David Habecker and a choice for his replacement in the event the recall passes. The recall is expected to cost a few thousand dollars.

"I'm sad for the community, that there is that much intolerance in our community. But if the people want to have a voice in what's going on, this is their way of doing it. And I will respect whatever the wishes of the community are," Habecker said.

Estes Park, which has about 5,500 residents, is the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park about 60 miles northwest of Denver.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Tremors rock earth deep beneath San Andreas Fault

Mysterious tremors deep beneath the San Andreas Fault near the quake- prone town of Parkfield are shaking the earth's brittle crust, far below the region where earthquakes normally strike -- and scientists say they can't understand what's happening or what the motions mean.

Seismic researchers are monitoring the strange vibrations closely. But whether the faint underground tremors -- termed "chatter" by some seismologists -- portend an increased likelihood of a major quake in the area is an unsolved puzzle.

Robert Nadeau, a geophysicist at the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, has charted more than 110 of the faint vibrations since they were first detected by the lab's High Resolution Seismic Network in Parkfield three years ago. What concerns Nadeau and his colleagues is that the epicenter of the great 1857 Fort Tejon earthquake, whose magnitude has been estimated at 7.8 to 8, was located almost exactly where the deep tremors are now occurring -- beneath the San Luis Obispo County village of Cholame, some 17 miles south of Parkfield.

The episodes of chatter last from four to 20 minutes and are being recorded from as deep as 40 miles beneath the surface -- up to four times the depth of normal earthquakes, which originate in what scientists call the "seismogenic zone." That zone reaches no deeper than 9 or 10 miles below the Earth's surface.

What's most striking is that deep tremors like the Cholame series have never been recorded before on a strike-slip fault such as the San Andreas, Nadeau said.

"We see this kind of tremor activity inside volcanoes like Mount St. Helens," Nadeau said, "but that's due to the movement of rising magma, and in the tremors we've recorded there's no evidence of volcanism and no seismic waves typical of ordinary earthquakes."

Nadeau and David Dolenc, a graduate student in his lab, are publishing the first report on the mysterious sequence of deep tremors today in Science Express, the online edition of the journal Science. They conclude that "future increases in San Andreas Fault tremor activity may signal periods of increased probability for the next large earthquake on the Cholame segment."

The Fort Tejon event rocked the ground violently and ruptured the fault for 225 miles, from northwest of Parkfield to San Bernardino. It was at least as large as the 1906 San Francisco quake. But because the Cholame region was virtually unpopulated at the time, it killed only two people and destroyed only the Tejon Army post, midway along the affected section of the fault.

The area is still sparsely populated; Cholame itself boasts only 2,125 inhabitants. But Paso Robles, with a population of more than 25,000, is only 25 miles west of the village -- and it was badly damaged by a magnitude 6.5 quake only a year ago.

Scientists have estimated that the Cholame segment of the fault has ruptured in a large quake roughly every 140 years. It is now 148 years since the Fort Tejon event, so the possibility of another one may be steadily increasing, they say.

Similar deep tremors have been detected recently along the coast of the Pacific Northwest, known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone, as well as in Japan -- and there, too, scientists are struggling to understand what their import is. In those areas, giant slabs of the earth's crust are dipping downward and sliding ponderously beneath other great crustal slabs, and scientists believe that fluids -- most likely seabed water saturating the slabs -- are causing the tremors, according to Herbert Dragert of Canada's Geological Survey in British Columbia and Kazushige Obara of Japan's National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention.

In an interview, Dragert said the tremors appear to add stress to a major thrust fault in the Puget Sound region, and that scientists in Canada and Washington are trying to determine whether the tremors might "play a significant role in triggering great earthquakes."

In California, the most mystifying feature of the unexplained tremors is that they are occurring right on the deepest part of the San Andreas -- a fault that does not involve subduction or volcanic activity. Instead, two sides of the earth's crust are sliding horizontally past each other in a motion seismologists call "right-lateral strike slip." In an earthquake, that slip can be an abrupt jolt, and in big quakes, a violent one.

The tremors are occurring at such great depth, Nadeau said, that they must be at the very bottom of the brittle crust -- where the earth's hot, viscous upper mantle begins -- which has been under stress for millions of years.

It's possible that the mantle there resembles something like Silly Putty, Nadeau said, with great chunks of embedded rock grinding against each other to generate the tremor signals. That's purely a speculation, Nadeau conceded, but so far it's the only one around.

"No one really knows what the tremors mean," said David Schwartz, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park. "As to what they imply for the possibility of some future quake, we can't tell, and right now we can only wait and see."

A long-awaited magnitude 6 quake struck Parkfield in September at a depth of about 5 miles. That quake was seen as the latest in a series of quakes that have hit around Parkfield on an average of every 22 years between 1857 and 1966.

The Parkfield section of the San Andreas, in southern Monterey County, is the most intensively instrumented seismic danger region in the United States. A borehole 2 miles deep, carrying an array of instruments and called the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth, is to be completed next summer.

Whether its instruments solve the mystery of the tremors and determine whether they portend a future Cholame earthquake remains to be seen.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Explosives Lost in Airport Gaffe

"Plastic explosives were mistakenly loaded onto a plane at a Paris airport after security officials lost track of it during an exercise, police say. Around 150 grams (about five ounces) of explosive were slipped into the bag of a passenger during sniffer dog training at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. The bag ended up on one of 90 flights leaving at the time, and police are now trying to track it down. They stress the explosive is "no more dangerous than a bar of chocolate". But airlines, airports and police forces around the world have been alerted.

"It was a routine exercise that went wrong."

I'll say! Question is, would they cut the same sort of slack for us poor peons? And this sort of exercise is 'routine'?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Washingtons Top Polluter is Mount St. Helens

SEATTLE - Washington state's top polluter isn't a pulp mill, a power plant or refinery. It's the newly awakened Mount St. Helens.

Since the volcano began erupting in early October, it has been pumping out 50 to 250 tons a day of sulfur dioxide, the lung-stinging gas that causes acid rain and contributes to haze. At peak, that's more than double the amount from all the state's industries combined.

Normally, the state's No. 1 polluter is a coal-fired power plant owned by the Canadian firm TransAlta. The plant churned out 200 tons a day of sulfur dioxide until regulators demanded $250 million worth of renovations, bringing the level down to 27 tons a day.

Tough to get those kind of results from a volcano.

"You can't put a cork in it," said Greg Nothstein of the Washington Energy Policy Office.

Because the area around St. Helens is so sparsely populated, officials say they haven't heard complaints about respiratory problems linked to the emissions. But people with breathing ailments probably would feel the effects if they lived close to it, said Bob Elliott, executive director of the Southwest Clean Air Agency.

"We are very fortunate, in terms of the impact on human health, that Mount St. Helens is pretty remote," Elliott said.

Worldwide, sulfur dioxide emissions from volcanoes add up to about 15 million tons a year, compared to the 200 million tons produced by power plants and other human activities.





Here we go again

Looks like we are now targeting Iran for our next military offensive. I am stating to hear the same rhetoric as before we attacked Iraq. You can look at all the news reports from the months before the invasion and replace Iraq with Iran, and that whats in the headlines now. This is getting SCARY!!!