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Lawyer Ends Up Dead After Taking On Rove

Kurt Nimmo | December 28, 2006

It’s fishy as hell.

Paul Sanford, a prominent Aptos, California, attorney, who accused Karl Rove of treason in the Plame outing case, took a leap from the Embassy Suites Hotel in Monterey Bay on Christmas Eve. Police describe it as “probable” suicide, even though it appears Sanford was not depressed.

“Friends and associates expressed disbelief at the news of Sanford’s death and that it was ruled a suicide, saying Sanford seemed happy and had made many plans for this week and in coming months. [Business associate and friend Shawn Mills] said he and Sanford recently decided to open a shared law office to serve Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, something Sanford was looking forward to doing,” reports the Monterey Herald. “Mills said he had spoken to Sanford’s wife, Paula, and that she also was in shock. He said Sanford, a father of two, was a devoted family man.” Sanford “would never have intentionally put his family through that trauma. Something’s not right, it doesn’t make sense.”

On July 25, 2005, in the James S. Brady Briefing Room at the White House, Sanford asked then press secretary Scott McClellan about Karl Rove, accused at the time by Joseph Wilson, the husband of Valerie Plame, of outing his wife as a CIA employee in retaliation for Wilson’s op-ed published in the New York Times. Wilson criticized the citation of bogus yellowcake documents used as flimsy justification for invading Iraq and murdering more than 650,000 Iraqis.

McClellan was flummoxed by Sanford’s question:

McClellan: Go ahead.

Sanford: Yes, thank you. There has been a lot of speculation concerning the meaning of the underlying statute and the grand jury investigation concerning Mr. Rove. The question is, have the legal counsel to the White House or White House staff reviewed the statute in sufficient specificity to determine whether a violation of that statute would, in effect, constitute treason?

McClellan: I think that in terms of decisions regarding the investigation, those are matters for those overseeing the investigation to decide.

Special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, decided not to charge Rove in the case, even though the former Donald Segretti dirty trickster understudy raised enough suspicion to warrant being called before a grand jury five times. Neocon Lewis “Scooter” Libby was charged with obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements to the FBI. A few weeks later, on July 13, 2006, Joseph and Valerie Wilson filed a civil suit against Cheney, Libby, Rove, and other unnamed senior White House officials, for their alleged roles in the public disclosure of her classified CIA employment.

In addition, Sanford was “a champion of the downtrodden, he represented homeless people in Santa Cruz, and fought for free speech,” according to Mills. As well, he hosted a radio talk show at KOMY, an Air America affiliate, although he was not associated with the bankrupt network. Sanford and Mills also hosted the “Paul and Shawn Show” on Saturdays at the Seaside, California, radio station KRXA.

Of course, there is no evidence Paul Sanford was pushed from “at least nine floors” above the large ventilation grate where he met his fate. As well, there is no evidence he committed suicide, or did he fit the profile of a suicide. However, there is plenty of evidence Sanford was a thorn in the side of the neocons, committing the ultimate sin of accusing one particularly nasty top drawer neocon, Karl Rove, of treason.

Euro notes cash in to overtake dollar
By Ralph Atkins in Frankfurt

Published: December 27 2006 22:07 | Last updated: December 27 2006 22:07

The US dollar bill’s standing as the world’s favourite form of cash is being usurped by the five-year-old euro.

The value of euro notes in circulation is this month likely to exceed the value of circulating dollar notes, according to calculations by the Financial Times. Converted at Wednesday’s exchange rates, the euro took the lead in October.

The figures highlight the remarkable growth in euro notes since their launch on January 1 2002, three years after the start of Europe’s monetary union, which in January welcomes its 13th member – Slovenia, the former Yugoslav republic.

“After the launch, we expected growth to stabilise – but it has continued over five years,” Antti Heinonen, head of the European Central Bank’s bank notes directorate, told the Financial Times.

Although the ECB does not deliberately promote the international use of the euro, it has become popular in official foreign exchange reserves – even if it is far from challenging the dollar’s lead as the most popular reserve currency.

News that euro notes are challenging the dollar may cheer eurozone politicians – even if it partly reflects the currency’s strength – but it may have a dark side too. Fast growth in the highest denomination notes, especially the €500 note, has raised suspicions that they are popular among criminals, although the ECB plays down this factor.

By the end of October the $759bn-worth of US dollar notes in circulation was only a fraction ahead of the value of euro notes, converted at exchange rates at that time.

But since October the euro has risen strongly against the dollar and this month the value of euro notes has risen to more than €610bn, or in excess of $800bn at the latest exchange rates. That level is unlikely to have been beaten by the greenback.


Dollar Slides; U.A.E. Says Selling U.S. Currency, Buying Euros

By Kabir Chibber

Dec. 27 (Bloomberg) -- The dollar dropped the most in a week against the euro as the United Arab Emirates said it will convert some of its reserves of U.S. assets into the European currency.

The dollar also had its biggest decline versus the yen this month before a U.S. report that may show consumer confidence fell for a third straight month, fueling bets the Federal Reserve will lower interest rates next year. The U.S. currency has slipped 9.9 percent versus the euro this year, its first slide since 2004.

``The U.A.E.'s decision to relocate its reserves is part of a theme that means that U.S. dollar holdings in global currency reserves are decreasing,'' said Hans Guenter Redeker, head of currency strategy in London at BNP Paribas SA. ``The dollar is going to lose support as we see Fed rate cuts next year.''

The dollar fell to 118.63 yen at 7:17 a.m. in New York, from 119.15 late yesterday. The currency slid to $1.3158 versus the euro, from $1.3098. The euro traded at 156.09 yen, from 156.04, after touching a record 156.43 on Dec. 21. The dollar has risen 0.8 percent against the Japanese currency this year.

The U.A.E. will switch 8 percent of its reserves from dollars into euros before September, Sultan Bin Nasser al-Suwaidi said in a Dec. 24 interview in Abu Dhabi. The U.A.E. has started ``in a limited way'' to sell its dollar reserves, he said.

The Gulf state is among oil exporters including Iran, Venezuela and Indonesia that are looking to shift their currency reserves into euros or price their oil products in the 12-nation currency.

U.S. Slowdown

The U.S. Conference Board's index of sentiment due tomorrow will probably drop to 102 this month from 102.9 in November, according to the median forecast of 48 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. MasterCard Advisors also said holiday retail sales this year grew at a slower pace this year than in 2005.

``The data are likely to add to an economic slowdown scenario that may prompt a rate cut in the first quarter,'' said Masashi Kurabe, a currency manager in Tokyo at Bank of Tokyo- Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., a unit of Japan's largest lender by assets. ``The bias is to sell the dollar.''

The Fed has left borrowing costs at 5.25 percent for the past four policy meetings, after a two-year cycle of rate increases. The European Central Bank has raised rates six times in a year, to 3.5 percent. The Bank of Japan lifted its benchmark in July for the first time in almost six years, to 0.25 percent.

Interest-rate futures show traders see a 28 percent chance the Fed will lower its overnight target lending rate between banks by a quarter point to 5 percent in March, up from a 17 percent likelihood a week ago.

Japanese Rates

The yen's gains accelerated against the dollar after a Jiji Press report suggested the BOJ will push rates higher at its January meeting because of better-than-expected data yesterday.

Japan's government bonds fell the most in three weeks after the Jiji article. Reports yesterday showed an unexpected fall in the unemployment rate and a smaller-than-expected decline in household spending.

``The Jiji report is spurring yen buying,'' said Nobuo Ibaraki, deputy general manager of foreign exchange at Nomura Trust & Banking Co. Ltd., a unit of Japan's largest brokerage. ``Expectations for an interest-rate hike had receded. So the Jiji report will have a big impact on the yen.'' Japan's currency may strengthen to 118 per dollar today, he said.

Jiji correctly predicted 10 days before the BOJ's meeting last week that policy makers would keep rates unchanged. The central bank will consider lifting the benchmark to 0.5 percent from 0.25 percent when it announces its next decision on Jan. 18, Jiji Press reported, citing unnamed sources.

Retail Sales

Governor Toshihiko Fukui told business leaders on Dec. 25 that the central bank will adjust policy if prices and the economy perform in line with forecasts.

Gains in the yen may be limited after a government report showed retail sales rose less than expected last month.

The currency is set for a second straight annual decline as interest rates in Japan, which are the lowest among major economies, prompt investors to seek higher returns offshore.

Traders have still cut bets that the Japanese central bank will raise borrowing costs in January. The household spending report showed an 11th month of declines and gains in consumer prices failed to beat forecasts.

``It's hard to find a reason to buy the yen,'' said Stephen Halmarick, co-head of economic and market analysis at Citigroup Australia in Sydney. ``This is yet another set of disappointing numbers out of Japan.''

The dollar may extend declines after MasterCard Advisors said retail sales in the holiday season rose 3 percent, a slower pace than last year's 5.2 percent increase, as a cooling housing market and higher energy costs cut into spending.

The National Association of Manufacturers in the U.S. predicts slower economic growth will prompt the Fed to lower rates by a half-percentage point by the middle of 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday on its Web site, citing the Associated Press.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kabir Chibber in London at kchibber@bloomberg.net .

Last Updated: December 27, 2006 07:23 EST

Cheating Americans With "Virtual" Laws
Dec. 27, 2006 by Phyllis Schlafly
It was a bad week for the advocates of amnesty and guest worker.
On Tuesday (12-12), the Bush Administration finally cracked down, 20 years late, on a few thousand of the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who are illegally employed in the United States. This crackdown on employers was promised by the Reagan amnesty of 1986 and now, 20 years later, the government is getting around to enforcing the law.

The feds arrested thousands of illegals who were working at Swift & Co. meat-processing plants under false Social Security numbers. Swift announced that it might have to shut down for lack of workers.

The media immediately opened the TV channels to pro-immigration activists who claimed that these arrests "prove" the need for "comprehensive" immigration legislation with a guest-worker plan. Au contraire. Wednesday's news (12-13) proved just the opposite.

Within hours of the news that 261 illegals had been removed from the Swift plant in Greeley, Colorado, American citizens lined up to fill the vacated jobs. The county employment agency received 230 job applications, of which 157 were specifically for Swift.

That blows the argument for the need of a guest-worker program to fill unpleasant jobs that Americans allegedly don't want to do. Let's also take the example of Wal-Mart, the store that the liberals love to hate because it pays lower wages and benefits.

Last January, a new Wal-Mart store in suburban Chicago announced the availability of 325 positions for which the average pay would be $10.99 an hour. Wal-Mart received an astonishing 25,000 applications.

Another Wal-Mart in Oakland California received 11,000 applications last year when it made known it had several hundred jobs open.

In response to complaints about the dislocations caused by the action against Swift & Co., ICE Chairman Julie Myers explained that most of the arrests involved identity theft in addition to illegal employment. Many of those arrested were working under Social Security numbers they had stolen from real Americans, and in some cases this caused significant credit damage to the victims of the stolen numbers.

Then on Thursday (12-14) of the same week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) lowered the boom on the Bush Administration by releasing a new report stating that the government has given up on plans to implement a system to track the entry and exit of foreign visitors. Congress ordered the creation of an entry-exit system called US-VISIT (excluding Canadians and Mexicans) back in 1996, and 9/11 in 2001 made this system imperative.

Some of the 9/11 hijackers entered the United States legally on visas, and then just never departed when their visas expired. It's now 2006, and we are told that an entry-exit system doesn't exist and the government has abandoned plans to create it.

The government had $1.7 billion to develop this program, but now tells us that is not nearly enough money, so all plans are being scrapped. There's no such thing as border security without an entry-exit system since at least 30 percent of illegal aliens in the U.S. came in as legal visitors and then disappeared into our population.

Student visas (many of which are given to Third World applicants) are a major cause of fraud since we know that 9/11 Pentagon pilot Hani Hanjour came in on a student visa. About one million foreign students are in the U.S. at any given time.

Last August, 17 Egyptian students entered the U.S. on legal visas supposedly to study at Montana State University, but 11 of them had no intention of doing that and simply disappeared when they arrived in the U.S. After a national manhunt, two were arrested in Richmond, one in Minneapolis, two in Manville, NJ, two in Dundalk, MD, one at O'Hare Airport, and three in Des Moines, IA.

Tracking people who come into the United States and requiring them to leave when their visas expire is an essential component of national security. Failure to implement such a system means our government doesn't care about protecting our borders.

The same week as the Swift & Co. arrests and the sensational GAO report came the revelation, now widely reported, that the Bush Administration has no intention whatsoever of constructing an actual fence on our southern border. This is in spite of the fact that the Secure Fence Act was passed this fall by the Senate 80-19 and by the House 283-138, and President Bush starred in a photo-op just before the November election so we could all witness him signing it into law.

Now we hear it's all a sham. We hear vague rumbles that we might get a "virtual" fence, but what we really got is a virtual law.

Border fencing is not a total solution any more than employee verification or entry-exit tracking, but they are all necessities. President Bush must carry out his constitutional duty to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

Read this column online.

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FDA's OK May Spark 'Clone-Free' Labels

Libby Quaid / AP | December 28, 2006



WASHINGTON - Meat and milk from cloned animals may not appear in supermarkets for years despite being deemed by the government as safe to eat. But don't be surprised if "clone-free" labels appear sooner. Ben & Jerry's, for one, wants consumers to know that its ice cream comes from regular cows and not clones. The Ben & Jerry's label already says its farmers don't use bovine growth hormone.

"We want to make sure people are confident with what's in our pints," company spokesman Rob Michalak said. "We haven't yet landed on exactly how we want to express that publicly."

For food that does come from clones, the Food and Drug Administration is unlikely to require labels, officials said.

The FDA gave preliminary approval Thursday to meat and milk from cloned animals or their offspring. Federal scientists found virtually no difference between food from clones and food from conventional livestock.

The government believes "meat and milk from cattle, swine and goat clones is as safe to eat as the food we eat every day," said Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine. Meat and milk from the offspring of clones is also safe, the agency concluded.

Officials said they did not have enough information to decide whether food from sheep clones is safe.

If food from clones is indistinguishable, FDA doesn't have the authority to require labels, Sundlof said.

Companies trying to distance themselves from cloning must be careful with their wording, he added.

"If the statement implies that that particular product might be safer than another product, FDA would not allow that," Sundlof said. "But there may be room for providing a contextual statement that is truthful and not misleading."

A dairy industry group said it's too early to use clone-free labels. The FDA is at least a year away from finalizing approval of food from clones.

"It really may be somewhat premature to be talking about a label when FDA said meat and milk won't be in the food supply in the foreseeable future," said Susan Ruland, spokeswoman for the International Dairy Foods Association.

She added that cloning is new and, so far, rarely used, while growth hormones have been in widespread use for more than a decade.

With members such as Kraft and Dannon, the association represents an industry worried about consumer reaction to cloning.

Surveys have shown most are uncomfortable with the idea of cloned livestock. Industry research shows overall sales could drop 15 percent once clones are allowed in the food supply.

"You hear a lot from the technology companies this week that this is a great technology - we're not hearing that yet from the people who would actually use it and the people who would sell the product," Ruland said.

For now, farmers and cloning companies are abiding by a voluntary ban on meat and milk from clones. The FDA said the informal ban would remain until its decision is final.

Critics want the final decision to include labels for food from clones.

Given the public's overwhelming discomfort over this issue, Congress also should consider whether disclosure and labeling requirements are appropriate for products from cloned animals."

"When they deny us mandatory labels, they don't just deny us the right to choose," said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety.

"They also deny our health professionals the ability to trace potential toxic or allergic reactions to this food," Kimbrell said. "It's bad enough they're making us guinea pigs. But when we have health effects, we won't be able to trace it."

In Congress, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat who heads a key agriculture spending subcommittee, said lawmakers should consider whether disclosure and labeling are appropriate for food from clones.

Jim Greenwood, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, said labeling meat from a clone would be as absurd as telling consumers that a steak was produced through artificial insemination, or by cows actually mating.

"None of that information would be useful to consumers," Greenwood said.

Federal scientists studied reams of data on the composition of meat and milk from clones and those of conventionally bred animals.

"You can't tell them apart," said L. Val Giddings, a vice president of BIO and a former Agriculture Department geneticist. "There is not an analytical, scientific test you can use to tell one from another. You just can't do it."

The cloning industry says the technology is latest in a series of reproductive tools for farmers and ranchers to help deliver the food consumers want. To produce a clone, the nucleus of a donor egg is removed and replaced with the DNA of a cow, pig or other animal. A tiny electric shock coaxes the egg to grow into a copy of the original animal.

Cloning companies say the technology would be used primarily for breeding and not for steak or pork tenderloin. Thus, consumers would mostly get food from their offspring and not from the clones themselves.

Still, some clones would eventually end up in the food supply. As with conventional livestock, a cloned bull or cow that outlived its usefulness would probably wind up at a hamburger plant, and a cloned dairy cow would be milked during her breeding years.



Iraq's state-run TV says Saddam was hanged

Baghdad, Dec 30. (AP): Saddam Hussein has been hanged, state-run television reported on Saturday.

``Criminal Saddam was hanged to death,'' state-run Iraqiya television said in an announcement. The station played patriotic music and showed images of national monuments and other landmarks.

The station said Saddam's half-brother Barzan Ibrahim and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court, were also hanged.

''The execution started with criminal Saddam, then Barzan, then Awad al-Bandar,'' an Iraqiya announcer said.

Mariam al-Rayes, a legal expert and former Member of Parliament, told Iraqiya television that the execution ''was filmed and God willing it will be shown. There was one camera present, and a doctor was also present there.''

Al-Reyes did not attend the execution. She said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki did not attend, but was represented by an aide.

The station broadcast national songs and had a tag on the screen that read: ``Saddam's execution marks the end of a dark period of Iraq's history.''

Other Arab TV stations, including Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya and U.S.-financed Al-Hurra, aired live footage of the sun beginning to rise over Baghdad's Firdous Square, where U.S. Marines hauled down a statue of Saddam on April 9, 2003.

Al-Jazeera television showed clips from Saddam's life, including footage of Saddam wearing a hat and firing a rifle into the air, and images of Iraqi artillery units in the 1991 Gulf War.




Air Force pursuing antimatter weapons
Program was touted publicly, then came official gag order
- Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer

The U.S. Air Force is quietly spending millions of dollars investigating ways to use a radical power source -- antimatter, the eerie "mirror" of ordinary matter -- in future weapons.

The most powerful potential energy source presently thought to be available to humanity, antimatter is a term normally heard in science-fiction films and TV shows, whose heroes fly "antimatter-powered spaceships" and do battle with "antimatter guns."

But antimatter itself isn't fiction; it actually exists and has been intensively studied by physicists since the 1930s. In a sense, matter and antimatter are the yin and yang of reality: Every type of subatomic particle has its antimatter counterpart. But when matter and antimatter collide, they annihilate each other in an immense burst of energy.

During the Cold War, the Air Force funded numerous scientific studies of the basic physics of antimatter. With the knowledge gained, some Air Force insiders are beginning to think seriously about potential military uses -- for example, antimatter bombs small enough to hold in one's hand, and antimatter engines for 24/7 surveillance aircraft.

More cataclysmic possible uses include a new generation of super weapons -- either pure antimatter bombs or antimatter-triggered nuclear weapons; the former wouldn't emit radioactive fallout. Another possibility is antimatter- powered "electromagnetic pulse" weapons that could fry an enemy's electric power grid and communications networks, leaving him literally in the dark and unable to operate his society and armed forces.

Following an initial inquiry from The Chronicle this summer, the Air Force forbade its employees from publicly discussing the antimatter research program. Still, details on the program appear in numerous Air Force documents distributed over the Internet prior to the ban.

These include an outline of a March 2004 speech by an Air Force official who, in effect, spilled the beans about the Air Force's high hopes for antimatter weapons. On March 24, Kenneth Edwards, director of the "revolutionary munitions" team at the Munitions Directorate at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida was keynote speaker at the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) conference in Arlington, Va.

In that talk, Edwards discussed the potential uses of a type of antimatter called positrons.

Physicists have known about positrons or "antielectrons" since the early 1930s, when Caltech scientist Carl Anderson discovered a positron flying through a detector in his laboratory. That discovery, and the later discovery of "antiprotons" by Berkeley scientists in the 1950s, upheld a 1920s theory of antimatter proposed by physicist Paul Dirac.

In 1929, Dirac suggested that the building blocks of atoms -- electrons (negatively charged particles) and protons (positively charged particles) -- have antimatter counterparts: antielectrons and antiprotons. One fundamental difference between matter and antimatter is that their subatomic building blocks carry opposite electric charges. Thus, while an ordinary electron is negatively charged, an antielectron is positively charged (hence the term positrons, which means "positive electrons"); and while an ordinary proton is positively charged, an antiproton is negative.

The real excitement, though, is this: If electrons or protons collide with their antimatter counterparts, they annihilate each other. In so doing, they unleash more energy than any other known energy source, even thermonuclear bombs.

The energy from colliding positrons and antielectrons "is 10 billion times ... that of high explosive," Edwards explained in his March speech. Moreover, 1 gram of antimatter, about 1/25th of an ounce, would equal "23 space shuttle fuel tanks of energy." Thus "positron energy conversion," as he called it, would be a "revolutionary energy source" of interest to those who wage war.

It almost defies belief, the amount of explosive force available in a speck of antimatter -- even a speck that is too small to see. For example: One millionth of a gram of positrons contain as much energy as 37.8 kilograms (83 pounds) of TNT, according to Edwards' March speech. A simple calculation, then, shows that about 50-millionths of a gram could generate a blast equal to the explosion (roughly 4,000 pounds of TNT, according to the FBI) at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

Unlike regular nuclear bombs, positron bombs wouldn't eject plumes of radioactive debris. When large numbers of positrons and antielectrons collide, the primary product is an invisible but extremely dangerous burst of gamma radiation. Thus, in principle, a positron bomb could be a step toward one of the military's dreams from the early Cold War: a so-called "clean" superbomb that could kill large numbers of soldiers without ejecting radioactive contaminants over the countryside.

A copy of Edwards' speech onNIAC's Web site emphasizes this advantage of positron weapons in bright red letters: "No Nuclear Residue."

But talk of "clean" superbombs worries critics. " 'Clean' nuclear weapons are more dangerous than dirty ones because they are more likely to be used," said an e-mail from science historian George Dyson of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., author of "Project Orion," a 2002 study on a Cold War-era attempt to design a nuclear spaceship. Still, Dyson adds, antimatter weapons are "a long, long way off."

Why so far off? One reason is that at present, there's no fast way to mass produce large amounts of antimatter from particle accelerators. With present techniques, the price tag for 100-billionths of a gram of antimatter would be $6 billion, according to an estimate by scientists at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and elsewhere, who hope to launch antimatter-fueled spaceships.

Another problem is the terribly unruly behavior of positrons whenever physicists try to corral them into a special container. Inside these containers, known as Penning traps, magnetic fields prevent the antiparticles from contacting the material wall of the container -- lest they annihilate on contact. Unfortunately, because like-charged particles repel each other, the positrons push each other apart and quickly squirt out of the trap.

If positrons can't be stored for long periods, they're as useless to the military as an armored personnel carrier without a gas tank. So Edwards is funding investigations of ways to make positrons last longer in storage.

Edwards' point man in that effort is Gerald Smith, former chairman of physics and Antimatter Project leader at Pennsylvania State University. Smith now operates a small firm, Positronics Research LLC, in Santa Fe, N.M. So far, the Air Force has given Smith and his colleagues $3.7 million for positron research, Smith told The Chronicle in August.

Smith is looking to store positrons in a quasi-stable form called positronium. A positronium "atom" (as physicists dub it) consists of an electron and antielectron, orbiting each other. Normally these two particles would quickly collide and self-annihilate within a fraction of a second -- but by manipulating electrical and magnetic fields in their vicinity, Smith hopes to make positronium atoms last much longer.

Smith's storage effort is the "world's first attempt to store large quantities of positronium atoms in a laboratory experiment," Edwards noted in his March speech. "If successful, this approach will open the door to storing militarily significant quantities of positronium atoms."

Officials at Eglin Air Force Base initially agreed enthusiastically to try to arrange an interview with Edwards. "We're all very excited about this technology," spokesman Rex Swenson at Eglin's Munitions Directorate told The Chronicle in late July. But Swenson backed out in August after he was overruled by higher officials in the Air Force and Pentagon.

Reached by phone in late September, Edwards repeatedly declined to be interviewed. His superiors gave him "strict instructions not to give any interviews personally. I'm sorry about that -- this (antimatter) project is sort of my grandchild. ...

"(But) I agree with them (that) we're just not at the point where we need to be doing any public interviews."

Air Force spokesman Douglas Karas at the Pentagon also declined to comment last week.

In the meantime, the Air Force has been investigating the possibility of making use of a powerful positron-generating accelerator under development at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. One goal: to see if positrons generated by the accelerator can be stored for long periods inside a new type of "antimatter trap" proposed by scientists, including Washington State physicist Kelvin Lynn, head of the school's Center for Materials Research.

A new generation of military explosives is worth developing, and antimatter might fill the bill, Lynn told The Chronicle: "If we spend another $10 billion (using ordinary chemical techniques), we're going to get better high explosives, but the gains are incremental because we're getting near the theoretical limits of chemical energy."

Besides, Lynn is enthusiastic about antimatter because he believes it could propel futuristic space rockets.

"I think," he said, "we need to get off this planet, because I'm afraid we're going to destroy it."