Thursday, May 29, 2003

CNN.com - Iraqi missile targeted coalition HQ during war - May. 29, 2003

The attack came as Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, coalition ground forces commander, was meeting with other top military officials.


CAMP DOHA, Kuwait (CNN) -- The Iraqi military came within seconds of possibly wiping out the headquarters of the coalition ground forces with a missile on March 27, U.S. military officials said. The missile was intercepted and destroyed by a U.S. Patriot missile shortly before it could have hit its target.

A CNN crew embedded at ground forces headquarters witnessed the incident. At the time of the incident, the material from the crew was embargoed under an agreement with the U.S. military until major hostilities in Iraq were over.

"This was Saddam's decapitation strike," said CNN national security analyst Ken Robinson, part of the CNN crew embedded at ground forces headquarters.
Riot Chases Troops Out of Iraqi Town 'They were terrifying the women and children,' one protester says after U.S. soldiers search homes for weapons.



HIT, Iraq � In the third straight day of Iraqi violence against the U.S. military occupation of the country, residents enraged over house-to-house searches in this western town ransacked the police station, stoned U.S. armored military vehicles and set police cars on fire Wednesday.

With a large, uncontrolled mob still roaming the streets as dusk fell, it was impossible to determine exactly what triggered the riot, but in a series of chaotic interviews laced with anti-American rage and threats of vengeance, residents said the problems began when police assisted the U.S. troops in searching local homes for weapons.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

What Matrix Persona Are You? - Quizilla What Matrix Persona Are You?

Monday, May 26, 2003

U.S. Eyes Pressing Uprising In Iran (washingtonpost.com)
The Bush administration, alarmed by intelligence suggesting that al Qaeda operatives in Iran had a role in the May 12 suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia, has suspended once-promising contacts with Iran and appears ready to embrace an aggressive policy of trying to destabilize the Iranian government, administration officials said.

Senior Bush administration officials will meet Tuesday at the White House to discuss the evolving strategy toward the Islamic republic, with Pentagon officials pressing hard for public and private actions that they believe could lead to the toppling of the government through a popular uprising, officials said.

U.S. officials have also been deeply concerned about Iran's nuclear weapons program, which has the support of both elected reformers and conservative clerics. The Bush administration has pressed the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, to issue a critical report next month on Iran's nuclear activities. Officials have sought to convince Russia and China -- two major suppliers of Iran's nuclear power program -- that Iran is determined to possess nuclear weapons, a campaign that one U.S. official said is winning support.

But a major factor in the new stance toward Iran consists of what have been called "very troubling intercepts" before and after the Riyadh attacks, which killed 34 people, including nine suicide bombers. The intercepts suggested that al Qaeda operatives in Iran were involved in the planning of the bombings.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

BBC NEWS | Health | Buddhists 'really are happier'

Buddhism may be good for your mental health.

Scientists say they have evidence to show that Buddhists really are happier and calmer than other people.
Tests carried out in the United States reveal that areas of their brain associated with good mood and positive feelings are more active.

The findings come as another study suggests that Buddhist meditation can help to calm people.

Researchers at University of California San Francisco Medical Centre have found the practise can tame the amygdala, an area of the brain which is the hub of fear memory.

They found that experienced Buddhists, who meditate regularly, were less likely to be shocked, flustered, surprised or as angry compared to other people.

Wired News: Shocking New Jacket Hits Street

A new anti-assault device for women wards off potential assailants with an 80,000-volt electric shock.

Dubbed "exo-electric armor," the No-Contact Jacket looks like an ordinary fashionable women's coat. But an inner layer of conductive fiber carries a low-amp charge that delivers a nasty but non-lethal shock to anyone who messes with its wearer.

"It's kind of like sticking your finger in a wall socket," said Adam Whiton, one of its designers. "It hurts. If someone tries to grab you from behind, they get the full, hefty shock out of it. That's really painful."
Times Online Pygmies beg UN for aid to save them from Congo cannibals

PYGMY leaders have called on the UN to set up an international tribunal to put government and rebel fighters from the Democratic Republic of Congo on trial for acts of cannibalism against their people.
Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti pygmies, told the UN�s Indigenous People�s Forum that during the four-year civil war his people had been hunted down and eaten.

�In living memory, we have seen cruelty, massacres, and genocide, but we have never seen human beings hunted down as though they were game animals,� he said.

�Pygmies are being pursued in the forests. People have been eaten. This is nothing more, nothing less, than a crime against humanity.�

More than 600,000 pygmies are believed to live in the Congo�s vast jungles, where they eke out a subsistence existence. Both sides in the war regard them as �subhuman�, and believe that their flesh can confer magical powers.

UN human rights activists reported this year that rebels had cooked and eaten at least a dozen pygmies. Some of the worst atrocities took place when the Congolese Liberation Movement, one of the main rebel groups, tried to take the town of Mambasa from the rival Congolese Rally for Democracy last year.


Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Allies to Begin Seizing Weapons From Most Iraqis Allies to Begin Seizing Weapons From Most Iraqis
By MICHAEL R. GORDON


AGHDAD, May 20 � Iraqi citizens will be required to turn over automatic weapons and heavy weapons under a proclamation that allied authorities plan to issue this week, allied officials said today.
The aim of the proclamation is to help stabilize Iraq by confiscating the huge supply of AK-47's, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons that are used by criminal gangs, paramilitary groups and remnants of the Saddam Hussein government.
Iraqis who refuse to comply with the edict will be subject to arrest. Only Iraqis authorized to use military-type weapons because of their police or military duties will be exempt.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Psyop: The Love�s Not Mutual
The U.S. military is using Metallica and the �Barney� theme song as instruments of coercion in Iraq

May 26 issue � Your parents aren�t the only ones who hate your music�some Iraqis hate it, too. U.S. military units have been breaking Saddam supporters with long sessions in which they�re forced to listen to heavy-metal and children�s songs. �Trust me, it works,� says one U.S. operative.
HoosierTimes: Defendants refer to 'The Matrix' Defendants refer to 'The Matrix'

Washington Post
Josh Cooke wasn't merely a fan of the hit movie The Matrix. He believed he lived inside The Matrix, his lawyers say.

The 19-year-old had a huge movie poster hanging in his Oakton, Va., bedroom and a trench coat like the one worn by Neo, Keanu Reeves's character. He bought a 12-gauge shotgun, similar to one of the weapons Neo uses to fight the "agents" in the movie.

And on Feb. 17, Fairfax County police say, he walked into his family's basement and shot his father seven times with the shotgun and his mother twice. He then called the police � twice � to calmly report the killings.
Park's Pot Problem Explodes
Number of marijuana plants seized at Sequoia has soared. Officials say Mexican cartels linked to Mideast terrorists run the operation.
SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif. � On the brink of the summer tourist season, officials here are confronting an ominous reality � multimillion-dollar stands of marijuana tended by armed growers who have menaced visitors, killed wildlife, polluted streams and trashed pristine countryside.

Marijuana cultivation in the park has increased steadily over the last 10 years. Since 2001, however, the number of plants seized in the state's oldest national park has jumped eightfold.
The pot fields are financed by the Mexican drug cartels that dominate the methamphetamine trade in the adjacent Central Valley, drug enforcement officials say. The officials say there is evidence that the cartels, in turn, have financial ties to Middle Eastern smugglers linked to Hezbollah and other groups accused of terrorism.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Martian aircraft to be built
Soon, a small aircraft laden with sensors and a high-speed datalink could be flying over the mountains of Mars - the first aircraft to fly over the terrain of another world.

A pre-programmed scientific flight over Mars
Called Ares (Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey of Mars), it could, if all goes well, be flying over the Red Planet's southern uplands in just five years' time.
After a successful series of half-scale tests, the US space agency (Nasa) has ordered a full-scale prototype to be built.
Ares is in competition with three other Mars exploration proposals for a Nasa launch in 2007. The final selection of one, or possibly two, missions will be made later this year.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Here's one theory on the lack of WMD finds in Iraq Saddam thought he had them, but really didn't. Hmm. Jim Lacey on Iraq & Weapons of Mass Destruction on National Review Online
In the event that we do not find the WMD smoking gun this is the only explanation that would make any sense. Saddam wanted the program and was willing to endure crippling sanctions to have it. However, his henchmen were unable to deliver and, unwilling to be on the receiving end of Saddam's zero-defects program, they faked it. In the process of making Saddam believe he had a functioning program they could easily have sucked U.S. intelligence into the deception. In fact, deceiving U.S. intelligence in this way would have been important to them. It would not have been conducive to a long life if the United States had come to Saddam and told him they had discovered he had no WMD program and all of his most trusted advisers were lying.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

SAS partly lifts veil on a different approach to war - War on Iraq - smh.com.au
Major Withycombe said that, after securing the airport, he and his US colleagues were the first allied troops to move into Baghdad's suburbs, where it was extremely tense and dangerous.

How did he cope?

"Dare I say it - I'm pretty comfortable in that environment. Our special forces are the best in the world and our level of physical and psychological training is very high so we can cope with that sort of thing . . . easily, really. The Americans know that too and they love working with us for that reason. From our point of view, it is excellent to work with the Americans because . . . we get a reach into their intelligence and equipment, which is first rate."

Nonetheless, the approaches of the Australian and US special forces differ greatly, he said.

"The US special forces are very big and good at operating in chaos - and that's largely because creating chaos is one of their tactics. We often look for another way than always going in straight away with a lot of punch."

Another Australian special forces member, who declined to be named, said: "We look for different ways of doing things - you could say we are more lateral.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

U.S. News: Michael Barone: A tale of two Americas(5/12/03)
One of the peculiar features of our country is that we produce incompetent 18-year-olds and remarkably competent 30-year-olds. Americans at 18 typically score lower on standardized tests than 18-year-olds from other advanced countries. Watch them on their first few days working at McDonald's or behind the counter in chain drugstores, and it's obvious that they don't really know how to make change or keep the line moving. But by the time Americans are 30, they are the most competent people in the world. They produce a stronger and more vibrant private-sector economy; they produce scientific and technical advances that lead the world; they provide the world's best medical care; they create the strongest and most agile military the world has ever seen. And it's not just a few meritocrats at the top: American talent runs wide and deep.

Why? Because from the age of 6 to 18, our kids live mostly in what I call Soft America--the part of our society where there is little competition and accountability. In contrast, most Americans in the 12 years between ages 18 and 30 live mostly in Hard America--the part of American life subject to competition and accountability; the military trains under live fire. Soft America seeks to instill self-esteem. Hard America plays for keeps.
Klingon Interpreter Needed for Ore. Mental Patients
PORTLAND, Ore. � Position Available: Interpreter, must be fluent in Klingon The language created for the Star Trek TV series and movies is one of about 55 needed by the office that treats mental health patients in metropolitan Multnomah County.
"We have to provide information in all the languages our clients speak," said Jerry Jelusich, a procurement specialist for the county Department of Human Services, which serves about 60,000 mental health clients.
Although created for works of fiction, Klingon was designed to have a consistent grammar, syntax and vocabulary.
And now Multnomah County research has found that many people � and not just fans � consider it a complete language.
"There are some cases where we've had mental health patients where this was all they would speak," said the county's purchasing administrator, Franna Hathaway.
County officials said that obligates them to respond with a Klingon-English interpreter, putting the language of starship Enterprise officer Worf and other Klingon characters on a par with common languages such as Russian and Vietnamese, and less common tongues including Dari and Tongan.
U.S. Official in Charge of Baghdad Leaving Position
BAGHDAD, Iraq � The U.S. official sent in to oversee Baghdad and a large swath of its surrounding territory is leaving her position immediately after less than a month, a spokesman for the postwar American administration said Sunday.

Barbara Bodine, the coordinator for central Iraq, planned to depart Baghdad later Sunday, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Cornelio, a spokesman for the U.S. Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, the reconstruction effort's civilian wing.

No replacement has been named yet, Cornelio said in an interview. Bodine has been in Iraq for less than three weeks.

Cornelio could not say what the next assignment might be for Bodine, a former American ambassador to Yemen. However, The Washington Post, in its Sunday editions, called the move a reassignment and reported she would become deputy director of the U.S. State Department's political-military division.

Bodine did not know the specific reason for her reassignment, she told the Post.

"I'm not leaving with the sense that we've done everything we could have done, but I'm also not leaving with the sense that it's been a failure," she said in the Post interview.

Bodine's departure comes in the midst of an apparent shake-up of the civilian reconstruction force assigned to oversee postwar Iraq and help it move toward an inclusive post-Saddam interim government.

The top civilian administrator, retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, is expected to leave his post shortly after the appointment of his superior, L. Paul Bremer (search), a longtime State Department official.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Frustrated, U.S. Arms Team to Leave Iraq (washingtonpost.com)
BAGHDAD -- The group directing all known U.S. search efforts for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is winding down operations without finding proof that President Saddam Hussein kept clandestine stocks of outlawed arms, according to participants.

The 75th Exploitation Task Force, as the group is formally known, has been described from the start as the principal arm of the U.S. plan to discover and display forbidden Iraqi weapons. The group's departure, expected next month, marks a milestone in frustration for a major declared objective of the war.
C4 News - World - Iraq - Al-Jazeera allegations
Documents have come to light which suggest three Al Jazeera employees in Baghdad were also working for Saddam Husseins regime. Al Jazeera deny any wrong doing.

The files keep coming. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi intelligence agency documents are now in the hands of the CIA and Iraqi opposition groups, who�ve collected them from ministries across Baghdad.

Though most are still under CIA control, their contents are beginning to emerge: The latest, the secret police files on Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite news channel, described by the Iraqis as �a mobilised instrument of our propaganda�. The Files boast of what they call �close cooperation� with Al Jazeera executives.

TCS: Defense - Weapons of Mass Distortion "One 'top Egyptian editor' told the Wall Street Journal back in 1991 about a conversation he had with Saddam. "I remember his saying, 'Compared to tanks, journalists are cheap - and you get more for your money.'"

True. Arab publics, still reeling from the reality inversions they'd been fed during Gulf War II, should brace themselves for another set of shocks. They probably won't be the only ones. (Just ask CNN.)

Nor is this the end of the matter. Like the Soviet and Nazi states upon which Ba'athist ideology was based, Saddam's bureaucracy kept documents. Lots and lots of documents. Sifting through the haystacks has just begun, and there are sharp needles aplenty to be found, with help of course from Iraqi factions and Western intelligence agencies. They, too, have reasons to cultivate journalists.

Shifting Sands

If Anglosphere intelligence agencies wish to become involved in ameliorating the poisonous climate of the Middle East, this is their big break. It's not something the CIA in particular has been very good at recently, though there are precedents.
Palestinian students recreate paradise to show what awaits ``martyrs'' Plastic trees, goldfish swimming in a generator-powered fountain, posters of the dead on the wall: This is a model of the paradise Islamic militants say awaits those killed in fighting with Israel, including suicide bombers.

The display at the West Bank's largest university, An Najah, was assembled by supporters of the violent Hamas group who said they wanted to raise students' morale after 31 months of fighting with Israel.

The university -- a hotbed of Palestinian nationalism and a Hamas stronghold -- said it officially opposes bombings but didn't want to stifle the students' views. ...

Palestinian Muslims widely believe that suicide bombers and others killed fighting Israel will spend eternity in paradise, in the company of 72 virgins. That promise has been used as a recruiting tool, relatives of some of the bombers have said.

The model paradise on display at An Najah, which has 10,000 students, was titled "The Victory of the Just." Organizers said it was meant to illustrate the rewards for carrying out attacks on Israel.

The display, which closed Thursday after a weeklong run, did not ignore the fact that death precedes paradise.

Those wishing to enter the room housing paradise had to walk through a candlelit passage with 26 mock graves. Each "grave" contained a green shroud and a photo of one of 26 An Najah students killed in the conflict with Israel, including six suicide bombers.

Stairs from the open graves led down into the paradise section. A small generator pumped water through a fountain into a channel where goldfish swim. Brightly plumed green and yellow birds chirped in cages suspended from plastic trees. The floor was strewn with soft sand and plastic flowers. Pictures of the bombers and quotes from the Quran, the Islamic holy book, covered the wall.

Paradise also was air-conditioned, a telling contrast to the sweltering summertime West Bank.

Hundreds of students filed through the exhibit, some returning again and again. An Najah University would not permit the exhibition to be photographed.
The GROM Factor Radek Sikorski, Poland's former deputy minister of defense and now executive director of the New Atlantic Initiative, recently told me he witnessed the snipers at their best during a training exercise in 1999. "The GROM operators were working alongside the Delta Force and were tasked with rescuing the chairman of the National Bank of Poland. He was being held hostage by terrorists in possession of a nuclear device." Sikorski says the snipers waited for days in complete disguise. "They just followed the terrorists' routines and then started to pick them off one by one."

GROM operators are said to be martial arts experts and capable of "cold killing." "We created our own style of martial arts," says Petelicki. "I have an old friend who is a master of karate and jujitsu and is a sixth degree black belt. He created the style with other specialists--it is most similar to what the Israelis do."

And what about "cold killing"? Asked if the ominous term refers to garrotes or piano wire, Petelicki replies "Yes." Pausing to choose his words carefully, he explains, "Many things. For instance, we can create a weapon from . . . well . . . many things." The weapon used most by GROM is the MP5 submachine gun. They also get to choose their own sidearm--most choose either the Glock Model 19 or the SIG-Sauer P228.


PETELICKI says that GROM is a mixture of the Delta Force, SAS, and the Navy SEALs. "We took what we found best from each group." (GROM trainers have been to Fort Bragg as well as Hereford--home of the SAS.)

For the past twelve years, GROM operators have engaged in numerous operations, including peacekeeping in the Balkans and Haiti. In 1997, they successfully captured Slavko Dokmanovic, aka, "the Butcher of Vukovar" who was held responsible for the murder of 260 Croats. Despite being well-protected by Serb commandos, Dokmanovic was successfully captured alive (his bodyguards didn't fare so well).

Friday, May 09, 2003

Wired News: Flexible E-Paper on Its Way In a step toward electronic newspapers and wearable computer screens, scientists have created an ultra-thin screen that can be bent, twisted and even rolled up and still display crisp text.

The material, only as thick as three human hairs, displays black text on a whitish-gray background with a resolution similar to that of a typical laptop computer screen.

The screen is so flexible it can be rolled into a cylinder about a half-inch wide without losing its image quality.

Although it's not quite the dream of single-sheet, electronic newspapers or books that can display hundreds of pages of text, its creators said it's the first flexible computer screen of its kind.

"I think it's a major step forward. We have cleared a big obstacle in electronic paper development," said Yu Chen, a research scientist with E Ink of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

E Ink is one of several companies working to develop electronic "paper" for e-newspapers and e-books, and other possible applications -- even clothing with computer screens sewn into it.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Newsday.com - Rough Exit From Iraq "I was kicked out [of Palestine] with my mother and father 55 years ago - now I've been kicked out [of Iraq] with my wife and children," said Ahmed Kadoura, 60, sitting in the shade of one of many tents pitched on a soccer field in Baghdad.

Like hundreds of other Palestinians in Iraq, Kadoura is facing the wrath of an Iraqi population that sees the Palestinians in Iraq as collaborators with the regime of Saddam Hussein.

"We're going in circles," said Kadoura, whose neighbor stabbed him twice with a long knife to encourage him to leave his Baghdad home. "It's pointless to stay in an Arab country."

Hussein created a militia devoted to liberating Jerusalem for the Arabs. He sent thousands of dollars to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, allowed Palestinian militant groups to operate training camps in Iraq and recruited many for his security services, and he gave many ordinary Palestinians in Iraq free housing while paying their unwilling Iraqi landlords as little as $5 per year in compensatory rent. As the only Arab head of state to attack Israel in recent decades - in 1991 - he was a hero to many Palestinians. The moment Hussein fell from power, the Palestinians lost one of their most important and influential allies.

Monday, May 05, 2003

Hackworth evaluates the performance of the Apache helicopter in the Iraq war -favorable But a closer look at the March 24 Little Bighorn reveals that the overconfident � some say even rash � commanders of the 11th Aviation Regiment fell for a classic Iraqi helicopter ambush of the sort perfected by Vietnamese guerrillas in the 1960s and refined by Somalian rebels in the 1990s. Eyewitnesses and Apache pilots say we're talking leadership fault here rather than the failure of a formidable fighting machine. And if so, the 11th Aviation skippers and their flawed planning should wear the blame, not this great CAS aircraft.



As it proved in Iraq by not crashing and burning when it became Swiss cheese over Karbala, the Apache is unbeatably rugged. A blistering machine capable of pounding the enemy right on the deck � in their face or standing off at five miles. Not to mention how, unlike a fast-moving fighter jet, it can also stay on station � low and slow � long enough to zap the bad guys and deliver close-in, enormous firepower directly in front of our grunts' foxholes when and where they need it.



But the ultra-expensive Longbow system � a sure winner on the open plains of Europe against Soviet armor that became obsolete the day the Berlin Wall tumbled down � makes the Longbow-equipped Apache too heavy to fly in 21st-century high-altitude trouble spots such as Afghanistan. And since its clever congressional cheerleaders have made sure that its parts are made in almost every state, killing this platinum-plated porker won't be quick and easy.



Too bad. The money saved could be used to improve the proven AH-64A model, increase Apache pilot training, update attack helicopter doctrine to include the lessons learned in both Afghanistan and Gulf War II � and for training senior commanders on how to use these vital war-fighting assets correctly.
Al Qaeda may be rebuilding | csmonitor.com These sources are concerned that, since the fall of Afghanistan, Al Qaeda has continued to do what it has learned to do well over the years - evolve and adapt as the US and its allies cut off its bases of support. Recently, the network has:

� Replaced some key leaders while decentralizing its operations - outsourcing many of its recruiting, training, and planning activities to regional Islamic groups.

� Made inroads in taking back territory in Afghanistan.

� Adapted its financial support system, making it more difficult to detect.

Just last week, US officials warned Americans against traveling to Saudi Arabia, as they'd received "credible" information about plans for an attack on US interests there. And the arrest last week of another key Al Qaeda member, along with five lower-level operatives in Pakistan, reportedly broke up a plot to fly an airplane into the US Consulate in Karachi. The US has also nabbed four other high-level Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan and is interrogating them in an undisclosed location.
AP Wire | 05/05/2003 | Garner: Group of 9 Will Likely Lead Iraq Retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner also said he expects the newly appointed L. Paul Bremer, former head of the State Department's counterterrorism office, to take charge of the political process within the U.S. postwar administration.

"What you may see is as many as seven, eight, nine leaders working together to provide leadership," Garner said. He added, though, that he didn't know how the collective leadership would function specifically.

The Iraqi leaders Garner referred to were Massoud Barzani; leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party; Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress; Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan; Iyad Allawi of the Iraqi National Accord; and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, whose elder brother heads the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

The five met several times late last week, and at least one meeting was attended by White House envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. Garner said the group would probably be expanded to include, for example, a Christian and perhaps another Sunni leader.

Bremer is expected to arrive in Iraq by next week, Garner said.

"He will get more involved in the political process. I'm doing all of it and don't want to do all of it," Garner said.

He said the appointment of someone such as Bremer had been planned all along.

"I'll stay a while. There's got to be a good handoff," he said.
>>
"The month of May is a key month for getting all the public services stood up or at least with a good prospect of being stood up and getting the law enforcement system back," Garner said.

He said one disappointment thus far has been his operation's inability to inaugurate an extensive television and radio broadcast system for Iraq. The satellite TV service broadcasting so far has been available to only a few Iraqis.

"We haven't done a good job," Garner said. "I want TV going to the people ... with a soft demeanor, programs they want to see."

Sunday, May 04, 2003

In Iraq, the fun also rises LAZARUS AT LARGE
In Iraq, the fun also rises

David Lazarus Friday, May 2, 2003

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Conquering a foreign country is hard, stressful work. But some of our men and women overseas made sure they'd be as loose and tension-free as possible.

Two San Francisco companies specializing in adult merchandise -- Good Vibrations and MyPleasure -- saw online orders from military personnel abroad surge during both the troop buildup in the Persian Gulf and the outbreak of hostilities in Iraq.

MyPleasure said it normally receives a couple of orders a week from military personnel. But between November, when the troop buildup began in earnest, and this week, it said shipments to military addresses abroad climbed to several a day.

This is the town that attacked the American soldiers in Iraq. They seem a little out of touch with reality. Rantburg: Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Blogs of War The Falluja resident had forced the American occupation forces to evacuate the school they were using as headquarters and named it �Martyrs School�. Zawti also said that Falluja is best known for its fervent religious zeal. �When the regime of Saddam Hussein established a cinema, the people here set it in flames. The regime was not able to open a pub or cabaret here,� he recalled. There were reports that U.S. soldiers distributed some hardcore movies in the town to spread immorality and vice. The American occupation troops also provoked the irk of Falluja residents by making no heed to their Islamic values and traditions. �They had the gall to peep at the families residing near their bases by their spyglasses,� charged Nouri Mohammad Mahdi. �They were also inviting me to smoke marijuana with them�I lashed out at them and said Iraq is an Islamic country, we don�t need your rubbish,� he added.
United Press International: Analysis: The Washington battlefield Analysis: The Washington battlefield
By Eli J. Lake
UPI State Department Correspondent
From the International Desk
Published 5/3/2003 7:21 PM
View printer-friendly version


WASHINGTON, May 3 (UPI) -- The second battleground of the Iraq war is Washington where the conflict sparked a succession of factional power struggles. Depending on their preference, history buffs could draw comparisons with the Renaissance Florence or 18th century Philadelphia.

In Florence power swung between Guelfs and Ghibellines -- the two main parties controlled by the richest families -- according to who won the latest vicious plot or battle. In 18th century Philadelphia, political infighting sometimes led to duels between prominent politicians, often to the death as in the case of Aaron Burr's shooting of Alexander Hamilton.

Drastic resolutions of political differences have not totally gone out of style. In 20th century Syria -- to mention one example -- the leader in power throws one side into jail, never to be heard from again, and then goes about the business of governing without the inconvenience of such messy dissent.

In 21st century Washington, promising careers are crushed, reputations die, but not people, They stay alive to fight the next battle, and to sabotage one another.

Take the recent flap over who will be top honcho in the running and reconstruction of newly liberated Iraq.

According to the State Department, the new boss will be Paul Bremer, a former chief of the State Department's Counter-Terrorism Bureau. According to the Pentagon, however, the man in charge is still former Lt. Gen. Jay Garner.

On his flight to Damascus, Secretary of State Colin Powell would not comment on the stories about Bremer. But coincidentally also in a plane returning from Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld lavished praise on the work Garner was doing, but did not mention Bremer.

News of Bremer's appointment was first leaked late last week. The resulting flap is the latest skirmish in the ongoing battle inside the National Security Council where the Pentagon's civilian leaders have foughtt tooth and nail for control over everything from which Iraqis get invited to town hall meetings (and which do not), to the broadcasters the U.S. government plans to hire for Iraq's new state run media. Both sides routinely accuse the other of supporting ex-Baathists.
Reuters EU Ponders Handling U.S. Hyperpower

KASTELLORIZO, Greece (Reuters) - On the love boat that hosted Prince Charles and Princess Diana's honeymoon, European Union foreign ministers this weekend contemplated how to salvage their troubled marriage with the United States.

Cruising off an idyllic Greek island, ministers from the 25 present and future EU states tried to draw lessons from their rift over the U.S.-led war in Iraq and Washington's drive to reshape the world along its own lines with or without United Nations authority.

"We all agree that, yes, there is a crisis or at least a problem in our transatlantic relationship," Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou told reporters after chairing the discussion aboard the private luxury yacht Alexander.
Boston Globe Online / Nation | World / Tension seen on Iraq rebuilding
But Bremer has no experience in the Middle East, which even his admirers said could hinder his ability. Bremer's closest geographic assignment was in Afghanistan in the early 1980s.

''He's a tough guy, and this is a job that is going to require real strengths, but also require a very astute person who has a well-tuned instinct for politics of Iraq,'' said Philip C. Wilcox Jr., another former head of counterterrorism at the State Department. ''He doesn't have any background for Middle Eastern affairs, so I assume he was chosen because of his impeccable conservative views and his management skills.''

Meyrav Wurmser, a conservative Middle Eastern analyst at Hudson Institute, said Bremer ''was not like one of those ideological State people who work against the president, so people are basically happy'' in the administration's conservative circles.

Bacon said many nongovernmental organizations also will be glad to see a civilian not associated with the military as head of the reconstruction.

''The NGOs have complained that putting Garner in command makes it look like they are working for the Pentagon,'' Bacon said, adding that such organizations did agree to have Garner oversee the US Agency for International Development, which in turn directed the private charities.

Bacon said it would be important for Bremer to build some support in Washington for his operations before heading to Iraq.

''One of the difficulties here was that Garner didn't, or wasn't allowed to, brief his plans to Congress, or to meet with the NGOs, or build much of a relationhsip with the [United Nations] or the press. As a result, he never really explained his plans very well and nor did he have a chance to build institutional support outside the Pentagon.''
Iraqi Nuclear Site Is Found Looted (washingtonpost.com) Iraqi Nuclear Site Is Found Looted
U.S. Team Unable to Determine Whether Deadly Materials Are Missing
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� Leaving Home to Aid Homeland (The Washington Post, May 4, 2003)
� Deciding Who Rebuilds Iraq Is Fraught With Infighting (The Washington Post, May 4, 2003)
� Captured Iraq Official Untruthful, Bush Says (The Washington Post, May 4, 2003)
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By Barton Gellman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 4, 2003; Page A01


NEAR KUT, Iraq, May 3 -- A specially trained Defense Department team, dispatched after a month of official indecision to survey a major Iraqi radioactive waste repository, today found the site heavily looted and said it was impossible to tell whether nuclear materials were missing.

The discovery at the Baghdad Nuclear Research Facility was the second since the end of the war in which a known nuclear cache was plundered extensively enough that authorities could not rule out the possibility that deadly materials had been stolen. The survey, conducted by a U.S. Special Forces detachment and eight nuclear experts from a Pentagon office called the Direct Support Team, appeared to offer fresh evidence that the war has dispersed the country's most dangerous technologies beyond anyone's knowledge or control.

In all, seven sites associated with Iraq's nuclear program have been visited by the Pentagon's "special nuclear programs" teams since the war ended last month. None was found to be intact, though it remains unclear what materials -- if any -- had been removed.
SARS Can Live on Common Surfaces (washingtonpost.com)
By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer

The SARS virus can survive on common surfaces at room temperature for hours or even days, which could explain how people can catch the deadly lung infection without face-to-face contact with a sick person, scientists have found.

New laboratory studies, being released today, have produced the first scientific data on how long the SARS virus can live in various places and conditions, demonstrating for the first time that the microbe can linger outside an infected person's body.

One study showed the virus survived for at least 24 hours on a plastic surface at room temperature, which suggests it might be possible to become infected from touching a tabletop, doorknob or other object. Another found the microbe remained viable for as long as four days in human waste, a crucial finding that could clarify how the virus can spread through apartment buildings, hospitals and other facilities.

German scientists found a common detergent failed to kill the virus, indicating that some efforts to sterilize contaminated areas may be ineffective. An experiment conducted in Japan concluded that the virus could live for extended periods in the cold, suggesting it could survive the winter.

The long-awaited findings should be crucial for containing the epidemic, and they could solve one of the most important mysteries about the new disease: how the virus spreads without direct exposure to infected individuals.

Friday, May 02, 2003

OpinionJournal - ExtraBeyond, above and behind every failed policy that has been devised to nudge forward the prospects of reconciliation in the Middle East there lies a simple if often unacknowledged fact: There can be no peace until the Arabs of the region openly accept the existence of Israel as a permanent, sovereign state. For 55 years most of Israel's Arab enemies have refused to do so. For 55 years the community of nations has tolerated, acquiesced in and thereby confirmed the propriety of that refusal.
To this day, Israel is treated in international affairs and by most members of the United Nations as a pariah state. The U.S., despite the generous and indispensable support it has extended to Israel, has too often gone along with that treatment. From time to time, as the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan documented in Commentary, it has even "joined the jackals."

The blanket exemption from treating Israel as an ordinary state and an equal member of the international community has had a pervasive impact on the calculus of war and peace. To Israel's enemies, it has sent a signal that the conflict between them may yet be resolved through Israel's complete delegitimization and destruction. To Israel itself, it has sent exactly the same dire signal.

� The U.N. Nowhere is this more salient than at the U.N. itself. There, Israel has been refused a place in the regional grouping of Middle Eastern states and hence an opportunity to serve on the Security Council and other U.N. bodies--an opportunity afforded to every other member state. In addition, U.N. members have prevented Israel from serving in any important role on virtually any functional agency or body.
Sources: Garner Out in Iraq Shuffle By Knut Royce
Washington Bureau Chief


Washington -- In an apparent acknowledgment that postwar reconstruction efforts in Iraq are floundering, the White House plans to name a politically astute career diplomat to replace Jay Garner as the civilian administrator of the country, sources said Thursday.

L. Paul Bremer, ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism in the Reagan administration, will report directly to the White House, sources said.

It was not immediately clear whether Garner, a retired Army lieutenant general who reports to the Pentagon, will stay on under Bremer. Garner was handpicked in January to oversee the reconstruction by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He held his first meeting in Iraq on April 15.

Bremer's expected appointment, which might be announced as early as Friday, could be a big plus for the State Department, which has feuded with the Defense Department over how the transition to democracy should be managed while playing second fiddle to the Pentagon in staffing the transition team.
>>
"They [the White House] lost confidence in Garner's ability to supervise the transition to Iraqi democracy,� said a source close to the administration. While well-liked by the military brass, Garner "was not sophisticated enough to supervise the transition,� he said.
>>
During his career with the State Department, Bremer was an assistant to six different secretaries of state, including Henry Kissinger. After retiring he joined Kissinger Associates as managing director.

Gelbard said that Bremer "will get along extremely well with [Secretary of State Colin] Powell.�

"He's one of the most organized individuals I have ever encountered,� Gelbard said. "He also knows the bureaucracy very well. He made his career in Washington. He did in part because of his outstanding intellect, but also because he was able to manipulate the bureaucratic system, which is critical for getting anything done in the executive branch.�
CBS 2: World Wire Tape shows exhausted, confused Saddam promising eventual victory over coalition
By CHARLES J. HANLEY
AP Special Correspondent

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) In what is purported to be his last known wartime speech a video never before televised Saddam Hussein appears exhausted, at times confused and seemingly resigned to defeat, but he tells Iraqis that God, somehow, will help them expel the American-British occupiers.

>>
In the videotaped speech, Saddam nearing his 66th birthday, and wearing his familiar open-necked olive drab uniform and black beret appears deeply fatigued, like someone who had slept little. The bags under his eyes droop more heavily than before. His speech is abnormally slow, and he seldom raises his eyes from the text to look into the camera.
Twice he repeats a sentence of the speech not for emphasis, but out of apparent confusion. He seems on edge, not surprisingly for someone whose government has been under devastating air and ground attack for three weeks.
As he prepares to begin the speech, in a generic room with a backdrop of pink-and-orange drapes, he says to aides, ``The sooner we finish it, the better.''
Then, at the end, Saddam adds an uncharacteristically human note of uncertainty. ``How was my reading as a whole?'' he asks people off camera, and then adds, ``It's OK.''
Thickly laced with religious references, Saddam's speech did not strike the most defiant tones of his earlier televised addresses in the first days of the war, which began March 20, speeches in which he told his people their military would humble the U.S. superpower.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

In the end, Iraq might not want democracy
Bush administration officials have played down the anti-American demonstrations in Iraq, saying, "Isn't it wonderful that the Iraqis now have the freedom to demonstrate publicly." But freedom appears to be, at best, a highly suspect commodity in a country where people long have been kept in bondage.

In his 1951 book, "The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements," Eric Hoffer observes that for freed slaves "it is the burden of freedom which is at the root of their discontent." Hoffer goes on to say that "freedom aggravates at least as much as it alleviates frustration" and that the suddenly newly freed make the best converts for all forms of fanaticism.

He quotes a young German's motivation for joining the Nazis: "To be free from freedom."

Saudi Arabia Awakes to the Perils of Inbreeding
Across the Arab world today an average of 45 percent of married couples are related, according to Dr. Nadia Sakati, a pediatrician and senior consultant for the genetics research center at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh.

In some parts of Saudi Arabia, particularly in the south, where Mrs. Hefthi was raised, the rate of marriage among blood relatives ranges from 55 to 70 percent, among the highest rates in the world, according to the Saudi government.

Widespread inbreeding in Saudi Arabia has produced several genetic disorders, Saudi public health officials said, including the blood diseases of thalassemia, a potentially fatal hemoglobin deficiency, and sickle cell anemia. Spinal muscular atrophy and diabetes are also common, especially in the regions with the longest traditions of marriage between relatives. Dr. Sakati said she had also found links between inbreeding and deafness and muteness.

Saudi health authorities, well aware of the enormous social and economic costs of marriage between family members, have quietly debated what to do for decades, since before Mrs. Hefthi was married 23 years ago. Now, for the first time, the government, after starting a nationwide educational campaign to inform related couples who intend to marry of the risk of genetic disease, is planning to require mandatory blood tests before marriage and premarital counseling.