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    World News
5/4/03 - 5/11/03

Sunday  5/11/03

The Latin Americanization of the Million Marijuana March  5/11/03 NarcoNews: "The Million Marijuana March, begun each May in New York City five years ago with the all for legalizing the famous leaf, caught fire in Latin America's two largest Spanish-language media centers this month - Mexico City and Buenos Aires, Argentina - as well as with a pro-legalization protest held in Rosario, Argentina last weekend."

US rivals turn on each other as weapons search draws a blank  5/11/03 Observer 

Russia funding resurgent Taliban  5/11/03 Scotsman: "RUSSIA is funding the Taliban’s guerrilla war against the American-backed government of Afghanistan, leaders of the fundamentalist group have claimed. In a move that carries echoes of attempts by the United States to undermine Soviet forces during their occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, Russian intelligence is now providing covert backing to a resurgent Taliban, senior figures in the extreme Islamic movement have alleged. The alarming claim will prove acutely embarrassing to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been trying to rebuild relations with the US in the wake of the acrimonious split between the two countries over Iraq. Engineer Hamidullah, the Taliban’s former deputy chief of finance, says the Taliban now receive as much funding as they did when Osama bin Laden bank-rolled them before September 11. There are some countries that are against the policies of the US and the United Nations, and they support the guerrillas. The most important role belongs to Russia, Iran and Pakistan," he said… Meanwhile, the Taliban has been mounting increasingly brazen attacks in Afghanistan. Last month its forces seized two remote districts near the Pakistan border and held them for nearly a week."

'Guerrilla raids' raise fears that Saddam is still active  5/11/03 Telegraph: "In the past week, armed gangs of Saddam loyalists have attacked the homes and offices of several prominent politicians, some of whom have received death threats said to have been issued on Saddam's orders. In one attack early yesterday, gunmen opened fire on the home of Dr Ayad Allawi, the head of the Iraqi National Accord and one of five leaders appointed by Jay Garner, the outgoing United States administrator, to participate in the country's five-man interim national leadership. "These attacks show that Saddam, his family and senior members of his regime are still in Iraq and still pose a threat," a spokesman for the interim government said."

"The Lies Are Brilliantly Crafted"  5/11/03 Truth Out: interview with Greg Palast

Frustrated, U.S. Arms Team to Leave Iraq  5/11/03 Washington Post: "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 component 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."

Saturday  5/10/03

topTop Iraqi Shiite Muslim leader returns home from exile, US watches closely  5/10/03 AFP: "The head of Iraq's main Shiite Muslim movement returned home from 23-years of exile in Iran promising to push for an Islamic state, threatening to complicate US efforts to foster a pluralistic society in the country… His return is to be closely watched by US officials, who have raised fears about Iranian efforts to push for an Islamic regime in Iraq, but analysts said Hakim will not be seeking center stage for the moment and will keep SAIRI involved in US-brokered efforts to to set up an interim government. SAIRI is a member of the seven-member council of former opposition groups that are spearheading the process, but its participation has not been unconditional. The group attended the April 29 meeting under the chairmanship of US civil administrator Jay Garner that agreed to hold a national congress within one month to start setting up an interim government. It has made clear continued participation depends on Washington respecting the Iraqi people's wishes and on an agenda that was not contrary to their interests."

Mexicans Outraged by Immigration/Oil Move  5/10/03 AP: another sign of oil reachig its peak - "A move in the U.S. Congress to link immigration with opening up Mexico's state oil company to U.S. investment has outraged Mexicans, and newspapers Saturday accused American lawmakers of arrogance and blackmail. The House International Relations Committee narrowly approved the measure Thursday saying that any accord on immigration issues with Mexico should include an agreement to allow U.S. companies to invest in the state oil company Pemex."

Venezuelans invoke power of dead criminals  5/10/03 AP: "But there had been nothing like the newest icons at Santeria shops: criminals who are legends in Caracas slums. The foot-high statuettes, sporting guns and knives poking from jeans pockets, represent spirits trying to repent for their sins by warning youngsters to avoid crime, helping people get out of jail and curing drug addiction. There's Kid Ismael, a bank robber who some say killed dozens of people in the 1970s before police gunned him down. His statue wears a baseball cap sideways, smokes a cigar and clutches a .38-caliber pistol."

Checkpoints Set Up Near Riyadh to Track Down Terror Suspects  5/10/03 Arab News: "At least three of the 19 wanted Al-Qaeda suspects who escaped on Tuesday after a shootout with police fled in a Mercedes which was parked in front of a car maintenance workshop on the Riyadh-Dammam Expressway, Al-Watan reported yesterday. The terror suspects took the car at gunpoint. The Arabic daily said police did not open fire on the suspects because of the risk to bystanders. “Police also wanted to arrest them unhurt to question them about their contacts,” the paper added."

Eyewitness Charges US With Encouraging Looting  5/10/03 Dagens, Sweden: first posted 4-13-03 - "During the morning everybody that tried to cross the streets had been fired upon. But during this strange silence people eventually became curious. After three-quarters of an hour the first Baghdad citizens dared to come forward. At that moment the US solders shot two Sudanese guards, who were posted in front of a local administrative building, on the other side of the Haifa Avenue. "I was just 300 meters away when the guards where murdered. Then they shot the building entrance to pieces, and their Arabic translators in the tanks told people to run for grabs inside the building. Rumours spread rapidly and the house was cleaned out. Moments later tanks broke down the doors to the Justice Department, residing in the neighbouring building, and looting was carried on to there."

Berlusconi Under Fire at Home and Abroad  5/10/03 Guardian, UK 

North Korea's War Strategy of Massive Retaliations against US Attacks  5/10/03 Information Clearning House: "North Korea has not only the military power but also the political will to wage total war against the United States. 04/24/03 (Center for Korean Affairs) An English abstract of a paper by Han Ho Suk Director"

Allies win crucial UN backing over future of Iraq  5/10/03 Times, UK: "A draft resolution endorsing the role of Britain and the United States as “occupying powers” for at least a year attracted early support from crucial swing voters on the 15-nation Security Council, leaving Russia and France isolated." The Times, a Murdoch paper, may be crowing early, as it did before when reporting on the US attempts to get approval for an Iraq war.

Friday  5/9/03

topU.S. Army Recruiter Crosses Mexico Border  5/9/03 AP 

U.S. backs away from vow to punish France over Iraq  5/9/03 Baltimore Sun: "U.S.-French strains did not start with Iraq, and are unlikely to end anytime soon. Determined to act as a counterweight to American power in Europe and to preserve its influence among former colonies in Africa and the Middle East, France has long viewed the United States and its power with a mixture of gratitude, Old World disdain and sheer mischievousness."

An_Interesting_Day: President_Bush's_Movements_and_Actions_on_9/11  5/9/03 Center for Cooperative Research 

Bursting Bubbles - Why the economy will go from bad to worse  5/9/03 In These Times: "After creating an average of more than 3 million jobs a year from 1996 to 2000, the economy has lost more than 2 million jobs since March 2001. This reversal has been associated with a rise in the unemployment rate from an average of 4 percent in 2000 to 6 percent today. The increase among African-Americans has been even larger, rising from 7.6 percent in 2000 to 10.9 percent in April, and larger yet for African-American teens, with the unemployment rate rising from just over 24 percent in 2000 to peaks as high as 35 percent in March. While real wages were growing at close to a 2 percent annual pace in 2000, wage growth has recently fallen to zero for most workers."

Opposition organizing another coup  5/9/03 PL: "This Thursday, Aristóbulo Isturiz, the Venezuelan minister for education and sport, charged the opposition with organizing another coup – this time of a social nature – planned for July. Not everyone in the opposition is "just thinking about the referendum"; other elements are organizing a "social coup" with a view to creating upheavals in Venezuelan society that would influence the Armed Forces, Isturiz stressed."

Thursday  5/8/03

topMadonna thanks France for opposition to Iraq war  5/8/03 AP: "As she thanked the French for opposing conflict in Iraq, she told fans: "Here in France I feel at home." "

Senate broadens powerful U.S. terror surveillance law  5/8/03 AP 

Cameraman 'shot in front'  5/8/03 BBC: "A post mortem examination on the body of a British cameraman killed by Israeli soldiers shows that he was shot in the front, the BBC has learned. The finding appears to contradict Israel's claim that 34-year-old James Miller was hit in the back - suggesting that he was shot by Palestinians."

Poland rethinks troops' mission in Iraq  5/8/03 BBC: "Poland is reconsidering its plans to command one of the three military zones the US has provisionally designated for the multinational stabilisation force in Iraq, as the legal and military implications become more apparent… Though it did not initially question the legal basis for joining the Iraq stabilisation force, Poland is also looking for a UN mandate in order to satisfy public opinion and its European Union partners."

Honduras: asesinan cónsul  5/8/03 BBC Mundo: "La víctima, quien se desempeñaba desde hacía ocho años como cónsul honorario de Bélgica, podría haber sido asesinado por miembros de una banda de secuestradores que retienen a su esposa, según la policía."

Rebelde de las FARC será extraditado  5/8/03 BBC Mundo: "El presidente de Colombia, Álvaro Uribe firmó la orden de extradición de un miembro del mayor grupo guerrillero del país, las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia,(FARC). Nelson Vargas Rueda, alias "el marrano", será el primer rebelde de izquierda en ser extraditado a Estados Unidos en donde se le juzgará por su presunta participación en el secuestro y asesinato de tres estadounidenses cerca de la frontera con Venezuela en 1999."

Lieberman seeks crossover GOP in SC  5/8/03 Black Commentator: "The debate should leave not a shred of doubt that Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman is running as a straightforward Republican in South Carolina. "We are not going to solve these problems with the kinds of big spending Democratic ideas of the past," he said, even more slowly than usual and for full effect. South Carolina is an open primary state, where Republicans can cross party lines to vote in the Democratic primary. believes Lieberman is counting on Al Sharpton to activate a sizeable number of Palmetto rednecks to cross the room to vote against the loudmouth Black man. It would not require a white Republican stampede such as overwhelmed Cynthia McKinney last summer in Georgia's open congressional primary to push Lieberman to the top of the white pile, in February, making him the odds-on favorite among The Chosen. Just a few percentage points from the crossovers would suffice. South Carolina whites are keenly aware that Blacks made up more than half the state's electorate in 2000. The racist white majority votes against Blacks, rather than for their own interests. Lieberman is positioning himself as the Great White Hope. Like Bush Republicans, he has learned to kiss Black babies at churches - but it's the kiss of death."

FBI Still Watching Hatfill  5/8/03 CBS: "Bio-weapons researcher Dr. Steven Hatfill, sources confirm, remains the FBI's number one suspect in the attacks, even though round-the-clock surveillance and extensive searches have failed to develop more than what even Justice Department prosecutors describe as a "highly circumstantial" case."

Witch hunt denounced by anti-war opposition in Spain  5/8/03 Granma: "The Spanish government has asked for three- to five-year prison terms for two of its citizens responsible for an anti-war web page, a maneuver that representatives of that country’s left has denounced as "a witch hunt." The ruling Popular Party asked for that sentence for two members of the United Left (IU) in a case brought for alleged crimes of injury to and libel of government members, described as accomplices to murder on the website, on account of their backing for the war on Iraq."

TV watchdog checks claims of bias on Murdoch channel  5/8/03 Guardian, UK 

Chemicals Sprayed On Poppies Kill Afghans  5/8/03 Jihad Unspun: as in South America.

Shocking Account Of Torture, Murder Told By “Illegal Combatant”  5/8/03 Jihad Unspun: "A plane flew us to Cuba one day. Our beard was cut off on our first day in Cuba. Our hands and feet were cuffed with heavy handcuffs and were caged in small cages with a load of two mounds on our backs. We were interrogated daily. The interpreters for interrogators in Cuba were Pakistanis. Some of these men were good and were frustrated to see our condition. Some of them also used to see us with poisoned eyes. In Cuba, torture, slapping and kicking during interrogation was a daily routine with FBI officials. One American official hit an Arab Mujahid while he was praying. After spending more than a year in Cuba, we were sent back to Shabarghan from where we were later on released.” Ishaq told Daily Islam that initially he saw the Taliban’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Zaeef in of the torture cells in Cuba. “Americans had cut off his beard but he was not seen later on. A rumor also spread about his martyrdom but a fellow Mujahideen told that he was shifted to an aircraft for interrogation. Americans severely torture the arrested Arab Mujahideen and high profiled Taliban leaders.” Ishaq also saw Mullah Fazal with his ears stuffed with cotton. “His eyes were blinded with glasses and he couldn’t see anything. A part of his skull was also cleared and covered in ice.” “Offering prayers and reciting Holy Quran was prohibited in Cuba. But when we went on a hunger strike for 25 days, we were permitted to offer our prayers, a copy of the Holy Quran was provided as well as better food was given.” "

A Trap of Their Own Making  5/8/03 London Review of Books: "As for the majority of Americans, well, they have already been duped once, by a propaganda programme which for systematic mendacity has few parallels in peacetime democracies: by the end of it, between 42 and 56 per cent of Americans (the polls vary) were convinced that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the attacks of 11 September. This gave the run-up to the war a peculiarly nightmarish quality in the US. It was as if the full truth about Tonkin Gulf, instead of emerging in dribs and drabs over a decade, had been fully available and in the open the whole time - and the US intervention in Vietnam had happened anyway."

No a la Guerra - web site under attack by Spanish government  5/8/03 

Senate Deal Kills Effort to Extend Antiterror Act  5/8/03 NYT 

Taliban appears to be regrouped and well-funded  5/8/03 Village Voice 

Wednesday  5/7/03

topAl-Qaeda preparing new attack in US "on scale of September 11": report  5/7/03 AFP: "Al-Qaeda is preparing a new attack in the United States on the scale of September 11 after adopting a new operational structure which is impenetrable to US intelligence, according to a Saudi weekly."

On the detention of Dr. Huda S. Ammash  5/7/03 Counterpunch List: "The U.S. publishers of Dr. Huda S. Ammash assert that there may be political motivations for her detention on Monday, May 5 in Baghdad by the U.S. military on allegations that she oversaw Iraq's purported development of biological weapons. Dr. Ammash, Dean of Baghdad University, is the author of "Toxic Pollution, the Gulf War, and Sanctions," a peer reviewed research paper published in _Iraq Under Siege_ (South End Press, 2002) an anthology that examined the effects of the Gulf War and sanctions on Iraq."

Tensions High After UMB Professor's Arrest  5/7/03 Dorchester Reporter, MA: originally posted 4/10/03, Professor Van der Meer's first court date is 5/28 - "Van Der Meer, an advisor to the Black Student Center and member of the Africana Studies department, arrived on the scene to defend his students' right to distribute information. Visibly agitated, one of the recruiters yelled, "I hope you get shot in the head like Martin Luther King! I hope you all get shot in the head!" according to witnesses. The same recruiter then instigated a short verbal altercation with Van Der Meer, who yelled back, "I hope you get shot too!" The recruiter began to push the professor, who raised nothing but his voice in his own defense. Officer J. St. Ives separated the two men, ordering Van Der Meer to quiet down while the recruiters left the building. This reporter and others present watched as St. Ives, with no further provocation, assaulted the professor, pushing him to the ground, tearing his corduroy jacket and handcuffing him. Several officers dragged Van Der Meer away amidst student chants of "Police brutality, police brutality!" "

Survey Finds U.S. Has High Rate Of Mental Illness, Low Rate Of Treatment Compared To Other Countries  5/7/03 Harvard Medical School 

Secret Service Questions Students  5/7/03 KRON, CA: "Even worse, they say, is the fact that the students were grilled by federal agents without legal counsel or their parents present, just the principal. "When one of the students asked, 'do we have to talk now? Can we be silent? Can we get legal council?' they were told, 'we own you, you don't have any legal rights,'" Felson says."

Prez Wannabe Graham Eyeing Evidence That Bush Blew 9/11  5/7/03 Newsmax 

America's weapons evidence flawed, say spies  5/7/03 Times, UK: "Present and former CIA officials, quoted in The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine, claimed that a small number of powerful neo-conservative ideologues in the Pentagon were so determined to prove the existence of a banned weapons programme and links to al-Qaeda that they manipulated intelligence."

U.S. captured 'Mrs. Anthrax' after Syria expelled her  5/7/03 World Tribune, VA 

Tuesday  5/6/03

topA Radioactive Mess  5/6/03 Alternet: "While American experts say there is no telling what may have been looted from a nuclear research facility in Baghdad, an Iraqi nuclear engineer who was one of the founders of the facility says he has witnessed the spread of nuclear contamination firsthand… Al-Bah'ly inspects about four to five homes daily in the neighborhood of Tuwaitha, and says he saw some people using the containers to store water, milk and tomatoes, oblivious of the risks. Some containers were even used to transport milk to yogurt factories. Abu Dhabi Television has shown scenes of women using the containers to store drinking water. At one home, Al-Bah'ly discovered radioactive contamination in clothes and beds. He describes a 10-year-old girl who had attached a piece of "yellow cake" (radioactive waste) to the edge of her skirt for decoration."

US troops 'encouraged' Iraqi looters  5/6/03 BBC: "General Tommy Franks is threatened with a Belgian war crimes trial alleging US troops failed to prevent looting in Iraq. BBC News Online uncovers evidence suggesting his soldiers even egged on some looters."

In the Company of Spies  5/6/03 Business 2.0: "After a brief shootout, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the notorious al Qaeda mastermind of 9/11, emerged dazed, disheveled, and in handcuffs. Not much has been revealed since about how authorities hunted him down, but intelligence sources say the case turned on a months-long game of electronic cat-and-mouse between the terrorist and U.S. spy agencies. And it couldn't have been broken without the contributions of a mild-mannered, slightly eccentric, 78-year-old nuclear physicist named J. Robert "Bob" Beyster and his remarkable company, Science Applications International Corp."

Garner to be replaced by former diplomat  5/6/03 Independent, UK 

Israelis fire on parents of injured British peace activist  5/6/03 Independent, Uk: "The parents of a British peace activist who was shot in the head by Israeli troops came under fire themselves as they travelled to the spot where their son was critically injured. Anthony and Jocelyn Hurndall were in a British diplomatic convoy entering the town of Rafah in the Gaza Strip when Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint fired a shot, which passed narrowly over the top of their vehicles."

US admits it cannot stop North Korea's nuclear programme  5/6/03 Independent, UK: "America is refocusing its North Korea policies to concentrate on blocking the export of nuclear weapons materials by Pyongyang – a tacit admission that Washington can realistically do little to prevent their manufacture. The shift in position, which emerged after talks between President George Bush and John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister, in Texas at the weekend, came as the US and the secretive Communist state jockeyed over a deal to shut down the North's clandestine weapons programmes."

Iraq: US restructuring Baath units  5/6/03 Itar-Tass: "Americans are restructuring special paramilitary units of the former Baath Party of Iraq, intending to use them for suppressing possible protest actions of the Iraqi population. The military intelligence of the U.S. Army, FBI and CIA agents are working on the creation of the new special units, the IRNA news agency reported with reference to reliable sources. The task of the new Iraqi units will be to find out who of the civilians opposes the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as well as to take part in suppressing anti-American actions in the country. The sources stress that Americans explain the prolongation of their presence in Iraq by a possibility of the resumption of armed actions on the part of the forces, which continue to be loyal to Saddam Hussein."

10 Hostages Killed by Colombian Rebels During Rescue Attempt  5/6/03 LA Times 

Likely Leaders Emerge in Iraq  5/6/03 LA Times: "U.S. officials gave the first details Monday of their plan for an interim Iraqi government, saying it will be headed by a council of as many as nine leaders and suggesting that the majority would be drawn from Iraqi exile groups that have yet to demonstrate much popular support here."

Palestinians evicted as Iraqis come home  5/6/03 Reuters: "Hundreds of Palestinian families who have lived in Iraq for more than 50 years are finding themselves on the streets after being evicted from their homes after the fall of Saddam Hussein. More than 35,000 Palestinians who lived in Iraq since they were displaced from their homeland upon Israel's founding in 1948 have enjoyed Saddam's protection, often housed in the homes of Iraqis evicted by authorities for opposing the government, or in government property."

Monday  5/5/03

topWhy Ecocide Is 'Good News' for the GOP  5/5/03 Alternet: "Nevertheless, beyond all these more obvious anti-environmental motivations there lies a more deep-seated inspiration. Difficult as it may be to believe, many of the conservatives who have great influence in the Bush administration and now in Congress are governed by a Higher Power. In his book "The Carbon Wars," Greenpeace activist Jeremy Leggett tells how he stumbled upon this otherworldly agenda. During the Kyoto climate change negotiations, Leggett candidly asked Ford Motor Company executive John Schiller how opponents of the pact could believe there is no problem with "a world of a billion cars intent on burning all the oil and gas available on the planet?" The executive asserted first that scientists get it wrong when they say fossil fuels have been sequestered underground for eons. The Earth, he said, is just 10,000, not 4.5 billion years old, the age widely accepted by scientists. Then Schiller confidently declared, "You know, the more I look, the more it is just as it says in the Bible." The Book of Daniel, he told Leggett, predicts that increased earthly devastation will mark the "End Time" and return of Christ. Paradoxically, Leggett notes, many fundamentalists see dying coral reefs, melting ice caps and other environmental destruction not as an urgent call to action, but as God's will. In the religious right worldview, the wreck of the Earth can be seen as Good News! Some true believers, interpreting biblical prophecy, are sure they will be saved from the horrific destruction brought by ecosystem collapse. They'll be raptured: rescued from Earth by God, who will then rain down seven ghastly years of misery on unbelieving humanity. Jesus' return will mark the Millennium, when the Lord restores the Earth to its green pristine condition, and the faithful enjoy a thousand years of peace and prosperity." That 1,000 Reich.

Annual Déjà Vu at Kent State - Cops Still Harrassing Peaceful Protestors 33 Years After Massacre  5/5/03 "Kent State student peace activists took to the streets at the start of the war in Iraq, and again today on May 4th, the anniversary of the Kent State killings. Speeches honoring the students who were killed and wounded by the National Guard at Kent State 33 years ago were followed by an anti-war rally. As students marched on campus they were confronted by riot police who accused then of not having a permit to march and ordered the activists to disband. Protestors pushed into the road adjacent to the campus and riot cops moved in to begin arrests."

Vt. Cop Photographed Class Projects  5/5/03 AP: "A uniformed police officer persuaded a custodian to open a school in the middle of the night so he could photograph class projects he found objectionable as an American and as a military veteran. The projects that Barre Town Police Officer John Mott photographed included a poster of President Bush with duct tape over his mouth and a large papier-mache combat boot with the American flag stuffed inside stepping on a doll."

Trained by US, Colombia unit gains  5/5/03 Boston Globe 

Firm in Florida Election Fiasco Earns Millions from Files on Foreigners  5/5/03 Common Dreams: "A data-gathering company that was embroiled in the Florida 2000 election fiasco is being paid millions of dollars by the Bush administration to collect detailed personal information on the populations of foreign countries, enraging several governments who say the records may have been illegally obtained… The controversy is not the first to engulf ChoicePoint. The company's subsidiary, Database Technologies, was responsible for bungling an overhaul of Florida's voter registration records, with the result that thousands of people, disproportionately black, were disenfranchised in the 2000 election. Had they been able to vote, they might have swung the state, and thus the presidency, for Al Gore, who lost in Florida by a few hundred votes."

Powell Confronts, Assad Prevaricates  5/5/03 Debka, Israel: "Syria is reported by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources as having secretly disposed of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction by moving them into eastern Lebanon for burial in the Beqaa Valley. Iraq’s biological weapons may be there too. They were interred deep under the heroin poppy and cotton fields in two of the most fertile regions of Lebanon: the valley stretching between Jabal Akroum, the town of al Qbayyat and the Syrian border, and the land lying between the towns of Al Hirmil and al Labwah between the Orontes River and the Syrian frontier."

Boy, 14, killed in Basra army incident  5/5/03 Guardian, UK 

How US paid for secret files on foreign citizens  5/5/03 Guardian, UK: "In Mexico, the president of the federal electoral institute, Jose Woldenberg, revealed that his investigators had talked to the Mexican company that said it paid a "third person" 400,000 pesos (£24,500) for a hard disk full of personal data drawn largely from the electoral roll. It sold this to ChoicePoint for just $250,000, indicating the huge profitability of ChoicePoint's contracts - last year's $11m payment was part of a five-year contract worth $67m. "The companies had to know that it is forbidden to use the information in the electoral register for any other purpose than elections," said Julio Tellez, a specialist in Mexico's information laws at the Tec de Monterrey University. "It is a federal crime to misuse the information, and they did that by selling it and putting it in the hands of a foreign government." Mr Tellez said he believed that this makes the companies and the US government liable to prosecution."

Venezuela to increase oil production to 2 million barrels a day by 2008  5/5/03 Houston Chronicle 

Stuck in the Middle - Colombia’s labor movement faces economic assault—backed up by deadly force.  5/5/03 In These Times: "Military victory in Iraq has inflated the Beltway Rambos’ fantasies of using American firepower to remake the world. This new imperial hubris could propel the United States into far riskier adventures than the war against Saddam Hussein, including one not far from home in violence-torn Colombia. Here, a militarily toughened but politically degraded guerrilla movement faces a hard-line, right-wing government aided by brutal paramilitary forces. Caught in the middle is a small, embattled progressive movement that rejects armed struggle but demands social justice and democratic reforms."

Many withdraw from Mosul poll, council elected  5/5/03 Indian Express: "As the delegations chose their representatives, many of them announced that they were withdrawing from the election in protest that delegates were divided along ethnic lines."

Four More Suspected Al-Qaida Members Arrested  5/5/03 Jiahd Unspun 

New Report For Arab Mujahideen Inside Iraq  5/5/03 Jihad Unspun: "On Thursday April 3, the headquarters of the Mujahedeen decided to attack the Palestine hotel after information was confirmed that it was used as a center for the CIA operations against the Mujahideen, groups of martyrdom fighters penetrated the hotel. At 7:00 AM the Mujahedeen groups assaulted the checkpoints around the hotel, then they were followed by other groups of supporting fighters who attacked the troops that guard the hotel. The fighting with the Americans lasted for 15 minutes before the first convoy of Mujahedeen began to evacuate the area while blowing their explosive devices in the roads around the hotel. Consequently, groups of American and Spanish commandos attempted to follow the attackers when the supporting convoy of Mujahedeen ambushed them in a battle that claimed the lives of unknown number of aggressors."

Rockets Rain Down On Spin Boldak, Five More Dead  5/5/03 Jihad Unspun: "In Spin Boldak, several public offices were attacked with rockets last Tuesday morning and 5 were killed including 2 public officials. Located near Pak-Afghan border- Spin Boldak, commissioner of the city, Fazal Agha has accused Taliban for this attack. He said that the attack was carried at 4 am in the morning and the assailants were wearing Afghan soldiers’ uniforms. They assailants attacked the intelligence bureau’s ammunition depot, the ministry of border affairs and the border security forces’ offices with rockets. Fazal Agha has claimed that some of the assailants then fled into Pakistan and talks are currently underway for their return. Pakistani forces have denied these allegations and Pakistani forces have also been on alert on the border area- Chaman- and have sealed the border."

'Virus is mutating fast' in Hong Kong Could outrace a cure  5/5/03 National Post, Canada: ''The virus is mutating fast,'' said Dennis Lo, one of a team of microbiologists who have just finished a study on the SARS virus. ''Such a quick mutation means that even if there is a cure it may become ineffective. Even a diagnostic test may not be able to detect it if it has undergone change.''


Militant Groups in Syria Dispute Reports of Crackdown  5/5/03 NYT 

UK: 250 reservist medics ready to quit over Iraq posting  5/5/03 Telegraph, UK 

Iraqi welcome for US turns to fury  5/5/03 The Age, Australia: "Control of Umm Qasr has been handed to the Spanish, whose soldiers rarely venture far beyond their heavily guarded headquarters inside the port. They have reason to be wary. The talk on the street is that remnants of Saddam's Baath Party are regrouping with military supporters who melted back into the civilian population when the coalition forces first swept through. Large quantities of weapons and ammunition - including rocket-propelled grenades - have been stolen in recent days from poorly guarded Iraqi military stockpiles nearby."

The real 'Saving Pte. Lynch'  5/5/03 Toronto Star: ""The most important thing to know is that the Iraqi soldiers and commanders had left the hospital almost two days earlier," Houssona said. "The night they left, a few of the senior medical staff tried to give Jessica back. We carefully moved her out of intensive care and into an ambulance and began to drive to the Americans, who were just one kilometre away. But when the ambulance got within 300 metres, they began to shoot. There wasn't even a chance to tell them `We have Jessica. Take her.'" … The Iraqi medical staff fanned out to assess the damage. In all, 12 doors were broken, a sterilized operating theatre contaminated, and the specialized traction bed in which Lynch had been placed was trashed. "That was a special bed, the only one like it in the hospital, but we gave it to Jessica because she was developing a bed sore," Houssona said."

Germans wanted for forces in Iraq  5/5/03 Washington Times: "Poland's defense minister will tell Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld at a meeting today that he wants German and Danish troops to join Polish forces in a mulitnational security force that will patrol one of three zones in Iraq." The Poles, like the Spanish, are likely to be particular targets of the Mujahideen.

"There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to Democracies as against despots: suspicion." -- Demosthenes

Maps & Weather

A number of maps here

Estimates of the total number of Muslims range from 0.7 to 1.2 billion worldwide and 3 to 6 million in the U.S. About 20% of all people on earth follow Islam. The religion is in a period of rapid growth.

Christianity is currently the largest religion in the world. It is followed by about 33% of all people -- a percentage that has remaind stable for decades. It is expected that, if current trends continue, Islam will become the most popular religion sometime in the mid-21st century.


Death from Americatop

Iraq news: Soaring death rates among Iraqi children, 1999 BBC, UNICEF 500,000 child deaths

Ramsey Clark: Report to UN Security Council re: Iraq, 1/26/2000
1.5 million deaths

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