Roy L. Harbin:The DANG-DInGIE American

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re:deaths down in iraq

~October is on course to record the second consecutive decline in U.S. military and Iraqi civilian deaths and Americans commanders say they know why: the U.S. troop increase and an Iraqi groundswell against al-Qaida and Shiite militia extremists.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch points to what the military calls "Concerned Citizens" - both Shiites and Sunnis who have joined the American fight. He says he's signed up 20,000 of them in the past four months.

"I've never been more optimistic than I am right now with the progress we've made in Iraq. The only people who are going to win this counterinsurgency project are the people of Iraq. We've said that all along. And now they're coming forward in masses," Lynch said in a recent interview at a U.S. base deep in hostile territory south of Baghdad. Outgoing artillery thundered as he spoke.

Lynch, who commands the 3rd Infantry Division and once served as the military spokesman in Baghdad, is a tireless cheerleader of the American effort in Iraq. But the death toll over the past two months appears to reinforce his optimism. The question, of course: Will it last?

As of Tuesday, the Pentagon reported 28 U.S. military deaths in October. That's an average of about 1.2 deaths a day. The toll on U.S troops hasn't been this low since March 2006, when 31 soldiers died - an average of one death a day.

In September, 65 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq.~

~Sunni Sheik Emad Ghurtani is among those helping.

"Honestly, I'm not going to hide this from you," Ghurtani told Lynch as the two stood talking at a newly established tribal check point near Haswa, a village just north of the Kalsu base.

"There is some al-Qaida here in this area. But, God willing, we will get rid of them. ... The citizens are coming out. They're not afraid any more," the tall and handsome tribal leader said. Three scruffy young men watched, AK-47s slung over their shoulders, in the sandbag bunker at the check point.

Lynch, hatless on the balmy autumn day, answered in staccato sentences.

"What we really need is information. You know where al-Qaida is. You know who they are. You have to tell us. We can use all our capabilities to take out the enemy. But you have to tell us where they are, because you know. You've got our total support."

The sheik, who made Lynch promise to return for lunch one day, responded with striking eloquence.

"Because of what the American forces have accomplished, instead of us moving step by step we're going to start running toward the enemy ... Instead of walking, we're going to start running now. We just need the weapons and ammunition," Ghurtani said.

The guard force at the checkpoint changed during the conversation. Three young men barely out of their teens, ancient Kalashnikovs in hand, strolled town the dirt road that led back into Ghurtani territory. Their U.S.-provided uniforms are a vest with a reflective orange band akin to what road crews wear in the United States.

Ghurtani complained they hadn't been paid the $100 a month the Americans had promised.

"If I get some of the money they need I can get them shoes, some vests and some ammunition. If they can find me cheap weapons, we can start getting these men ready. God willing in the next few days," the sheik said.

Most heartening, Lynch said, was the checkpoint just across the road and over an irrigation canal. It was run by Shiites.

Lynch said the checkpoints on opposite sides of the road highlighted a kind of reconciliation by necessity: not fighting each other but protecting themselves from a common enemy.

"They have to be convinced that we're not leaving. That's the issue. If they were to think we're leaving we'd have also sorts of trouble," Lynch said, clambering over a makeshift earthen bridge across the canal.

The local Shiite sheik wasn't at the checkpoint.

He was in a hospital recovering from injuries in a car crash. Two ragtag fellows in their 20s stood up from their sandbag bunker and told Lynch they needed money to buy weapons. "Al-Qaida has all kinds of weapons. We just have these old rifles," one of them said pointing to his dilapidated Kalashnikov.

"OK. We just continue to work together to get you the money so you can buy better weapons, better ammunition, uniforms. Improve your check point. We just have to work together," Lynch said, spinning on his heel and marching back to his nine-Humvee convoy.~




re:islamist fanatics tactics,,attack your eneimies from behind innocents then blame your enemy for their deaths,,or simply lie about it

~Afghanistan this year has seen the heaviest fighting since the 2001 ouster of the Taliban. In all, more than 5,200 people have died in insurgency related violence, according to an Associated Press count.

Some 700 civilians have died in fighting this year, according to the AP count based on figures from Afghan and Western officials. About half of those deaths were caused by U.S. and NATO forces.

Casualty figures from remote battles often vary widely in Afghanistan and are hard to independently verify. U.S. and NATO officials say insurgents commonly force villagers to claim civilians casualties when none happened and that sometimes villagers falsely claim deaths in order to receive monetary compensation.

Separately, the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan said one child and five militants were killed in Zabul province Tuesday after militants fired on coalition soldiers from a tent.~

re:bin laden spouts

~Bin Laden Urges Iraq Insurgents to Unite

Published: 10/22/07, 7:05 PM EDT


BAGHDAD (AP) - Osama bin Laden scolded his al-Qaida followers in Iraq and other insurgents Monday, saying they have "been lax" for failing to overcome fanatical tribal loyalties and unite in the fight against U.S. troops.

The message of his new audiotape reflected the growing disarray among Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgents and bin Laden's client group in the country, both of which are facing heavy U.S. military pressure and an uprising among Sunni tribesmen.

In the brief tape played on Al-Jazeera television, the terrorist leader urged militants to "beware of division ... The Muslim world is waiting for you to gather under one banner."

He used the word "ta'assub" - "fanaticism" - to chastise insurgents for putting their allegiance to tribe or radical organization above the larger fight to overcome American forces.

While the authenticity of the tape could not be verified immediately, the voice resembled that of bin Laden in previous messages. U.S. officials in Washington said analysts were still studying the tape. Al-Jazeera did not say how it got the tape, which was bin Laden's third this year.

"My mujahedeen brothers in Iraq, you are a people worthy of praise and flattery. You've done well to carry out a glorious duty by fighting the enemy. But some of you have lagged behind in carrying out another glorious duty, which is to unite as one - as God wants," bin Laden said.

He warned followers "against hypocritical enemies who are infiltrating your ranks to create sedition among mujahedeen groups."

Anthony Cordesman, a terror analyst for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said bin Laden's underlying message appeared to be aimed at al-Qaida in Iraq - "that al-Qaida needs to be less arrogant and moderate its conduct."

Cordesman pointed to al-Qaida in Iraq's attempts to impose Taliban-like Islamic laws in some areas it controlled as well as its killings of rival tribal figures, actions that alienated some Sunni Arabs and led them to join a movement opposing al-Qaida.

To showcase the success of that tribal alliance, the U.S. military planned what it called a "unification parade" in Ramadi, the Anbar provincial capital, on Tuesday.

Maj. Lee Peters, a military spokesman for the area, said security would be increased to protect the celebration. It was to include at least 200 Sunni sheiks and hundreds of other dignitaries to commemorate Sheik Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, the founder of the anti-al-Qaida group who was assassinated by a bomb Sept. 13.

Abdul-Sattar's brother, who has taken over the movement, said it was important to maintain pressure on insurgents, recalling that about 50 al-Qaida militants marched through downtown Ramadi a year ago in a show of force.

"The people felt weak and afraid because of al-Qaida. Now there is a feeling of strength," Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha told The Associated Press at his heavily guarded compound as a band practiced for the parade in the backyard. "This year I want to have a good parade to show that we support the law."

The U.S. military, meanwhile, kept up pressure on Shiite Muslim militants as well.

Baghdad police said American helicopters strafed a building in the capital's Sadr City district, wounding a woman and her daughter, the second claim in as many days of civilian casualties from U.S. attacks in the Shiite enclave.

Iraqi officials disputed an American military claim that 49 militants were killed Sunday in a ground and air assault that targeted an Iranian-linked militia chief, insisting the number of casualties was 15 - all civilians.

Aides to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr condemned the raid but urged followers to abide by his orders to refrain from violence despite what it called "the crimes of the Americans."

"We call upon al-Sadr's people to show self-restraint. Their reaction should be peaceful and should not violate the order ... to freeze their activities," said Falah al-Obeidi at the cleric's office in Sadr City.

Al-Sadr later issued his own statement urging his Mahdi Army militia not to harm or kill fellow Iraqis. He also appeared to call on members of Iraqi government forces to stop cooperating with the U.S. military.

"You army and police of Iraq, don't kill an Iraqi in the name of secular laws or in the name of 'imposing the law,'" he said, using his phrase for the security crackdown in Baghdad and surrounding areas.

The U.S. military has said repeatedly that it welcomed al-Sadr's order to his Mahdi Army fighters but pledged to continue its crackdown against what it says are breakaway factions that are being armed and trained by Iran.

One of those suspected faction leaders, who was accused of leading a kidnapping ring, was the target of Sunday's raid. The military said he was not killed or captured.

Other Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad were rattled by bombs Monday as at least 50 people were killed or found dead nationwide, according to police, hospital and morgue officials.

The figure included 25 bullet-riddled bodies, some decapitated, in a mass grave at Nadhum village in the mainly Sunni region around Lake Tharthar northwest of the capital. Police said the victims appeared to have been killed within the past three months.

Overall, the number of deadly attacks has dropped recently, with U.S. and Iraqi military officials citing the influx of soldiers ordered in by President Bush. The full contingent of 30,000 reinforcements has been operating since mid-June.

In the latest reported U.S. strike, witnesses and police said attack helicopters opened fire before dawn Monday on a duplex in Sadr City that housed a family in one half and a store selling motor oil in the other. The U.S. military said it was looking into the report.

Abdul Ridha Jassim said his wife, 42-year-old Noriyah Jabbar, and 4-year-old daughter Hiba were seriously wounded.

"My poor wife and daughter. They didn't commit any sin or mistake to suffer such serious wounds," he said. "Who will take care and look after us. I feel a deep misery."

The military said the U.S. ground and air assault in Sadr City on Sunday left "an estimated 49 criminals" dead, which would be one of the highest tolls for a single operation since Bush declared an end to active combat in 2003.

Iraqi officials maintained 15 civilians were killed, including a woman, a 14-year-old boy and two toddlers.

An Associated Press reporter counted 11 death certificates linked to the raid Sunday in Sadr City's Imam Ali hospital, and hospital officials said one person died at the district's General Hospital and three others at the neurology hospital in central Baghdad.

"At this time, we still have no evidence to suggest there are civilian casualties," Lt. Justin Cole, a military spokesman, said Monday. He declined to comment on how the military determined 49 militants were killed, saying the information was classified.___

Associated Press writers Lee Keath in Cairo, Egypt, Bushra Juhi in Baghdad and Kim Curtis in Ramadi contributed to this report.~

re:bin laden spouts about sudan

~Osama Bin Laden renewed his call for a holy war against a proposed peacekeeping force in Sudan's wartorn region of Darfur in a message that appeared on Web sites Tuesday.~

~Bin Laden called for foreign forces to be driven from Darfur.

"It is the duty of the people of Islam in the Sudan and its environs, especially the Arabian Peninsula, to perform jihad against the Crusader invaders and wage armed rebellion to remove those who let them in," he said, according to a transcript provided by IntelCenter, which monitors extremist Web sites.

Bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawhiri, made a similar call for jihad in Darfur in a Sept. 20 video message, and bin Laden issued an audiotape in 2006 calling on his followers to go to Sudan to fight a proposed U.N. force there.

In Tuesday's message, bin Laden referred to talks between Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, and Saudi officials who pressed him to agree to a joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur. Those meetings took place in March and April.

In the sections of the message broadcast Monday, bin Laden took the highly uncharacteristic step of acknowledging that al-Qaida had made mistakes and chiding followers for not uniting their ranks - a reference to the squabbles among various insurgent groups in Iraq.

"Everybody can make a mistake, but the best of them are those who admit their mistakes," he said. "Mistakes have been made during holy wars but mujahideen have to correct their mistakes."

Al-Jazeera's decision to air only that critical part of the autio rather than the lengthy opening section, which applauded insurgent victories in Iraq, appeared to have angered the militants.

One militant Web site that is a clearing house for al-Qaida and other extremist videos announced the message would appear uncut in its entirety, as opposed to the way it was broadcast by al-Jazeera.

"The shameful and dissolute channel is seeking to support the Crusaders and the enemies," said an angry posting on the site. "The channel is the shame of the Islamic community.

The rest bin Laden's message applauded the insurgents in Iraq for a job well done and told them to remain steadfast in the face of the increase in coalition forces, singling out the fighters in Diyala in particular.

"You massacred the enemy and applied yourself to fighting them, until they became prisoners of their bases and the Green Zone, fearing danger. So continue to make the soldiers of unblief drink from the bitter cup of death," he said.

Bin Laden also urged Arabs across the region to join the fight in Iraq.~


re:mistrial seen as victory by alledged islamic charity group leader

~Mistrial Declared in Muslim Charity Case

Published: 10/22/07, 7:25 PM EDT


DALLAS (AP) - The biggest terror-financing trial since Sept. 11 ended in confusion Monday, with no one convicted and many acquittals thrown out after three jurors took the rare step of disputing the verdict.

Prosecutors said they would probably retry leaders of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, as well as the organization itself, which the federal government shut down in December 2001.

Defendants and their supporters considered the outcome a victory. Outside the courthouse, jubilant family members and supporters hoisted defendant and Holy Land chief executive Shukri Abu Baker on their shoulders and cried, "God is great!"

After two months of testimony and 19 days of deliberations, the jury reached verdicts for only one of the five defendants, finding former Holy Land chairman Mohammed El-Mezain not guilty of 31 of 32 counts and deadlocking on the remaining charge.

Acquittals for two other defendants, Mufid Abdulqader and Abdulrahman Odeh, also were read in court. But when the judge polled each juror - normally a formality - things turned chaotic, as three jurors said they disagreed with the verdicts.

U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish sent the jury back to resolve the differences, but after about an hour he said he received a note from the jury saying 11 of the 12 felt further deliberations would not lead them to reach a unanimous decision. Then he declared a mistrial.

The jury forewoman said none of the jurors raised objections to the verdicts in the jury room.

The jury reached verdicts Thursday, but they were sealed until Monday because Fish had been out of town.

Juror William Neal told The Associated Press that the panel found little evidence against three of the defendants and was evenly split on charges against Baker and former Holy Land chairman Ghassan Elashi, who were seen as the principal leaders of the charity.

"I thought they were not guilty across the board," said Neal, a 33-year-old art director from Dallas. The case "was strung together with macaroni noodles. There was so little evidence."

President Bush personally announced the seizure of Holy Land's assets in December 2001, calling the action "another step in the war on terrorism."

FBI agents and Israeli officials testified that Holy Land funneled millions of dollars to Hamas, which has carried out suicide bombings in Israel. The U.S. government designated Hamas a terrorist group in 1995, making financial transactions with it illegal.

Holy Land's lawyers deny the allegations and say the group helped Muslim children and families left homeless or poor by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The defendants were charged with dozens of counts, including aiding a terrorist organization, conspiracy, money laundering and tax charges. The only charge remaining against El-Mezain is conspiracy to provide support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Lead prosecutor James Jacks said in court that he expected the government to try the case again, but he could not elaborate outside court because the judge extended a gag order he placed on lawyers in the case.

"This is a stunning setback for the government," said a former U.S. attorney, Matthew Orwig. "There is absolutely nothing positive in that verdict today for the government."

Orwig said if prosecutors retry the case, they should dramatically simplify it and perhaps focus on fewer defendants.

The prosecution's key witness was a lawyer for the Israeli domestic security agency Shin Bet who testified under a false name. He said Palestinian charities that got Holy Land money were controlled by Hamas.

Neal, the juror, said he found the Shin Bet officer's testimony unconvincing - that he would expect an Israeli official to condemn an ally of Palestinians.

Holy Land was founded in California in the late 1980s and moved to the Dallas area in 1992. The case followed terror-financing trials in Chicago and Florida that also ended without convictions on the major counts.

The government "failed in Chicago, it failed in Florida, it failed in Texas," said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, one of dozens of Muslim groups named as unindicted co-conspirators. "The reason it failed is the government does not have the facts; it has fear."

The men faced as many as 20 years in prison on the most serious charges. Prosecutors chose not to allege that deaths resulted from the defendants' actions, which could have made them eligible for life in prison, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office.___

Associated Press writer Anabelle Garay contributed to this report.~


re:americans accused of killing only civilians

~The U.S. military said its forces killed an estimated 49 militants during a dawn raid to capture an Iranian-linked militia chief in Baghdad's Sadr City enclave, one of the highest tolls for a single operation since President Bush declared an end to active combat in 2003.

Iraqi police and hospital officials, who often overstate casualties, reported only 15 deaths including three children. Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said all the dead were civilians.

Al-Dabbagh said on CNN that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, had met with the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, to protest the action.

Associated Press photos showed the bodies of two toddlers, one with a gouged face, swaddled in blankets on a morgue floor. Their shirts were pulled up, exposing their abdomens, and a diaper showed above the waistband of one boy's shorts. Relatives said the children were killed when helicopter gunfire hit their house as they slept.

One local resident said some of the casualties were people sleeping on roofs to seek relief from the heat and lack of electricity. The Iraqi officials said 52 were wounded in the raid on the sprawling district.

The U.S. military said it was not aware of any civilian casualties, and the discrepancy in the death tolls and accounts of what happened could not be reconciled. American commanders reported no U.S. casualties.

The raid on the dangerous Shiite slum was aimed at capturing an alleged rogue militia chief, one of thousands of fighters who have broken with Muqtada al-Sadr's mainstream Mahdi Army. The military did not say if the man was captured. He was also not named.

The Shiite cleric has ordered gunmen loyal to him to put down their arms. But thousands of followers dissatisfied with being taken out of the fight have formed a loose confederation armed and trained by Iran.

The U.S. operation was the latest in a series that have produced significant death tolls, including civilians, as American forces increasingly take the fight to Sunni insurgents, al-Qaida militants and Shiite militiamen.

The intensity and frequency of American attacks and raids have grown since the arrival of the last of 30,000 additional soldiers on June 15.

The reinforcements were ordered into Iraq earlier this year by Bush and have inflicted a heavy toll on militants on both sides of Iraq's sectarian divide. American commanders credit the troop buildup for a sharp drop in the number of attacks and deaths of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians, particularly in the past two months.

As U.S. forces pounded Sadr City, the potential grew for a fresh explosion of fighting on a new front, Iraq's northern border with Turkey.

Early Sunday, Kurdish separatist rebels who take shelter in the rugged mountains on the Iraqi side of the frontier ambushed a military unit inside Turkey and killed at least 12 soldiers. Turkish forces responded by lobbing at least 15 artillery shells toward mainly abandoned Kurdish villages inside Iraq, according to Iraqi border guard Col. Hussein Rashid. He said there were no casualties.

In the Sadr City raid, the U.S. military said forces killed "an estimated 49 criminals" in three linked attacks during an intelligence-driven raid to capture the rogue Shiite kidnapper who was partially funded by Iran.

U.S. troops returned fire under attack from automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades from nearby buildings as they began raiding structures in the district, according to a statement. It said 33 militants were killed in the firefight. Ground forces then called in helicopter airstrikes, which killed six more militants.

As American soldiers left the zone, troops were hit by a roadside bomb and continued heavy fire, killing 10 more combatants.

"All total, coalition forces estimate that 49 criminals were killed in three separate engagements during this operation. Ground forces reported they were unaware of any innocent civilians being killed as a result of this operation," the military said.

A local resident who goes by the name Abu Fatmah said his neighbor's 14-year-old son, Saif Alwan, was killed while sleeping on the roof.

"Saif was killed by an airstrike and what is his guilt? Is he from the Mahdi Army? He is a poor student," Abu Fatmah said.

An uncle of 2-year-old Ali Hamid said the boy was killed and his parents seriously wounded when helicopter gunfire pierced the wall and windows of their house as they slept indoors.

Relatives gathered at Sadr City's Imam Ali hospital where the emergency room was overwhelmed with bloodied casualties. The dead were placed in caskets covered by Iraqi flags.

APTN video showed three bloodied boys sitting on hospital tables and an elderly man being treated for a head wound. Mourners tied wooden coffins onto the tops of minivans with a plume of smoke in the background. Other footage showed a U.S. helicopter flying over the area while black smoke rose.

The sweeps into Sadr City have sent a strong message that U.S. forces plan no letup on suspected Shiite militia cells despite objections from the Shiite-led government of al-Maliki, who is working for closer cooperation with Shiite heavyweight Iran.

An Iraqi military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, said the government would ask the Americans for an explanation of Sunday's raid and stressed the need to avoid civilian deaths.

The government has issued mixed reactions to the raids and airstrikes, particularly those that have targeted Sunni extremists.

U.S. troops backed by attack aircraft killed 19 suspected insurgents and 15 civilians, including nine children, in an operation Oct. 11 targeting al-Qaida in Iraq leaders northwest of Baghdad.

Al-Maliki's government said those killings were a "sorrowful matter," but emphasized that civilian deaths are unavoidable in the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq.~


re:pedo teacher

~Eventually, though, she and two of her friends started to feel uncomfortable with what they described as increasingly creepy behavior.

After attending a school seminar about inappropriate touching in 2001, they took a piece of paper and wrote a note to the woman who spoke to them.

He "rubs our leg sometimes, rubs our back to feel for a bra," the girl, then age 11, wrote for herself and her friends.

"He comments (to) me about my hair and how nice it looks when it's down, comments to (another female student) on how she dresses and that she should be a model."

They asked the woman not to say anything and, if she did, not to mention their names.

"We are afraid to tell our parents," the girl wrote in the note, which eventually made its way to Karen Grindle, the principal at Pershing.

The girls thought it was enough to flag an adult's attention without having to be too explicit.

Grindle, according to court documents, spoke to the children individually and to some of their parents, though she didn't show the letter to the parents. She told them that their daughters felt uncomfortable with the band teacher - that she had spoken to Sperlik, that he explained that he was only correcting their posture and tapping them on the knee to help them keep a beat.

The parents felt reassured.

"She told me she had my daughter's self-interest at heart. That made me feel good," the mom says.

Later in court, however, the girls claimed they had privately told Grindle that Sperlik touched them in their groin area. Grindle insisted that never happened.

Given her findings, she made no report to police or child protective services. She did, however, tell Sperlik not to touch his students for any reason.

Grindle, who was later cleared of criminal charges for not reporting Sperlik, did not respond to a request for an interview. Nor did Sperlik, by way of his attorney.~


re:c.thomas cries and boohoos that he didn't get 'equal'

~U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has a 15-cent price tag stuck to his Yale law degree, blaming the school's affirmative action policies in the 1970s for his difficulty finding a job after he graduated.

Some of his black classmates say Thomas needs to get over his grudge because Yale opened the door to extraordinary opportunities.

Thomas' new autobiography, "My Grandfather's Son," shows how the second black justice on the Supreme Court came to oppose affirmative action after his law school experience. He was one of about 10 blacks in a class of 160 who had arrived at Yale after the unrest of the 1960s, which culminated in a Black Panther Party trial in New Haven that nearly caused a large-scale riot.

The conservative justice says he initially considered his admission to Yale a dream, but soon felt he was there because of his race. He says he loaded up on tough courses to prove he was not inferior to his white classmates but considers the effort futile. He says he was repeatedly turned down in job interviews at law firms after his 1974 graduation.

"I learned the hard way that a law degree from Yale meant one thing for white graduates and another for blacks, no matter how much any one denied it," Thomas writes. "I'd graduated from one of America's top law schools, but racial preference had robbed my achievement of its true value."

Thomas says he stores his Yale Law degree in his basement with a 15-cent sticker from a cigar package on the frame.

His view isn't shared by black classmate William Coleman III.

"I can only say my degree from Yale Law School has been a great boon," said Coleman, now an attorney in Philadelphia. "Had he not gone to a school like Yale, he would not be sitting on the Supreme Court."

Coleman's Yale roommate, Bill Clinton, appointed him general counsel to the U.S. Army, one of several top jobs Coleman has held over the years.

Thomas said he began interviewing with law firms at the beginning of his third year of law school.

"Many asked pointed questions unsubtly suggesting that they doubted I was as smart as my grades indicated," he wrote. "Now I knew what a law degree from Yale was worth when it bore the taint of racial preference."

He said it was months before he got an offer, from then-Missouri Attorney General John Danforth.

Steven Duke, a white Yale law professor who taught when Thomas attended Yale, said Thomas is right to say that the significance of someone's degree could be called into question if the person was admitted to an institution on a preferential basis. However, he said that could be overcome by strong performance, noting that two Yale graduates - Danforth and President Bush - put Thomas into top jobs.

"I find it difficult to believe he actually regrets the choice he made," Duke said. "It seems to me he did pretty well."

Some classmates say Thomas - who was raised poor in Georgia and stood out on campus in his overalls and heavy black boots - faced a tougher transition than black students who came from middle-class or privileged backgrounds.

Frank Washington, a black classmate and friend of Thomas who also came from a lower-income background, said he had 42 interviews before he landed a job at a Washington law firm.

"It seemed like I had to go through many more interviews than a lot of my other non-minority classmates," said Washington, now an entrepreneur who owns radio and television stations.

Other black classmates say their backgrounds didn't matter.

Edgar Taplin Jr., raised by a single parent in New Orleans, said he landed a job after graduation at the oldest law firm in New York, and does not recall black graduates struggling more to get jobs than their white classmates.

"My degree was worth a lot more than 15 cents," said Taplin, who retired in 2003 as a global manager with Exxon Mobil.

Thomas has declined to have his portrait hung at Yale Law School along with other graduates who became U.S. Supreme Court justices. An earlier book, "Supreme Discomfort," by Washington Post reporters Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher, portrays Thomas as still upset some Yale professors opposed his confirmation during hearings marked by Anita Hill's allegations that Thomas sexually harassed her.

Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh turned down requests for interviews about the justice's book, but said in a statement that he and his predecessors have invited Thomas to have his portrait done and the offer still stands.

Koh said they met for several hours about a year ago. "He made it clear that he had greatly enjoyed his time at Yale Law School, and that he had great affection for his fellow students and for several professors who are still here," he said.

Thomas would not comment, said court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg.

William Coleman says it's time for Thomas to move on.

"You did OK, guy," he said.~


re:olmert asassination plot

~Israeli officials on Sunday said they foiled a recent attempt by Palestinian militants to assassinate Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during a trip to the West Bank and warned the plot could hurt prospects for an upcoming U.S.-hosted Mideast peace conference.

Palestinian officials said Olmert was never in imminent danger and accused Israel of trying to exploit the plot to hinder progress before the summit.~

~Palestinians said Israel's decision to disclose the assassination plot, more than three months after it was uncovered, appeared to be aimed at heading off the pressure.

"It clouds the atmosphere of the conference," Olmert said before leaving on a trip to France. "Israel views this with great severity."

Israel has long said peace efforts cannot progress until the Palestinians crack down on militant groups. Israeli officials said they were especially upset that Palestinian security forces released three suspects arrested in the plot, though two of the men were subsequently re-arrested.

The assassination plot was disclosed to the Israeli Cabinet by Yuval Diskin, director of the Shin Bet internal security agency.

According to meeting participants, Diskin said Palestinian gunmen had planned to attack Olmert's convoy as it entered the West Bank town of Jericho on Aug. 6 for a meeting with Abbas. Diskin told the Cabinet the gunmen were linked to Abbas' Fatah movement, said the participants, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was closed.

While Abbas oversees official Palestinian security forces, he has little control over extremist armed groups, including those loyal to Fatah, which frequently act counter to his efforts to reconcile Israel and the Palestinians.

Diskin did not say how close the militants were to carrying out the plot, and it was not clear why Olmert was allowed to proceed on his trip if there was a threat to his life.

In Jerusalem, Palestinian Prime Minster Salam Fayyad played down the incident, saying Olmert was never seriously threatened. He said three suspects were arrested, and only released after three months of questioning.

"The interrogation did not reveal according to our security services anything that was imminently dangerous," he said. Nonetheless, Palestinian officials said they re-arrested two of the men last week under Israeli pressure.

"We are trying the very best we can to bring law and order to the cities, villages and areas that are under our control," Fayyad said, rejecting Israeli claims of a "revolving door" policy of arresting and releasing militants.

Fayyad was in Jerusalem to meet with a group of Israeli lawmakers. Israeli officials said the meeting was moved from Jericho to Jerusalem because of security concerns.

Palestinian officials accused Israel of exaggerating the seriousness of the incident to divert attention away from the troubled preparations for the upcoming Mideast conference. Hard-line members of Olmert's coalition have threatened to bring down his government if he makes too many concessions to the Palestinians at the summit.

"This is one more attempt to put obstacles in the way to the fall conference," said Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Abbas.

Olmert and Abbas have held a series of meetings to restart peace efforts and prepare for the conference. The Jericho meeting was the only time they have met on Palestinian soil and was meant as a gesture to boost Abbas' stature with his people.

The Palestinians have said there is no point to holding the conference unless it deals seriously with contentious issues that have hindered past peace talks.

They include final borders, Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the status of disputed Jerusalem and a solution for Palestinian refugees.

Olmert has said the preparatory document should be much more general. "The meeting is not intended to lead in and of itself to an agreement or to a historic breakthrough," he told the Cabinet Sunday.~

re:pals in prison riot

~Israel is holding 11,000 Palestinian prisoners for security offenses ranging from membership in militant organizations to planning and carrying out attacks against Israelis. Their release is a central Palestinian demand.~

(this was the pic w/the article:

it shows a young child w/a milk bottle walking with a man beside him and a soldier behind him)

re:pal militant leader killed in missile strike

~Mubarak al-Hassanat, 37, was driving in a black jeep on Gaza's coastal road when the vehicle was struck by missiles. The jeep veered off the road onto the beach, with its roof sheared off and the front twisted.

Al-Hassanat was the most prominent militant to be killed in an air strike in more than a year. He was a senior official in the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza, which oversees the security forces. He was also the No. 2 in the Popular Resistance Committees, a loose alliance of militants from various factions involved in rocket attacks on Israel.

Al-Hassanat had gotten his start in the Fatah movement of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but over the years established closer ties with Hamas and then joined the PRC.

On Monday, al-Hassanat met with PRC members for five hours, said a spokesman, Abu Abir.

"He was recommending more resistance and more activities in the West Bank," Abu Abir told Hamas Radio. "His blood will be fuel for our rockets."

Palestinian militants in Gaza fire rockets and mortars almost daily, despite frequent Israeli airstrikes and ground operations. The army said five rockets were fired at Israel on Tuesday.~

re:pals finally taken to task for doing what they have claimed others do

~Amnesty International on Wednesday harshly criticized rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah for harming civilians in their deadly infighting.

The international human rights group released a 58-page report titled "Torn apart by factional strife," and said about 350 Palestinians were killed during the first months of 2007 in infighting in the Gaza Strip. Many of the dead were noncombatants, Amnesty said.

The clashes peaked in mid-June, when Hamas militants thrashed pro-Fatah security forces in the Gaza Strip and overran the territory.

After the Hamas takeover, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah dismissed the Hamas-led Cabinet and formed his own government, which controls the West Bank. Hamas, led by deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, continues to rule Gaza.

During the clashes, militants mounted attacks from civilian apartment buildings and hospitals and targeted rival patients in their hospital beds, the London-based organization said. Fighter used crowded residential neighborhoods as war zones, firing mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and bullets from civilian buildings.

The Abbas government condemned the report, and a Hamas spokesman said his government wants to "open a new page" through dialogue with Fatah.

In examples cited by the report, a child running to a shop buy candy was killed by shrapnel, a young woman heading to a school exam died from a sniper bullet, and a peaceful march through Gaza City to demand an end to the clashes came under fire that killed three civilians.

Amnesty charged that militants were killed by rivals while in captivity, and others were maimed, often by shooting captives in the shin bones and knees. Civilians also suspected of loyalty to rival groups were drawn into the conflict, the report said. Pro-Fatah security forces snatched Husam Abu Qinas, a 35-year-old tiler, and threw him off a roof, in apparent retribution for Hamas militants throwing a security force official off a high-rise hours before.

Amnesty International said after rival factions formed separate governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, both cracked down on suspected rival loyalists.

In the Gaza Strip, members of the Hamas military wing act as police and have detained and tortured Fatah activists and critics. Hamas police routinely beat protesters to break up demonstrations, and have roughed up journalists covering the events, Amnesty said.

In the West Bank, pro-Fatah security forces detained about 1,000 Hamas sympathizers and members, forcing many to sign statements condemning the Islamic group and disavowing their loyalties to it. Although most were held briefly, many reported being ill-treated or tortured, Amnesty said.

Fatah loyalists have also acted against Hamas sympathizers with impunity, smashing up Hamas-linked institutions, kidnapping and harassing loyalists, the rights group said.

Ashraf Ajrami, a minister in the West Bank government, said the report was baseless.

"I don't think they tried very hard to find out the truth," he said. "We have acted according to law."

Taher Nunu, a Hamas government spokesman, said his movement had acted out of necessity to put an end to chaos in Gaza.

"We regret the victims that fell during the internal clashes. ... Our concern was to defend civilians and our people," he said. "The solution to the disagreement is not by laying blame but is by returning to dialogue and opening a new page."~


re:world bank urged to help more 'underdeveloped countries'

~Zoellick faces a stiff challenge because in recent years wealthier countries have preferred to channel their aid to poor countries directly through their development agencies or through foundations that specialize on an issue such as malaria.

South Africa's finance minister, Trevor Manuel, was pleased by Zoellick's emphasis on helping to overcome poverty and promote sustainable growth in poor countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

He said the goals Zoellick has outlined suggest "a new pragmatism at the bank that could be of real benefit to countries in our constituency."

Germany's minister for economic cooperation and development, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, said it was encouraging that most countries in that region are experiencing their highest growth rates since independence, with further increases predicted.

"Here, it is crucial that the poor can have a share in this process, too," Wieczorek-Zeul said.

The 185-nation World Bank lends $24 billion a year for projects in the developing world such as building roads, schools and health clinic. But its role as a lender has fallen off because middle-income countries are gaining greater access to financing from other sources.

Zoellick took over from Paul Wolfowitz, a deputy defense secretary in the Bush administration who resigned from the bank in May in an ethics scandal.~


re:paki politicos play kayfabe swerve like pros


re:the other side of the conflicts

~Spain's Rodrigo de Rato said recent turbulence in credit markets, the worst in a decade, is a warning that the continually expanding global economy of recent years cannot be taken for granted.

"We still do not know the full extent of the decline in the house market and the subprime problems of the U.S. economy," he said, referring to risky mortgages made to borrowers in the U.S. with spotty credit or low income.

He said further disruption in financial markets and further falls in housing prices could lead to a global economic downturn, making other risks - rising food and oil prices, a falling dollar - loom larger.

As a result of the turbulence, he said the IMF expects "a slowdown in growth but not a recession in the United States, and a smaller slowdown in other advanced economies."~

~Groups demonstrating against global warming and war snarled traffic Monday around the U.S. Capitol.

The demonstrations involved several hundred people, part of a "No War, No Warming" protest combining environmentalism with an anti-war stand. About 60 people were arrested at various locations, Capitol Police Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said.

The protests were part of a series of demonstrations that have taken place in Washington since Friday, the first day of the annual meetings of the World Bank and the IMF. Most of the protests have been peaceful.

De Rato said that, so far, movements in currency exchange rates have been orderly, "but there are risks that an abrupt fall in the dollar could either by triggered by, or itself trigger, a loss of confidence in dollar assets.

"And there is a risk that exchange rate appreciation in countries with flexible exchange rates - including the euro area - could hurt their prospects, and that, in these circumstances, protectionist pressures could worsen."~

~As we move to address current problems, we must also address policy issues to prevent a repeat of recent excesses."

Addressing his first plenary session of the two institutions, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said the bank had to stretch itself to become more relevant to the poor and middle income countries it tries to help.

Zoellick, a former U.S. diplomat, trade representative and investment banker who took over July 1., said the bank's main priorities would be combatting poverty, helping countries emerging from civil strife, promoting regional cooperation to combat disease and climate change, aiding the Arab World and providing technical assistance.

"There is a great need - and a compelling opportunity - for the World Bank group at this point in history," he said.

The IMF-World Bank meetings took place against a backdrop of soaring oil prices, a falling dollar and the worst credit crisis in a decade, brought when markets essentially froze.

The Group of 24 developing countries noted wryly in their communique that, for once, a financial crises began in one of the advanced nations instead of in Asia or Latin America, as has happened in the past.~

(did you notice?a great need,a compeling the arab nations.plainly stated.wry comments show the minds focus.)

re:ugandan gov wants to know where the money is and who has it

~John Murray McIntire, the World Bank's country director for Tanzania and Uganda, called it a "good innovative project."

"We hope that it succeeds in bringing financial services to rural Ugandans who don't have them," he said Monday.

Suruma said the government initially wanted to try to increase household incomes in rural areas. But to do that, it had to find a way to provide fertilizer, seed and farming equipment to subsistence farmers in a country where most of the population lives on agriculture.

The government did not have enough money to supply the farmers - and the farmers couldn't buy the equipment and material because the vast majority did not have savings accounts and could not get loans, he said.

So the government decided to create at least 1,000 savings and credit cooperatives in rural areas, and 389 are already operating, Suruma said. Each is owned by its members who decide on loans and interest rates and oversee repayments.

But Suruma was not satisfied because people still had to travel to towns, and the associations were very basic. Credit was limited, and they did not have the technology and infrastructure to link into the national banking system, which limited prospects for growth.

So the government established a public-private partnership with New York-based Map International. This month, it launched a system to link the members of the cooperatives to the national banking system using debit cards with identifying photos and fingerprints, he said.

"With this link, they leapfrog and become a full-service banking institution able to provide credit, debit cards and electronic bill payment," Michael Landau, the company's chairman said Friday.~

re:127 bill in non taxed biz proceeds

~Mafia Is Biggest Business in Italy

Published: 10/22/07, 6:46 PM EDT

ROME (AP) - Revenue from organized crime amounts to an estimated $127 billion annually in Italy, making it the largest segment of the economy, a lobby group for small businesses said Monday.

The figure, representing about 7 percent of the country's gross domestic product, is made from illicit activities such as extortion, drug trafficking, loansharking and prostitution rings, the Confesercenti lobby said in a report.

Business lobbies have launched campaigns in recent years to increase awareness of the extent of organized crime in Italy, which they say limits investment in the country. Organized crime is particularly rooted in Sicily, Naples and the southern regions of Calabria and Puglia.

Tano Grasso, head of Italy's anti-rackets commission, said on state TV that for every 100 foreign investors who come to Italy, only one sets up business in the south.

One of the major issues is the "pizzo," as extorted "protection" money is known. Many businessmen in southern Italy have long considered it an unavoidable expense. A business lobby of industrialists in Sicily recently said it would expel any member who pays the "pizzo."

But eliminating the "pizzo" has been met with violent resistance. Some merchants, factory owners and industrialists who have denounced extortion attempts by mobsters have seen their businesses torched or company vehicles damaged in recent years.

A small number of businessmen have also been killed for refusing to pay the protection money.~



re:chemical levels in children

~"In the beginning, I wasn't worried at all; I was fascinated," Hammond, 37, recalled.

But that fascination soon changed to fear, as tests revealed that their children -- Rowan, then 18 months, and Mikaela, then 5 -- had chemical exposure levels up to seven times those of their parents.

"[Rowan's] been on this planet for 18 months, and he's loaded with a chemical I've never heard of," Holland, 37, said. "He had two to three times the level of flame retardants in his body that's been known to cause thyroid dysfunction in lab rats."~


re:castro blames bush for world famine & infers threatens to cause ww3

~Fidel Castro wrote Tuesday that President Bush is threatening the world with nuclear war and famine - an attack on Washington a day before the White House was to announce new plans to draw Cuba away from communism.

"The danger of a massive world famine is aggravated by Mr. Bush's recent initiative to transform foods into fuel," Castro wrote in Cuban news media, referring to U.S. support for using corn and other food crops to produce gasoline substitutes.

The brief essay titled "Bush, Hunger and Death" also alleged that Bush "threatens humanity with World War III, this time using atomic weapons."

The White House on Tuesday brushed off Castro's comments - particularly his assertion that Bush was pursuing a forceful conquest of Cuba.~


re:france gets tougher on immigration

~French lawmakers adopted a hotly contested bill on Tuesday that would institute language exams and potential DNA testing for prospective immigrants, making it more difficult for families to join loved ones in France.

The DNA amendment, the most controversial aspect of the legislation, is meant to ensure that claims of family ties are true. It was added as a way to ensure that visa-seekers were not using fraudulent papers, common in some African countries.~

~The rest of the bill requires that prospective immigrants take a language test and an exam on fundamental French values. It also sets a minimum income level for the relative in France to ensure the person arriving has enough financial support.~


re:iran and it's ayatollah seems displeased with Ahmadinejad over nuclear advisor change

~President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cut short a planned two-day visit to Armenia on Tuesday, officials there said, as the hard-line leader faced growing unhappiness back home over the resignation of Iran's top nuclear negotiator.

The sudden replacement of negotiator Ali Larijani fueled already increasing complaints - even from conservatives who were once his supporters - that the fire-brand president was mismanaging Iran's most vital issues, particularly the confrontation with the West over the nuclear program.

Beyond the suddenness of Larijani's weekend departure, the choice for his replacement, Saeed Jalili, also came as a surprise. Jalili was a low-profile deputy foreign minister, noted mainly for his loyalty to Ahmadinejad.

In a sign the displeasure may reach high levels in Iran's clerical establishment, a foreign policy adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, complained over the surprise change, which took place just ahead of key talks Tuesday with the European Union.

"It was definitely better if this did not happen in the (current) important and sensitive situation when the nuclear issue is on the table," the adviser, former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, was quoted as saying by the semi-official news agency, ISNA.~

~But during his absence Monday, complaints over Larijani's replacement mounted. During the day, 183 lawmakers, most of them conservatives, passed a measure praising Larijani's performance as nuclear negotiator, a clear sign of displeasure with his departure.

Conservative lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh criticized the changes, saying "the calamity of repeated dismissals and replacements has become a policy in this government, a move that not only has not brought any improvements but also has damaged progress both in the domestic and foreign arenas."

Jalili's elevation involves a startling jump onto the powerful Supreme National Security Council, a decision-making body that includes top political and military officials.

The top nuclear negotiator has the official title of secretary of the council, but usually he is a member of the council before being elevated to the post. Traditionally, the secretary has also been one of Khamenei's personal representatives on the council. Jalili was not on the council before being named its secretary over the weekend.

Instead, the 42-year-old Jalili - who was a Revolutionary Guards officer during the Iran-Iraq war - served as deputy foreign minister for European and American affairs. He often acted as a quiet envoy for the president, delivering messages to European officials. He also wrote the first speech Ahmadinejad gave to the U.N. in 2005 in which the president proclaimed Iran's "inalienable right" to nuclear energy, according to Nasr.

The replacement of Larijani could not have taken place without the consent of Khamenei, who has final say in all state issues. But consent may not necessarily be a sign of the supreme leader's backing for Ahmadinejad.

Some observers said Khamenei, who has been silent over the changes, may be giving the president more leeway on the nuclear issue to be in a better position to reel him in if his policies lead to new U.N. sanctions.

"Larijani's replacement leaves no pretext for Ahmadinejad to justify his failures in the future. His failures, despite being given a free hand, will only facilitate his humiliating exit from Iranian politics," political analyst Hamid Reza Shokouhi said.

Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, said the choice of Jalili might not hold.

"There is a lot of push back from conservatives," he said. "The question is, is it going to spook Khamenei?"

"There may be a recalibration; this may be modified," Takeyh said. "Historically, Khamenei has seen his role as maintaining the balance between factions."~


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