Monday, December 30, 2002

"They don't understand what martyrdom is," Mr. Qaisi said. "They're just kids."

With West Bank Stones and Gunfire, Another Child Dies
Outside of this hard-scrabble West Bank town, the death today of Abdul Karim Salameh might soon be forgotten.

He was a 10-year-old boy, he threw rocks at Israeli soldiers, and then he was dead. A doctor said he had been shot in the head. A spokesman for the Israeli military said troops patrolling this Palestinian town had responded to a riot with weapons not intended to cause death.

By late afternoon, Abdul's body was gone, and a group of his playmates tossed a ball near the spot where he had fallen. In the swirl of conflicting accounts, the boy's mother, Salman Salameh, stood at her door greeting women friends who had come to her home to grieve.

"May God grant you patience," a friend whispered with a kiss on the cheek, and then she walked into the street.

Such is the nature of the war that is being fought in Tulkarm, which Israeli troops have occupied since July after a number of terrorist attacks. Israeli soldiers have ringed the town with barbed wire, erected checkpoints on the roads and patrol the streets with a fierce vigilance. In response, local residents have nurtured a loathing for their occupiers so intense that even their children have taken up the fight.

The fear and anger often combine to form tragedy, here and in any number of towns across the West Bank and Gaza. On Saturday, a 9-year-old Palestinian girl named Hanin Abu Suleiman died from a gunshot wound in the town of Khan Yunis in Gaza. Palestinians said she had been standing outside her home when she was hit by an Israeli bullet. Israeli military sources said soldiers had returned fire after being attacked by Palestinian gunmen in the area. They said they could not verify that they had hit anyone.

Today, also in Gaza, a Palestinian cameraman working for the Associated Press Television Network was hit in the head with a bullet while covering a march by Palestinian and European demonstrators. Palestinians said the cameraman, 21-year-old Tamer Ziara, was hit when Israeli soldiers fired warning shots to keep the marchers out of a restricted area and the bullet ricocheted. Doctors at a local hospital said his condition was not serious.

Today, Tulkarm residents, some of them schoolmates of Abdul, stood about the spot where he was killed and offered to tell his story. They said that he was one of the brightest boys in his class, that one of his enthusiasms was karate, and that he had left his home at 7 a.m. to take an English language exam.

The test was finished by 10 a.m., and Abdul and his classmates ran out of school together. A few hundred yards away, they crossed a street named Slaughterhouse Road, so called for the municipal butcher shop there. An Israeli armored personnel carrier and a jeep came rumbling along, and Abdul and his friends picked up rocks.

"We started throwing rocks at them," said Hussein Abu Shanab, an 11-year-old schoolmate. "When they passed by, we threw some more stones, so they came back."

Many times, Ms. Salameh said, she had told her son not to do such things, that they would bring trouble, but she raised her hands in resignation.

"He said he wanted to be a martyr," Ms. Salameh said. "All the children say they want to be martyrs. They play with stones; they play intifada."

Several Tulkarm residents who said they were present at the clash said the boy had been shot by an Israeli soldier who was riding in a jeep. The claims could not be independently confirmed. Another boy, 11-year-old Asef Sharshir, was shot in the leg, hospital officials said.

"I knew the soldier's face," said Majdi Jabi, a 30-year-old car wash owner. "They were shouting at the soldiers, and he opened fire. It was like watching a movie."

…the diplomatic, nonconfrontational approach the administration has taken has clearly put Mr. Bush's aides in the odd position of explaining why they are massing troops around Iraq, as it lets inspectors roam the country and releases lists of weapons scientists, while insisting on patient diplomacy with a country that has expelled those inspectors and announced that it will restart plutonium production immediately.

U.S. Eases Threat on Nuclear Arms for North Korea
The Bush administration backed away today from a longstanding declaration by the United States that it would not tolerate a North Korean nuclear arsenal, as Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and other officials insisted that it would be counterproductive to set deadlines for North Korea to meet American demands or make threats to take military action.

…Mr. Powell refused to characterize as a crisis North Korea's expulsion of nuclear inspectors and its declaration that it would begin manufacturing plutonium from spent nuclear fuel, insisting instead that it was a "serious situation." He acknowledged on the ABC News program "This Week" that the Clinton administration had what he called "a declaratory policy" that if North Korea began to reactivate its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, the country's main nuclear facility, "they would attack it."

"We don't have that policy," said Mr. Powell, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Bill Clinton during the start of the previous North Korean nuclear crisis. "We're not saying what we might or might not do."

The ambiguous signal to North Korea, made after lengthy consultations with President Bush at his ranch here, represents a major strategic gamble. The C.I.A. has warned that once the North begins reprocessing nuclear fuel into plutonium, it could produce five or six weapons by early summer. The C.I.A. has estimated that it already has two.

But Mr. Bush and his aides have concluded that warning North Korea that it would not be allowed to produce more weapons would only create a sense of crisis, exactly what officials say the North seeks, and what they want to avoid. The administration has opted to pursue economic isolation of a country that is already one of the world's most isolated. The administration's position was met with considerable skepticism today by Democrats and Republicans alike.

Several of Mr. Bush's national security aides said in interviews that Mr. Powell was simply giving voice to the military reality that the United States has no effective way of protecting South Korea or Japan from a North Korean counterattack if the nuclear facilities at Yongbyon were bombed.

"I'm not saying we don't have military options," one of Mr. Bush's most senior advisers said in an interview. "I'm just saying we don't have good ones."

Still, the diplomatic, nonconfrontational approach the administration has taken has clearly put Mr. Bush's aides in the odd position of explaining why they are massing troops around Iraq, as it lets inspectors roam the country and releases lists of weapons scientists, while insisting on patient diplomacy with a country that has expelled those inspectors and announced that it will restart plutonium production immediately.

In 1997, Dr. Guillen enlisted scientists at Boston University's Center for Remote Sensing to help settle a dispute over how many people had attended Louis Farrakhan's Million Man March in Washington. By analyzing photographs, the scientists came up with an estimate more than double that of the National Park Service, leading the service to admit it might have undercounted.

Reporter Becomes Actor in Human Clone Drama
…Dr. Guillen's critics say that as a reporter he was too credulous of fantastic pseudoscience claims, citing his earnest news reports about astrology, ESP, healing at a distance, auras and cold fusion — topics dismissed by most scientists as nonsense.

By accepting Clonaid's invitation, Dr. Guillen moves from a reporter who has avidly covered the cloning story for five years to a central participant in the story.

Philip Beuth, a retired ABC executive who hired Dr. Guillen in 1988, said Dr. Guillen enthusiastically explained complex scientific topics in a way people could easily understand. "He's brilliant, absolutely brilliant," Mr. Beuth said.

Mr. Beuth said Dr. Guillen was ideal for the task of the clone tests. "He won't pull any punches," Mr. Beuth said, "nor can he be bought, nor can he be compromised."

Others are more skeptical. In 1998, the James Randi Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to debunk pseudoscience, awarded Dr. Guillen its Pigasus Award, which mockingly honors "the scientist who did the silliest thing related to the occult, supernatural or paranormal."

"He's a very well-educated man, but he's not very smart," Mr. Randi said of Dr. Guillen.

What caught the most criticism was Dr. Guillen's three-part series broadcast on "Good Morning America" in 1997 called "Fringe or Frontier — Science on the Edge." It suggested there might be some scientific basis for astrology, extrasensory powers and moving objects through thought.

In 1997, Dr. Guillen enlisted scientists at Boston University's Center for Remote Sensing to help settle a dispute over how many people had attended Louis Farrakhan's Million Man March in Washington. By analyzing photographs, the scientists came up with an estimate more than double that of the National Park Service, leading the service to admit it might have undercounted.

At its news conference Friday, Clonaid said Dr. Guillen would select independent experts to determine whether a girl born to an unidentified 31-year-old American woman is a clone — an exact genetic copy — of her mother.

"Dr. Boisselier has invited me to put her claim to the test," Dr. Guillen said at the news conference, "and I have accepted on behalf of the world press on two conditions, that the invitation be given with no strings attached whatsoever and that the tests be conducted by a group of independent, world-class experts."

In 1997, Dr. Guillen enlisted scientists at Boston University's Center for Remote Sensing to help settle a dispute over how many people had attended Louis Farrakhan's Million Man March in Washington. By analyzing photographs, the scientists came up with an estimate more than double that of the National Park Service, leading the service to admit it might have undercounted.

At its news conference Friday, Clonaid said Dr. Guillen would select independent experts to determine whether a girl born to an unidentified 31-year-old American woman is a clone — an exact genetic copy — of her mother.

"Dr. Boisselier has invited me to put her claim to the test," Dr. Guillen said at the news conference, "and I have accepted on behalf of the world press on two conditions, that the invitation be given with no strings attached whatsoever and that the tests be conducted by a group of independent, world-class experts."

A close friend of Dr. Guillen's said he was approaching the verification task as a skeptical scientist, not as an ally of Dr. Boisselier's. "He's not trying to prove this woman right," the friend said. "He's not trying to prove this woman wrong. He's trying to find out, was that baby cloned?"

But Mr. Randi and Dr. Robert L. Park, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland and another harsh critic, said they believed Dr. Guillen was predisposed to accept Clonaid's story.

"He likes spooky stories," said Dr. Park, author of "Voodoo Science: The Road From Foolishness to Fraud." "The last one I saw him on had something to do with whether we have a spirit that is separate from the body. Man, he was eating this stuff up."

Dr. Guillen defended himself in 1998 against Dr. Park's criticisms in a response that said, "My goal is to report accurately and open-mindedly any interesting and credible goings-on within science, be they orthodox or iconoclastic."

Sunday, December 29, 2002

"Basically, this stuff is telling me I've served my time, I'm out, but I'm never going to be allowed to be part of society again," Mr. Stewart said. "So what do you want me to do? I'm going to end up doing something wrong again."

Freed From Prison, but Still Paying a Penalty
Maurice Stewart finally got out of prison last summer after serving 14 years for armed robbery and manslaughter. He needed a place to live, so he called his mother.

Mr. Stewart, a husky 33-year-old, wanted to come home to Stateway Gardens, the decaying public housing project on Chicago's South Side where he had grown up.

It sounded simple enough. But his mother, Pamela Stewart, knew otherwise. Under a little-noticed provision of federal law, anyone convicted of a crime is barred from public housing, and if Mrs. Stewart took her son in, even for a visit, the Chicago Housing Authority could evict her.

The ban on living in public housing is among the penalties for criminals that are not spelled out at sentencing and do not begin until the sentence runs out. Most of the sanctions were passed by Congress and state legislatures in the 1990's to get tough on crime. Now, as the record number of men and women who filled prisons in the last decade are finishing their terms, the consequences of the penalties are being felt.

The penalties also include a lifetime ban on receiving welfare or food stamps for those convicted of drug felonies, prohibitions against getting certain jobs in plumbing, education and other fields, and the loss of the right to vote, for life in some states.

Felons with drug convictions are barred from receiving federal student loans, and women who serve more than 15 months in prison may be forced to give up their children to foster care.

When the laws were passed, supporters called them extra deterrents to crime. They carried no cost and in some cases even saved money by reducing the number of people in public housing or on welfare.

Although the sanctions were often passed with broad bipartisan support, some judges, prosecutors and advocates for the poor are now criticizing the laws as counterproductive and urging that they be re-examined.

"They make it even harder for newly released inmates to find jobs, housing and reunite with their families and therefore to lead productive lives," said Jeremy Travis, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington, who coined the phrase "invisible punishment" to describe such penalties.

Mr. Stewart put it more starkly in a furtive visit to his mother at Stateway Gardens.

"Basically, this stuff is telling me I've served my time, I'm out, but I'm never going to be allowed to be part of society again," Mr. Stewart said. "So what do you want me to do? I'm going to end up doing something wrong again."

Even some conservatives have asked whether these penalties have gone too far. Anne Piehl, an associate professor of public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, said, "These laws tend to get passed independently without considering all the consequences, so the cumulative effect is greater than what was intended."

The consequences affect millions of Americans. Thirteen million felons who are in prison or have done their time live in the United States, according to an estimate by Christopher Uggen, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota. That is almost 7 percent of the adult population.

Robert Johnson, the prosecutor for Anoka County, in the suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul, says the new laws have begun to affect the way he does his job.

"Now you have to factor in these additional sanctions, almost as if they are part of a mandatory sentencing concept," said Mr. Johnson, a former president of the National District Attorney's Association. He said he had seen judges reduce charges to misdemeanors from felonies or expunge convictions entirely to avoid the sanctions.

In one recent case, he said, a judge with a tough-on-crime reputation allowed an 18-year-old man from El Salvador, who had already pleaded guilty to burglary and nearly completed his prison term, to withdraw his guilty plea and ask for a new trial. The reason for the unusual request, Mr. Johnson said, was that the man faced being deported as a convicted felon. Mr. Johnson objected to the maneuver but decided not to try the man again, since he had already served his time.

James Kalven, a writer who advises the residents of the Stateway Gardens apartments in Chicago, said the public housing eviction law had created a "whole group of guys who are essentially nomadic because of their felony convictions, getting out of jail and having nowhere to go."

It was Mr. Kalven who arranged for Mario Bailey, a 26-year-old at Stateway Gardens with several drug convictions, to be admitted to St. Andrew's Court, a residential center for men newly released from prison, so that he would not provoke the eviction of his grandmother and other relatives.

"They can't even go home for a visit; it is considered criminal trespass," Mr. Kalven said of men like Mr. Bailey, who has used a wheelchair since being shot and paralyzed by gang members.

In recent years the states have also passed legislation lengthening the list of jobs that bar people with a criminal conviction. In New York, there are more than 100 prohibited job categories, including plumbing, real estate, barbering, education, health care and private security.

In Pennsylvania, the Legislature in 1997 passed a sweeping law that prohibits people convicted of a long list of crimes, including the theft of two library books, from working in nursing homes or home health care for the elderly.

The new law caught Earl Nixon by surprise. Mr. Nixon had spent 30 years working in health care, rising to be the administrator of an assisted living center in Pittsburgh. But in 1971, when he was 18, he pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana and received probation.

So when he recently quit his administrator's post and tried to change jobs, he was shocked to discover he could not be rehired, despite a shortage of health care workers. Unable to find a new job, Mr. Nixon moved to Michigan.

"The law makes no allowance for rehabilitation," Mr. Nixon said. "It just seems designed to go on punishing people forever."

The disenfranchisement laws do that in 13 states, where a felony conviction can result in a lifetime ban on voting.

"It continues to be shocking, but it's not surprising, that this administration will exploit the war on terrorism and national security issues for their advantage if they can."

Terror Fight on G.O.P List for Election
An internal White House document outlining President Bush's re-election agenda starts with "War on terrorism (Con't)" and domestic security. It is the latest sign, critics say, that presidential advisers are seeking political gain from the Sept. 11 attacks.

The single-page sparsely worded document titled "Possible '04 Signature Issues" was discussed this month in a White House meeting led by the chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., to fine-tune Mr. Bush's 2003 legislative agenda, several senior White House officials told The Associated Press.

The White House communications director, Dan Bartlett, said the list did not portend efforts to make terrorism a political centerpiece in 2004. It simply outlined a complicated set of issues Mr. Bush must confront, like terrorism, or that he wanted to put forward, like Social Security reform, Mr. Bartlett said.

"The items reflected in this particular document speak to issues which the country and this administration will be facing in the next few years, including the war on terrorism," Mr. Bartlett said. Mr. Bush has said the fight against terrorism will take years to win.

But Democrats said the document bolstered their claim that White House officials had methodically worked to politicize the fight against terrorism.

"It continues to be shocking, but it's not surprising, that this administration will exploit the war on terrorism and national security issues for their advantage if they can," said Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination

The document lists 10 issues including health care costs and access, legal reform, faith-based services, education, higher education, Social Security, taxes and immigration.

White House officials said the document was not intended to rank issues in any priority. They said it was produced by a White House aide, whom they would not identify, in an effort to make sure the 2003 and 2004 agendas did not conflict.

At least 1,750 Palestinians and 675 Israelis have been killed since the Palestinian revolt began in September 2000 when negotiations failed on a Palestinian state on territory Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Palestinian Boy Killed in West Bank
Israeli soldiers shot dead an 11-year-old boy in the West Bank Sunday, the second Palestinian child killed by Israeli gunfire in two days, witnesses said.

With world attention diverted by a possible U.S. war against Iraq, Israeli-Palestinian violence has surged since the Israeli army killed eight Palestinians in operations against militants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip Wednesday and Thursday.

Abdel-Karim Salameh, 11, was hit in the head and killed by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank city of Tulkarm while walking home from school, about 500 meters (yards) from a crowd throwing stones at soldiers, according to local witnesses.

Another boy was wounded, they added.

Israeli military sources said they had no information on Palestinian casualties there and that troops had used riot dispersal gear against the stone-throwers. Such equipment can include rubber-coated metal bullets that can be lethal.

An Associated Press (AP) cameraman was hit in the back of his head by a bullet when Israeli soldiers opened fire in the Gaza Strip as he was filming a demonstration, Palestinian witnesses said. AP said his condition was not life-threatening.

Witnesses said soldiers shot in the air and at the ground and the bullet that struck him had apparently ricocheted. The army said it was investigating the incident.

Saturday, Israeli soldiers shot dead nine-year-old Hanin Abu Suleiman outside her home in the Gaza town of Khan Younis, Palestinian security sources said.

Israeli military sources said troops in the area had been shot at by Palestinian gunmen and returned fire but could not say if they had hit anyone.

Hundreds of Palestinians, including many children, took part in the girl's funeral Sunday.

Two off-duty Israel soldiers were among the four students killed by the two Palestinian gunmen dressed in army uniforms in Otniel near Hebron, one of the West Bank's main cities reoccupied by the army in response to suicide attacks.

Palestinian fighters have often targeted Jewish settlements during their revolt. The international community says the settlements are illegal. Israel disputes this.

"In the end, we are all under occupation," he said. "We are all Palestinians."

In Nablus, Strife Dims Dreams and Daily Life
So much of daily existence is determined primarily by conflict and occupation: whether you can go to school or to work, what you eat, whether your garbage gets picked up, whether you can leave or enter the city, whether you buy stocks, whether your daughter hopes to be a doctor or to blow herself up, whether — like more and more Palestinians here — you turn for comfort and guidance to conservative Islam, and perhaps even to the militant group Hamas.

But of course it could not actually do so. For this boxer is the brightest Olympic hope of Palestine, a state that does not exist. With the daytime curfew temporarily lifted, the tanks temporarily gone from his part of Nablus, he was training alone, as usual, in the worn gym of the "Palestine Is In Memory" athletic center. Staring from posters on the wall was Bruce Lee, the action hero, but also dead Palestinian children, watching silently as Mr. Abu Kishek's gloved hands — blue-and-white blurs — thudded into the bag.

"I don't want to be involved in politics," he said, still sweating after rolling the tape off his hands. Then he smiled at the absurdity of his own wish.

Mr. Abu Kishek knows better than anyone that every punch he throws is a nationalist sentiment, that his dream of Olympic achievement and his struggle to attain it have been as animated and stunted by politics — by the Palestinian uprising and the Israeli occupation — as every other aspect of life here.

This is the biggest, most cosmopolitan Palestinian city. Cupped by mountains, layered by successive civilizations over thousands of years, it is a beautiful place, the home of aristocrats and poets, of the Palestinian stock exchange and of centuries-old factories that make olive-oil soap. Once, a local official had the task of increasing tourist visits by Israeli Jews.

But then came the conflict. The suicide bombers began setting out from Nablus — more than from any other city — and the Israeli paratroopers arrived. The city is surrounded and occupied by soldiers now. It is under curfew from darkness until dawn and sometimes in daylight as well.

So much of daily existence is determined primarily by conflict and occupation: whether you can go to school or to work, what you eat, whether your garbage gets picked up, whether you can leave or enter the city, whether you buy stocks, whether your daughter hopes to be a doctor or to blow herself up, whether — like more and more Palestinians here — you turn for comfort and guidance to conservative Islam, and perhaps even to the militant group Hamas.Also: whether you can box.

After the handshake on the White House lawn in 1993 between Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, and Yitzhak Rabin, then the Israeli prime minister, Palestinians were accepted as Olympic competitors. They first fielded a team, of three athletes, in Atlanta in 1996.

Two years into the uprising, Palestinians have lost even the limited autonomy they gained under the Oslo accords, which had seemed sealed by that handshake. While the Palestinians still plan to field a small Olympic team in Athens in 2004, Mr. Abu Kishek's training routine has all but collapsed; it is no longer safe for him to jog through Nablus's hilly streets.

Some residents from Askar love to recall how Mr. Abu Kishek once dropped a fighter from Jenin with a single blow in the Palestine Is In Memory center. But few people in the city of Nablus seem aware of the boxer's existence.

The refugee camps were the cradle, or caldron, of the first intifada in the late 1980's, and also of this one. Through the intifada, the refugees asserted themselves in Palestinian society, shouldering aside established elites.

"It was a social and class struggle," said Sa'id Kan'an, the director of the Center for Palestine Research and Studies in Nablus. "The refugees felt like second-class citizens. During the intifada, they got the opportunity to prove themselves."

Most militants came from the camps, he said. "They harassed the citizens here; there's a lot of friction."

Mr. Abu Kishek said that though residents of the camp were still suffering more, the gap between the camps and city had narrowed during the conflict. "In the end, we are all under occupation," he said. "We are all Palestinians."

In its ninth meeting this year, on Dec. 3 and 4, the companies would not allow the committee's co-chairmen to submit a progress report to the Department of Transportation, which is considering whether to impose a standard. It has requested public comment of the issue. Even if the agency were to decide to impose a standard, drafting and adopting it would take months.

Automakers Block Crash Data Recorders
Highway safety could be vastly improved if black boxes that record information about car crashes were standardized, experts say, but they contend that vehement objections from the automobile industry are thwarting efforts to set a standard.

About 25 million late-model cars and trucks, most built by General Motors and Ford, carry the boxes, which record crash information including how fast a vehicle was moving, whether the seat belts were buckled and how big a jolt the occupants suffered at impact.

Other manufacturers say they will install the boxes, small, inexpensive recording devices connected to the system that deploys the air bags. The companies use the data to determine how well the car safety systems work.

But safety and medical experts say benefits would be broader if the data were easier to collect. An immediate benefit, they say, would be fewer deaths.

Accessible data would enable ambulance crews to determine quickly whether a crash was likely to have caused serious internal injuries and help paramedics make more accurate lifesaving decisions, like whether to call for a medevac helicopter.

First, though, the industry needs a data standard, so ambulance crews will not have to carry a different cable and computer for each make of car. Without a standard, some data might be indecipherable except by the manufacturer.

Advocates of the standard say automakers are dragging their feet. The companies say they are defending the privacy of drivers.

"The privacy issues will have to be addressed," said Vann H. Wilber, director for safety and harmonization of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group. "That's something we think needs to be debated and resolved."

Legal experts, however, say that many of the privacy issues have been settled and that courts have concluded that data recorded in a crash are subject to the rules governing other evidence.

In a lawsuit, for example, the data are subject to pretrial discovery just as other physical evidence is. If the car is totaled, ownership of the data goes with the wrecked car, to the insurance company.

Concerns about the unauthorized use of the data can be met, safety experts say, and some have suggested that automobile industry executives are hiding their distaste for regulating a standard behind a feigned concern for drivers' privacy.

Beyond helping ambulance crews make better decisions, the safety researchers say, information from scores of data recorders could reveal design flaws and strengths.…

Saturday, December 28, 2002

"fake left, run right."

How the Web Will Change Campaigns
The Internet was supposed to change the nature of politics. Technology would bring participatory democracy to a new level, ushering in a sort of Jefferson-meets-the-Jetsons era. But as the new Congress prepares to convene next month, a look at the Web's role in the recent midterm elections reveals that so far, such claims are as inflated as the predictions that the Internet would bankrupt bricks-and-mortar businesses.

The Web has transformed the "C2V" (candidate-to-voter) relationship even less than it has changed the "B2C" (business-to-consumer) dynamic. Still, just as in the dot-com world, it has had a real impact on logistics and operations.

Our research into candidate Web sites used in last month's elections shows that the visitors to such sites consist mostly of hard-core supporters, the media and political opponents. These sites do not appear to reach the mainstream electorate. Candidates have turned this limited appeal to their advantage, using the Web to communicate messages they may not want to broadcast widely.

Candidates can, for example, take more partisan positions than they do when they scramble for the political center on the stump. In the words of one Democratic candidate for House of Representatives we interviewed, they can "fake left, run right." Or they can portray themselves as uncompromising conservatives online but be reasonable centrists in person, as some Republican campaign managers told us.

Friday, December 27, 2002

"Scientific and medical misinformation jeopardizes peoples' lives…"

U.S. Revises Sex Information, and a Fight Goes On
The National Cancer Institute, which used to say on its Web site that the best studies showed "no association between abortion and breast cancer," now says the evidence is inconclusive.

A Web page of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used to say studies showed that education about condom use did not lead to earlier or increased sexual activity. That statement, which contradicts the view of "abstinence only" advocates, is omitted from a revised version of the page.

Critics say those changes, far below the political radar screen, illustrate how the Bush administration can satisfy conservative constituents with relatively little exposure to the kind of attack that a legislative proposal or a White House statement would invite.

The new statements were posted in the last month, after news reports that the government had removed their predecessors from the Web. Those reports quoted administration officials as saying the earlier material had been removed so that it could be rewritten with newer scientific information. The latest statements are the revisions.

Those statements have drawn some criticism, as did the removal, though like the issue itself it has gone largely unnoticed. Fourteen House Democrats, including Henry A. Waxman of California, senior minority member of the House Government Reform Committee, have written to Tommy G. Thompson, secretary of health and human services, charging that the new versions "distort and suppress scientific information for ideological purposes."

Gloria Feldt, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the new statement on abortion and breast cancer "simply doesn't track the best available science."

"Scientific and medical misinformation jeopardizes peoples' lives," Ms. Feldt said, adding that any suggestion of a connection between abortion and cancer was "bogus."

The earlier statement, which the National Cancer Institute removed from the Web in June after anti-abortion congressmen objected to it, noted that many studies had reached varying conclusions about a relation between abortion and breast cancer, but said "recent large studies" showed no connection. In particular, it approvingly cited a study of 1.5 million Danish women that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1997. That study, the cancer institute said, found that "induced abortions have no overall effect on the risk of breast cancer."

…we're likely in the coming months to invade Iraq in ways that will terrorize civilians there. So this holy season is a useful moment to step back and critically examine moral clarity, President Bush's byword, a concept that tends to stiffen the backbone of conservatives but make liberals fidget.

A Toast to Moral Clarity
1. Terrorism is in the eyes of the beholder. President Reagan declared the African National Congress a terrorist group not long before its leader, Nelson Mandela, won the Nobel Peace Prize. Meanwhile he described Jonas Savimbi, who everybody else thought of as a terrorist, as Angola's Abraham Lincoln. Oops. And speaking of our national heroes, what about our radical forebears in the American Revolution who burned the homes of British loyalists? Were they terrorists?

At a time when the Palestinians are trying with Egypt's help to reach an agreement for a calming down, Israel is fueling the cycle of violence," said the Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Maher.

Israeli Raids Kill at Least 8 Palestinians
Israeli troops shot and killed at least eight Palestinians in scattered incidents across the West Bank and Gaza today, and re-entered Bethlehem after a brief hiatus for Christmas celebrations.

At least 30 Palestinians were injured and 7 were arrested, while 4 Israeli soldiers were wounded, officials said.

The surge in violence ended a period of relative calm that had lasted several days; it reflected the Israeli strategy of attacking suspected Palestinian gunmen before they can strike first. Israeli officials say they believe the strategy has helped curb suicide attacks, which have not occurred in more than a month.

Palestinian leaders say the Israeli operations are part of an effort to assassinate important Palestinians. They and others accuse Israel of trying to torpedo an Egyptian-led effort to persuade the main Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, to cease the killings of civilians inside Israel.

There were signs that Israel was planning even more aggressive action to crush the 27-month-old uprising. Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, reported today that the Israeli Army had begun building special security zones around some Israeli settlements in the West Bank to protect them against Palestinian attacks. Under the plan, watchtowers and fences would mark off the zone; Israeli soldiers would be permitted to fire on anyone stepping inside.

Palestinian leaders charged that the real intention of the project was to expand Israeli settlements and thereby sabotage an American-sponsored plan to create a Palestinian state by 2005.

Earlier this week, in a speech kicking off the Likud Party's parliamentary campaign, Mr. Sharon said that a "victory" over the Palestinians would enable him to strike a peace deal.

For their part, various Palestinian groups swore revenge tonight, raising the possibility of a new round of violence. "The Sharon government, the Israeli occupation army and Israeli assassination teams committed a series of savage crimes against the Palestinian people," the Palestinian leadership said in a statement tonight.

On re-entering Bethlehem today, Israeli troops reimposed a curfew as well, pushing the Palestinian residents back into their homes. Israeli forces now occupy virtually every major Palestinian town in the West Bank.

Today's fighting flared up in pockets across the occupied territories, illustrating the systematic nature of the Israeli sweeps. The troops, many dressed in civilian clothes, surrounded homes, cars and a hospital in what witnesses described as lightning-fast operations.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Palestinian Christians called it one of their dreariest Christmas in the West Bank biblical town.

Israeli Troops Kill 7 in W.Bank, Re - Enter Bethlehem In
Bethlehem, troops fired teargas at Palestinians shopping near the town center, ordering them by loudspeakers to return home, and resumed patrols in front of the Church of the Nativity, which Christians revere as Jesus's birthplace.

``The curfew was put back in place a short time ago for operational needs,'' an Israeli military source said.

Several army patrols rumbled over Bethlehem's cobblestone streets on Thursday. Soldiers arrested at least one man, identified as a Palestinian intelligence officer, and there were sporadic clashes with stone-throwers.

The return to Bethlehem coincided with rapid-fire sweeps for militants in other West Bank cities and towns reoccupied by Israeli forces following a spate of suicide bombings in June.

Israeli military sources called the raids ``counter-terrorism operations.''

``The escalation of violence by (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon is aimed at creating a volatile atmosphere which he believes will serve him in his election campaign,'' Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo told Reuters.

``Sharon is inviting retaliation because he wants ... to prevent any possibility of an agreement (between Palestinian factions) on a cease-fire,'' he said. Sharon's government says any internal Palestinian truce discussions have not been serious.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Israeli undercover troops riddled a car with gunfire, killing Bassem al-Ashqar of the Islamic movement Hamas, the main group behind suicide bombings against Israelis in a Palestinian uprising for independence.

An Israeli military source said troops had tried to detain two wanted men in a car but one of them opened fire. ``The force returned fire and killed him,'' the source said. The second fugitive was taken into custody, he added.

Palestinian witnesses denied anyone had shot at Israeli soldiers in the incident.

Witnesses said troops also shot dead a 19-year-old bystander and an army spokesman said another Palestinian was shot dead later in Ramallah while trying to escape arrest. In

and troops fired toward the stone-throwers

6 Killed by Israeli Troops in Hunt for Militants
In the town of Ramallah, Israeli soldiers stopped a car with two wanted Hamas activists in downtown Manara Square. Soldiers opened fire when one of the men drew a gun, killing him, the army said. An assault rifle, two guns and cash were found in the car, the army said.

Several Palestinians threw stones at soldiers during the arrest, and troops fired toward the stone-throwers, killing a 19-year-old traffic policeman in Manara Square, Palestinian hospital officials said.

Later Thursday, soldiers re-imposed an open-ended curfew on Nablus as they have frequently since troops reoccupied the city in June.

Hundreds of Palestinians threw stones at soldiers who opened fire, killing an 18-year-old Palestinian, witnesses said. The teenager was carrying books and was not involved in stone-throwing, witnesses said. Twenty Palestinians were wounded in the incident, including three who were seriously hurt, hospital officials said.

Raanan Gissin, an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, confirmed Thursday that the Israeli army has begun establising wider buffer zones around West Bank settlements to keep out attackers.

The zones will have beefed up patrols and special observation towers, Gissin said, but refused to detail what other special measures will be taken.

According to the Haaretz newspaper, special rules of engagement will apply in these buffer zones and soldiers will be allowed to immediately fire on anyone trying to penetrate the area. Normally, soldiers have to fire in the air before shooting directly at a suspect.

Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat said the buffer zones are a further attempt by Sharon to expand settlements and sabotage a U.S.-backed peace plan which envisions Palestinian statehood by 2005. ``Sharon wants to make sure by 2005 that it will be impossible to create a Palestinian state because of the settlements,'' Erekat said.

More than 200,000 Israelis live in more than 150 Jewish settlements scattered across the West Bank and Gaza.. Palestinians view the settlers -- many of them armed -- as legitimate targets in their struggle for independence.

As envisioned, a person would be able to exclude a substantial share of all stock dividends — probably about half — from taxation. There would be no upper limit on the dollar value of dividends that would be tax free, which means that most of the relief would flow to the largest investors.

White House Aides Push for 50% Cut in Dividend Taxes
The 50 percent cut would cost the Treasury more than $100 billion over 10 years, and the tax benefits would overwhelmingly flow to the nation's very wealthiest taxpayers. Mr. Bush is in favor of some kind of reduction in the tax on dividends, a White House official said, but has not settled on an amount.…

The long-term benefit of a cut in the dividend tax, the officials say, would be to greatly reduce the market distortions of taxing dividends twice — once as corporate profits and once as dividend income to shareholders — while granting tax deductions on debt interest payments. For shareholders, dividends are now taxed as ordinary income at rates of up to 38.6 percent. By comparison, the maximum tax rate on capital gains — the profit made from the increase in value of shares or other kinds of property — is 20 percent.

Many economists are skeptical that a cut in dividend taxes would provide much immediate stimulus to the economy, which has been Mr. Bush's most important justification for new tax cuts. It would be at least a year before shareholders see any extra money, and the measure would not leave extra money in corporate coffers.…

Robert S. McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice, a research group backed by labor unions, said the entire complaint about "double taxation" was dubious because corporations make such heavy use of legal tax shelters and loopholes.

Although the top corporate tax rate is 35 percent, the average tax rate is only about 15 percent, Mr. McIntyre has estimated on the basis of analyzing corporate tax data.

"Don't worry about the double tax," Mr. McIntyre said. "Worry about the half tax."

There was no sign of Israeli soldiers, who re-entered Bethlehem last month after a suicide bombing attack in Jerusalem killed 11 people. As promised, they pulled their forces back to the outskirts, where rings of barbed wire and checkpoints are still in place. Though Bethlehem's streets hummed with activity, there seemed little expectation that the respite would last for more than a few days.

"They are five minutes outside the city," said the mayor of Bethlehem, Hanna Nasser. "Five minutes."

Bethlehem Gets Christmas Respite With Israel Army Out of Sight
The few who gathered today at Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity said they had come in spite of the year's events, and even the men called upon to give solace to the rest expressed confusion before the relentless run of bad news.

"People come to me and they tell me they are frightened, that the world has forgotten them," said the Rev. Shawki Baterian, a priest at the Church of the Nativity. "I tell them they are right."

Outside, the mood on Bethlehem's streets matched the gray of the skies. There were few of the usual holiday decorations about, and for the first time in memory the Christmas tree that adorns the square was not lit. When the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, the Rev. Michel Sabbah — who is the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land — made his entrance into Manger Square, he was greeted not by tourists with cameras but by demonstrators with signs, most of them demanding an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.…

Violence continued in other parts today, but there was movement on the security front as well. Israeli officials said they had destroyed a tunnel used to smuggle weapons in the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza, as well as structures they said were being used by Palestinian militants. Palestinian reports said that the same Israeli operation destroyed 20 homes, leaving many people homeless, a charge confirmed by a United Nations official but denied by the Israeli Army.

In Bethlehem, there were a few signs of hope. For all of the gloom, the prayers and ceremonies continued as they have for centuries. With the winter air creeping inside the Church of the Nativity, Father Baterian and a group of other priests led a procession into its lower reaches, to the very spot where Christ was said to have been born. Afterward, he explained his purpose.

"There is a crisis of hope here, so we pray," Father Baterian said. "We can only hope that our prayers will nurture us, and that they will bring us a miracle of peace."

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

P3P Components, Deployment, Policy Creation - Part 1 of Chapter 5 from Web Privacy with P3P (6/6) -
P3P doesn't cover web site security practices, but most privacy policies include a statement about the site's commitment to security. In addition, web sites with content aimed at children often describe their policy with respect to children's data. When drafting a privacy policy, it's also useful to refer back to the fair information practice principles, introduced in Chapter 2.

Some online resources that may be helpful as you draft your privacy policy include:

The Direct Marketing Association's guide to creating privacy policies (

The Online Privacy Alliance Guidelines for Online Privacy Policies (

The Better Business Bureau's sample privacy notice (

The TRUSTe Privacy Resource Guide (

The Privacy Leadership Initiative's Privacy Manager's Resource Center (

The Privacy Diagnostic Tool (PDT) Workbook from the Information and Privacy Commission/Ontario(

“There is no way I'd spend $100 per month plus the cost of a card for a wireless Internet connection…”

Users Binge at the Wireless Buffet
To get customers turned on to its cell phone-based wireless data services, Sprint PCS in the fall started offering several new plans for its 3G network that include unlimited "PCS Vision" data access at no extra charge for three months, and an additional $10 per month after that.

At the same time, Sprint offers something called "PCS Vision for Laptops and PDAs." These plans are designed for wireless access to the Internet using a PC card modem and cost $100 for unlimited data access.

The problem for Sprint, and the loophole for customers, is that it's possible to use a Sprint phone as a laptop modem with a simple software download and a cable connection from the phone to the computer. Thus it's possible to get access meant to cost $100 per month for free, simply by buying an entire phone plan that costs as little as $30.

Earlier this year, Sprint pulled connection cables from its site. Customers who order service and say they want a laptop connection are told they need to buy a PC Card modem and the "PCS Vision Plans for Laptops and PDAs" plan.

And the small print in Sprint's brochures certainly discourages the use of the phone as a modem: "Unlimited PCS Vision offer for PCS Free & Clear Plans with Vision is: (a) only available with a Vision capable PCS Phone or PCS smart phone device; and (b) not available with Connection Cards, Aircards, or any other device used in connection with a computer or PDA—including phones, smart phones or other devices used with connection kits or similar phone-to-computer/PDA accessories. Sprint reserves the right to deny or to terminate service without notice for misuse."

But a Sprint PCS customer service representative said that he was told to discourage, but not disallow, customers from using connection cables from third parties, and the company actually contradicts itself on its own site.

"Funny thing is, Sprint still makes the connection manager software freely available as a download from their site," said Joe Cummings, senior Web developer at the Boston Phoenix, a weekly newspaper in Boston who bought a connection cable at a local Radio Shack. "I get the impression that Sprint included those little nuggets as a safety valve in case access abuse blew up in their faces."

The text accompanying the download says "PCS Connection Manager software allows laptops and PDAs to wirelessly connect to PCS Vision with a data cable and a PCS Phone or a PCS Connection Card."

"I know that the group that handles our Web site is in the process of removing all verbiage from in relation to Connectivity Kits and software," said Bit Vo, a Sprint PCS spokeswoman in Kansas City, Mo. But as of late this week, the software kit is still available on the site.

At any rate, customers can buy connection kits—both software and cables—from retail outlets and online.…,3959,796265,00.asp

Privacy, what privacy?

Perspective: Internet law: The year in review - Tech News -
Here's a look back on how some of the most important developments in Internet law weighed before the U.S Congress and the courts this year. While headway was made on some issues, not much has changed since the beginning of 2002.

2. The Total Information Awareness project. The federal government, under the leadership of Admiral John Poindexter, wants to create a single database containing financial, medical, and employment data, as well as other personal information for every American. Bad idea? Yeah, it's a very bad idea.

ZDNet: Story: The 10 best (and worst) security trends of 2002
1. No cyberterrorism. Despite dire warnings of a Digital Pearl Harbor in the wake of 9/11, the U.S.'s information infrastructure wasn't attacked during 2002--not by China and not by Al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups. Let's hope this trend continues.…

1. Department of Homeland Security. This new government department throws several critical cybercrime agencies into turmoil when we need them the most. It was the wrong solution to a dire problem--and one I think we'll come to regret in 2003 and beyond.…,10738,2901963,00.html

“If it will help to open the conversation about copyright in the digital age, we're all for it.”

News: Hollywood targets DVD-copying upstart
On Thursday, seven major movie studios filed a countersuit in federal court in San Francisco, claiming that 321 Studios is violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by selling its DVD Copy Plus and DVD-Xcopy programs.

The studios filed the claim in response to 321 Studios, which in April took the unusual step of asking a federal court to declare its copying products legitimate because they would allow people to make personal copies of DVDs they already own--a process the company claimed is allowed under a doctrine known as fair use. 321's president said at the time that he asked for the legal opinion after reading press accounts in which the studios threatened the company.

The studios did not follow through on those threats until Thursday, a few weeks after 321 Studios released DVD-Xcopy, which allows people to make an exact duplicate of a DVD. Copy Plus, which went on sale last year, results in lower-quality copies.

The studios are seeking an injunction prohibiting 321 from selling or manufacturing its DVD-copying products and are asking the court to order the company to turn over to the studios "all computer disks, computer drives and other physical objects embodying all, or any part," of DVD Copy Plus and DVD-Xcopy so they can be destroyed.

The move highlights increasing concerns among copyright owners that they will forever lose control of the material they create because it is so easy to copy and distribute using digital technology. This particular suit signals studios' worries about the growing sophistication of DVD-copying tools, which are making it increasingly easier and faster to copy high-quality DVDs. 321 Studios advertises its products as a one-click way to make a perfect reproduction of a DVD in about an hour.

However, 321 claims that its products are designed so that people can make copies of DVDs they already own, in much the same way they can duplicate videotapes. One of the company's Web sites is called, and 321 said in its original suit that its product "teaches legal owners of DVD movies to make legitimate backup copies of the contents of a DVD for their own personal use."

Sunday, December 22, 2002

“Due to the Israeli reoccupation, obstruction and closures, it is impossible to convene the election on January 20…”

Palestinians Postpone Vote
Palestinians decided on Sunday to postpone indefinitely a general election scheduled for January, saying it was difficult to hold a vote while Israeli forces continued to occupy West Bank cities.

``Due to the Israeli reoccupation, obstruction and closures, it is impossible to convene the election on January 20,'' cabinet minister Saeb Erekat told Reuters after a Palestinian government meeting on the vote.

Earlier this month, Arafat told Reuters the January ballot would have to be postponed because Palestinians would need at least one month and possibly up to three months free of Israeli military occupation to allow for campaigning.

A Palestinian cabinet statement on Sunday said elections ``would be held immediately after occupation forces pull back'' to positions held before the uprising began in September 2000.


Israel has said there can be no such withdrawal until the revolt and attacks against Israelis end. It sent troops into West Bank cities this year after Palestinian suicide bombings against Israelis.

A senior Israeli official said Israel had harboured no illusions that an election -- which Arafat had been expected to win -- would have led to real reform in a Palestinian leadership it accuses of complicity in violence.

Ordinary Palestinians welcomed the postponement of the vote.

``This is the right decision because how can people move while tanks are in towns? How can candidates move freely,'' asked Nael Arar, a teacher from the West Bank city of Ramallah.

It's like the highwayman robbed us and then spent all the money on booze…"

Legacy of Power Cost Manipulation
At the height of the rise in energy costs in early 2001, the Bush administration said the West Coast's troubles were a precursor of what would happen if the nation did not build 1,900 power plants over the next 20 years.

But state officials in the hardest-hit areas say the crisis was never about energy shortages so much as it was about an epic transfer of wealth. They want payback — in some cases for immediate relief to consumers who cannot pay their bills this winter.

Last month, the Williams Company, in Tulsa, Okla., agreed to a $417 million settlement with Washington, Oregon and California. While admitting no wrongdoing, Williams agreed to pay refunds and other restitution to the three states; in return, the states dropped an antitrust investigation.

Among large energy companies, the states are seeking refunds from the Mirant Corporation, Reliant Resources Inc., Dynegy Inc., Duke Energy and Enron.

Mr. Beuscher said he would like to see money from the Williams settlement be used to help people who cannot afford the rate increases. Consumers in Oregon and California have made similar pleas. But officials in all three states say that until there are larger settlements with the energy companies, consumers are unlikely to see relief.

"We hope that the Williams case serves as a template," said Tom Dresslar, a spokesman for the California attorney general's office, "because California was monumentally ripped off by these energy traders."

About seven million consumers in California, who were initially shielded from having to pay for runaway energy costs during the worst part of the state's deregulation debacle, are paying rate increases averaging 30 percent more than the pre-deregulation prices of 1996. The state has the highest energy rates in the nation, consumer advocates say, although the structure of the rate increase allows poor people and low energy users to escape the recent increases.

"I don't hold out a lot of hope that we will ever get significant refunds," said Doug Heller of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, a nonprofit group based in Los Angeles. The group calculates that California power customers overpaid a total of $70 billion.

At the height of the energy troubles, the trading companies boasted of record profits in their quarterly reports. But many of those companies are now near bankruptcy as they cope with a downturn that has caused the energy trading sector to lose 80 percent of its value, according to Wall Street analysts.

"It's like the highwayman robbed us and then spent all the money on booze," Mr. Heller said.

The girl was the fourth young person to be killed by gunfire, most of which consisted of stray or random shots from Israeli soldiers, in the Gaza Strip this week.

11-Year-Old Palestinian Girl Is Killed in Gaza
An 11-year-old Palestinian girl walking home from school was hit by a stray bullet today and later died, as the violence continued in the southern Gaza Strip.

The girl who died, identified as Hanin Abu Sita, of Rafah, apparently did not even realize she had been hit by a bullet, a neighbor said. The neighbor said the girl suddenly felt sick while she was walking home from school with her sister.

At home, her mother found a wound in her stomach on the left side. She was taken to Al Najar hospital in Rafah, where she died during an operation to remove what turned out to be a bullet, a doctor there said.

The Israeli military said it was checking reports of the incident from the area, where violence has flared over the past week.

The girl was the fourth young person to be killed by gunfire, most of which consisted of stray or random shots from Israeli soldiers, in the Gaza Strip this week.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

posted essays on the Internet

China Says It Holds American-Based Dissident on Terrorism Charges
The dissident, Wang Bingzhang, who lives in New York, was arrested in connection with espionage and "violent terrorist activities," said the official New China News Agency, quoting a spokesman from the Ministry of Public Security.

The announcement gave few details of Mr. Wang's supposed crimes, other than to say that he had passed state secrets to Taiwan and posted essays on the Internet related to terrorist acts, which threatened state security.

Such charges are extremely serious here because they are prosecuted under China's state secrets law, which calls for heavy sentences and deprives defendants of virtually all legal rights.

The news agency said Mr. Wang's relatives had not been allowed to see him because the charges were brought under that law.

The news release said Mr. Wang and two other Chinese dissidents had been kidnapped in Vietnam and, on July 3, were found by the police in China's Guangxi Province, where they were being held captive. It did not explain who might have kidnapped them.

Colleagues said the three were in Vietnam to meet with Chinese labor advocates.

The other two members of the group, Yue Wu and Zhang Qi, had been investigated and cleared of any crime, the announcement said.

Since China joined forces in the American-led campaign against terrorism last year, officials here have frequently tried to portray the detention and harsh treatment of a wide range of dissidents on domestic issues as antiterrorist activity, to the dismay of human rights groups.

Mr. Wang, a longtime pro-democracy activist and critic of the Chinese government, went into exile in 1979 and has continued to press for change in China from abroad. In 1998, he used false documents to enter China illegally to lend his support to a fledgling pro-democracy party, the China Democratic Party, which was being organized here.

The announcement comes at the conclusion of a human rights dialogue between China and the United States, held in China this week.

Although the United States normally raises troubling rights cases at such meetings, a spokesman for the American Embassy said it knew little about Mr. Wang's case beyond what was mentioned by the news agencies.

…the defeated measure demanded that Israel, "as the occupying power," comply with its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention concerning the protection of civilians in wartime.

U.S. Vetoes Condemnation of Israel for U.N. Deaths
The United States, "with regret," cast its veto tonight against a Syrian-proposed Security Council resolution that condemned Israel for the recent killings of several United Nations employees and the destruction of a United Nations food warehouse.

The vote was a sour note at the end of a day when President Bush met in Washington with members of the international mediating group known as the Quartet to reaffirm the American commitment to a Middle East peace based on a Palestinian state.

The central passage in the defeated measure demanded that Israel, "as the occupying power," comply with its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention concerning the protection of civilians in wartime.

"No one could have thought that it could have been voted down or vetoed, although we know that the U.S. is biased toward Israel," said Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Palestinian permanent oberver to the United Nations. "It seems that this bias knows no limits, even if this has to be at the expense of international humanitarian law and the lives of those who work in the international humanitarian fields."

Israeli soldiers shot and killed a United Nations refugee worker, Iain Hook of Britain, during a battle with Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank on Nov. 22.

The government reported today that it had found more than 200 safety violations by the blood-collecting unit of the Red Cross, which provides 45 percent of the nation's blood supply.

U.S. Says Red Cross Broke Blood Safety Rules
"The blood supply is not as safe as it should be," said Dr. Mark B. McClellan, the commissioner of the F.D.A., which issued a preliminary report on safety violations at the Red Cross biomedical headquarters. "I am troubled by apparent lapses in blood safety."

A year ago, the agency asked a federal court to hold the Red Cross in contempt for years of safety violations. The preliminary report today indicates the problems have not been eliminated, Mr. McClellan said, suggesting that the situation pointed to "a culture willing to accept noncompliance."

Specifically, the F.D.A. said that some Red Cross employees had been instructed to skip required safety steps and that others had altered records to allow distribution of blood that failed safety testing.

In addition, the Red Cross failed to screen out some people who were not supposed to give blood, the agency said. Donors in one Red Cross region who are found unsuitable are supposed to be listed in a donor-deferral registry. They were not, and some went on to donate in other regions. In some cases, the agency does not know what happened to their donated blood.

More than 1,000 units of blood were unaccounted for, it said.

The agency emphasized that anyone who needed a blood transfusion should get one, because the risk of forgoing a medical procedure is much higher than the risk of receiving bad blood. The agency also noted that people who donate blood face no risk.…

"The new cuts will force more physicians to turn away Medicare patients. That's the reality. Doctors will not have any incentive to accept new Medicare patients. While Medicare reimbursements are going down, our expenses are rising 5 percent to 10 percent a year."

Medicare to Cut Payments to Doctors 4.4%
The Bush administration announced today that Medicare payments to doctors would be cut 4.4 percent next year, after a 5.4 percent cut this year. Federal officials predicted that doctors would, as a result, be less willing to accept new Medicare patients.

If the cuts are not reversed, Congress and the administration will face the wrath of two politically potent constituencies, elderly voters and doctors who care for the elderly.…

Friday, December 20, 2002

The New England Journal of Medicine -- Early Release: Smallpox and Smallpox Vaccination
To help to inform the current national debate about smallpox vaccination, these articles have been published early at They will appear in the January 30, 2003, issue of the Journal.

Perspective: Smallpox Vaccination — The Call to Arms
T.L. Schraeder and E.W. Campion
Special Article: A Model for a Smallpox-Vaccination Policy
S.A. Bozzette and Others

Special Article: The Public and the Smallpox Threat
R.J. Blendon and Others

Current Concepts: How Contagious Is Vaccinia?
K.A. Sepkowitz

Sounding Board: A Different View of Smallpox and Vaccination
T. Mack

Letter to the Editor: A Smallpox False Alarm
J.A. Hanrahan, M. Jakubowycz, and B.R. Davis

(These articles reflect the Journal's new graphic design, which will be introduced with the January 2, 2003, issue.)

World Wide Web Consortium finalized guidelines for building browsers and media players that work better for people with disabilities.

News: W3C finalizes disability guidelines
The W3C's recommendation of its User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) 1.0 brings to completion the third guideline document under development by the group's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). Two other sets of guidelines, already finalized, deal with the creation of authoring tools, recommended in February 2000, and Web pages, recommended in March 1999.

The guidelines embraced on Tuesday for browsers and media players--"user agents" in W3C-speak--spent well over a year as a candidate recommendation. That draft was first released in September 2001.

The user agent guidelines released Tuesday urge designers to make a number of accommodations for disabled users. For example, the guidelines suggest that designers make commands executable through the keyboard, as well as the mouse. The guidelines ask that designers make their applications work smoothly with so-called assistive technologies, like screen readers or refreshable Braille output.

In trying to get the industry to incorporate its guidelines, the WAI is emphasizing the degree to which its recommendations help not only the disabled, but also those restricted by the more limited capabilities of smaller computing devices such as Web-enabled cell phones and personal digital assistants.

"One of the things that has been both intriguing and promising from early on is that accessibility solutions didn't just help solve the problems they were created to solve," said Judy Brewer, director of the WAI. "We encourage the use of Web graphics. But someone accessing the Web through a PDA can't see a graphic, table or chart that well. For accessibility, you'd want someone to be able to visually scan it if they could, query it, run through it in a linear mode. Those flexibility user choices are precisely the things that people accessing the Web through alternate devices need as well."

Thursday, December 19, 2002

The flaw's danger is compounded by the fact that Flash is so widespread and the software doesn't have a built-in upgrade system…

News: Compromised in a Flash
A flaw found in Macromedia's animation software leaves Web surfers vulnerable to attack when they visit an Internet site or, possibly, open an e-mail, a security firm said Tuesday.

The vulnerability, found by security firm eEye Digital Security, allows an attacker to create a hand-edited Macromedia Flash, or SWF, file that can compromise a PC or Macintosh if its user views the file with the Shockwave Flash Player plug-in for Internet Explorer, Netscape or other browsers.

The flaw's danger is compounded by the fact that Flash is so widespread and the software doesn't have a built-in upgrade system, said Marc Maiffret, chief hacking officer for Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based eEye.

"Almost every user is going to have Flash, so they can become compromised," Maiffret said. "Unless the user is smart enough to get the latest version of Flash, then they are going to be vulnerable."
News: Compromised in a Flash

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Nearly a quarter of the corporate security officers in a survey to be released today said they would supply information about customers to law enforcement officials and government agencies without a court order.

Some Companies Will Release Customer Records on Request
"If you're a customer in somebody's database, you cannot be completely confident that the information you've provided — whatever the business might be — is not going to be shared with law enforcement agencies in the course of their investigations," said Lew McCreary, the editor of CSO magazine, which conducted the survey.

"Do you realize there isn't a piece of land worth these lives?"

In Grief, Israeli Family Questions Army Aid to Settlers
She refused to cry. But there was no masking the rage that Yaffa Yaacoby aimed at the four young men, one bearing a submachine gun, who came to her house today to pay their respects to her dead daughter.

"Tell me," she asked the men, all members of a small settlement near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron, "is it worth it — the cave, the holy places — for my daughter and the other people who died? I speak from my heart. Look at me. I am only 40 years old. Today and every day after this, I have to wake up and face the fact that I buried my daughter.

"Do you realize there isn't a piece of land worth these lives?"

Settlers vehemently dispute this view, saying that the West Bank is both their biblical birthright and a buffer of security against Arab states. They argue that settlements are an investment in holding on to that land, and therefore that an army presence is necessary and justified.

Today, in grief, this central argument in Israeli society played itself out in a living room here as the Yaacoby family sat shiva in mourning for their oldest daughter, Keren, 19, killed last Thursday with a fellow soldier while guarding the contentious Jewish settlement.

Keren, shot by Palestinian gunmen, was the first woman in Israel's Army to die in combat since fighting broke out anew in September 2000.

But her death has received intense news media coverage here, primarily because her family has been outspoken in asking why, exactly, Israeli soldiers like their daughter are guarding the settlement of only 450 religious and well-armed Jews, perched dangerously amid some 150,000 Palestinians in Hebron.…

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Egypt-U.S. Relationship Is Strained by Iraq Crisis
When Secretary of State Colin L. Powell presented a new program last week to build democratic institutions and fight poverty in Arab countries with $29 million in fresh annual aid, the reaction from Egypt was about as welcoming as a hot gust of wind in the desert.

An article in Al Akhbar, the government-owned daily, dismissed the bid to improve America's image in the region, "given that it lacks honesty, justice and transparency." The article said the plan "confirmed the belief long upheld in the region of how Israel currently controls the decision-making process in the U.S."

Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher was somewhat more diplomatic, saying that "it does not touch on the basic problem which is the cause of the other problems, and that is the lack of a Middle East settlement."

Egypt remains Washington's strongest ally in the Arab world, but the two countries appear exceptionally out of step at the very moment the Bush administration is preparing for a possible invasion of Iraq.

President Hosni Mubarak has made his position clear for months that an attack on Iraq could let loose a virulently radical backlash across a region already incensed by the Israeli crackdown in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

That is not an unusual stance in the Arab world, but it comes in stark contrast to Egypt's position preparing for and fighting the first Persian Gulf war a little over a decade ago. After Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Egypt persuaded several Arab countries, including Syria, to join the American-led coalition and contributed 36,000 ground troops.

Egypt was handsomely rewarded for its role in the war, with Western creditors forgiving two-thirds of the nation's debt, which in turn led to an opening of the Egyptian economy, higher growth rates and the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the mid-1990's.

The Egyptian economy — now sputtering from a loss of tourism revenue and lower tolls on the Suez Canal, among other reasons — could use another boost. But Egyptian officials say the prospect of increased Western help would not be worth the risk of going to war again.

Egypt strongly supports United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for Iraqi disarmament and vigorous examinations by weapons inspectors of suspected Iraqi armament plants. But Egypt has made it abundantly clear that it will not contribute troops or active military support to a second gulf war.

Officials here note that the Suez Canal remains open to American warships moving into the gulf, but they refused to pledge that Egyptian waters and air space will remain open to American military operations if a prolonged war produces a heated reaction against the United States and its allies in the region.

With a population of 70 million, Egypt remains the intellectual, cultural and political capital of the Arab world. As an ally of the United States that has received $2 billion in annual aid from Washington since it made peace with Israel in the 1970's, Egypt continues to be a bridge between the rest of the Arab world and the West.

It is a balancing act that is particularly delicate at this juncture.

Mr. Mubarak has not talked to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq in more than a decade, according to his aides, but his emissaries helped persuade Mr. Hussein to allow the United Nations weapons inspectors back into his country.

Now Egypt is pressing the United States to give the inspectors enough time to do their work, even if that puts off an attack indefinitely.

"If America wishes to keep its credibility in the area, an unjustified war should not be in the cards," Mr. Osman said in an interview. "The area is pregnant with tension. We have our hands full, and we don't need more tension. We feel a military strike could unleash violence and terrorism, which will definitely spill over beyond the area."

Mr. Osman said the first Bush administration had wisely tamped down regional passions by expressing an intention to address Palestinian aspirations.

Egyptian officials said Mr. Mubarak laid out a host of concerns in several meetings with the current President Bush this year, including fears that broad antipathy among Arabs about how Israel is dealing with the Palestinians would provide ample tinder for terrorists.

Monday, December 16, 2002

"I'm telling him directly not to hide behind the Palestinian cause…Why is bin Laden talking about Palestine now?" Mr. Arafat said. "He never helped us. He was working in another, completely different area and against our interests."

Arafat Disavows bin Laden
Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, sought to distance himself unequivocally from Al Qaeda in an interview published today, warning Osama bin Laden to stop justifying attacks in the name of Palestinians.

"I'm telling him directly not to hide behind the Palestinian cause," Mr. Arafat was quoted as saying in The Sunday Times of London, referring to recent statements by Al Qaeda leaders.

"Why is bin Laden talking about Palestine now?" Mr. Arafat said. "He never helped us. He was working in another, completely different area and against our interests."

Sunday, December 15, 2002

…list includes key Qaeda leaders like Osama bin Laden and his chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri…

Bush Has Widened Authority of C.I.A. to Kill Terrorists
President Bush has provided written legal authority to the C.I.A. to hunt down and kill the terrorists without seeking further approval each time the agency is about to stage an operation. Some officials said the terrorist list was known as the "high-value target list." A spokesman for the White House declined to discuss the list or issues involving the use of lethal force against terrorists. A spokesman for the C.I.A. also declined to comment on the list.

Despite the authority given to the agency, Mr. Bush has not waived the executive order banning assassinations, officials said. The presidential authority to kill terrorists defines operatives of Al Qaeda as enemy combatants and thus legitimate targets for lethal force.

The creation of the secret list is part of the expanded C.I.A. effort to hunt and kill or capture Qaeda operatives far from traditional battlefields, in countries like Yemen.

The president is not legally required to approve each name added to the list, nor is the C.I.A. required to obtain presidential approval for specific attacks, although officials said Mr. Bush had been kept well informed about the agency's operations.

In November, the C.I.A. killed a Qaeda leader in a remote region of Yemen. A pilotless Predator aircraft operated by the agency fired a Hellfire antitank missile at a car in which Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, also known as Abu Ali, was riding. Mr. Harethi and five other people, including one suspected Qaeda operative with United States citizenship, were killed in the attack.

Mr. Harethi, a key Al Qaeda leader in Yemen who is suspected of helping to plan the bombing of the American destroyer Cole in 2000, is believed to have been on the list of Qaeda leaders that the C.I.A. had been authorized to kill. After the Predator operation in Yemen, American officials said Mr. Bush was not required to approve the mission before the attack, nor was he specifically consulted.

Intelligence officials said the presidential finding authorizing the agency to kill terrorists was not limited to those on the list. The president has given broad authority to the C.I.A. to kill or capture operatives of Al Qaeda around the world, the officials said. But officials said the group's most senior leaders on the list were the agency's primary focus.

The precise criteria for adding someone to the list are unclear, although the evidence against each person must be clear and convincing, the officials said. The list contains the names of some of the same people who are on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's list of most wanted terror suspects, although the lists are prepared independently.

Officials said the C.I.A., working with the F.B.I., the military and foreign governments, will seek to capture terrorists when possible and bring them into custody.

Counterterrorism officials prefer to capture senior Qaeda leaders for interrogation, if possible. They regard killing as a last resort in cases in which the location of a Qaeda operative is known but capture would be too dangerous or logistically impossible, the officials said.

But the decision by the Bush administration to authorize, under certain circumstances, the killing of terrorist leaders threatens to thrust it into a murky area of national security and international law that is almost never debated in public because the covert operations are known only to a small circle of executive branch and Congressional officials.

In the past, the Bush administration has criticized the targeting of Palestinian leaders by Israeli forces. But one former senior official said such criticism had diminished as the administration sought to move aggressively against Al Qaeda.

Still, some national security lawyers said the practice of drawing up lists of people who are subject to lethal force might blur the lines drawn by government's ban on assassinations. That prohibition was first ordered by President Gerald Ford, and in the view of some lawyers, it applies not only to foreign leaders but to civilians. (American officials have said in the past that Saddam Hussein would be a legitimate target in a war, as he is a military commander as well as Iraq's president.)

"The inevitable complication of a politically declared but legally undeclared war is the blurring of the distinction between enemy combatants and other nonstate actors," said Harold Hongju Koh, a professor of international law at Yale University and a former State Department official in President Bill Clinton's administration. "The question is, what factual showing will demonstrate that they had warlike intentions against us and who sees that evidence before any action is taken?"
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Saturday, December 14, 2002

"They had lost any hope of getting work inside the Gaza Strip, There was no food for the children."

No Terror This Time, Just Five Arab Cousins Taking a Deadly Gamble for Work
The five cousins left their identification as Gaza Palestinians at home. They dressed in layers because of the winter wind, and because the clothes on their backs would be their only wardrobe during the weeks or months they planned to stay in Israel, working illegally.

After dark Wednesday, they took a ladder, guessed when the army patrols were looking elsewhere, and stole toward the Israeli fence that encloses the Gaza Strip.…

The cousins' mangled bodies were returned today to this struggling town in southern Gaza. The army said that soldiers, operating on intelligence that predicted a terrorist infiltration, opened fire with tanks when they detected shadowy figures crawling toward the fence.

When soldiers examined the bodies Thursday morning, they found two 13-foot ladders nearby but no weapons. Today the Israeli government conceded that the men might have been seeking to work in Israel.

"It's a strange incident, and if they were workers, an unhappy one," said Jacob Dallal, an army spokesman. "It's incredibly dangerous, what they did. There have been many attempts at that point to infiltrate by people who clearly wanted to carry out terror attacks."

The cousins, all Astal family members, were well aware of the risks, their relatives said. But two had pregnant wives, and others already had children. One was trying to pay off debts, including money owed for the meat served at his wedding two years ago. Another was one of only two breadwinners in a household of at least 30.

"They had lost any hope of getting work inside the Gaza Strip," said another cousin, Raed al-Astal. "There was no food for the children."
What Google has in Store for You

SearchDay - Online Shopping with Google's Froogle - 12 December 2002
Google has launched a beta version of a new shopping search tool called "Froogle" that the company claims is the most comprehensive product search engine available on the web.

Froogle is organized as a directory, with 15 different product categories. These categories include Apparel & Accessories, Arts & Entertainment, Auto & Vehicles, Baby, Books, Music & Video, Computers, Electronics, Flowers, Food & Gourmet, Health & Personal Care, Home & Garden, Office, Sports & Outdoors and Toys & Games.

Much like the Google Directory, you can look for products either by using a keyword search or by drilling down through a particular category and its subcategories. You can also limit your search to a specific category.

Search results are limited to one product per store. Each result displays a thumbnail image of the product to the left, with the product's name, price and description listed to the right of the thumbnail. The store where the product is available is also listed, along with a link to see all results related to your keyword that are available at that particular merchant.

Froogle's emphasis is on helping users find products, rather than providing product information, reviews, and other associated information found on other shopping search services.

Results are determined by an algorithm that's similar to Google's PageRank method used for determining ordinary web search results. There's no paid inclusion or any other way for merchants to influence the way their products are presented in results, says Rosenberg.

"Froogle shines particularly well with some of the more esoteric queries," said Jonathan Rosenberg, Google Vice President of Product Management. This is because Google has tried to build a one of the most extensive product search tools available on the web, going for both breadth and depth of coverage.

Data in Froogle comes from two sources," said Rosenberg. "Merchant feeds, and the rest is a crawl of web pages that identifies product offers."

Merchants provide product information to Froogle via FTP. Rosenberg says that Google encourages merchants to send updates frequently, to keep the information as fresh as possible.

Rosenberg says that unlike other shopping search services, Google has no plans to charge merchants to include their products in Froogle. Merchants can sign up to be included in Froogle by using the "Information for Merchants" link below. Email Google with details of your site, and they'll send you specific instructions for submitting a data feed in the required format.

Though it's similar to Google Catalogs search, Froogle is a completely different project that uses

Google's beta launch of its product search tool.

Froogle Information for Merchants
To have your store included in Froogle, follow these guidelines to submit a data feed to Google. Doing so will ensure that your entire product catalog is included in Froogle, and it will also allow you to control the freshness and accuracy of your product information.
con·cept: 2002