Wednesday, July 31, 2002

For Homeland Security Bill, a Brakeman
The government's summer urgency to fend off terrorists by reorganizing security agencies seemed to melt away today when Robert C. Byrd walked onto the Senate floor in his seersucker suit and let loose a thundering demand to slow things down.

The stripes on his jacket appeared to be trembling as much from indignation as from the infirmities of his 84 years as the senator held out his palm, and the power of parliamentary rules, before the onrushing bulldozer of the proposed Homeland Security Department.

"Have we all completely taken leave of our senses?" he said, his tremulous drawl mocking the high-speed world flying by outside his timeless chamber. "The president is shouting, `Pass the bill, pass the bill!' The administration's cabinet secretaries are urging the adoption of the president's proposal without any changes." But that is not the way of the Senate, he argued.

"If ever there was a time for the Senate to throw a bucket of cold water on an overheated legislative process that is spinning out of control," he said, "it is now. Now!"

It might have been just another of the eight-term West Virginia Democrat's legendary diatribes against executive excess, except for the Senate rules that give a single member enormous power for tossing water buckets. All but single-handedly, Mr. Byrd has slowed the Homeland Security juggernaut by implicitly threatening a filibuster, almost certainly forcing the Senate to postpone debate until after the August recess.

Tom Daschle, the majority leader, predicted on Friday, when the House passed its version of the legislation, that given the time needed to cut off Senate debate, a vote would be pushed back to September. That would threaten Congress's self-imposed memorial deadline of Sept. 11 for creating the department, and it did not sit well today with Trent Lott, the minority leader, who said the delay was a "huge mistake" that could be dangerous to the country.

"What if we leave town," Mr. Lott said in an interview, "and in August we have some terrorist attack, some disaster, that maybe could have been prevented if we had a way to move people and money and get a focus in an appropriate way? I just think that's unacceptable. This really to me is emergency legislation."

Although Mr. Lott's accusation carried with it a potent political threat, Mr. Byrd's plea for deliberation seemed to win some adherents today, particularly because the delay now seems inevitable. Mr. Daschle, eager for his party not to be portrayed as obstructionist, said a little cogitation might not be a bad idea.

"This is the single biggest reorganization of the federal government in my lifetime," he told reporters, "and for us to take it up and to pass it in a couple of days asks a lot of our judgment and of our ability to deliberate on something of this import. Senator Byrd and others are suggesting that they may support in the end the proposal, but they want more care, more attention, more careful consideration given to a proposal of this magnitude. And frankly, I don't think that's too much to ask."
Bomb Kills 7 in Jerusalem; Hamas Claims Responsibility
A bomb believed planted by a Palestinian group exploded in a crowded lunchtime cafeteria at Hebrew University in Jerusalem today, killing at least seven people, the Israeli police said. About 80 people were injured, 14 of them seriously.

The blast ripped through the Frank Sinatra cafeteria, and although classes are not in session, many students are taking exams and the room was busy.

Later the militant Islamist group Hamas claimed responsibility for the blast, saying it was in revenge for an Israeli air raid on Gaza City last week that killed a Hamas leader and 14 other people, including 9 children.

"It's a part of a series of responses that will take a long time and teach all Israelis," the group said in a statement faxed to news agencies.

A Jerusalem police spokesman, Kobi Zrihen, said: "We have not found a body that would match the description of a suicide bomber. It is therefore a bomb attack."

Police officials called the explosion a Palestinian attack but stopped short of attributing the blast to a suicide bomber.

The police said they thought the bomb was inside a backpack left in the cafeteria, John Kifner, a New York Times correspondent in Jerusalem, reported from the scene.

The bombing was condemned by the Palestinian Authority. But in a statement, the Authority, led by Yasir Arafat, said it considered the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, "as being responsible for this cycle of terror," including the Gaza raid.

President Bush condemned the attack as "a horrific act of terror," the White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said. "This terrorist attack underscores again the need for the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership to take action to halt terrorism so that peace has a chance in the Middle East," he added.

Most of the students at the Hebrew University are Jewish, though a large number are Arabs. Israel's Channel 2 television said Arab students were believed to be among the casualties, The Associated Press reported.

It was the second bombing attack in Jerusalem in two days. On Tuesday, in the first such attack in the city in more than a month, a 17-year-old Palestinian blew himself up at a falafel stand, killing himself and wounding five other people.

The bomber managed to evade security guards posted around the campus, even though Israel is on full alert for terror attacks.
Palestinian Gunmen Kill 2 Israeli Settlers in West Bank
Two Israeli brothers from this settlement were shot to death by masked Palestinian gunmen this morning when they stepped out of their tanker truck to sell diesel fuel in a neighboring Palestinian village, Israeli officials said.

Palestinian militants have vowed to retaliate for an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City last week that killed a leader of the Islamist group Hamas and 14 other people, including 9 children.

Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, a militia connected with Yasir Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for killing the two settlers, saying that its gunmen had acted to avenge "Palestinian warriors."

The police suspect that a trap was laid for the two Israelis, but "everything has to be checked," Inspector Wingrad said. The Israeli Army said it searched Jammain and other nearby villages today and arrested several suspects.

The shooting was the latest in a series of attacks on Israeli settlers in the West Bank. Before dawn today, a Palestinian armed with two knives snuck into the settlement of Itamar, near Nablus, and stabbed a man and a woman. The man suffered moderate injuries and the woman slight ones, the army said, before soldiers shot the attacker to death.

It was the third infiltration into Itamar in two months. New fences have been appearing around some settlements.
1% Increase in U.S. Inmates Is Lowest Rate in 3 Decades
In the last six months of 2001, the number of state prison inmates actually fell by 3,700, the report said.

Altogether, there were 2.1 million Americans in state and federal prisons or in local jails at the end of 2001, the report said.

The small rise in the number of inmates for the whole year, only 1.1 percent, comes at a time when crime began to grow again, after a decade of declining. But criminal justice experts said there was no contradiction between the two trends.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

BBC NEWS | Business | Israel releases Palestinian funds
Israel has agreed to pay the Palestinian Authority (PA) some of the back taxes it is owed.

The Israeli freeze on payment of these tax revenues has further crippled the PA at a time when the curfew and the long-running closure of Israel to Palestinians from the occupied territories has left their economy in ruins.

The move seems to be a conciliatory gesture following worldwide criticism of an air strike which on Monday killed not only a Palestinian militant but more than a dozen other people.

Up until now, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cabinet had charged the PA with using the money to pay for terrorism, and refused to hand over any of the money until monitoring systems - preferably US-led - were in place.

But on Wednesday Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told Israeli Army radio that about 10% of the $430m (£273m) it owes will be released.

At the same time, the $31m or so that the PA owes to power and water utilities will be written off.

And Mr Peres also said he and the PA had agreed to let 7,000 Palestinian workers return to their former jobs in Israel, with 4,000 permits already issued - although he did not say whether any had yet been allowed back in.

The decision, according to Israeli daily Haaretz, came under heavy pressure from the US.

The first $14m is going to be released on Monday, with another two tranches on dates to be confirmed.

But the Israeli government is not prepared to commit to when - or whether - it will unblock further funds.

"We decided to trust the Palestinians, in particular Finance Minister Salam Fayad, by releasing a first disbursement," one Israeli official told Reuters.

"Initially we had planned to await the arrival of a representative of the US treasury who was to help establish an international control mechanism for the Palestinian Authority's accounts, but he still hasn't arrived and we decided to go ahead anyway."
User Interface 7 East Conference - Interview with Derek M. Powazek
Derek has worked on community features for Netscape, Nike, and Sony, along with creating the community sites, {fray}, Kvetch!, and SF Stories. Christine Perfetti, a consultant at User Interface Engineering, recently talked with Derek about his experience. Here is what he had to say about creating effective online communities:
Patent Law Change Urged to Speed Generic Drugs
The Federal Trade Commission called on Congress tonight to revise the nation's patent laws to prevent brand-name drug companies from unduly delaying the sale of low-cost generic drugs.

In a report to be issued on Tuesday, the commission says several provisions of a landmark 1984 law "have the potential for abuse" and may have been exploited by brand-name drug companies to prevent the marketing of generic drugs.

Under current law, a maker of brand-name drugs can often get a 30-month delay in federal approval of generic drugs by filing a lawsuit asserting infringement of its patents. The commission said some companies had delayed generic competition for years — up to 40 months beyond the initial 30-month period — by filing new patents for brand-name drugs already on the market.

The commission found eight instances in which brand-name companies had filed new patents to protect their monopolies after generic drug companies sought approval from the Food and Drug Administration to market low-cost copies of those medicines.

Accordingly, the commission recommended that Congress change the law to allow only one 30-month delay for each drug product. This would reduce the ability of drug companies to stave off generic competition by securing multiple delays.

The study, based on documents subpoenaed from pharmaceutical companies, examined the marketing of brand-name drugs like Cardizem CD, Cipro, Claritin, Paxil, Pravachol, Prilosec, Prozac, Vasotec, Zantac and Zoloft
Suicide Bomber Hurts 7 in Jerusalem
A suicide bomber blew himself up in a Jerusalem fast-food stand Tuesday, injuring seven people in the first attack here since back-to-back bombings prompted Israel to occupy major West Bank towns last month.

Earlier in the day, two Israeli settlers were shot and killed in the West Bank after they entered a Palestinian village, and a settler couple was seriously wounded after they were stabbed in their home by a Palestinian intruder.

Israeli officials warned that planned easing of restrictions in the seven Palestinian towns it occupied last month would be delayed if attacks continued. However, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Raanan Gissin, said Israel still wants to resume security talks with the Palestinians after a monthslong lull.

In the Jerusalem attack, the bomber detonated his explosives inside the Yemenite Felafel Stand in one of the most heavily guarded areas of central Jerusalem and one of the most targeted by militants: There have been at least eight bombing and shooting attacks in the area in the past 22 months of fighting.

Seven people were injured in the attack, one of them moderately, police said.

``He didn't look suspicious,'' Yona said. ``He was cleanly shaven. He had his hair gelled back. He noticed us and then he entered the shop.''

The head of the Shin Bet security service, Avi Dichter, told a parliamentary committee Tuesday that Israel had received 60 warnings of pending attacks and had thwarted 12 in the past few days, a parliament spokeswoman said.

Israel has blamed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for attacks on its civilians, saying the Palestinian Authority has done nothing to stop militant groups. The Palestinians argue that Israel's military assaults on its cities and security forces have left them with little ability to prevent attacks.
Israeli-Palestinian Battles Intrude on 'Sesame Street'
Four years ago that children's television show began broadcasting an Israeli-Palestinian co-production, conceived in the afterglow of the 1993 Oslo accords. The collaboration produced 70 half-hour shows, each one containing Hebrew and Arabic segments that were broadcast to receptive audiences. But under a new co-production agreement, which now includes Jordanians, the project has run into difficulty.

The name "Sesame Street" has been changed to "Sesame Stories" because the concept of a place where people and puppets from those three groups can mingle freely has become untenable.

The original shows were built around the notion that Israeli and Palestinian children (as well as puppets) might become friends. Now, reflecting the somber mood in the Middle East, producers see their best hope as helping children to humanize their historic enemies through separate but parallel stories.

"We've realized that a goal of friendship was beyond realism, given where things are now," said Charlotte Cole, vice president of international research for the Sesame Workshop (formerly the Children's Television Workshop) in New York.

Other problems involve practicalities. Palestinians no longer go to Tel Aviv to work on the shows as before. The creative back and forth — taking place in meetings near London and in New York and by telephone and e-mail messages — has an eggshell fragility. The utterance of every Muppet is potentially inflammatory.

The participants cannot agree on when or even if the completed episodes should be broadcast. The Israelis want to show them as soon as they are finished, probably early next year. "We have to find a way to tackle the harsh reality with children, because the grown-ups aren't managing very well to resolve it," said Alona Abt, the Israeli executive producer.

But her Palestinian counterparts say it would be pointless to broadcast a series promoting tolerance until a peace agreement is signed. "Children in Palestine today will not appreciate, understand, absorb and react in a positive way to the goals we want to accomplish," said Daoud Kuttab, the Palestinian executive producer, whose studio at the public television station in Ramallah, the West Bank town, was damaged by Israeli soldiers. "You're telling them to be tolerant to Israelis when Israeli tanks are outside their homes."

Yet the production process has kept going, with a sometimes surreal mixture of good will and apprehension. "In the current climate we can only try to humanize and demystify," Dr. Cole said, "to see that other people play in a playground or that they enjoy being with their grandparents. Once you have that level of humanity it's so much harder to hate."
Funeral Begets Funeral in Edgy West Bank
Fourteen-year-old Niveen Jamjoum, shot dead in violence that began during the funeral procession for a Jewish settler on Sunday, was buried here today in a small cemetery behind a school.

Ms. Jamjoum, the youngest of nine children, was shot as she sat on a staircase while Jewish settlers hurled stones and opened fire at Arab homes during the funeral for Elazar Leibovich. He was a sergeant in the Israeli Army and among four settlers who were killed by Palestinian gunmen in a roadside ambush on Friday.

The successive funerals here were stark evidence of the continuing impasse in efforts to end the raging violence, which has taken the lives of nearly 1,500 Palestinians and more than 550 Israelis since the Palestinian uprising erupted 22 months ago.

There were scattered signs today of attempts to break the stalemate.

The Israeli defense minister, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, said he expected to start security talks with Palestinian officials this week.

Yasir Arafat said after a meeting with the American civil rights leader Jesse L. Jackson that efforts would continue on arranging a cease-fire by Palestinian factions. Those talks were disrupted by an Israeli bombing in Gaza last week that killed a Hamas leader and 14 other people.

In Nablus, the West Bank's largest city, residents fed up with 40 days under curfew defied the ban for the second day. Shops, markets and banks opened and people went in the streets to buy supplies, responding to a call by the city's governor, Mahmoud Aloul, who said the action was "a form of civic resistance." The Israeli Army did not intervene, but stayed on the edge of the city.

[Early on Tuesday, a Palestinian stabbed and seriously wounded a Jewish settler and his wife in a house in Itamar, near Nablus, rescue officials and Israel Radio told The Associated Press. Security guards at the settlement reportedly killed the infiltrator.]

The curfew in Nablus has been formally lifted five times, and curfews have been lifted more frequently in other cities.

In Hebron the curfew was lifted today, and streets were jammed. Mourners gathered at a mosque for the funeral of Ms. Jamjoum, and a few dozen people marched behind her body, briefly chanting slogans.

Marwan Jamjoum said his sister had been killed as she sat on an open landing between the second and third floors of their house. On the street below, the settlers' funeral procession had turned into a rampage.

"They kicked in the door to the house," he said. "I was gathering my brothers to hide them, when the settlers shot my sister on the stairs. She was right next to me, and she was hit in the head. The settlers were about 15 meters away. The soldiers didn't do anything to stop them."

News photos published in Israeli newspapers today showed soldiers and border police officers standing next to settlers as they hurled stones and fired their weapons. In one image, a military policeman holds his ears as a settler standing behind him fires his M-16 rifle.

Mr. Ben-Eliezer, the Israeli defense minister, called the settlers' rampage on Sunday "a Jewish riot."

Monday, July 29, 2002

Palestinians Defy Israeli Curfew
Thousands of Palestinians defied the Israeli army's around-the-clock curfew Monday for the second straight day, and took to the streets of Nablus as shops and banks opened to accommodate them.

If Nablus residents effectively lift the curfew on their own, such actions could spread to other West Bank cities. Palestinian residents under curfew have not previously challenged the army restrictions on a mass scale.

The army, which has imposed the curfew in most West Bank cities and towns for the past 40 days, remained in armored vehicles ringing the city. But troops did not enter Nablus and made no moves to drive residents off the streets and back into their homes.

``There is a curfew and we are aware of the violations,'' military spokesman Lt. Col. Olivier Rafowicz said of the situation in Nablus. ``For the moment, we are not responding.''

At the edge of the city, the troops allowed trucks with supplies to enter, but blocked passenger cars. Some Palestinians said troops were firing in the air over cars to turn away those approaching the city limits.

Meanwhile, Israel planned to hand over $15 million Monday to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority, the first of three installments, both sides said. Israel has withheld the tax revenues due the Palestinians for much of the past 22 months of fighting.

Israel had been demanding international supervision of the money to ensure it wasn't used to fund Palestinian militants, but agreed to place the cash under the responsibility of the new Palestinian finance minister, Salam Fayed.

In Nablus, many residents rushed to the markets Monday, stocking up on fruits and vegetables and other necessities. The city appeared to be almost as busy as on typical days before the curfew was imposed.

Standing at his felafel stand, Tamer Adnan said he was working despite the risk because he and his family had run out of food.

``I've been confined to my home for more than a month. I have eight children, we've eaten all we have,'' Adnan said. ``We need food and we must break any order to get our food. I resumed working not to fight Israel or its army, I'm just fighting to get food for my kids.''

Israeli troops entered seven of the eight major West Bank cities and towns on June 20 in a campaign to prevent Palestinian attacks against Israel. Israel has not said how long it intends to remain inside Palestinian areas, but officials have indicated it could be for months. Israel says it will not withdraw until it is confident that the threat of Palestinian attacks has dropped markedly.

In some cities, the curfew is often lifted during the day, and then reimposed before nightfall. However, the curfew has been particularly tight in Nablus.

The Nablus curfew has officially been lifted five times, for a few hours at a stretch, in the last 40 days.

People violating the curfew have been detained in some cases. And several Palestinians have been killed by army fire at times when there was confusion over whether the curfew had been lifted.

The Nablus protest began Sunday when the city governor, Mahmoud Aloul and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, urged residents to defy the order.

``So many of our people are suffering from hunger and others couldn't get medicine, so we have to get our rights by ourselves,'' Alol said.

In the West Bank city of Hebron, Palestinian mourners on Monday buried a 14-year-old girl shot dead a day earlier when Palestinians and Jewish settlers clashed during the funeral procession for a slain Israeli soldier.

``If not today, then maybe tomorrow or after one month, I will avenge the killing of my sister,'' said Marwan Jamjoun, brother of the slain girl, Nizin Jamjoum.

Several Palestinians and 15 Israeli policemen were injured in Sunday's confrontation, which erupted as the Jewish settlers were carrying the body of the Israeli soldier through the streets of Hebron. The casualties were blamed on the settlers.

``I very much regret to say there was a Jewish riot,'' Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Israel's defense minister, told Army Radio. ``It's just as well the army and the Israeli police brought it under control otherwise something terrible could have happened.''

However, several Palestinian witnesses said soldiers did little or nothing to stop the attacks by settlers.
Hebron Settlers Attack Palestinian
Jewish settlers went on a rampage here today after the funeral of an ambushed soldier, killing a teenage girl, attacking a Palestinian neighborhood, battling the Israeli police and beating several journalists.

The trouble began when Palestinians, confined to their homes, and the settlers threw stones at each other during the funeral procession for Staff Sgt. Elazar Liebovich, himself a settler in this always tense city, where about 400 Jewish settlers live among 100,000 Palestinians.

The settlers here are among the most religious and ideologically driven, and clashes are frequent.

Sergeant Liebovich, 21, was one of four Israelis slain in a roadside ambush on a settler's bypass highway south of here on Friday evening.

The violence began today as the sergeant's funeral procession left the biblical Tomb of the Patriarchs, revered by Jews and Muslims, heading through the narrow streets of the Old City toward the cemetery.

The Arab market was open in the morning but, fearing trouble, the army — a constant presence in Hebron long before the current crackdown — imposed a curfew.

Settlers and Palestinians began throwing stones, witnesses said. Then the settlers began firing, first in the air, then toward the Palestinian houses. Some soldiers in uniform, apparently comrades of Sergeant Liebovich, joined in, the witnesses said.

Nivin Jamjoum, 14, was struck in the head by a bullet as she stood on a second-floor balcony of her family's home and died instantly, said her brother, Marwan, 26, who was shot in the leg.

The settlers attacked the area around the Arab market, which is close to their main enclave, breaking car windows with iron bars, trying to smash the vendors' tables and setting a house on fire, the witnesses said. They fought with the Israeli police, reportedly injuring 15 officers. Hospital officials said nine other Palestinians had been injured, including an 8-year-old boy who was stabbed.

The settlers sent a message this morning on the elaborate beepers that journalists here carry warning them not to go to the funeral because they would not be welcome. They were not.

Hanan Shlein, a reporter from the Israeli newspaper Maariv, saw the crowd attack a photographer at the first outbreak of rock throwing — a tall man he thought was an American freelancer — and beat him badly, smashing his cameras before he was rescued by the army. Then Mr. Schlien himself was roughly ordered to leave by settlers.

A lttle while later, a photographer from another Israeli paper, Yediot Ahronot, was beaten as he tried to take pictures near the marketplace, and his equipment was broken. A reporter from the same newspaper who tried to help him was also beaten.

"The mood is very hard," Moishe Ben Zimara, a settler leader, said later in the afternoon. "Today is the anniversary of the 1929 massacre here, and two hours ago we buried another victim." He referred to an Arab rampage in 1929 that killed 67 people in the small Jewish community here at that time.

"Again we see the murderers, the Arab Palestinians who are threatening the entire free world, and the feelings are very hard," he said. "We want the deportation of all the Arabs from Yatta."

Settlers, many with assault rifles slung over their shoulders, strolled along the otherwise empty streets while clumps of weary looking paratroopers, who are usually on duty here, rested near their vehicles.

The settlers here, led by Rabbi Moshe Levinger, are among the most militant in the West Bank. Many wore blue T-shirts with white lettering on the back reading, in Hebrew: "No Arabs — No Attacks."

Much in the Jewish part of the city commemorates not only the 1929 killings, but more recent deaths. The area by the Arab market is marked by a huge sign, in English and Hebrew, proclaiming it "Gross Square — in memory of Aaron Gross, murdered by Arab terrorists in 1983."

In Nablus today, thousands of Palestinians defied the army's 39-day curfew of their city, filling the streets and opening markets and shops. It was the first act of Palestinian civil disobedience against the military occupation that has virtually shut down life in the West Bank for more than a month.
West Bank Arab-Americans: Force for Change Is Leaving
President Bush has demanded democracy, American-style, from Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Authority as the price for renewing negotiations toward a settlement of the conflict here. But many if not most of the Palestinians with the means and experience to drive such reforms — particularly the American citizens who built businesses in the United States and joined in its politics — are leaving.

Ziad Igbara, 41, regrets his own most recent experiment in democracy. In 2000, he registered Arab-American voters for Mr. Bush, and voted for him himself.

"The race was so close," Mr. Igbara said. "Probably if we didn't vote for him, it would have gone to Gore and Lieberman. But we have to keep voting. By electing our representatives to Congress, this is how we change things."

The residents of Turmus Aya, most of whom are American citizens, are trapped most days behind concrete blocks that Israeli soldiers have placed across the road into town, which is not a hot spot in the conflict.

Israeli government officials say such blockades are the only way to protect Israelis, including settlers in the West Bank, which like the Gaza Strip was occupied by Israel in the 1967 war. To Israelis and some American officials, it is Mr. Arafat and Palestinian militants who are to blame for the collapse of hopes — so widely felt such a short time ago — for peaceful coexistence.

In a town tugged between tradition and modern life, between a dwindling vision of a state of Palestine and immediate freedom in the United States, the groom, Waleed Rabie, 19, arrived on a horse, surrounded by friends joyfully clapping and chanting in Arabic, to collect his 16-year-old bride at her father's house. The couple departed in a white Lincoln Town Car with Illinois — "Land of Lincoln" — license plates. They did not leave the town's limits.

Even on the days that Palestinians defy the Israeli Army and use tractors to drag the blocks away from the town's entrance, they have to cajole soldiers to let them cross the checkpoints into Ramallah or else find paths through the hills. They must travel much of the distance on foot.

Universities are inaccessible, and beyond selling corn flakes at the Supermarket California or pizza at the local restaurant, there is little work to be had.

The days when Ziad Igbara would pile the kids into the car for a trip to McDonald's in Tel Aviv, or even to Domino's in Jerusalem, are long gone.

The travel restrictions have been drawn tight in the last month, since Israel seized seven of eight West Bank cities and towns after back-to-back suicide bombings in Jerusalem. Throughout the 22-month-old conflict, Israel has progressively made it harder for Palestinians not only to cross the West Bank boundary but also to move through the West Bank itself, with a combination of checkpoints, barbed wire, ditches, patrols and permits. For many Israelis, this is one way to prevent suicide bombers; for many Palestinians, it is a provocation to such attacks and a collective punishment.

"There was a lot of enthusiasm to come here," said Ahmed Kasem, 68, recalling the heady days of the Oslo peace effort in the last decade, when it appeared that the Palestinians were on the verge of statehood. "There was a lot of talk of Palestinians abroad coming to the West Bank to invest, because we had roots here. So we came, built a house, and here we are — can't go to the next village."

Meanwhile, although some Israeli-Americans are also leaving for the United States because of the conflict, other Israelis — some of them fellow Americans — continue to move into settlements in the West Bank. In the United States, Palestinians here say, they have Jewish clients and even friends; but here, they say, such relationships have become impossible.

Some Palestinians accuse Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, of a secret plan to destroy their industries, universities and potential national institutions — particularly the Palestinian Authority — and to drive them out of the West Bank. Saleh Abdel Jawad, a professor of political science at Bir Zeit university, calls it "socio-cide."

"It's ethnic cleansing without killing people," he said. "You destroy the society." He said that if the United States were freer in providing visas, "half the young people would not be here — this is the Israeli policy."
West Bank Arab-Americans: Force for Change Is Leaving
Side Effect of Welfare Law: The No-Parent Family
Researchers say they cannot pinpoint the forces driving parents and children apart. But among them, they said, may be the stresses of the new welfare world — loss of benefits, low-wage jobs at irregular hours and pressure from a new partner needed to pay the rent.

The findings are helping reopen the debate on what shifting welfare rules are doing to families. They are contributing to second thoughts among some of the most optimistic analysts, even as the White House and some lawmakers are pushing to make the welfare law's work requirements even stricter. The law now requires 50 percent of welfare recipients to work up to 30 hours a week, with some exceptions for hardship.

One important study of census data in each state, recently presented to an audience of welfare experts at Harvard, concluded that among those most affected by the welfare changes — black children in central cities — the share living without their parents had more than doubled on average, to 16.1 percent from 7.5 percent, when researchers controlled for other factors.

What we're seeing is the complex relationship between this thing we call welfare reform and the impact on families," said Wade F. Horn, the Bush administration official who oversees the welfare program. "In some cases we see positive effects on family structures, and in other cases we see more children living in no-parent families."

Mr. Horn said new welfare demands might expose an unfit parent whose children are better off in foster care. On the other hand, he added, a West Virginia mother told to seek work in Ohio may feel obliged to leave a child behind to finish school.

"What it tells us," he said, "is that we need to do an even better job on understanding the complexities of these programs on real people."

In a support group in the Bronx, grandparents raising grandchildren spoke of the many pressures their families faced. Linda Woods, for example, finds it easy to understand how a decline in households with single mothers and a rise in children living apart from both parents could be two sides of a coin.

Ms. Woods's daughter, a sickly high school dropout who once worked in sales, supported her own daughter, China, on welfare after the girl's father abandoned them. Unable to work in exchange for benefits, she eventually qualified for Social Security disability payments and found a boyfriend with a job.

"She got married to him too quick," Ms. Woods recalled. "I tried to tell her, `You're making a big mistake.' " Two years ago, she added, China, then 7, telephoned from her mother's home in Queens, begging to be rescued from conflicts with her stepfather.

Now Ms. Woods, 53 and retired because of ill health, is struggling to care for China without any public aid. China's mother, with a second child to support, has separated from her husband.
Creative Commons » Home
You're making a movie and need still images. You're starting out as a photographer and want to spread the word. You're teaching a course and need materials. You've written an article and you want people to analyze it. You're building a website and need graphics. You're a digital artist who wants to collaborate with other artists. You're performing a concert and need a symphony. You've composed a symphony and want people to perform it. How will Creative Commons help you?

Cultivating a New Creative Commons: Creative Commons is a non-profit organization founded on the notion that some people would prefer to share their creative works (and the power to copy, modify, and distribute their works) instead of exercising all of the restrictions of copyright law.

Giving License to Creativity: Our initial goal is to provide an easy way for people (like scholars, musicians, filmmakers, and authors--from world-renowned professionals to garage-based amateurs) to announce that their works are available for copying, modification, and redistribution. We are building a Web-based application for dedicating copyrighted works to the "public domain," and for generating flexible, generous licenses that permit copying and creative reuses of copyrighted works.

Shining a Spotlight on Sharing: We want to make it easy for people to find works that are in the public domain or licensed on generous terms. We are developing a method for labeling such works with metadata that identify their terms of use. Potential users could then search for works (say, photos of the Empire State Building) based on the permitted uses (say, noncommercial copying and redistribution).

Creative Commons plans to launch two projects in 2002. First, taking inspiration in part from the Free Software Foundation's General Public License (GPL), Creative Commons is developing a Web application that will help people dedicate their creative works to the public domain or license them on terms more generous than copyright. Unlike the GPL, Creative Commons licenses will not be designed for software, but rather for other kinds of creative works: websites, scholarship, music, film, photography, literature, courseware, etc. We hope to build upon and complement the work of others who have created public licenses for a variety of creative works.

Our aim is not only to increase the sum of raw source material online, but also to make access to that material cheaper and easier. To this end, Creative Commons will create metadata that can be used to associate creative works with their public domain or license status in a machine-readable way. We hope this will enable people to use the our search application and other online applications to find, for example, photographs that are free to use provided that the original photographer is credited, or songs that may be copied, distributed, or sampled with no restrictions whatsoever. We hope that the ease of use fostered by machine-readable licenses will further reduce barriers to creativity.

Creative Commons will also work to build an "intellectual property conservancy." Like a land trust or nature preserve, the conservancy will protect works of special public value from exclusionary private ownership. We will encourage people to donate their copyrights to be held in public trust; in some cases, Creative Commons may purchase important works to help guarantee both their integrity and widespread availability. Our ultimate goal is to develop a rich repository of high-quality works in a variety of media, and to promote an ethos of sharing, public education, and creative interactivity.

Sunday, July 28, 2002

BBC NEWS | In Depth | Israel and the Palestinians
Israel and the Palestinians
Features and analysis
Girl Shot by Jewish Settlers, Palestinians Say
Jewish settlers shot dead a Palestinian girl during a rampage in the West Bank city of Hebron on Sunday after the funeral of an Israeli soldier killed in a roadside ambush, Palestinian witnesses said.

Palestinian medical sources said nine Palestinians were wounded by gunfire.

The violence flared as the United States said it planned talks with Palestinian officials on security reforms and Israel pledged to ease hardships on Palestinians in the West Bank.

Palestinian witnesses said about 100 settlers attacked Palestinian houses in the old city and eastern Hebron, setting fires, breaking doors and windows and firing at houses.

The dead girl, Neveen Jamjoum, was shot while sitting just inside the doorway of her house, her mother said. Hospital officials said she was 13 after medical sources initially said she was eight years old.

Israeli police said Palestinians provoked the settlers.

On Friday, Palestinian gunmen killed a Jewish settler couple, one of their 10 children and the soldier in an ambush near the West Bank city of Hebron.

That ambush followed pledges by Palestinian militants to avenge an internationally condemned Israeli air strike on Gaza last week that killed 15 people, including nine children and Salah Shehada, head of the military wing of the Hamas group. Witnesses in Hebron said settlers attacked in the flash-point city after the funeral of the soldier, a settler from the area.

``The (settlers) attacked the area and started shooting at the house and then we threw stones at them so they would leave. They shot the girl in the head and me in my leg,'' a Palestinian man, who did not give his name, said from his hospital bed.

Israel Radio said at least 15 police were hurt in scuffles with settlers. Citing local sources, the radio also said settlers had set fire to a Palestinian home.

Some 400 settlers live in heavily-guarded enclaves in Hebron, home to more than 100,000 Palestinians.

Palestinians said that Hebron's Palestinian residents were confined in their homes under Israeli army-imposed curfew.
Stalemate in Mideast After Deadly Bombing
Last weekend, Palestinian officials were secretly working in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to achieve an agreement that some of those involved described as a unilateral cease-fire, others as a lessening of the conflict.

At the same time, Israeli officials were making secret preparations of their own, for a very different kind of unilateral action: killing a man they considered one of the most dangerous Palestinians, a founder of the military wing of Hamas. two paths crossed before dawn on Tuesday, when Israel dropped a laser-guided, one-ton bomb on the Hamas leader's house in Gaza City as the Palestinian negotiators were working on a text of their announcement.

To some Palestinian and Arab leaders, the Israeli action — which killed not only Sheik Salah Shehada, the man who was the target, but 14 other people, including 9 children — represented not a missed opportunity but an opportunity deliberately foreclosed.

Israeli officials scoffed at the accusation … While they knew of the Palestinian talks, they said, they also knew from bitter experience that the talks would go nowhere.

That explanation underscored a hard truth that was left in plain sight by the bombing: Israel has lost confidence, or even interest, in any short-term Palestinian efforts to ensure Israeli security.

In the view of Western diplomats here, that virtually guarantees a stalemate in the conflict in the coming months. Palestinian militants have vowed to retaliate for the bombing before they will consider a truce. For their part, the Israelis have concluded there is no point in discussing substantive security matters until Yasir Arafat is replaced.

But it is not clear how Mr. Arafat might be replaced any time soon. Like the Bush administration, the Israelis are expressing qualms about possible Palestinian elections, fearing that Mr. Arafat might be strengthened.

It is impossible to know if the intra-Palestinian talks would have led to a durable truce. But facing tremendous military pressure from Israel, diplomatic pressure from abroad and despair at home, some Palestinians have been searching for a way back to political negotiations.

The bombing came as Israelis and Palestinians were also engaged in what both sides called their most serious bilateral talks in months. Israeli officials said that they were impressed with two new ministers appointed by Mr. Arafat who are involved in these talks: Ahmed Razak Yehiyeh, the interior minister, who has responsibility for overseeing security forces, and Salam Fayad, the finance minister.

The Palestinians want the talks to progress toward security arrangements and Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank cities it has seized in the last month. But the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon regards the talks as intended to alleviate Palestinian suffering while the Israeli operation continues.
With the support of President Bush, Mr. Sharon has made Mr. Arafat's replacement a condition for resuming substantive peace negotiations. Experts from a number of election monitoring groups are here now, advising the Palestinian Authority on setting up a credible balloting process.

But there is little prospect of elections any time soon, Israeli, Palestinian and Western officials said. The problem for the Americans and Israelis is that elections, the vehicle that might hold out hope of replacing Mr. Arafat, promise to give him new legitimacy as a democratically chosen leader precisely because he is under such American and Israeli pressure.

Indeed, Israel opposes holding elections now for the Palestinian Authority, the governing body for territories the Palestinians control.…

That appears to be Bush administration policy as well. In a speech on June 24, Mr. Bush demanded Palestinian elections, but he demanded also that only certain people be chosen: "leaders not compromised by terror."

Two Western diplomats here said this week that the Bush administration was now resisting the idea of Palestinian elections, fearing that Mr. Arafat would run for re-election as president and would win handily. In addition, one of the diplomats said, the Americans feared that the militant group Hamas would gain ground in local elections.

Given Mr. Bush's demand that Mr. Arafat be replaced, one of these diplomats said, "everything else is irrelevant."

From the descriptions of people involved in the intra-Palestinian truce talks, there were two overlapping discussions. One began at the initiative of a European diplomat and proceeded with the help of an American political activist. The diplomat, Alistair Crook, represented the European Union in talks with the Tanzim, the militia of Mr. Arafat's Fatah movement, according to Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Hatem Abdel Khader, a Palestinian legislator and Fatah leader from Jerusalem who was involved in the discussions, said, "The Europeans wanted the Tanzim to lead the process, because the Tanzim have more influence on the street and on the Palestinian factions."

Fatah leaders in Ramallah negotiated a joint statement with local Tanzim leaders in the northern West Bank, particularly in Jenin and Nablus, people involved in the talks said. They said that Muhammad Dahlan, formerly the chief of Palestinian preventive security in the Gaza Strip, went to Gaza to present the announcement to Hamas leaders there.

People involved in the talks said that representatives of the negotiators also contacted Hamas leaders in Syria to put pressure on the local leadership to sign on to the agreement.

Mr. Abdel Khader said that Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the most violent Tanzim group, had agreed to respect the decision, and that Hamas had as well, though "not openly and publicly." He said that another Islamist group, Islamic Jihad, had not approved the agreement, and that Fatah representatives were prepared to go to Damascus to discuss the matter with Islamic Jihad leaders there.
They found the most potential problems, 174, in Ohio. Illinois followed with 164 questions, and Vermont had 147. The review found the fewest problems, 39, in New Hampshire.

Study Cites Lapses in the 2000 Census
The Census Bureau released its 2000 population counts without resolving more than 4,800 questions raised by a quality control review, a Congressional investigation has found.

"That the apportionment and redistricting data were released with around 4,800 unresolved data issues of unknown validity, magnitude and impact is cause for concern," the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said in a report released on Friday. "The bureau missed an important opportunity to verify and possibly improve the quality of the data."

Census officials said the Full Count Review was poorly integrated with other census operations because it was a late addition to the 2000 count, the General Accounting Office said. The review was conceived only after the Supreme Court upset the bureau's plan in 1999 to adjust raw population numbers using a statistical method known as sampling.

Questions were raised in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Saturday, July 27, 2002

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) 1.0 Specification Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) 1.0 Specification Table of Contents
Four Israelis and One Palestinian Die in Surge of Violence
Palestinian gunmen ambushed two Israeli cars today on a road south of the West Bank city of Hebron, killing four Jewish settlers and wounding two others. A couple and their teenage son were among the dead.

The attack, a day after another settler was shot and killed in the West Bank, was part of a surge in violence after an Israeli warplane dropped a bomb into a crowded Gaza neighborhood early Tuesday that killed a Hamas leader and 14 other people, 9 of them children.

Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group linked to Yasir Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for today's ambush as it did for Thursday's fatal shooting. Fatah's militia, Tanzim, had been preparing to announce a unilateral cease-fire before the Israeli bombing in Gaza, according to accounts by Palestinian officials and Western diplomats.

Since the Gaza bombing, there has been a flare-up of mortar and rocket attacks on Israeli military posts and settlements in and around the Gaza Strip. One rocket landed in a kibbutz in southern Israel on Thursday night, but caused no harm, and an anti-tank missile was fired today at a bus carrying settlers on a road southwest of Gaza City, causing damage but no casualties.

The double ambush south of Hebron occurred on a road bypassing the city that is used by Jewish settlers to reach their communities.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, a Palestinian was killed in Qalqilya when Israeli soldiers occupying the town opened fire as they searched houses, residents said. A bullet struck the man in the head as he stood near a window in his kitchen, a resident reported. The army said it was investigating the incident.

Security has been tightened in Israeli malls and other public places in anticipation of possible retaliation. In Jerusalem today, police officers were posted at roadblocks on busy streets.
This site is a one-stop portal that describes best practices, consolidates lessons learned, explains campaign strategies and tactics, and links the efforts of freedom of information advocates around the world. It contains crucial information on freedom of information laws and how they were drafted and implemented, including how various provisions have worked in practice.

Friday, July 26, 2002

In Palestinian Children, Signs of Increasing Malnutrition
A study under way for the United States Agency for International Development is finding that malnutrition among Palestinian children in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has increased substantially during the conflict with Israel, according to diplomats and government officials knowledgeable about the survey.

Preliminary results of the study, which is due to be finished and released in 10 days, are causing alarm within the Israeli government and the Bush administration, which has been pressuring Israel to alleviate Palestinian suffering.

One senior Israeli official said that Israel had learned through diplomatic channels of two forthcoming American studies detailing a rise in malnutrition.

"This is going to be disastrous for Israel," the official said. The Israeli government, already anticipating international criticism over conditions among Palestinians, has recently stepped up talks with Palestinian representatives to address the needs of those in the West Bank.

At the urging of the Bush administration, the Israelis have shelved a demand that the Americans supervise any transfer to Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Authority of Palestinian tax revenue that Israel has withheld during the conflict, Israeli officials said on Thursday. Shimon Peres, the Israeli foreign minister, said that Israel would begin transferring part of the money to the Palestinian Authority next week.

The shift came as Israeli officials engaged in a third day of damage control over the decision to drop a one-ton bomb into a densely populated neighborhood in Gaza City on Tuesday morning.…

Israeli ground forces have seized control of seven of eight major Palestinian cities and towns in the West Bank and have imposed 24-hour curfews that they lift only intermittently. Israel started the military operation after back-to-back suicide bombings a month ago in Jerusalem, and political and military officials have said they have no choice but to retain this grip on the West Bank until the threat of Palestinian violence ends.

Few Palestinians can leave their homes to work, and the costs and difficulties of transporting goods have become prohibitive, aid workers say.

The preliminary results of the Agency for International Development malnutrition survey have been widely discussed in diplomatic and aid donor circles here. Palestinian officials have also learned of the results, and some of the early findings have been posted on a Palestinian Web site,

The survey, conducted by Johns Hopkins University on contract with the agency, is of 1,000 households in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The preliminary results were based on about a third of that sample, one diplomat here said.

The preliminary results overstate the current findings of the survey, according to Western diplomats who have seen more recent conclusions. The preliminary findings indicated that 30 percent of children were suffering from chronic malnutrition, and another 21 percent from acute malnutrition, said diplomats who were briefed on the results.

As the researchers broadened their study to the bigger sample, those numbers declined. But the figures continue to show a substantial rise in malnutrition, according to people familiar with the survey.

Two years ago, a survey done for the same agency that was described by diplomats as somewhat less rigorous found that 7 percent of Palestinian children were chronically malnourished and 2.5 percent were acutely malnourished.
Israeli Forces Sweep Into Gaza City
Israel sent tanks and troops into Gaza City early Friday in its first operation since a heavily criticized bombing attack there killed a Hamas leader and 14 civilians.

In the West Bank, Israeli troops fatally shot a Palestinian man as he stood in his kitchen in Qalqiliya, Palestinian security officials said. They said Israeli soldiers were firing live ammunition as they searched houses, and that the man had been hit in the head. The army said it was checking the report.

…After the much criticized air strike, Israel pledged to release some tax money withheld from the Palestinian Authority and to lift curfews.

However, Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said everything depended on Palestinian efforts to stop attacks against Israel. Gissin also dismissed concerns that the Gaza bombing, in which Hamas military commander Salah Shehadeh was killed, would lead to a surge in Hamas suicide bombings as revenge.

Acknowledging for the first time that Israel was behind the death of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade leader Raed Karmi in a bomb explosion in the West Bank on Jan. 14, Gissin said that operation had reduced bombing attacks. He said expected the same result from the killing of Shehadeh. The Al Aqsa militia is affiliated with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

In the nighttime Gaza raid, witnesses said seven tanks accompanied a bulldozer that flattened a small Palestinian military intelligence position and a metal workshop, and then soldiers blew up another workshop in a blast that could be heard all over the city.

Gunmen fired at the Israelis, and two Palestinians were wounded in the exchange, they said.

Israeli tanks have on at least two occasions entered the fringes of Gaza City in the past 22 months of fighting. The overnight raid was believed to be the deepest they have entered into the city, however. Previously for such operations, the military has used helicopter gunships.

Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer defended the decision to kill Shehadeh, commander of the Hamas military wing known as Izzadine al-Qassam, which has claimed responsibility for hundreds of attacks against Israelis.

Speaking to his Labor party, Ben-Eliezer claimed Shehadeh was planning a ``mega-terror'' attack inside Israel, ``perhaps the biggest Israel has ever seen, a truck with a ton of explosives that was intended to shock the people of Israel and cause hundreds, hundreds of dead.''

Palestinian Cabinet Minister Nabil Shaath said the Israeli air strike was aimed at scuttling a unilateral cease-fire that the Tanzim, a leading militant group affiliated with Fatah, was set to declare. The Tanzim was also talking with other militant factions, such as Hamas, which were considering the proposal.

Hamas leaders have said that the Israeli attack canceled the pact, and that they will step up suicide bombing attacks.

However, Shaath said a new effort would be made to revive the plan. ``We will resume our dialogue within the coming few days,'' he told The Associated Press.
News: Could Hollywood hack your PC?
Congress is about to consider an entertainment industry proposal that would authorize copyright holders to disable PCs used for illicit file trading.

A draft bill seen by CNET marks the boldest political effort to date by record labels and movie studios to disrupt peer-to-peer networks that they view as an increasingly dire threat to their bottom line.

Sponsored by Reps. Howard Berman, D-Calif., and Howard Coble, R-N.C., the measure would permit copyright holders to perform nearly unchecked electronic hacking if they have a "reasonable basis" to believe that piracy is taking place. Berman and Coble plan to introduce the 10-page bill this week.

The legislation would immunize groups such as the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America from all state and federal laws if they disable, block or otherwise impair a "publicly accessible peer-to-peer network."

Anyone whose computer was damaged in the process must receive the permission of the U.S. attorney general before filing a lawsuit, and a suit could be filed only if the actual monetary loss was more than $250.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Clinton Says Republicans Blocked His Audit Reforms
"Arthur Levitt, my Securities and Exchange commissioner, tried to stop the Enron accounting issues — using the same accounting company being consultant and accountant — and the Republicans stopped it." Later, Mr. Clinton added that Republicans had fought Mr. Levitt's effort, "and Harvey Pitt was the leader trying to stop us from ending those kind of abuses. That is a matter of record." Mr. Pitt, who was a securities lawyer before being appointed by President Bush to head the S.E.C., counted accounting firms, including Arthur Andersen, among his clients.

When asked if he agreed with senators and representatives who have called for Mr. Pitt's resignation, Mr. Clinton demurred. "I don't have to make those decisions anymore," he said.

Mr. Clinton also said he had been overridden by Republicans when he vetoed a securities-industry bill he said would have "basically cut off investors from being able to sue if they were getting the shaft." And he recalled that his Treasury secretary, Lawrence H. Summers, had tried to crack down on the use of offshore accounts to conceal corporate financial information, but that Senator Phil Gramm of Texas "and other Republicans stopped that."
U.S. Fails in Effort to Block Vote on U.N. Convention on Torture
The United States lost a bid today to rewrite a United Nations plan intended to reinforce the 1989 convention against torture. The Bush administration, continuing to review international agreements binding on the United States, feared that the new plan would lead to demands by monitors to gain access to American prisoners and detainees.

The United States delegate to the United Nations' Economic and Social Council had called today for a vote to set aside the council's plan to establish a system of regular inspections of prisons and detention centers worldwide to check for abuses.

The United States wanted to create a committee in the General Assembly to write a new plan more acceptable to Washington.

The American proposal was defeated this evening, and the council's plan was approved.

The plan the United States opposed is contained in a protocol, or side-agreement, to the international convention against torture, which also bars "other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment."

Diplomats say, and American officials do not dispute, that the United States is sensitive about this issue because of potential demands for access to the detention camp at the United States naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where more than 500 detainees suspected of being Al Qaeda members and others seized in Afghanistan are being held, as well as to others held in the United States as "enemy combatants."

But an American official here said that the concern in Washington was that the plan, couched in what is called an "optional protocol," would be unconstitutional in the United States because it does not recognize states' rights.…

The official also said there was no question of withdrawing support for the convention on torture itself, which he called "an important human rights instrument." The United States, which signed the convention during the Clinton administration, is the largest contributor to a United Nations fund to aid torture victims.

Past efforts by United Nations monitors to visit American prisons have met with mixed results, with some states refusing entry to foreign inspectors. American officials have told United Nations human rights committees and monitors that the federal government cannot force states to open their prisons.

Human rights organizations say that the target of the new plan for prison visits is not the United States.
Palestinian Cease-Fire Was in Works Before Israeli Strike
Tanzim, the Palestinian militia connected to Yasir Arafat's Fatah faction, was preparing to announce a unilateral cease-fire with Israel before an Israeli warplane dropped a one-ton bomb early Tuesday on a Hamas leader's home in Gaza City, Palestinian officials and Western diplomats said today.

Israeli officials acknowledged that they had known of a possible Palestinian cease-fire proposal before the bomb was dropped, but they dismissed it as a futile attempt by Palestinians without influence over terrorist groups.

Several Palestinian factions, including groups belonging to Tanzim, have vowed retaliation for the bombing, which killed the Hamas leader, Sheik Salah Shehada, and 14 others, including 9 children. More than 140 people were injured.

European Union officials led the effort for a cease-fire, which intensified over the past two weeks and was supported by Jordanian and Saudi diplomats, people familiar with the process said. Bush administration officials had been informed of the effort, they said.

During extensive negotiations with Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Authority, some Hamas leaders had said they would cooperate in a cease-fire if it was connected to an Israeli withdrawal from areas it seized in the West Bank, Palestinian officials said. Publicly, top Hamas officials have imposed cease-fire conditions that Israel considers absurd.

A text identified as the planned cease-fire announcement that was published today in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, promised an end by Tanzim to "all attacks on innocent men, women, and children who are noncombatants."

Fierce debate among Israelis continued today about the attack. Mr. Sharon told Yediot Ahronot that he would not have authorized the strike had he known its results in advance. On Tuesday, Mr. Sharon had called the bombing "one of our major successes."

The air raid was approved by Mr. Sharon and by Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, the defense minister, who gave his approval by telephone from London, where he was on vacation.

The bomb, which was dropped into a densely populated neighborhood from an American-made F-16 jet, pulverized Sheik Shehada's house and two neighboring houses, leaving a jumble of cinder blocks and steel bars. Several other houses were damaged. The bodies of three children were recovered today.

Of the 15 people killed, 11 were not in the house when the bomb hit.

Palestinians and Israeli critics of Mr. Sharon accused him of deliberately scuttling cease-fire talks. The attack fit a pattern, they said, of attacks against popular militants during times of relative quiet. The government has argued that its policy of killing militant leaders is essential to security.

Yediot Ahronot reported today that the text of the cease-fire was finished just 90 minutes before the attack on Mr. Shehada, during a meeting of Tanzim leaders in Jenin. Israeli defense officials had been updated by European diplomats on the evolving text, the newspaper reported, in an account Western diplomats confirmed today.

Ahmed Razak Yehiyeh, the new Palestinian interior minister, who has responsibility for security forces, met for almost three hours with Mr. Peres in Tel Aviv on Saturday. Mr. Yehiyeh has been leading the negotiations among Palestinian factions for a cease-fire, Palestinian officials said.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, also participated in the Tel Aviv meeting, and he said the group discussed the possible cease-fire. "They had a plan submitted to them in writing that pointed to the fact that there is a serious dialogue going on to maintain the Authority and to stop the suicide bombing," he said. "And in that same paper it urged them to refrain from any assassinations."
Israel Braces for Possible Retaliation to Air Strike
Suspected Palestinian gunmen shot and killed an Israeli motorist early Thursday as Israel's foreign minister warned that civilians would likely ``pay dearly'' for the airstrike that killed a top Palestinian militant and 14 others.

As it braced for possible Palestinian retaliation, Israel said Thursday it was pressing ahead with a planned transfer of millions of dollars in frozen funds to the Palestinians and with other goodwill gestures.

In violence Thursday, a rabbi was killed and another person seriously injured after gunmen opened fire on their car near the Jewish settlement of Alei Zahav, south of the Palestinian town of Qalqilya in the West Bank, rescue officials and the military said.

The gunfire, coming from the nearby Palestinian village of Burkin, continued after rescue crews arrived and only stopped after Israeli tanks drove up and returned fire, medic Avner Mullah told Israel Radio.

The shooting came as Israelis braced for promised retaliation by the militant group Hamas following the Tuesday bombing in Gaza City that killed Hamas military leader Salah Shehadeh and 14 others, including nine children.

``I know that there is very serious escalation,'' Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told Israel Army Radio. ``I fear that innocent people will pay for it dearly.''

A day earlier, he called the strike a ``mistake,'' and said, ``I cannot explain mistakes.''

He admitted knowing that the Palestinian Authority had been conducting negotiations with various militant groups, including Hamas, aimed at forging a cease-fire. But he said not all factions were on board and it was not worth talking about since the agreement had not been finalized.

The U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, met late Wednesday to consider condemning Israel for the bombing, just the latest in a string of denunciations from the United States, Europe and the Arab world. A small group of Americans also burned U.S. and Israeli flags at a demonstration in the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza.

Critics -- including the Americans, Europeans, Arab countries and Palestinians -- have dismissed Israel's explanation that it was aiming only for Shehadeh and did not mean to kill so many people, questioning why such a heavy bomb was used in a densely packed residential neighborhood against a single target.

…Military commanders insisted they did not know civilians would be hurt.

More than 100 people were injured in the strike, most of them in adjoining structures damaged by the bomb, reported by Israeli media to weigh a ton.

Israeli military expert Reuven Pedatzur said the debate over whether Israel knew civilians were with Shehadeh was largely irrelevant.

``The decision to use a one-ton bomb was an immoral decision,'' he told Israel Radio. ``It makes no difference if there were people in the room with him or not when it is clear that the houses round about will be destroyed.''

Countering the wave of international criticism, Israel on Wednesday sent Peres, its best-known peace advocate, on a tour of the offices of foreign news media in Jerusalem, where he said, over and over, that the bombing was a mistake.

Peres said that as goodwill gestures, Israel would release some of the funds it has been keeping from the Palestinian Authority and would allow 4,000 Palestinian workers to enter Israel. Also, he said, curfews in West Bank cities and towns would be lifted for longer periods.

However, the gestures did not mollify the Palestinians, who called the Tuesday bombing a massacre and have been demanding much wider Israeli measures to ease restrictions in the West Bank.
State Dept. Raises Concerns About Israel's Use of U.S.-Made Arms
A senior State Department official said today that Israel could face "consequences," including possible sanctions on arms sales, if it improperly used American-made weapons during attacks on Palestinian targets.

Richard A. Boucher, the State Department spokesman, said the United States was closely monitoring Israeli actions to ensure they did not violate the Arms Export Control Act, which requires that military items sold by the United States be used solely for "internal security and legitimate self defense."

"We've made quite clear that we're seriously concerned about some of the Israeli tactics, some of the Israeli actions, including targeted killings and actions like this that endanger civilians," Mr. Boucher told reporters today.

"So we continue to watch and monitor Israeli actions very carefully, and we urge Israel to consider consequences of actions such as these."

His remarks were prompted by reports that the Israeli military used an American-made F-16 fighter jet to drop a laser-guided bomb into a densely packed neighborhood in Gaza City on Tuesday, killing a Hamas leader and 14 civilians.

The Bush administration condemned the attack as "heavy handed" and asserted that Israel was aware that noncombatants were in the building at the time.

The arms control act requires the State Department to report to Congress when there is a "substantial violation" of the law, Mr. Boucher said. He said no such report had been issued "since the current violence began."

The law authorizes the government to suspend military aid to countries that violate the Arms Export Control Act. In 1982, for instance, the Reagan administration suspended deliveries of cluster bombs to Israel after concluding that the military had used them improperly.

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

User Interface 7 East Conference -Three Instances Where It Pays To Get the Message Right
There are countless areas on your site, in your emails and in your newsletters, where you can make improvements by paying more attention to the text.

Even in the aftermath of the dotcom crazy years, the industry is still focusing too much on the technology that delivers online messages, and spending too little time on the quality of the messages themselves.

While every line of text you have written for your online business should be reviewed and can likely be improved, there are three areas that should receive your immediate attention.
Gaza on Brink as Battlefront After Israel Raid
Although tensions have always threatened to flare in the tinderbox Gaza Strip since the start of a Palestinian uprising for independence nearly two years ago, the region has been largely on the back burner in recent months.

Israeli tanks and troops now occupy seven of the West Bank's eight cities, but there has been no large-scale offensive in the smaller and more densely populated Gaza Strip, where casualties on both sides would likely be higher. The dynamic changed after an Israeli F-16 warplane fired a one-ton missile on a teeming Gaza neighborhood Tuesday, killing Salah Shehada, head of the military wing of the Muslim militant group Hamas, and 14 others.

Hundreds of thousands of people poured out in funerals and protests calling for ``Death to Israel'' in what appeared to be the largest crowds to pack Gaza's streets since Israel killed Hamas master-bombmaker Yehiya Ayyash in 1996.

Hamas militants wasted no time in vowing to kill Israelis in their own streets, restaurants and buses in revenge. It has made good on such vows in the past, killing scores of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks.

``The brigades call all fighters in occupied Palestinian cities and villages in West Bank, Gaza Strip and 1948 lands to be ready to strike the Zionists at any place and time,'' it said.

The narrow, coastal Gaza Strip was the first land Israel handed over to Palestinian rule in 1994 under peace accords. It has Egypt to the south, the Mediterranean Sea to the west and Israel to the north and east.

An Israeli security fence surrounds the strip, enclosing it in a miasma of refugee camps, villages and cities bursting with more than a million Palestinians. Jewish settlements, whose status was to have been negotiated, take up about 40 percent of the land.
Israelis Ask if Price of Gaza Attack Too High
Debate raged in Israel on Wednesday over the wisdom of killing one of its most bitter enemies at the cost of 14 Palestinian lives and international condemnation of the devastating Gaza air raid. A day after the killing of Salah Shehada, commander of the military wing of the Islamic group Hamas, it emerged that the F-16 warplane that attacked his house used a powerful one-ton precision ``smart bomb'' to ensure he could not survive.

…Haim Ramon, a member of Peres's Labor Party and chairman of parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee, said the buck stopped with the government.

``Ultimately it was the military's mistake, but it does not send an F-16 to a populated area without political authorization,'' Ramon told Israel Radio.

Military affairs correspondent Ron Ben-Yishai told Israel Radio the destructive power of the bomb was doubled by its detonation in a crowded cluster of buildings.

Israeli opposition leader Yossi Sarid of the left-wing Meretz party said that when he served in previous governments, Israeli leaders had vetoed similar operations because civilian casualties were likely.

``There are things that a country simply cannot do unless it wants to risk committing state-sponsored terrorism,'' Sarid wrote in an opinion piece in Israel's biggest newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth.

Nine Palestinian children, including a two-month-old baby, were among the 14 others killed in the attack.

At least 1,467 Palestinians and 559 Israelis have been killed in the uprising that began in September 2000.
Gaza Mourns Bombing Victims; Israel Hastens to Explain
A man held aloft the tiny body of the youngest victim, 2-month-old Dina Mattar, wrapped in a Palestinian flag, her small face visible. She was killed along with her mother and four siblings when upper-story rooms in their building collapsed.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in a formal written statement issued by his office early in the day, described the airstrike as "one of our major successes."

"We launched a precision attack," General Harel said at the briefing. "Only this house was hit, the house collapsed and this mastermind terrorist died. Unfortunately, along with him died several civilians, apparently innocent, and we are very sorry for it."

Later in the briefing, a senior military official told the journalists, none of whom had been in Gaza during the day: "This was the only house that collapsed. It's not clear to us right now where the other casualties were. There was no intention of killing people in the area. We did not estimate that houses in the area would be seriously damaged or collapse. Our assessment was that the damage to them would be minor."

But in Gaza City there was a large flat area in the middle of a street of densely packed apartment houses. Neighbors said there had been three buildings on the spot, one of three stories, and two of two stories.

All that remained were chunks of cinder block, several stumps of what had been pillars, pulverized lumps of concrete with twisted snarls of what had been iron reinforcement bars poking out of them, remnants of plumbing pipes and scraps of clothing.

A half-dozen buildings in an arc around the hole were badly damaged, chunks of their sides ripped off and floors partly destroyed.

At the Israeli briefing this afternoon, a senior military official explained that the reason for using the F-16 instead of an Apache helicopter was: "An Apache missile does nothing to a two-story building. We had to collapse it and make it rubble."

No one even heard the F-16 approaching, survivors said. People had put their children to bed and were chatting in family groups, watching television or preparing to switch off the lights.

"We felt it was safe — we were laughing, watching TV," said the family matriarch, Halima Mattar, breaking into sobs. "I could see all the floors coming down. How can I tell my son he lost his wife and his children?"

The attack came just a day after Sheik Yassin had outlined, in several well-publicized interviews, conditions under which Hamas might consider a cease-fire. The conditions included an Israeli military pullback and an end to pinpoint killings of militants.

Certainly there was little sentiment for a cease-fire on the streets today. Black-masked fighters of the Qassam Brigades swaggered among the mourners, brandishing AK-47 assault rifles and rocket launchers. Sound trucks from different Palestinian movements blared calls for jihad and martyrdom. A statement from the Brigades warned, "We will not rest until we have our revenge, until we see Zionist body parts in every restaurant, bus stop, buses and sidewalk."
Bush Denounces Israeli Airstrike as 'Heavy Handed'
The bluntly worded statement issued by the White House at President Bush's direction this morning was a sharp change of tone for the administration. In recent weeks the White House has refrained from criticizing Israel's reoccupation of the West Bank or its military responses to suicide bombings.

But Mr. Bush was described by one aide as "visibly angry" at reports of the damage done early today when the Israeli military used an American-made F-16 fighter jet to drop a one-ton laser-guided bomb into Al Daraj, a densely packed neighborhood, just after midnight.

"We had to show the Sharon government there are some redlines" on their action, a senior administration official said today. "There was a lot of anger around here." Despite the tough words, Mr. Bush made no suggestion that the United States would withhold American arms if they are used again in the deliberate targeting of civilian housing.

In Israel, an early celebration of the killing of Sheik Shehada quickly turned into an exercise in political damage control. Mr. Sharon initially called the airstrike "one of our major successes."

When the White House statement was issued, the Israeli government immediately responded with its own statement, saying the government "had no choice but to attack the person who was directly responsible" for an attack last week by Palestinian gunmen on an Israeli bus.

By this evening, as the extent of the casualties and destruction became clear and the condemnations poured in from Washington, Europe and the Arab states, a senior military official said, "We wouldn't have done it if we knew what the consequences would be." Gen. Dan Harel, the army's chief of operations, called it "a precision attack," but other military officials suggested that the military had badly miscalculated the scale of the collateral damage.

…The office of the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, warned that "Israel has the legal and moral responsibility to take all measures to avoid the loss of innocent life." Sweden called the attack "a crime against international law and morally unworthy of a democracy like Israel," and other European nations issued similar statements.

But the most surprising shift came from Mr. Bush, who has moved from anger at Mr. Sharon when he initially refused an demand by the president in April to withdraw forces from the West Bank, to praise of the prime minister for fighting terrorism, to today's condemnation. The whipsaw of administration statements, officials say, reflects the deep frustration among Mr. Bush's team that every minor diplomatic step forward in recent weeks has been overtaken by either a Palestinian suicide bombing or a sharp Israeli response.

Another senior American official said that the discussions with the two Israeli officials had focused on an American proposal that involved revamping the Palestinian security apparatus. There has also been preliminary talk among Arab states about setting terms for a Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire. But all of that was set back by Israel's action. Rather than target Sheik Shehada with a missile, it used a weapon normally used to destroy buildings or city blocks.

"There is a disconnect between the diplomatic discussion and the activity on the ground," the official said.
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Keeping Web Services Royalty-Free
Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web Consortium, opened The Open Group Conference here on Monday by asking his colleagues to preserve the universality and openness of the Web as they build Web services as the foundation for the future of the Internet. And, said Berners-Lee, a key to preserving openness on the Web is to keep standard Web protocols patent and royalty-free.

"Remember that the ways to use Web services will not only be wide, but will be the base for all kinds of things people will build for the Web in the future," Berners-Lee said. "We have to be generic in design because Web services, if done well, will be flexible and apply to everything from mainframes to cell phones."

Berners-Lee, who is widely regarded as the father of the World Wide Web, emphasized that Web services have the power to change the world and, as such, need to be developed with interoperability in mind. "There is a common good in making an interoperable specification," he said. "The whole explosion of the Web would not have happened if it had not been open and completely patent and royalty free.",3959,393359,00.asp

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Israeli Missile Kills Hamas Leader
``This is a war crime that is aimed at destroying all efforts to return stability to the region,'' Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said. ``We warned the Israeli government against attacking civilians. The Israeli government is playing with fire.''

The attack, around midnight, left the apartment building a pile of smoldering rubble. Bedding, kitchen utensils, clothes and children's toys were strewn about in the debris. Hundreds of residents in the area dug through rubble during the night, searching for survivors.

Haleema Matar, 45, was on the ground floor of the targeted building, while children in her family were sleeping upstairs when the missile hit.

``The children died. If I died it would have been better, I would not have to see this,'' she said. Five children in the extended Matar family were killed.

Palestinians gathered in the street near the ruins and outside the hospital where survivors and bodies were taken, demanding revenge on Israel.

``We will kill their children like they killed ours,'' shouted one man with a loudspeaker.

Arab and European nations condemned the missile strike as disproportionate and said it would fuel more violence.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, in Cairo for talks with the Egyptian president, demanded ``severe punishment'' for what he called ``a horrible act which will be recorded in history against Sharon.''

Egypt's foreign minister, Ahmed Maher, accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilians and inflaming tensions and called on the United States to ``stop such Israeli behavior.''

In a rare U.S. criticism of Israel, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, ``this heavy-handed action does not contribute to peace.'' The office of U.S. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said ``Israel has the legal and moral responsibility to take all measures to avoid the loss of innocent life.''
Rabin's Daughter Resigns from Israeli Government
Dalia Rabin-Pelosoff, daughter of the assassinated Israeli leader who began a peace process with Palestinians, resigned her cabinet post Tuesday in protest at the army's reoccupation of Palestinian towns in the West Bank.

Rabin-Pelosoff, whose father Yitzhak Rabin struck interim peace deals with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1993, was named deputy defense minister in the broad coalition of right-wing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last year.

An Israeli opposed to Rabin's peacemaking with the Palestinians killed him in 1995. Five years after the Oslo accords were signed, a Palestinian uprising erupted after talks on a final peace collapsed.

A senior Israeli political source told Reuters that Rabin-Pelosoff, a Labor Party member, was ``unhappy with Sharon and said that if he wants to reoccupy the West Bank and to destroy the Palestinian Authority, he should do so without us.''
A Hamas Chieftain Dies When Israelis Attack His Home
…European, United Nations and Arab officials condemned the Israeli attack as unjustified and irresponsible, and some called it criminal. They said the attack was counterproductive to efforts to calm tensions in the Mideast. "This kind of operation is not conducive toward peace and reconciliation," said Javier Solana, the European Union's chief of foreign and security policy.
White House Rebukes Israel for Attack, Calls It 'Heavy-Handed'
President Bush issued one of his sharpest rebukes against Israel today, denouncing as "heavy-handed" the attack that killed a Hamas leader and expressing regret over "the loss of innocent life."

"This heavy-handed action does not contribute to peace," said the president's chief spokesman, Ari Fleischer. "This message will be conveyed to Israeli authorities, and the United States regrets the loss of life."

While he emphasized that Mr. Bush remained a strong supporter of Israel over all, Mr. Fleischer underscored the criticism by rejecting any comparison between the strike against the Hamas leader and those American operations in Afghanistan that have killed civilians.

"It is inaccurate to compare the two, because the United States, because of an errant bomb, a mistake in a mission, has occasionally engaged in military action that very regrettably included losses of innocent lives," Mr. Fleischer said.

By contrast, he said, the Israeli operation "was a deliberate attack on the site, knowing that innocents would be lost in the consequences of the attack."

Asked how the administration could be so sure that Israel knew that civilians were in the building, Mr. Fleischer replied, "These were apartment buildings that were targeted."

The White House reaction was markedly different from the administration's response to other recent Israeli military operations, especially those following attacks on Israeli civilians by Palestinian suicide bombers. In those instances, Mr. Bush has generally urged Israel to show as much restraint as possible but has emphasized that he recognizes the country's right to defend itself.

The Bush administration also rebuked Israel for its recent closing of the Jerusalem office of a leading Palestinian moderate, Sari Nusseibeh.
con·cept: July 2002