Monday, September 30, 2002

Sharon Criticized for Arafat Siege
In a report released Monday by Amnesty International, the London-based human rights said both Israel and the Palestinian Authority have allowed children to be killed with impunity during the two-year conflict.

In its report, Amnesty International said both Israel and the Palestinian Authority were at fault for the large numbers of minors killed in the past two years.

According to an Associated Press count, 236 Palestinians and 61 Israelis under the age of 17 have been killed since September 2000. Many of the Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers firing at stone-throwers. Many of the Israeli minors were killed in suicide bombings or shooting attacks by Palestinians.

Amnesty said that Israel has not investigated wrongdoing by its soldiers, while the Palestinian Authority has failed to prevent attacks and bring those responsible to justice. Israeli and Palestinian government officials had no immediate comment.

Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat said the Palestinian security apparatus has been systematically destroyed by Israel and could not be expected to move against the militants.
Rich Nations Are Criticized for Enforcing Trade Barriers
For all the polite nods toward the protesters outside, those in charge of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund offered few apologies this weekend for the many failed attempts to increase prosperity in the world's poorest countries.

Reflecting the views of their biggest shareholders — governments of the world's richest countries, led by the United States — both institutions continued to push poor countries to take steps to stimulate business: privatize industry, improve financial management, embrace free trade.

But as the two institutions wrapped up their annual meetings here today, people inside and outside the elite gathering attacked what some described as a major hypocrisy of the rich countries: their own continued barriers to imports, particularly of agricultural products and textiles.

James D. Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, accused wealthy countries of "squandering" $1 billion a day on farm subsidies that often have devastating effects on farmers in Latin America and Africa.

Stanley Fischer, who was the fund's deputy managing director in the 1990's, said protectionist policies by the United States, Europe and Japan were "scandalous."

Oxfam International, a nonprofit group focused on world poverty problems, issued a scathing report in which it charged that subsidies to big American cotton farming operations were wiping out African rivals.

The criticisms are not new. But they are more intense this year, and they carried a special sting for the United States. Earlier this year, Congress passed and President Bush signed a bill that authorizes more than $100 billion in farm subsidies over the next eight years.

"It is hypocrisy to encourage poor countries to open their markets while imposing protectionist measures that cater to powerful special interests," said Nicholas Stern, chief economist of the World Bank.

Mr. Stern estimated that the average cow in Europe received about $2.50 a day in subsidies, and that the average cow in Japan received nearly $7 a day. By contrast, he said, 75 percent of the people in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $2 a day.
Israeli Pullback Ends 10-Day Siege of Arafat's Base
Flashing a V-for-victory sign and blowing kisses to a crowd of chanting supporters gathered amid the rubble, Mr. Arafat emerged from his sandbagged office building this afternoon to celebrate what his aides called a triumph over Mr. Sharon.

"The most important thing is that the Israelis failed to dictate to us," said Mr. Arafat's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh. "They wanted to finish President Arafat and to prove that he is irrelevant, and what happened was that he became stronger."

In a statement released shortly after the Israelis pulled back, Mr. Arafat called on Palestinians to observe a truce with Israel.

"We call on everyone to respect a complete cease-fire, as we have done in the past, and urge the Israeli government to do the same," the statement said.

There was no immediate response from the Israelis, who sent their forces into the compound on Sept. 19 and destroyed most of its buildings after back-to-back suicide bombings in Israel that killed seven people in addition to the bombers. Although the troops left Mr. Arafat's headquarters today, they kept their hold on the city of Ramallah, reimposing a curfew after nightfall.

President Bush expressed satisfaction after the pullout.

"The president welcomes this development," said a White House spokesman, Gordon Johndroe. "All parties need to live up to their responsibilities to promote peace, stability and reform in the Palestinian Authority."

Mr. Bush had criticized the siege of Mr. Arafat as "not helpful" to efforts to carry out the reforms. Israeli news media reported that Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, demanded an end to the siege in a meeting in Washington on Friday with Dov Weisglass, an aide to Mr. Sharon, asserting that it was hurting efforts to enlist backing for a campaign against Iraq. Mr. Bush reportedly sent a similar message directly to Mr. Sharon.

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres criticized the siege at the cabinet meeting, asserting that it had hindered Palestinian reform, obstructed the American campaign against Iraq and unnecessarily humiliated the Palestinians, his aides said.

Several politicians from both the left and the right said that the siege was ill-conceived and had backfired, strengthening Mr. Arafat at a time when he was coming under internal pressure to relinquish power.

Israel had demanded that Mr. Arafat hand over 19 people in the compound whom it accused of involvement in terrorism, a number that officials later increased to 41. The officials that said Israeli troops were maintaining a presence in Ramallah to prevent the escape of the fugitives, but dozens of armed men left the compound after the Israeli pullback.

Speaking to reporters after the Israelis had withdrawn, Mr. Arafat rejected the idea of handing over anyone, and he called the pullback "an attempt to mislead public opinion," because troops remained in Ramallah. He said the Israelis had failed to comply with the United Nations resolution passed last week that demanded a speedy withdrawal from Palestinian cities along with an end to the siege.

"This is not withdrawal," he said. "This is only moving a few meters away. They are trying to deceive the world."

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Palestinians Rally in Gaza at 2-Year Anniversary of Conflict
Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, addressed a rally of thousands of people in Gaza City, speaking by telephone from his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where a renewed Israeli siege stretched into a 10th day. Dismissing the siege, Mr. Arafat said that Palestinians should remain steadfast in demanding territory.

"This revolution is remaining, and winning, with God's will," he said.

Mr. Arafat declared that "noble Jerusalem will be the capital of Palestine whether anybody wants it or not." The rally, and Mr. Arafat's message, were broadcast live on Palestinian television.
Israel Withdraws From Arafat Compound
Responding to U.S. pressure, Israel withdrew forces from Yasser Arafat's headquarters compound on Sunday, but said the hunt for men inside whom they accuse of terrorism would continue.

Arafat himself accused Israel of violating a U.N. Security Council resolution which demanded an end to the siege that began Sept. 19.

"They are trying to deceive the Security Council," Arafat told reporters in his office minutes after Israeli troops rolled out of the compound, leaving behind shattered buildings around Arafat's office. He called the pull back a "cosmetic movement."

After the decision was announced, the Israeli flag was pulled down from one of the few buildings left standing in the devastated compound. Troops began removing tanks, bulldozers, coils of unused barbed wire and lighting equipment.

As the Israelis left, some of Arafat's guards emerged through the rubble, smiling and embracing.

"It's not a complete withdrawal," said Mohammed Abu Sarifa, 24, one of the guards, who had a black beard from days without shaving because of a lack of water. "They are still around the compound, but we will stay here to protect the president, whether it is for a day or two days or for a year."

Israeli officials said they would try to capture suspected terrorists they said were with Arafat. Israel Radio reported that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told his Cabinet that 41 people inside were wanted by Israel. Earlier, officials had given numbers ranging from 19 to 50, but offered few names.…

Arafat, however, said no one would be turned over.

"It must be known to everybody that we have not and will not turn any of our people in to the Israelis," Arafat said.

U.N. envoy Terje Roed-Larsen entered the building immediately after Israeli troops left. "This is not the end of the crisis but a springboard to put us back on to political process" toward a peace agreement, said Mark Dennis, Larsen's spokesman.

Israeli politicians from the left and the right called the decision a surrender. Many politicians have said the siege only strengthened Arafat at a time when he was under growing pressure to reform his government and cede some power.

Some Palestinian political leaders said the withdrawal was a victory.

"The decision by President Arafat and his aides to remain steadfast was the reason for this decision," said Palestinian Cabinet Secretary Ahmed Abdel Rahman. "It's possible to change positions and facts on the ground through this steadfastness."

Israel has accused Arafat of doing nothing to end terror attacks against Israeli civilians, even providing tacit encouragement. The Palestinians have argued that Israel's travel restrictions in the West Bank and Gaza and its military strikes have rendered their security services powerless.
In Trenches of a War on Unyielding Poverty
But now the number of Americans in poverty has risen again, for the first time in eight years, according to census figures reported last week. The gap between rich and poor is growing. The Census Bureau's report showed that the weakening economy had begun to affect large segments of the population, whatever their race, region or class.

For the largely black population of Pembroke, the report was a reflection of the problems here. Yet it was also a collection of dry numbers that do not fully convey how entrenched poverty can be in places where the escape routes to a better life are blocked — by the lack of transportation, jobs and child care, by geographic isolation, by hopelessness.

Such is life in Pembroke, a hamlet an hour's drive south of Chicago where some still live in crumbling shacks with caked-dirt floors and no running water.

There are half a dozen liquor stores and scores of churches. But there is no bank. No supermarket. No police force. No barbershop. No gas station. No pharmacy.

For decades, people have searched for a prescription for poverty in Pembroke. For most people here, there is only the hope for healing.

In Pembroke, healing poverty is both a natural and spiritual undertaking for Dr. Rodney Alford and the Rev. Jon Dyson. They are poverty doctors. One is in the business of healing bodies; the other, souls — though the preacher often must also help mend houses and fill stomachs before tending to matters of the spirit.

On the front line in Pembroke, the war on poverty is less about government intervention than it is a call for commitment, community and compassion.…
With Court Nod, Parents Debate School Drug Tests
They have debated whether a first offense should bring counseling or punishment and whether they can best deter drug use through education or testing. They have studied the merits of urine, hair and saliva tests. But week after weary week, they have adjourned without agreement.

"It cuts deep down to how one sees the world, and people have different views," said Michael Lindley, the superintendent. "Some say it's invasive and you're assuming my child is guilty until proved otherwise. Others say if kids have nothing to hide, it's not invasive. We don't have a huge drug problem here but we don't want to have our heads in the sand."

Until last spring, when the United States Supreme Court ruled, 5 to 4, that schools could conduct drug tests on students involved in extracurricular activities, the school board here had given the matter little thought. But now, here and in small towns across the nation, drug testing has become a hot issue. Rather than resolving the question, it seems, the court's decision has touched off a new round of passionate debate.
As Security Cameras Sprout, Someone's Always Watching
With the recent arrest of a woman in Indiana whom a security camera videotaped beating her daughter in a parking lot, the presence of electronic eyes across America has drawn new attention.

But what security and privacy specialists have long known might surprise people in towns like this: the surveillance equipment is everywhere, not just in big cities and at obvious places like Times Square or outside the White House, but also in Porterville and Mishawaka, Ind., and hundreds of other places.

More often than not, private rather than public hands are controlling the lenses, as was the case in Indiana.

"There is the very deep notion of private property in our culture, that if you own it, you can do what you want with it," said William G. Staples, a University of Kansas sociology professor who has written two books about surveillance. "That has contributed to the proliferation of surveillance cameras on the private side. It is only since Sept. 11 that the public side has been catching up with what the private sector has been doing for a long time."

There has been much discussion since Sept. 11 of the growing role of government as Big Brother, with law enforcement agencies turning to tools like face-recognition technology at airports and closed-circuit television systems in public buildings. But Professor Staples and other surveillance experts suggest the general debate should include "Tiny Brothers," a term he and others use to describe the many private security cameras that most people quietly tolerate or do not think about.

Tiny Brothers might be less known, but they disturb people who worry about civil liberties.

"I don't know if we want to uncover everything that goes on," Professor Staples said. "The cameras function as a net-widening effect, catching all kinds of activities they may not have been intended to catch. Those cameras in the parking lot could zoom over someone in a romantic tryst in a car. Do we really want to know all of this?"

The Security Industry Association estimates that at least two million closed-circuit television systems are in the United States. A survey of Manhattan in 1998 by the American Civil Liberties Union found 2,397 cameras fixed on places where people pass or gather, like stores and sidewalks. All but 270 were operated by private entities, the organization reported. CCS International, a company that provides security and monitoring services, calculated last year that the average person was recorded 73 to 75 times a day in New York City.

"We went out and counted every camera we could find," said Arielle Jamil, a company spokeswoman. "Some have dummy cameras, but the real one is looking at you from a different direction."

Saturday, September 28, 2002

OJR article: When Bloggers Commit Journalism
When do webloggers commit journalism? What do informed amateurs and niche experts bring to the media ecosystem? Should journalists blog? And should they rely on weblogs as news sources? Should bloggers and those in traditional media engage in a dance of fear and loathing, or do both sides stand to gain from the other? Should blogging be taught in journalism classes?

Those were some of the questions tackled last week at the University of California Graduate School of Journalism. Three journalists -- Dan Gillmor, business columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, Scott Rosenberg, managing editor of Salon, and myself -- as well as veteran bloggers Rebecca Blood (author of The Weblog Handbook) and Meg Hourihan (co-author of We Blog) exchanged views before 75 journalism students and members of the public.
The Jack Welch War Plan
What Mr. Daschle and the rest of his incoherent party have failed to articulate (along with so much else) is that this presidency is all of one consistent piece, whether it is managing our money or managing a war. Now, as pre-9/11, it reflects the C.E.O. ethos of the 1990's bubble at least as abundantly as the previous administration did the promiscuous 1960's. Two weeks before his inauguration, Mr. Bush invited Jack Welch, Ken Lay and a bevy of C.E.O.'s down to Texas, and he has always run the White House by the cardinal rules in their playbook. A chief executive can do no wrong. The directors (for which read Republicans in Congress) and outside directors (that would be the Democrats) are expected to give him a blank check and question nothing, including the accounting, while the grateful shareholders (the benighted voters) watch their portfolios bulge.

Now that we know that this model was a sham, with even Mr. Welch's General Electric under scrutiny for fiscal sleight of hand, you would think the Bush administration might revisit it. But instead it is following a discredited modus operandi more slavishly than ever, even as it prepares to fight a new war. "There is a fine line between arrogance and self-confidence," said Mr. Welch in "Jack: Straight From the Gut," his Bushian-titled memoir. "Arrogance is a killer." Mr. Bush and the C.E.O.'s around him seem as oblivious to this maxim as the C.E.O. who coined it.

The "fuzzy math" of this White House's tax cut and budget projections, chronicled by my colleague Paul Krugman from the start, is compounded daily rather than corrected. When we poor shareholders worry too loudly about our growing economic pain, the administration's antidote to our woes is not more honesty in bookkeeping but Ken Lay-style cheerleading. This month Mr. Bush's S.E.C. chief, Harvey Pitt, went so far as to tell Americans it is "more than safe" to get back in the market — as the Dow plummeted for its sixth consecutive month. It's the same pitch Mr. Lay offered his employees in an e-mail — "I want to assure you that I have never felt better about the prospects for the company" — on the day Jeffrey Skilling resigned as chief executive in anticipation of Enron's collapse.

But this administration no longer cooks the books merely on fiscal matters. Disinformation has become ubiquitous, even in the government's allegedly empirical scientific data on public health. The annual federal report on air pollution trends published this month simply eliminated its usual (and no doubt troubling) section on global warming, much as accountants at Andersen might have cleaned up a balance sheet by hiding an unprofitable division. At the Department of Health and Human Services, The Washington Post reported last week, expert committees are being "retired" before they can present data that might contradict the president's views on medical matters — much as naysaying Wall Street analysts were sidelined in favor of boosters who could be counted on to flog dogs like WorldCom or right until they imploded.

It's when such dishonesty extends to the war on terrorism, though, that you appreciate just how much a killer arrogance can be. Even with little White House cooperation in its inquiry, this month's Congressional intelligence hearings presented a chilling portrait of the administration's efforts to cover up its pre-9/11 lassitude about terrorist threats. Exhibit A was Condoleezza Rice's pronouncement from last May: "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center . . . that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." In fact, the committee reported, U.S. intelligence had picked up a dozen plots of a similar sort, over a period from 1994 to pre-9/11 2001, with some of them specifically mentioning the World Trade Center and the White House as potential targets. In the weeks before the attack the C.I.A. learned that in Afghanistan "everyone is talking about an impending attack."
Israel Says Target in Gaza Raid Was Wounded, but Escaped
Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, remained under Israeli siege in Ramallah today. The two sides did not negotiate, but there were hints that the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was seeking a way out of the stalemate.

The United Nations Security Council has demanded that Israel release its grip on Mr. Arafat, and President Bush has said the Israeli action is hindering democratic change for the Palestinians.

The Israeli government has demanded the handing over of 19 men it says are confined with Mr. Arafat. But Israeli news reports indicated today that the government might be satisfied with the transfer of the men to a Palestinian prison, an alternative Israeli officials had previously rejected.

Palestinian officials say they will agree to nothing less than an Israeli withdrawal. But Mr. Sharon, who has described the wanted men in the compound as "the biggest terrorists that exist," might find it politically difficult to back down. Israel has not supplied a list of the wanted men.

"It's a complete standoff," said a Western diplomat here. "Arafat refuses to speak to the Israelis. It's now pretty apparent that both sides want to get out, but Arafat has the upper hand. Arafat may be under military siege, but Israel is under political siege."
A Holiday in Hebron, Just for Jews, but Death Attends
It has been a particularly strange week in this particularly strange place: a week of dances and curfews, of celebratory palm fronds and blasting rifles, of rage and death on both sides of this torn city's stark Israeli-Palestinian divide.

As they have for almost 3,000 years, Jews around the world this week celebrated the annual holiday of Sukkot, marking the autumn harvest and recalling the fragility and transience of life in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt.

Here, where a hard-nosed band of a few hundred Jewish settlers has rooted itself in a city of 150,000 Palestinians, the holiday has become a time to celebrate, and perhaps multiply, homes they consider permanent.

From Israel and overseas, thousands of Jews made the pilgrimage this week to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, revered by Jews and Muslims as the burial place of Abraham. This year, the Israeli government threw in an added attraction: it permitted tourists to stroll past the armored vehicles, sandbags and barbed wire that guard the settlers and into Hebron's casbah, in the company of watchful paratroopers and the seeming tranquillity afforded by a total curfew on the Palestinians.

…Corky Spicka, 65, a light fixture salesman from Loveland, Colo. His wife, Sharon, 56, said she first visited Hebron two years ago. "It totally changed my life," said Mrs. Spicka, a Christian. She called the settlers "the heroes of the land."

"It's a fulfillment of biblical prophecy," she said. "God has called us to join in and help." The Jewish presence here, other members of the group explained, would speed the return of the Messiah.

The price of this faith has, as usual, been high. At dusk on Monday, bullets rained down from the heights above the celebrators. Shlomo Shapira, 48, a visitor from Jerusalem, was killed, and his three sons were wounded, one of them, a 9-year-old named Shuki, seriously.

This morning, while the curfew was lifted, Israeli soldiers fired two tear-gas grenades to disperse what the army described as a stone-throwing mob. Alia Uridat, 44, was carrying her 14-month-old granddaughter, Gharam Manna, through the market as she escorted a friend to a doctor's appointment. She felt something hit her head, she said, and then she saw the smoke.

Strangers helped her into a taxi, then into an ambulance, and then into the hospital. She could still feel the baby moving as they reached the hospital, she said, but Gharam died there. The army said that it wanted to investigate the death, but Palestinian officials refused to cooperate.

To some Israelis, the week's tourism into Hebron's casbah was a cruel, needless provocation. "There is no need that they would celebrate there," said Yossi Sarid, the opposition leader in Parliament. "It's a shame that for a few thousand Jewish people to celebrate in Hebron, they impose a siege over 150,000 Palestinians, and then they arrange tours for Jewish people as if it's a zoo. It's not a zoo. Monkeys are not living there. People are living there."

The Israeli Army this week also enabled busloads of Jewish worshipers to visit Joseph's tomb in Nablus, which is under curfew as part of the present Israeli military operation in the West Bank.

From his shuttered window here, Akhram Qafiesheh, 29, has watched the celebrators on the street below. "You are jailed in here, watching them," he said.

"It is a very difficult life," he said, unknowingly echoing Mr. Gol. "They want to force us to move from here." He said one of his neighbors recently evacuated his apartment; Israeli children were playing on that apartment's balcony today.

Friday, September 27, 2002

Public Agenda Special Edition: Terrorism
For the past month, the debate over whether the U.S. should act against Iraq has dominated the news. Political and media leaders on both sides have pointed to surveys to support their position. But while there is support for military action, polls show the public's level of support rises and falls depending on circumstances: are our allies and the U.N. with us or not? How heavy will the casualties be? Does Iraq in fact have weapons of mass destruction?

The latest surveys show substantial majorities of the American public agree that Iraq poses a threat and initially support military action. Support for an attack falls when questions are raised about casualties and the reluctance of U.S. allies to join in — but support rises if the U.N., Congress and other countries are on board. The same principle seems to hold on the question of whether it's right for the U.S. to strike first. - Act Now to Win International Clients
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Thursday, September 26, 2002

Israeli-Arab Hero Is Praised, but Not Embraced
Something about the tall thin man waiting at the bus stop struck Rami Mahamid as suspicious. There was all that dust on his shoes and then there was that big black duffle bag in his hand.

He was a fellow Arab. But Rami, who is 17 and Israeli, thought the stranger was Palestinian, and feared he was a suicide bomber.

What happened next illuminates the problems faced by Israel's Arab minority, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the population of 6.6 million. It may also, perhaps, supply proof that Jews and Arabs can live together here, along with evidence of the suspicions that drive them apart.

Rami saved an untold number of Israelis by alerting the police. But he was wounded after he stepped in, and he later found himself bound in a hospital, suspected by the Israeli police and the internal intelligence service of being the bomber's accomplice. They kept him shackled for two days after he was lucid enough to explain what happened, he said. Other Israeli Arabs, after all, had helped Palestinian terrorists.

But Rami foiled one. There were just the two of them last Wednesday at the bus stop by an Israeli Arab town, Umm el-Fahm, so Rami politely asked to borrow the man's cellular telephone. He walked a few feet away and dialed 1-0-0 — the Israeli police. Speaking softly, he shared his suspicions.

Then Rami walked back, returned the telephone, and sat down beside the stranger, giving nothing away.

"I felt I did what I was supposed to do," Rami said today, seemingly puzzled by the suggestion that he might have simply walked away, or run, from the whole matter.

A policeman, Moshe Hizkiya, arrived with his partner in time to prevent the next bus from stopping for the waiting men, the police said. When the policemen demanded to examine the man's bag, it exploded, killing Mr. Hizkiya and the bomber. Rami had edged away, but not far enough.

He was conscious of a horrible blast, of body parts around him, of searing pain. Then he awoke to find himself in Ha Emek Hospital here, badly wounded and under guard, shackled to his bed.

"They didn't believe me," he said as he lay in the same bed today. "I felt harmed, and very angry."
Israelis Maintain Week-Old Grip on Arafat Headquarters
Israeli forces maintained their siege of Yasir Arafat's ruined compound for a seventh day today despite a United Nations resolution demanding their withdrawal, and officials here struggled to parry the resulting foreign criticism.

At a meeting with diplomats in Jerusalem, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres was peppered with questions about the purpose of the siege, including pointed queries from the American ambassador, Daniel C. Kurtzer.
Daschle Defends Democrats' Stand on Security
Pent-up partisan rancor over domestic security legislation and Iraq policy erupted today when Senator Tom Daschle, the majority leader, demanded an apology from President Bush for saying the Senate was "not interested in the security of the American people."

In an emotional speech on the Senate floor, Mr. Daschle seized on Mr. Bush's statement on Monday that the Senate, where Democrats favor protecting workers' rights in the proposed Homeland Security Department, "is more interested in special interests in Washington."

Mr. Daschle, Democrat of South Dakota, took offense, saying: "That is wrong. We ought not politicize this war. We ought not politicize the rhetoric about war and life and death."

He added, his voice growing raspy: "You tell those who fought in Vietnam and World War II they are not interested in the security of the American people," because they are Democrats. "That is outrageous."
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Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Number of People Living in Poverty Increases in U.S.
The proportion of Americans living in poverty rose significantly last year, increasing for the first time in eight years, the Census Bureau reported today. At the same time, the bureau said that the income of middle-class households fell for the first time since the last recession ended, in 1991.

The Census Bureau's annual report on income and poverty provided stark evidence that the weakening economy had begun to affect large segments of the population, regardless of race, region or class. Daniel H. Weinberg, chief of income and poverty statistics at the Census Bureau, said the recession that began in March 2001 had reduced the earnings of millions of Americans.

The report also suggested that the gap between rich and poor continued to grow.

All regions except the Northeast experienced a decline in household income, the bureau reported. For blacks, it was the first significant decline in two decades; non-Hispanic whites saw a slight decline. Even the incomes of Asians and Pacific Islanders, a group that achieved high levels of prosperity in the 1990's, went down significantly last year.
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Tuesday, September 24, 2002

developerWorks: IBM developer solutions : Style sheets can write style sheets too
Style sheets can write style sheets too
Making XSLT style sheets from XSLT components
developerWorks : XML : Articles, columns & tips - Topic
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We were going to bring Osama to Justice,
or bring Justice to Osama

We don't know whether bin Ladin is dead or alive.
We don't even seem to know how to find out.

Alligator mouthed politicians,
whose paper rumps
never ever
go near a hot lz,
are willing and more than willing
to fight.

To the last drop
of other Americans blood
or anybody else's,
except their own.

As in Viet Nam
still has other priorities,
as he slouches off
to an undisclosed
to be lorn.
In Nablus, Back-Room Schools Spring Up to Spite Curfew
Tracing the letter A in the air, Jamila Mabruk introduced a group of Palestinian second-graders to the English alphabet this week in a cramped classroom set up in a shoemaking workshop.

The class was part of what people here call a "popular school," informal lessons organized by Nablus residents in response to an Israeli Army curfew that has kept local schools shut since the second day of classes.

"We're fighting them with the A B C's," Ms. Mabruk, a 20-year-old college student, said of the Israeli soldiers who occasionally appear on the streets in tanks and armored personnel carriers. "They want us to be ignorant and backward. We say no. We want to learn."

Ms. Mabruk's class was one of dozens that have sprung up across this city of 150,000, whose residents have been confined to their homes since June 21, with occasional breaks to stock up on supplies.

The army says that the curfews here and in five other West Bank cities are necessary to stop militants planning attacks on Israelis, and that Nablus in particular has been a main source of suicide attacks in Israel. Visiting the Nablus area this week, the army's chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, said that the stiff curfew there was necessary to break up militant networks still active in the city.

Palestinians call the curfews collective punishment, and argue that schools, at the very least, should be exempt.

The severity of the disruption to the school year, which began on Aug. 31, has varied city by city. In Ramallah, where the curfew has occasionally been lifted during the day, six school days have been lost. In Nablus, where the curfew has been almost constant, schools closed after only a day.

To make up for the lost lessons, people here have organized classes in private apartments, unfinished buildings and other spaces donated by residents. Math, science, Arabic and English are taught by volunteers — teachers, college students, and professionals who normally work at other jobs. Students have to make their way to classes in their neighborhoods when soldiers are not around.

"We're doing what we can not to to lose this generation," said Ibrahim Hamouz, an engineer who was teaching fractions to a group of sixth graders in his sister's unfinished apartment. Boys sat on the floor, notebooks in their laps, as Mr. Hamouz wrote figures on a marker board propped on a chair. Girls, some in school uniforms, sat in the back.

Other grades met in adjacent rooms, some using homemade worksheets and photocopies from textbooks collected by the volunteers.

"We in Palestine don't have oil and gold, just human beings," Mr. Hamouz said, "and we must educate these human beings, starting from the kids."
U.N. Security Council Approves Mideast Measure The United States decided not to veto a Security Council resolution calling for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian cities, clearing the way for its passage early Tuesday and handing a diplomatic victory to the Palestinians.

The resolution, which passed 14-0 with America abstaining, was negotiated by the European Union and cobbled together with language from competing U.S. and Arab proposals.

``The resolution that we've adopted this evening was flawed in our view in that it failed to explicitly condemn the terrorist groups and those who provide them with political cover, support and safe haven in perpetuating conflict in the Middle East,'' Deputy U.S. ambassador James Cunningham said.

But the vote was a victory for the Palestinians and their Syrian backers on the 15-member Security Council.

Arafat spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeineh called the vote ``a step in the right direction.''

``I believe this abstention from the United States is a clear criticism of Israel and its actions on the ground and reveals their dissatisfaction with Israel and its measures.''

The Palestinians have failed several times to secure a resolution since violence broke out in the Middle East in September 2000. The United States, one of five permanent council members with veto power, blocked a similar Palestinian resolution in December.

The United States had threatened to do so again but ultimately abstained on Tuesday when some of the language it had sought -- condemning terrorist attacks and bringing the perpetrators to justice -- was inserted into the final text.

The approved resolution ``demands that Israel immediately cease measures in and around Ramallah, including the destruction of Palestinian civilian and security infrastructure.''

It further demands ``the withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces from Palestinian cities toward the return to positions held prior to September 2000.''

The resolution also ``calls on the Palestinian Authority to meet its expressed commitment to ensure that those responsible for terrorist acts are brought to justice,'' and it reiterates a demand for the cessation of all acts of violence.

When it became clear late Monday that the Palestinians were going to push for a vote on their text, the United States submitted its own proposal to condemn the suicide bombings, name Islamic Jihad and Hamas as the responsible parties and call for the two militant groups to be treated as terrorist organizations under the provisions of an anti-terrorism resolution passed after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Using unusually harsh language to criticize Israel, the U.S. draft also expressed grave concern for Israel's actions at Arafat's compound which ``aggravate the situation and ... do not contribute to progress on comprehensive Palestinian civil and security reforms.''
If Smallpox Breaks Out: Questions and Answers on the U.S. Vaccination Plan If Smallpox Breaks Out: Questions and Answers on the U.S. Vaccination Plan

Monday, September 23, 2002

ZDNet: Tech Update The deluge of junk e-mail is relentless, threatening to drown your servers in a flood of bandwidth-choking spam. Enterprises are paying for it in lost productivity, and are finding little relief from half-hearted legislative efforts to shackle the spammers. Brightmail, which detected under 700,000 unique spam attacks in March 2001, counted over 5 million in August 2002. Here's how you can fight fire with fire, take a page out of the spammers' playbook, and put more of that spam in the trash.,14622,6023486,00.html
Israeli and Palestinian Officials Meet
Palestinian officials said the meeting, between Israeli military officials and a leading Palestinian official, Saeb Erekat, took place at the Beit El military base north of Ramallah, the West Bank site of Mr. Arafat's battered headquarters.

Mr. Erekat, who later briefed Mr. Arafat at his compound, told Reuters in a telephone call that Mr. Arafat had rejected Israeli demands to present a list naming all the people holed up with him in his West Bank headquarters.

The United Nations Security Council was to meet today to discuss the siege in the face of widespread opposition voiced by European and Arab countries and criticism by the United States.

The demonstrations started Saturday night and continued into the early of Sunday morning in support of Mr. Arafat, defying Israel's efforts to leave him powerless. The four Palestinians were killed by troops trying to enforce curfews ignored by protesters.

On Sunday evening, the Israeli Army said it was ceasing demolition work around Mr. Arafat's headquarters. Most of the buildings that were not destroyed in earlier raids have been razed in the last four days.

But the building in which Mr. Arafat and about 200 other Palestinians were cooped up remained under a tight military siege, ringed with barbed wire and Israeli troops. From within Mr. Arafat's headquarters, his aide, Nabil Aburdeineh, said on Sunday that the Israelis had ceased demolition only because they had finished destroying the rest of the compound.

Mr. Aburdeineh said the Israeli Army put constant psychological pressure on the men inside. Water pipes to the building were severed, he said. The Israelis allowed Palestinians to repair them, only to sever them again. The Israelis also promised to allow a food delivery, but it never arrived, Mr. Aburdeineh said. The army also removed all the building's air conditioners.

On Saturday evening, the Israelis informed the trapped Palestinians that they intended to blow up an adjacent building, warned that the explosion could collapse Mr. Arafat's building and told the besieged men to leave. They refused, and the army apparently abandoned its plan.

An army spokesman, however, said that demolition work was halted only "for the moment," and that the siege remained in force.

In the middle of the night on Saturday, heeding calls from Fatah, Mr. Arafat's movement, and from mullahs in the mosques, more than a thousand Palestinian men, women and children marched onto Ramallah's central Manara Square. They defied Israeli demands to disperse and chanted, "We will give our soul and blood for Arafat!"

Similar protests were reported in Gaza City and in the West Bank in Qalqilya, Tulkarm, Hebron, Tubas, Salfit, Bethlehem and Jericho. It was the first mass wave of support for Mr. Arafat in months. Two protesters were shot dead in Ramallah, one in Tulkarm and one in Nablus.

The protests confirmed the warnings of some Israeli politicians and columnists that the assault on Mr. Arafat would revive his standing among Palestinians after a period in which, led by legislators, they had begun to challenge his power and to demand that he hand executive powers over to a prime minister.
4 Killed as Palestinians Demonstrate to Back Arafat
The army said its goal was to arrest first 17, then 20, then 50 men inside with Mr. Arafat. But military and political leaders made it clear that their real intention was to make Mr. Arafat's conditions so stifling that he would finally ask to leave.

In an earlier siege, from March through May, Mr. Arafat seemed only to gather personal and political strength from the danger. This time, again, he has shown no sign of succumbing, or surrendering the men.

Akiva Eldar, a reporter for the newspaper Haaretz, wrote today that the operation prevented efforts by the central committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization to hold a special session to persuade Mr. Arafat to appoint Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, as prime minister. Mr. Abbas, a long-term leader of the P.L.O. and a moderate, has emerged as the Palestinians' consensus candidate.

Mr. Eldar wrote that the P.L.O. had also planned to discuss political reforms and ways to block Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the militant wing of Fatah, from staging any more attacks. The article said Israeli leaders were aware of the plan, because they had been asked to allow P.L.O. leaders to convene in Ramallah.

The dominant group within the P.L.O., of which Mr. Arafat is chairman, is his Fatah movement. Fatah led the rebellion against him in the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Haim Ramon, a member of the Labor Party, assailed the operation. "I would be prepared to support what's happening if I knew what was the goal of the government," he said. "If the goal is to get rid of Arafat, let it get rid of him. But if the goal is for the government to release its anger in view of its failure to fight terror despite what is happening, the strike should be at those responsible for the recent terror attacks."

Palestinian reformers expressed dismay. "This operation kills the first historical step" by the council, said Abdul Jawad Saleh, a member. He was referring to its meeting Sept. 9 to 11, in which the members assailed Mr. Arafat's leadership and compelled him to fire his cabinet.

"Arafat was to name a new government, but this operation has prevented him from doing it," Mr. Saleh said. "It is part of a systematic destruction of the Palestinian entity, the Palestinian infrastructure, the Palestinian political system, the Palestinian economy, the destruction of everything Palestinian."
Donated Kidney Bridges Mideast Divide
The kidney of a Jewish teenager killed in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv last week has been transplanted into a Palestinian girl who suffered from a disease that eventually leads to kidney failure.

Yasmin Abu Ramila, 7, received the kidney of Jonathan Jesner, 19, a student from Glasgow, Scotland, who was on a Tel Aviv bus on Thursday when a Palestinian militant detonated his explosives.

Mr. Jesner's family had volunteered to donate Jonathan's organs and placed no restrictions on the recipients. "We believed it was what he would have wanted us to do," said his stepmother, who did not give her name.
ZDNet: Story: How Uncle Sam wimped out on cybersecurity
A YEAR AGO, post 9/11, cybersecurity czar Richard Clarke was running around telling the truth and challenging American business to do a better job protecting itself. A year later, the only teeth in the plan are those Clarke showed when he smilingly introduced it last week. (Click here to watch Clarke's interview with CNET Radio's Brian Cooley.)

What the Bush administration presented was a strategy only in the sense that the government encouraging people to brush after every meal and "Just Say No" can be considered strategies. Good ideas, certainly, but not something you want to depend on when lives are at stake.

Instead, the administration's approach to this important issue seems to be to count on business to do the right thing. I will pause now for the laughter from my fellow California residents as we remember the way our utility industry has #$^$%-ed us the past couple years. The rest of America can think of Enron and the smoking hulk that was once the mighty accounting firm Arthur Andersen.…,10738,2881029,00.html
News: Legal guru: We don't need cyberlaws
An associate professor at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, David Sorkin in 1995 was one of the first academics to offer a course on cyberlaw.

But when it comes to legislating our way to Internet nirvana, Sorkin remains a skeptic. In fact, he says the law governing the offline world is equipped to handle most online disputes, and cautions that attempts to address Internet problems such as spam are only going to make matters worse.

While most legal academic careers hinge on legal publications far removed from a lay readership, Sorkin has devoted a considerable fraction of his publishing energies to the Web. His Spam Laws site is routinely cited as one of the most thorough online sources for up-to-date information on the subject. In a more subversive venture, his Don't Link to Us site has skewered what Sorkin terms "stupid linking policies" from sites as varied as Texas Instruments, and the American Cancer Society.

In this interview, Sorkin laid out his views on the online legal landscape, including the future and advisability of laws regulating spam, linking, privacy and intellectual property.…
Spam Laws: Summary
Spam Laws: United States: State Laws: Summary
Summary of state spam laws
main site at

Sunday, September 22, 2002

U.S. Says Israeli Seige of Arafat 'Not Helpful'
The White House said Sunday that Israel's assault on Yasser Arafat's compound did not help the Mideast peace process and that Palestinian hopes for an independent state are greatly harmed by suicide attacks.

``Israel's actions in and around the (Arafat compound) are not helpful in reducing terrorist violence or promoting Palestinian reforms,'' White House spokeswoman Jeanne Mamo said on the third day of the Israeli operation at Arafat's once-sprawling headquarters, where the sole building left standing was the one housing Arafat.

``We urge Israel to continue considering the consequences of its actions on progress'' in reaching goals President Bush has set: Arafat's ouster in upcoming Palestinian elections and creation of a Palestinian state within three years that exists peacefully with Israel.

Mamo added that ``it is also important for Palestinians to understand that terrorist violence does grave damage to Palestinian aspirations for a Palestinian state.''

``We condemn in the strongest possible the terrorist attacks that occurred in Israel last week,'' Mamo said.

Mamo said the White House saw progress in recent months toward Bush's goals. But renewed Israel-Palestinian violence complicates the administration's effort to rally world opinion for the ouster of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The White House's words of warning to Israel were also notable because during other recent waves of violence, the Bush administration has generally criticized Palestinian suicide attacks far more sharply than Israeli retaliations.

The Israeli assault on Arafat's compound left him surrounded, and some U.S. officials worried that it could allow him to cast himself as a victim and a hero.
Four Die in Protests, Israel Cuts Power to Arafat
Israeli troops shot dead four Palestinian protesters on Sunday as thousands took to the streets in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to demonstrate against the siege of Yasser Arafat's headquarters.

The protests, which erupted after midnight and resumed around midday, were the first sign of popular support for Arafat since troops besieged his West Bank headquarters on Thursday and prompted aides to suggest the army's blockade could backfire.

Tightening a siege begun after two suicide bombings killed several people in Israel, the army cut telephone lines and power to Arafat's shattered headquarters in the city of Ramallah as heavy machinery worked to demolish the buildings around him.

But buoyed by support from protestors, Arafat vowed never to surrender to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and refused to hand over 50 suspected militants who Israel says are holed up with him in his devastated presidential headquarters.

``We will hoist the flag of Palestine above the walls, churches and minarets of Jerusalem...May God make me a martyr,'' Arafat said defiantly in excerpts of a telephone conversation with an Israeli Arab lawmaker broadcast on Israel television.

Hatem Abdel Khader, a Palestinian aide who spoke to Arafat by telephone, said: ``He reiterated he will not kneel before Sharon and has issued an order to his men that no one may surrender from the building.''

Marching under pictures of the Palestinian leader and chanting ``We will give our soul and blood for Arafat,'' protesters poured onto streets after midnight. Some were armed.

Palestinian hospital officials said two protesters were shot dead overnight in Ramallah and two others were killed in the early hours of the morning in the northern West Bank.

The army confirmed only two of the deaths, and said its troops killed armed men and were responding to gunfire.

Palestinian hospital sources also said a soldier killed a teenager who defied curfew in the West Bank city of Nablus. The army had no information about the fifth reported death.

The bloodshed prompted new rallies in Gaza City and in Hebron, Tubas, Salfit and Bethlehem in the West Bank on Sunday.

Calling Arafat a ``symbol of peace and freedom,'' hundreds of people demonstrated in Bethlehem under posters of their leader. ``We are all under siege,'' they shouted.

In Tubas, thousands hailed Arafat by his nom de guerre, chanting: ``Go, go, Abu Ammar. We're behind you until liberation.''

Suggesting the siege could backfire by rallying support for Arafat among his disgruntled population, Palestinian Labour Minister Ghassan al-Khatib said: ``It is strengthening Arafat. It is giving (him) public sympathy and public credibility.''

Almost all the buildings in Arafat's presidential compound have now been demolished by armored bulldozers and he is at the mercy of the troops surrounding him.

…Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat expressed regret at the lack of international concern.

``All our contacts with the Israelis, Europeans and Americans have failed to produce any tangible results,'' he said.
Arafat Remains Defiant Amid Rubble of His Compound
Sealed up with at least 200 men in his dust-choked offices while Israeli bulldozers leveled buildings just outside and issued dire warnings over loudspeakers, Yasir Arafat defiantly declared today that he would not capitulate. At the same time, he called on Palestinians to halt attacks inside Israel.

Outside the compound, an Israeli commander said the siege and the demolitions would continue until all the Palestinians inside who are wanted by Israel, whose number rose today to about 50, surrendered. Mr. Arafat has refused to give up the men.

The pressures and tension continued to mount steadily into the night. Israeli soldiers used bullhorns to warn Mr. Arafat and those with him that they intended to blow up a building just outside his headquarters, urging the men to surrender or risk being wounded or killed. Mr. Arafat refused.

There were no explosions as of midnight, but bulldozers and backhoes continued to hammer at remaining buildings in the compound while giant floodlights played over Mr. Arafat's building.

Late in the night, thousands of Palestinian men, women and children heeded calls from mosques and converged on the central Manara Square in Ramallah to chant their support for Mr. Arafat and to pelt Israeli armored vehicles with stones. Israelis responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, and Palestinians said two people had been killed.

Violent demonstrations were also reported in Tulkarm, Nablus and Jenin, towns also under curfew, and Palestinians reported that one person was killed in Nablus and another in Tulkarm. Thousands of Palestinians were also reported demonstrating in Gaza, which is not under Israeli occupation.

In his first public statement since the siege began Thursday evening, distributed by the Palestinian news agency WAFA, Mr. Arafat declared, "We are ready for peace but not for capitulation, and we will not give up Jerusalem or a grain of our soil which we are guaranteed to us by international law."

He continued, "I reiterate my call to the Palestinian people and all our parties to halt any violent attacks inside Israel because Sharon exploits them as a cover to destroy the peace of the brave."
Thousands of Palestinians Protest Israeli Assault
Earlier in the day, Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and bullets to try to stop demonstrations in West Bank towns as thousands of marchers disregarded military orders confining them to their homes. Four protesters were killed during the demonstrations, Palestinians said.

Later, a 13-year-old boy was also killed under disputed circumstances: Palestinians said he was shot while violating the curfew, while Israeli military sources said a firebomb he was trying to light ignited his clothing instead.

For three days, huge Israeli bulldozers systematically knocked down buildings in the city-block-sized compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah, closing in on Arafat's office, where the beleaguered leader was holed up in four rooms with his aides. The Israelis surrounded the building with barbed wire.

Water and electricity in the office building were cut for several hours. Palestinians interpreted this as pressure on Arafat, who continued to resist Israeli demands to hand over the people in his office. The Israeli military said the lines were cut by accident as huge bulldozers leveled structures in the area and that the lines were later repaired.

A few hundred yards away, dozens of protesters defied army orders to return to their homes. As soldiers used loudspeakers to declare that the curfew was still in effect, the demonstrators chanted back, ``No more curfew!''

In a statement, the Palestinian parliament called on Palestinians to ``show their willingness to resist this escalation,'' warning that Israel's operation might lead to a regional explosion and blaming both Israel and the United States. ``The American administration bears responsibility of blood of our people and of our leadership,'' the statement said, a reference to U.S. support for Israel.

Israel insisted that Arafat was not a target, but demanded the surrender of everyone inside his office, about 200 people, saying that most would probably be released. Initially, Israel had said only some 20 people inside were wanted and singled out West Bank intelligence chief Tawfiq Tirawi.
Justice Rehnquist's Ominous History of Wartime Freedom
…according to Chief Justice William Rehnquist, people have to get used to having less freedom. There is a limit to what courts will do to help those deprived of rights, he says, because judges have a natural "reluctance" to rule "against the government on an issue of national security during wartime." In fact, there is "some truth," he concludes, to the Latin maxim "inter arma silent leges" — in time of war, the law is silent.

With all of the war talk today — the so-called war on terror and the prospect of a real one in Iraq — it may sound as if the chief justice is laying the groundwork for a drastic rollback in civil liberties. But these reflections come from a history book, "All the Laws but One: Civil Liberties in Wartime," that he wrote four years ago. When it came out, "All the Laws but One" seemed like an academic exercise. But with several major terrorism cases headed to the Supreme Court, court watchers are starting to pick it up as a possible guidebook.

If Mr. Rehnquist the jurist sees the world as Mr. Rehnquist the historian does, there is cause for concern.>
Culture War With B-2's
"Bush is like the guy who reserves a hotel room and then asks you to the prom."

As the Pentagon moves troops, carriers, covert agents and B-2 bombers into the Persian Gulf, the president, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld continue their pantomime of consultation.

When Senator Mark Dayton of Minnesota asked the defense chief on Thursday, "What is compelling us to now make a precipitous decision and take precipitous actions?" an exasperated Mr. Rumsfeld sputtered: "What's different? What's different is 3,000 people were killed."

The casus belli is casuistry belli: We can't cuff Saddam to 9/11, but we'll clip Saddam because of 9/11.

Mr. Rumsfeld offered sophistry instead of a smoking gun: "I suggest that any who insist on perfect evidence are back in the 20th century and still thinking in pre-9/11 terms."

Ah, Rummy. Evidence, civil liberties, debating before we go to war . . . it's all sooo 20th century.

Anyway, how can we have evidence when we learned last week that our evidence-gathering snoozy spooks are even more aggressively awful than we thought?

The administration isn't targeting Iraq because of 9/11. It's exploiting 9/11 to target Iraq.…
Democrats Play the Loyal Opposition
The draft resolution President Bush sent to Congress is a open-ended request for military action. Professor Kazin said the language recalls the 1964 Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which he said "was quite sweeping."

"The president was given the power to do whatever he needed to do to repel North Vietnamese aggression against American troops," Professor Kazin said.

With his request, Mr. Bush would be free of strictures involving the United Nations. It establishes no time limits or reporting requirements and does not even confine the president to Iraq, but rather speaks of restoring peace and security "in the region."

"This thing is broad, unchecked authority," said Representative Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat critical of what he says is a rush to war. "This is basically giving the president the authority to start a war, and saying `Don't bother to call me, I'll read about it in the newspaper.' "
What Does 'Regime Change' Mean Anyway?
THE UNITED STATES did not declare war on Iraq last week, but in Washington it was sometimes hard to tell.

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld announced on Monday that American and British warplanes had begun bombing major air defense sites in Iraq, a move that could prepare the way for an invasion. Then Senator Tom Daschle, the majority leader, pledged that Congress would vote within weeks on a resolution to authorize an attack, with its passage all but assured. On Thursday, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell urged Congress to give the president broad latitude to use force, saying, "The threat of war has to be there."

But if a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein seems on track, the discussion of what happens if it succeeds is still in its early stages. For some time now, Iraq experts have wondered just what kind of government, led by whom, would the Bush administration have replace Mr. Hussein. How much of Iraq's military, the police force, the judiciary, the government bureaucracy, the economy itself must be excised to create a democratic state? And who will do the excising?

Those are questions Congress has just begun asking, and that the Bush administration has yet to answer in public, although it has begun to gather analyses from experts and from Iraqi opposition figures.

Analysts who study Iraq say they are concerned that the focus on ousting Mr. Hussein has masked the complexity of organizing the system that would replace him. "Figuring out who should go is only the beginning," said Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington policy group. "When you talk about just getting rid of Saddam and then a miracle will occur, this is infantile and can do nothing but breed trouble."

During more than two decades of iron-fisted rule, Mr. Hussein has installed loyal members of his immediate family, his extended clan and his home region into top positions throughout the government. He has brutally purged all but the most loyal officers from senior military positions. He has enriched the entrenched leaders of his ruling Baath Party. He has created a governing universe that revolves around his sun.

If that sun is extinguished, many experts warn, its universe could implode into civil unrest, even civil war, unless a new government — probably one backed by American military might — asserts its authority immediately.

But those experts also contend that the raw material for a new government — an educated, technically competent civil bureaucracy — also exists in Iraq, and a great deal will depend on how easily and quickly it can be converted to the service of a different government at the top. Freeing it from the tentacles of Mr. Hussein's ruling Baath Party, those experts say, would be the key to keeping Iraq from fraying at the seams.
A Place to Find Out for Yourself About the War
WITH all the speculation about American intentions for Iraq, there has been one place where, to the chagrin of the administration, people can find a few hard facts. Since August, any Web surfer has been able to view detailed satellite photographs of construction and expansion at an American air base in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar.

Published by, a military watchdog group, and taken over the last six months, the photographs show that the base, al-Udeid, has new aircraft shelters, storage tanks and parking ramps.

The close-ups have clearly irked the Pentagon.

Commenting on the ability of outsiders to get them, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld grumbled, "I wish we didn't have to live with it." But that wish is unlikely to be granted, because the commercial satellite industry is blossoming. The existence of such photographs highlights what many consider to be the next information revolution and the government's sputtering efforts to control it.

It used to be that only the spy agencies of the two superpowers had the ability to take snapshots from space. That changed 16 years ago when a French commercial-government joint venture launched the world's first satellite offering photographs for sale. The quality of those early pictures wasn't particularly good, but in late 1999, an American company, Space Imaging, launched the first high-resolution satellite, Ikonos. It can take pictures with a clarity 10 times that of the French satellite — enough to spot a car on the ground or an American airfield. Ikonos, as well as another American commercial satellite launched this year, took the photographs of al-Udeid. As with the Internet and Global Positioning Satellites, the Defense Department invented the satellite imaging technology, and it has tried since to keep some control over it. A 1992 law allows the government to declare any part of the earth off-limits to American commercial satellites to "meet significant national security or significant foreign policy concerns."

But news media organizations and freedom-of-information advocates contend that the provision, known as "shutter control," is so vague that it is unconstitutional. "There has long been a standard in which national security concerns can be invoked to limit the free flow of information," said Ann Florini, a fellow at the Brookings Institution. "It's that there must be a clear and present danger. This law forgets that."
Domain-Name Regulator Is Given a Year to Improve
The Commerce Department announced yesterday that it would give the group that manages the Internet's address system another year to demonstrate it is up to the task, despite widespread dissatisfaction with the way the organization has handled its responsibilities in the four years it has been under government contract.

In a statement announcing the department's decision to extend its contract with the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, Nancy J. Victory, assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information, acknowledged the department's disappointment with Icann's progress. But she said the one-year extension was justified by the organization's recent efforts to overhaul its structure and processes.

In addition, the agreement to extend Icann's contract through Sept. 30, 2003, outlines specific tasks for the group to accomplish in the next year, including improving the openness of its decision-making process to become more responsive to Internet users and creating an effective advisory role for national governments. The contract also requires Icann to submit quarterly updates to the Commerce Department, beginning Dec. 31, regarding its progress in these and other areas.

Despite widespread frustration with Icann, which was established in 1998 to manage the system that translates domain names like yahoo .com into numbers recognized by the network, the contract extension was not unexpected.

Although a Congressional hearing last spring was told that Icann had various shortcomings — namely inefficiency, lack of accountability and aversion to public participation — Icann's reform efforts in recent months were cited yesterday as a reason for giving the group additional time to prove itself.

Icann is adopting a new structure and has promised to be more open in making decisions on matters like what new domain extensions will join the likes of .com and .org and which companies will be granted contracts to run them

Still, buried within the Commerce Department statement explaining the decision is perhaps the most relevant reason for the extension: that "no obvious alternative exists" to giving Icann another year, particularly given the government's continuing commitment to private-sector management of the Internet address system.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Arafat Calls for Halt to Attacks
In his statement, Arafat was defiant.
``I say it frankly, we are ready for peace, not for capitulation and we will not give up Jerusalem or a grain of our soil from our homeland, Palestine,'' the statement said.
Anger as Policy: A Debate Over Bottling Up Arafat
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's reaction to the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv on Thursday was simple and immediate: Yasir Arafat "must be removed from here once and for all."

His military and intelligence officers, and the Americans, reined him in again, and Mr. Sharon had to settle for yet another destructive raid on Mr. Arafat's compound in Ramallah, reducing the Palestinian leader's domain to a few rooms.

In his single-minded reaction, Mr. Sharon demonstrated that he was obsessed with destroying his ancient nemesis no matter how illogical or counterproductive it might be. No matter that Mr. Arafat already appeared to have lost control over Palestinian events, or that the retaliation achieved what the Islamic militants hoped for in dispatching suicide bombers, or that bashing the Palestinian icon would force moderate Palestinians to rally behind a leader they sorely wanted to dump.

For Mr. Sharon, Mr. Arafat was the true enemy, and his continued existence on territory under Israel's control was an intolerable symbol of everything the old Israeli warrior was trying to crush through his relentless choke hold on the Palestinians. The feeling is shared by many right-wing government ministers and military officers, who contend that unless Mr. Arafat is thrown out and the Palestinian Authority totally destroyed, no peace is possible.

"Sharon's critics on the left criticize him by saying he did not make any effort to use the latest lull to advance a political process with the Palestinians," Hemi Shalev wrote in the daily Maariv, "though Sharon says in private conversations, and without providing details, that he is energetically engaged in this. But at least as long as Arafat is around, political talk is perceived in the prime minister's office and the general staff as weakness, and the only response is force and more force."

To many Israelis, that stance contributed to the feeling that they were back in a bad movie they had seen before — an old Israeli saying that many invoked both in the streets of Tel Aviv after the bombing and in newspaper columns today.

But as Mr. Sharon focused his fury on Mr. Arafat and tanks rolled back to destroy more buildings in Ramallah, the question arose whether the government's faith in force only served to ensure that it would have to use more force next time. Israelis with close contacts in the government said Mr. Sharon was still determined to exile Mr. Arafat, and might use the next attack on Israelis to do it. There was also considerable speculation that the government was planning to move into Gaza to crack down on Hamas leaders.

"The conclusion is clear: the next terror attack is a matter of time," Yaov Limor wrote in Maariv. "All they need is a small window of opportunity, a couple of hours from the moment the curfew is lifted, to dispatch the terrorist. That forces Israel into an impossible choice, between strangling the Palestinian population — Nablus residents have been under complete curfew for 10 straight days with no fresh food — and putting the Israeli population at risk."

"Today there are two schools of thought in the government," Mr. Ben-Eliezer said in an interview published today in Yediot Ahronot. "One is to squash them and to conquer them completely, and the other realizes that this is the time to hold out a hand and to walk side by side."

Yet throughout the current conflict, Mr. Sharon has demonstrated his political skill in pushing ahead with his agenda whenever he felt public opinion behind him, usually after suicide attacks. In the end, both the Americans and the Labor Party have fallen in line.

Behind that approach, said Yossi Alpher, an Israeli analyst, was a conviction that peace could be achieved only when the Palestinians lost all doubt about Israeli resolve and omnipotence.

"His basic strategy is to make the Palestinians capitulate fully, to agree to his plan," Mr. Alpher said. "In his heart, he doesn't believe in an alternative Palestinian leadership, he just doesn't believe in negotiating. He believes in compelling them.>

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Study Says Middle Class to Lose Much of Bush Tax Cut's Benefit
Nearly all middle- and upper-middle-class families will lose some of the income tax cuts scheduled over the next eight years as they are forced to pay a separate tax originally intended to make sure that the rich cannot live tax-free, a study released today found.

By the end of the decade, when the tax cuts pushed into law by the Bush administration in 2001 become fully effective, 85 percent of taxpayers with two or more children will be forced off the regular income tax and onto a separate system known as the alternative minimum tax.

The additional burden will fall largely on families with incomes of $75,000 to $500,000. Just three years ago fewer than one million taxpayers, most at the upper reaches of the income spectrum, were subject to the complex separate tax. But if nothing is changed, by 2010 about 36 million taxpayers will face it. Indeed, virtually all taxpayers earning $100,000 to $500,000 will fall under its sway.

"What was a class tax is becoming a mass tax," said Len Burman of the Urban Institute, one of the study's authors and a tax expert under former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

Under the alternative minimum tax system, many deductions are denied, including those for children, the taxpayers themselves and for state and local taxes. At that point, taxes are calculated at rates of 26 to 35 percent.

"We're talking about a really nasty marriage penalty," Mr. Burman said. "You are 25 times to 30 times more likely to be on the alternative minimum tax if you are married rather than single."

It has been known since shortly after Mr. Bush's tax cut bill was introduced last year that its rate cuts would force many middle-class people off the regular income tax and onto the alternative tax. But the study provides the most in-depth look to date at the impact on millions of taxpayers of the interaction between the regular system and the alternative tax.

Claire Buchan, a White House spokeswoman, said that "the administration is aware of this issue and will continue to look at it and work with any members of Congress who are interested."

The study, however, shows just how hard it will be to repair the problem, demonstrating that almost any solution will cost the Treasury hundreds of billions of dollars or require raising taxes elsewhere to compensate for the losses. No action is expected anytime soon.

The new study also raises questions about whether the government has, inadvertently, adopted an antifamily tax policy despite years of talk in Congress and on the campaign trail about giving tax relief to middle-class families.

The study found that 97 percent of families with two children and income of $75,000 to $100,000 would be forced off the regular income tax system by 2010.

"This is a cop married to a nurse," said William Gale of the Brookings Institution, one of the study's authors.

For those making less than $50,000 — roughly three-fourths of all taxpayers — the alternative tax has only negligible effects.

For those making $50,000 to $75,000, the alternative tax in 2010 will, on average, take away 18 cents of each dollar of the scheduled Bush tax cuts. For those making $75,000 to $100,000 it will take back 42 cents and for those making $100,000 to $500,000 it returns 71 cents of every dollar of rate relief to the tax collector.

Taxpayers making more than $1 million, however, will lose just 8 cents on each dollar of the Bush tax cuts because most rich taxpayers would still face higher rates under the normal system than under the alternative tax.

More than half of the Bush tax cuts, when fully effective in 2010, will go to those making more than $1 million, other analyses have shown.

The study yesterday showed that the burden of the minimum tax will shift from the richest Americans to the middle class, which the authors defined as including people making up to $100,000.

Today people making more than $1 million pay 20 cents on each dollar that the alternative tax raises, but in 2010 that will fall to 5 cents. At the same time taxpayers earning $50,000 to $100,000 will see their share of the alternative tax triple to 18 cents of every dollar raised.
U.S. Holds Reporter, Arab Station Says
A reporter for the Arab satellite station Al Jazeera is being held at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, suspected of having links with the terror network of Al Qaeda, according to a statement issued by the station.

Al Jazeera identified the reporter as Sami al-Hajj, a Sudanese, who it said was arrested in southern Afghanistan on Dec. 15.

Station officials said that American authorities suspected Mr. Hajj was on the list of wanted members of Al Qaeda, but that documents from Sudan's Foreign Ministry had proved that his passport was lost two years ago and "could therefore have been misused by unknown elements."
Suicide Bomber Kills 5 Aboard Bus in the Heart of Tel Aviv
It was the second suicide attack in Israel in two days. On Wednesday, in the first suicide blast in more than six weeks, a Palestinian blew himself up at a bus stop near Umm al Fahm, in northern Israel, killing an Israeli policeman.

In a statement on its Internet site, the militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for Wednesday's bombing, Reuters reported. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for today's explosion.

Today's bombing was condemned by the Palestinian Authority, which denounced all attacks on Palestinian or Israeli civilians.

The attack in Tel Aviv, it said in a statement, "and all other attacks against civilians," go against the national interests of the Palestinians and give Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel and his army a "sufficient pretext to kill and to suppress."

The authority has repeatedly condemned suicide attacks and has vowed to punish the perpetrators, but militant groups have continued attacks in the two-year-old uprising against Israeli occupation.

A spokesman for the radical Islamic group Hamas predicted a new wave of bombings in Israel.

"The martyr operations will continue against the Zionists; we are defending our people," the spokesman, Abdel Aziz Rantissi, said, "The resistance will escalate."
ZDNet: Tech Update
Special Report: Securing Cyberspace - September 18, 2002
Updated: The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace presents corporate America with an enormous challenge: To make any headway on the road to greater cybersecurity, the public and private sectors must work together in unprecedented ways. Our special report will stay on top of the latest twists and turns.,14622,6023471,00.html

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Bomb Explodes at Palestinian School, Hurting 5 Children
The school here stands on a hilltop, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, half a mile from the site of two shooting attacks on July 26 in which four settlers were killed, including a 9-year-old boy. The area is under Israeli security control.

The funerals of the Jewish victims on July 28 set off a rampage by settlers in Hebron, in which a 14-year old Palestinian girl was shot dead, several Palestinians were wounded, and Israeli photographers were beaten. The Jews in Hebron and in settlements south of it are regarded as among the most ideologically militant of the settlers.

The headmaster of the Zif school — a simple concrete two-story building attended by about 350 boys and girls ages 6 to 16 — said the bomb went off about 9:45 a.m. next to the outdoor bathrooms and the girls' drinking fountains. Stones, screws and dust smashed through windows, leaving debris scattered across the courtyard.

The headmaster, Yussef Abed Rabbo, said the children had recess scheduled at 10:25 a.m., when many of them would have been at the bathrooms and drinking fountains.

Mr. Abed Rabbo said he went out after the blast and saw a suspicious bag near the site of the first explosion.

That bag later proved to be a second bomb, which Israeli bomb-demolition experts later set off.

At a nearby Palestinian house, 6-year-old Ahmad Hushiya lay on a mattress with a bandage on his head and a gash on his leg. The first grader, who has started school only recently, had gone out for a drink and was walking away when the bomb went off.

His mother, Salwua Hushiya, said the explosion shook their house, and everybody from the surrounding area rushed to the school. "I was sure something had happened to Ahmad," she said. "I was screaming. People were yelling."

In April, the Israeli police arrested six settlers, including militant settlers from Hebron, who are accused of planting bombs in Arab schools in Jerusalem.

In the first episode, on March 5, the headmaster of a school in southern Jerusalem spotted suspicious objects in the playground and herded the students away just before they exploded.

Then in April, the Israeli police intercepted two settlers in an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem unhooking a trailer near a girls' school. It was found to contain a powerful bomb set to go off at 7:35 a.m., when students arrived at the school.

Today also marked two anniversaries — one noted by the Israelis and the other by the Palestinians.

For the Israelis, it was the 29th anniversary of the 1973 Middle East war, also known as the Yom Kippur war, in which Israel came under surprise attack from Egypt and Syria, assisted by other Arab nations.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a hero of that war, said the lesson to learn was: "This is the Middle East. There is no mercy for any sign of weakness or restraint on the breach of agreements."

For the Palestinians, it was the 20th anniversary of the massacre at Sabra and Shatila, in which Lebanese Phalangists entered Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut and slaughtered several hundred people. An Israeli commission found Mr. Sharon, then defense minister, indirectly responsible for failing to anticipate the Phalangist violence.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

'Sharon': First in War
Sharon is not a religious Jew, but he is a fierce Jewish nationalist. He believes, as he wrote in his autobiography, that Jews everywhere can remain Jews only if Israel survives and prospers. In his view, that demands maintaining a society strong and vigorous enough to attract steady Jewish immigration and then settling those newcomers throughout the historic land of Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. In his autobiography, Sharon confessed his fears that the new generation of Israelis, having grown up in relative comfort and security, was dangerously soft and weak. It has always been his obsession to demonstrate that Israelis are fighters.

As this new biography makes clear, Sharon has lived his life as a ferocious fighter, sometimes at great cost to innocent Arab civilians. The pattern was set as early as 1953, when, as a 25-year-old leader of a special commando force, he led a reprisal raid into a Jordanian village following an attack that had killed three Israelis. Major Sharon's troops blew up 42 buildings in the village and left a reported 69 Jordanians dead, the majority of them women and children. It should be noted that Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion approved of the attack. (This was an early instance of an important feature of Sharon's public life: though known for his hawkishness, he has received crucial support and protection from several of the Labor Party politicians admired by doves, most notably Yitzhak Rabin.)

As a wartime battle commander against Arab armies, Sharon never hesitated to disobey orders that he considered too cautious. In the 1956 Sinai campaign, his impetuous thrust into the Mitla Pass sent Israeli troops into an ambush that left 38 of them dead and 120 wounded. Yet his audacious crossing of the Suez Canal in the 1973 Yom Kippur War helped turn near defeat into stunning victory.

''Sharon'' dutifully recounts case after case of military muscle-flexing that foreshadows his present-day approach as prime minister, but the authors fail to draw out the obvious connections. General Sharon's 1971-72 military crackdown in Gaza, authorized by Moshe Dayan in response to intimidation of Arab civilians by the Palestine Liberation Organization, provided an early model for this year's operations in the West Bank. The book describes residents being subjected to 24-hour curfews, and all the male inhabitants being paraded into public squares for questioning, many of them deliberately humiliated by being forced to stand waist deep for hours in the waters of the Mediterranean.
con·cept: September 2002