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Candide’s Latest: November 21, 2006

Lebanon's March Toward Civil War
Murderers: Pierre Gemeyel Assassinated

It's 1975 all over again. Remember that day, on April 13, 1975, and the attempted assassination of Pierre Gemeyel? It failed then, but didn't stop from triggering a 15-year civil war that claimed the lives of 150,000 people or more. Pierre Gemeyel eventually died of natural causes at age 78 in 1984, though not before seeing his son Bashir assassinated in 1982. His other son Amin, the lesser of them all, served as president between 1982 and 1988. His son Pierre, believed to be the youngest member of Lebanon's parliament and a member of the anti-Syrian, and anti-Hezbollah bloc, was assassinated today. From the Beirut Daily Star: " Prominent Christian politician Pierre Gemayel was assassinated in a suburb of Beirut on Tuesday his death will heighten the political tension in Lebanon, where Hezbollah has threatened to topple the government if it does not get a bigger say in Cabinet decision making. Witnesses said Gemayel was shot in his car in Jdeideh. The witnesses said a car rammed Gemayel's car from behind and then an assassin stepped out and shot him at point blank range. Gemayel was rushed to a nearby hospital seriously wounded he was later confirmed as dead. Gemayel, the minister of industry and son of former President Amin Gemayel, was a member of the Kataeb party and supporter of parliamentary majority, which is locked in a power struggle with different parties led by Hezbollah. Gemayel is the fifth figure to be assassinated in the past two years in Lebanon. Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed in a massive car bombing in February 2005. The journalist and activist Samir Kassir and former Communist Party leader George Hawi were killed in separate car bombings in June last year in addition to lawmaker and newspaper manager Gibran Tueni was killed in a car bombing in December."

Amin Gemeyel, in this case, took a commendably high road: "He was serving the cause and he died for Lebanon, for freedom and for humanity," Amin Gemayel said, according to a translation provided by CNN and reported by Tony Shadid in the Post. "We should not desecrate his memory by any irresponsible acts . . . We don't want reactions. We don't want vengeance."

Another Gemeyel, another civil war?


Private Property Sham
Israeli Settlements’ Land Thefts

About 86 percent of Maale Adumim, an Israeli settlement, sits on privately held Palestinian property, according to government data. [NYT]

From the Times: "An Israeli advocacy group, using maps and figures leaked from inside the government, says that 39 percent of the land held by Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is privately owned by Palestinians. Israel has long asserted that it fully respects Palestinian private property in the West Bank and only takes land there legally or, for security reasons, temporarily. If big sections of those settlements are indeed privately held Palestinian land, that is bound to create embarrassment for Israel and further complicate the already distant prospect of a negotiated peace. The data indicate that 40 percent of the land that Israel plans to keep in any future deal with the Palestinians is private. The new claims regarding Palestinian property are said to come from the 2004 database of the Civil Administration, which controls the civilian aspects of Israel’s presence in the West Bank. Peace Now, an Israeli group that advocates Palestinian self-determination in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, plans to publish the information on Tuesday. An advance copy was made available to The New York Times. The data — maps that show the government’s registry of the land by category — was given to Peace Now by someone who obtained it from an official inside the Civil Administration. The Times spoke to the person who received it from the Civil Administration official and agreed not to identify him because of the delicate nature of the material. That person, who has frequent contact with the Civil Administration, said he and the official wanted to expose what they consider to be wide-scale violations of private Palestinian property rights by the government and settlers. The government has refused to give the material directly to Peace Now, which requested it under Israel’s freedom of information law." See the rest, with maps…

War on Terror (and Taxpayers)
$500 Billion and Counting

From the Christian Science Monitor: “The cost of combat in Iraq has now surpassed $300 billion, according to government estimates. Add in activities in Afghanistan, and the total price of the global war on terror is about $500 billion, making it one of the most monetarily costly conflicts in which the nation has ever engaged. Now the Department of Defense is in the process of drawing up its follow-on request for the remainder of FY 2007. Reports indicate that the Pentagon could ask for $120 billion to $160 billion, which would be its largest funding request yet for the global war on terror. After they take control of Congress next year, Democrats will almost certainly investigate both the rate of Iraq spending and the manner in which it has been appropriated. Much of the war has been funded through supplementals, so-called emergency bills whose use in this case has become increasingly controversial in Congress. […] Last month, Congress approved $70 billion in spending intended to pay for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through the first six months of fiscal 2007, which began Oct. 1 for the US government. […] Before the invasion of Iraq, the White House estimated that combat operations there would cost about $50 billion. That forecast, however, was based on a quick end to the war and a rapid drawdown of US troops. Three years later, Iraq alone is costing the US some $8 billion a month.” See the full story…

Delayed Grace
America’s WMDs

From USA Today: “The Pentagon has extended its timeline to destroy its aging chemical weapons arsenal until 2023, despite concerns by Congress and watchdog groups that the stockpiles raise the risk of an accident or theft by terrorists. The new schedule, outlined in Pentagon documents obtained by USA TODAY, means the military won't eliminate its stock of deadly nerve gases and skin-blistering agents until 11 years after the 2012 deadline set by the international Chemical Weapons Convention. The U.S. government had already asked for a five-year extension from an earlier 2007 deadline. Communities near the seven sites where weapons are stockpiled have long complained about the delays. Congress echoed those concerns this year, when it called eliminating the stockpiles "a homeland security imperative" and directed the Pentagon in a defense bill to "make every effort" to destroy them by the convention deadline or "soon thereafter." Pentagon spokesman Chris Isleib said the delay is the result of several factors, including technological challenges in developing and building disposal plants, regulatory delays, and safety and security issues. Even so, he said the military remains committed to the job and that the war in Iraq has not drained money from the effort.” The full story…

Seinfeld Meltdown
Michael Richards Loses It

From ABC News: “Former "Seinfeld" star Michael Richards says he is sorry for his racial epithet-laden diatribe at a Los Angeles comedy club and insists he is not a racist. "I got heckled and took it badly and went into a rage," he said in an interview Monday night via satellite on CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman." The interview was arranged by his former co-star Jerry Seinfeld who had already been scheduled to appear on the program. Appearing distraught and on the verge of tears at times, Richards said, "I am not a racist! That's what's so insane about this. For me to be on stage, and flip out and say this stuff, I'm deeply, deeply sorry." Richards' public apology came after video of the rant was posted on the Web site on Monday. Richards was performing at The Laugh Factory, a popular comedy club in Los Angeles, when a group of boisterous latecomers in the balcony began heckling him. Some members of the group were African-American, and Richards was seen on the tape shouting, "Shut up! Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a fucking fork up your ass!" When audience members gasped, he said, "That's what happens when you interrupt a white man, don't you know?"”

Watch Michael Richard's Rant


UCLA Taser Cop’s History of Violence

From the LA Times: “The UCLA police officer videotaped last week using a Taser gun on a student also shot a homeless man at a campus study hall room three years ago and was earlier recommended for dismissal in connection with an alleged assault on fraternity row, authorities said. UCLA police confirmed late Monday that the officer who fired the Taser gun was Terrence Duren, who has served in the university's Police Department for 18 years. Duren, who was named officer of the year in 2001, also has been involved in several controversial incidents on campus. In an interview with The Times on Monday night, Duren, 43, defended his record as a campus police officer and urged people to withhold judgment until the review of his Taser use is completed.” The full story…

Swimmer’s Icarus
Ian Thorpe Calls It Quits

“ Australia's greatest Olympian Ian Thorpe has announced his retirement from competitive swimming,” the Sydney Morning Herald reports. “The five-time Olympic gold medallist, and multiple world record holder, has told a press conference in Sydney he is quitting the pool at the age of 24. He told today of the dizzying heights and setbacks that marked his career as he announced that he is stopping his professional swimming career. He said swimming was no longer at the top of his priority list, saying there were things that were important in his life. Thorpe said he made the decision on Sunday shortly after deciding he would not compete at next year's world championships in Melbourne.”

Bitchslapping Bush
Indonesian President Calls for Iraq Timetable

From the Times: Standing side by side with President Bush, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia today called for the involvement of other countries in fashioning a peace settlement for Iraq that could lead to a timetable for the withdrawal of American forces. In a news conference during a one-day visit to Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, Mr. Bush said he had not made any decisions on new approaches to the violence in Iraq, and that he was still gathering advice from the military and other sources. Mr. Yudhoyono called for the involvement of more countries in fashioning a peace plan, instead of leaving the question entirely to the United States and Britain. "The global community must also be responsible for solving the problems in Iraq," he said. Mr. Bush has come under increasing pressure at home and abroad to enter into talks with Syria and Iran, as well as other neighbors of Iraq, to avoid regional instability. On Sunday, former Secretary of State Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, who has been an adviser to President Bush, endorsed including Iran and Syria in a regional conference, and Syria's foreign minister said during a visit to Baghdad that his government was interested in talking about improving security in Iraq. See the story…



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