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Radio Havana Cuba Aug 5

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  • sipila@kominf.pp.fi
    Radio Havana Cuba Aug 5 http://www.radiohc.cu/homeing.htm Vietnamese Parliament President Visits Cuba Havana, August 5 (RHC)-- The President of the Vietnamese
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 5 8:14 PM
      Radio Havana Cuba Aug 5


      Vietnamese Parliament President Visits Cuba

      Havana, August 5 (RHC)-- The President of the Vietnamese National Assembly,
      Nguyen Van An, has met in Havana with Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage and
      Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque, as well as his Cuban counterpart
      Ricardo Alarcón.

      Arriving in the Cuban capital over the weekend, Nguyen Van An has already
      been carrying out a very busy agenda. During his five-day visit to the
      island, the Vietnamese Parliament president will meet with Cuban officials
      and tour places of historic and cultural interest.

      Among the goals of this current visit, expressed by both Vietnamese and
      Cuban officials, are increased economic relations between both countries and
      a deepening of cooperation between Havana and Hanoi.

      Venceremos Brigade Returns to U.S. from Cuba Without Problems

      Buffalo, August 5 (RHC)-- The eighty members of the 34th Contingent of the
      Venceremos Brigade have returned from their two-week stay in Cuba. Walking
      across the one-mile long International Peace Bridge -- from Ft. Erie,
      Ontario to Buffalo, New York -- the brigadistas were accompanied by Canadian
      and U.S. supporters who joined them in Canada.

      The Brigade's chant of "We Demand: End the Travel Ban" rang through the air
      and was answered by a line of supporters who held signs that said "Welcome,
      Venceremos Brigade!" and "End the Economic Blockade Against Cuba."

      Returning members of the Venceremos Brigade report only minimal or no
      questioning at all by the U.S. Customs officials, who generally scanned
      their passports and waved them through. The few brigadistas who were asked
      questions -- such as "Did you spend any money in Cuba?" -- refused to
      answer, as is their legal right, and passed through without incident.

      The 34th Contingent of the Venceremos Brigade was organized as a "Travel
      Challenge" to directly confront the travel restrictions imposed by the U.S.
      government against U.S. citizens. They joined with the 14th Pastors for
      Peace Friendshipment Caravan in this campaign; the Caravan returned on July
      29th through Mexico, also without harassment by U.S. Customs and Immigration

      Bonnie Massey, a national spokesperson for the Venceremos Brigade, told
      reporters on Monday that "the Bush Administration has greatly stepped up
      harassment of individual travelers to Cuba, but our crossing shows that when
      we unite in collective action to assert our right to travel to Cuba, we have
      the political power to confront this unjust travel ban and prevent their
      tactics of intimidation at the border." But, she emphasized that Brigade
      leaders are fully aware that while their crossing was trouble-free at the
      border itself, the U.S. government's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
      may still attempt to levy hefty fines against Brigade participants. Bonnie
      Massey said: "This will also be met by collective action, both legal and
      political. We will not stop our opposition to the travel ban until it is

      Latin American and Caribbean Brigade Welcomed in Cuba

      Havana, August 5 (RHC)-- The Tenth Contingent of the Latin American and
      Caribbean Brigade of Friendship and Solidarity with Cuba was officially
      welcomed last night at the Julio Antonio Mella International Camp, located
      on the outskirts of Havana.

      The work brigade is made up of 283 people from a number of regional
      countries, including Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru
      and Colombia. Among the projects they will work on include remodeling a
      medical clinic and two doctor's offices in the municipality of Caimito.

      According to officials at the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the People
      (ICAP), members of the Latin American and Caribbean Brigade brought with
      them tools and construction equipment, as well as cash donations to be used
      to purchase materials in Cuba.

      New Web Site -- www.cubadebate.cu -- Launched Today in Havana

      Havana, August 5 (RHC)-- A new Web site was launched today in the Cuban
      capital. The new electronic publication offered by Cuban journalists can be
      found at: www.cubadebate.cu.

      According to organizers of the Web site, the intention of the new cyberspace
      connection is to denounce media lies and terrorism. And they announced that
      the site would be open to contributions by colleagues from any part of the

      Following the official launching ceremony, www.cubadebate.cu held an on-line
      discussion forum regarding the international media campaign against Cuba,
      led by the United States. Hundreds of cyber-users took part in the live
      debate and many expressed their satisfaction with the on-line forum.

      First West African Peacekeepers Arrive in Liberian Capital Monrovia, Greeted
      by Overjoyed Residents

      Monrovia, August 4 (RHC) - The first wave of West African peacekeepers
      touched down in Liberia's war-torn capital Monday, raising the hopes of
      increasingly desperate residents in Monrovia that two months of fierce
      fighting may soon be over. As Nigerian troops leapt from white UN
      helicopters onto the tarmac at Liberia's main airport they were greeted by
      overjoyed civilians who spilled onto the airfield by the hundreds,
      screaming, "We want peace!" A total of 192 Nigerian troops were expected to
      arrive on Monday from neighboring Sierra Leone to secure the airport and
      establish a base of operations. West African leaders have promised a
      3,250-strong peacekeeping force in an attempt to end fighting between
      government troops loyal to President Charles Taylor and two rebel groups
      that control most of the country.

      Two months of rebel sieges on Monrovia have killed more than 1,000 civilians
      and all but severed food and water supplies to the refugee-crowded city of
      more than 1.3 million people. The leader of one of the rebel groups -
      Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy - said Monday that his
      forces would withdraw once peacekeeping troops have established security.
      The Nigerians have been deployed from a UN mission in Sierra Leone, where
      large-scale military intervention by Britain, Guinea and the UN helped end a
      vicious 10-year civil war. Taylor pledged over the weekend to cede power on
      August 11, meeting one of the demands set by fellow African leaders and the
      United States.

      But his government has hedged on his promise to go into exile in Nigeria,
      and said he would leave the country only when enough peacekeepers are on the
      ground and when a war-crimes indictment against him is dropped. Taylor has
      been promising to yield power since June 4, when a joint UN and Sierra Leone
      court revealed the war-crimes indictment against him. He's blamed for 14
      years of conflict in Liberia that has killed more than 100,000 people, and
      is also accused of trafficking and arming insurgents across west Africa.

      US Anti-War Activists Targeted By Secret Airport Ban

      August 4 (RHC) - After more than a year of complaints by US anti-war
      activists that they were being unfairly targeted by airport security,
      Washington has admitted the existence of a list, possibly hundreds or even
      thousands of names long, of people it deems worthy of special scrutiny at
      airports. The British news daily The Independent reported Sunday that the
      list had been kept secret until its disclosure last week by the new US
      agency in charge of aviation safety, the Transportation Security
      Administration, the TSA. And it is entirely separate from the relatively
      well-publicized "no-fly" list, which covers about 1,000 people believed to
      have criminal or terrorist ties that could endanger the safety of their
      fellow passengers.

      The strong suspicion of such groups as the American Civil Liberties Union,
      which is suing the government to try to learn more, is that the second list
      has been used to target political activists who challenge the government in
      entirely legal ways. The TSA acknowledged the existence of the list in
      response to a Freedom of Information Act request concerning two anti-war
      activists from San Francisco who were stopped and briefly detained at the
      airport last autumn and told they were on an FBI no-fly list. The activists,
      Rebecca Gordon and Jan Adams, work for a small pacifist magazine called War
      Times and say they have never been arrested, let alone have criminal
      records. Others who have filed complaints with the ACLU include a left-wing
      constitutional lawyer who has been strip-searched repeatedly when traveling
      through US airports, and a 71-year-old nun from Milwaukee who was prevented
      from flying to Washington to join an anti-government protest.

      The ACLU says a list kept by security personnel at Oakland airport ran to 88
      pages. More than 300 people have been subject to special questioning at San
      Francisco airport, and another 24 at Oakland, according to police records.
      In no case does it appear that a wanted criminal was apprehended. ACLU
      lawyers on the case say they are troubled by several answers that the TSA
      gave to their questions. The agency said it had no way of making sure that
      people did not end up on the list simply because of things they had said or
      organizations they belonged to, and that once people were on the list there
      was no procedure for trying to get off it.

      South Africa Seen at "Death" Phase of AIDS Epidemic

      Durban, South Africa, August 4 (RHC) - Scientists participating in South
      Africa's first national AIDS conference warned Monday that the country is
      entering the "death" phase of its AIDS epidemic as mortality outstrips new
      infections, presenting new challenges for a health care system struggling to
      cope with the disease. Quarraisha Abdool Karim, a researcher at the
      University of Natal, said South Africa's devastating epidemic is the world's
      worst, and that this is just the beginning.

      AIDS activists say the disease kills about 600 South Africans each day - a
      mortality rate that Rod Hoff, a senior epidemiologists at the US National
      Institutes of Health, said is really just starting and won't peak for
      another three to four years. Hoff said that the social and economic impact
      will be considerable - that industry is going to be hit hard. The national
      conference opened Sunday amid a row over the safety of a key anti-AIDS drug.
      Last week, the country's Medicines Control Council threatened to ban the
      only approved anti-retroviral drug, Nevirapine, even though research has
      shown it can cut mother-to-baby infection rates by nearly a half.

      At the opening of the four day conference, South African Health Minister
      Manto Tshabalala-Msimang was jeered as she attempted to defend the
      government's controversial treatment policies. The health minister has also
      caused a stir by proposing that AIDS sufferers eat garlic, onions, olive oil
      and African potatoes to boost their immune systems. The Treatment Action
      Campaign pressure group has voted to resume its campaign of civil
      disobedience in its pursuit of anti-retroviral drugs for all. The group has
      laid charges of culpable homicide against the health minister over the
      hundreds of South Africans estimated to die every day of AIDS-related

      Palestinians Condemn Israel's Prisoner Release List

      Ramallah, West Bank, August 4 (RHC) - Palestinians have condemned a list of
      prisoners that Israel plans to release from its jails this week, saying that
      the number was below what had originally been promised. The names of 342
      Palestinians scheduled for release was published Monday on an Israeli
      government website. The figure includes 183 inmates convicted of activities
      ranging from stone-throwing to membership of organizations Israel considers
      terrorist, and 139 so-called "administrative detainees" held without charge
      on security grounds.

      Palestinian leaders noted that Israeli officials had said 540 prisoners
      would be freed, though they want a general release of all of the more than
      6,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Hisham Abdel-Razek, the
      Palestinian minister for prisoner affairs, called the move "a deceit."
      President Yasser Arafat said the release list was inadequate. Israel gave no
      explanation of why only 342 prisoners were being released. Israeli Defense
      Minister Shaul Mofaz, responding to a claimed al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades
      shooting attack Sunday in which a Jewish settler and her three children were
      wounded, said that there would be no further releases or withdrawals from
      the West Bank until Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas reined in

      Militants have said that anything short of a general release of all
      Palestinian prisoners could jeopardize the three-month truce in an uprising
      for statehood that they declared on June 29. In a statement faxed to the
      Associated Press, Hamas said that it was growing impatient, and called on
      Palestinians to prepare themselves for confronting what it called the
      "arrogance" of a "criminal enemy that denied the right of freedom for the
      heroic detainees".


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    • heikki Sipilä
      Radio Havana Cuba Aug 5 http://www.radiohc.cu/homeing.htm Paraguay thanks Cuba for the Medical Assistance after Tragic Accident Havana, August 5
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 5 7:36 PM
        Radio Havana Cuba Aug 5


        Paraguay thanks Cuba for the Medical Assistance after Tragic Accident

        Havana, August 5 (RHC)-Paraguay's Ambassador to Cuba Augusto Ocampo thanked
        Cuban President Fidel Castro for the assistance the island is giving the
        South American nation.

        The Paraguayan ambassador told Radio Havana Cuba that "in the name of my
        government and people, I sincerely convey my gratitude to Cuba". He added
        that Cuba was one of the first countries to offer help after a huge fire
        broke out in an Asuncion supermarket leaving over 400 dead and thousands of

        Augusto Ocampo noted that the Cuban leader was highly moved by the tragic
        accident and immediately sent a message of condolence to his Paraguayan
        counterpart Nicanor Duarte, expressing his government's willingness to send
        a plane load of medical aid.

        The Cubana Airlinea plane arrived in Asuncion on Wednesday, transporting 15
        specialists, three nurses and 15 tons of medication for the injured.

        Meanwhile, Cuban doctors working in different zones in Paraguay began
        assisting the fire victims, and forensic doctors from Brazil and Spanish
        National Police Corps members helped identify bodies.

        In Cuba, government officials, Communist Party members, social organizations
        and citizens signed the condolence book at the Paraguayan embassy in Havana.

        Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Arrives in Havana

        Havana, August 5 (RHC) - The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Patrick
        Manning arrived in Havana early Thursday on an unofficial visit where he
        nevertheless faces a busy agenda, the Prensa Latina news agency reported on
        its web site.

        The top statesman told local reporters that the current relations between
        Cuban and the Caribbean Community CARICOM are excellent and Cuba had a lot
        of experience to offer its Caribbean partners.

        Manning praised the Cuban medical specialists currently working in Trinidad
        and Tobago and other countries in the Caribbean and across the globe.

        The visiting prime minister highlighted the good relations between his
        country and Cuba and spoke of his last visit to Havana where the possibility
        of creating a regional school of medicine was discussed with Cuban President
        Fidel Castro.

        Manning informed press that direct flights already connected the two
        countries and his government would always encourage foreign tourists to
        visit Cuba thereby strengthening regional cooperation and mutual promotion.

        Pastors for Peace Leader says US Students May Continue to Study Medicine in

        New York, August 5 (RHC)-The coordinator of the US religious/solidarity
        organization Pastors for Peace, Reverend Lucius Walker has announced that
        his government has reached an understanding to allow US students attending
        the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana to continue their
        scholarship program, according to Prensa Latina News agency.

        This may be seen as the first, though still small, victory over the current
        US administration´s plans to cut off all ties between its citizens and Cuba,
        in an open attempt to destroy the Cuban Revolution.
        In a letter to students, parents, friends and supporters of the Latin
        American Medical School scholarship program, Walker said that the permission
        resulted from persistent hard work, calls and letters and faxes to the State
        and Treasury Departments.

        He also cited the caring and strategic interventions by members of the
        Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses; the specific intervention of
        Secretary of State Colin Powell; the avalanche of concern expressed by
        parents and friends of the medical students, and by members of IFCOs
        national network of supporters.
        Lucius Walker added that the arrangement includes 28 members of the US
        Congress who are writing a joint letter to the State and Treasury
        Departments on behalf of all the medical students.

        The State and Treasury Departments, for their part, have announced that they
        will grant travel authorization so that all the enrolled students will be
        able to legally continue their studies, and to legally travel to and from

        The Reverend highlighted that this is the only exception that has been made
        so far to the Bush administrations draconian new restrictions on travel to

        The Pastors for Peace solidarity group leader said that current students can
        now make arrangements to resume their medical studies and new students will
        be able to travel to Cuban on August 25.

        The US solidarity activist expressed his gratitude to Reps. Barbara Lee
        (D-CA) and Charles Rangel (D-NY) and to their staff members, who have worked
        tirelessly to help achieve what he termed historic victory for the US
        students at the Latin American School of Medicine.

        University of Havana launches Summer Courses for Cuban Emigrants

        Havana, August 5 (RHC)-The University of Havana launched several summer
        courses for Cubans and their children living abroad for September in
        compliance with the announcements made during the 3rd Nation and Its
        Emigration Conference held last May in Havana, according to Prensa Latina
        News Agency.

        The participants will have the chance to share valuable information and
        learn about history, culture, economic, politics and other sectors of the
        national life of the island's past, present and future.
        The teaching program will also include visits to social, cultural and
        economic centers.

        According to recent estimates 1.5 million Cuban emigrants live in some 100
        countries, 1.3 along in the United States.

        Cuba Promotes Increased Use of Renewable Energy Sources

        Havana, August 5 (RHC) - A key element of Cuba's development strategy is the
        increased use of renewable sources of energy to cut dependence on fossil
        fuels and minimize environmental destruction, the electronic magazine
        Invasor reported Thursday.

        Cuba has invested in several experimental projects across the island using
        solar, wind and biomass power and recently inaugurated a national training
        centre for wind power specialists in Ciego de Ávila province in the centre
        of the country.

        The new centre, linked to the Coastal Ecosystems Research Unit on Cayo Coco,
        is co-sponsored by the University of Ciego de Ávila and offers undergraduate
        and postgraduate courses on renewable energy.

        International experts have pointed to the wind power potential on the
        island, much greater than most European countries where this alternative
        energy source is already in widespread use. Estimates suggest that Cuban
        windmills could generate up to 400 megawatts of electricity annually.
        Currently the United Kingdom produces 145MW, the Netherlands132MW and Spain
        55MW of wind-generated electricity annually.

        Cuba already has a wind power exhibition park on Turiguanó island, also in
        Ciego de Ávila province, which will be used to train technicians to install
        and maintain the Cuban windmills of the future.

        Guatemalan Health Minister Travels to Cuba to Broaden Links

        Havana, August 5 (RHC) - The Guatemalan Health Minister, Marco Tulio Sosa,
        began an official visit to Cuba Thursday in what sources from both
        governments described as an initiative to increase bilateral cooperation in
        health care education and provision.

        Tulio Sosa met high level officials from the Cuban Family Doctor Programme,
        the central strategy in the island's primary health care programme that
        provides free attention and medicine to every single citizen.

        The minister also toured the 'Julito Díaz' Rehabilitation Hospital and met
        his Cuban counterpart, José Ramón Balaguer to analyse all aspects of the
        bilateral health cooperation between the two countries.

        700 Guatemalans are currently studying medicine in Cuba at the Latin
        American School of Medicine (ELAM) in Havana to later return to their
        country and work at the grass roots level. The Guatemalan students receive
        full scholarships from the Cuban government, as do students from 20 other
        Third World countries as part of the island's international health care

        700 Cuban doctors and health care specialists are currently working in the
        Caribbean region between Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Colombia.

        Cuban Crafts to Take International Market by Storm

        Havana, August 5 (AIN) - Joining the emblematic cigars and rum in the
        overseas market this year will be the very best of traditional handmade
        Cuban products thanks to the specialised company Cubartesanía, the Tribuna
        de La Habana magazine reported Thursday.

        Commercial Manager Rosa Martín reported that musical instruments are leading
        the market, followed by wooden sculptures, handbags and accessories, hats
        and various products made from natural fibres.

        Martín predicts a total of $300 000 in handicraft exports to the Dominican
        Republic, Panama, Italy, Holland and Cyprus, one of Cuba's most recent
        commercial partners.

        The exports specialist went on to predict further growth with new contracts
        signed with Guatemala and immense interest in Cuban arts and crafts being
        shown by individuals and import companies in the Bahamas and Spain.

        Cuba made 1.5 billion export dollars in 2002 with sugar, nickel and tobacco
        as the three most important products.

        International Red Cross Says Abuse Charges by Three British Detainees at
        Guantánamo Bay Prison Camp Could Amount to War Crimes

        Geneva/Washington/Sydney, August 5 (RHC) - The International Red Cross
        asserted late Wednesday that the repeated abuses allegedly suffered by three
        British prisoners at the hands of US interrogators and guards in the
        Guantánamo Bay detention camp could amount to war crimes. The organization,
        which maintains a rigidly neutral stance in public, took the unusual step of
        voicing its concerns in uncompromising language after the former detainees,
        known as the Tipton Three after the town in the English West Midlands where
        they live, revealed that they had been beaten, shackled, photographed naked
        and in one incident questioned at gunpoint while in US custody.

        Their vivid account of the harrowing conditions at the camp, as told to
        their lawyers and published for the first time in the Wednesday edition of
        the British news daily The Guardian, has reignited the debate about the
        treatment of prisoners and the British government's role in their
        questioning and detention. The Red Cross was joined by the Medical
        Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, which argued that if the
        allegations were true they indicated systematic abuse, amounting to torture.
        Sherman Carroll, spokesman for the Medical Foundation, said the report rang
        true in light of revelations about techniques of interrogation and torture

        The 115-page document detailing the abuse in accounts the Britons gave their
        lawyer, Gareth Pierce, over a several-month period, was presented late
        Wednesday to the US Senate Armed Services Committee. Meanwhile, the case has
        led to further calls for an independent investigation into the treatment of
        two Australians held at Guantánamo Bay. The Tipton Three detailed alleged
        abuse of Australians David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib in their report.
        According to Australian media, the dossier says Hicks was singled out for
        mistreatment by his captors and Habib was refused medical treatment and was
        in a "catastrophic" physical and mental state.

        In early June, the US military promised Australia - one of its strongest
        allies in the Iraq campaign - it would examine claims that the pair were
        abused. But there has been no news of the inquiry, which the Pentagon was to
        have originally completed by the end of June. And Habib's lawyer, Stephen
        Hopper, said Canberra could not guarantee the impartiality of the US
        military inquiry - stating with irony that "to have the US military
        investigate the US military is like having Jack the Ripper investigate Jack
        the Ripper."

        Israel Moves Ahead With Major Expansion of Biggest Illegal Jewish Settlement
        in West Bank

        Jerusalem/Maaleh Adumim, West Bank/Washington, August 5 (RHC) - Israel has
        moved ahead with a major expansion of its biggest illegal Jewish settlement
        in the West Bank. On Thursday, Israeli trucks and bulldozers were building a
        road in the Maaleh Adumim settlement on a hilly rock-strewn area where
        thousands of new housing units will be constructed. The project is intended
        to link the sprawling Jewish settlement to Jerusalem four miles away, and
        defies the internationally supported roadmap peace plan demanding a halt in
        Israeli settlement activity.

        Earlier this week, the United States publicly condemned a smaller plan to
        expand Maaleh Adumim with the construction of 600 new housing units. Israel
        said the plan was old and had already been discarded. But Israeli officials
        now say they will seek US approval for other major expansion projects. New
        construction at the settlement could cut Palestinians off from Jerusalem,
        the city they seek to share as the capital of a future independent state,
        and which would also be in violation of the roadmap.

        News of the project drew fury from Palestinians, who charge that Israel is
        strengthening its hold on big chunks of the West Bank while trying to
        distract attention with a plan to uproot smaller settlements in the occupied
        Gaza Strip next year. Maaleh Adumim alone already has nearly four times as
        many residents as the 8,000 Jews who would leave the Gaza Strip. Israel's
        latest move comes amid renewed concern about the impact of US support for
        Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on public opinion in the Arab world in
        the wake of the Iraq war.

        Last month, the bipartisan 9/11 Commission noted in its report that the rise
        of Islamic terrorism was inextricably linked to policies pursued by Israel.
        The report said the Commission had determined that several top al-Qaida
        operatives, including the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Khalid
        Sheikh Mohammed, were motivated in major part by rage over Israel's
        occupation of Palestinian territories and Washington's support for Israel.
        The report stated: "America's policy choices have consequences."

        But with Bush in the middle of his reelection campaign, many observers
        believe that he will be very reluctant to confront Sharon now both because
        it may provoke disaffection from leaders of his Christian Right supporters
        who oppose the roadmap and believe that Israel has the right to settle the
        West Bank and alienate many Jewish voters who normally favor Democrats but
        who have been favorably impressed by Bush's strong support for Israel during
        the Palestinian intifada. Republicans have been hoping that they could get
        as much as 35 percent of the Jewish vote - almost double Bush's performance
        in 2000 - and thus tilt the election in his favor in several key
        battleground states, such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New Jersey,
        with relatively large Jewish populations.

        Israeli Army Leaves Trail of Death and Destruction in Gaza Strip Town of
        Beit Hanun

        Beit Hanun, Gaza Strip, August 5 (RHC) - The Israeli army has left a trail
        of death and destruction in Beit Hanun after a five-week siege and
        occupation of the Gaza Strip's traditional bread basket which failed to put
        a halt to rocket attacks by Palestinian militants. Tanks and armored
        vehicles began leaving the center of town at first light Thursday and had
        completed their pullout four hours later. Troops had also withdrawn from
        around the nearby town of Jabaliya and its refugee camp.

        Twenty Palestinians were killed during the course of the operation which
        originally saw tanks seal off the entrance to Beit Hanun. They then later
        moved into the center of the town and expanded their operations to include
        Jabaliya, where three Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces on
        Wednesday. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz had ordered troops into Beit Hanun,
        home to some 30,000 Palestinians, in the aftermath of a rocket attack on a
        southern Israeli town that killed two people.

        Residents said that much of the town's infrastructure had been smashed in
        the course of the operation as troops demolished buildings, tore up roads
        and razed citrus groves. Palestinian Housing Minister Abdelrahman Hamad, who
        comes from Beit Hanun, said the latest incursion had caused some 40 million
        dollars worth of damage to homes, farms and general infrastructure. He said
        that hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland in the northern Gaza Strip,
        the region's only source of farming and citrus fruits, had been damaged or
        destroyed by the incursion and now resembles a desert.

        Beit Hanun is renowned for its orange and lemon trees but hundreds could be
        seen smashed to pieces Thursday morning. At least 30 houses were totally
        destroyed with residents trying to pick through the rubble to retrieve
        clothes and possessions. Though the operation was purportedly designed to
        put a stop to Qassam rocket attacks, Israeli army radio reported Wednesday
        that more than 40 rockets had landed in Israeli territory since the start of
        the offensive.

        The head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees cited
        the Israeli operation in Beit Hanun in ordering all foreign staff based in
        its Gaza City headquarters to temporarily move to Jordan on Wednesday. The
        agency's commissioner general Peter Hansen and other staff came under
        Israeli fire in Beit Hanun last month after they had overseen a food
        delivery to besieged residents. Although troops had left the area, a hot air
        balloon could be seen flying overhead with cameras directed towards the

        Flare Up of Fighting Between US Forces and Iraqi Militia of Shiite Cleric
        Moqtada al-Sadr Threatens Shaky Two-Month-Old Truce

        Baghdad, August 5 (RHC) - Iraqi insurgents loyal to radical Shiite cleric
        Moqtada al-Sadr battled fiercely with US forces in the holy city of Najaf on
        Thursday and fighting quickly spread to other Shiite areas, threatening a
        shaky two-month-old truce. Al-Sadr's men also fought with US troops in the
        Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, shot at government offices in the
        southern city of Amarah and clashed with British forces farther south in
        Basra. Insurgents shot down an American UH-2 helicopter, with unconfirmed
        reports of wounded among the crew, and for the first time declared a holy
        war on British troops in southern Iraq.

        The fighting was the worst flare-up between authorities and the Shiite
        al-Mahdi militia since a series of truces two months ago ended weeks of
        violence that began after the US occupation authority closed al-Sadr's
        newspaper and arrested a key aide. The newspaper was recently allowed to
        start printing again, but tensions between the militia and US forces had
        been rising in recent days. Residents of Najaf said busloads of al-Mahdi
        militants have been seen entering the city.

        In Amarah, an appeal for militia members to mobilize rang out from mosque
        loudspeakers and militants took to the streets, shooting at government
        buildings and blocking roads. Residents in the north of Basra reported a
        clash Thursday afternoon between al-Mahdi fighters and British troops. The
        al-Mahdi Army earlier had said it was taking up positions close to where
        British troops normally patrol after a noon deadline passed in its demand
        for the release of four al-Sadr supporters detained by British forces two
        days earlier.

        No Country Offers Troops to Protect United Nations Envoys Set to Arrive in

        United Nations, August 5 (RHC) - Meanwhile, as violence also raged in other
        parts of Iraq, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan announced that no
        countries have offered troops for a separate UN protection force. Ashraf
        Jehangir Qazi of Pakistan is scheduled to take up his post as UN special
        representative in Iraq before a national conference of political, religious
        and civic leaders gets under way in mid-August. But Qazi will be deployed
        with only a small team, and Annan is reported to have told Security Council
        ambassadors Wednesday that at least 5,000 troops are necessary to protect
        the much larger UN staff needed to help Iraq through elections and in
        rebuilding the country.

        Where those troops might come from - and when the United Nations might
        return in force - is becoming an increasingly pressing problem because the
        interim government's timetable calls for elections by the end of January
        2005. Annan pulled all 600 UN international staff out of Iraq in October
        following two bombings at UN headquarters and a spate of attacks. A Security
        Council resolution adopted unanimously on June 8 authorized a separate UN
        protection force under the overall command of the multinational force.

        But nearly two months later, Annan said, the world body hasn't had much
        success attracting reluctant governments to sign up, despite negotiations
        with close to a dozen countries. The secretary general said his envoys will
        therefore be forced to rely on US troops to give them protection, which
        neither the US nor the UN wants. For the UN, a separate protection force is
        seen as providing distance from the United States and the war it led, which
        the Security Council refused to authorize. And for the US, UN security is an
        international responsibility requiring wider participation.

        Security is an especially sensitive issue as the first anniversary of the
        August 19 bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad approaches. The blast killed
        22 people, including top UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello, and led to
        widespread criticism of Annan from his colleagues at the world body itself
        for relying on US troops for protection.

        With Iraq War Damaging Bush Re-election Campaign, Defense Secretary Donald
        Rumsfeld Takes Back Seat, Reports The Los Angeles Times

        Washington, August 5 (RHC) - The Los Angeles Times has reported that Defense
        Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the once popular administration spokesman for the
        Iraq war, has reduced his public profile, trimming appearances as the war
        has turned from a positive for the Bush campaign into a potential liability.
        The newspaper asserted Thursday that Iraq policy and media analysts
        attributed Rumsfeld's lower domestic profile to a broader strategy by the
        Bush administration to shift the focus away from Iraq.

        The man who gave daily progress reports at the Pentagon in the heat of the
        war has appeared only twice at Pentagon briefings since May. And the White
        House, which coordinates which administration officials appear on the
        networks' news-making Sunday talk shows, has not lined up a Rumsfeld
        interview for months. Among 19 television and radio interviews Rumsfeld has
        done since May, many have been with local media or with supportive satellite
        and cable networks, which often give more favorable coverage than other
        national media.

        The defense secretary has also faded from the briefing rooms and network TV
        news sets where he earned his reputation as a war advocate, and has dropped
        some of his speaking engagements. Following congressional calls for his
        resignation after the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal broke in early May,
        Rumsfeld dropped a scheduled appearance at the Philadelphia World Affairs
        Council, leaving his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, to fill in. The LA Times
        reported that his close identification with the Iraq war and the prison
        scandal has affected his job approval ratings in surveys.

        He drew enviable approval ratings of 71% just after the Iraq war started and
        was still considered a good secretary of defense by 58% of Americans last
        fall in a Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll. But his numbers continued to slide, and
        the last such survey, in May, showed 46% approving of his job performance.
        But Pentagon officials, Republicans on Capitol Hill and conservative think
        tanks rejected the assertion that the nation's top defense official was
        lying low to duck criticism or to get Iraq off the front pages.


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