Kidnappers have seized the senior Egyptian diplomat in Iraq, one month after his arrival in Baghdad, and accused him of being an American spy.
Ihab al-Sherif, 51, evidently underestimated the extreme danger of his new posting in Iraq by going out alone without bodyguards to buy a newspaper.
Three Iraqi witnesses who saw his abduction in the al-Jamaa district said he was driving alone in a car with diplomatic plates. When he stopped to buy a newspaper in Rabie Street eight gunmen attacked, one shouting that he was an "American spy". One of them struck him on the head with his pistol butt before he was stuffed into the trunk of a car and driven away at high speed.
The above (sent in by Chris) is from Patrick Cockburn and Eric Silver's "Egyptian ambassador is kidnapped by Iraqi gunmen in street attack" (the UK's Independent).
Pru e-mails to note "Arundhati Roy speaks from the World Tribunal on Iraq" (The Socialist Worker):
There are remarkable people gathered here who, in the face of this relentless and brutal aggression and propaganda, have doggedly worked to compile a comprehensive spectrum of evidence and information that should serve as a weapon in the hands of those who wish to participate in the resistance against the occupation of Iraq.
It should become a weapon in the hands of soldiers in the US, Britain, Italy, Australia and elsewhere who do not wish to fight, who do not wish to lay down their lives -- or to take the lives of others -- for a pack of lies. It should become a weapon in the hands of journalists, writers, poets, singers, teachers, plumbers, taxi drivers, car mechanics, painters, lawyers -- anybody who wishes to participate in the resistance.
The evidence collated in this tribunal should, for instance, be used by the International Criminal Court (whose jurisdiction the US does not recognise) to try as war criminals George Bush, Tony Blair, John Howard, Silvio Berlusconi, and all those government officials, army generals and CEOs who participated in this war and now profit from it.
The assault on Iraq is an assault on all of us -- on our dignity, our intelligence, our humanity and our future.
Also from the UK's Socialist Worker, Pru notes "Now on to Gleneagles:"
There were so many demonstrators that some never even set off. Around 300,000 marched and others were still left in The Meadows when everything had finished.
It was a hugely diverse gathering but, wherever they came from, there was a deep desire for real change. People wanted action, not empty promises, from the G8.
Respect MP George Galloway spoke for many when he said, "It's not by accident or act of god that so many people live in poverty. The poor are poor because the rich are rich.
"The leaders of the G8 are not the solution to the problem, they are the cause.
"We won't go along with the deception that we are all on the same side. It is a deception that Blair and Brown are the saviours of Africa. We won't see poverty made history until we make the G8 history.
"If Bob Geldof really wanted to help make poverty history he would stand in Downing Street and he would tell the poor of the world to say, 'We no longer have any debts--we don't owe you any money.'
"Today we ringed Edinburgh, we fashioned a noose around the G8. Not until we hang the system of the G8 will we make poverty history. This group built a system of war and privatisation and exploitation. And that's why we are going to spoil their party on Wednesday."
Pressure from activists has forced the authorities to allow a march on the G8 which is officially allowed to get within 500 metres of the gates of the Gleneagles Hotel. It will be a chance to let the G8 leaders feel our rage against them.
Demonstrate against the G8, Wednesday 6 July. Assemble 12 noon at Gleneagles train station. Buses leave at 10am from Edinburgh’s Waterloo Place and Glasgow’s George Square.
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Erika notes the latest (July 1st) from Riverbend at Baghdad Burning:
"Not only can they not find WMD in Iraq," I commented to E. as we listened to the Bush speech, "But they have disappeared from his speeches too!"
I was listening to the voiceover on Arabiya, translating his speech to Arabic. He was recycling bits and pieces of various speeches he used over two years.E., a younger cousin, and I were sitting around in the living room, sprawled on the relatively cool tiled floor. The electricity had been out for 3 hours and we couldn't turn on the air conditioner with the generator electricity we were getting.
E. and I had made a bet earlier about what the theme of tonight's speech would be. E. guessed Bush would dig up the tired, old WMD theme from somewhere under the debris of idiocy and lies coming out of the White House.
I told him he'd dredge up 9/11 yet again… tens of thousands of lives later, we would have to bear the burden of 9/11… again.
I won the bet. The theme was, naturally, terrorism- the only mention of 'weapon' or 'weapons' was in reference to Libya. He actually used the word 'terrorist' in the speech 23 times.
Mindy e-mails to note "Pope calls on G8 to 'uproot' poverty in Africa " (BreakingNews.ie.):
"I wish with all my heart for the success of this important meeting, hoping that it will lead to a sharing of the costs of reducing debt, to putting into motion concrete measures for uprooting poverty, and to promoting the … development of Africa," Benedict said.
Annie e-mails to note "Bomb kills 20 in Baghdad, slain cleric mourned" (Reuters article from The New Zealand Herald):
A suicide bomber killed up to 20 people at a police recruitment centre in Baghdad on Saturday, while across town an angry crowd of Shi'ite Muslims mourned a senior cleric gunned down by insurgents.
Another bomb killed five and wounded 12 at a police checkpoint on a main highway just south of the city. After dark, two suicide bombers on foot struck a busy street in the centre of another town to the south, killing five people.
The bombings were the worst in Iraq in at least six days, shattering a relative lull in the Sunni Arab insurgency against US forces and the Shi'ite- and Kurdish-led government.
US President George W Bush, whose approval ratings have slid in recent weeks to the lowest levels of his presidency over concern about the war, said in a radio address the best way to honour the nation's dead was to "stay in the fight".
A senior Interior Ministry source said 20 people had been killed by a bomber in an explosive vest who approached the ministry's special forces recruitment centre in the Mansour district of western Baghdad.
Proving that the only thing a Bully Boy likes more than being a Bully Boy is bragging about being a Bully Boy, hence "I owe Blair no favours on climate change action, says Bush:"
On Africa, Mr Bush brushed off campaigners' complaints that his decision to double US development aid by 2010 was too little, too late.
Although the US gives only 0.2% of its GDP in overseas aid - well below the UN's 0.7% target, which EU states are committed to reaching in the next few years - Mr Bush insisted America was "leading the world when it comes to helping Africa."
He expressed readiness to abandon the farm subsidies which make it difficult for African economies to compete, but only if the EU was also prepared to scrap its Common Agricultural Policy.
Asked if he would make a special effort to help Mr Blair at the summit, which begins on Wednesday, in return for his support over Iraq, Mr Bush replied: "I really don't view our relationship as one of quid pro quo."
The above is from Andrew Woodcock's article in The Irish Examiner and Dominick e-mailed to spotlight it.
Trevor: Well what do you know, after all the weeping and teeth gritting in the US press we learn this.
Trevor's directing us to The Australian Herald's "1979 photo not of Iran president, says U.S.:"
The State Department has concluded that Iran's president-elect is not the student militant seen in a photograph from the 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy.
From Barry James' "Africa sceptical on Live 8" (also sent in by Trevor, also from The Australian Herald):
Moeletsi Mbeki, the brother of South African President Thabo Mbeki, said Live 8 would only make matters worse by obscuring the real issue - "the theft of the riches of the continent by its own leaders".
"Throwing money at African governments is not the answer," he said, adding that it would serve only to make African governments less rather then more transparent.
The only concert to take place on the continent, in Johannesburg, attracted about 8000 people, far less than anywhere else in the world.
The Sunday Independent in Johannesburg said the concerts "seem to be nothing but a diversion from back-slapping politicians".
"The cream of the global crop, the big sellers and equally big egos paraded on stages from Britain to Bush country yesterday," it said. "But in Johannesburg, the concert conjured up the begging-bowl image of Africa with a lacklustre line-up.
"As an African watching on satellite television, what can one savour of the musicians from the West, who are once again using the continent to draw attention to themselves?"
Cindy e-mails to note Alex Fak and Anatoly Medetsky "Severstal and RTL Take Over Ren-TV"
The liberal-minded owners of Ren-TV, the last national television channel that offers critical news coverage, have sold a controlling stake to Kremlin-friendly steel giant Severstal, raising the specter of total state control over the country's television airwaves.
Unified Energy Systems, the electricity monopoly headed by liberal reformer Anatoly Chubais, said Friday that it had sold its 70 percent stake in Ren-TV for $100 million to a subsidiary of Severstal Group, which is controlled by Alexei Mordashov, a billionaire and open supporter of President Vladimir Putin.
Also Friday, Ren-TV founders and executives Irina and Dmitry Lesnevsky announced that they had sold their 30 percent stake in the channel to RTL Group, a Luxembourg-based media company controlled by Germany's Bertelsmann holding. Neither side would disclose the value of the deal.
Third Party e-mails to note "Founder of Earth Day dies" (from Candada's CBC News):
Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. politician who founded Earth Day 35 years ago and helped create the modern environmental movement, has died.
Nelson, who was a former governor and U.S. Democratic senator from Wisconsin, died of cardiovascular failure on Sunday at his home near Washington at age 89.
And we'll close with what Rob e-mails, Georg Mascolo's "EMBASSIES FOR SALE: Want To Become Bush's Next Ambassador?" (from Germany's Der Spiegel):
Want to become a US ambassador? It's not as hard as you may think. Just donate a couple of hundred thousand to President George W. Bush's campaign coffers and pick your city. The president's new cadre of diplomats tend to be generous campaign donors, including the wealthy Ohio ball-bearing manufacture who is expected to run the US Embassy in Berlin.
It's possible that David Wilkins, 58, is just a tad too honest for his new job as Ambassador of the United States in Canada. How else to explain his admission that he's only visited America's big neighbor to the north once in his life -- 34 years ago -- on a visit to see Niagara Falls? Wilkins, a deeply religious South Carolina Republican, sees his appointment to the diplomatic corps as a "sign of God."
In truth, one could probably look to more worldly reasons to explain the appointment. Wilkins is one of the Republican Party's most talented fundraisers; in return for his efforts, which helped secure the re-election of US President George W. Bush, the party rewarded Wilkins with the honorary title of "Ranger," a distinction that's bestowed on anyone who contributes or raises more than $200,000 for the party.
In the coming months, Rangers, Pioneers (starting at $100,000) and Super Rangers ($300,000 and up) will be beginning their new jobs as diplomats all over the world. According to the most recent count, 30 of the Republican Party's biggest donors have been rewarded with posts in sun-drenched island nations like Mauritius and the Bahamas, or in prestigious European capitals.
[. . .]
The consulate-for-cash principle isn't exactly new. Next to nights in the White House, parties at Bush's Crawford, Texas ranch and invitations to state dinners, diplomatic service is considered the most sought-after form of recognition for the party's big spenders. And the price for a ticket into the diplomatic corps is high -- at least six figures according to an unwritten rule that's been in place ever since Richard Nixon was in the White House. Back then, the president instructed his chief of staff that "anybody who wants to be an ambassador must at least give $250,000."
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