The opening of the Israeli diplomatic mission in Dubai several weeks ago was the culmination of a series of elaborate contacts Israel has been developing with the United Arab Emirates for years. By using secret diplomacy, the Foreign Ministry has succeeded in adding the Emirates to the list of Arab countries that have diplomatic ties with Israel. But how does one establish a foreign mission in a country that refuses to make its relations with Israel public?
The answer is simple. The Israeli diplomats serving at the mission in Dubai are undercover as foreign businessmen. Three diplomats, and their families, were chosen because they hold passports from other countries besides Israel. In the past few months they have arrived in Dubai, the most important commercial center in the Emirates, with the complete approval of the authorities. Their activities have been kept very secret and they are trying to carry out minimal activities while keeping a low profile.
The above, sent in by Kara, is from Yoav Stern's "Israeli delegation secretly operating in Dubai after elaborate diplomacy" (Israel's Haaretz). "Low profile" indeed since Kara also e-mails to note "UAE denies Israeli mission in Dubai" (Aljazeera) which contradicts the claim:
The United Arab Emirates has denied Israeli press reports that Israel had opened a diplomatic mission in Dubai.
A Foreign Ministry source "categorically denied reports carried by some Israeli newspapers in recent days about the opening of an Israeli representative office in Dubai", the official WAM news agency reported on Sunday.
The UAE "is fully committed to the Arab peace initiative announced at the Beirut and Algiers summits (in 2002 and March this year) which links any normalisation of ties with Israel with recognition of the Palestinian people's legitimate rights, including their right to the establishment of an independent state with holy Jerusalem as its capital", the source said.
Keelen e-mails to note "IEA releases oil" (Canada's CBC):
The 26 nation International Energy Agency announced Friday that the U.S. and Europe have agreed to release more than 60 million barrels of oil and refined products from their emergency supplies.
The announcement improved the post-Katrina petroleum-supply outlook and had an immediate impact on the price of a barrel of light sweet crude for October delivery.
In their first decline this week, gasoline futures dropped nearly 27 cents to $2.14 US a gallon and light sweet crude for October delivery fell $1.88 to $67.59 US a barrel in Friday afternoon trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The NYMEX market was particularly upbeat because the IEA decision will bring gasoline and diesel fuel from Europe to the American market which has experienced tightening supplies due to Katrina-related refinery and pipeline damage.
Keelen also notes "Celine Dion takes swipe at Iraq war; donates $1m to Katrina victims" (CBC's Canada):
An emotional Celine Dion seemed to take a swipe at the U.S. policy in Iraq during an interview Saturday on CNN's Larry King Live.
During the interview, the Quebec-born singer broke down in tears as she talked about the need for the Bush administration to concentrate on those suffering at home.
"How come it's so easy to send planes in another country, to kill everyone in a second, to destroy lives," at a time when Americans need to serve their own country, she said. "We need to serve our country, and be there right now to rescue the rest of the people. We need the cash, we need the blood, we need the support, right now we need the prayers."
Gareth e-mails to note Duncan Campbell, Gary Younge and Julian Borger's "Empty, ruined and desperate" (England's The Guardian):
New Orleans was finally emptied of all but the most desperate remnants of its population yesterday, leaving behind a ghost town under military occupation as troops fanned out through the city streets.
Police shot dead at least five people who apparently opened fire on contractors on a city bridge, in a clear demonstration of the resolve to deal with the lawlessness that has beset New Orleans.
In belated recognition of the depth of the crisis, Washington swallowed its pride and asked for blankets, food and water trucks from the EU and Nato, and beds and medical supplies from Canada.
Melissa e-mails to note Carl Schreck's "Putin Fires Navy Chief Kuroyedov" (The Moscow Times):
Eduard Baltin, the former commander of the Black Sea Fleet, said Sunday on Ekho Moskvy radio that the change was due to Kuroyedov's failing health.
Analysts, however, said Kuroyedov had long been on his way out due to a series of embarrassing incidents since Putin assumed the presidency in 2000. First the Kursk submarine sank in 2000, killing all 118 sailors on board, and then a decommissioned K-159 submarine sank in 2003, killing nine sailors. The two disasters shattered the Navy's image.
DK e-mails to note Thomas Hüetlin's "Fear and Loathing in Northern Ireland" (Germany's Der Spiegel):
Patsy and Patricia McGaughey were supposed to retire here, in the gently rolling hills of Ahoghill, idyllically set among forests and golf courses, far away from Belfast's ghettos.
They had made their home cozy for themselves: a small keg of whisky in front of the fireplace, two TV sets, one so that Patsy could watch his cop shows and the Discovery Channel, and one for Patricia and her soaps.
The couple believed their whitewashed home was a haven of peace.
But that's all over now. It happened at 11:30 p.m. Patsy was watching "Miami Vice," and Patricia was already in bed, when the windows of their house were suddenly shattered. The noise was so loud that it felt like someone had driven a bulldozer into the McGaugheys' living room.
After a few terrifying moments, the couple realized that someone had hurled three paint bombs into their house. Furniture, rugs and pictures of their grandchildren were coated with a white, glue-like substance.
The message was clear: Get out. Get out, because Catholics have no business living in this part of Northern Ireland. A few weeks earlier, assailants had firebombed another house a few blocks away in the middle of the night. A single mother and her son only managed to escape by jumping from a second-story window.
Kelsey e-mails to note Richard McGregor's "China’s president Hu postpones trip to US" (England's The Financial Times):
Hu Jintao has postponed his first trip to the US as president of China because of the hurricane disaster, depriving him of a first-hand chance to alleviate growing antagonism to China in Washington and elsewhere in America.
[. . .]
Mr Hu will continue with a scheduled week-long trip to Canada and Mexico, starting on Thursday, and meet Mr Bush in transit between the two countries in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations 60th anniversary summit.
Lynda e-mails to note "Scores killed in China typhoon" (Aljazeera):
China's toll from Typhoon Talim last week has risen to at least 58 after five more fatalities have been reported, with nine people still missing.
The eastern province of Zhejiang is now bracing itself for more storms triggered by another storm, Typhoon Nabi, state media said on Sunday.
Strong winds and rainstorms, fuelled by Typhoon Nabi was churning towards Japan on Sunday, and was expected to ravage coastal areas of northern and central Zhejiang early this week, prompting local authorities to urge efforts to minimise the damage.
Skip e-mails to note "Public health authorities concerned about spread of infectious diseases" (The Australian Herald):
U.S. public health officials are worried about the possible spread of infectious diseases in areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. Stagnant flood waters, lack of proper sewage and clean water all could contribute to the spread of disease.
The conditions in the flooded city of New Orleans are a recipe for diahrreal diseases rarely seen in the United States, including hepatitis, dysentery, cholera, and typhus. The diseases occur when there is no sanitation, and water becomes contaminated with fecal matter. Officials are also concerned about mosquito-borne illnesses.
Appearing on CNN's Late Edition program Sunday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt says it is not uncommon to see such outbreaks following natural disasters.'Any time you have this type of disaster, whether it's in the United States or anywhere else, you have the potential for this kind of disease. For that reason, we have dispatched 24 public health teams, or (we are) in the process of dispatching them, throughout the Gulf region to begin working with state and local officials to assure we are doing everything possible to avoid it,' Mr. Leavitt says.
Eli e-mails to note Jim Lobe's "Katrina Exposes the 'Third World' at Home" (IPS):
As thousands of people in New Orleans approach their fifth day without food, water or shelter, the news media and, doubtless, millions of ordinary citizens are wondering how state and particularly federal authorities could have been so slow to respond to one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.
"I have seen such scenes before, but always on television and always from faraway places," wrote a staff reporter for the New York Daily News. "In Third World nations, but not here."
It was a typical comment this week, particularly by anchors of the nation's cable news outlets, as they surveyed the vast devastation and human misery inflicted by Hurricane Katrina on neighbourhoods, towns, and cities along the U.S. Gulf Coast from New Orleans, Louisiana to Mobile, Alabama. But its basic assumption -- that the Third World is somewhere "far away" -- was incorrect.
What Katrina laid bare to the world, as well as to U.S. viewers who watched the scenes of U.S. citizens in desperate need of basic necessities, is that the United States -- despite its status as the world's sole superpower and global hegemon -- has a great deal in common with the Third World, and increasingly so. Consider:
-- As in natural disasters in the developing world, Katrina's victims were overwhelmingly poor. Nearly one-third of the city of New Orleans, for example, lives below the poverty line, while Louisiana and Mississippi, the two hardest-hit states have the highest childhood poverty rates in the nation -- over 50 percent.
Meanwhile, poverty rates nationwide climbed last year for the fourth year in a row to 12.7 percent, according to the latest Census Bureau report released Wednesday.
Skip e-mails to note Adam Harvey's "Aussie relief turns to fury" (Australia's Herald Sun):
FIVE days after being ordered out of their hotel in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Melbourne's Karen Marks and her aunt Pam Whyte are safe.
But yesterday morning, they were still stranded in the gloom and squalor of the New Orleans Convention Centre.
With no sign of an imminent evacuation, the Herald Sun and a Channel 9 crew offered the spare seats in our cars to Ms Marks, Ms Whyte, a New Zealand woman and two Britons. We drove straight out of New Orleans on roads not blocked by water or debris.
While the Herald Sun had been able to drive into the heart of New Orleans along highways and major roads, evacuation buses had yet to reach thousands of exhausted refugees at the Superdome and the convention centre.
Ms Marks and Ms Whyte were sitting on the floor among hundreds of other exhausted refugees when we found them yesterday morning.
"I just want to get out of here," said Ms Marks. "I don't ever want to have to go through this again.
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