Writer's Notebook

  • The latest Osama bin Laden audio is interesting. In it, he warns that westerners will now become targets of revenge attacks because they failed to stop their government’s attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan. He repeated claims the west is waging a u201CZionist-Crusaderu201D war against Islam, and tried to shame Muslim nations into helping Hamas in Palestine, which is being squeezed to death by US sanctions. Ominously, he added that the UN is a puppet of the US. Any UN troops sent to Darfur should be opposed by u201Cmujahidin,u201D proclaimed bin Laden. The Western powers, he added, wanted to divide Sudan and grab its oil — a claim that is not without some basis in fact.

  • Correction: Iran’s president, Muhammed Ahmadinejad, did not call for Israel to be "wiped off the face of the map," as I and everyone else reported before being able to read the full translation of his speech. In it, the Iranian president quoted the late Imam Khomeini, who used the phrase. We must always be cautious of self-appointed translators in Washington who skew much of the news we get from the Mideast.

  • The arrest and prosecution for terrorism by the FBI of two American citizens of Muslim background from the state of Georgia, aged 21 and 19, sounds fishy. They were supposed to have met with suspicious Muslims in Toronto to discuss attacking power plants and communication nodes in the USA. But like so many other Muslims arrested in the US and Canada, their case may amount to little. They were unlikely agents of bin Laden. More likely, just two post-adolescents running their mouths.

  • It was a national disgrace that President George Bush did not give a state dinner for visiting President Hu of China. A lunch was the consolation prize. This was a major slap in the face to the formality-loving Chinese, who were deeply embarrassed by this rude slight. Bush was pandering to his Evangelical Christian backers while jeopardizing the most important foreign affairs relationship in America’s future: US-Chinese relations. The White House’s behavior was stupid, offish and counter-productive. Chinese will not forget this affront.

  • We hope Nepal’s odious king will be overthrown in the next week or so. How long will it be before his soldiers and police refuse to keep beating and killing Nepalese and turn on the king? Let India send a plane to fly him into exile.

  • One of the things that continues to amaze and dismay me is the failure so far of many Americans to realize they were lied to and deceived into an unjust war by White House propaganda. Or that a cabal of neoconservatives engineered a war to serve another nation. Where is the outrage? Why are more Americans not demanding Congress charge administration officials with malfeasance, lying to Congress, and creating an illegal war?