Casualties of missile strike debated

JERUSALEM – The Israeli military and Palestinian witnesses
offered conflicting versions yesterday of an airstrike in Gaza, as
thousands of mourners called for revenge for the deaths of seven
Palestinians purportedly killed in the attack.

Palestinians said the seven dead were civilians killed by an
Israeli missile fired into a crowd at the Nusseirat refugee camp.
The army said the majority of those killed were militants,
releasing part of a video indicating there was no one on the street
near the vehicle when it was hit by two missiles. The Palestinians
say a third missile caused the deaths.

The airstrikes revived debate inside Israel over targeted
killings in populated areas, and the Palestinian prime minister, in
a rare criticism of Washington, complained that the United States
was doing nothing to stop what he said are Israel’s “ugly
crimes.”

In Nusseirat, the flag-wrapped bodies of the seven Palestinians
were carried on stretchers through the shantytown yesterday.

“Sharon, wait, wait, you have opened hell’s gate,” the crowd
chanted in a threat of revenge. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
said Monday that Israel’s war on terror would not let up.

Catholics, Protestants fail to agree on terms

BELFAST, Northern Ireland – A day billed as a breakthrough for
Northern Ireland peacemaking descended into a diplomatic shambles
yesterday as Protestant leaders rejected the Irish Republican
Army’s biggest-ever disarmament move as too secretive.

The prime ministers of Britain and Ireland, Tony Blair and
Bertie Ahern, came to Northern Ireland to launch a Nov. 26 election
for the province’s empty legislature, the intended bedrock of a
Catholic-Protestant administration for this British territory.

Their mission was supposed to have been bolstered by the IRA’s
first act of disarmament in 18 months. But it ended late at night
with their acknowledgment that an agreement between the two key
parties – the IRA-linked Sinn Fein and the Ulster Unionists, a
major British Protestant party – had slipped away.

“Yes. the election’s going ahead, but we want it in a positive
atmosphere,” Blair said at the end of what he called a deeply
frustrating day.

John de Chastelain, the retired Canadian general trying to coax
the IRA and other outlawed groups to disarm, confirmed the IRA had
let him inventory and “decommission” a cache of automatic rifles,
explosives and other weapons yesterday.

States shift insurance costs to employees

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – State employee and single mother Sandra
Miller makes $19 an hour. There is not going to be much money left
over if she has to start paying for health insurance for herself
and her teenage son. “Even $50 a month is a lot to me,” says
Miller.

Around the country, Rhode Island and other states struggling
with yawning deficits and rising health care expenses are asking
their employees to help pay for their medical insurance or assume a
larger share of the burden.

At the beginning of this year, 16 states paid the full cost of
health insurance for individual workers, down from 22 in 1998,
according to Workplace Economics Inc., a Washington consulting
firm. And the number of states offering fully paid family coverage
has dropped from nine to six: New Hampshire, New Jersey, North
Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, the firm says.

Anti-war movement will renew protests

WASHINGTON – Anti-war groups are planning their largest
demonstrations since after the start of the war in Iraq, with
thousands expected at rallies Saturday in Washington and San
Francisco.

Protesters are expected from 140 cities in the United States and
Canada, organizers said yesterday. They hope to foment public
pressure that will force the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

With Congress poised to authorize $87 billion for Iraq’s
reconstruction, “Now more than ever it is critical that we stand
united in our effort to turn this all around,” said Leslie Cagan,
an organizer for United for Peace and Justice.

The protests are being organized by Cagan’s group and also
International ANSWER, or Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, which
led earlier protests.

‘Late Show’ takes aim at easy target: Arnold

NEW YORK – In contrast to the “Tonight” show – Arnold
Schwarzenegger’s unofficial late-night venue – David Letterman is
airing material that would make most politicians consider a career
change.

Over the past week, Letterman’s “Meet the Governor” segment has
rolled old footage of the incoming California governor grasping a
woman’s buttocks, smoking marijuana and grinning goofily dressed in
an Indian outfit.

There’s no political motivation; Letterman just wants to be
funny, said Rob Burnett, executive producer of Letterman’s “Late
Show.”

“For us, it’s an easy decision – what is on the mind of the
country and can it be made funny?” he said. “Arnold as governor of
California satisfies both objectives. As a bonus, it’s pretty easy
to make funny.”

 

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