CRISIS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
The U.N. Security Council -- following President Bush's statement earlier Thursday -- unanimously demanded implementation "without delay" of last week's measure calling for an "immediate" cease-fire and end to "all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction" in the Middle East.
The resolution also endorsed U.S. Secretary of State Powell's upcoming visit to the Middle East, and was accompanied by the strongest language yet of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in publicly criticizing both sides in the conflict.
The "acts of terror" phrase is read differently by the two sides. Israel sees it referring to the suicide bombings, while the Palestinians see it as referring to the "state terrorism" of Israeli occupation and incursions into Palestinian-controlled towns.
Ambassador John Negroponte of the United States said going into Thursday evening's final closed-door consultations that if there had to be a resolution, it should not include the word "immediate" and should endorse Powell's trip. He scored on both counts.
Annan spokesman Fred Eckhard told UPI that the secretary-general's strongest-ever remarks just before the vote came from what he told the panel in private at a U.N. luncheon Tuesday.
"Israeli actions since the adoption of Security Council resolution 1402 do not bode well for stabilizing the situation and renewing political talks," the secretary-general said before the council Thursday. "On the contrary, the government of Israel appears to be moving in the opposite direction."
"Responding to terrorism does not in any way free Israel from its obligations under international law," adding that it doesn't justify "creating a human rights and humanitarian crisis" in the territories.
"Forcing Chairman (Yasser) Arafat into exile would be reckless," Annan said in response to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's offer earlier in the week of a one-way ticket to the Palestinian president out of his Israeli-surrounded Ramallah headquarters.
But Annan did not only aim criticism at the Israelis. "The Palestinian Authority seems to believe that failing to act against terrorism, and inducing turmoil, chaos and instability, will cause the government and the people of Israel to buckle," he said. "They will not."
Annan added that even while "under direct assault from the Israeli military, ... Chairman Arafat has the capacity to exercise political leadership, to set the course for the future of his people, Terrorism is never justified. The Palestinian leadership must acknowledge this and the Palestinian public must accept this."
Earlier in the White House Rose Garden, with Powell at his side, Bush demanded Israel end its military incursions into Palestinian territory and halt the practice of building new settlements on the West Bank. As for Arafat, the president called on him to address his people in both English and Arabic asking them to halt the latest wave of suicide bombings -- something Arafat has not done. "The world expects an immediate cease-fire, immediate resumption of security cooperation with Israel against terrorism, an immediate order to crack down on terrorist networks. I expect better leadership and I expect results," Bush said.
-- What chance of success does Powell's mission have, and why? Do you think there'll ever be peace between Israel and the Palestinians? Why or why not?
(Thanks to UPI's William M. Reilly at the United Nations)
Iraq called on the United Nations Thursday to hold an international conference on defining terrorism and dealing with its roots.
Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said no single country or group of states should be assigned the task, according to the Iraqi News Agency.
Sabri -- who attended a meeting in Malaysia of the Organization of the Islamic Conference -- accused the United States of using the pretext of fighting terrorism as a cover for aggression against other countries and to deny people the right to choose their own political systems. He also called the U.S. embargoes against Iraq, Libya and Sudan a form of terrorism.
The United States, which has been waging a war on terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks, has called for the overthrow of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
-- What's the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter?
The Cincinnati Black United Front has approved a proposed settlement of a lawsuit accusing the city of a 30-year pattern of racial profiling.
But this doesn't mean an end to a nearly yearlong boycott that has cost the Queen City millions.
Bill Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg and Wynton Marsalis are among the African-American entertainers who have canceled performances at the request of black leaders seeking to punish the city of 331,000 -- one of the nation's 10 most segregated cities -- over the treatment of minorities.
Black United Front leaders told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the settlement and the boycott are separate issues. "We're looking forward to being part of history here in Cincinnati and moving forward," said the Rev. Damon Lynch III. Lynch, the head of the Black United Front, after the group unanimously accepted the 60-page tentative settlement. "We look forward to other parties signing on to the agreement."
Lynch said settlement of the lawsuit would be interpreted as an "act of good faith" by boycott groups, but added that would only open the way for negotiations on "more substantive issues."
The mostly white Fraternal Order of Police is scheduled to vote on the settlement Saturday and the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the Black United Front, will vote Monday.
The historic agreement has the support of Mayor Charlie Luken, who acknowledges the need for reform on the police department after the deaths of 15 black men in police custody since 1995.
The fatal shooting of unarmed 19-year-old Timothy Thomas last April 7 by officer Stephen Roach triggered three nights of racial rioting, a dusk-to-dawn curfew and a state of emergency. While the proposed settlement does not include a finding by the Justice Department that police had a pattern of racial profiling and harassment against blacks, the agreement would create an independent citizen complaint board and a third-party monitor to oversee the department for five-years.
-- What do you think?