Watercooler Stories

By United Press International  |  July 2, 2004 at 6:30 AM
share with facebook
share with twitter

Saddam appears before special tribunal

BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 1 (UPI) -- Ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein appeared before a special tribunal Thursday and asked to be treated as a head of state with constitutional immunity.

Saddam, bearded and looking tired and older, rejected the court, headed by Judge Salem Chalabi, as illegitimate because Chalabi was "appointed by the invading forces."

"This court is a comedy that the criminal (U.S. President George W.) Bush wants in order to score well in the presidential elections and say to the world opinion that he tried Saddam Hussein," the former Iraqi president said.

Saddam, wearing a grey suit and taking notes on a small note pad, told the judge: "I request defense lawyers ... I am (the) legitimate president and you are a lawman and we should talk according to the law."

Under the former Iraqi constitution, the head of state is immune against prosecution.

The former dictator refused to sign the list of charges filed against him in the absence of defense lawyers.

Saddam is accused of premeditated killing by use of chemical weapons, executions without trial, slaying of religious leaders, premeditated killing of Kurds and Shiites in the so-called Anfal operation and in the crushing of the 1991 uprising in southern Iraq, and invading Kuwait, among other things.

Saddam also scolded the judge for accusing him of invading Kuwait in 1990, which Iraq claimed was part of its territory.

"How could you say I invaded Iraq? ... You are an Iraqi and you know Kuwait is an Iraqi city," he said.

WW II massacre trial begins in Italy

LA SPEZIA, Italy, July 1 (UPI) -- An Italian military court is trying in absentia six former Nazi SS officers for the massacre of 560 women and children in 1944, The Telegraph said Thursday.

Under German law, the six Germans remained safely at home, although one soldier from the 16th SS Reichsfuhrer division, Ludwig Goring, offered chilling testimony of how an entire town was wiped out in one day.

The trial is being held in the town of La Spezia, and has attracted hundreds of survivors and their families.

Goring confessed to killing 20 women and told the magistrates he is still haunted by the imagery.

The massacre took place in the village of Sant'Anna di Stazzema, home to many anti-Nazi partisans. As the Germans retreated, the resistance fighters left, believing the Germans would be seeking them. Instead, the women and children were lined up and shot with machine guns, and then doused with gasoline and torched.

Of the six accused German pensioners, all deny taking part and several deny ever being in the town, the newspaper said.

Report: Kerry within week of VP decision

BOSTON, July 1 (UPI) -- Presumed U.S. Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry could announce his vice presidential choice as soon as next week, the Boston Globe reported.

The newspaper said Kerry was at his wife's 90-acre farm outside Pittsburgh working on his convention acceptance speech and considering who would be his running mate. Kerry has kept the vetting process for the possible vice president very close, but speculation had centered on Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack.

An anonymous campaign adviser told the Globe, "We're hearing it's going to be Tuesday."

The candidate's schedule has Kerry in the Midwest through the Fourth of July before he returns to his wife's farm in Fox Chapel, Pa. If the announcement were made Tuesday, the campaign would have two days of introductory appearances before the next scheduled event -- a large New York fundraiser Thursday, three weeks before Kerry is expected to accept the Democrat's nomination for president at the party's convention in Boston.

Cosby turns mirror on black American

CHICAGO, July 1 (UPI) -- Bill Cosby was unrepentant about remarks he made criticizing some low-income African-Americans for squandering the gains of the civil rights movement.

Cosby humorously said his off-the-cuff speech about the "dirty laundry" of blacks at an NAACP forum on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's historic Brown vs. Board of Education in May was to "turn the mirror on ourselves" and honor the sacrifices of a generation.

"It was about our minds, the use of our brains. It was about education. Fifty percent of African-American males in the lower income group drop out of school," Cosby told the 33rd annual Rainbow/Push Coalition Conference in Chicago. "I had a speech but I kept seeing people in their 80s who had contributed to this decision. These people certainly didn't have this in mind. There is a time when we have to turn the mirror around."

Cosby, who earned a Ph.D in education from the University of Massachusetts, passionately blasted profanity in public schools, poor parenting and lack of intellectual rigor.

The mostly black audience gave him a standing ovation.

Trending Stories