Wednesday, October 15, 2003

NEWS ROUND-UP: I hope you don't mind the bullet-format. Here we go:

  • A bomb in Northern Gaza killed three security guards who were traveling in a U.S. diplomatic convoy. The convoy carried a cultural delegate from the U.S. embassy who where to interview Palestinian candidates for a Fulbright scholarship. Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades, Islamic Jihad and Hamas have all denied responsibility, which makes the situation even more complicated. The Palestinian Authority is claiming that it had warned about the possibility of an attack and had suggested changing travel routines. I'm not a big fan of Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian Authority, but this claim doesn't sound that crazy or odd at all; I think it's pretty plausible. The method of the bombing--a roadside bomb--reminds one of recent events of Baghdad. It also reminds us of other American casualties. Also read this Ha'aretz analysis.

  • While right-wingers are claiming that Iraq is not that bad (and they're right to some extent), Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani's militia and a street thug's Muqtada al-Sadr's army of the Mahdi are battling on the streets of Karbala. Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez indicated that the Coalition may have to "respond very forcefully" and that "a confrontation is possible." Tough words. Will there be a confrontation? Will the Iraqi Governing Council back it? And more importantly: how is it going to respond? So many questions, yet no answers. If you ask me, I don't think that arresting a firebrand during Ramadan is such a good idea, to put it nicely. (Juan Cole has more details.)

  • Speaking of Ramadan (which starts October 25th), there is a debate (yes, a debate in Islam; no joke) in Canada on the so-called "moon ruling." It's "science vs. reality." Fasting during Ramadan starts when the moon goes down and ends when the moon comes up. Three top Muslim scholars in Egypt say that even though you can't see the moon, the moon is scientifically there so you can start eating. The Canadian Islamic Congress agrees. But some don't. It's an interesting article and somehow refreshing. (I personally follow the "scientific rule." I pick up a free Calendar that the local Afghan market gives away.)

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