Monthly Archives: December 2006
When U.S. leaders decided it was time to despise Saddam Hussein, he made the perfect villain. He was cocky and cunning. He looked dangerous and deranged standing at rallies firing a gun into the air, conduct unbecoming a head of government. He was "Hitler revisited," as the first President Bush put it, lacking the endless armies, but close enough for U.S. purposes. He had a history of atrocities. His black mustache heightened the aura of menace. America's quarter-century entanglement with the Iraqi leader ended Friday at the gallows.
The Capitol opened its doors to ordinary people wishing to pay last respects to Gerald R. Ford after dignitaries praised the 38th president as a healer and a rock in the dispiriting aftermath of his predecessor's disgraced presidency. Hundreds of people filed into the Capitol Rotunda late Saturday to view Ford's closed, flag-draped casket. They remembered a leader without pretensions or even the ambition to be president until the job was thrust upon him in the last chapter of Richard Nixon's Watergate scandal in August 1974.
Thousands of Iraqis flocked to Saddam Hussein's hometown of Ouja on Sunday, where the deposed leader was buried in a religious compound 24 hours after his execution. Dozens of relatives and other mourners, some of them crying and moaning, attended the interment shortly before dawn near Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad. A few knelt before his flag-draped grave. A large framed photograph of Saddam was propped up on a chair nearby. "I condemn the way he was executed and I consider it a crime," said 45-year-old Salam Hassan al-Nasseri, one of Saddam's clansmen who attended the interment.
Another terrorist attack, a warmer planet, death and destruction from a natural disaster. These are among Americans' grim predictions for the United States in 2007. But on a brighter note, only a minority of people think the U.S. will go to war with Iran or North Korea over the countries' nuclear ambitions. An overwhelming majority thinks Congress will raise the federal minimum wage. A third sees hope for a cure to cancer. These are among the findings of an Associated Press-AOL News poll that asked Americans to gaze into their crystal balls and contemplate what 2007 holds for the country.
At least 80 Iraqis died in bombings and other attacks Saturday as they prepared to celebrate Islam's biggest holiday, their first without Saddam Hussein. The bombings came hours after Saddam was hanged in Baghdad for ordering the killings of 148 Shiites in the city of Dujail in 1982. Despite concerns about a spike in unrest, Saturday's violence was not unusually high for Iraq, nor did it appear to be in retaliation for the execution.
With the brutal hanging of Saddam Hussein in the pre-dawn hours Saturday, the transformation of the United States of America from world power to international exporter of terror is complete. While one can argue that Hussein deserved to die for his many crimes against humanity, the question that history will ask is whether or not he deserved to die at the hands of a nation that invaded his country without provocation and orchestrated a trial to fulfill a political agenda of an American President who, himself, may be both a madman and greater threat to world peace.
Six junketing U.S. senators Friday said they will seek to extend trade benefits for Ecuador, despite a promise by its leftist President-elect to halt a key U.S. anti-drug operation in the Andean nation. Rafael Correa, who takes office in January and is a friend of U.S. foe President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, has said Ecuador has done its share to be part of a preferential tariff program for countries in the region that fight drug trafficking.
In the three-day blitz launching his 2008 presidential campaign, John Edwards has prodded enthusiastic crowds to get active. "We cannot stay at home and wait for the next election. The power is not with the politicians in Washington, the power is with you," he told nearly 1,000 people gathered in the convention hall of a Reno casino Friday.
President Bush and first lady Laura Bush were moved to an armored vehicle on their ranch Friday when a tornado warning was issued in central Texas, the White House said. The vehicle was driven to a tornado shelter on the ranch at 1:30 p.m. CST, and the president, Mrs. Bush and their two Scottish terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley, sat inside until the weather cleared, deputy White House press secretary Scott Stanzel said. They were never moved into the shelter, he said. The shelter is a few hundred yards away from the president's house on the ranch.
With tears in his eyes and a grin on his face, 13-year-old Ali Al-Najjar watched his father celebrate the death of Saddam Hussein. The Dearborn resident was emotional Friday night Ã¢â‚¬â€ not only did his dream of the former Iraqi president's execution come true, but he said he was witnessing a rare occurrence. "This is the first time I've seen my dad this happy," he said as he watched the crowd of about 200 Iraqi-Americans cheer outside a Detroit-area mosque as drivers honked horns in jubilation. "I've been praying for this all my life."