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INSIDE THE SYSTEM
Let them eat cake

January 4, 2002 | Page 4

HOW DOES the U.S. military say "happy holidays" to Afghan civilians? It bombs them with cake.

A military spokesperson recently reported that 46,000 pounds of cake were scheduled to be dropped near the Afghan cities of Mazar-i-Sharif, Kunduz and Kandahar on December 23. The cakes were a "present" from the U.S. military to mark Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holiday that signals the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

"It's the end of Ramadan, and we thought that after all the Afghan people had suffered, this could be one way to show our respect," said Sgt. Maj. Raymond Cordell, head of public affairs at an air base north of Kabul.

Seems like it never occurred to the Pentagon that it could have "shown respect" to Afghans by ending bombing during the Muslim holy days. But maybe the logic behind the military's gift is that at least a few of the 1.5 million Afghans in danger of starving to death this winter will at least get a final dessert.
--Reuters, December 17, 2001

Paramilitary season's greetings

EVEN DEATH squads can get into the holiday spirit.

A unit of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, one of the far-right paramilitary groups guilty of massacres and human rights abuses in Colombia, sent Christmas cards to its fighters, wishing them a peaceful and successful new year.

The cards picture a little blond girl with angel wings in front of a Christmas tree. The text reads, "It is the month in which we sow our hopes to achieve a peace that is so craved for by all Colombians. And with Christmas come our new projects and hopes for the next year."

Colombia's death squads are known for torturing civilians and political opponents with sledgehammers and chainsaws. So it's not clear exactly what "new projects" the cards refer to.
--Reuters, December 11, 2001

Heard it through the grapevine

"I AM, I will just confess to you, a total sucker for the guys who stand up with all the ribbons on and stuff…We had General Shelton on the show the last day he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I couldn't lift that jacket with all the ribbons and medals. And so when they say stuff, I tend to believe it."
--ABC's COKIE ROBERTS

"HE'S BUSY making history, but doesn't look back at his own, or the world's…Bush would rather look forward than backward. It's the way he's built, and the result is a president who operates without evident remorse or second-guessing."
--Newsweek on why George W. Bush doesn't like to read books

"IN THIS autumn of anger, even a liberal can find his thoughts turning to…torture. Okay, not cattle prods or rubber hoses, at least not here in the United States, but something to jump-start the stalled investigation of the greatest crime in American history."
--Newsweek columnist JONATHAN ALTER

"DO NOT USE photos on Page 1A showing civilian casualties from the U.S. war on Afghanistan. Our sister paper…has done so and received hundreds and hundreds of threatening e-mails…If the story needs rewriting to play down the civilian casualties, DO IT."
--Internal memo at the Panama City (Fla.) News Herald

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