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Death squad, how may I help you?

May 17, 2002 | Page 4

HOW SHOULD right-wing paramilitaries clean up their brutal image? Start a complaint line.

The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), the paramilitary thugs responsible for numerous massacres in Colombia, announced recently that people who suffer "excesses" at the hands of its fighters can lodge a complaint via e-mail. That is, of course, if anyone is left alive to complain.

The AUC killed about 1,000 civilians in 2001 alone, according to the government. In one case, AUC members killed 27 peasants with sledgehammers and stones in the village of Chengue--after accusing them of collaborating with guerrillas.

But apparently, bloody massacres are bad PR, so the AUC is hoping its new complaint system will polish up its image. Senior AUC leader Carlos Castaño, who admits to having killed many times, says that he wants right-wing militiamen to commit fewer massacres and cut back links with drug traffickers.

The announcement, signed by the AUC's General Staff and posted on the AUC Web site, said it was "conscious of the difficulties and possible excesses committed by all armed groups, including our own, whose cause is just. Any accusations or complaints should be directed to Commander Adolfo Paz at the electronic address '[email protected]"

--Reuters, May 3, 2002

Bush with kung fu grip

A CONNECTICUT toy company has found a novel way to cash in on the "war on terrorism." The company,, recently debuted a line of "life-like action figures," including George W. Bush, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Osama bin Laden and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. For legal reasons, the dolls are identified by catchy names like "Our Hero," "The Rock" and "The Ally."

Company President Emil Vicale told reporters that at first he sold only dolls of "real guys who changed the world--the presidential figure, the mayoral figure and the prime minister figure."

He added the bin Laden doll after people asked for an "enemy figure." Smart move. So far, sales of the bin Laden dolls are running about one-third higher than sales of the Bush doll.

Vicale said he has sold only seven Giuliani dolls, however--and "not even one" Blair doll.

--Reuters, April 19, 2002

Heard it through the grapevine

"I STOOD on the Golan Heights. I didn't see any occupied territory. I saw Israel."
--Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas)

"MOST OF the people who now populate Israel were transported from all over the world to that land and they made it their home. The Palestinians can do the same, and we're perfectly content to work with the Palestinians in doing that. We are not willing to sacrifice Israel for the notion of a Palestinian homeland."
--Rep. Dick Armey (R-Texas)

"[ARAFAT] HASN'T led, and as a result the Palestinians suffer, and my heart breaks for the Palestinian moms and dads who wonder whether or not their children will be able to get a good education and whether or not there is going to be a job available for their children."
--George W. Bush

"THESE MEN and women whose task is the moral and civic education of our children had the abominable idea of sending them on a mission of hate and vengeance. These are Soviet activities."
--French fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen, on teachers who allowed their students to participate in demonstrations against him

"ISRAEL MAY have the right to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the State of Israel on trial."
--Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon

"BUSH MEN always cry, and I apologize. It's a genetic problem I got from my dad. He cries a lot."
--Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush

"HE'S HARDLY someone we should be applauding …not a role model, I am rather embarrassed."
--Vice Presidential wife Lynne Cheney, on Ozzy Osbourne's appearance at a White House dinner

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