RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) -
The second-ranking official in the
Israeli government said yesterday that
killing Yasser Arafat is an option, as
thousands of Palestinians took to the
streets across the West Bank and Gaza
Strip promising to protect their leader.
Israel blames Arafat for blocking
peace efforts and preventing a crack-
down against militants who have car-
ried out two suicide bombings in the
Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
said yesterday that killing Arafat is a
possibility - along with expelling him
or keeping him in a siege that would
"isolate him from the world." Olmert's
comments have not been part of any
official government statement.
Olmert's comments appeared aimed
at sending signals to other Palestinian
leaders to abandon Arafat. Olmert,
considered a likely future candidate for
premier, is the closest official to Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon to say outright
that Arafat might be killed.
"Arafat can no longer be a factor in
what happens here," Olmert told Israel
Radio. "Expulsion is certainly one of
the options, killing is also one of the
Secretary of State Colin Powell said
Israel would incite rage among Arabs
and Muslims everywhere by exiling or
"The Israelis know our position
quite well," Powell told "Fox News
Sunday" during a visit to Iraq. "The
United States does not support either
the elimination of him or the exile of
Olmert's comments underscored the
collapse of the U.S.-backed "road map"
peace plan and the depths to which
Israeli-Palestinian relations have sunk a
decade after Arafat and then-Premier
Yitzhak Rabin agreed on the first Israel-
PLO accords in September 1993.
In a sign that Israelis were bending
on other U.S. demands, Israeli security
officials said Sharon has decided not to
build, for now, a section of security
barrier that would have dipped deep
into the West Bank to incorporate Jew-
ish settlements in the center of territory
that Palestinians want for a state.
The previously intended route of the
barrier enraged Palestinians, who saw
it as a land grab, and was strongly
opposed by the United States.
The plan to erect a security barrier
between Israel and the West Bank is
popular in Israel as a way to block sui-
cide bombers. No Palestinian bombers
have come from the Gaza Strip, which
Israelehas completed about 90 miles
of the West Bank barrier, whose
fences, trenches, razor wire and con-
crete walls could eventually run more
than 400 miles, depending on the ulti-
Palestinian legislator Saeb Erekat,
meanwhile, condemned Olmert's state-
ments as "the behavior and actions of a
mafia and not a government."
Olmert's statements echoed threats
by other Israeli officials following last
week's vaguely worded security Cabi-
net decision to "remove" him. The
decision came after twin suicide bomb-
ings killed 15 people.
Israeli leaders have said a move to
further isolate Arafat could include
cutting phone lines and barring visitors
to his Ramallah compound, where he
has been effectively confined for near-
ly two years.
The threats against Arafat have trig-
gered daily protests in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip in support of Arafat.
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NEWS IN BRIEF
Powell to assess Iraq's reconstruction
Secretary of State Colin Powell, becoming the highest ranking U.S. official to
visit Iraq since the ouster of Saddam Hussein, said yesterday he is convinced "the
winds of freedom are blowing" across the country but acknowledged the possibil-
ity that terrorists are trying to sabotage the process toward self-rule.
Powell spent 12 hours in talks with the team of American officials guiding Iraq
in the postwar period and with the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.
He also attended a Baghdad City Council meeting, met with Foreign Minister
Hoshyar Zebari and joined the U.S. administrator for Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, at a
joint news conference. Powell described impressive moves toward self-govern-
ment and seemed invigorated by what he heard as he made his rounds.
"There is vibrancy to this effort, a vibrancy that I attribute to the winds of free-
dom that are now blowing through this land," he said after the city council meet-
ing. Powell's day began with a flight from Kuwait aboard a C-130 cargo plane and
ended with a dinner with a leading Baghdad-based Shiite cleric.
He said the United States is committed to having Iraqis run their government,
but wants to cede power after a "deliberative process" rather than the early trans-
fer advocated by some fellow members of the U.N. Security Council. France has
pressed for seating a provisional government within a month.
Anti-terror laws used on common criminals
In the two years since law enforcement agencies gained fresh powers to help
them track down and punish terrorists, police and prosecutors have increasingly
turned the force of the new laws not on al-Qaida cells but on people charged with
The Justice Department said it has used authority given to it by the USA Patriot
Act to crack down on currency smugglers and seize money hidden overseas by
alleged bookies, con artists and drug dealers. Federal prosecutors used the act in June
to file a charge of "terrorism using a weapon of mass destruction" against a Califor-
nia man after a pipe bomb exploded in his lap, wounding him as he sat in his car.
A North Carolina county prosecutor charged a man accused of running a
methamphetamine lab with breaking a new state law barring the manufacture of
chemical weapons. If convicted, Martin Dwayne Miller could get 12 years to life
in prison for a crime that usually brings about six months.
Prosecutor Jerry Wilson says he isn't abusing the law, which defines chemical
weapons of mass destruction as "any substance that is designed or has the capabil-
ity to cause death or serious injury" and contains toxic chemicals.
President ousted in
West African coup
Soldiers ousted the president of the
West African nation of Guinea-Bissau
yesterday, taking advantage of wide-
spread discontent with his rule to seize
power in a bloodless coup.
The army chief of staff, Gen. Verissi-
mo Correia Seabre, declared himself in
charge of the country after the early-
morning arrest of President Kumba
Yala. A dawn-to-dusk curfew was
imposed, and soldiers patrolled the
streets of the capital Bissau with auto-
matic weapons and grenade launchers.
Several African countries including
Nigeria and Senegal condemned the
coup, as did Portugal, the former colo-
nial ruler. But some residents expressed
relief as much as alarm.
"It's all calm. People aren't afraid," a
man said by phone from the capital.
"Everyone seems happy about (the,
coup). The country was being so badly
run that someone had to do something."
He gave only his first name, Jorge.
Report suggests new
controls for pollution
New federal health standards that
limit the amount of soot in the air do
not adequately protect the elderly and
people with respiratory problems and
should be tightened, according to an
internal government report.
The findings could become the basis
for additional pollution-control require-
ments to reduce the amount of micro-
scopic soot emitted by diesel-burning
trucks, cars, factories and power plants.
Such a step would put the Bush
administration at odds with business
groups. They have argued the current
federal soot-control standards, issued
by the Clinton administration, are based
on uncertain science and have cost
industry tens of billions of dollars.
Ailing pope ends
Looking drained, an increasingly
frail Pope John Paul II celebrated Sun-
day Mass for 200,000 faithful, com-
pleting a grueling four-day pilgrimage
that raised fresh doubts about his abili-
ty to keep traveling.
The 83-year-old pope appeared
alert, but clearly weakened during
the 2 1/2-hour service honoring two
clerics imprisoned and tortured
under Slovakia's former communist
He slurred his words and turned over
his homily to. a cardinal to complete.
Bidding farewell at the airport
before departing for Rome, the pope
struggled to catch his breath.
John Paul returned to Rome in the
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EDITORS: C. Price Jones, Kylene Kiang, Jennifer Misthal, Jordan Schrader
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OPINION Aubrey Henretty, ZacPeskowitz, Editors
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SPORTS J. Brady McCollough, Managing Editor
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PHOTO Tony Ding, Brett Mountain, Managing Edito
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