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Saturday, September 09, 2006

News Diaries

It's been an interesting week.

Wednesday saw Japan celebrating news that Princess Kiko, wife of the emperor's second son, has given birth to a baby boy, the first in the imperial family for more than four decades. Also making the news was the unexpected relationship between a British couple and the daughter of an imprisoned Soviet dissident in Russia during the Cold War, while a replica of the Turing Bombe - the vital machine which cracked the Nazis' Enigma Code in World War II - has been rebuilt.

Hidden Frontier portrayed the first gay kiss in Star Trek historyAlso, as Star Trek reaches its 40th anniversary, fans have taken on the task of continuing the sci-fi phenomena in dozens of different homemade productions aired over the Net.

The most prominent of these "fan films" is Star Trek: Hidden Frontier, which has so far produced 46 episodes over seven seasons, including the first ever "gay kiss".

Continuing the homosexual theme, a low budget independent film about a Mexican girl's 15th birthday celebration has become a box office success in the US, where an outwardly macho cholo (Mexican gangster) is struggling with rejection after being kicked out of the family home for being homosexual.

His gay and affluent landlords, who live in the apartment above, befriend the Latino teenage and make him their sexual plaything.

Thursday's news highlighted the strange story of a Swiss man caught speeding on a Canadian highway, who blamed his actions on the absence of goats on the roads, while a study suggested that Earth-like planets orbiting other stars may be far more common than had once been thought.

The day also revealed the news that seventeen people were arrested in Belgium for allegedly planning attacks aimed at "destabilising" the country's institutions.

The terror suspects are not "Islamic fascists" this time. Those arrested were mainly "soldiers and people with an extreme-right ideology who clearly express themselves through racism, xenophobia, Holocaust denial, anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism", the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The arrival of Friday heralded less-than-divine revelations. A 63-year-old Dutch priest confessed to making a hoax bomb threat in an attempt to stop a concert by US pop star Madonna and a Danish newspaper printed cartoons about the Holocaust commissioned by Iran after cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad triggered violent protests.

Several of the cartoons, described as "tasteless but predictable" contrast the plight of the Palestinians with that of the victims of the Holocaust.

Bush Watch

Critics say that Mr Bush's case for going to war in Iraq has been harmed.It's also been an interesting week for America's First Citizen, as George W Bush makes a series of speeches on the "war on terror" to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the 11 September attacks.

Mr Bush has finally come clean about the CIA jails, using the anniversary as ample cover. In a TV address on Wednesday - alongside families of victims of the 11 September 2001 attacks - Mr Bush described the prisons as a vital tool in the war on terror, saying that intelligence gathered had saved lives.

Until now, the US had admitted to picking up terrorism suspects in Europe, but had not confirmed having any secret prisons, or so-called "black sites".

Plus following the news on Thursday that the Red Cross has said it plans to visit the secret detention centres situated at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, on Friday news reports reveal that a US Senate report says there is no evidence of formal links between Iraqi ex-leader Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq prior to the 2003 war in Iraq.

Critics say the report has harmed Mr Bush's case for going to war. The US president has continually tried to connect the occupation of Iraq, which most Americans think was a mistake, with the so-called war on terror, which has the support of the nation.

Rallying Support for Bush

Bush has a large fanbase, however, more specifically in the form of Ann Coulter.

Appearing on BBC's Newsnight in June, her many utterances include, "I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East and sending liberals to Guantanamo."

She defended herself successfully when she spoke to Jeremy Paxman about her views and her controversial book "Godless: The Church of Liberalism".

"I believe everything I wrote in my book," she said.

In the book, she's also accuses four World Trade Center widows of enjoying their husbands' deaths.

The women lambasted by Coulter have spent the years since the 2001 terror attacks supporting an independent commission to examine government failures before the attack, and in the 2004 presidential campaign they endorsed Democrat John Kerry, who ran against Bush.

Coulter is a lawyer and author, and is so well known in the US she has a doll in her own image.

Pictures courtesy of BBC News.

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