Nation In Brief

Sharon ‘concerned’ about U.S. operations in Middle East
In a meeting with President George W. Bush last week, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he is concerned about the ramifications for Israel if the United States attempts to overthrow Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
“We still have a U.S. policy of regime change because we believe Saddam Hussein should move on and that the Iraqi people deserve better leadership,” Secretary of State Colin Powell told a House committee last week.
Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer warned the president last week that Iran was a greater threat than Iraq.

Geneva Convention applies to Taliban, not al Qaeda
Captured Taliban soldiers will be protected by the Geneva Convention but will not be considered prisoners of war, President Bush announced last week. The decision will affect prisoners currently held in Cuba.
The president’s decision comes in the wake of fierce criticism from many civil rights activists and some European leaders over the treatment of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
Twenty-eight more prisoners joined the hundreds that already occupy Camp X-Ray in Cuba last week.

Council proposes Amtrak breakup
Lawmakers proposed the dissolution of passenger train company Amtrak into three separate companies last week, according to a report released by the Amtrak Reform Council.
Gilbert Carmichael, chairman of the Amtrak Reform Council, told USA Today, “The system we have today, the old Amtrak, has not worked and is not working.”
The proposal is designed to create an open market in the passenger train business – a market lawmakers hope will create competition and raise efficiency.
The council was created in response to Amtrak’s plea for a government subsidy to aid the ailing business.
Amtrak Chairman Michael Dukakis, former Massachusetts governor, voiced his opposition to the plan last week.

Enron executives take the fifth
Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling had no knowledge of Enron’s financial problems when he left his post in August, he said in a statement before congress last week.
“I did not believe the company was in any financial peril,” Skilling told the House Commerce oversight and investigations subcommittee Thursday.
Skilling’s statement comes as four Enron executives have evoked the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Andrew Fastow, Michael Kopper, Richard Buy and Richard Causey all declined to testify before the congressional commit
Fastow and Kopper are allegedly responsible for creating fake companies that Enron used to conceal losses, which led to the companies collapse in December.

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