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Insider Report: U.S. Snubs New Al-Jazeera Network

Monday, 03 April 2006 12:00 AM

Only two months remain before the scheduled launch of Al-Jazeera International, the English-language network of Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, but still no U.S. distributor has agreed to carry the network's programming.

The network, staffed largely by veteran Western journalists, was supposed to launch in March, but the target date was recently pushed back.

Arabic-language Al-Jazeera has often been described as Osama bin Laden's propaganda outlet, and has come under fire from the Bush administration.

But the network's difficulties in reaching the U.S. market have as much to do with economics. Business Week reports that cable executives say it "makes little economic sense for them to pay a fee for yet another channel in the overly fragmented 400-channel TV universe."

So far the only company expressing any interest in carrying Al-Jazeera International is the satellite service EchoStar Communications Corp., which distributes the Arabic-language Al-Jazeera.

Al-Jazeera's Commercial Director Lindsey Oliver told Business Week that even without any American viewers, the new network will reach 40 million households in Britain, India, Australia, France and Germany.

The network will broadcast from offices in Qatar, London, Washington and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

As NewsMax reported earlier, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has accused Al-Jazeera of promoting terrorism and played a major role in the Iraqi government's banning of Al-Jazeera from Iraq. The State Department has complained about "false" and "inflammatory" reporting.

Al-Jazeera has sought to tone down criticism of its alleged pro-Arab extremism by hiring two well-known newsmen for the English-language network - former "Nightline" correspondent David Marash and veteran TV interviewer David Frost.

Former President Jimmy Carter has called the recent Palestinian voting "a beautiful election" and said "there's a good chance" that Hamas will reject violence.

Those comments raised the dander of radio's No. 1 talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who said they were "no surprise, coming from a man who has never missed a chance at appeasement."

Rush went further, blasting Carter for his frequent criticism of the Bush administration's handling of various problems.

"The irony is that President Bush wouldn't have to deal with these problems if Carter hadn't created them," Rush writes in the Limbaugh Letter.

Rush makes these points:

"According to the Constitution, the president is commander-in-chief; no sitting president has the authority to surrender those powers," Limbaugh stated. "But Jimmy Carter did."

"You remember the rest: The storming of the embassy, the botched rescue attempt, and murder on a scale that made the shah look like Mr. Rogers," Rush reports.

Limbaugh quotes Charles Scott, an Army attaché at the American embassy in Iran, who said: "Iran walked away with no cost in blood or treasure. It was a green light to terrorists worldwide - a sign that the U.S. will let you off scot-free. That's the reason for the birth of organizations like al-Qaida."

"Another consequence of the shah's fall was the Iran-Iraq war. Thanks to that, Saddam invaded Kuwait. Which brought us Desert Storm, which was a catalyst for Osama bin Laden."

What's more, Iran - "now being led by one of the thugs who held our people hostage - is about to go nuclear."

Rush concludes: "In short, Jimmy Carter was a disaster, and after one term the American people chucked him back to the peanut farm."

Pennsylvania Republican Curt Weldon has vowed to unleash "the Army of Curt" against his likely Democratic opponent - a retired admiral - as he campaigns for his 11th term in Congress.

"We'll run the most aggressive campaign in 20 years," Rep. Weldon told reporters.

But Weldon faces what "could become an unexpectedly competitive bid for re-election," according to the influential publication The Hill.

His likely opponent Joe Sestak retired from the Navy in January and announced his plan to run for Congress the following month. Since then he has persuaded two Democrats to drop out of the race, raised $150,000 and hired respected media consultant Barry Sweitzer.

For his part, Weldon promises to raise "any amount of money" and form a "Democrats for Weldon" committee, The Hill reports.

Several prominent Republicans, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have said they will help raise money for Weldon's re-election.

Weldon has gotten national attention for his efforts to help strengthen America's national security. It's a message resonating with voters.

A campaign official points confidently to the fact that Weldon won 57 percent of the vote in 2004 even though John Kerry defeated George Bush in his congressional district.

John Kerry's wife Teresa Heinz is the heiress to the Heinz tomato ketchup fortune, but one food item that Kerry will not eat is - a tomato.

That nugget is revealed in documents his advance team distributed specifying his travel and hotel needs during the 2004 presidential campaign.

Last week's Insider Report disclosed Vice President Dick Cheney's hotel demands, which were posted on the Smoking Gun Web site and include having all TVs in his suite tuned to Fox News.

Now a Kerry staffer has given Smoking Gun a copy of his documents, one of which is marked "confidential."

The Democrat's demands when in a hotel or on his travel bus included:

Kerry also likes filet mignon - medium - and meat loaf with mashed potatoes.

But one advance team document notes: "JK hates celery."

And it warns: "NEVER order tomato based products OR sandwiches."

A scheduler acknowledged that some requests may seem "trivial," but wrote that these things make Kerry "very happy."

Not content that Andrew Card, one of the longest serving chiefs of staff, had just had enough, liberals in Washington see more to Card's resignation.

The buzz in Washington among Democrats is that Card may have left because of his possible involvement in a cover-up in the Valerie Plame affair.

At the end of February, Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald - who is probing the leak of Plame's name as a CIA agent - said in a court hearing that the White House "recently located and turned over" 250 pages of e-mails from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales admitted that nearly two years ago, he sat on the knowledge that the Justice Department had launched a criminal investigation into the Plame affair.

Gonzales, who was then White House counsel, said that when he was first informed about the investigation into the leak by the Justice Department, he waited roughly 12 hours before informing the west wing.

But he did tell Andrew Card. And Bush haters see his inevitable tie-in to the scandal.

They also note Card was on Air Force One when a memorandum was circulated containing information about CIA officer Plame in a paragraph marked "S" for secret.

Bob Woodward wrote in The Washington Post in November that the individual who told him that Plame worked for the CIA was a "senior administration official."

There has been buzz in Washington that the official was National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley or former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

Card was apparently a member of the White House Iraq Group, tasked with selling the Iraq invasion to Congress, the American people and allies overseas.

The group he led included I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, and Karl Rove, Bush's chief political adviser - both at the center of the Plame probe.

Now Bush detractors are seizing on the fact that Card's surprise resignation occurred right after the freshly "discovered" missing e-mails from Cheney's office apparently surfaced.

Reportedly, the lost evidence was finally retrieved with the help of Karl Rove - part of a deal he cut with the special prosecutor.

An international crime ring masquerading as a nonprofit organization shipped illegally obtained luxury cars to Russia, Armenia, Georgia and Jordan, authorities charge.

After a yearlong investigation, Los Angeles police arrested eight Armenian and Russian nationals on suspicion of fraud and issued 11 warrants for their suspected accomplices, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Transnational Threats Update.

Two of those arrested operated Global Human Services (GHS), a charity that sent large shipments of humanitarian aid to the four nations.

Last year, the Department of Homeland Security seized two GHS shipping containers in Houston and found two SUVs hidden behind false walls.

GHS allegedly bought vehicles from car owners and leaseholders, who then reported them stolen and collected insurance money after GHS shipped the luxury cars overseas.

Over two years, GHS reportedly shipped 200 vehicles worth $5 million. Police believe two of the suspected accomplices have already left the U.S.

Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist is holding on to a substantial lead over his opponent in the race for the Republican nomination for governor in the Sunshine State.

In a new poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Crist got 43 percent of the votes among Republican respondents, while Florida Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher got 27 percent.

Another Mason-Dixon poll in June 2005 revealed similar results, indicating that Gallagher has failed to gain ground on Crist.

The new poll also disclosed that both Crist and Gallagher hold sizeable leads over their Democratic counterparts, Rep. Jim Davis and state Sen. Rod Smith.

Gallagher "has weathered two months of negative publicity because he traded stocks related to companies that he helped regulate," the Orlando Sentinel reports.

In June 2005, 8 percent of respondents who said they recognized Gallagher had an unfavorable view of him. In the new poll, that figure had risen to 11 percent.

In a statement, Crist said he was "humbled and honored" by the new poll results.

Crist recently gained support when he was endorsed by 28 Florida sheriffs, including one Democrat and one independent.

THAT

The ex-president met in March with 175 Clintonistas at a New York restaurant owned by a pal and has scheduled an April get-together in Los Angeles.

"I was sure it was going to turn out to be a fund-raiser, and I'd get hit up for money, but nobody did," one attendee in New York told U.S. News & World Report columnist Paul Bedard.

Nevertheless, Bedard notes, Clinton insiders still believe the effort was "designed to energize his former troops and raise money for a presidential bid" by Sen. Hillary Clinton.

THAT

Even though she insists she won't run in 2008, Rice got 29 percent in the survey by veteran pollster Frank Luntz, followed by Virginia Sen. George Allen at 26 percent and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani at 16 percent. THAT

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Only two months remain before the scheduled launch of Al-Jazeera International, the English-language network of Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, but still no U.S. distributor has agreed to carry the network's programming. The network, staffed largely by veteran Western...
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Monday, 03 April 2006 12:00 AM
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