The Paris daily newspaper Le Figaro led Thursday with the "revelation" that both the United States and France had supplied Iraq with strains of the anthrax bacillus in the mid-1980s, just when Saddam Hussein was starting the production of biological weapons. It said that the American Type Culture Collection in Rockville, Md., and the Pasteur Institute in Paris had responded favorably to Iraqi requests for the bacillus for research purposes. Britain, which was also approached, had refused to help, it said.
In Le Monde, an article by publisher Jean-Marie Colombani said the United States had squandered its "immense prestige and capacity for action" in the Middle East and would not recover it "until such time as it forces the hand of Benjamin Netanyahu." He also accused Washington of "seeking two privileged [European] allies: Poland in the east, Britain in the west" with, as its goal, "the gradual undoing of the assertive policies of the European Union, and rejection of a political Europe led by France and Germany, in favor of a NATO under U.S.-British control."
In La Stampa of Turin Tuesday, columnist Sergio Romano said the war against Saddam Hussein was as unwinnable as the war in Vietnam, and therefore proposed that President Clinton "shuffle the diplomatic cards" in the Middle East--as President Nixon once did in Asia. "If he does with Iran what Nixon did with China and adopts a less blatantly pro-Israel position, he will find that he has many Arab friends and has also isolated Saddam Hussein with much greater success than six years of embargo have achieved."
The tabloid London Evening Standard devoted most of its front page Thursday to the sudden resignation of the editor in chief of Rupert Murdoch's London publishing company, HarperCollins, because Murdoch allegedly had demanded changes in the forthcoming memoirs (to be titled East and West) of Britain's last governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten. Under the headline "Murdoch's China Kow-Tow," the Standard said Murdoch--who in 1994 had prevented the BBC (considered "unfriendly" by China) from using his Star satellite in Asia--feared his Asian broadcasting interests might be damaged if HarperCollins published a book containing strong criticisms of China by a man the Chinese had called "a perfidious whore" and "a drooling idiot." Patten was reported to have switched to a new publisher, Macmillan. He told the Independent of London he was "adamant that my book will be read as I intended it to be read."
The Independent led with an "exclusive" report that U.S. hunting lobbyists are helping fund a march through London Sunday, in which an expected 250,000 country people will protest government interference in their traditional way of life, and especially its threat to ban fox hunting. More than $160,000 was raised by a Sotheby's auction in New York of hunting and shooting holidays in Britain, the newspaper said, and Lt. Col. Dennis Foster, executive director of the American Master of Foxhounds Association, recently came to London and presented a check for an unspecified sum to the organizers of the march.
The Financial Times, in an editorial, calls on the United States to abolish the annual "certification" process by which it sits in judgment on other countries' efforts against drugs. The newspaper described the procedure as "inconsistent" and "politicised," with "little connection with what is happening in the market for narcotics," and noted that it "also has the United States--the world's largest consumer of illegal narcotics--setting itself up as judge and jury of the poorer countries that have the misfortune to be suppliers." The Financial Times reported that the European Union was about to challenge U.S. proposals on the administration of Internet addresses, because it feared they would "consolidate permanent U.S. jurisdiction over the Internet."
The conservative Daily Telegraph ran a story about "penguin prostitutes" in Antarctica. Researchers for the New Zealand Antarctic Program had found that male Adelie penguins on Ross Island, 800 miles from the South Pole, "pay for sexual favours with rocks and stones, a limited resource that can prove crucial for the survival of broods." This was the first ever recorded example of bird prostitution, the paper said. Other stories in Thursday's Telegraph included a revolt by Earl Spencer's English country neighbors against his plan to create a 500-car parking lot outside the walls of his park for use by tourists visiting the grave of his late sister, Diana, and a front-page piece reporting "major cracks in the Iraqi peace deal" that suggested that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's peace deal "might not have lifted the threat of military confrontation."
Kuwait's Communications, Electricity, and Water Minister Jassem Al-Oun was reported Thursday in the Kuwait Times as predicting that "a military confrontation [with Iraq] will ultimately take place which will have devastating effects in the region and tragic consequences for the Iraqi people." He was opening a new telephone exchange that he called a big step in repairing the damage caused to Kuwait by Iraq in the last such confrontation. In Dublin, the Irish Times ran an editorial headlined "Triumph for Annan," which concluded that "Mr. Annan is entitled now to have the US pay up its accumulated arrears to the world body."
In Israel, the liberal Ha'aretz led Thursday on the crisis in the Mossad after the arrest in Switzerland of one of its agents and the resignation Tuesday of its chief, Danny Yatom. In an editorial, it called for a root-and-branch restructuring of Israel's three intelligence services--Mossad, Shin Bet, and Military Intelligence--and the appointment of a prime-ministerial intelligence adviser to coordinate their work. The conservative English-language Jerusalem Post also called for such an appointment and said it was "imperative" to get Mossad "back on track" as quickly as possible.
The Times of London, a Murdoch newspaper, devoted both a report and an editorial to the news that a surge in demand for exorcisms has led the Vatican to revise its 400-year-old formula for deliverance. Changes to be announced shortly "are not expected to alter the key part, where the demon is ordered to leave the person, but to shorten the accompanying prayers and invocations." The editorial said it was "encouraging that the Vatican considers exorcism worthy of modernisation," adding, "It is reassuring to discover that the Vatican has not dropped its guard."