Castro has rejected allegations of involvement with Iran in the manufacture of biological and chemical weapons, saying that joint operations are instead devoted to eradicating hunger and disease on the impoverished island. In addition to biotechnology cooperation, Iran has used Cuba’s electronic transmissions jamming expertise and the Chinese equipped electronic warfare base near Havana, to interfere with U.S. sponsored pro-democracy broadcasts into Tehran. Intelligence reports over the past year have also uncovered covert cooperation between the two countries in the development and testing of electromagnetic weapons that have the capacity to disrupt telecommunication networks, cut power supplies and damage sophisticated computers. During a time of international crisis, these “e-bombs" can be delivered by cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles or aerial bombs to the U.S. mainland. Russian, Chinese and Iranian scientists are currently working side-by-side with Cuban scientists to develop these weapons for eventual use against the U.S. communications and military infrastructure.
(...) Castro has agreed to provide Iran with a strategic outpost to gather intelligence on U.S. movements in the region.
According to conversations my father has had with veteran soldiers of the Bergen-Belsen liberation, the Germans and the British had struck a deal to bar the survivors of the camp from leaving. Typhus was rampant in Bergen-Belsen, and it was feared that the disease — which had killed 3 million people in the Soviet Union at the end of the First World War — would spread to the surrounding population. Indeed, the British commandant who took control of the camp was under orders to "prevent the spread of disease and to prevent criminals breaking out." But was typhus the only reason for the inadequacy of the British response? Was antisemitism a factor? Did the British see Jews as expendable? Or was the British army simply ill equipped to cope with starvation, disease and squalor so grotesque that they had never before encountered it on such a scale? In his new book, "After Daybreak: The Liberation of Bergen-Belsen, 1945," Ben Shephard uses military records, diaries and the survivors' accounts to answer these questions. He does so with sensitivity and careful attention to the facts.
On Wednesday, more than 5,000 people marched through the Afghan border town of Spinboldak, chanting "Death to Pakistan" and "Death to al-Qaida" to protest a suicide attack at a fair this week that killed 21 people.Maybe if Dave strikes a little more to the north next time...
Afghan officials claim the bomber — the latest in about 25 suicide attackers to strike in Afghanistan in the past four months — trained in Pakistan. Islamabad denies giving sanctuary to terrorists.
Hazim Sharawi, whose stage name is Uncle Hazim, is a quiet, doe-eyed young man who has an easy way with children and will soon preside over a children's television show here on which he'll cavort with men in larger-than-life, fake-fur animal suits on the Gaza Strip's newest television station, Al Aksa TV.
But Captain Kangaroo this is not. The station, named for Islam's third holiest site, is owned by Hamas, the people who helped make suicide bombing a household term.
"Our television show will have a message, but without getting into the tanks, the guns, the killing and the blood," said Mr. Sharawi, sitting in the broadcast studio where he will produce his show.
"I will show them our rights through the history," he said, "show them, 'This is Nablus, this is Gaza, this is Al Aksa mosque, which is with the Israelis and should be in our hands.' "
The new station is part of the militant Palestinian group's strategy to broaden its role in Palestinian politics and society, much as Hezbollah did in Lebanon. The station began broadcasting terrestrially on Jan. 7, and Hamas is working on a satellite version that would give it an even wider reach, like Hezbollah's Al Manar TV, which is watched throughout the Arab world.
"Their success encouraged us," said Fathi Hammad, Al Aksa TV's director. He said that Hamas had tried to find an existing broadcaster to accept its programming but that no one would take it.
"The Arab satellite broadcasters Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya both turned us down," he said, sitting beneath the seal of Hamas, which depicts the Dome of the Rock (which stands alongside Al Aksa mosque in Jerusalem) between crossed swords and an idealized map of Palestine. "Even Iraq and Saudi Arabia refused."
In 2003, after the Palestinian Authority granted Hamas a broadcast license covering both radio and television, the group started the Voice of Al Aksa, which quickly became one of the most popular radio stations in the Gaza Strip. It took more than two years to assemble the expertise and equipment necessary to start the television station.
The current 12 hours of daily television programming, which has the unfinished look of public-access cable television in the United States, consists primarily of readings from the Koran, religious discourse and discussions of women's issues, such as Islamic fashion, child-rearing tips and the right of women to work, which Hamas supports. It will eventually feature a sort of Islamic MTV, with Hamas-produced music videos using footage from the group's fights with Israeli troops. There will even be a talent search show, a distant echo of "American Idol."
But its biggest star will be Mr. Sharawi, whose radio show for children was the Voice of Al Aksa's biggest hit.
Mr. Sharawi, 27, wearing a long black leather coat with a hood over a green suit and tie, fixed with a pin, looks like a straight-and-narrow Sunday school teacher. In fact, he got his start working with children at his mosque while studying geology at Islamic University in Gaza. His hair is parted in the middle, his beard trimmed as neatly as a suburban lawn.
He said the head of Hamas's radio station spotted him leading children's games at his mosque and asked him to do a children's radio show two years ago. The show has become so popular, his appearances at occasional Hamas-sponsored festivals draw as many as 10,000 children at a time.
Mr. Sharawi will not take visitors to see him do his radio broadcast because the studio's location is a heavily guarded secret. In 2004, an Israeli Apache helicopter fired three rockets into the station's previous studio not long after Mr. Sharawi and his colleagues had fled.
Everybody involved in the television station is worried about another attack, but Mr. Sharawi said he is ready to die if it comes. "The messengers don't care if they lose their lives for the sake of revealing the message," he said.
As he describes it, his television show, which begins in a few weeks, will teach children the basics of militant Palestinian politics - the disputed status of Jerusalem, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and the Palestinian refugees' demand for a right to return to the lands they lost to Israel in the 1948 war - without showing the violence that Hamas's pursuit of those goals entails.
The show will alternate between Uncle Hazim and his animal characters in the studio taking live phone calls from children and video clips recorded outside. Mr. Sharawi said he would leaven the sober and pedantic material with fun and games, including such standards as egg-and-spoon races, eating apples on a string or "tug of war, which will show children that the more you cooperate with others, the more you win."
Mr. Sharawi said he would dress up in different costumes to suit the show's locale: a sailor suit while taping on the beach, a track suit when in the park, even a Boy Scout uniform while hiking through the small patches of empty land that serve as Gaza's wilderness.
"We will invite real Boy Scouts to come and talk to us about camping," Mr. Sharawi said, warming to his theme (the Palestinian Scout Association is a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement).
Through it all, Mr. Sharawi will be accompanied by animal-costumed sidekicks to provide comic relief. Hamas will rent the Egyptian-made plush costumes - a fox, a rabbit, a dog, a bear and a chicken, already gray and matted from wear - from a production company run by a Hamas supporter who has just emerged from two years in Israeli jails.
When asked if the animals will have names, Mr. Sharawi looked slightly nonplussed and said: "Bob. Bob the Fox, for example."
He said he was inspired by a children's program on Saudi television in which a young veiled woman and a Mickey Mouse-like character take calls from kids. Fingering a string of bright green plastic prayer beads, a pale blue prayer rug lying on the chair beside him, he tries to reconcile Hamas's bloody attacks that kill innocent children with his role as mentor.
"These are one of the means used by the Palestinians against Israel's F-16's and tanks," he said of the suicide attacks, giving a stock answer. "We're doing our best to avoid involving children in these issues, but I cannot turn the children's lives into a beautiful garden while outside it's the contrary."
He gets up to fiddle with a magnesium light stand in the studio, which is furnished with five beige upholstered chairs and a dusty desk in front of a rattan screen decorated with plastic grape leaves.
The show, which will be broadcast on Friday mornings, the beginning of the Muslim weekend, will be preceded by an hour of cartoons, including a serialized life of the Prophet Muhammad, and that universal send-up of deadly conflict, Tom & Jerry.
WASHINGTON - The number of U.S. troops wounded in Iraq fell by more than a quarter in 2005 from a year earlier, Pentagon records show. Military officials call that a sign that insurgent attacks have declined in the face of elections and stronger Iraqi security forces.
The number of wounded dropped from 7,990 in 2004 to 5,939, according to the Defense Department. There hasn't been much change in the number of deaths, however. Pentagon figures show 844 U.S. troops were killed in the Iraq war during 2005, compared with 845 in 2004.