And now the most captivating two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine.
French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine, you remember him — he's the guy who complained President Bush's anti-terrorism policy was too "simplistic" — says he thinks American Jews exercise too much power over U.S. policy. In a private meeting with diplomats in Spain this week, he described American Jews as more "intransigent" than Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, and lamented that American Jews influence President Bush. American Jewish organizations, he said, "have not made the switch toward peace." Diplomats who were there leaked Vedrine's comments to the Jerusalem Post.
Retired Israeli General Effie Eitam, who was recently made a cabinet minister without portfolio, says there's no need for U.N. investigators to question Israeli soldiers about the alleged massacred in Jenin. The reason: He says all the battles were filmed from the air by Israeli forces. He says the films show soldiers calling on Jenin residents to leave their homes to avoid harm. Israel National News quotes him as saying, "The films prove there was no massacre."
Scientists studying oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico have made a startling discovery, that could be good news for the United States, not so good for Saudi Arabia. Newsday reports they've found that "some old oil fields are being refilled by petroleum surging up from deep below," which may mean "current estimates of oil and gas reserves are far too low." The paper quotes chemical oceanographer Chuck Kennicutt as saying of some of the reservoirs examined: "They are refilling as we speak. But whether this is a worldwide phenomenon, we don't know."
Finally, a federal judge in New York says he's prepared to declare the federal death penalty unconstitutional unless the government can convince him not to. The judge, Clinton appointee Jed Rakoff, cited a Columbia University Law School study, which concluded that prejudicial errors occurred in 68 percent of death penalty cases. He said Supreme Court rulings upholding the death penalty were based on the assumption that an innocent person being put to death was highly unlikely. Rakoff said subsequent evidence suggests otherwise. If Rakoff issued such a ruling, it would not apply nationally unless and until upheld by the Supreme Court.