Iraqi Peasant Says He Did Not Shoot Down Apache Helicopter

And now the most telling two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:

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Hunting Helicopters?
Remember that Iraqi peasant who supposedly shot down an American Apache helicopter (search) nearly a month ago with his hunting rifle? Well, that peasant now tells a Kuwaiti newspaper he "did not shoot down either Apache or anything else." Ali Obeid Minqash says he was just walking in a field when he came upon the grounded helicopter. He summoned a group of Baath Party officials to let them know, but when they arrived they threatened his life. Minqash says, "And so I stood before the TV cameras and repeated what they have dictated to me, that I have shot down the plane with the help of my grandson who is not even 7 years old." As for the 50-million dinars -- worth about $20,000 -- he reportedly received from Saddam in appreciation, Minqash says he "did not receive a single dinar."

The State of the Department?
The State Department is warning Americans citizens not to travel to Iraq because, "The Iraqi regime's continuing refusal to cooperate fully with U.N. weapons inspectors (search) has led to mounting tension between Iraq and the international community." That warning, posted on the department's Web site, is dated Feb. 19, but it is still there and the State Department says the information is "current as of today, April 23, 2003."

Looking for Libel
British member of Parliament George Galloway, perhaps Britain's leading parliamentary critic of the war in Iraq, is calling allegations by the Daily Telegraph that he was for years on Saddam Hussein's payroll, "A whole pattern of forgery and deception." But the British newspaper is standing by its report, saying it reported "accurately and fairly" that Iraqi intelligence files it found show Saddam's regime gave Galloway at least $600,000 a year from Iraq's oil for food program. The London Guardian says Galloway has instructed his lawyers to sue the Daily Telegraph for libel, which The Guardian says is nothing new since he "has a reputation for suing" for libel.

Failed to File
After suddenly denying last week that he was a presidential candidate -- after saying for months that he was one -- the Rev. Al Sharpton (search) has now reversed himself again and said that he is indeed running. Last week's denials came after he failed to file a legally required campaign finance disclosure form. Now Sharpton, whose campaign has been criticized in recent weeks for disorganization, says he will file the required form next week.