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In the Loop

State Dept. Web Site Still Out of the Loop

By Al Kamen
Monday, September 20, 2004; Page A19

It's always important to keep your Web site up to date. Take, for example, a site the State Department put up, apparently a month or so after 9/11, with information about Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda terrorist network.

There are quotes from bin Laden praising the hijackers and quotes from President Bush and other administration officials outlining efforts to defeat terrorism. To be helpful, State put up a map showing in red where al Qaeda had been operating around the world.

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Those places include this country, Europe and Russia, North Africa and most of the Middle East. But wait! There are a couple of countries in the Middle East where al Qaeda had not been operating as of the fall of 2001: Syria and Iraq.

But we now are told al Qaeda had been all over Iraq then, right next to the WMD. In any event, it's operating there now, so best to update soon. The site is usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/terrornet/12.htm.

New Ambassador From Iraq Rumored

In advance of Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's visit this week to Washington, Washington Post colleague Robin Wright is hearing buzz among Iraqi and U.S. officials that there will be a change at the Iraqi Embassy here.

Word is that the new ambassador to Washington is to be Kanan Makiya, who gained fame in the mid-1980s as the author of an acclaimed book on Saddam Hussein's murderous government: "Republic of Fear."

Makiya, a professor of Middle East studies at Brandeis, runs the Memory Project, which seeks to chronicle Hussein's atrocities in a museum and archive in Baghdad.

The feeling is that Makiya will give the Iraqis a more high-profile presence than was provided by Rend Franke, who was appointed by the 25-member Iraqi Governing Council that was the partner of the U.S.-led coalition.

10 Million (Jobs) Served

Great news! The House last week approved an amendment to the Treasury-Transportation appropriations bill that would bar the White House Council of Economic Advisers from redefining fast-food restaurant jobs as manufacturing jobs.

The amendment, offered by Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), comes after months of Democratic fun lampooning the administration for thinking about calling jobs flipping burgers "manufacturing jobs."

One problem: The Economic Report of the President did not actually say hamburger flipping should be designated as manufacturing or even propose thinking about doing so. That's the way it was reported in one influential newspaper and picked up by others in the media.

The notion is so far ingrained by now in the campaign -- something like the notion that in 1992 President George H.W. Bush didn't know what a grocery scanner was -- that the White House should probably back the Brown amendment, or maybe it could just defend reclassifying the jobs.

Practicing Medical Ethics -- at Least Once a Year

Seems medical associations have become most enamored of late with disease-of-the-week commemorations to draw attention to little-known diseases. And now there's been a special day for medical ethics. The World Medical Association asked doctors to remember ethics last Saturday.

The idea apparently was to increase awareness and foster interest in exploring what medical ethics mean to physicians and how ethics figure in improving the quality of health care.

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