21 August 2003 Edition
US ARMY CHIEFS based in Saddam's home town of Tikrit have come up with a crackerjack idea on how to flush out Saddam supporters - plaster the place with manipulated photos of Saddam as vintage Hollywood sex goddess Veronica Lake, a grooving Elvis or British rocker Billy Idol.
Clutching a range of spoof Saddam pictures taken from the internet site www.worth1000.com, Lieutenant-Colonel Steve Russell of the 4th Infantry Division sniggered: "We're going to something devious with these. Most of the locals will love them and they'll be laughing, but the bad guys are going to be upset, which will make it easier for us to know who they are."
But spin doctors in the US Army's Baghdad HQ aren't impressed by the colonel's cartoon capers. "I think a lot of local people might find that offensive," a worried spokeswoman said. "I'm going to call the 4th ID and try and find out what's going on."
SDLP bucks it up
THE SDLP came a cropper when they tried a cheap shot at the weekend at the Friends of Sinn Féin's fund-raising on the US lecture circuit and sponsored events.
As well as claiming the credit for the SDLP alone for every job, service, factory, zebra crossing, days of sunshine and anything else good resulting from the work of the multi-party Executive under the Good Friday Agreement, SDLP big cheese John Dallat boasted that the multi-salaried John Hume had given his Nobel Peace Prize money of some £250,000 as well as £140,000 from the Gandhi Peace Prize to charity. Gerry Adams should follow in the path of St John, Dallat said. "With two thirds of the world in abject poverty, I can think of many projects that could benefit from Mr Adams's windfalls," he sniffed.
What the SDLP preacher failed to point out, though, is that Sinn Féin last year gave almost half a million dollars to the 9/11 victims‚ families fund. And wasn't that money from John Hume's own charitable fund, not from the SDLP?
For the sanctimonious SDLP, charity only begins at Hume.
ONE (former) SDLP figure who felt the brunt of this organ in the past, Brian Feeney, has flowered into a witty and incisive columnist every Wednesday in the Irish News.
This week, his pen sharply pointed out the irony of how the BBC, ITN and Sky News boast of how the British Army is teaching its GI pals from the USA, in professional 'peace keeping' tactics in Iraq after its years of dealing with the natives in the Six Counties. Feeney writes this week:
"They are now apparently giving lessons to Americans in how to kick doors down, wreck houses and arrest people in the 'naycest' possible way. Presumably those giving lessons wouldn't include the guys under investigation for torturing Iraqi prisoners and taking photos of the proceedings which they cunningly handed in to the local chemist for developing."
No, Brian, don't be silly - but they could be being trained by those favourite sons kept in the ranks of the British Army by their patrons in Whitehall, accredited army trainers Clegg, Thain, Fisher and Wright.
Desperately seeking candidates
THE PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS are so hard up for candidates that they have had to take out full-page, full-colour ads in local papers asking for wannabe PDs to walk in off the streets.
Picturing five bright young things and PD TD Michael McDowell, the Wicklow PDs sent out a distress call in a full-page ad in the Wicklow Times headlined: "Call for Wicklow candidates and supporters. Join the party. Get involved as a supporter. Or be a candidate!"
Tempting with the tantalising prospect of a visit by McDowell "and other senior party figures" (Ooooh! A night with Tom Parlon!), the PDs ask anyone out there among the general, passing public:
"Do you have the passion and vision to represent your area as a candidate for the 2004 local elections?"
Because the PDs in Wicklow obviously don't have anyone who has passion and vision.
They've got Tom Parlon.
SAS mystery at Dublin Airport
JUST WHO IS the mystery gunman stopped by security at Dublin Airport but allowed to go on his merry way despite carrying an undisclosed handgun in his bag?
A source who revealed the scandal to the local Northside People said that the incident happened on 1 August when x-ray scanners picked out a gun hidden in the bag of a passenger travelling on an SAS Scandinavian airlines flight to Copenhagen in Denmark. "Stunned baggage screening staff immediately contacted airport police authorities, alerting them to the find. According to the source, the gun was real but not loaded."
A manager with SAS admitted that a handgun was found and a passenger was taken off the flight but allowed to continue on to Copenhagen after talking to police.
But the Gardaí told the Northside People that they have no record of an unauthorised firearm being seized at Dublin Airport on 1 August.
So who was the man? And where is the gun?