In this issue:
The trial of the century has been postponed until next week. But let the record show that in matter of the world versus Saddam Hussein it has been resolved to let the defense have a pad and pen. Next up, genocide.
It would be a mistake to read too much into a few moments of courtroom action, but it is still important to note that the United States is not interested in mucking about in the little details of procedure-or evidence, really. If the prosecutors have to actually set out to prove Saddam is bad guy, watch out. The trial could head in any direction.
Saddam will, of course, attempt to make the U.S. invasion and occupation the overriding topic for the court, and that might generate a headline or two in the process. As tempting as it might be to squelch that tactic, the longer-term goal of convincing the world that Saddam is getting a fair shake argues against it. Now, on to the matter of a glass of water for the defendant.
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If there is a silver lining in the poisonous ooze of China's benzene spill, it is that Chinese media outlets seem to have functioned fairly well in reporting the accident. The news of the Songhua River contamination, the result of an explosion at a China National Petroleum Corporation site which sent chemicals streaming into the river, was widely disseminated to the public.
Yet as the coal mine explosion just a few days later in the same province demonstrates, China's big state-owned energy companies do not seem to place a high value on worker safety as the winter months close in and demand for energy ramps up.