The Happy Leftie

For lefties and other normal people who have considered suicide when the mainstream 'news' was enuf

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Condi bombs in England

With no "free speech zones" to shield her from the reality she and her husb—, excuse me, her President have created, Condi reaps what the Administration has sown — indignity, hostility, outrage, and unfiltered public opinion that would welcome her at every city stateside, if Americans really had the right of free speech. Thank you, Britain, for delivering the message. -hl

AFP

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was to head back from her trip to northwest England after a visit which shaped up as a public relations nightmare.

Anti-Iraq protests again dogged Rice and her host, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, throughout her two-day trip to his constituency of Blackburn, a dreary former mill town of 100,000 people best known as a footnote in a Beatles song.

Some 200 demonstrators posting banners proclaiming "War on terror, war on Islam" and "Bring the troops home" greeted the two as they arrived at the town hall Saturday to meet with local Muslim leaders.

At a joint news conference, Rice reacted to a statement by her host that the Guantanamo detention centre was "an anomaly," by saying the US would close the facility the day it was no longer needed.

"The United States does not desire to keep Guantanamo in being any longer than it is needed," she said.

"We don't want to be the world's jailer," she said. "That's not the United States, (or) the purpose of US policy."

Rice came to Lancashire on what was supposed to be a feel-good visit to Straw's constituency to repay his October trip to her home state of Alabama. But the journey was plagued by problems from the start.

Hopes of meeting former Beatle Paul McCartney fell through, a mosque withdrew its invitation and a local luminary lined up to host a concert in nearby Liverpool pulled out as a political statement.

She visited a school in this community that is 25 percent Muslim, but many of the children were kept home for the day by protesting parents. Others cut classes to join the protests.

Rice was supposed to watch Straw's beloved Blackburn Rovers football team play but their match was moved to Monday night for better television coverage. So a brief ceremony to present her with a jersey took place in an empty 32,000-seat stadium.

On a trip designed as diplomatic flattery, Rice also managed to make some unwanted headlines with an admission at a foreign policy forum Friday that the United States had made "thousands" of tactical errors in Iraq.

The offhand comment sent her spokesman scrambling to call reporters with assurances she was just speaking figuratively. Too late: the remark made the lead of all three international wire services and the front page of the Washington Post.


Rice went into damage control mode on Saturday, telling the BBC: "Of course there have been mistakes, but it was not a mistake to overthrow Saddam Hussein. It was not a mistake to unleash the forces of democracy in the Middle East."

But Blackburn's balding, earring-sporting mayor Yusuf Janvirmani, an avowed opponent of the Iraq war, had mixed feelings about Rice's visit. He supported the protests but said he was "honoured" by her presence.

"It's very good for the economy," Janvirmani said.