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Guns And Blood

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The Unseen Enemy
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World Insanity While We Ate Turkey

By James Donahue

While those Americans still able to afford it were feasting on Thanksgiving turkey dinners and planning their annual assault on shopping malls to launch the looming Christmas season, the news from around the world was chilling.

If they took a moment off from stuffing themselves and watching mind-numbing football games and decorative images of parading bands, floats and ballooned cartoon characters, a few folks might have become vaguely aware that a bloody terrorist attack was in progress in the old city of Bombay, India, now known as Mumbai.

That attack on India’s primary center of commerce by a yet unknown band of terrorists involved the take-over of several popular and high-class hotels, a Jewish center, railway station and restaurant. At least 195 people were killed, many of them Americans, Canadians, Israelis, Britons, Australians, Germans and French. The Terrorists, who some say originated in Pakistan, singled out foreign visitors, many of whom were held hostage for hours before they died during a commando siege of the hotels in futile efforts to stop the bloodshed. The death count is expected to rise as more buildings are searched.

North of the India border in the politically disputed region of Kashmir, a gun battle between Indian troops and Islamic militants left seven dead. There were two separate gun battles where the Muslim-majority region is opposing India’s rule over the territory. Triggering the fighting are pending state elections where the rebels are appealing to the people to boycott the polls.

In Thailand, another rebel group, The People’s Alliance for Democracy, is fighting to overthrow prime minister Somchai Wongsawat. The rebels have taken over the main airports in Thailand, stranding an estimated 100,000 world tourists. They accuse Somchai of being a corrupt puppet of the former Primier and brother-in-law, Thaksin Shinawatra, after he was ousted in a bloodless coup in 2006. Rather than holding elections, the National Assembly put Somchai into office.

In Nigeria, more than 200 died in ethnic and religious fighting and authorities say the death toll is expected to be much higher. The clashes between gangs of Muslims and Christians were reportedly sparked by the results of a disputed election of government officials.

In the United States, the crazed rush on the post-Thanksgiving scramble to take advantage of reduced prices on limited numbers of popular gift items got out-of-hand. A Wal-Mart employee who opened the doors for a 5 a.m. sale on Long Island was trampled to death by a mob of shoppers desperate for bargains. Other workers who tried to help were also trampled. Police said the rush was so violent the metal door frame was crumpled like an accordion as an estimated 2,000 people rushed the store.

And in a Los Angeles Toys-R-Us store, two men died in a shoot-out. Authorities said the men did not seem to be fighting over merchandise, but oddly chose that crowded store to hold their shoot-out over a previous dispute. They said it was a miracle that nobody else was hurt or killed by the bullets that flew through the store.

In spite of the efforts to attract people to stores and generate high volume sales, the early reports show a slow start to the holiday shopping season.