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web posted November 12, 2001

Bloomberg wins 'tough' NYC mayoral race

Bloomberg (center) with Giuliani (left) and NY Governor George Pataki (right)
Bloomberg (center) with Giuliani (left) and NY Governor George Pataki (right)

Republican Michael Bloomberg defeated Democrat Mark Green in the November 6 mayoral election, cresting late in a ferocious race after receiving the endorsement of exiting GOP Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Green, a liberal who had often been at odds with Giuliani,conceded the race early the next morning, saying: "We gave it our all, but it wasn't enough."

"This was a very tough, close race," Bloomberg told campaign supporters gathered for his acceptance speech. "But the good news is, we have won."

Bloomberg then invited Green and Democrats to "join with us to make this city better."

Green had been the early frontrunner in the heavily Democratic city, but the late endorsement from the popular Giuliani, who could not run again because of term limits, helped propel Bloomberg in the last days of the campaign.

Bloomberg, the billionaire head of a large media firm, is estimated to have poured more than $50 million of his own money into the race -- a record for a municipal election -- blitzing the city with campaign ads for months. Yet his campaign crested sharply only after he received the Giuliani endorsement.

Meanwhile, Green -- the city's public advocate-- was hurt by a divisive Democratic runoff against Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, who was bidding to become the city's first Hispanic mayor. Exit polls Tuesday showed that Latino voters split their support between the two candidates, though they have historically voted with the Democrats in New York.

Much of the race in recent weeks focused on which candidate would best be able to take up Giuliani's mantle, and rebuild a downtown financial district shattered by the Sept. 11 collapse of the World Trade Center's twin 110-story towers, which housed tens of thousands of jobs, and hundreds of thousands of square feet of prime office space.

Green sought to portray Bloomberg as a political novice who lacked the know-how and the experience to lead the city in its time of post terror-attack crisis.

Bloomberg countered that his experience atop his media empire qualified him to occupy the mayor's office at City Hall, and to lead the nation's largest city. And he cited his lack of political experience to cast himself as an outsider who was not beholden to the city's political machine.

"I think that my experience through building a company and managing people through economically trying times, providing leadership to 8,000 employees and 200,000 customers, makes me qualified to lead this city," he said.

Despite his millions, Bloomberg had a huge obstacle to overcome in the city's voting rolls, where just one out of five registered voters is a Republican. It's an obstacle only a handful of Republicans -- including Giuliani -- have been able to overcome in a city dominated by Democrats for more than a century.

With his victory, though, Bloomberg will face a series of challenges more difficult than the arduous campaign.

In addition to rebuilding Manhattan and trying to fill Giuliani's oversized shoes, the new mayor will take the reins of a city beset by mounting budget deficits and pressing needs in schools, housing, transportation and other key areas.

We're watching you, U.S. tells Taliban leader

The Taliban were sent a chilling message by a massive US leaflet drop on November 7: “We Are Watching!”

LeafletThe point was driven home by a picture of warlord Mullah Mohammed Omar’s licence plate — taken from an unmanned Predator spy plane thousands of feet up.

The photo of the plate on Omar’s sports utility vehicle appeared on a leaflet beside his bearded profile, both caught in the crosshairs of a gunsight. The pamphlet also carried the “Watching” warning under the menacing stare of a pair of fierce eyes.

The Americans have bombarded Afghanistan with thousands of printed pamphlets aimed at striking fear into the ruling regime — and winning over the civilian population.

The leaflets are part of military “psyops” — Psychological Operations - to encourage informants to reveal the whereabouts of one-eyed Mullah Omar, who has banned pictures of himself since he took power in 1996.

US Army spokesman Lt Col Steve Campbell stated: “It is a pretty clear message to these guys — we are watching and we will get you.

Predator picture“I think if you saw a picture of yourself with a pair of crosshairs over it you would feel pretty uncomfortable and that is the general idea.”

The Pentagon said that 16 million leaflets in English and Pashtu had been printed and would be dropped in batches at intervals. Some pamphlets aimed directly at Taliban fighters urged them to surrender or showed an American soldier and an Afghan shaking hands.

One intended to stir up civilian opposition to the regime showed a Taliban man brutally beating a woman wearing the head-to-toe Afghan veil.

The caption next to the picture read: “Do you want your women and your children to live this way?”

Other leaflets gave the frequencies of news programmes running ten hours a day. The Americans even dropped wind-up radios because few Afghans have sets of their own.

Besides leaflets and bombs, the US is also dropping supplies to the Alliance including weapons, ammunition and water — and even hay for the horses they still use in their cavalry charges.

Meanwhile refugees fleeing into Alliance territory have been telling horrific stories of mass rapes and executions by Taliban thugs.

Villager Buzar Boy, 30, said: “They accused us of being American spies and took 100 people away. We had to run for our lives.”

China official joins WTO

China achieved what it had worked 15 years for when the World Trade Organization formally approved its membership on November 10, and the world's most populous country immediately threw its massive weight behind efforts to start new talks on liberalizing global trade.

But a consensus on a new round looked almost as distant as it did two years ago in Seattle, as the world's trading heavyweights - the United States, the European Union and Japan - staked out potentially conflicting positions on issues ranging from environmental protection to anti-dumping legislation.

On day two of their five-day meeting, trade ministers from almost all the WTO's 142 members unanimously approved China's application for membership, bringing the once-isolated communist country - and its 1.2 billion consumers - firmly into the global marketplace.

Taiwan was accepted the next day.

After a round of applause, Chinese Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng said his country will "abide by WTO rules and honor its commitments while enjoying its rights." China will become a full member of the WTO 30 days after its parliament ratifies the agreement and informs the WTO.

Shi added that China supported the WTO's aim to launch a new round of trade liberalization negotiations, as long as the "interests and reasonable requests of developing countries" were given "full consideration."

China's approval occurred as militants hurled Molotov cocktails, bottles and firecrackers at riot police who erected barricades and barbed wire fences in a protective shield around the WTO headquarters in Geneva. The protesters claim the WTO puts business ahead of people and hurts developing countries.

Earlier in Doha, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick signaled to he was not willing to go as far as some developing countries are demanding in one of the hottest disputes: protecting patents on medicines.

Brazil and India are leading a group of countries pushing for a declaration that nothing in WTO agreements stops them from taking action to protect public health.

The United States, Switzerland, Japan and Canada are resisting, arguing that such broad wording could allow countries to override patents on virtually any drug.

"This open-ended language would lead to mass erosion of patent protections - from pharmaceuticals to medical software - and thwart research into medicines that can save lives," Zoellick said.

Developing countries also want the talks to include so-called anti-dumping rules, which industrial nations can use to block imports sold below the market price - usually because of subsidies.

Zoellick reiterated his willingness to consider that, but insisted that "any possible work in this area discipline the unfair trade practices themselves, not just the rules for countering them."

"Support for further trade liberalization depends on our ability to ensure that a bargain on market access is not undercut by foreign subsidies or other trade-distorting practices," he said.

No progress was reported on another major issue, that of agricultural subsidies.

WTO Director General Mike Moore said no concessions were offered during the first day of talks.

"There were very, very firm positions," Moore said.

Sharp differences over agriculture between the EU, the United States and big exporting countries known as the Cairns Group contributed to the failure of the last meeting in Seattle two years ago.

The 15-nation EU has long demanded exemptions be given for payments made to its farmers that it says are to promote rural development, food safety and environmental protection.

The EU and 25 other countries, including Japan, Switzerland and Israel, issued a joint statement Saturday demanding that such special needs be given more weight in any new agenda for talks.

The latest draft under debate does state that so-called "non-trade concerns" have to be taken into account. But EU Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler said it read like "almost an afterthought," and insisted there must be stronger language.

Those demanding an end to direct farm subsidies were also taking a hard line.

Jim Sutton, New Zealand's agriculture minister, said everyone supports such goals as protecting the environment and aiding rural communities.

But, he added, "If they wish to have their fence posts painted white and their hedgerows trimmed, for goodness sake subsidize the trimming of hedges and the painting of fence posts. Don't subsidize the farm production and hope that some of the money will be spent on paint."

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