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What does this remind us of? Oh, right. Vietnam. Gen. John Abizaid, the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said Wednesday that American soldiers were facing guerrillas in the war. The longest-serving troops will be home in September, Abizaid pledged, but he warned replacement soldiers to expect to serve a year in the area. (Wow, another Vietnam throwback!)

Though two weeks ago Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld refused to utter the word "guerrilla," Abizaid engages in no such circumlocution. Troops are subjected to a "classical guerrilla-type campaign," Abizaid said. The Black Table's "Tell it like it is" Award goes to the soldier who had this to say on Good Morning America recently: "If Donald Rumsfeld were here, I'd ask him for his resignation." Sing it, G.I. Joe. And if you're keeping score, American fatalities in the war have now surpassed the fatalities in the 1991 Gulf War. As of Thursday, 148 American soldiers have been killed in the current war. In Gulf War I, 147 soldiers died. Of those 148 deaths, 33 occurred since May 1, when President Bush declared the end of major combat operations.




Someone's going to take the fall for this. Remember that bit about Iraq trying to get uranium from Africa in the State of the Union Address? It wasn't true, and now the White House is scrambling to place the blame on someone whose name doesn't rhyme with Bush. CIA Director George Tenet (a Clinton appointee who somehow managed to keep his job after Sept. 11) testified before the Senate on Wednesday that he took responsibility for the bad information, but that his staff never told him about it ahead of time. The claim that Saddam Hussein "recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" turned out to be based on forged documents. Intelligence that propelled the march to war is under scrutiny, with no one happier about it than Democratic presidential candidates (except those who supported the war in the first place and now look even sillier). Look for Tenet to be canned if this incessant questioning goes on much longer.




Stay out of it, China. China promised Thursday not to interfere with Hong Kong's internal affairs. The island, a Chinese territory, operates under the "one country, two systems" premise. Half a million people marched in the streets of Hong Kong on July 1 to protest an anti-subversion law that reeked of oppressive China and the government that sponsored it. While Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa agreed to postpone any action on the bill, he refuses to resign and said he would reintroduce the bill. Instead, a security secretary and financial secretary took the hit for him. If China pulls its support of Tung, it would be tantamount to admitting that the Hong Kong system doesn't work. China hates to be wrong.




Please avert your eyes from the gaping budget deficit. The White House announced this week that this year's budget deficit (the difference between what the government takes in and what it spends) will be $450 million or more, the biggest gap ever. This deficit is reminiscent of the bulging budgets and tax cuts of the Reagan White House. What's even worse is that only two years ago, the government operated under a budget surplus of $127 billion. The Bush administration may try to blame the red river on Sept. 11 and a bad economy, but huge tax cuts don't help bring home the federal bacon, either. But while no one in the White House seems all that concerned, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is not amused. "Substantial and excessive" budget deficits will prevent the economy from growing enough to stem unemployment," Greenspan told the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday.




Kill this idea. Quentin Tarantino's new feature "Kill Bill" will be released in two parts. Tarantino told The New York Times that the splicing was Miramax exec's Harvey Weinstein's idea. The first part of the Uma Thurman-cum-samurai vehicle will open on Oct. 10 (Black Table managing editor Will Leitch's 28th birthday, we might add). The second half will be released in the following two to six months. The Black Table's prediction: No one will give a crap by the time the second one comes around.



Aileen Gallagher, author of three children's books, (and another one, about muckraking, on the way!) writes Weekly Rundown every Friday.