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Week of February 23-28, 2004
(Last Updated: Feb. 24, 9:40pm PST)
US Terror War and Military Matters
* 9/11 Related News
* Iraq War and Occupation
* Economics (US and International)
* Elections 2004
* Civil Liberties/Repression
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Health, Environment, and Science
Culture and the Arts
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US Terror War and Military
FOR WAR IN SPACE (posted 2/22)
An Air Force report is giving what analysts call the most detailed picture
since the end of the Cold War of the
Pentagon's efforts to turn outer space into a battlefield.
Pakistan denies al-Qaeda chief trapped (posted 2/22)
PAKISTAN has denied any knowledge of al-Qaeda terror network leader
Osama bin Laden being cornered by US and British special forces in a
mountainous area in the northwest of the country.
Mystery over new hunt for Bin Laden (posted 2/22)
Pakistan is to mount new operations
on its border with Afghanistan aimed at cornering al-Qa'ida terrorists in
an area where Osama bin Laden may be hiding, Pakistani military and
intelligence sources said last night. News of the operation came as The
Sunday Express in London claimed that bin Ladenand a small group of
followers had been "boxed in" by US and British special forces in the
mountains on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
A Secret Hunt Unravels in Afghanistan: Mission to Capture or Kill al Qaeda
Leader Frustrated by Near Misses, Political Disputes (posted 2/22)
The seeds of the CIA's first formal plan to capture or kill Osama bin
Laden were contained in another urgent manhunt -- for Mir Aimal Kasi, the
Pakistani migrant who murdered two CIA employees while spraying rounds
from an assault rifle at cars idling before the entrance to the CIA's
Langley headquarters in 1993. For several years after the shooting, Kasi
remained a fugitive in the border areas straddling Afghanistan, Pakistan
and Iran. From its Langley offices, the CIA's Counterterrorist Center
asked the Islamabad station for help recruiting agents who might be able
to track Kasi down. Case officers signed up a group of Afghan tribal
fighters who had worked for the CIA during the 1980s guerrilla war against
Soviet occupying forces in Afghanistan.
Pakistani Offensive Aims at Driving Out Taliban and Qaeda (posted
Pakistan is preparing for a major military offensive against Taliban
and Al Qaeda forces along its border with Afghanistan in the next several
weeks, Pakistani government officials said this weekend. The operation may
be the first act of a violent, and potentially pivotal, spring season
along the mountainous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, according
to Western diplomats, Pakistani military experts and American military
officials.American military officials said they expected Taliban and Qaeda
fighters to try to disrupt national elections scheduled for June in
Afghanistan. American and Pakistani officials said they would step up
their efforts to gain control of the rugged border region, the area where
they believe the fugitive Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, is hiding.
CONTROLLING THE SPACE ARENA (posted 2/22)
Military experts agree that achieving and maintaining superiority in space
has become as important as control of the air during armed conflicts.
USAF Transformation Flight Plan Highlights Space Weapons
For the first time in recent history, the U.S. Air Force has formally
published a list of planned space weapons programs, including both
anti-satellite weapons (ASATs) and terrestrial strike weapons. The “U.S.
Air Force Transformation Flight Plan,” dated November 2003 but only
recently posted on the Air Force web site (www.af.mil)
cites space as a major capability for enabling “transformation” of the
service from its Cold War past to a modern force capable of meeting the
threats of today and tomorrow.
Not a Magic Bullet (posted 2/22)
A highly classified field unit called Joint Task Force 121 has been
activated to coordinate the hunt for "high-value targets." Its
organization and structure have been streamlined to improve its ability to
concentrate on real-time hunter-killer missions against terrorist leaders
and cells. A three-star command is also being designed to oversee the most
clandestine elements of U.S. special operations, according to senior
officers close to the community. And everywhere, final preparations are
being made for the much-whispered-about "spring offensive" to kill or
capture Osama bin Laden along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. This is the
heart of the Bush administration's strategy for the war on terrorism —
centered in the Pentagon, and on the deadly magic of special operations.
"Hunt them down and kill them one at a time" is the strategy in a
Foreign Aid Budget Looks Like a Retread from the Cold War (posted
If the "war on terror" is beginning to look increasingly like the cold
war, then President George W. Bush's fiscal year (FY) 2005 foreign-aid
request will not change that impression. While Bush is proposing to
increase funding for his two key anti-poverty initiatives, the Millennium
Challenge Account (MCA) and anti-AIDS money for African and Caribbean
countries, he is also cutting funds for other key humanitarian and
development accounts. At the same time, the president is asking Congress
to increase by more than one billion dollars military and security
assistance, particularly to key "front-line" states in the "war on
terror." Those two categories, which include anti-drug aid and
proliferation categories, would make up nearly one-third of all U.S.
foreign aid under Bush's request, roughly the same percentage of total
foreign aid when the cold war reached its height during the 1980s.
defense costs add up to double trouble (posted 2/22)
To measure actual spending by the United States on defense, take the
federal budget number for the Pentagon and double it. That's the "rule of
thumb" advocated by economic historian Robert Higgs.
The Militarization of U.S. Foreign Policy (posted 2/22)
The fall of the Soviet Union handed the U.S. a unique opportunity, as the
surviving superpower, to lead the world toward a period of greater
cooperation and conflict resolution through the use of diplomacy, global
organization, and international law. This great opportunity is being
squandered, as the world becomes a more dangerous place. Military force is
now looming larger than ever as the main instrument and organizing
principle of U.S. foreign policy. In our new national security doctrine,
in the shape of our federal budget, and in the missions of the agencies
the budget funds, our government is being reshaped to weaken controls on
its use of force and further incline our country toward war.
The Patriot Flawed? (posted 2/22)
In the Pentagon's multi-billion dollar arsenal of weapons, one weapon
the government has already spent more than $6 billion on has not only had
trouble doing what it was designed to do --bring down enemy missiles -- it
also does something it was not designed to do. That weapon is the Patriot
missile system. And the thing it’s not supposed to do is bring down
9/11 Related News
C.I.A. Was Given Data on Hijacker Long Before 9/11 (posted 2/24)
American investigators were given the first name and telephone number of
one of the Sept. 11 hijackers two and a half years before the attacks on
New York and Washington, but the United States appears to have failed to
pursue the lead aggressively, American and German officials say.
Iraq War and Occupation
Bush 'wanted war in 2002' (posted 2/24)
George Bush set the US on the path to war in Iraq with a formal order
signed in February 2002, more than a year before the invasion, according
to a book published yesterday. The revelation casts doubt on the public
insistence by US and British officials throughout 2002 that no decision
had been taken to go to war, pending negotiations at the United Nations.
Rumsfeld's War is by Rowan Scarborough, the Pentagon correspondent for the
conservative Washington Times newspaper, which is known for its contacts
in the defence department's civilian leadership.
Hans Blix: US
'created' weapons facts
The United States and Britain "created facts where there were no facts" in
the run-up to last year's invasion of Iraq, the former head of the United
Nations' weapons inspections team in the country said in an interview
published on Tuesday.
down with abandon by Robert Fisk (posted 2/24)
(The New Nation) Running the gauntlet of small arms fire and
rocket-propelled grenades after check-in at Baghdad airportBaghdad, Iraq
--I was in the police station in the town of Fallujah when I realised the
extent of the schizophrenia. Captain Christopher Cirino of the 82nd
Airborne was trying to explain to me the nature of the attacks so
regularly carried out against American forces in the Sunni Muslim Iraqi
town. His men were billeted in a former presidential rest home down the
road--"Dreamland", the Americans call it--but this was not the extent of
his soldiers' disorientation. "The men we are being attacked by," he said,
"are Syrian-trained terrorists and local freedom fighters." Come again?
"Freedom fighters." But that's what Captain Cirino called them--and
rightly so. Here's the reason. All American soldiers are supposed to
believe--indeed have to believe, along with their President and his
Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld--that Osama bin Laden's "al-Qa'ida"
guerrillas, pouring over Iraq's borders from Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia
(note how those close allies and neighbours of Iraq, Kuwait and Turkey are
always left out of the equation), are assaulting United States forces as
part of the "war on terror". Special forces soldiers are now being told by
their officers that the "war on terror" has been transferred from America
to Iraq, as if in some miraculous way, 11 September 2001 is now Iraq 2003.
Note too how the Americans always leave the Iraqis out of the culpability
bracket--unless they can be described as "Baath party remnants",
"diehards" or "deadenders" by the US proconsul, Paul Bremer.
The Business Of Intelligence: Chalabi Still Cashing In
Ahmad Chalabi, the former exile leader of the Iraqi National Congress, is
still on the Pentagon’s payroll, according to Knight-Ridder. Chalabi’s
so-called intelligence service, the "Intelligence Collection Program," is
getting $3-4 million a year from the Pentagon. (Knight-Ridder gently
points out: “It. . . suggests some in the administration are intent on
securing a key role for Chalabi in Iraq’s political future.”)
A joint British and American spying operation at the United Nations
scuppered a last-ditch initiative to avert the invasion of Iraq
Senior UN diplomats from Mexico and Chile provided new evidence last week
that their missions were spied on, in direct contravention of
international law. The former Mexican ambassador to the UN, Adolfo Aguilar
Zinser, told The Observer that US officials intervened last March, just
days before the war against Saddam was launched, to halt secret
negotiations for a compromise resolution to give weapons inspectors more
time to complete their work.
You Call This
Liberation? Why No Democracy in Iraq? (posted (2/24)
It's almost a year since the Iraq war began, and now that the "official"
reasons for the invasion--Iraq's storied stockpiles of weapons, the
imaginary ties between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden--lie in
disrepute, the Bush administration's new tack is to say the war was really
about something else all along: democracy. The trouble is, the Iraqi
people seem more interested in democracy than President Bush. Just three
weeks ago, 10,000 Iraqis marched on the U.S.-installed governing council
in Nasiriyah, just south of Baghdad, demanding that the U.S. appointees
resign and that elections be immediately held.
Army sandbagging its anticipated ‘suicide report’? (posted 2/24)
Military members and their families are asking the same question: Where is
the Army’s so-called suicide report? It’s the work of the 12-member Mental
Health Advisory Team, commissioned by the top generals in charge of the
Iraq war after a string of battlefield suicides. It was initially due out
last Thanksgiving. Then it was supposed to be released in early February.
Now, there’s talk that it’s been shelved indefinitely.
Report says military distorts war deaths (posted 2/24)
By refusing to make public its estimates of civilian casualties in Iraq
and Afghanistan, the Pentagon has undercut international support for the
US campaigns in those countries and has made the postwar stabilization of
the two societies more difficult, according to an independent report to be
released today that accuses the Pentagon of appearing indifferent to the
civilian cost of war.
the Truth: Exposing Bush’s talking-points war
After two decades in the U.S. Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel Karen
Kwiatkowski, now 43, knew her career as a regional analyst was coming to
an end when — in the months leading up to the war in Iraq — she felt she
was being “propagandized” by her own bosses.
Absent Without Regrets: A Soldier's Story (posted 2/24)
On New Year’s Eve, Jeremy Hinzman sat in a McDonald’s on N.C. 401 in
Fuquay-Varina explaining his precarious situation. On December 20th,
Hinzman, a U.S. Army specialist stationed at Fort Bragg, got the news he
had dreaded. His unit--the 504th Brigade, 2nd Battalion--would be shipping
out to Iraq shortly after the new year for an indefinite deployment in the
war on terrorism. Last year, Hinzman, 25, the father of a 1-year-old son,
was deployed for more than eight months to Afghanistan. When he left,
Hinzman’s son, Liam, was just 7 months old. When Hinzman returned, Liam
was walking and didn’t remember his father. While he didn’t see any combat
in that first deployment, Hinzman said he had a bad feeling about going to
Iraq. In Iraq, Hinzman, said he felt like he would have to do some things
he’d regret. During Christmas leave, Hinzman, who is a member of the
Fayetteville Friends Meeting, discussed his options with his wife, Nga
Nguyen. He could go to Iraq--an option both he and Nguyen rejected. He
could refuse the deployment order and face court martial and a likely
prison term. Or he could follow a plan of action that thousands of young
men like himself had taken during the Vietnam War--he could flee to
WAR, ECONOMICS, SCIENCE: PRESIDENT'S LIES ARE NEVER-ENDING
The house of cards in the House of Bush is toppling. The whole
administration is in serious disarray and everywhere you turn there is
evidence that the once invincible and slick political operation is
Officers: Terrorists Chief Threat in Iraq (posted 2/24)
The chief threat to stability in Iraq
is evolving away from pro-Saddam guerrillas to suicide bombers and other
terrorists, U.S. military officers told Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
Reuters Book Tells Untold Tales From Iraq
In recent months, we've seen many articles and books about journalists'
experiences covering the Iraq war, the vast majority of them emerging from
the "embed" experience. Now Reuters has provided a more wide-ranging
collection of stories, in a new book, "Under Fire: Untold Stories from the
Front Line of the Iraq War"
Dying of Neglect: The State of Iraq's Children's Hospitals (posted
In Iraq's hospitals, children are
dying because of shockingly poor sanitation and a shortage of medical
equipment. In Baghdad's premier children's hospital, Al-Iskan, sewage
drips from the roof of the premature babies' ward, leaking from waste
pipes above. In the leukaemia ward, the lavatories overflow at times,
spreading filthy water across the floor that carries potentially lethal
infection. Rubbish is piled on the stairs and in the corridors: old broken
bits of machinery, discarded toilet cisterns, babies' cots filled with
mountains of unwanted paperwork. The fire escape is blocked with discarded
razor wire. Nearby lie blankets still black with the blood of Iraqi
soldiers wounded during the war - for months, they must have been fetid
breeding grounds for disease. This is the reality of life in Iraq under
American occupation. Ten months after the fall of Saddam, the invasion
that was supposed to have transformed the lives of ordinary Iraqis has
done little for the children in Al-Iskan Hospital.
terrible human cost of Bush and Blair's military adventure: 10,000
civilian deaths (posted 2/22)
More than 10,000 civilians, many of them women and children, have been
killed so far in the Iraqi conflict, The Independent on Sunday has learnt,
making the continuing conflict the most deadly war for non-combatants
waged by the West since the Vietnam war more than 30 years ago.
‘suppressed’ scientific study into depleted uranium cancer fears in Iraq
An expert report warning that the long-term health of Iraq’s civilian
population would be endangered by British and US depleted uranium (DU)
weapons has been kept secret. The study by three leading radiation
scientists cautioned that children and adults could contract cancer after
breathing in dust containing DU, which is radioactive and chemically
toxic. But it was blocked from publication by the World Health
Organisation (WHO), which employed the main author, Dr Keith Baverstock,
as a senior radiation advisor. He alleges that it was deliberately
suppressed, though this is denied by WHO.
Pentagon distorted Iraqi casualty issue, says new report (posted
Weapons of mass destruction is not the only Iraq war-related subject
clouded by misinformation. According to a new study, the Pentagon
conducted "perception management" campaigns during the Afghan and Iraq
wars that also obstructed the public's awareness of civilian casualties.
These activities included Pentagon efforts to "spin" casualty stories in
ways that minimized their significance or cast unreasonable doubt on their
reliability. Efforts also may have included the placement of misleading
news stories. Such activities are "antithetical to well-informed public
debate and to sensible policy-making," according to the report's author,
receive for their losses (posted 2/22)
Anwar Kadhum, her husband, and four children were
driving past an unmarked American checkpoint one August evening when
soldiers without warning opened fire. "Don't shoot. We are family," Anwar
recalls her husband yelling. Twenty-eight bullets riddled the car,
instantly killing Anwar's 20-year old son and her 18-year old daughter.
Her husband and 8-year old daughter died an hour later in a local
hospital. US military officials gave Anwar $11,000 in "sympathy pay". So
far, the US military has paid out $2.2 million to Iraqi civilians in
response to a flood of claims of wrongful or negligent injuries or death
at the hands of US forces. In total, the military has received 15,000
claims, 5,600 of which it has accepted.
Occupation, Inc. (posted 2/22)
War profiteers in Iraq pursue quick fixes and high profits by
overcharging for shoddy work, while Iraqis protest that they could do the
work better and cheaper
Snub to ayatollah as Bremer puts Iraq poll on hold (posted 2/22)
Paul Bremer, America's administrator in Iraq, has ruled out holding full
elections for at least a year, snubbing the country's most powerful
religious leader who has called for direct polls as soon as possible.
End election 'stalling,' Shiite leader tells U.S. (posted 2/22)
A leading Shiite member of Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council today
demanded no more "stalling" on arranging for elections for a new
government. Meanwhile, a roadside bomb near the northern city of Mosul
killed an Iraqi, while another bomb south of Fallujah exploded as a U.S.
Army convoy passed, witnesses said. There was no report from the U.S.
command on casualties.
Al Qaeda Rebuffs Iraqi Terror Group, U.S. Officials Say (posted
The most active terrorist network inside Iraq appears to be operating
mostly apart from Al Qaeda, senior American officials say. Most
significantly, the officials said, American intelligence had picked up
signs that Qaeda members outside Iraq had refused a request from the
group, Ansar al-Islam, for help in attacking Shiite Muslims in Iraq. The
request was made by Ansar's leader, a Jordanian, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and
intercepted by the United States last month. The apparent refusal is being
described by some American intelligence analysts as an indication of a
significant divide between the groups. Since before the American invasion,
Bush administration officials have portrayed Al Qaeda and Ansar as close
associates and used the links as part of their justification for war
against Saddam Hussein's government.
C.I.A. Admits It Didn't Give Weapon Data to the U.N. (posted 2/22)
The Central Intelligence Agency has
acknowledged that it did not provide the United Nations with information
about 21 of the 105 sites in Iraq singled out by American intelligence
before the war as the most highly suspected of housing illicit weapons.
The acknowledgment, in a Jan. 20 letter to Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of
Michigan, contradicts public statements before the war by top Bush
Whistleblower calls for new inquiry into Iraq `intelligence’
“A journalist recently asked me whether the average Australian cared any
more about the unravelling case for war”, Andrew Wilkie told a Stop the
War Coalition public meeting on February 15. “It’s true that some have
taken PM John Howard’s advice and moved on. But others are affected by the
scale of deception, which is so big that it’s almost incomprehensible —
invading a sovereign state for reasons that have been totally
discredited.” A former Office of National Assessments (ONA) intelligence
analyst, Wilkie resigned in protest at the Howard government’s lies over
the reasons for invading Iraq. Since then, he has become a passionate
campaigner for truth in government.
Paying Millions to Group that Provided False Iraqi Intel (posted
The Department of Defense is
continuing to pay millions of dollars for information from the former
Iraqi opposition group that produced some of the exaggerated and
fabricated intelligence President Bush used to argue his case for war. The
Pentagon has set aside between $3 million and $4 million this year for the
Information Collection Program of the Iraqi National Congress, or INC, led
by Ahmed Chalabi, said two senior U.S. officials and a U.S. defense
Uncle Sap Suckered Again Chalabi to US: You've been scammed!
Of all the expressions of anti-Americanism
reported since the beginning of the Iraq war, none drips with more
contempt for the red-white-and-blue than the recent remarks of Ahmad
Chalabi, the neocons' man in Iraq. In regard to the complete absence of
any "weapons of mass destruction," which Chalabi and Co. insisted were in
Saddam's possession, the British Telegraph quotes him as saying: "We are
heroes in error…. As far as we're concerned we've been entirely
successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad.
What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking
for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants." So we
lied. So shoot us. Who cares what the Americans, say, anyway: they're
stuck in Iraq, and there's no backing out of it now.
UK Soldiers accused of another fatal beating: 2nd 'heart attack' claim
dismissed by victim's family
The family of an Iraqi headmaster who was seen being beaten with a rifle
butt by British soldiers before they took him away, was told he had died
in custody of a "sudden heart attack". But his son, who was also arrested,
told The Independent on Sunday yesterday that he heard his father
screaming as he was beaten, and the family says that the headmaster's body
was bruised and covered in blood.
'NY Times' Fails to Acknowledge Its Role in WMD Hype
The NY Times offered a sharp editorial Tuesday critiquing the indisputable
role of the White House in distorting the intelligence on Iraq and weapons
of mass destruction, and in stampeding Congressional and public opinion by
spinning worst-case scenarios -- "inflating them drastically" -- to
justify an immediate invasion last March to repel an alleged imminent
threat to the United States. However, strangely missing from the paper of
record was any indictment of the national press, starting with the Times,
for its obvious role in gravely misleading the institutions of government
and the public when hyping the WMD threat.
Reservists told to shoulder greater burdens in Iraq
A massive rotation of U.S. forces is now under way in Iraq. One of the
goals of this movement is to bring home troops who have been "in country"
for almost a year now. Another is to reduce the overall number of U.S.
troops. But there is one aspect of the U.S. military contingent in Iraq
that will not decrease but rather will grow once the rotations are
completed, and that is the role played by National Guardsmen and
Is this the face of the man who gave Blair the cue for 45-minute WMD
claim? (posted 2/22)
Former Iraqi general thought to be source of controversial intelligence.
Nizar al-Khazraji, in his mid-60s, was the most senior military man to
defect from the Iraqi regime. A Sunni Muslim former combat general with
considerable support among the officer corps, he was considered by the CIA
to be a potential replacement for Saddam if the army staged a coup.
Stunned Kuwait demands clarification from Iraq over new land claims
Kuwait, invaded and occupied by Saddam Hussein’s army, said on Sunday it
was amazed and concerned by new territorial claims from Iraq and demanded
clarification from the interim Governing Council over statements
attributed to its current president. “The State of Kuwait followed up the
statement with concern and amazement. We are awaiting clarification from
the interim Governing Council of brotherly Iraq about the truth of the
statement and its aim,” the state-run KUNA news agency quoted an official
source as saying. It was Kuwait’s first official reaction to the council’s
president who said on Saturday that Baghdad could consider territorial
claims over neighbouring Jordan and Kuwait in the future.
Iraq may claim Jordan, Kuwait (posted 2/22)
The president of Iraq's interim Governing Council has said Baghdad would
consider territorial claims over neighbouring Jordan and Kuwait in the
Chaos No Friend of the Court (posted 2/22)
As Iraq struggles through a severe crime wave, the courthouse in Karkh, a
district in the capital, is a reminder that the criminal justice system is
not ready for prime time. Overwhelmed investigators are stymied by the
onslaught of violent offenses. The quality of the investigations is so
poor that judges — who also operate as juries here — convict only 40% of
Case set to be dropped against GCHQ mole who blew whistle on US bugging
prosecution is preparing to abandon the case against a former GCHQ
employee charged with leaking information about a "dirty tricks" spying
operation before the invasion of Iraq, the Guardian has learned. Katharine
Gun, 29, is due to appear at the Old Bailey next week where she has said
she will plead not guilty to breaking the Official Secrets Act. She has
said her alleged disclosures exposed serious wrongdoing by the US and
could have helped to prevent the deaths of Iraqis and British forces in an
Strategy: "I Hope They Kill Each Other" (posted 2/22)
In a series of statements from top Administration officials including
Condi Rice, Colin Powell and Paul Bremer,( as well as their counterparts
in the Military) we have heard repeatedly that the US plans to hand over
more responsibility to the Iraqis. The most recent of these came from the
supreme commander of the armed forces in Iraq, General John Abizaid.
Abizaid said last week, "We have to take risk to a certain extent, by
taking our hands off the controls. It's their country, it's their future."
His comments came on the heels of an announcement that the Military is
planning to remove its troop s from within Baghdad to eight bases beyond
the city. There they will create a military cordon around the entire city
to stop the flow of insurgents and terrorists from entering. The real
meaning of the General's remarks is entirely clear and much more sinister.
The Bush Administration has decided to ignore its responsibilities to
provide security for the Iraqi people; a responsibility that is required
of an occupying force under the Geneva Conventions. Instead, the military
will situate itself in a way that it can secure the oil fields from
disruptive elements, but not put American lives at risk. Abizaid's
comments are the "kiss of death" for Iraqis who have already seen a steady
increase in attacks and suicide bombings. Now, that the US expressing its
intention to withdraw, the potential for factional fighting and even civil
war looks much more likely.
Rent-a-resistance (posted 2/22)
Who's behind the suicide bombings, roadside attacks and prison breakouts
in postwar Iraq? Whoever you want it to be, by the look of things. No
Iraqi or Islamic group has claimed responsibility for the sporadic
attacks, but there is no shortage of Western commentators, coalition
officials and anti-war activists claiming responsibility on behalf of
various groups and interests and reading their own interpretations into
the bloody assaults. Many in the West are effectively marshalling the
nameless, nihilistic terrorists/resisters like a phantom army, to back up
their own views of the war, the occupation and what should happen next.
Prosecutor (posted 2/22)
If the Justice Department wants to know who leaked Valerie Plame's
identity, all they have to do is talk to a longtime Republican operative
named Clifford May.
New Iraq Commission Won't Be Investigating the Key WMD Issue: How the
Executive Order Fatally Limits Their Agenda (posted 2/22)
(By John Dean) Bush's magic appears to have worked again. His commission
is a sham, and simply ignores the very reason he was pressured to create
it. Yet it seems no one is complaining -- or at least, no one who could
force the commencement of an legitimate investigation.
Start-up Company With Connections: US gives $400M in work to contractor
with ties to Pentagon favorite on Iraqi Governing Council (posted
U.S. authorities in Iraq have awarded more than $400 million in contracts
to a start-up company that has extensive family and, according to court
documents, business ties to Ahmed Chalabi, the Pentagon favorite on the
Iraqi Governing Council. The most recent contract, for $327 million to
supply equipment for the Iraqi Armed Forces, was awarded last month and
drew an immediate challenge from a losing contester, who said the winning
bid was so low that it questions the "credibility" of that bid.
Not a shred of evidence (posted 2/22)
Did Saddam Hussein really use industrial shredders to kill his enemies?
Brendan O’Neill is not persuaded that he did.
The insurgency threat in southern Iraq (posted 2/22)
Jane's assesses the insurgent threat in southern Iraq with an analysis of
the weapons and tactics available to the former regime security forces and
tribal militias in the region.
Special forces quitting to cash in on Iraq (posted 2/22)
BRITAIN’S elite special forces are facing an imminent crisis because
record numbers of men are asking to leave their units early, lured by high
wages on offer in a growing security industry in Iraq.
Economics (US and International)
Zero Inflation and the Neoliberal Agenda (posted 2/24)
If asked to choose between full employment and constant purchasing power
of existing money, most ordinary people would lean towards job creation.
That's because almost all of us are dependent on employment for our
income. Not so for people with lots of money. For them maintaining the
"value" of what they've got is paramount. That's because capital (piles of
cash) is the source of their income. It's no surprise then, in this era
when the self-interest of the rich and powerful trump all else, that
central banks opt to limit inflation at the expense of job creation. What
is surprising, however, is how little the left has paid attention to this
key plank of neoliberalism. As opponents of neoliberal ideology we
denounce "free" trade (investment) agreements, cuts to social programs,
corporate deregulation, privatization of public institutions/space and the
liberalization of labour markets. Less often, however, do we challenge the
no inflation at all costs monetary policy. In fact, the right has almost
total control over monetary policy on both an ideological plane and, in
most countries, tangibly through central bank independence from political
Encouraging Job Flight & Benefit Reductions (posted 2/24)
With millions out of work and U.S. wages stagnating, the Bush
Administration has pushed economic policies that are making the situation
worse. From touting offshore outsourcing, to encouraging companies to
moving jobs to China, the White House has systematically put the interests
of working families behind the interests of its largest corporate
Poll: Free trade loses backers (posted 2/24)
High-income Americans have lost much of their enthusiasm for free trade as
they perceive their own jobs threatened by white-collar workers in China,
India and other countries, according to data from a survey of views on
Instead of Admitting Economic Truth, Bush Resorts to Statistical
President Bush, attempting to obscure his record as the worst economic
steward since Herbert Hoover, has become so desperate that he is exploring
ways to manipulate statistics. Just days after Bush reneged on his pledge
to create 2.6 million jobs and said with a straight face that "5.6%
unemployment is a good national number," the New York Times uncovered a
White House report showing that the president is considering
re-classifying low-paid fast food jobs as "manufacturing jobs" as a way to
hide the massive manufacturing job losses that have occurred during his
Two Tales of American Jobs (posted 2/24)
FOR more than a year, Bush administration officials and Republicans in
Congress have seized on an intriguing statistical puzzle to suggest that
job creation in the United States may be much stronger than it appears at
first glance. The puzzle is the enormous divergence between the two
surveys that are used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to measure job
creation and unemployment. The payroll survey, which is based on a monthly
poll of 400,000 employers, shows a loss of more than two million jobs
since 2001. The household survey, based on questions posed to people in
50,000 households, shows an increase of more than 500,000 jobs over the
Precarious Existence: The Fate of Billions? (posted 2/22)
The number of people living a precarious existence has been increasing in
many countries of the world, with hunger all too widespread. There are
approximately 6 billion people in the world, with about half living in
cities and half in rural areas. Between the poor living in cities and
those in rural areas, a vast number of the world’s people live under very
harsh conditions. It is estimated that that about half of the world’s
population lives on less than two dollars per day, with most of those
either chronically malnourished or continually concerned with where their
next meal will come from. Many have no access to clean water (1 billion),
electricity (2 billion), or sanitation (2.5 billion).
Budget More for the military and more deficits (posted 2/22)
There are few surprises in President Bush’s 2005 budget. The main contours
follow the same pattern as his past budgets, with more tax cuts oriented
toward the wealthy and increased spending on the military and homeland
security. The result of this pattern of taxation and spending is large
deficits that will prove unsustainable in the not-very-distant future.
Bush budget clearly tailored for election year (posted 2/22)
The centerpiece of the Bush Administration's fiscal policy is a pledge to
cut the budget deficit in half by 2009. To make this a serious
possibility, the budget would need a politically unappetizing combination
of tax increases and spending cuts. At the same time, election-year
politics are driving many of the budget decisions. The result is a pattern
in the budget numbers where the appearance of increases is contradicted by
the reality of the long-term budget averages. In particular, the
administration asks for immediate increases in politically sensitive
spending, while at the same time reducing subsequent spending that
undercuts its commitments for 2005.
White House backs off jobs forecast (posted 2/22)
The Bush administration backed down Wednesday from its own forecast that
U.S. employers would add 2.6 million jobs this year, a shift that gave
Democrats new ammunition in the battle over the economy.
Job Loss, Rising Inequalities Dog Bush Administration (posted
The wealth gap between the rich and poor and the
sluggish job market in the United State are looming as major problems for
President George W. Bush as he campaigns for another term in office,
analysts here say. According to the latest figures, the wealth gap has
been growing over the past decade, despite a boom in housing and the stock
market, while the job situation, another important economic indicator, has
Poverty and Inequality in the Global Economy (posted 2/22)
Capitalism is hundreds of years old and today dominates nearly every part
of the globe. Its champions claim that it is the greatest engine of
production growth the world has ever seen. They also argue that it is
unique in its ability to raise the standard of living of every person on
earth. Because of capitalism, we are all “slouching toward utopia,”—the
phrase coined by University of California at Berkeley economist J.
Bradford DeLong—slowly but surely heading toward a world in which everyone
will have achieved a U.S.-style middle-class life. Given the long tenure
of capitalism and the unceasing contentions of its adherents, it seems
fair to ask if it is true that we are “slouching toward utopia.” Let us
look at three things: the extent of poverty and inequality in the richest
capitalist economy—that of the United States; the extent of poverty and
inequality in the poor countries of the world; and the gap between those
countries at the top of the capitalist heap and those at the bottom.
GLOBALIZATION: A Positive Force or Source of World's Woes? (posted
One of the most provocative interpretations of globalisation comes
from former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who has said the
process "is really another name for the dominant role of the United
Striking LA grocery worker speaks out: "Hit them where it hurts"
movement criticism of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)
leadership in the strike and lockout of 70,000 grocery workers in Southern
California has spilled over into the media. AFL-CIO officials, who in late
January began coordinating strategy for the struggle, told reporters that
they were surprised when the UFCW made a sudden offer to the three
chains--Safeway Inc., Albertsons Inc. and Kroger Co.--for binding
arbitration. It was the latest in a series of erratic steps by the UFCW,
which first told the AFL-CIO to hold off when the struggle began in
October, and pulled picket lines at the Kroger-owned chain, Ralphs. The
struggle got a boost in November when the Teamsters honored picket
lines--but the lines were pulled a month later. The struggle has won
widespread support from the LA labor movement, with several big marches
and a dockworkers’ solidarity rally that shut the ports for a night. Yet
as the battle entered its fourth month, picket lines have dwindled, and
many workers are demoralized by the union’s passive strategy.
Injustice For All (posted 2/22)
The strike by 70,000 grocery workers in Southern California is a watershed
moment, not just for the union members who walked out, but for the
standard of living of all Americans. If workers lose the strike, it would
signal the beginning of a final dismantling of employer-based health care
in every corner of our country.
Rice Imperialism: The Agribusiness Threat to Third World Rice Production
Food is an essential human need. All cultures involved in settled
agriculture have produced food and food production is basic to all
culture. The seed used in agricultural cultivation is the product of
thousands of years of cultural development. Most of this development of
food crops over the millennia has occurred in regions that are now in the
periphery of the capitalist world economy. In recent years, however,
agribusiness corporations located in the rich nations of the core have
attempted to patent various forms of food crops, such as basic grains, and
then to monopolize these patented grain varieties, creating dependence on
seeds of the agribusiness corporations. When such practices involve, as in
recent years, a crop such as rice on which much of the world’s population
depends for subsistence, the implications are enormous and potentially
disastrous for the world’s poor.
Neoliberalism: Empire, Social Democracy, or Socialism? (posted
Since the early 1980s, the leading capitalist
states in North America and Western Europe have pursued neoliberal
policies and institutional changes. The peripheral and semiperipheral
states in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe, under the
pressure of the leading capitalist states (primarily the United States)
and international monetary institutions (IMF and the World Bank), have
adopted “structural adjustments,” “shock therapies,” or “economic
reforms,” to restructure their economies in accordance with the
requirements of neoliberal economics. A neoliberal regime typically
includes monetarist policies to lower inflation and maintain fiscal
balance (often achieved by reducing public expenditures and raising the
interest rate), “flexible” labor markets (meaning removing labor market
regulations and cutting social welfare), trade and financial
liberalization, and privatization. These policies are an attack by the
global ruling elites (primarily finance capital of the leading capitalist
states) on the working people of the world. Under neoliberal capitalism,
decades of social progress and developmental efforts have been reversed.
Global inequality in income and wealth has reached unprecedented levels.
In much of the world, working people have suffered pauperization. Entire
countries have been reduced to misery.
Current Account Deficit and the Budget Deficit: Is $600 Billion Missing?
This paper examines the impact of the persistence of a large current
account deficit on the budget deficit. The U.S. is currently running a
current account deficit of approximately $550 billion or 5 percent of GDP.
This deficit corresponds to a transfer of $550 billion in U.S. financial
assets, such as stocks, bonds, and short-term deposits, to foreign wealth
holders. The interest, dividends, and capital gains earned on these assets
in subsequent years will accrue to foreigners and will therefore largely
escape domestic taxation.
Gouging the Poor (posted 2/22)
There's been a lot of whining about health care recently:
the shocking cost of insurance, the mounting reluctance of employers to
share that cost, the challenge--should you be so lucky as to have
insurance--of finding a doctor your insurance company will deign to
reimburse, and so forth. But let's look at the glass half full for a
change. Despite the growing misfit between health care costs and personal
incomes, it is not yet illegal to be sick. Not quite yet, anyway, though
the trend is clear: Hospitals are increasingly resorting to brass knuckle
tactics to collect overdue bills from indigent patients.
In Season of Campaigns, Halliburton Joins In (posted 2/24)
The chief executive of the Halliburton Company, Dave Lesar, never imagined
that he would be the star of his own television commercial. But there he
is, on the airwaves in Washington and Houston, assuring viewers that his
company has billions of dollars in contracts to rebuild Iraq and feed
American troops "because of what we know, not who we know."
China Connection: Selling Out Democracy (posted 2/24)
The world's struggling democracies and democratic activists should not be
terribly sanguine about the prospects of a John Kerry presidency. Not if
Kerry is serious--and the man aptly described as resembling a dead Abraham
Lincoln is nothing if not serious--in his thinking about Taiwan. In a
January debate among the Democratic presidential hopefuls, Kerry said that
Taiwan should adhere to a "ne-country, two systems" approach in its
relations with the People's Republic of China.
in Red and Blue: Bush may trail in national polls, but beware the
electoral college (posted 2/24)
Among my own acquaintances, at least, I've noticed a new polarity lately
between folks who still presume Bush cannot lose and others who think he's
already beaten. They're both wrong--but the latter more palpably. Look
past the national poll numbers that put Kerry 6-10 points ahead. On a
state-by-state basis, W is still in a surprisingly strong position despite
the many hits he's taken recently.
Ralph: But Is Nader's Raid on the Race Really So Bad? (posted
If the DLC wonks, unimaginative leftists, and others devoted to the "Beat
Bush" agenda can manage to stop gnashing their teeth over Ralph Nader's
"betrayal" long enough to really think about it, they might just find that
the consumer advocate's candidacy can help, rather than hurt, their cause.
Nader at the National Press Club (posted
Text of a news conference with Ralph Nader at the National Press Club in
The Merchants of
Fear: Smearing Nader (posted 2/24)
"The worst Democrat is better than the best Republican." That's what my
grandfather, a union man, used to say and it's still considered political
bedrock in my family. I, on the other hand . . .
Nader, Meet Candidate Dennis Kucinich (posted 2/24)
To hear Ralph Nader dismiss the Democratic field, as he did in announcing
his presidential candidacy Sunday, you'd think he'd never heard of Dennis
Canadian film may put Nader on radar (posted
Ralph Nader doesn't need the hundreds of millions that his Democratic and
Republican rivals for the White House have in their campaign war chests.
Thanks to a Canadian documentary, the independent candidate for the U.S.
presidency has political advertising for his message beyond what he could
ever have planned.
Memphian Bob Mintz and flying mate Paul Bishop looked forward to greeting
George W. Bush at Dannelly ANG base in 1972 – but never saw him
Two members of the Air National Guard unit that President George W. Bush
allegedly served with as a young Guard flyer in 1972 had been told to
expect him late in that year and were on the lookout for him. He never
showed, however; of that both Bob Mintz and Paul Bishop are certain.
fire over missiles contract
John Kerry, the Democratic
presidential front-runner, pressured Congress and the Pentagon to fund a
missile system on behalf of a San Diego contractor who, years later,
pleaded guilty to making illegal contributions to the senator and other
politicians, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Neo-Cons: Will Kerry Make a Stand? (posted 2/22)
(by Wayne Madsen) From my vantage point in the nation's
capital, I am increasingly becoming confident that the Democrats will oust
the Bush-Cheney regime from power this coming November. However, just
winning the election is only the first step for the Democrats. There must
be a thorough house cleaning, a purge, if you will, during the transition
of power and after the January 20, 2005 inauguration. Of course, the
Democrats will take over John Ashcroft's Justice Department and Tom
Ridge's huge Homeland Security bureaucracy, both of which have become
tremendous threats to our constitutional democracy. But just assuming
control over Cabinet departments and other Federal agencies will not
eliminate the scourge of the neo-con apparatchiks who have, for the past
four years, cast an extremely unpleasant stench over America's body
politic. A total purge of the right-wing neo-con political opportunists,
along with their hodgepodge fascist/Trotskyite/neo-imperialist political
philosophy, must be one of the first goals of a new Democratic
Corporate Ally Helped Few Workers in Kerry's State (posted 2/22)
Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry said last week that he was fighting for
jobs in his home state when he wrote 28 letters in support of a San Diego
defense contractor and campaign contributor. But only six jobs in
Massachusetts were ever at stake, the engineer in charge of the project
Time to Get Over It': Kerry Tells Antiwar Movement to Move On
The leading mouthpiece for the New Democrats' radical interventionist
program could be our next president. John Kerry, the frontrunner in the
quest for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, has been promoting
a foreign policy perspective called "progressive internationalism." It's a
concept concocted by establishment Democrats seeking to convince potential
backers in the corporate and political world that, if installed in the
White House, they would preserve U.S. power and influence around the
world, but in a kinder, gentler fashion than the current administration.
and Credulity: Why is Kerry Getting a Pass? (posted 2/22)
I was listening to excerpts from a debate on "Democracy Now" the other
day. On one side was Mark Green, Michael Bloomberg's opponent in the
recent mayoral race, and John Kerry's New York campaign chair. On the
other were Robert Scheer, the Los Angeles Times columnist, and his son
Christopher who writes for AlterNet. The Scheers' argued that Kerry should
call for Bush's impeachment for lies he told in the run-up to war. Green
pretty much labeled such an approach "wack-job" politics, and said it
would result in Bush regaining the White House. In defending Kerry, Green
painted him as the near twin of Ted Kennedy, and praised the stalwart
service that both had given to Democratic causes. Both sides' apparently
agreed that Kerry was not culpable in voting for war since, like everyone
else, he was deceived by the Bush administration. The comparison of Kerry
to Kennedy made this particularly disquieting. As you may recall, Ted
Kennedy did not vote to authorize Bush to attack Iraq. In Kennedy's own
words, "[Bush] did not make a persuasive case that the threat [from Iraq]
is imminent and that war is the only alternative." What?
Kerry And the Marginalization of Emboldened Democrats (posted
We now face another war and attempted occupation in Iraq. Initially, in
desperation for a viable candidate there seems to be a temptation to
rationalize Kerry’s vote authorizing the Iraq War as a passing “act of
commonplace political cowardice,” or just “that he was so easily conned”
by Bush’s lies, and that he is “good” on Iraq now.
Syria and the Double Standards of John Kerry (posted 2/22)
It would take
quite an effort to find someone willing to defend Syria’s government as a
beacon of openness and freedom. Syria’s inhabitants are ruled by a
dictatorship that maintains a tight grip on most aspects of public life.
Aside from the viciousness of its internal police agencies, Syria’s
military continues to maintain a large and suffocating presence in
neighboring Lebanon. And yet, there are many people who are willing to
defend similar conduct by other nations in the region. Condemning Syria
for its appalling domestic and foreign policies, while letting the
governments of Israel and the United States off the hook for the
atrocities they’ve committed in the region — as the Syria Accountability
Act has done — is just one example of how U.S. foreign policy in the
Middle East is laden with double standards.
Nader joins presidential race (posted 2/22)
Consumer advocate Ralph Nader said Sunday he would seek the presidency
one more time to "retire the supremely selected president" and to wrestle
the country from "the grip" of corporate greed. Nader, 69, who has run for
president three times before, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he had
considered not running, but opted to campaign again for the White House
because "this country has more problems and injustices than it deserves."
Nader's nadir (posted 2/22)
Even many of his former allies don't support maverick Ralph Nader's
presidential bid. And more mainstream Democrats aren't just mad -- they're
Runs...From Reality (posted 2/22)
(by Micah Sifry) Watching Ralph Nader announce his unsurprising decision
to run for president as an independent, I didn't hear anything new. There
was no sign from him that he understands that there might be some
differences in the political context of 2004, compared to 2000. All of his
arguments were the same: the need to address the "democracy gap"; how
Washington is "corporate-occupied territory;" how we have too many
solutions to problems that aren't being adopted as a result. "The two
parties are ferociously competing to see who's going to go to the White
House and take orders from their corporate paymasters," he declared at one
point. He gave both parties flunking grades: a D- for the Republicans and
a D+ for the Democrats. Which is amazing, considering his fierce
condemnation of Bush's illegal war-mongering and call for his impeachment.
Political realities change, but not Ralph.
Nader matter at all? (posted 2/22)
The best-case scenario for Ralph Nader's fourth presidential campaign -- a
1992 write-in effort in the New Hampshire primary, Green Party runs in
1996 and 2000, and the independent candidacy he announced on Sunday -- is
to pull a Norman Thomas. In the Great Depression election of 1932,
Democrats worried that Thomas, the perennial Socialist Party candidate,
would draw off votes in key states and help reelect Republican President
aim for an impact (posted 2/22)
As leading Democrats compete for the nomination to battle with George
Bush in the 2004 election, BBC News Online takes a look at some of the
smaller parties hoping to make their mark.
Survey: Anger against Bush growing louder
In Arizona, Judy Donovan says she feels desperate for a new president.
In Tennessee, Robert Wilson says he finds the president revolting. In
Washington state, Maria Yurasek says she'd vote for a dog if it could beat
President Bush. A subtext to this year's presidential campaign is the
intense anger that many Democrats are directing toward Bush, an attitude
that has been growing in recent months.
Disenchanted Bush Voters Consider Crossing Over (posted 2/22)
In the 2000
presidential election, Bill Flanagan a semiretired newspaper worker,
happily voted for George W. Bush. But now, shaking his head, he vows,
"Never again." "The combination of lies and boys coming home in body bags
is just too awful," Mr. Flanagan said, drinking coffee and reading
newspapers at the local mall. "I could vote for Kerry. I could vote for
any Democrat unless he's a real dummy." Mr. Flanagan is hardly alone, even
though polls show that the overwhelming majority of Republicans who
supported Mr. Bush in 2000 will do so again in November. In dozens of
random interviews around the country, independents and Republicans who
said they voted for Mr. Bush in 2000 say they intend to vote for the
Democratic presidential candidate this year. Some polls are beginning to
bolster the idea of those kind of stirrings among Republicans and
America will vote for Bush (posted 2/22)
The US is currently going through the peculiar process of deciding which
Democratic presidential candidate will stand against George Bush in
November. The aversion to Bush, at home and abroad, makes us forget how
many people support this spokesman for another America sure of its
superiority and its values.
Doctored Kerry photo brings anger, threat of suit: Software, Net make it
easy to warp reality (posted 2/22)
The photographer who snapped John Kerry attending a 1971 anti-war rally
says he and his photo agency intend to track down -- and possibly sue --
whoever doctored and circulated a photo that made it appear that the then
27-year-old Vietnam veteran was appearing alongside actress Jane Fonda.
Ken Light, now a UC Berkeley professor of journalism ethics, says he
photographed Kerry at an anti-war rally in Mineola, N.Y., on June 13,
1971. The decorated Vietnam veteran was preparing to give a speech at the
rally -- but Fonda was never at the event.
Bush Loads $104 Million in Ammo for Ad War (posted 2/22)
President Bush's reelection campaign reported Friday that it had
raised a record $143.5 million through Jan. 31 and had $104.4 million in
the bank, a war chest it will tap heavily shortly after Democrats settle
on a nominee.
What they really mean by "electability" (posted 2/22
FORGET WHETHER they supported the war on Iraq. Doesn’t matter if they
voted for USA PATRIOT. Who cares what they say about health care. The only
thing that seems to matter in the race for the 2004 Democratic Party
presidential nomination is "electability."
Assassination of Howard Dean (posted 2/22)
Two months ago, Howard Dean was the man to beat for the Democratic
nomination. Then his campaign fell over a cliff, limping in as a distant
second, third and even fourth, in the primaries. On Wednesday Dean
officially ended his bid for the White House, telling supporters, "I am no
longer actively pursuing the presidency." What happened? How could Dean's
insurgent candidacy, which had energized and excited voters in every
state, come to such a screeching halt?
Racism and Presidential Elections Since 1964: A Short History
Racism within U.S. institutions, law and culture is deeply imbedded in the
history and reality of the United States going back to the 17th century,
but in the 20th century, the deliberate and overt use of racially-coded
language and positions in Presidential campaigns was begun in 1968 by the
Richard Nixon campaign. Even Barry Goldwater, conservative Republican that
he was, made an agreement in 1964 with Lyndon Johnson to keep race out of
the Presidential contest between them.
Tripping on Internet Populism (posted 2/22)
There was a contagious optimism in the air about the potential of the
Internet to effect political change.
Police: Targeting Middle East studies, zealots' 'homeland security'
creates campus insecurity (posted 2/24)
In a gesture that consolidates the 1990s culture wars, the post-9-11 chill
on dissent, and the relentlessness of hawkishly pro-Israel lobbying, the
U.S. House voted unanimously last fall to establish an advisory board to
monitor how effectively campus international studies centers serve
"national needs related to homeland security" and to assess whether they
provide sufficient airtime to champions of American foreign policy.
Currently the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
is considering a parallel provision for its upcoming higher education
reauthorization bill. The bill will likely go to the floor in March.
Pentagon Denies Access to Guantanamo Trials (2/24)
The Pentagon has refused to allow three leading human rights groups to
attend and observe military commission trials of detainees at Guantanamo
justice system a self-inflicted casualty in terror war (posted
Has our traditional system of military justice become the latest casualty
in the war on terror? One gauge of that question is the handling of the
case against a former Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo Bay, US Army Capt.
funding powerful data mining tools (posted 2/24)
The Associated Press reports that the US government is still financing
research to create powerful software tools that could mine millions of
public and private records for information about terrorists, despite last
year's controversy over how easily and how often the software might
implicate people who have nothing to do with terrorism.
decision may limit access to terror cases (posted 2/24)
The US Supreme
Court has given a green light for the government to conduct certain
federal court cases in total secrecy.
infiltration of protest groups upsets rights activists
Chicago Police officers infiltrated five protest groups in
2002 and launched four other spying operations in 2003 -- actions that
civil rights activists are calling outrageous. The investigations have
come in the wake of a court decision that expanded the department's
John Ashcroft's Subpoena Blitz: Targeting Lawyers, Universities, Peaceful
Demonstrators, Hospitals, and Patients, All With No Connection to
Terrorism (posted 2/22)
Over the past two weeks, the Justice Department has issued two intensely
controversial sets of subpoenas. The first targeted peaceful demonstrators
in Iowa. The second targeted medical caregivers in Illinois, New York,
Pennsylvania and Michigan. None of the targets of these subpoenas is
alleged to have anything to do with terrorism.
Convention Plan Puts Protesters Blocks Away (posted 2/22)
Protesters at this summer's Democratic National Convention in Boston
may be confined to a cozy triangle of land off Haymarket Square, blocked
off from the FleetCenter and convention delegates by a maze of Central
Artery service roads, MBTA train tracks, and a temporary parking lot
holding scores of buses and media trucks.
Federal subpoenas seen as targeting dissent (posted 2/22)
A federal grand jury, in a move some see as an attempt to harass and
intimidate the antiwar movement, subpoenaed Drake University in Des
Moines, Iowa, in early February, ordering it to turn over all documents
related to an antiwar conference held three months ago on its campus.
Feds back off drive to target activists (posted 2/22)
FACED WITH mounting pressure, the U.S. government dropped subpoenas for
the records of antiwar activists at an Iowa university. "Friends, the
piece of news that I have is historic," Brian Terrell announced to a crowd
of 150 cheering protesters gathered at the federal building in Des Moines,
Iowa, February 10. "The subpoenas against the four of us were dropped
Giving Due Process Its Due (posted 2/22)
During the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, the most
heated debates concerned the separation of powers in this emerging
democracy. The reason for that concern was emphasized by James Madison in
the Federalist Papers, often cited by the Supreme Court as a reliable
guide to the intentions of the Framers: "The accumulation of all powers,
legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands . . . may justly
be pronounced the very definition of tyranny." On December 18, echoing the
founders, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, in the case of
Padilla vs. Rumsfeld, said to George W. Bush: "The President, acting
alone, possesses no inherent constitutional power to detain American
citizens seized within the United States, away from the zone of combat, as
enemy combatants." Citizen Jose Padilla, incommunicado in a Navy brig in
South Carolina for eighteen months--without charges, without access to his
lawyer, and with no date of release--had no idea that his case was even in
the Second Circuit. He is insulated from the world. But his case, and that
of the other American citizen, Yaser Hamdi, who had also been removed from
the protections of the Constitution after George W. Bush designated him as
an enemy combatant, has aroused more intense criticism of the
Administration's war on the Bill of Rights than any of its other actions.
How the Janet
Jackson "Nipplegate" Scandal Illustrates the Dangers of Chilling Free
Speech (posted 2/22)
The chronology of the
Jackson scandal clearly illustrates a major concern of First Amendment
advocates: The "chilling effect." This concern arises from the fact that
when someone is punished -- or left in limbo, awaiting possible punishment
-- because of the way they exercised their First Amendment rights, the
predictable result is that others feel less free to speak.
Pentagon's anti-terror program lives on (posted 2/22)
Despite an outcry over privacy implications, the government is pressing
ahead with research to create ultrapowerful tools to mine millions of
public and private records for information about terrorists.
Anti-abortion fanatics: Ashcroft’s goons go after hospital records
IF ANTI-ABORTION fanatic John Ashcroft has his way, the U.S. Justice
Department will pore over the private medical records of hundreds of women
who had abortions. In the Bush administration’s crusade to crack down on a
late-term abortion procedure that abortion opponents have misnamed
"partial-birth" abortion, Ashcroft’s fanatics last week issued subpoenas
ordering at least six hospitals in New York City, Philadelphia and
elsewhere to turn over medical records on abortions they performed.
How Camp Delta allowed US to avoid Geneva Convention (posted 2/22)
President Bush promised a "different kind of war" after the 11 September
attacks, and no place on earth better illustrates quite how different than
Camp X-Ray, the prison camp established on the US naval base at Guantanamo
Bay. It seemed extraordinary enough, back in late 2001, that detainees
would be flown halfway around the world from the war in Afghanistan to the
eastern tip of Cuba. But that was only the start of it. The hundreds of
men, suspected members of either the Taliban or al-Qa'ida, were not to be
regarded as conventional prisoners of war. Instead, the US Secretary of
Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, told us, they were being categorised as "enemy
combatants", subject neither to the Geneva Conventions nor to the purview
of the US civilian court system. In other words, they were subject to
indefinite detention, without access to a lawyer, without the privilege of
knowing why they were being held or what they were accused of. Even if
they were to come to trial, they would appear before a military commission
whose three-judge panel would have sole discretion to convict them and, if
they so chose, to sentence them to death.
'We want answers: why have they been held so long without charge?'
The images were stark and shocking. Britons, swathed in orange overalls,
hooded and shackled, kneeling in front of their American captors. Others,
on stretchers, being wheeled into mesh cages. None of them charged, let
alone convicted, of any crime, yet facing indefinite sentences in prison.
The unabating controversy caused by the treatment of British citizens
arrested in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and then shipped off to Guantanamo
Bay in Cuba, was one of the most embarrassing problems faced by Tony
Blair, the British Prime Minister, as he stood "shoulder to shoulder" with
President George Bush in the war on terror.
War on Anarchism You Could Get 10 Years in Prison Just for Reading This
I have on my desk right now a copy of
the new Rhode Island "homeland security" bill proposed by Governor
Carcieri. It's an 18 page document, and right on the first page, before
talking about weapons of mass destruction or poisoning the water system or
anything else that a rational person might consider "terrorism", it says
"any person who shall teach or advocate anarchy" will go to prison for ten
Misconduct In Two Recent High-Profile Cases: Why It Happens, and How We
Can Better Prevent It (posted 2/22)
misconduct has turned two recent high profile cases -- one involving
allegations of murder, the other involving allegations of a terrorist
conspiracy -- upside down.
for the Worse in the United States: Criminalizing Dissent
This is not the article I started out to write. What I
wanted to write about was the Patriot Act and the way this Federal statute
was giving license to federal, state and local law enforcement to curtail
our due process protections, by blurring the line, which is more fluid
than ever, between what law enforcement can do in the name of foreign
intelligence and what it can do in the name of a domestic criminal
investigation. However, reality intruded. The last month was a very bad
one for civil liberties and the First Amendment. So my rather abstract
cautionary narrative about what might happen if we do not pressure
Congress to repeal the Patriot Act morphed into a chronicle of actual
events that should send chills up the spine of all of us who believe in
the U.S. Constitution. It is no longer what might happen, but what is
Pentagon starts probe into Halliburton claims (posted 2/24)
The Pentagon has launched a criminal inquiry into allegations of fraud at
Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, the oil services
company formerly run by Dick Cheney, US vice-president.
Environment, and Science
Climate Change Could Become Global Security Nightmare
A dramatic climate change could suddenly become a global security
nightmare, warns a worst-case scenario assembled by professional futurists
at the behest of the Pentagon.
Canada Tops US (posted 2/24)
Our neighbors to the north live longer and pay less for care. The reasons
why are being debated, but some cite the gap between rich and poor in the
Arizona Gov. Blasts Bush on Forest Policy
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano on Saturday accused the Bush administration
of mismanaging the federal forests, which she said could lead to "megafires"
Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us
A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The
Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising
seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear
conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across
White House Accused of Science Bias (posted 2/22)
More than 60 leading scientists, including a dozen Nobel laureates, on
Wednesday accused the Bush administration of frequently suppressing or
distorting scientific analysis from federal agencies when it disagrees
with administration policies.
Out of Report That Made Bad Into Good Health
The Bush administration says it improperly altered a
report documenting large racial and ethnic disparities in health care, but
it will soon publish the full, unexpurgated document. Health Secretary
Thommy Thompson said that "some individuals took it upon themselves" to
make the report sound more positive than was justified by the data.
Pesticide Tests on Humans Backed (posted 2/22)
A panel of the National Research Council said Thursday that human test
subjects could be intentionally given doses of pesticides and other toxic
substances as long as the companies or government agencies conducting the
studies met high ethical and scientific standards. The Bush administration
sought advice from the panel of scientists and ethicists after it
reversed, in a controversial move, a Clinton-era moratorium on the use of
paid volunteers in tests that aid the Environmental Protection Agency in
determining safe exposure levels for pesticides used on fruits, vegetables
and other crops. Some neurologists and environmental activists criticized
the panel for giving firms a green light to conduct the tests, which they
say serve no purpose besides relaxing regulations on chemicals. They were
especially critical of the panel for potentially allowing the use of
children as test subjects.
Environmental Groups Decry Pesticide Report (posted 2/22)
Environmental groups responded with dismay on Thursday to a report from a
panel of government advisers that says it might be OK to test pesticides
on people if the strictest care is taken. The Natural Resources Defense
Council called it an "appalling suggestion" while the Environmental
Working Group said the chemical industry could not be trusted to follow
government testing guidelines.
An Air That Kills: Greed, Apathy, Dead People (posted 2/22)
AN AIR THAT KILLS: How the
Asbestos Poisoning of Libby, Montana, Uncovered a National Scandal
is about small-town
Montana and the devastating horrors visited on it by a vermiculite mine
owned by those fun-loving corporate bastards at W.R. Grace & Co, and the
Zonolite Company before it. The mining of vermiculite, used in products
ranging from insulation to potting soil, led to exposure to asbestos that
caused and is causing the deaths of hundreds of Libby residents. Grace
knew of the dangers, but didn't tell the workers or their families of the
deadly dangers associated with living in an environment where more than
two and a half tons of asbestos were released into the town's air every
day, when One heavy exposure or even one tiny fiber can inaugurate the
downward spiral to the grave.
Antidepressants hazardous to health care coverage: Insurance plans stymie
individual policyholders (posted 2/22)
When Amy M.
left her steady job to become a freelance advertising copywriter, she had
no idea the antidepressant she took to combat depression would have an
unexpected side effect. She couldn't get health insurance. "I was turned
down by Blue Cross, Blue Shield and Kaiser," said the 35- year-old Oakland
resident, who has been taking the antidepressant Celexa for several years.
"My rejection letters from the insurance companies stated the reason for
the denial: antidepressants." With nearly 19 million Americans under a
diagnosis of depression, antidepressant use is skyrocketing in the United
States. The newer antidepressants are the second most commonly prescribed
class of drugs in the country. Most Americans with health insurance are
covered through their employer and have little problem getting coverage
for antidepressants, but almost 10 percent of those insured have
individual policies because they are self- employed, unemployed or work
for a company that doesn't offer insurance. That number appears to be
growing, especially in the Bay Area, where the dot- com bust has forced
many jobless people to find alternative coverage.
Low-carb message reaches kids, but is it a good one? (posted 2/22)
With millions of U.S. adults devoting themselves to low-carbohydrate
diets, such as the Atkins weight-loss program, it is not surprising that
some children are following their lead. However, pediatricians and
nutritionists say low-carb diets may be a bad idea for children. With
rising rates of childhood obesity creating a major public health problem,
these experts agree that going easy on refined sugars and starches in
cookies, chips and bagels is a good thing. They worry, however, that kids
who avoid or limit such foods as bread, potatoes, rice and fruit may be
depriving themselves of important nutrients that are necessary for growing
bodies. And they caution that parents who encourage such eating may not be
aware of the consequences.
Wake Up Weyerhaeuser: Protect Forests Now! (posted 2/22)
Activists Brave Dizzying Heights And Unfurl Banner To Protest Wanton
Destruction of Endangered Old-Growth Forests
New Data on 2 Doomsday Ideas, Big Rip vs. Big Crunch (2/22)
A dark unseen energy is steadily pushing the universe apart, just as
Einstein predicted, suggesting the universe may have a more peaceful end
than recent theories envision, according to striking new measurements of
distant exploding stars by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.
War’s spit bombs from the front lines (posted 2/24)
Modern man has always been ill-equipped to cope with the demands of his
history, so he coined the helpful adage “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”
to justify his shortcomings. That was of course before Weird War came up
with the more elegant solution If You Can’t Beat ’Em, Bite ’Em.
Anti-intellectualism and Its Discontents
"We can't get bogged down in analysis," one activist told us at an
anti-war rally in New York last fall, spitting out that last word like a
hairball. He could have relaxed his vigilance. This event deftly avoided
such bogs, loudly opposing the U.S. bombing in Afghanistan without
offering any credible ideas about it (we're not counting the notion that
the entire escapade was driven by Unocal and Lockheed Martin, the
"analysis" advanced by many speakers). But the moment called for doing
something more than brandishing the exact same signs - "Stop the Bombing"
and "No War for Oil" - that activists poked skywards during the Gulf War.
This latest war called for some thinking, and few were doing much of that.
So what is the ideology of the activist left (and by that we mean the
global justice, peace, media democracy, community organizing, financial
populist, and green movements)? Socialist? Mostly not - too state-phobic.
Some activists are anarchists - but mainly out of temperamental reflex,
not rigorous thought. Others are liberals - though most are too
confrontational and too skeptical about the system to embrace that label.
And many others profess no ideology at all. So over all is the activist
left just an inchoate, "post-ideological" mass of do-gooders, pragmatists
Song trading still popular despite suits (posted 2/22)
A study released in January that surveyed 1,358 Internet users in late
fall found the number of Americans downloading music dropped by half from
six months earlier, with 17 million fewer people doing it nationwide. But
some experts and users say that file sharers are only being more
secretive, and that file swapping is actually increasing. At least two
research firms say more than 150 million songs are being downloaded free
PLANET OF THE REMAKES (posted 2/22)
There is a widespread critical and popular aversion to remakes of
classic—and even not-so-classic—films. They will almost certainly be
inferior pieces of work, and if the original is a canonized masterpiece,
the remake might even taint its aura. Can the film lover ever see his
cherished classic again without thinking of its horrible new Doppelgänger?
Political Legacy of Edward Said (posted 2/22)
In the fall of 2002, before the U.S. led the invasion of Iraq, the Israeli
newspaper Ha'aretz ran an article by Akiva Eldar on a meeting held in
Washington for some members of the Pentagon. The host was Richard Perle,
then Chair of the U.S. Defense Policy Board. The sponsor was an unnamed
think tank. The subject was the future shape of the Middle East. The slide
show depicted "Iraq: a tactical goal, Saudi Arabia: a strategic goal," as
well as describing "Palestine is Israel, Jordan is Palestine, and Iraq is
the Hashemite Kingdom." Several months later, a leading Palestinian doctor
and grassroots activist, Mustafa Barghouthi, Director of the Health
Development and Information Policy Institute, in Ramallah, appeared to
confirm the ominous "visions" described earlier in Washington. Denouncing
"Israeli measures taken against the Palestinians," as "perhaps more
dangerous than those taken in 1948," Barghouthi observed that, "under
Sharon's plan for the Palestinians, they may now be clustered in ghettoes
over no more than 9% of historic Palestine." Representing a challenge to
such developments, including the persistent myths of "road maps" and
elusive peace processes, have been the voices of those raised in support
of a binational state encompassing Israel and Palestine. Among those who
endorsed such an option was Edward Said
Other US News
Education Secretary Calls Teachers Union 'Terrorist Organization'
Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation's largest teachers union a
"terrorist organization" during a private White House meeting with
governors on Monday.
Covered Up Evidence of P.O.W.'s Left Behind: When John Kerry's Courage
Went M.I.A. (posted 2/24)
Senator John Kerry, a decorated battle veteran, was courageous as a
navy lieutenant in the Vietnam War. But he was not so courageous more than
two decades later, when he covered up voluminous evidence that a
significant number of live American prisoners—perhaps hundreds—were never
acknowledged or returned after the war-ending treaty was signed in January
1973. The Massachusetts senator, now seeking the presidency, carried out
this subterfuge a little over a decade ago— shredding documents,
suppressing testimony, and sanitizing the committee's final report—when he
was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on P.O.W./ M.I.A. Affairs.
American Family: Living on the Verge (posted 2/24)
April 2, 2003, dawns cold and clear as Luis Aguilar pulls out the
small, neatly folded pile of new clothes, mailed by his wife three weeks
ago, to be worn today when he walks out of prison for what he prays
feverishly will be the last time. American bombs are still falling in
Baghdad as 31-year-old Luis boards the big, gray correctional bus just
outside the California Institution for Men at Chino, a sprawling,
62-year-old complex located in the shadow of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Luis was supposed to get out March 31, but the day came and went without
his name being called. When he asked a guard to find out what might be
wrong, the guard shrugged. “Are you sure you didn’t get in trouble?” Luis
was very sure, he said. The next day, when he inquired further, a Chino
staff member would say only, “There’s a problem.” The problem turned out
to be an INS hold. It seemed that, although Luis was born at the L.A.
County–USC Medical Center, the state of California had him listed as a
resident alien and had scheduled him for deportation. “It’s always
something,” Luis says.
D.A. Accused of Failing to Indict Cops Who Kill (posted 2/24)
Ever since a Brooklyn police officer fatally shot her unarmed son in
the back nine years ago, Milta Calderon has demonstrated outside the
Brooklyn district attorney's office, even getting arrested once during a
sit-in. Calderon, 51, was back at it again on a cold February afternoon
for the family of Timothy Stansbury Jr., the unarmed black teen shot dead
in January by a startled white police officer on a Brooklyn rooftop. The
teen's family expected an indictment, but Calderon had a special warning
for them about the D.A. "Charles Hynes does not indict cops," she told
report on agents released after long delay Audit finds 1 in 1,000
dismissed for crimes, misconduct (2/24)
An internal FBI report kept under wraps for three years details dozens of
cases of agents fired for egregious misconduct and crimes, including drug
trafficking, attempted murder, theft, misuse of informants and consorting
Ricin Tests May Have Been Wrong (posted
NBC News has learned investigators are looking into the possibility that
there never was any ricin attack in the first place.
Bush Plays Bait-and-Switch With 9/11 Panel (posted 2/22)
Let us finally put to rest a widely circulated and grossly inaccurate
story that's been making the rounds: Rumors of President George W. Bush's
cooperation with the panel probing the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11,
2001, are unsubstantiated.
Under The Bright Lights (posted 2/22)
The 9/11 commission is zeroing in on what President Bush knew before
9/11—and when he knew it.
Cheney afloat but blood is in the water (posted 2/22)
Deepening scandals may make the Vice-President an electoral liability,
writes Marian Wilkinson
What Bush's Guard File Reveals (posted 2/22)
Okay, we were wrong--the we being those who called on Bush to honor his
promise to release his entire Air National Guard records in the hope it
would clarify the mysteries surrounding the last eighteen months of his
service. After trying to back away from that promise, the Bush White House
finally did relent. Last Friday, it handed out packets of hundreds of
pages of Bush's Air National Guard file. Yet these records contained not a
single sheet that that can be used to resolve the controversy. In fact,
the file only reinforces the existing questions.
Terrorists (posted 2/22)
When the deadly
toxin ricin was found February 3 in the mailroom of Senate Majority Leader
Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), there was no change in Homeland Security colors.
Although biological attacks on the apparatus of government are a veritable
shortcut to domestic insecurity, they don’t register on the chromatic
terrorism scale. Americans have been trained to disassociate such attacks
from the war on terrorism. Many experts make this distinction because they
believe that homegrown terrorists likely mailed the ricin. And because our
domestic haters tend to be Christian rather than Muslim, they don’t fit
the “terrorist” mold.
America in WalMart's Image: Grocery Strikers Fight For All of Us
The only competition that exists among the corporate players at the
commanding heights of the American economy, is the race to determine who
can squeeze the workers first, and hardest. Nothing illuminates this
reality more starkly than the southern California supermarket strike and
lockout, now in its fifth month. Displaying a class solidarity that would
make Mao Tse-tung’s Army blush a deep red, a united front of grocery
chains is determined to destroy the middle class dreams of 70,000 union
2-4-6-8, This Is How We Demonstrate (posted 2/22)
from Northeast Los Angeles do the splits for women's rights, not for slam
dunks. They protest with pompoms against sweatshops, and root for peace
instead of points. The chants of the Radical Teen Cheerleaders have the
same cadences as those of football and basketball boosters, but with a
very different message. At a recent Glendale demonstration against the
U.S.-led war in Iraq, they shouted: "Hey, Bush! / Who fights your wars? /
Just minorities and the poor! / The CIA / kills people, yeah, / for
corporations, yeah, they just want more! / Who trained Bin Laden? / Who
armed, who armed Saddam Hussein? / We're out, / we're out to get, / we're
out to get those hypocrites!" The combination of peppy cheerleading
techniques and serious political protest dates back to a few efforts
during the Vietnam War. Over the last few years, radical cheerleading has
reemerged more forcefully across the country, with squads mainly of
college students and young adults rallying for environmental, feminist,
gay and other liberal causes. The war in Iraq inspired a new generation
eager to make a floor-shaking statement against the Bush administration's
foreign policy — and have some fun along the way.
companies withheld data on side effects (posted 2/22)
2, a US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) advisory committee warned doctors to
use great caution in prescribing anti-depressant drugs to children, citing
an increased risk of suicide among those taking the drugs. The FDA is
under pressure after the British Medicines and Healthcare Products
Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in December banned the prescription of all
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), other than Prozac, to
children. However, the MHRA noted that Prozac only helps one child in 10.
There are an estimated 50,000 children on anti-psychotic drugs in Britain.
The ban is blow to giant pharmaceutical corporations, which have made
billions from the sale of the drugs and have withheld negative
anti-depressant trial results from US and British regulators.
The Power Player (posted 2/22)
Who's backing one of the energy bill's biggest promoters?
What Gives Texas
A&M the Right? (posted 2/22)
During February the Texas Civil Rights Review uncovered documents from a
specially appointed task force at Texas A&M that recommended strongly in
favor of affirmative action on Aug. 29, 2003. That finding was over-ruled
by the President and buried from public view. Following is the cover story
that will appear for the next month at the Texas Civil Rights Review.
Don't Mess With Head Start's Success (posted 2/22)
Head Start works. A government study in 2001 showed that the federal
preschool program for children from low-income families improved
participants' vocabulary and writing skills and narrowed the gap between
them and more affluent youngsters. Last year, a San Bernardino County
study found that kindergarten students who had gone through Head Start
scored 9% better in literacy than students from similar backgrounds who
had not participated in the program. They were also 9.6% better in
language skills and 7.3% better in math skills. And they were absent from
school 4.5 fewer days than their peers who hadn't gone through the
program. Other research has shown that Head Start children are less likely
to need special education services, less likely to repeat grades and more
likely to graduate from high school.Most experts agree that Head Start,
which this year served 905,000 children, 104,000 of them in California,
prepares needy kids for school. So why do some House Republicans and the
Bush administration want to start experimenting with the program?
Lucrative Deals for a Daughter of Politics (posted 2/22)
Karen Weldon, an inexperienced 29-year-old lobbyist from suburban
Philadelphia, seemed an unlikely choice for clients seeking global public
relations services. Yet her tiny firm was selected last year for a plum
$240,000 contract to promote the good works of a wealthy Serbian family
that had been linked to accused war criminal Slobodan Milosevic. Despite a
lack of professional credentials, she had one notable asset — her father,
U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), who is a leading voice in Washington on
former Eastern Bloc affairs.
Disappointments (posted 2/22)
With a stalled economy and ongoing attacks against U.S. troops, judicial
appointments seemingly lack the immediacy and scope to register among
Americans' concerns this election season. But relegating the president's
power to make lifetime appointments to the lower tiers of political
consideration sets dangerous precedent – and could impact the rights of
ordinary citizens for decades to come.
Reasons--and One Very Good Reason--to Oppose a Constitutional Amendment
Barring Same-Sex Marriage (2/22)
Recently, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed that the state
constitution requires the recognition of same-sex marriage--and not just
civil unions. Among opponents of same-sex marriage, the ruling has revived
interest in a proposed federal constitutional amendment that would define
marriage throughout the country as "the union of a man and a woman." The
amendment has been pending in Congress since May 2003, but now it may move
to the front burner of American politics.
Without Borders (posted 2/22)
Twenty-two years after
the European Court of Human Rights overturned Northern Ireland's ban on
gay sodomy, the U.S. Supreme Court finally caught up. Not only did the
Court strike down a state law that criminalized consensual homosexual
activity, it even acknowledged the European precedents that had reached
the same outcome first.
U.S. Prison State (posted 2/22)
The United States is the world’s primary example of a country that deals
with its social, economic, and cultural problems by incarceration. But
this is its history. Prisons are the logical outcome of the country’s
foundation on the genocide of Native Americans, the enslavement of
Africans, and the “manifest destiny” of imperial settlerism—from sea to
Improve the CIA? Better to abolish it (posted 2/22)
(by Chalmers Johnson) Adm. Stansfield Turner, former director of central
intelligence from 1977 to 1981, recommended in a New York Times op-ed
earlier this month that U. S. intelligence operations could be improved by
adding another layer of bureaucracy to what he admits is a flawed system
of overlapping spy agencies, interagency rivalries and vested interests. I
have a better idea: Why don't we abolish the CIA and make public, as the
Constitution requires, the billions spent by the intelligence agencies
under the control of the Department of Defense so that Congress might have
a fighting chance in doing oversight?
Afghanistan: Now it's all-out war (posted 2/24)
A massive land and air military operation on either side of the border
between Afghanistan and Pakistan is now under way, with the main goals of
catching leading commanders of the Afghan resistance, as well as Osama bin
Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
Democracy in Afghanistan? An Authoritarian State Is In The Process Of
Construction (posted 2/24)
With Iraq an unmitigated disaster and a U.S election approaching in
November 2004, U.S President George Bush desperately needs a success story
in his foreign policy pursuits to justify the unleashing of the U.S's
gargantuan military might against impoverished nations. What better way
than to trumpet the triumph of 'democracy' - that sacrosanct term that
opens the hearts of ordinary Americans eager to believe that their
government is doing 'Right' in the world. With plans for Iraq's
installation of 'democracy' proving far too popular with the 'wrong' kind
of people for Washington's tastes, Afghanistan seems to be once again cast
to serve the Bush administration's needs, this time by being paraded as
the grateful - and successful - recipient of US-exported 'democracy'.
Enduring Misery: The Afghanistan Debacle (posted 2/22)
If we want to understand the Bush Foreign policy in Iraq, we only have to
look at Afghanistan. The basic principles are identical. There are
approximately 11,000 American servicemen currently in Afghanistan, most of
whom are stationed at military facilities, and most of whom contribute
nothing to the overall stability or reconstruction of the country. Some
are involved in the ongoing campaign against the resurgent Taliban in the
south, although this has been mainly limited to bombing missions and
special-ops (paramilitary raids). There has been no expanded effort to
normalize life outside of Kabul, and the warlords and drug traffickers are
basically left alone to carry on as they please.
Afghanistan Rule of the Rapists (posted
When the US began bombing Afghanistan
on October 7 2001, the oppression of Afghan women was used as a
justification for overthrowing the Taliban regime. Five weeks later
America's first lady, Laura Bush, stated triumphantly: "Because of our
recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer
imprisoned in their homes. The fight against terrorism is also a fight for
the rights and dignity of women." However, Amnesty International paints a
rather different picture: "Two years after the ending of the Taliban
regime, the international community and the Afghan transitional
administration, led by President Hamid Karzai, have proved unable to
protect women. The risk of rape and sexual violence by members of armed
factions and former combatants is still high. Forced marriage,
particularly of girl children, and violence against women in the family
are widespread in many areas of the country."
Risking Death, 2 Afghan Women Collected and Detonated U.S. Cluster Bombs
in 2001 (posted 2/22)
Two women in this poor farming village have emerged as heroines after they
witnessed the horror of two small boys being killed as they played with
little cluster bombs from an American jet. The two cleared dozens of the
bombs with their bare hands and detonated them, protecting the village.
Advocates Want Debts Forgiven on Par with Iraqi Relief (posted
Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo have something in common:
billions of dollars in international loans that vanished into the coffers
of their former dictators, Saddam Hussein and Mobutu Sese Seko. Iraq has
seen much of its $116 billion debt erased after lobbying by former
Secretary of State James Baker III, and Africa advocates want to know why
the United States can't lobby governments to reduce the debt owed by Congo
and other African countries, which totals at least $333 billion.
Why NEPAD and African Politics Don't Mix (posted 2/22)
It is now over two years since the New Partnership for Africa 's
Development (NEPAD) was launched in Abuja, Nigeria and perhaps time to
review the progress that this project for supporting development in Africa
has made. Stripped to its bare bones, the NEPAD is a "partnership" with
the developed world whereby African countries will set up and police
standards of good government across the continent--whilst respecting human
rights and advancing democracy--in return for increased aid flows, private
investment, and a lowering of obstacles to trade by the West. An extra
inflow of U.S.$64 billion from the developed world has been touted as the
"reward" for following approved policies on governance and economics.
Africa Policy Outlook 2004 (posted 2/22)
In 2004, despite the fact that two African-Americans occupy both of the
major foreign policy posts in the U.S. government, Washington will not
give Africa the attention it deserves and requires. The U.S.' Africa
policy will continue to be characterized by a duplicity that has emerged
as the principal hallmark of the Bush administration approach to the
continent. On the one hand, Africa's priorities are being marginalized and
undermined by a U.S. foreign policy preoccupied with other parts of the
world. On the other hand, the Bush White House is callously manipulating
Africa, claiming to champion the continent's needs with its compassionate
Silence=Rape (posted 2/22)
Jan Goodwin reports on mass rape in the Congo
Most Pakistanis see no crime in sharing the bomb with
are taught to virtually worship Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of
Pakistan’s nuclear bomb. So it was with respect and shock that the country
watched him confess on TV to leaking nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and
The Real WMD
Threat: Pakistan (posted 2/24)
George Bush's solution to the Iraq intelligence scandal--a new
"bipartisan" investigative panel, whose members, appointed by Bush, are
neocons and Democratic pro-war hawks--will probably be a whitewash, but
the panel is serving a useful purpose for the Bush administration: it's
distracting the media and the public from hearing the details about the
worst case in modern history of the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction. The International Atomic Energy Agency has, in recent weeks,
uncovered the shocking revelation that Pakistan, the US' long-time ally,
has sold nuclear technology and equipment to Libya, North Korea, and Iran.
General Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani President, has been quick to blame
the head scientist in Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, Dr. Abdul Qadeer
Khan, as a lone agent selling information for personal gain. But the truth
is far more disturbing.
Millions of workers strike for right to strike (posted 2/24)
New Delhi, India: Tens of millions of workers went on strike on Tuesday in
protest at a Supreme Court ban on strikes, shutting down government
offices, schools and banks and hitting public transport.
the Hook? Myanmar villagers still seek restitution for human rights
violations (posted 2/22)
For now, California energy giant Unocal Corp. is not liable for the rape,
murder, torture and forced labor that occurred during construction of the
$1.2 billion, 40-mile Yadana natural gas pipeline in Burma, now Myanmar.
On January 23, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney
concluded that Unocal could not be held accountable for the actions of its
subsidiaries—but ruled that the case could move forward if plaintiff
attorneys used other means to prove liability.
Super Highways: Lines On The Palm Or Tattoos Of Dictatorship On The Land?
Superhighways have become contemporary India's distorted identity. They
are at the heart of the "India Shining" imagery.
East and Southeast Asia
shift on nukes to Korea talks (posted 2/24)
As China Wednesday hosts the first talks in six months on North Korea's
nuclear bid, Beijing's new, younger leaders are backing a significant
policy change on the development of weapons of mass destruction. The new
doctrine, which has come into sharp relief between these two rounds of
talks, creates implicit pressure on North Korea to reverse its nuclear
program. It also brings China closer to a traditional Western "arms
control" position and closer to those in the Bush administration who want
to prohibit "rogue" states from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Technology reshaping Asian military power: experts
From drone spy planes to smart bombs, new technology is reshaping the
balance of military power in Asia, giving strength to high-tech centres
such as South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, defence experts said on Monday.
Little policy differences among elite parties (posted 2/22)
With only six weeks until the general election, there still seems to be
very little popular interest in it. Even professional politicians, who are
very interested, are focused on possible cross-party alliances, rather
than competitive campaigning for voters support. Not only are elite
parties not offering new or different policies, they are not even trying
new sloganeering or packaging of current ones.
Indonesia: Killing of Ersa Siregar Not the first, nor the last
Journalist Ersa Siregar was shot dead by Indonesian commandos on 29
December in conflict torn Aceh province, in an apparently bungled attempt
to rescue him from separatist rebels who had held him hostage for six
months. A cameraman who was with him, Ferry Santoro, is still missing.
Ersa’s colleague and friend, Aboeprijadi Santoso, pays tribute to a
Through the Veil, Darkly: Why France's Ban on the Wearing of Religious
Symbols Is Even More Pernicious Than It Appears (posted 2/22)
Not since the Mao jacket,
has a dress code been at the core of a cultural revolution. But now, a
country's new ban on the wearing of overt religious symbols in public
schools -- including the Islamic head scarf (the hijab), the Jewish
skullcap, and oversized versions of the Christian cross -- has sparked a
public furor of international dimension. One might have expected such a
ban in a totalitarian country. But the country at issue here, strangely,
is France -- a staunch constitutional democracy, now in its Fifth
Republic. (And even more strangely, France's ban has the blessing of none
other than Sunni Islam's leading cleric.)
Germany: capital flees (posted 2/22)
Germany’s generous social welfare provisions and once powerful unions
didn’t cause its economy to stagnate. The real problem has been money
leaving the country in search of easy profits.
WEIGHTLESS HEGEMONY: New Labour’s Role in the Neoliberal Order
The Centre Left governments that dominated the North Atlantic zone up to
the turn of the millennium have now all but disappeared. Within six months
of Bush’s victory in the United States, the Olive Tree coalition had
crumbled before Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. The autumn of 2001 saw Social
Democrats driven from office in Norway and Denmark. In April 2002 Kok’s
Labour-led government resigned over a report pointing to Dutch troops’
complicity in the Srebrenica massacre. The following month, Jospin came in
a humiliating third behind Chirac and Le Pen in the French presidential
contest, and the Right triumphed in the legislative elections. In Germany,
the spd–Green coalition clung on by a whisker, aided by providential
floods. Though the sap retains its historic grip on Sweden it now lacks an
absolute majority, and Persson was trounced in the 2003 campaign for euro
entry. In Greece, where pasok has only been out of power for three years
since 1981, Simitis squeaked back in 2000 with a 43.8 to 42.7 per cent
lead. Within this landscape, Britain has been the conspicuous exception.
In the United Kingdom alone a Centre Left government remains firmly in
place, its grip on power strengthened, if anything, in its second term of
office, and still enjoying a wide margin of electoral advantage. Both
features—New Labour’s survival against the general turn of the political
wheel, and the scale of its domestic predominance—set it apart within the
oecd zone. Elsewhere, although administrations have shifted from Centre
Left to Centre Right, party voting blocs have remained relatively
stable—only a point or so off 50:50 in the us, for example. In Britain,
counter-cyclically, a much more drastic shift in fortunes has occurred.
Blair’s successive parliamentary landslides, in 1997 and 2001, have
produced the largest Commons majorities in postwar history, the second
returning 413 Labour mps to 166 Conservatives and 52 Liberal Democrats.
Even with the uk bogged down in the occupation of Iraq, New Labour looks
set to win an unprecedented third term of office in 2005.
European Labor: The Ideological Legacy of the Social Pact (posted
Europe’s trade union movement is on the defensive. It is also in a
deep political and ideological crisis. At present, the trade unions are
unable to fulfill their role as the defenders of the immediate economic
and social interests of their members. They have lost ground in all
sectors and industries. What was, in the post–Second World War period, the
strongest and most influential trade union movement in the capitalist
world is today openly confused, lacks a clear vision, and hesitates in its
new social and political orientation. Ironically, the same theories,
analyses, and policies which gave it its strength in the postwar period
have now become a heavy burden. The ideological legacy of the “social
pact” is now leading the trade union movement astray.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Washington gives greenlight to right-wing coup (posted 2/24)
Former military and death-squad leaders are attempting an armed overthrow
of the elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, with the
connivance of an elite-controlled political opposition and under the
complacent eyes of Western governments. This is the bitter truth revealed
by last weekend’s events in the impoverished Caribbean island-nation. The
poorest country in the Western hemisphere, Haiti is on the verge of civil
war and a possible humanitarian catastrophe.
& A by Mary Turck (posted 2/24)
As violent gangs invade Haitian towns, murdering police and
opening jails, news reports repeat several catch phrases as if everyone
knew their meaning. In fact, those catch phrases—from "the opposition" to
"flawed (or fraudulent) elections of 2000"—are laden with political and
into Gang Warfare (posted 2/24)
As civil war encroaches, civil society implodes and civil political
discourse evaporates, one of the few things all Haitians can agree on is
their pride in Toussaint L'Ouverture, who lead the slave rebellion in
Haiti that established the world's first black republic. "The
transformation of slaves, trembling in hundreds before a single white man,
into a people able to organize themselves and defeat the most powerful
European nations of their day is one of the great epics of revolutionary
struggle and achievement," wrote the late Trinidadian intellectual CLR
James in his book The Black Jacobins. The transformation of that
achievement into a nation riven by political violence, ravaged by Aids and
devastated by poverty is a tragedy of epic proportions.
exchange on Haiti: Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the dead end of “left”
An exchange on Haiti and the nature of the resistance to President
Unique form of French Compensation for Past Injustices Could Make Amends
to Haiti, if Action is Immediately Taken (posted 2/24)
Haiti’s political opposition decided this afternoon to turn down Secretary
of State Powell’s peace plan solution. If nothing is done, Haiti’s
current reality can only change for the worse in the next few hours and
days, as forces of the violent opposition tighten the noose around the
nation’s capitol. Meanwhile, the benighted country continues to suffer
from its historical scourges of repression, violence, and unforgiving
supporters held (posted 2/24)
REBELS who over-ran Haiti’s second-largest city began detaining people
identified as supporters of the president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide,
yesterday, and said they would soon attack Haiti’s capital. In Cap-Haitien,
where rebels celebrated their biggest victory on Sunday, a rampage of
looting continued as they detained supposed Aristide militants.
Civilians blockade capital as Haitian rebels advance (posted 2/24)
HAITIAN civilians barricaded roads into Port-au-Prince
with buses and old refrigerators yesterday, after rebels fighting the
president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, said they would march on the capital
city within days. With rebels holding half of Haiti, Mr Aristide appealed
for international help for the country’s hopelessly outgunned police, who
number only 4,000 in a nation of eight million, and have appeared on
continual retreat since the revolt erupted on 5 February.
Aristide supporters prepare for last stand in Haiti capital
Supporters of Haiti's embattled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
steeled themselves for a last stand in the capital, Port-au-Prince,
yesterday. They faced a rapidly expanding rebel insurgency which tightened
its grip on the country's second-largest city, Cap-Haitien, and vowed to
have the country under its control within two weeks.
Eve Ensler and
Amnesty International March on Juarez to Stop the Murder of Young Women
Juarez, Mexico—"Ni Una Mas"—"not one more"—was the impassioned
rallying cry this Valentine's Day as activist groups from the U.S. and
Mexico converged on this gritty border city to protest the brutal killings
of more than 370 women in Juarez and the nearby state capital, Chihuahua
City, since 1993. Early Saturday, a rapt crowd of 500-plus men, women, and
children, sharing seats and crammed against the walls, spontaneously
chanted "not one more" and "you're not alone" at the local university as
Mexican professor Marcela Lagarde addressed the "feminicido" that
has plagued Chihuahua State for the past decade.
Declare Haiti a "Failed State" (posted 2/22)
The Bush administration is preparing to declare Haiti a “failed state,” so
that Washington can step in to put the pieces back together as it chooses.
Creating the conditions for such a declaration has been the U.S. objective
since George Bush came to power. For three years Washington and the
European Union have imposed an aid embargo on Haiti, squeezing the
hemisphere’s poorest nation until it screamed – and then squeezing harder.
shift from disjointed rebellion to wider uprising (posted 2/22)
Aristide's political opponents are wary of offer to share power, while
armed rebels reject peace plan.
US Double Game in Haiti (posted 2/22)
Not quite a year ago, after returning from Haiti, I wrote for Z-net, "the
United States government is playing the same game as in Iraq - pushing for
"regime change" in Haiti. Their strategy includes a massive disinformation
campaign in U.S. media, an embargo on desperately needed foreign aid to
Haiti, and direct support for violent elements, including former military
officers and Duvalierists, who openly seek the overthrow of President
Aristide." Events in Haiti today show how bloody the U.S. game has become.
HAITI-US: Bush Fears Vessels of Mass Desperation (VMD) Above All
The administration of President George W. Bush appears undecided about how
to deal with this week's violence and growing chaos in Haiti, and
increasingly worried it could spark a new exodus of thousands of boat
people onto the high seas. Relief agencies have reported they are unable
to get food supplies to areas affected by the chaos, raising the spectre
of growing malnutrition in a country where already one-half of the
population of nearly eight million people was already ''unable to secure
their minimum food requirements'', according to the U.N. Food and
Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Haiti faces humanitarian crisis as result of escalating conflict
International relief agencies are gearing up for what they warn is
becoming a major "humanitarian crisis" in Haiti, already the poorest
country in the Americas and now riven by political strife.
As Hinche Falls:
Foreign Military Intervention Looms Over Haiti (posted 2/22)
On Feb. 17, Haiti's former colonial master France craftily offered to send
troops to help quell a patchwork rebellion which it has helped foment.
Over the past three years, for example, French diplomats, in violation of
all diplomatic protocols against meddling, have funneled money to Haiti's
principal opposition radio station, Radio Métropole, and chaperoned
Haitian opposition leaders on trips and in marches around the country,
while constantly and sharply scolding the Haitian government despite
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's unending, unilateral concessions to his
intransigent adversaries. France also orchestrated the European Union's
funding of Haitian opposition groups to the tune of almost $1 million last
year. Haiti is "on the edge of chaos" French Foreign Minister Dominique de
Villepin smugly asserted in a Feb. 17 press conference. He said that
Aristide "over the years has let things degenerate" and asked, with almost
unbearable irony, "that all Haitian officials think only of one thing:
Haiti and the Haitian people who have suffered for too many years."
Stakes In Haiti as Ex-Duvalier Thugs Take Over Opposition
The emergence of former paramilitary and military leaders accused of
atrocities committed during Haiti's last period of military rule at the
head of spreading rebellion against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has
added urgency to international efforts to deal with the ongoing crisis in
the Caribbean nation.
As Haiti’s Contras
Launch Major Offensive: Washington Suggests Aristide’s Removal
Haiti’s “armed opposition” launched its most lethal offensive yet last
week, creating the civil strife that many suspect Washington seeks to
justify foreign military intervention in the country. On Feb. 10, State
Department officials gave their first public hints that they would favor
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s resignation.
Justice from Guatemala: An Open Letter to Vicente Fox (posted
Something remarkable has happened in Guatemala. You owe it to your
country to take notice. On January 20, the Guatemalan Supreme Court upheld
the conviction of a senior military officer, Col. Juan Valencia Osorio,
for plotting and ordering the political assassination of Guatemalan
anthropologist Myrna Mack Chang in 1990. The colonel has been sentenced to
30 years in prison. I imagine you are as surprised as I am that Guatemala
-- infamous the world over for a bloody civil war that lasted more than
three decades and resulted in the death or disappearance of some 200,000
civilians at the hands of government security forces--has managed to hold
a fair trial in a civilian court of a high-ranking military officer and
bring him to justice!
Cuba: The Next Forty-Five Years? (posted 2/22)
This year Cuba will be celebrating the forty-fifth anniversary of its
victorious revolution: a great historic achievement. And when we bear in
mind that the Cuban revolution—the long sustained action of a nation of
just eleven million people—survived for forty-five years against all odds,
successfully confronting the declared enmity, the U.S.-dictated
international political encirclement and economic blockade, as well as the
ever renewed attempts to subvert and overthrow the post-revolutionary
order by the world’s most preponderant economic and military power, even
this simple fact puts forcefully into relief the magnitude and the lasting
significance of the ongoing Cuban intervention in the historical process
of our time. We are all contemporaries to an achievement whose
reverberations reach well beyond the confines of the tendentiously
propagandized “American Hemisphere,” offering its hopeful message to the
rest of the world.
critics expelled from Brazilian Workers Party (posted 2/22)
When Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva addressed January’s
Summit of the Americas in Monterrey, Mexico, his words were music to
activist ears. Neo-liberalism, he said, was ‘a perverse model that
mistakenly separates the economic from the social, stability from growth,
responsibility from justice’. ‘We in Brazil have begun the war against
hunger,’ he continued. ‘The starving cannot wait.’ Back home though, the
petistas – members of Lula’s Workers Party (PT) – are still waiting for
the president to stand up to the International Monetary Fund. Despite his
rhetoric, he has presided over huge cuts in public spending and worsening
US finances coup conspiracy (posted 2/22)
In the February 10 edition of his weekly live radio and television show
Hello President, Chavez declared that there was proof of US financing of
groups working to overthrow his government now “circulating on the
internet”. He was referring to US government documents made available to
the public via the newly launched web site Venezuelafoia.info (www.venezuelafoia.info).
The site, funded by the US-based Venezuela Solidarity Committee, has
reproduced hundreds of documents obtained through the Freedom of
Information Act by veteran investigative journalist Jeremy Bigwood. The
documents reveal a consistent pattern of funding from various US
government departments and agencies, such as the State Department and the
National Endowment for Democracy, to a variety of well-known anti-Chavez
groups in Venezuela.
Colombia: Iron fist strategy's victims (posted 2/22)
The US and UK-led 'War on Terror', ostensibly being waged in the name of
freedom, is in fact having a severely detrimental effect on civil
liberties in Colombia
'No jobs, no hope, no life, no freedom': Palestinians and the 'security'
barrier (posted 2/24)
The young paramedic picked up a blood-soaked school homework sheet from
the remains of the latest bus bomb and said: "This is why we need this
wall. There were children on that bus doing their homework on the way to
school and then they are blown up. How can I see the Palestinians as human
beings when they do things like this? The wall will save lives. How can
anyone argue against something that could save a child's life?"
Israeli women keep eyes on army
Three hundred Israeli women volunteer to monitor Israeli
army actions at West Bank checkpoints.
Israel accused of 'illegal land grab' (posted 2/24)
Israel was accused yesterday of erecting its controversial security
barrier as part of an illegal bid to grab Palestinian land, as a landmark
legal case began amid protests in The Hague.
No need to go as
far as The Hague (posted 2/24)
The reckoning in blood - human lives and money wasted that could have been
used to buy more security - that has gone to waste because of the failed
attempt to transform a barrier against terror attacks into a barrier
against a political agreement with the Palestinians, should be submitted
A Wall as a Weapon by Noam Chomsky (posted 2/22)
It is a virtual reflex for governments to plead security concerns when
they undertake any controversial action, often as a pretext for something
else. Careful scrutiny is always in order. Israel's so-called security
fence, which is the subject of hearings starting today at the
International Court of Justice in The Hague, is a case in point.
causes serious humanitarian and legal problems (posted 2/22)
The International Red Cross is increasingly concerned about the
humanitarian impact of the West Bank Barrier on many Palestinians living
in occupied territory. Where it deviates from the "Green Line" into
occupied territory, the Barrier deprives thousands of Palestinian
residents of adequate access to basic services such as water, health care
and education, as well as sources of income such as agriculture and other
forms of employment.
International: "The wall violates international law" (posted 2/22)
On the eve of the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) opening hearing
on the construction of the fence/wall by Israel, Amnesty International
calls on the Israeli authorities to immediately dismantle the sections
already built inside the West Bank and halt the construction of the
fence/wall and related infrastructure inside the Occupied Territories.
become bullies (posted 2/2)
Three armed bullies in black ski masks get out of the jeep quickly. One
breaks into shouts at the taxi driver who is letting off a female
passenger, waving a rifle in the driver's face and ordering him out of the
car. The bully then orders the frightened driver to hand over the keys to
his taxi and get going. The helpless driver hands over his keys. In a
feeble voice he asks if and when he can get his taxi back. "Maybe at the
end of the day, maybe Wednesday. We'll see," says the thug, sticking the
keys into his pocket, getting back in the jeep and driving away. Highway
bandits in Chechnya? Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Balata? No. The three
bullies were Israeli soldiers.
Suicide bomber kills eight in Jerusalem bus attack (posted 2/22)
A Palestinian suicide bomber killed eight Israelis and wounded about 60
when he blew himself up on a bus in Jerusalem during the morning rush hour
Sharon money to Caribbean bank
Police have obtained significant new information in
their investigation of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his sons by
deposing a witness on a Caribbean island, and now intend to question the
suspects in the affair, including the three Sharons, on the information.
The new lead relates to a $1.5 million loan Sharon's family received from
British businessman Cyril Kern to repay illegal contributions to Sharon's
1999 primary campaign.
suspected of selling nukes to India and Pakistan (posted 2/22)
An Israeli businessman accused of being a middleman in the nuclear
black market worked to supply not only Pakistan but also its arch-rival
India, court records indicate.
Israelis kill crops to oust Beduin (posted 2/22)
Four crop-spraying planes circling overhead have brought silent death
to the fields of wheat and barley that Shaikh Salih Abu Darim and his
beduin tribe will need to feed themselves and their goats and sheep for
freedoms of Israel (posted 2/22)
The policies of Ariel Sharon’s
government, especially its security wall, are meeting resistance within
Israel, partly because the liberties of Israelis are being threatened,
amid signs of a democracy in crisis.
Jewish Self-Absorption (posted 2/22)
(By former CIA analyst Kathleen Christison) I was kidding a couple of
Muslim Palestinian-American friends the other day about being barbarians,
by the lights of Israeli historian Benny Morris. This was a day or two
after this paragon of dispassionate Israeli scholarship had expostulated
in an interview published in Ha’aretz on the benefits (if you’re Jewish)
of ethnic cleansing, the critical miscalculation of David Ben-Gurion in
not having completed the total ethnic cleansing of Palestine from the
Mediterranean to the Jordan River in 1948 when he had a chance, and the
barbarity of Arab and Muslim culture. “The Arab world as it is today is
barbarian,” Morris declared. Islamic and Arab culture is “a world in which
human life doesn’t have the same value as it does in the West,” in which
freedom and democracy are alien, in which there are “no moral
inhibitions.” He was speaking in sweeping terms, of entire cultures, of
the mass of individuals in the Arab and the Muslim worlds, not merely of
governments that are oppressive or undemocratic. Palestinians in
particular, Morris believes, are barbaric, “a very sick society,” and
should be treated “the way we treat individuals who are serial killers. .
. . Something like a cage has to be built for them.”
of Churches demands that Israel stops construction of wall
The executive committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has issued
a powerful appeal to the Israeli government demanding that they "stop and
reverse the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian
spring of change (posted 2/22)
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is under pressure to intervene and delay this
month’s general election amid the furore caused by the Council of
Guardians’ decision to blacklist moderate candidates. Many reformist
members of parliament resigned in protest and some now fear that security
forces may act to push through the vote. Most Iranians don’t want a
confrontation between conservatives and reformers - they want the changes
in their social, cultural and economic lives to continue.
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