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It's Business As Usual, Starring Howard Dean!
(Updated: Nov. 23)

The Awful Truth About General Wesley Clark
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NOTE TO READERS: The Dissident Voice News Service feature is out of commission until late-2005. We're leaving this page up for archival purposes.

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Week of February 23-28, 2004
(Last Updated: Feb. 24, 9:40pm PST)


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US Terror War and Military Matters

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 2/22)
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.

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 (posted 2/22)
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 ( 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 nutshell.

Foreign Aid Budget Looks Like a Retread from the Cold War (posted 2/22)
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.

Hidden 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 friendly aircraft.

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 (posted 2/24)
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.

Gunned 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 (posted 2/24)
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 (posted 2/24)
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.

Is the 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.

Soldier for the Truth: Exposing Bush’s talking-points war (posted 2/24)
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 Canada.

(posted 2/24)
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 unraveling.

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 on Monday.

Reuters Book Tells Untold Tales From Iraq (posted 2/24)
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 2/22)
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.

The 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.

WHO ‘suppressed’ scientific study into depleted uranium cancer fears in Iraq (posted 2/22)
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 2/22)
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, Carl Conetta.

What Iraqis 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 2/22)
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 administration officials.

Whistleblower calls for new inquiry into Iraq `intelligence’ (posted 2/22)
“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.

US Still Paying Millions to Group that Provided False Iraqi Intel (posted 2/22)
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 official.

Uncle Sap Suckered Again Chalabi to US: You've been scammed! (posted 2/22)
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 (posted 2/22)
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 (posted 2/22)
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 (posted 2/22)
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 reservists.

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 (posted 2/22)
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 future.

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 the accused.

Case set to be dropped against GCHQ mole who blew whistle on US bugging (posted 2/22)
The 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 "illegal war".

Bush Iraq 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.

Dear Mr. 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.

President Bush's 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 2/22)
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 control.

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 benefactors.

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 trade.

Instead of Admitting Economic Truth, Bush Resorts to Statistical Manipulation
(posted 2/24)
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 term.

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 same period.

A 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).

The Bush 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 2/22)
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 also worsened.

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 2/22)
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 States."

Striking LA grocery worker speaks out: "Hit them where it hurts" (posted 2/22)
Labor 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
(posted 2/22)
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.

After Neoliberalism: Empire, Social Democracy, or Socialism? (posted 2/22)
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.

The Current Account Deficit and the Budget Deficit: Is $600 Billion Missing?
(posted 2/22)
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.

Elections 2004

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."

Kerry's 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.

Tangled Up 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.

Dems Call Ralph: But Is Nader's Raid on the Race Really So Bad? (posted 2/24)
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 2/24)
Text of a news conference with Ralph Nader at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

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 . . .

Candidate Ralph 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 Kucinich.

Canadian film may put Nader on radar (posted 2/24)
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 (posted 2/24)
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.

Kerry under 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.

Purging the 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 administration.

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 said Saturday.

'It's Time to Get Over It': Kerry Tells Antiwar Movement to Move On (posted 2/22)
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.

Spinelessness 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?

On John Kerry And the Marginalization of Emboldened Democrats (posted 2/22)
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 apoplectic.

Nader 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.

Will 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 Herbert Hoover.

Third parties 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 (posted 2/22)
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 independents.

The 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."

The 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 (posted 2/22)
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.

Civil Liberties/Repression

The Ideology 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 Bay.

Military justice system a self-inflicted casualty in terror war (posted 2/24)
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. James Yee.

US still 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.

Supreme Court 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.

Police infiltration of protest groups upsets rights activists (posted 2/22)
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 intelligence-gathering powers.

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 today."

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 (posted 2/22)
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?' (posted 2/22)
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.

Rhode Island's War on Anarchism You Could Get 10 Years in Prison Just for Reading This (posted 2/22)
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 years.

Prosecutor Misconduct In Two Recent High-Profile Cases: Why It Happens, and How We Can Better Prevent It (posted 2/22)
Federal prosecutorial misconduct has turned two recent high profile cases -- one involving allegations of murder, the other involving allegations of a terrorist conspiracy -- upside down.

A Turn for the Worse in the United States: Criminalizing Dissent (posted 2/22)
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 happening.

Corporate Crime

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.

Health, Environment, and Science

Dramatic Climate Change Could Become Global Security Nightmare (posted 2/24)
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.

In Health, 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 US

Arizona Gov. Blasts Bush on Forest Policy (posted 2/24)
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano on Saturday accused the Bush administration of mismanaging the federal forests, which she said could lead to "megafires" this summer.

Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us (posted 2/22)
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 the world.

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.

Taking Spin Out of Report That Made Bad Into Good Health (posted 2/22)
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.

Culture and the Arts

Weird 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.

Left Anti-intellectualism and Its Discontents (posted 2/22)
"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 and puppeteers?

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 every month.

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?

The 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

Bush's Education Secretary Calls Teachers Union 'Terrorist Organization'
(posted 2/24)
Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation's largest teachers union a "terrorist organization" during a private White House meeting with governors on Monday.

Senator 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.

An 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.

Brooklyn 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 Stansbury's dad.

FBI 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 with prostitutes.

Ricin Tests May Have Been Wrong (posted 2/22)
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.

Homegrown 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.

Remaking America in WalMart's Image: Grocery Strikers Fight For All of Us
(posted 2/22)
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 workers.

2-4-6-8, This Is How We Demonstrate (posted 2/22)
These cheerleaders 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.

Drug companies withheld data on side effects (posted 2/22)
On February 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.

Judicial 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.

Three Bad 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.

Gay Rights 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.

The 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 shining sea.

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/Central Asia

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'.

Operation 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 2/22)
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.


Africa Advocates Want Debts Forgiven on Par with Iraqi Relief (posted 2/22)
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 conservative agenda.

Silence=Rape (posted 2/22)
Jan Goodwin reports on mass rape in the Congo

Asian Sub-Continent

Most Pakistanis see no crime in sharing the bomb with Muslim countries
(posted 2/24)
Children here 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 North Korea.

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.

Unocal Off 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? (posted 2/22)
Superhighways have become contemporary India's distorted identity. They are at the heart of the "India Shining" imagery.

East and Southeast Asia

China brings 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 (posted 2/24)
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.

INDONESIA: 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 (posted 2/22)
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 committed reporter.


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.

A WEIGHTLESS HEGEMONY: New Labour’s Role in the Neoliberal Order (posted 2/22)
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 2/22)
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

Haiti: 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.

Haiti Q & 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 historical freight.

Haiti's Descent 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.

An exchange on Haiti: Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the dead end of “left”
nationalist politics
(posted 2/24)
An exchange on Haiti and the nature of the resistance to President Aristide.

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 poverty.

Aristide 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 (posted 2/24)
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 (posted 2/24)
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.

US Goal: 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.

In Haiti, 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 (posted 2/22)
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 (posted 2/22)
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."

Rising Stakes In Haiti as Ex-Duvalier Thugs Take Over Opposition (posted 2/22)
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 (posted 2/22)
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.

Lessons on Justice from Guatemala: An Open Letter to Vicente Fox (posted 2/22)
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.

Lula 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 living conditions.

VENEZUELA: 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 (  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

Middle East

'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 (posted 2/24)
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 in Jerusalem.

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.

Barrier 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.

Amnesty 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.

When soldiers 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 yesterday.

Police track Sharon money to Caribbean bank (posted 2/22)
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.

Israeli 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 the year.

Lost 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.

Dealing with 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.”

World Council of Churches demands that Israel stops construction of wall
(posted 2/22)
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 Territories".

Iran: a 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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