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February 28-29

Bush Call Off Your Dogs!: The US Can End the Killing it Started in Haiti
by Glen Ford and Peter Gamble

In willful ignorance and with every bad intention, the U.S. corporate media ask the ridiculous question, Should the US intervene in Haiti, or not? The bloody answer screams back from the Haitian mountains and cities: Washington has already intervened militarily in Haiti, through its surrogates’ armed invasion from the Dominican Republic. The Americans set loose the dogs of war, and can rein them back in – if Washington chooses. Any discussion that fails to acknowledge the U.S. role in nurturing the several-hundred-man force that has systematically overrun much of the country, is a conversation divorced from reality. . . (full article)

Invading Iraq to Appease Bin Laden
by Ahmed Amr

Chances are, you don’t depend on Murdoch’s morons or CNN’s neo-con pundits for your daily news fix. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be searching alternative media sites for the real reasons we went to war. By now, events have confirmed your initial hunch that the WMDs were a bogus contrived ‘intelligence failure’ to justify the invasion of Iraq. As Wolfowitz would put it, the WMDs were just a ‘bureaucratic’ sideshow to rally Americans and get ‘international legitimacy’, a British requirement to shield Tony Blair from breaking English law. With the absent WMDs no longer an issue, one needs to focus on how the war was sold inside the Bush administration. How exactly did the White House insiders talk themselves into this mess? The secret agenda for this undeclared ‘preemptive’ war of choice may never be fully known. Chances are, each faction of the Bush administration had a unique rationale for promoting the invasion. . . (full article)

Gaffes and Gullibility: The NY Times Gets it Wrong
by Jim Lobe

If Walter Lippman, perhaps the most influential US press critic and foreign-policy columnist of the 20th century, were alive today, chances are he would shake his head knowingly and mutter something like, "The more things change, the more they remain the same." After all, it was in 1920 that he and a colleague, Charles Merz, wrote in their analysis of New York Times coverage of the Bolshevik Revolution between 1917 and 1920 that the newspaper's reporting on Russia during that period was "nothing short of a disaster". In an article in The New Republic magazine, they wrote that the Times had reported the imminent or actual end of the Soviet regime "not once or twice, but 91 times in the two years from November, 1917 to November 1919". "They [Times journalists] were performing the supreme duty in a democracy of supplying the information on which public opinion feeds, and they were derelict in that duty," added Lippman and Merz. How had the Times gotten things so wrong? Eighty-four years later, the same question is being asked about the performance of the mass media - especially the Times - on reporting about Iraq, particularly the prewar and even postwar assumptions that the country possessed vast stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons and had reconstituted its nuclear-arms program. . . (full article)

Star Wars
by Peter Kurth

What a shame to think that the universe has only 30 billion years to go before it loses its battle with some “mysterious, repulsive force” and either “expands so incredibly that it ends in a Big Rip” or, conversely, changes course and smashes us to a pulp, in a final, cataclysmic “Big Crunch.” Scientists are calling this force "dark energy," with a nod to Einstein, but in fact they have no idea what's causing it.  "Galaxies are receding from each other at an ever-faster pace,” is the most they can say.  "Gravity is losing,” news that's bound to upset the God Bless America, One Man-One Woman, Four Cars in Every Driveway crowd. . . (full article)

An Enemy of the People
by John Chuckman

Ralph Nader has defined a perfect moral dilemma for thinking Americans. He finds himself in a situation resembling that of Dr. Stockmann in Ibsen's drama, "An Enemy of the People." Dr. Stockmann discovered the municipal baths were contaminated, but good burghers worried about the destructive effects of the truth on the town did not want the doctor revealing it. A number of America's good burghers, fearing the effect of Nader's candidacy on the Democratic candidate's prospects, have warned him against running for office, some are reported to have stopped supporting the many worthy public-service organizations he founded, and some are writing nasty little pieces calling him names. . . (full article)

The Nader Controversy
by Michael Albert

Z Magazine editor Mike Albert weighs in on the Nader debate. . . (full article)

Liberty and Justice and the Wall
by Ahmed Amr

Edward Said, the late great Palestinian fighter for the liberation of his people, was entirely too charitable when he criticized Israel’s ‘generous offer’ of Bantustans for the native people of the Holy Land. The tiniest proposed Bantustan by the former Apartheid regime in South Africa was larger than the entire land area of Gaza. And larger than the 42% of the West Bank that make up the barbed wire enclaves and walled ghettos Sharon is offering as his version of a ‘Palestinian State’. "The monstrosity that is the Apartheid wall speaks volumes about how far Israelis have strayed from even the most minimal notions of liberty and justice. Even as you read this, an ugly concrete wall is being constructed to prevent a Palestinian farmer from reaching the fields where his ancestors planted the family’s olive trees. In many cases, his family will literally be deprived from even embracing the rays of the sun. Sharon’s Apartheid wall will cast an all day shadow like a permanent fog to suffocate entire neighborhoods." Extended families will have to make choices on which side of the wall to reside. Ailing parents will not be visited for evening coffee. Local schools, hospitals, churches and mosques will be on the ‘other side’ of an eighteen-foot barricade. Virtually, the entire occupied population will be within walking distance of the wall.  These are not Bantustans by any stretch of the imagination, more like large walled compounds. In America they call them prisons. The open spaces outside your front door are jail yards. Passes will be required to move from one barbed wire enclave to another. . . (full article)

When Outsourcing Is (Not) Good For US Workers
by Seth Sandronsky

In America, those who work or are struggling to find it are catching hell. The jobless recovery, plus state and local government spending cuts are helping to depress wages as the cost of health care soars. Some U.S. political elites and media commentators smell blood. Their talk reflects this feeding frenzy. . .
(full article)

The Greenspan Solution: Cut From Those Who Need It the Most
by Norma Sherry

Franklin Delano Roosevelt must be turning in his grave. Entitlement programs, hogwash. Medicare, phooey. Medicaid, who the hell cares? After-school programs, let them take care of themselves. Social Security, let ‘em cake. The New Deal is a dead deal, who cares about the little weasels? According to Federal Reserve guru, Alan Greenspan, who is obviously in touch with the man and woman on the street, in the ghetto, in the old-age home, in the nursing home, living hand to mouth, he proclaims the answer to our financial woes of an overly exuberant and financially-bankrupt administration is to cut from those who need it the most. Greenspan offered his latest mutterings, not as a spokesperson of the Federal Reserve, as if one could separate the man who wields so much power from his titled position of “Federal Reserve Chairman”. Not one word did he whisper to our billions of dollars to fight a war that should never have been. Not one word did he growl about the tax breaks zealously given to our corporations. The same corporations, by the way, who have tax shelters up the ying yang, off-shore headquarters created solely to exonerate them from our tax-paying laws, and who have de-railed the American worker by importing and exporting cheap labor. Nada. Not a word. . .
(full article)

February 26-27

Dances With Cruxifixes
by Leilla Matsui

The carefully crafted controversy surrounding actor Mel Gibson's much hyped directorial debut "The Passion of the Christ" over its alleged anti-Semitic message (Jews killed Christ, now they want to kill my movie) will likely succeed in tempting millions of Americans to sit through a film with subtitles for the first time in their lives.  How they'll manage to move their lips in the dark with Mars Bars and corn dogs stuffed in their mouths is anyone's guess, which is probably why it's never been tried before. America's Christian majority have cause to rejoice over Hollywood's temporary transformation into "Holywood". Families can now safely venture into cineplexes without worrying about what Pee-Wee Herman may have left on the seat. So much for "secular excitement." Some might argue that a man being impaled, flayed alive and left to bake in the desert could hardly be categorized as wholesomely edifying entertainment, unless of course you're Mel Gibson's dominatrix. . . (full article)

Spying On UN Secretary General Part Of Larger Campaign to
Undermine UN Missions In Iraq
by Jason Leopold

More evidence emerged Thursday about the United States and Britain’s underhanded tactics aimed at undermining the United Nations Security Council as it considered a U.S.-backed resolution in launching a preemptive strike against Iraq last year. Clare Short, a former member of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s cabinet, told the BBC that British intelligence officials spied on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan during the run-up to war in Iraq so it could learn how Security Council members would vote on the resolution. Short said she read transcripts produced by British spies who allegedly bugged Annan’s office before the Iraq war. A UN spokesman said any such espionage, if true, would be illegal. . . (full article)

Janet Jackson, George Bush, and No. 524:
There Are No Half-Time Shows in War
by Walter Brasch

On the day that Justin Timberlake ripped open Janet Jackson’s blouse during the half-time of the Super Bowl to reveal a bejeweled breast and create a national firestorm of protest, American Soldiers 523 and 524 died in Iraq. Along with the two American soldiers, 14 were wounded. Also that day, two suicide bombers killed more than 100 Kurds and wounded more than 200. Back in the United States, CBS, which broadcast the game, MTV which produced the half-time show, and Viacom, which owns both CBS and MTV, said they were shocked and outraged that Timberlake and Jackson would do such a despicable act. The NFL said it was “embarrassed.” The two singers claim the blouse-ripping was the result of a “wardrobe malfunction.” The network, of course, said little about the crotch-grabbing rump-slapping other parts of the show. . . (full article)

UN Spying and Evasions of American Journalism
by Norman Solomon

Tony Blair and George W. Bush want the issue of spying at the United Nations to go away. That’s one of the reasons the Blair government ended its prosecution of whistleblower Katharine Gun on Wednesday (Feb. 25). But within 24 hours, the scandal of U.N. spying exploded further when one of Blair’s former cabinet ministers said that British spies closely monitored conversations of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq last year. . .
(full article)

Haiti's Lawyer: US is Arming Anti-Aristide Paramilitaries
by Amy Goodman, Jeremy Scahill and Democracy Now!

The US lawyer representing the government of Haiti charged today that the US government is directly involved in a military coup attempt against the country's democratically elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Ira Kurzban, the Miami-based attorney who has served as General Counsel to the Haitian government since 1991, said that the paramilitaries fighting to overthrow Aristide are being backed by Washington. . . (full article)

Criminal Dissent: Are Recent Tactics in Iowa Part of a Larger Bush Administration Effort to Punish Dissent?
by Bill Berkowitz

In the early 1970s, Guy Goodwin, a Special Prosecutor working for U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell -- who was soon to become a star player in President Richard Nixon's Watergate scandal -- convened grand juries across the country to target radicals, anti-war activists, unions, and others. Goodwin, characterized by the Center for Constitutional Rights as the "grand inquisitor of the politically motivated grand jury," was a man on a mission. Unlike thirty years ago, the convening of grand juries by John Ashcroft's Department of Justice is only one weapon in the administration's anti-dissent arsenal, Michael Avery, President of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) told TomPaine.com in a telephone interview. "This administration is trying to criminalize dissent, characterize protesters as terrorists and trying to intimidate and marginalize those opposed to its policies," Avery said. It has opened the floodgates to all kinds of investigative activities and now "police agencies across the country are actively engaged in spying and compiling dossiers on citizens exercising their constitutional rights." . . . (full article)

The Military Death Toll While Enforcing the Occupation of Iraq:
US-uk Military Fatalities Post May 1, 2003

by Paul de Rooij

Paul de Rooij's weekly examination of "coalition" deaths in Iraq since May 1, 2003
(full article)

A Challenge to the Politics of "Lesser Evilism"
by Alan Maass

The Democrats claim that they oppose George W. Bush and his right-wing agenda. But they save their real poison for challengers from their left. Last weekend, Ralph Nader announced that he would run as an independent candidate in the 2004 presidential election--and was met with a tidal wave of abuse and slander. "It’s dishonesty of the highest level to say ‘I’m running as an independent,’ when all he’s doing is helping elect Bush, and he knows it," ranted New York City Democrat Elizabeth Holtzman, a former member of Congress. "He’s nothing but a shill for George Bush." New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson declared that "it’s about [Nader], it’s about his ego, it’s about his vanity, and not about a movement." It takes a special kind of arrogance to dismiss as a "shill" someone with Ralph Nader’s decades of political accomplishments--or for a power-hungry hack like Bill Richardson to suddenly offer himself as a spokesperson for "the movement." But when it comes to denouncing Nader, nothing is out of bounds. . . (full article)

Why I'm Running for President
by Ralph Nader

The following is a transcript of a news conference with Ralph Nader at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, February 23, 2004, transcribed by Federal News Service Inc: Today I enter the 2004 elections as an independent candidate for the presidency of the United States, to join with all Americans who wish to declare their independence from corporate rule and its domination. The exercised sovereignty of the people in our history has brought forth solutions to the people, the justice they created and the futures they desired for their children. . .
(full article)

Ralph's Dark Side: Mr. Nader and the Newmanites
by Doug Ireland

When Ralph Nader announced his presidential candidacy on Meet the Press, that he’s running wasn’t as surprising as his rationale for doing so. Nader offered as his principal reason his “desire to retire” George Bush. Just how did Nader assert his candidacy would do that? Why, because he’ll take votes from “conservatives furious with Bush over the deficit” and “liberal Republicans who see their party being taken away from them.” The notion that Nader this year could ever peel off enough right-wing votes from Bush to tip the election against him is, quite simply, delusional. Pretending he could do so is only the latest evidence that Nader has completely lost his judgment. . . Worse, Nader has now jumped into bed with the ultrasectarian cult-racket formerly known as the New Alliance Party and its guru, Fred Newman . . . (full article)

Winning with Ralph Nader
by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair

Listening to Democrats screaming about Ralph Nader's entry into the presidential race we finally understand the mindset of those Communist dictatorships that used to take such trouble to ensure that the final count showed a 99 percent Yes vote for the CP candidate. It's a totalitarian logic. "Anybody But Bush" chorus the Democrats. But they don't mean that. They mean, "Nobody But Kerry". And if John Edward wins big in the primaries next week, they'll start shouting "Nobody But Edwards".What they're saying is that no one has the right to challenge Bush but a Democrat, whoever that Democrat might be, no matter what that Democrat stands for. . . (full article)

Birth of a New Movement for Civil Rights: Separate is not equal. That’s the message of the gay civil rights movement that has burst forth across the US, inspired by the fight for the right of gays and lesbians to marry.
by Elizabeth Schulte, Steve Trussell and Sherry Wolf

Thousands of gays and lesbians lined up at City Hall in San Francisco when Mayor Gavin Newsom announced February 12 that the city would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in defiance of state law. "A lot of us had already said ‘I do’ in our own private ceremonies years earlier," said Kathryn Lybarger, describing the scene. "But the tears coming down this time came from the understanding that we were saying ‘I do’ together, for the first time in history. My friend James said it felt something like the end of apartheid, or the Berlin Wall coming down." By February 20, more than 3,000 couples had taken part in wedding ceremonies. "There’s going to be a lot of push around the country for gay marriage now" . . .
(full article)

Damn the Dams: An Interview with Medha Patkar
by Robert Jensen

Over the past two decades the struggle against dam projects that threaten the right to life and livelihood for the people of India's Narmada valley has grown into one of the world's largest non-violent social movements. Activist Medha Patkar has been at the center of these struggles, gaining worldwide notoriety for sharp analysis and courageous activism that has included long fasts, police beatings and jail. . . (full article)

The Crats of Hebron
by Mary La Rosa

Hebron, Ancient City, Holy City....not a City any more: Hebron, hallowed or not, like most cities or towns in the Occupied Territories, once beautiful places in which to live, delightful cultural and religious places to visit, is now a divided military zone.  Instead of villages and squares there are divisions with zone names like "Area H-2",  for areas where people once lived free from occupation and were able to honor sacred places in a diversity that supplied prosperity for many. Hebron is a city illegally occupied by an army that does not belong there, but who are there to provide safety and protection for settlers who do not belong there either.
(full article)

Diebold, Electronic Voting and the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy
by Bob Fitrakis

The Governor of Ohio, Bob Taft, and other prominent state officials, commute to their downtown Columbus offices on Broad Street. This is the so-called “Golden Finger,” the safe route through the majority black inner-city near east side. The Broad Street BP station, just east of downtown, is the place where affluent suburbanites from Bexley can stop, gas up, get their coffee and New York Times. Those in need of cash visit BP’s Diebold manufactured CashSource+ ATM machine which provides a paper receipt of the transaction to all customers upon request. Many of Taft’s and President George W. Bush’s major donors, like Diebold’s current CEO Walden “Wally” O’Dell, reside in Columbus’ northwest suburb Upper Arlington. O’Dell is on record stating that he is “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President” this year. On September 26, 2003, he hosted an Ohio Republican Party fundraiser for Bush’s re-election at his Cotswold Manor mansion. Tickets to the fundraiser cost $1000 per couple, but O’Dell’s fundraising letter urged those attending to “Donate or raise $10,000 for the Ohio Republican Party.”
(full article)

Mandatory Same-Sex Marriage
by Richard Oxman

Gavin Newsom, San Francisco's sweetheart of a mayor, did a fine job on Ted Koppel's show the other night.  The congresswoman from Colorado who was trying to trip him up with suggestions that same-sex marriage would open the door to proselytizing for polygamy was perfectly put in her place.  He called her on the "red herring," making several other three-pointers from about half-court in Teddy's gym.  And he did it all with winning ear-to-ear smiles, providing (political) over-the-shoulder saves a la Willie Mays at the Polo Grounds. Or, rather, the Jordanesque equivalent. . . (full article)

Anticipating the Capture of Osama bin Laden
by Ahmed Bouzid

Howard Dean's bubble didn't burst in Iowa with his manic rebel yell of defeat, nor was it punctured by Al Gore's kiss of death: the bubble vanished on December 13, 2003, the day Saddam Hussein was captured by US forces. . . There is a cautionary tale and an important lesson here not only for the current Democratic front-runner, but also for the opposition in general. John Kerry -- if his bandwagon continues to fill merrily -- and those who are managing his campaign need to psychologically prepare the electorate for the possible capture of Osama bin Laden. Democrats simply cannot afford a replay of their Dear-in-the-headlights Saddam capture performance. . . (full article)

February 24-25

The Breast That Changed the World
by Barbara Sumner Burstyn

In my living room in New Zealand, half-way through last week's episode of the banal, overhyped The Osbournes, it dawned on me what was so weird: you could hear every word. Watch the same show in the US and you need to lip-read your way round the almost continuous beeping-out of bad words. The same day I read yet another attack on Janet Jackson. Across America her supposedly sexually explicit breast baring has unleashed a torrent of moral effluvia. Book-ended with the "outrage, anger, embarrassment and serious injury" Super Bowl viewers were said to have suffered was the so-called scandal being fanned round John Kerry, the Democratic presidential hopeful with the allegedly sleazy past. It seems America just can't get enough of moral outrage. It's as if a new spirit of moral conservatism is sweeping the country that goes far beyond a few outraged citizens complaining away the rights of others to listen to the Osbournes swear and curse. . . (full article)

Halliburton, VP Cheney’s Former Company Faces
Second Criminal Probe In Four Years

by Jason Leopold

Halliburton and its former chief executive, Vice President Dick Cheney, could become President Bush’s Achilles heel come the November presidential election. On Monday, the Pentagon said it launched a criminal investigation into allegations that Halliburton Inc. subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root overcharged the federal government upwards of $65 million for fuel delivered into Baghdad during the Iraq war. . . (full article)

The Sleaze Behind Our Science: The Conflicts of Interest Revealed
by the MMR Story are Everywhere

by George Monbiot

Pity Andrew Wakefield. The doctor who suggested that there might be a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, causing thousands of parents to refuse to let their children have the jab, is being paraded through the nation with the label "cheat" hung round his neck. The General Medical Council is deciding whether to charge him with professional misconduct, MPs have called for an inquiry, and the newspapers are tearing him to bits. There's little doubt that he messed up. Some of his findings have been disproved by further studies, and we now know that when he published his paper he failed to reveal that he was taking money from the Legal Aid Board. The board was paying him to discover, on behalf of parents hoping to sue for damages, whether or not the jab was harmful. It looks like a conflict of interest, and his failure to disclose it was wrong. But the crime for which the new Dr Evil is being punished is everywhere. The scientific establishment is rotten from top to bottom, riddled with conflicts far graver than Dr Wakefield's. Such is the state of science today that if, for example, there HAS been a genuine rise in the incidence of autism, and if that rise is linked to an environmental pollutant or the side-effects of a valuable drug, it's hard to see how we would ever find out. . . (full article)

Inequality and Unity in the 2004 Presidential Election
by Seth Sandronsky

Separate and unequal. That reality is now a part of the 2004 run for the White House. Democratic senator and presidential candidate John Edwards says there are “two Americas” of rich and poor. The gap between them has been growing. . .
(full article)

Kicking Around a Peace Prize
by Walter Brasch

The wire services distributed it.
The news media published it.
Even Netscape put it on its front page.
George W. Bush was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Yes, that George W. Bush. . . (full article)

Israel's Contempt for the International Court of Justice is
Inimical to Its Own Interest

by Neve Gordon

Imagine a domestic terrorist cell loose in the city. They have already murdered a few people. The intelligence agency claims that members of the black community are harboring them, and their victims are almost always white. Since the city is more or less segregated, the police commissioner decides to erect a 25 foot concrete wall around the different black neighborhoods. All access to and from each neighborhood is blocked, except for a single gate which is open from 7 am to 9 am and then again from 5 pm to 7 pm. Special permits to pass through the gate are distributed to a select few. The black population is outraged. Their leaders protest the siege and decide to sue the police. In their petition to the court they underscore that the commissioner’s reaction constitutes a form of collective punishment informed by racism. Thousands of innocent men and women cannot reach work, their children cannot attend schools or universities, hospitals are out of bounds, and patients are dying because they do not receive medical care. “Our life has become unbearable,” they say. A date is set for the trial, but a few days before the hearing, the police commissioner notifies the public that he is unwilling to show up in court. He summons a press conference and tells the reporters that this is a security issue, not a legal one. This disturbing story is but an analogy of the Israeli and Palestinian positions now being argued at the Hague. . . (full article)

What To Do? Violence Reconsidered
by Richard Oxman

Why are so many people on the Left caught up with whether or not they can hold Bush accountable for Crimes Against Humanity?  They do a good tap dance around our ongoing genocidal practices respecting Native Americans, making sure that "genocide" is only used with reference to Nazi practices of the past. Very convenient for pulling a red herring respecting our own abominations.  But the practice flies in the face of the fact that we have not been honoring the very standards we adopted at Nuremberg.  In addressing the justification Americans used to put others to death in 1946 at the trials in Germany, U.S. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson underscored that ''only as this standard is accepted, supported and enforced that we can move onward to a world of law and peace." Our own lebensraumpolitik with regard to Indians, our daily genocidal policies continuing into the New Century, are overshadowed by more sexy onslaughts abroad, ones that don't require lefties to acknowledge their complicity in crimes here at home.  American citizens living today did not start the well-documented Red genocide, but they certainly enjoy the fruits of what their ancestors have wrought. However, whether it's the fact that we violated international law in escalating our war with Iraq, in mining Nicaraguan harbors, or in decimating the Native Ameican population, we are not living in a nation of laws.  Have not been for quite some time; the only difference since 9/11, perhaps, is that it's now bone clear to the vast majority of people in the world.I'm afraid the only alternative to the absence of law is violence.  And we are begging for it. (full article)

by Adam Engel

Bush is an aberration . Unlike more skillful Republican front men — Ronald Reagan,  Bill Clinton – he does not know how to say one thing and do the other. He says what he means and means what he says.  Which is terrifying.  He believes in all that crap about God and Democracy etc, whereas Clinton -- a Republican by any definition of the term -- knew how to make the folks feel good, while prosecuting the grim business of Empire. . . (full article)

Kerry: He's Peaking, Already
by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair

By all rights John Kerry should have been at the top of his form, the night he won the Wisconsin primary. Even though the six biggest states, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, New York and California have yet to vote, he's been hailed as the Democratic nominee, with hit teams already on the rampage, hunting down prospective Nader supporters, rounding up all known and prospective third party defectors from the Democratic standard, forcing them to kneel and kiss the Democratic Party platform under pain of death, while playing a tape of DNC chair Terry McAuliffe screaching "convert or die!" Kerry has emerged from the bruising kiss of imputed scandal and, unless Ms Alex Polier or other women inconveniently crop up again, Teresa Heinz won't have to wield the carving knife she has threatened to deploy to her husband's private parts if his path to the White House is derailed by sexual scandal. Polier not withstanding, never has a candidate had to put up with less in the way of the baptism of sewage that is a vital part of the primary process. Dean and Clark drew all the fire. John Edwards, who could slice up Kerry in a minute, has adamantly refused to unleash his forensic artillery. So did Kerry have the jaunty mien of triumph, that night in Madison? Not that we could see. His long face, albeit abbreviated by corrective surgery, remained lugubrious and he stumbled his way tiredly through Bob Shrum's phrases. The one thing all Democrats this year want is a winner. He doesn't feel like a winner to us. . .
(full article)

Medicare For All: Now or Never?
P. Anthony Farruggio

Forget all the rhetoric, all the logic of the argument. The bottom line is that this current private healthcare " non system" is beyond repair- its dead in the water. It does not work and is literally ' killing" millions of Americans with its negligence and stupidity. The time has come for a better and more practical way to insure the health of all of our citizens  My proposal is not without flaws, yet generally a huge step in the right direction- something to build on. . (full article)

Debate on Ralph Nader's Presidential Run

Trusting Democrats: A Familiar Trap
by Mickey Z.

Gadfly is not a word you hear very often...even the New York Times saves it for special occasions. For example, when reviewing a book by cognitive scientist Steven Pinker a few years back, the newspaper of record could not resist taking a cheap shot at Pinker's MIT colleague, Noam Chomsky...calling him a "short-tempered political gadfly." On February 23, 2004, the Times dusted it off again for use in a headline: "Nader, Gadfly to the Democrats, Will Again Run for President." I guess Ralph has managed to earn a place of honor alongside Chomsky in the Fit-to-Print hall of shame. Let's get this over with quickly: Ralph Nader's announced bid for the presidency only disturbs me in the sense that he chose to run as an independent. Eschewing the Green Party not only hurts Nader's chances of getting on ballots, it foolishly ignores the importance of cultivating a movement to go along with the theory. We must never look to one person for answers and Nader's shunning of the Greens, I feel, is a tactical error. Having said that, I must say I'm not surprised to witness the venom being launched in Nader's direction from frenzied centrists and lefties alike. . . (full article)

Democrats, Blame Yourselves
by John Turri

Democrats have no one to blame but themselves. A year ago, you might have thought that the Democrats would at least nominate someone who hadn't voted in favor of the PATRIOT [sic] Act and for giving George Bush carte blanche in Iraq.  Sadly, you would have been wrong. If enough Democrats had really wanted Ralph Nader to not run, they could have prevented it. . . (full article)

Nader's Tin Ear
by Norman Solomon

With his announcement Sunday on "Meet the Press" that he's running for president in 2004, Ralph Nader appears to be politically tone deaf in a year when the crying need to defeat George W. Bush could hardly be louder or more urgent. . .
(full article)

Nader’s Nadir? Not a Chance!
by Josh Frank

Watch out for the Democrat backlash, Ralph Nader is running for President as an Independent. Of course most agree Nader’s run will not accrue nearly as many votes as his 2000 tally. Nonetheless these weak-kneed liberals are fearful of their deranged “spoiler” scenario. Hollow political observers like The Nation’s Eric “I have no spine” Alterman will surely bark a shrill (read kick-me dog) denouncement of Nader’s bid -- the whole while failing to articulate a coherent strategy for challenging the corporate entrenched Democrats as they genuflect at the feet of the Republicans’ every whim. . . (full article)

The Lone Ranger Of Righteousness
by Paul Rogat Loeb

It's my right to run. This is Ralph Nader's core case in announcing his 2004 presidential candidacy. Yes, Nader has a legal right to run. He also has a legal right to donate $100,000 to the Republican Party and become a Bush Pioneer, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. . . (full article)

Ralph Nader’s Candidacy Should Not Be Discouraged
Joseph P. Diaferia

Will he be a spoiler? Will he hurt the Democrats’ chances of defeating Bush? Did he cost Gore the presidency in 2000? These are inevitable questions whenever the subject of Ralph Nader’s presidential aspirations arises, and now that he has declared himself a candidate in the 2004 presidential contest, a chorus of “please don’t run Ralph” has already emerged among many rank and file Democrats. While a united front against the Bush regime is necessary, a Nader candidacy should not immediately be deemed incongruous to such unity. . . (full article)

Eight Questions for Ralph Nader
by Ted Glick

Dear Ralph, Now that you've now announced your intention to run as an independent for President this year, and as someone who supported your efforts in 1996 and 2000 and who was open to the possibility of your being the Green Party's Presidential candidate until about two months ago, I have a number of questions . . . (full article)

February 21-22

Chalabi, Garner Provide New Clues to War
by Jim Lobe

For those still puzzling over the whys and wherefores of Washington's invasion of Iraq 11 months ago, major new, but curiously unnoticed, clues were offered this week by two central players in the events leading up to the war. Both clues tend to confirm growing suspicions that the Bush administration's drive to war in Iraq had very little, if anything, to do with the dangers posed by Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or his alleged ties to terrorist groups like al-Qaeda – the two main reasons the U.S. Congress and public were given for the invasion. . . (full article)

Dangerous To Your Health
by Yves Engler

Watching the U.S. presidential campaign get under way from north of the border, I sometimes feel like shouting “It’s healthcare, stupid.” . . . (full article)

"Poor People Can't be Engineers": Free Market Corruption,
Neoliberal Pretexts
by Toni Solo

Newsweek recently ran an article on money laundering in Latin America. It identified Nicaragua's ex-President Arnoldo Aleman as one of a super-corrupt elite along with Mexico's Carlos Salinas and Guatemala's Alfonso Portillo. Portillo recently high-tailed it to Mexico. Aleman is in gaol. But, these individuals barely reach the ankles of their United States and European counterparts. Corruption has a history, context and consequences the self-censoring corporate media seldom connect. . . (full article)

A Prayer for Reverend Al: Let Him Buy His Soul Back from the Republicans
by Doug Ireland

In his 2003 autobiography, Al on America, the Rev. Alfred Charles Sharpton Jr. admits, “I have been guilty of letting ungodly things around me.” And that was never more true than with the latest revelations about Sharpton, who has now been exposed as a cat’s-paw for the national Republican Party. . . (full article)

Bush Administration Pulls "Welcome Mat" for Buena Vista
Social Club’s Grammy Award Appearance
by Dan Bacher

In yet another bizarre twist of “foreign policy” under the Bush administration, the State Department ruled that permitting aging musicians like Ibrahim Ferrer, 76 year-old member of the Buena Vista Social Club, to attend the Grammy's would be "detrimental to the interests" of our country. . . (full article)

Standing Up For Workers' Rights
by Stewart Acuff

"The boss said he would sell the company or burn it down before he would see a union at Sterling." To the cheers of a responsive Washington, DC audience on December 10, 2003, Sterling Laundry worker Evelyn Thomas vowed to continue the battle for the freedom to form a union at her workplace, in spite of fierce employer opposition.  Thomas' tale was just one of the dozens of horror stories told by workers who rallied on International Human Rights Day to call attention to the widespread abuse of the rights of workers. In 90 events in 37 states, tens of thousands of workers and their allies campaigned to restore the freedom to form a union guaranteed under American law and international human rights codes, but sadly eroded in our country today. . . (full article)

Richard Perle, Executioner
by Kurt Nimmo

Native Americans had an expression for it. Forked tongue. Now we call them liars, backstabbers, dissimulators. People who say one thing and do another. Cheats, double-dealers, hypocrites. Dirty tricks and skullduggery. For as Mark Twain once quiped, "A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is just putting on its shoes." "I think, of course, heads should roll," yawped the Prince of Dissimulation, Richard Perle. "When you discover that you have an organization that doesn't get it right time after time, you change the organization, including the people." . . . But wait a minute. Something's wrong here. As I recall the CIA was dissing Perle and Cheney and the Neocon Gang that Can't Shoot Straight for their spurious intelligence, most of it coming from Feith's Operation of Special Plans. . .
(full article)

We Must Voice Dissent:
An Interview with a Japanese Scholar
and Activist Ichirou Tanaka

by Josh Frank

Ichirou Tanaka is an elder, scholar, activist and teacher living in Tokyo and Nagano Japan. He was recently visiting New York City with his wife Yuko. They performed with their musical choir at Carnegie Hall. This interview took place at the Beacon Hotel on December 2nd 2003. . . (full article)

Chasing Judith Miller Off the Stage
by Derek Seidman

When I heard that the New York Times correspondent Judith Miller was going to be speaking at a local campus last week, I was eager to check her out. Ever since I read Pulitzer Prize winner Samantha Power’s atrocious review of Noam Chomksy’s “Hegemony or Survival” in the Times book review last month, I’ve been increasingly on the lookout for these intellectual-defenders of an “enlightened” imperialism. Moreover, seeing Judith Miller (also a Pulitzer winner) was especially enticing, as she has been embroiled in controversy for her role in the Iraq war. . .
(full article)

February 19-20

Missing in Action in Iraq: Americans Hear About their 500 Dead Soldiers.
What About the 10,000 Dead Iraqi Civilians?
by Naomi Klein

It was Mary Vargas, a 44-year-old engineer in Renton, Washington, who carried U.S. therapy culture to its new zenith. Explaining why the war in Iraq was no longer her top election issue, she told Salon that, “when they didn't find the weapons of mass destruction, I felt I could also focus on other things. I got validated.” Yes, that's right: war opposition as self-help. The end goal is not to seek justice for the victims, or punishment for the aggressors, but rather 'validation' for the war's critics. Once validated, it is of course time to reach for the talisman of self-help: 'closure.' In this mindscape, Howard Dean's wild scream was not so much a gaff as the second of the five stages of grieving: anger. The scream was a moment of uncontrolled release, a catharsis, allowing American liberals to externalize their rage and then move on, transferring their affections to more appropriate candidates. All of the front-runners in the Democratic race borrow the language of pop therapy to discuss the war and the toll it has taken — not on Iraq (a country so absent from their campaigns it may as well be on another planet) but on Americans. (full article)

Same Shit Different Asshole!
by Kim Petersen

The Democrats had a chance to elect a presidential candidate who was truly against war. No, not Howard Dean, he was a political opportunist who courted the progressive vote. He came out against the Persian Gulf Slaughter under the command of President Bush Jr. but he was not against the continuance of the occupation. On the other hand there was a candidate who embodied a progressive platform on almost every position: Dennis Kucinich. . . So why did Kucinich’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination never really get off the ground? (full article)

How Washington Set the Stage for Haiti’s Uprising:
US-Connected Businessmen and Military Thugs Behind the Opposition
by Lee Sustar

The media has a standard story line to explain the uprising in Haiti--one-time populist leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide has become a corrupt authoritarian who is relying on armed gangs to crush a popular uprising. In reality, the anti-Aristide opposition that is behind the uprising shaking Haiti today is a Washington-connected collection of Haitian businessmen and a scattering of former leftists. If they succeed in their aim of ousting Aristide, they’ll try to turn back the clock to the days when military officers and paramilitary gangs ruled Haiti through sheer terror. Any doubts as to the nature of the rebellion in the city of Gonaïeves should be put to rest by the role played by leaders of the military dictatorship of the 1980s. . . (full article)

Colin Powell's Policy Towards Haiti: Callous Indifference
or Desire for Regime Change?
by Larry Birns

Secretary of State Colin Powell’s current policy toward Haiti can be described at best as irrelevant, and at worst as a covert effort to stand by as a coup de main comes down on Haitian democracy as a result of the forcible removal of President Aristide from office. . . (full article)

The Collapse of Howard Dean’s Cyber-Bubble
by Norman Solomon

The saga of Howard Dean is a cautionary tale about politics and the Internet. His campaign rode a big wave of cyberspace hype -- and then sank. . .
(full article)

Not Quite A Dream Team: Some of John Kerry’s Foreign Policy Advisers
Should Give Pause to Progressives
by Laura Flanders

John Kerry's primary victories are mounting and "anyone-but-Bush" voters are hankering for a show-down with the Resident. The Massachusetts Senator's "bring it on" victory speeches get big-d Democrats fired up, but when it comes to foreign policy, Kerry is hardly the anti-Bush many are longing for. . . (full article)

Coming Soon: The Dirtiest Show on Earth
by John Chuckman

Crowds cheering, bands marching, costumes glittering, high-wire stunts, and even animal acts (if the latest Bush stories about Kerry are to believed) - all these and more are coming this fall to America's local fairgrounds and national airwaves. American elections are not noted for depth of content. Despite constant disparagement, sound-bites often are the only way to know what all the racket is about. . . (full article)

Bush Administration Relents: American Style Elections
Promised for Iraq
by Zbignew Zingh

In the face of increasing internal and international pressure, the United States today proposed a compromise, hybrid system for Iraqi elections. “The model for the upcoming elections,” said Paul Bremer at a hastily arranged press conference in the Sheraton Hotel in Baghdad, “is a combination of the originally proposed 'caucus system' together with an election of the Iraqi president carried out in the American style. There can now be no complaint from anyone,” Mr. Bremer stated, “because the caucus part of the system is as free and open as in my own country, and because the next Iraqi president will be elected, just like in the United States.” . . .
(full article)

Iraq Hawks and Deceptive Intelligence
by Ray McGovern

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive. But when we've practiced for a while, we markedly improve our style. A time-honored aphorism. And the second-sentence Karl-Rove corollary has been applied with consummate skill -- until now. The web is unraveling. Chief U.S. weapons inspector David Kay cut the main strand last month, making it clear that the president and his advisors were wrong to claim that war was necessary to ''disarm'' Saddam Hussein of ''weapons of mass destruction.'' There were none. Kay's refreshing honesty threw a wrench in the works of the White House PR machine, which remains in a state of disrepair. . .
(full article)

The Military Death Toll While Enforcing the Occupation of Iraq:
US-uk Military Fatalities Post May 1, 2003

by Paul de Rooij

Paul de Rooij's weekly examination of "coalition" deaths in Iraq since May 1, 2003 . . . (full article)

Sierra Club Shenanigans
by Bill Berkowitz

For the second time in less than a decade, anti-immigration advocates have been operating under the radar waging a campaign to take over the nation's oldest environmental organization. This time they've added a small group of animal rights activists to their team. This unlikely coalition is hoping to elect several of its candidates to the Sierra Club's Board of Directors. . .
(full article)

Corporation as Psychopath
by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

People ask -- Rob, Russell, the world is going to hell in a handbasket. What can we do about it? We say -- read one book, see one movie. . . (full article)

The Other Superpower: Fraternity, Solidarity and the World's People
by Manuel Valenzuela

A year ago I was in Barcelona, Spain, participating in the February 15th worldwide march protesting against what was to be the coming American invasion of Iraq.  There I was, one of one and a half million people, out of a metropolitan population of four million, marching through Barcelona's beautiful and vibrant streets that were suddenly transformed into rivers of humanity, overflowing as if hit by a giant flood of energized Mediterranean water.  We were all witness to a systemic metamorphosis of asphalt to flesh, millions standing shoulder to shoulder, squeezed as tight as a can of sardines, under the control of one collective movement that guided us all to our final destination. . . (full article)

Whither The Nation?
by Ralph Nader

Nader responds to an "Open Letter to Ralph Nader" from The Nation magazine, that implores him to not run for president in 2004 . . . (full article)

Wisconsin's Warning Signs
by Doug Ireland

A close reading of the Wisconsin exit polls ought to have Democrats rather worried about John Kerry’s chances of taking back the White House. . .
(full article)

Palestinian Issue Riddles Bush’s 2005 Budget
by Sam Bahour

In his January 20, 2004 State of the Union speech President Bush was criticized for not even mentioning the plight of the Palestinians.  President Bush completely ignored the blatant Israeli policy of human rights violations that the Israel military occupation has sustained against the Palestinians for decades now.  Furthermore, he surprisingly dropped from his speech any mention of how he envisions to constructively involve the US toward a just solution to this conflict.  One can only assume that President Bush views that addressing the violence-riddled, Palestinian-Israeli conflict is neither “necessary” nor “expedient.” The same cannot be said for his proposed $2.4 trillion Budget of the United States Government for Fiscal Year 2005, which was transmitted to Congress on February 2, 2004 and covers the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2004.  The budget is planned to be brought to the floor of both the House and Senate between July 1 and September 30 and is riddled with references to the Palestinian issue. The references to Palestinians in the budget are many and repetitive.  Not only has the Bush Administration failed in realistically engaging the issue toward a peaceful resolution, but, viewed through the proposed budget, President Bush has totally adopted the state line of Israel on almost every account.  Bottom line, the Israeli military campaign against Palestinians will continue and the US taxpayer is knowingly, or otherwise, footing the bill. . . (full article)

February 18

How Far Will the US Go to Maintain Its Illegitimate Primacy in Iraq?
by Tariq Ali

The whole world knows that Bush and Blair lied to justify the war, but do they know the price being paid on the ground in Iraq? First, the blood price - paid by civilians and others this week as every week. More than 50 people died on Tuesday [2/12] when a car bomb ripped through Iraqis queuing to join the police force. The US military blamed al-Qaida loyalists and foreign militants for this and other suicide bombings. But occupations are usually ugly. How then can resistance be pretty? (full article)

Anatomy of Terror
by John Chuckman

Trying to bring reason to the subject of terror seems hopeless. The subject is crushingly-weighted with hatreds, prejudice, and political lunacy. But the attempt is important because the subject may dominate the lifetimes of most readers. Terror is both a real phenomenon and a fraud. It is real in that groups with deep grievances do sometimes kill innocent people in their attempt to influence events from a position of political and military weakness. Yet, following the vast and organized murder of the twentieth century, there is nothing distinctive or unusual about killing innocent people when trying to get your way. The United States and some other states now do it all the time to advance narrow interests. Politicians who most loudly decry terror display the dishonest, insincere thinking Dr. Johnson characterized as "cant." In this sense, terror is a fraud. . . (full article)

War Hawks Undermined by Zarqawi Letter
by Jim Lobe

A letter purportedly written to senior al-Qaeda leaders by a key associate, Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, appears to undermine a major thesis of hard-core neo-conservatives who led the U.S. drive to war in Iraq. . . (full article)

CIA Intel Reports Seven Months Before 9/11 Said Iraq Posed No Threat to US, Containment Was Working
by Jason Leopold

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. are now investigating whether the intelligence information gathered by the CIA was accurate or whether the Bush administration manipulated and or exaggerated the intelligence to make a case for war. . . (full article)

Body Count Redux
by Ivan Eland

During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military released body counts of enemy and friendly dead to the media, which reported them voraciously. Invariably, the military’s data—showing more enemy than friendly dead—was designed to give the illusion that the United States was winning the war. What the data didn’t show was more important: that a tenacious enemy fighting for its homeland would be willing to incur high casualties and outwait an opponent with a short attention span. Similarly, in Iraq, the U.S. military gleefully reports that attacks against U.S. soldiers have dropped by more than half since their peak in November of last year and that firefights between U.S. soldiers and Iraqi guerrillas in Iraqi towns have also diminished. But like the body counts in Vietnam, the American public should be wary of such rosy assessments. . . (full article)

Washington Must Dramatically Raise its Profile Regarding Haiti
or Await the Deluge
by Larry Birns and Jessica Leight

Unlike his U.S. counterpart, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin has said that his government is considering dispatching French troops to Haiti as part of an international police force to put down the present violence in the country. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin Powell must do more than simply say that he is “disappointed” with the quality of leadership that Jean Bertrand Aristide has afforded Haiti. In response to Powell’s statement, many Haitians could respond that despite Aristide’s many shortcomings, his level of performance compares favorably to the Bush administration’s failed strategy towards the island, which has been based on freezing all aid to Aristide and waiting for the inevitable chaos to descend. Throughout Aristide’s three-year exile in Washington and after his restoration to the presidency in 1994 (after a U.S.-led regional force landed in Haiti), Washington has treated the Haitian president as a potentially dangerous figure who must be curbed in order to fence off his radical politics and messianic tendencies. . . (full article)

How To Get Bush Elected (memo to Karl Rove)
by Heather Wokusch

What the hell are you doing Karl? GW's approval ratings have plummeted to 47% and if the Democrats actually build a coherent opposition (OK, big if ...) you could be joining millions of other Americans pounding the pavement during Bush's only term in office. Karl, get serious. Republican-owned voting machines and Bush Sr.'s handpicked Supreme Court won't be enough to bail out GW this time around. You need an action plan to guarantee November, and here it is in ten easy steps . . .
(full article)

The Sorrows of Bush's Endgame: A Review of Chalmer's Johnson's
The Sorrows of Empire

by Kurt Nimmo

If you listen to the Bush Ministry of Disinformation, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly -- and millions of Americans do, every day -- you get the impression people opposed to Bush's plan for endless war are Marxist nutbars and shrill hate-America malcontents. Sure, some of them are Marxists. But most of them are normal people. In fact, some of them are even former CIA consultants. Like Chalmers Johnson. . . (full article)

What's the Historical Alternative?
by Fran Shor

It is becoming more evident every day that the presidential race in 2004 will be a match-up between John Kerry and George W. Bush. Ralph Nader is still toying with the idea of running although he is getting lots of discouragement from Democrats and even Green Party members. As a former Green Party activist who worked in the Nader campaign in Michigan in 2000, I, too, would discourage him from mounting an independent run for the Presidency in 2004. While Nader's efforts in 2000 could be seen as an outgrowth of the struggles for global justice and hoped for reforms in the US political system, these are less evident now in an age of revanchist US imperialism abroad and political repression at home. Moreover, what constitutes the historical alternative in 2004 is a question which, so far, very few on the left have yet to address. . . (full article)

Bush -- Is the Tide Turning?
by Rahul Mahajan

For at least six months, I have been resisting early pronouncements of Bush's political death. Most of them seemed to be composed of wishful thinking, extrapolating from simple facts -- the disaster of the Iraq occupation, the mostly jobless recovery, the lies about weapons of mass destruction -- to that phenomenally elusive quantity that is public opinion. If Ronald Reagan was the Teflon president, then until recently Bush seems to have been made of some special plastic developed by an advanced alien civilization. . . (full article)

A History of Threat Escalation: Remembering Team B
by Tom Barry

The most notorious attempt by militarists and right-wing ideologues to challenge the CIA was the Team B affair in the mid-1970s. The 1975-76 "Team B" operation was a classic case of threat escalation by hawks determined to increase military budgets and step up the U.S. offensive in the cold war. Concocted by right-wing ideologues and militarists, Team B aimed to bury the politics of détente and the SALT arms negotiations, what were supported by the leadership of both political parties. . . Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush Support Team B . . . (full article)

Bush Wins Triple Trifecta as Worst President Ever
by Harvey Wasserman

The worst president in our lifetime" is how many Americans view George W. Bush. But Bush is not merely the worst president in recent memory. He's the worst in all US history. And he's won the distinction not on a weakness or two, but in at least nine separate categories, giving him a triple trifecta. . . (full article)

Dustup Over Dissent in the Heartland: Spotlight Forces DOJ to
Withdraw Grand Jury Subpoenas
by Bill Berkowitz

February in Iowa, like most places across the country, promises little. There's still nearly two months left of winter, and the state flower -- the wild prairie rose -- is months away from its June re-emergence. When the high-profile Democratic caucuses ended weeks ago with a surprise victory for Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, the national media quickly pulled up stakes and moved on. Recent developments in Des Moines, however, once again focused the nation's attention back on the Hawkeye state. While it may not have been as big an event as the University of Iowa Hawkeyes vs. the Iowa State Cyclones, the rights of the state's citizens to organize and protest an unpopular war without interference by the government came under fire in the waning days of Iowa's winter. . . (full article)

Just Another Day
by Nick Pretzlik

Loud enough to wake me, the burst of automatic fire was sufficiently distant not to alarm. I turned on my side and went back to sleep. It was three in the morning. Dawn heralded a perfect day ­ clear, crisp air, blue sky and wintry sunlight glinting on pools of water lying in the fields, the result of the wet weather, which had effected the region since Christmas. Fifty kilometres away to the north two meters of snow had fallen on the Golan Heights. From my room in the refugee camp, high on the steeply rising hillside, I had a clear view across the broad agricultural plain, which stretches from Jenin eastwards beyond the Apartheid Fence and the Green Line to the Palestinian Israeli town of Nazareth visible in the far distance. . .
(full article)

To Wear Hijab or Not: A Complicated Question
by Sarah Eltantawi

The government of France approved on Tuesday [2/12] by a vote of 494 to 36 a ban on religious emblems in state schools. France’s Commission of Reflection on the Principle of Secularity and Jacque Chirac, in his December 17, 2003 speech, made it clear that the measure, which would ban the wearing of head scarves by Muslim girls, Jewish skull caps and crucifixes in public school was well on its way to being implemented. . . At a recent conference called the U.S. Islamic World Forum co-sponsored by the Brookings Institute and the state of Qatar that I had the pleasure of attending in that country, I had the opportunity to meet incredible European activists who forced me to reassess and fine tune my previously idealized notions of secularism. These activists and intellectuals were actively challenging the exclusionary and ultimately internally inconsistent and illogical way European secularism is often enforced, usually on the Arab and/or Muslim "other". One attendee described the enforced secularism of his country, Belgium, as ‘neutrality, our way’; ‘our’, meaning, plainly and simply, white and Christian. I oppose the French ban on the head scarf, but not only for the obvious reason that in principle, the ban trumps the laudable ideal of individual freedoms and liberty. . .
(full article)

Clark Endorses Kerry: Moore's Lesser Party Lives
by Mickey Z.

When War Criminal Wesley Clark dropped out of the race the other day, my thoughts were with Clueless Mikey Moore. He must have been heartbroken. Clark's smiling visage has vanished from http://www.michaelmoore.com ...without an explanation in sight. But, fear not, dear clueless one...your hero has given you yet another chance at love. "Request permission to come aboard, the Army's here." With those words, War Criminal Wesley (WCW) made his appearance at a rally for John Kerry (Stormin' Norman Soloman's "pragmatic choice"). Reciprocating in appropriately military style, Senator Pragmatic replied: "This is the first time in my life I've ever had the privilege of saying `Welcome aboard' to a four-star general." . . . (full article)

Of Mice and Money Men: The Sinister Grip that Disney Exerts on Children's
Imaginations May Now Be Loosening
by George Monbiot

If Comcast's takeover of the Disney Corporation goes ahead, the world's biggest media conglomeration will be built around one of humankind's most ancient practices. Investing animals with human characteristics is something we've been doing since we first applied charcoal to the walls of a cave. Ten thousand years later, as the $500m we have just spent watching Finding Nemo suggests, we still see ourselves as animals and animals as ourselves. . (full article)

February 12-13

Bush Intelligence: Garbage In, Garbage Out -- On Purpose
by Kurt Nimmo

For some odd reason, people are always giving Bush the benefit of the doubt. It must be the office, even though Bush took that office illegally by way of Supreme Court putsch. . . [Some] are clueless about the true nature of Bush and the Straussian neocons.  It is now perfectly clear Bush and Crew conspired to make a whole lot of bogus stuff up in order to trick the American people into supporting illegal and immoral invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. One doesn't even need scratch the surface anymore -- all one need do is simply look in the right direction.
(full article)

Is the US Funding Haitian Contras?
by Kevin Pina

If you read about Haiti today in the mainstream press, you find a barrage of negative stories about Aristide and Lavalas with descriptions of demonstrations and general strikes calling for Aristide's resignation, fraudulent elections, a politicized police force, drug-dealing officials and violent mobs of government supporters attacking the political opposition. The overarching message is that Haiti has become a lawless state ruled by a leader with waning popularity whose only hold on office is to call out the violent shock troops of his Lavalas movement. Most stories filed by news agencies like Reuters and the Associated Press have little room to provide any real in-depth analysis or historical context. Stories that do probe a little deeper are almost always exclusively negative about Haiti's current leadership or make startling revelations pounding yet another nail of evil into the coffin of the body politic of Lavalas. But are we really getting the whole story? (full article)

Haiti: Waiting for Something Bad to Happen
by Jessica Leight

Political violence in Haiti continues to mount, placing the country’s hard-won democracy in an increasingly perilous position and raising widespread fears of a violent coup that would return a military-led caretaker junta to power.  Those who are guilty of jeopardizing the nation’s stability include a collection of brigands who participated in the 1991-1994 military junta, along with paramilitary thugs and those guilty of human rights violations in that period (like Emmanuel Constant, and Gen. Raul Cedras), as well as members of the island’s tiny economic elite. . . Given the opposition’s heavy dependence on U.S. support, an open and specific denunciation of their obstructionist tactics by the Bush administration could immediately force the Democratic Convergence and Group 184 to abandon their attempts to overthrow the Aristide government by intimidation, threats and street violence.  Refusing to force them to turn to negotiation, the administration has not uttered even a weak acknowledgment of the latter’s culpability in the deteriorating situation in Haiti.  Instead, it covertly works for Aristide’s resignation, which in fact is Washington’s very policy, as it acknowledges that it is preparing to house upwards of 15,000 Haitian boat people after they are interdicted on their way to Florida. . . (full article)

US-Financed Insurrectionists Wreaking Havoc in Haiti
by Larry Birns and Jessica Leight

What had been an increasingly disloyal and violent opposition is now leading an openly anti-democratic insurrection, as anti-Aristide forces turn Haiti into a hellish war zone, using sequestered weapons to sack a number of cities.  An existing explosive political stalemate has been worsening since December, when the rebels adopted a violent street strategy along with an inflexible policy of non-negotiation to oust President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.  Yet for the State Department, Haiti's desperate struggle to preserve its hard-won democracy was given low priority.  Strangely, given the likely crushing impact on U.S. domestic politics registered by tens of thousands of desperate Haitians who predictably will soon undertake the perilous voyage to Florida, Secretary of State Colin Powell remains almost languorous in the face of daily fierce melées in Port-au-Prince.  Meanwhile, the Haitian opposition organizes a blatant power grab through belligerent demonstrations aimed at unseating Aristide.  Now Haiti has entered into an endgame with portentous consequences, as armed opposition mobs loot a number of cities and scores of residents are killed. . . (full article)

John Kerry:  Media Darling
by Justin Felux

As fans of the increasingly irrelevant Howard Dean campaign are quick to point out, the media has been very nice to John Kerry.  According to an analysis by Media Tenor, 37.2 percent of the coverage of John Kerry's campaign since his victory in the Iowa caucuses has been positive whereas only 10.2 percent of the coverage has been negative. Kerry has been described as "handsome," "articulate," "a war hero," "statesmanlike," and "strikingly Lincolnesque."  This may simply be due to John Kerry's interesting personal history and calm demeanor.  The media always likes a compelling saga, and it is easy to portray Kerry's life in such a way.  However, it is interesting to note that while the media has indeed been very nice to John Kerry, over the course of his career John Kerry has been very nice to the media. . . (full article)

Hail, Kerry: Senator Facing-Both-Ways
Farewell, Clark: "Dude, Where's My Candidate?"
by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair

We await Michael Moore’s concession speech after his hero, General Wesley Clark, tasted the ashes of defeat in Tennessee and Virginia and sensibly threw in the towel. If Dean was the hero of the dot coms, Clark was a creation of the Arkansas-Hollywood axis embodied in Clinton-era stage managers such as Harry and Linda Thomason, Mary Steenbergen and Ted Danson. It was supposed to be The Man from Hope: The Sequel, this time with a genuine military officer, rather than Bill the Draft Dodger. . . At Clark’s elbow was Bruce Lindsay, former law partner of Bill Clinton and later his White House counsel. Lindsay put it about that Clark’s mission was to stop the meteoric surge of Howard Dean and Clark told reporters that the Clintons had urged him to get into the race. . . Across the last thirty years it’s hard to think of a Democratic candidate seemingly assured of his party’s nomination who has had less of a baptism of sewage in the primaries than Senator John Kerry. Normally a front-running candidate can expect a roughing up from his sparring partners. But Dean drew all the fire, with Clark as prime diversion and Kucinich as the small white hope of the progressive crowd. So Kerry’s dismal record has been allowed to remain in decorous seclusion. . . (full article)

The Campaign Doctor: Can Bob Shrum Beat Karl Rove?
by Doug Ireland

Bob Shrum, the pricey Washington hired gun, is the tête pensant of John Kerry’s campaign. A veteran of the latter-day JFK’s Senate races, Shrummy, as he’s known to friend and foe alike, attached himself to Kerry like a mollusk early on in this presidential effort. He’s the first to have the senator’s ear in the morning and the last to whisper in it at night. Not much gets by Shrummy, who is known for his sharp elbows. Unless Kerry is caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy (to borrow ex–Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards’ colorful metaphor for a campaign-crippling scandal), the junior senator from Massachusetts will be coronated in Boston as the Democrats’ nominee. So it’s not too early to pose the question: Is Shrum up to beating Karl Rove? (full article)

"Anybody But Bush": The Big Abdication
by T. Patrick Donovan

Following the strategy of "Anybody But Bush" in the upcoming presidential election is equally as dangerous as Bush getting re-elected. Why? . . . (full article)

The BBC and the Quiet Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians
by Paul de Rooij

At present, ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is ongoing and systematic, yet it is difficult to find any reference to this crime against humanity in most news media. The issue is not so much slanted coverage as scant or selective coverage of the misery Israel is inflicting on the Palestinians. Although the BBC has a reputation for fair and balanced reporting, when it comes to Israel-Palestine a different standard seems to be applied, as even gross violations of human rights are not reported. . .
(full article)

Israel: Democracy or Demographic Jewish State?
by Ed Hollants

The last few months have suddenly seen a flurry of activity. There have been an unprecedented number of political initiatives which have seemed to hold out the hope of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or at least of bringing such a solution closer. There have been the Geneva Accord, the Olmert initiative, Sharon’s plan with its mention of withdrawals from settlements in Gaza, the People’s Voice, One Voice, and even the colonists want to present their own plan. You might ask yourself: why now, when there is virtually no pressure on Israel? Nobody seems to care any more about, for example, the daily civilian casualties in the Occupied Territories. The Americans have their hands full with Iraq, and there are presidential elections next year. It is that it has become more widely understood in Israel itself that a military solution is a recipe for disaster, and that the only solution is a political one? It seems more likely that the realisation is dawning that expected demographic developments are such that there will soon be a Jewish minority in what is now Israel, including the Occupied Territories. This would mean the end of Israel as a Zionist state. . . (full article)

Return to Rafah: Journey to a Land Out of Bounds
by Jennifer Loewenstein

Said Zoroub drives a white pick-up truck with the words "Rafah Municipality" painted on the driver's side in Arabic and English, a gift from the Norwegians. [1] Less than an hour after my arrival in Rafah, Zoroub, the mayor, receives an urgent call on his cell phone. An Israeli bulldozer has struck a water main eight feet under the earth in the process of demolishing homes along the border between Rafah and Egypt. This has cut off the water supply to the western half of the city. From the passenger side of the municipality truck I get to survey the latest damage. . .
(full article)

One Fine Curfew Day
by Nuha Khoury

Nuha Khoury recounts another day in the life of Palestinians under Israeli lockdown in Bethlehem . . (full article)

Direct Action on February 15: Go Vegan
by Mickey Z.

There's a self-induced health holocaust/mass suicide going on that dwarfs any other health crisis in America...and the fallout isn't only affecting our bodies, it's destroying our planet, funneling ever-more taxpayer dollars to multi-national corporations, and hijacking our humanity. . . (full article)

Saved from Execution, But Still on Death Row
We Won’t Let Kevin Cooper Die

by Alan Maass

The man the state of California was determined to murder has been saved from execution. But Kevin Cooper remains on death row--and we won’t let him die. With pressure building around the state, across the U.S. and even internationally, a federal appeals court stepped in February 9 to stop Kevin’s execution and require testing of evidence that his lawyers say will prove he is innocent in the murder of four people in 1983. A few hours later, the Republican-dominated U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld the appeals court decision. Kevin’s life was spared--no thanks to California officials who were ready to see him dead rather than allow an investigation that could expose a 20-year-old frame-up by racist police and fanatical prosecutors. . . (full article)

Bush's Nuclear Hypocrisy
by Robert Jensen

President Bush's call for changes in international rules on the sale of nuclear equipment would effectively revoke the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty's provision allowing countries to pursue atomic energy if they pledge not to build nuclear weapons. Bush argued for the change by saying that the world's consensus against proliferation "means little unless it is translated into action. Every civilized nation has a stake in preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction." But there is another important aspect of that international consensus, also written into the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which the United States signed . . . (full article)

The Military Death Toll While Enforcing the Occupation of Iraq:
US-uk Military Fatalities from May 1, 2003 through Feb 8, 2004

by Paul de Rooij

Paul de Rooij's weekly examination of "coalition" deaths in Iraq since May 1, 2003
(full article)

Khan Job: Bush Spiked Probe of Pakistan’s Dr. Strangelove,
BBC reported in 2001
by Greg Palast

On November 7, 2001, BBC Television's Newsnight and the Guardian of London reported that the Bush administration thwarted investigations of Dr. A.Q. Khan, known as the "father" of Pakistan's atomic bomb. This week, Khan confessed to selling atomic secrets to Libya, North Korea, and Iran. The Bush Administration has expressed shock at disclosures that Pakistan, our ally in the war on terror, has been running a nuclear secrets bazaar. In fact, according to the British news teams' sources within US intelligence agencies, shortly after President Bush's inauguration, his National Security Agency (NSA) effectively stymied the probe of Khan Research Laboratories, the Pakistani agency in charge of the bomb project. CIA and other agents told BBC they could not investigate the spread of “Islamic Bombs” through Pakistan because funding appeared to originate in Saudi Arabia. . .
(full article)

An Odd Accusation From Ralph Nader
by Norman Solomon

After several decades as one of America’s great public-interest advocates, Ralph Nader has developed an extraordinary response when people say they don’t think he should run for president in 2004. . . (full article)

February 10-11

Inquisition in Iowa: Feds Go After Activists at Drake University
by Kurt Nimmo

It looks like Ann Coulter may get her way. Like many on the extreme right, Ms. Coulter considers those of us engaged in dissent against the actions of the government to be "either traitors or idiots." Coulter said as much in her screed, Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terror. "The myth of 'McCarthyism' is the greatest Orwellian fraud of our times," writes Coulter. "McCarthy was not tilting at windmills. Soviet spies in the government were not a figment of right-wing imaginations." No doubt Coulter believes AG Ashcroft and the Bush federal judiciary is not "tilting at windmills," either. It is not communists in the State Department they are going after, but antiwar and environmental activists. In this particular instance, antiwar activists attending a forum held at a private university in Iowa. . . (full article)

Clear and Present Danger: The War President Contextualizes
by Kim Petersen

Despite being self-avowedly unfazed by opinion samplings, President Bush faced with dismal polling figures did something he has done most sparingly while in the Oval Office: he allowed himself to be interviewed by the TV media on Sunday, February 8 by Tim Russert of Meet the Press. . . (full article)

US Iraq Policy Uncovered
by Ivan Eland

Only in the U.S. can the halftime show at the Super Bowl cause more public outrage than a president’s floundering attempts to justify getting more than 500 American soldiers killed and more than 3,000 wounded in an unnecessary invasion and occupation on the other side of the globe. If the American people actually were to pay attention to the President’s remarks on this week’s Meet the Press show, the naked truth about the Bush administration’s Iraq policy could become more exposed than Janet Jackson.
(full article)

Bush's Budgets Make us the Irresponsible Generation
by Holly Sklar

If President Bush's new budget passes, we won't need a special commission to uncover its faulty intelligence. The budgetary weapons of destruction are real, homemade and visible. . . (full article)

The Many Faces of John Kerry: Pro-War, Anti-War, Insider, Outsider, Liberal, Conservative
by Elizabeth Schulte

"A man defined by inner conflicts." That’s how the Boston Globe described John Kerry in a five-part series in June 2003. "The gung-ho Vietnam hero turned articulate antiwar protester; the shaggy-haired liberal rebel turned feisty prosecutor; a politician whose core beliefs included a skeptical view of government," wrote the Globe. Sounds familiar? Someone wrote a book about it in the 1800s -- it’s called Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. During his 19 years as a career politician and Washington insider, Kerry has never let a little thing like principle get in his way. He’s made a career out of balancing between the Democratic Party’s conservative and the liberal wings. . . (full article)

Playing the "War Hero" Card
by Justin Felux

Thanks to Michael Moore's recent misuse of the word "deserter," the media has rediscovered the report done by the Boston Globe in May of 2000 about George W. Bush's war record. . .  The Democrats, in a pathetic and desperate attempt to play the "war hero" card, suddenly want to compare their candidate's war record with Bush's. DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe has appeared on television several times criticizing Bush's war record, contrasting it with the record of John "War Hero" Kerry, apparently not realizing the irony of a party that supposedly represents the left making such an argument. Say what you will about George W. Bush, but being AWOL from the National Guard is one of the few honorable things he's ever done! IF you're AWOL from the National Guard, that means you aren't shooting Vietnamese villagers. A cursory look at Kerry's war history makes George W. Bush look like a veritable saint. . . (full article)

The Two John Kerrys: Will We Get the Populist or the
Lord of Special Interests?
by Doug Ireland

John Kerry is a man with two faces. There’s the fire-breathing populist whose thundering stump speeches against special interests made him Comeback Kerry, who won in Iowa and New Hampshire and became the Democrats’ indisputable front-runner. And then there’s Corporate Kerry, who has taken more money from lobbyists in the last 15 years than any other senator, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) — and who has repeatedly carried water for the special interests that smothered him in campaign cash. . . (full article)

Das Kanibal
by Leilla Matsui

The announcement of Natsuo Kirino's nomination for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America couldn't have been better timed.  In the wake of recent scandals involving Mad Cow, German Cannibals, Avian Flu, (and now Janet Jackson's offending breast meat), her critically acclaimed novel Out seems almost prophetic in its damning assessment of alienated, technology driven food production and its often fatal consequences. . . (full article)

Press Freedom Under Fire
by Heather Wokusch

If the first casualty of war is truth, then the War on Terror has dealt a body blow to those trying to get at the bottom of the story: journalists. . .
(full article)

Howard's End 
by Doug Ireland

Howard Dean finally won a first-place victory this weekend—he came out on top in the caucus run by Democrats Abroad in... Sweden. . . . The Deaniacs will need more than conspiracy theories to justify their campaign’s implosion.
(full article)

Protests Matter
by Josh Frank

Despite the early protests that were unable to halt the US government’s illegal invasion of Iraq, the international activist community has seen some remarkable victories over the past 12 months.  Neoliberal trade discussions will never be the same.  The cabals that dictate global economic policy cannot hide from the disenfranchised and their allies.  The disruption of the WTO talks in Cancun was a victory, not only because the event was forced to end early—but also because it was a testament to the fact activists are making a difference.  It proved our protests do matter. . . (full article)

A New National Security Problem
by Yokoyama Yutaka

Something disturbing has happened. By admitting that the pre-war claims about Weapons of Mass Destruction were wrong but continuing to defend all aspects of the war, the president of the USA has in effect confirmed the existence of a new national security problem. Commonly held understandings about what constitutes a serious threat to the USA can no longer be assumed, and consequently the technical ability of the government to evaluate real danger is sharply compromised. For the time being, there is no official distinction in the USA between a threat that requires immediate military intervention and a threat that does not require immediate military intervention. Until the Bush administration states their understanding of this distinction, communication about potentially very real threats will continue to be seriously compromised and ineffective. . . (full article)

Questions Mount Over New Hampshire's Primary
 by Lynn Landes

It's been all downhill for Howard Dean since he lost the New Hampshire primary by a significant margin. But, now questions are being raised about the security of New Hampshire's voting system in the wake of a recent analysis of the election results. It could add up to nothing, but it does underscore how easily technology can be used to sabotage the voting process. . . (full article)

The Breast That Ate Pittsburgh
by Peter Kurth

Almost 60 years ago, at the end of World War II, an American journalist in London asked George Bernard Shaw what he foresaw as the future of the victorious Allies – in particular, the United States. “Three hundred years of the Dark Ages,” Shaw answered promptly. “After that, things will be fine.” I wish I could believe him, not that it matters -- by the time enlightenment hits these shores again, I’ll have shuffled off this mortal coil and joined the Lord at that great big Super Bowl in the sky. As Texas writer Beth Henry remarked last week on the media website Axis of Logic, “Things have gotten really creepy in the land of the Humvee.”. . .(full article)

February 9

Pits of Cherry Picking: Bush and Blair Must Resign
by Kim Petersen

In this worst of times for Iraqis and US soldiery, an unrelenting third world resistance battles the world?s only superpower in the bombed-out vistas of Mesopotamia. What magnifies the empire?s abjectness is that it has called on other willing nations to assist its occupation against an insurgency that is led by remnants of Ba?athist forces with some foreigners. The coalition fighters are themselves, however, uninvited foreign interlopers. President Bush evinces a shamelessness and desperation in his current pleading with the UN -- oft an object of his scorn -- to rescue his buns from the political fire. Roller-coaster polling results are now indicating a downward trend in Bush?s political fortunes. Bush who rode meteoric highs in the polls like his father before him is poised to become a one-term president like his father. Bush Sr. extracted US troops from the initial onslaught against Iraq but the economy slid on his watch and his running-mate Dan Quayle was seen as a liability. Increasingly Vice President Dick Cheney, who finds himself a subject in a judicial inquiry in France, is now looking like the proverbial albatross for Bush?s re-election chances. While his father was hard-pressed on two of the three fronts, Bush Jr. looks to be in trouble on all three fronts. . . (full article)

On Not Being Anti-American
by Barbara Sumner Burstyn

Writers of columns like these get a lot of hate mail. Apart from the letters that are personally abusive, the most common criticism of this weekly missive is my so-called anti-American stance. It seems that if you write anything negative about America, you get branded. So why do it? (full article)

The Military Death Toll While Enforcing the Occupation of Iraq:
US-uk Military Fatalities from May 1, 2003 through Feb 8, 2004
by Paul de Rooij

New Feature: Paul de Rooij's weekly examination of "coalition" deaths in Iraq. . . (full article)

Co-Chair of Bush Panel Part of Far Right Network
by Jim Lobe

President George W. Bush's choice to co-chair his commission to investigate intelligence failures prior to the Iraq War is a long-time, right wing political activist closely tied to the neo-conservative network that led the pro-war propaganda campaign. . . (full article)

US Presidential Politics And Jobs
by Seth Sandronsky

In January, U.S. firms hired 112,000 new workers, the Labor Dept. reported. In December, 16,000 new jobs were created, up from a revised total of 1,000. Thus 2004, a year that will end with a presidential election, began with a rebound in hiring. However, the January jobs data fell short on two counts. . . (full article)

Slouching Toward Theocracy: President Bush's Faith-Based Initiative
is Doing Better than you Think
by Bill Berkowitz

"If the presidency is a 'bully pulpit' as Teddy Roosevelt claimed," Stephen Mansfield writes in the introduction to his recently published book The Faith of George W. Bush, "no one in recent memory has pounded that pulpit for religion's role in government quite like the forty-third president." Bush's "unapologetic religious tone" and his willingness to "speak of being called to the presidency, of a God who rules in the affairs of men, and of the United States owing her origin to Providence," also separate him from recent predecessors. . . (full article)

Donald Rumsfeld's Heart
by Mickey Z.

When Secretary of Defense (sic) Donald Rumseld recently defended US motives and actions in Iraq, the man Henry Kissinger called "the most ruthless" he'd ever met, summed up his feelings as such: "I know in my heart and my brain that America ain't what's wrong in the world." Those eloquent words called to mind something Bush the Elder once said: "I will never apologize for the United States of America. I don't care what the facts are." To paraphrase the Australian philosopher Barry Gibb: "How deep is your denial?" (full article)

The US Begs for UN Backing in Iraq
by Phyllis Bennis

The U.S. is eager for the UN to return to Iraq to provide political cover for its occupation. The quagmire on the ground in Iraq plus recognition that the rest of the world, and most Iraqis themselves, reject Washington 's claim of legitimacy, is the basis for the Bush administration reversing its earlier anti-UN positions to beg the international organization for help. . . (full article)

Sharon's Escape from Alcatraz
by Ran HaCohen

Sharon's recently announced intention to unilaterally evacuate the occupied Gaza Strip did come as a surprise. Up to the last couple of months, the so-called founding father of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories had insisted that no settlement would be dismantled, at least not before a final peace agreement with the Palestinians was reached ? which practically means forever, since Sharon believes a peace agreement is unreachable in any foreseeable future (quite correct, given Israel's rejectionist positions). And now, all of a sudden, the announced evacuation of Gaza. Has Sharon "finally understood" what the peace camp has been saying for decades? Well, not quite. . . (full article)

John Kerry: One of the Hollow Men
by Norman Solomon

No one in Congress better symbolizes the convergence of political opportunism and media pandering than John Kerry. Thirty-one years ago, as a Vietnam veteran, he denounced the war in Southeast Asia. Today, Kerry is gaining distinction among Democrats as one of the prominent hollow men in the Senate. . . (full article)

Oops, I Lied My Ass Off Again!
by Allen Snyder

Sent to me by an anonymous White House insider, this is an as-accurate-as-I-can-make-it transcript of a recording of a speech a guilt-ridden George W. Bush has allegedly been working on. Trust me, the voice is unmistakable. . .
(full article)

The Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part Seven
Is Hitlerism a Mentality?
by B.J. Sabri

Is ?depleted? uranium toxic? The US says no. However, ?depleted uranium? radioactivity causes a host of deleterious side effects including: depression of the immune system, male sterility, leukemia, uterine, ovarian, thyroid, and prostate cancers, in addition to birth defects and mutation of DNA. Because the U.S. persists in its denial of DU toxicity and continues to reject reports by international scientific organizations and by facts on the ground confirming its deadly health consequences to humans and livestock long after war, we proposed confronting this issue from a different angle. . . (full article)

February 7

Distinguishing Neocon Commentary from Drivel
by Kim Petersen

Charles Krauthammer is a Washington Post contributor awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his “distinguished commentary.” His recent offering, “Calling Iraq’s Bluff,” would be better distinguished as drivel. The title itself says it all. In what way was a disarmed Iraq, dissected by no-fly zones, supposed to be bluffing? Some attempt had to be made to overcome the reddish glow of neocon embarrassment following weapons inspector David Kay's inescapable admission that there weren't any of the WMD that President George Bush and his cabal insistently pronounced were in Iraq. Krauthammer diverts attention to an assertion about "WMD-related activities." The Bush cabal decided upon an invasion of Iraq not based on "WMD-related activities" but because they claimed to know Iraq had the real WMD and they knew where they are! . . . (full article)

Howard’s End: No Big Loss for the Left
by Josh Frank

In Vermont, the Prosecution Never Rests. During his tenure as governor of Vermont, Howard Dean openly claimed that the legal system unfairly benefited criminal defendants over prosecutors. . . Back in 1999 Dean blocked Appel from accepting over $150,000 in federal grants, which was to be used to help the state represent mentally-ill defendants. . . His internet support has turned out to be narrow and unfounded. Dean has also squandered an unprecedented amount of money on vile TV and radio ads that pushed him off balance in Iowa and New Hampshire. The Democratic Leadership Council, the insider group that really calls the shots, has shunned his bid despite his corporate tenure in Vermont. And the media has focused in on his fiery demeanor and personality quarks, mislabeling him a lefty radical, even though he’s a centrist through and through. . . (full article)

Still Smoke and Mirrors
by Ray McGovern

For some reason February 5 has been chosen two years running for rhetoric aimed at what Socrates termed “making the worse cause appear the better”— last year by Secretary of State Colin Powell at the UN and Thursday by CIA Director George Tenet at Georgetown University. As in the case of Powell’s spurious depiction of the threat from Iraq, Tenet’s disingenuous tour de force becomes more embarrassing the closer you look. . . (full article)

Go Find Me A Way To Do This: Part One
How Bush and Blair Chose War and Then Chose The Justification
by David Edwards and Media Lens

Sometimes it really is possible to fail to see the wood for the trees. We need to be clear that Tony Blair is claiming that the threat of Iraqi WMD justified a massive war against Iraq. We are to believe that after a major conflict in which 88,500 tons of bombs were dropped in 1991, after eight years of inspections, and after more than a decade of continuous bombing raids, and of crippling sanctions imposed under the most intensive and sophisticated surveillance operation in history, both Blair and Bush received intelligence suggesting that Iraq was a “serious and current threat”. As we now know, this alleged intelligence is said to have been related to WMD and links with al-Qaeda that did not exist. We are to believe, then, that a rush of terrifying information relating to non-existent perils -­ a rush so overwhelming that long-standing policy was abandoned ­ suddenly emerged to lead Bush and Blair to believe that nothing less than war was required to avert the danger...
(full article)

Go Find Me A Way To Do This: Part Two
How Bush and Blair Chose War and Then Chose The Justification
by David Edwards and Media Lens

Returning from a visit to Baghdad in late January, Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton of Detroit described how he was "shocked and discouraged" by what he had seen: "I was overwhelmed with sadness over what is happening to the people of Iraq, and also to the US troops there." With unemployment approaching 60 percent and food supplies dwindling, Gumbleton reported, ordinary Iraqis "are humiliated and feel degraded" as they try to cope without electricity, telephones and - in some places - running water: "Without exception, people said things were worse now than before the war." Gumbleton noted that US officials live and work in the Coalition Provisional Authority's compound, nicknamed the “Dream Zone”: "Inside the Dream Zone, they don't know what is going on in the city... They don't know the deprivations the people are putting up with. They don't have jobs. Right now, people are getting the same amount of basic food as they have been getting through the oil-for-food program, but there is the fear that could be running out. The city is just very depressing." . . . (full article)

The WMD Blame Game
by Mark Engler

In the face of growing public and Congressional pressure, President Bush has reversed his opposition to an independent investigation of flawed U.S. intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Will Americans finally get the critical examination they deserve into the fraudulent claims used by the administration to justify its "preemptive" war? (full article)

The 10 Worst Corporations of 2003
 by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

2003 was not a year of garden variety corporate wrongdoing. No, the sheer variety, reach and intricacy of corporate schemes, scandal and crimes was spellbinding. Not an easy year to pick the 10 worst companies, for sure. . .
(full article)

Iraqi Governing Council Plans Latest Assault on Women's Rights
in Iraq
by Jim Lobe

Iraq's governing council (IGC) has quietly approved a plan to replace some existing legal women's rights with Islamic law or “Shariah,” according to 44 U.S. lawmakers, who warn Washington of a “brewing women's rights crisis” in the U.S.-occupied country. This comes as women are facing broader assaults on women's rights and political power in Iraq. . . (full article)

Haiti Fatigue?
by Mickey Z.

A February 5, 2004 New York Times editorial declared Jean-Bertrand Aristide's second presidency "is declining into despotism." Reporting from the land of Supreme Court-decided elections, the Times (fresh off suggesting Sharpton and Kucinich go away quietly) laughingly offered this solution to the people of Haiti: "make sure that the next presidential election, due late next year, is fair and on time." . . . (full article)

The New Underclass
by Barbara Sumner Burstyn

At first reading it seemed like a breakthrough. In Britain, the Government has just announced its plans to remove the right to anonymity for people who donate sperm, eggs and embryos. Under a storm of protest from organizations fearing the drying-up of sperm supplies, Melanie Johnston, the Public Health Minister in Britain, said she firmly believed donor-conceived people have a right to information about their genetic origins. Scandinavian countries have always had open sperm donor files and most clinics in the US have the option of open files, while clinics in New Zealand do not accept anonymous donors, so the British move is very timely. Except, that is, for an entire generation of donor-conceived people. . . (full article)

Are We Fighting a Real War on Terror at All?
by Ivan Eland

The Bush administration recently made it known that a major offensive against al Qaeda would be launched in Afghanistan and Pakistan during the spring. It was even hinted that Osama bin Laden might be caught this year. To the average Super Bowl-watching American, it might seem strange to warn dangerous and already elusive foes that you are coming to get them. Conspiracy theorists among us (who occasionally prove to be right) would conclude that the Bush administration already knows Osama’s location and, to have the maximum political impact, is just waiting to round him up shortly before the election. Of course, this conclusion would be a very cynical interpretation of the Bush administration’s actions—which, given the administration’s secrecy and twisting of intelligence to hype the Iraqi threat, may not be entirely unwarranted. Under that scenario, however, the risk for President Bush and his minions is that Osama would once again manage to disappear before they could capture him—leaving them empty-handed before the election. . . (full article)

Nepal & the Bush Administration: Into Thin Air
by Conn Hallinan

Tucked into the upper stories of the Himalayas, Nepal hardly seems ground zero for the Bush administration's next crusade against “terrorism,” but an aggressive American ambassador, a strategic locale, and a flood of U.S. weaponry threatens to turn the tiny country of 25 million into a counter-insurgency bloodbath. . . (full article)

February 6, 2004

The Perle and Frum Totalitarian How-to Manual
by Kurt Nimmo

I admit not buying or reading the screed written by Richard Perle and David Frum, An End to Evil: How to Win the War On Terror. I don't want to encourage the neocon duo, although I am certain thousands of people are snapping up the book like hotcakes fresh off the griddle, and a considerable number are buying into the crackpot ideas of the Neocon Duo. I found a bunch of quotes from the book published on the InfoShop website. Most of the quotes deal with domestic repression, neocon suggestions for putting the thumbscrews to Muslims, and the US relationship with other countries. The quotes on domestic issues are interesting because Perle usually talks about blowing up small third world countries -- or on really bad hair days, France -- and usually says little about the neocon plan for America. . . (full article)

An Interview with Noam Chomsky on Bush and the Left's
Strategy for the Elections
by M. Junaid Alam

Professor of Linguistics at MIT and author of many best-selling political works, most recently Hegemony or Survival, Noam Chomsky has been renown for his incisive and hard-hitting criticism of U.S. foreign policy for decades. Recently, M. Junaid Alam, co-editor of the new leftist youth journal Left Hook, was able to interview Professor Chomsky on the nature of the Bush administration, the American left’s strategy in upcoming elections, domestic and foreign consequences of continued occupation of Iraq, and the basis for US-Israeli relations. . . (full article)

Talk of "Intelligence Failures" Masks Success of Bush
Propaganda Campaign
by Rahul Mahajan and Robert Jensen

The Bush political machine pulled off another propaganda coup with the announcement that the president will appoint a commission to look into the so-called "intelligence failures" before the Iraq War. Those two words do a lot of political heavy lifting for the president; by framing the issue as a question of intelligence failures, not political propaganda, the Bush people hope to divert attention from the fact that they lied to promote the war. . .
(full article)

Intelligence Failures for Dummies
by Ahmed Amr

So, what exactly is new under the blazing Iraqi sun? We went from a baffled General Conway declaring that “WE WERE SIMPLY WRONG” to David Kay admitting that the administration's intelligence on Iraq was "ALMOST ALL WRONG". For fifty cents, or maybe a buck, you could have picked up a copy of the LA Times and arrived at the same conclusion as General Conway. It cost David Kay a few hundred million dollars. The difference makes those six hundred dollar toilet seats seem like a screaming bargain. Stock up on them pronto. What ever you do, don’t send David Kay to buy them. . . (full article)

The Deadly Lies of Reliable Sources
by Norman Solomon

Ninety-five days before the invasion of Iraq began, I sat in the ornate Baghdad office of the deputy prime minister as he talked about the U.N. weapons inspectors in his country. “They are doing their jobs freely, without any interruption,” Tariq Aziz said. “And still the warmongering language in Washington is keeping on.” The White House, according to Aziz, had written the latest U.N. Security Council resolution “in a way to be certainly refused.” But, he added pointedly: “We surprised them by saying, ‘OK, we can live with it. We’ll be patient enough to live with it and prove to you and to the world that your allegations about weapons of mass destruction are not true.’” Speaking that night in mid-December 2002, Tariq Aziz -- dressed in a well-cut business suit, witty and fluent in English -- epitomized the urbanity of evil. As a high-ranking servant of a murderous despot, he lied often. But not that time. . . (full article)

Bush to 9/11 Families: "Enough Already"
by Bill Berkowitz

While the Bush Administration never tires of reminding the American people that the president's war on terrorism, his invasion of Iraq, and the Patriot Act I and II are all rooted in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, it has tired of one little bitty aspect of this post-9/11 period: the investigation by the ten-member bi-partisan independent commission. White House officials, along with House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill), have decided to oppose extending the time limit for work by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, "virtually guaranteeing that the panel" will have to be done with its work by the end of May. . . (full article)

The Breast that Consumed America
by Dennis Rahkonen

Having quickly concluded that the MTV-produced Super Bowl half-time show was a disgustingly depraved display of scant talent that brought American entertainment to a new low, I retreated into my kitchen to manufacture a ham sandwich. As my nearly empty mustard squeeze bottle was fwooping out the last of its contents, my daughter yelped a particularly emphatic "Oh, my God!" Yes. I completely missed Janet Jackson's now legendary breast baring. . . (full article)

February 2

Bush's Independent Commission: Exonerating the Spooks
by Kurt Nimmo

Bush's so-called independent commission looking into "intelligence failures" will be handpicked by the administration. It will be similar to the 9/11 investigative commission -- that is to say it will produce results acceptable to Bush and the spooks. The chairman of the 9/11 commission is Thomas Kean. Consider Kean emblematic. . . (full article)

The Awesome Destructive Power of the Corporate Power Media
by Glen Ford and Peter Gamble

Howard Dean has joined the list of victims of U.S. corporate media consolidation. Dean shares this distinction with Dennis Kucinich and the people of the formerly sovereign state of Iraq, among many others. Dean was stripped of half his popular support in the space of two weeks in January while John Kerry – tied in the polls with Carol Moseley-Braun at seven percent just two months earlier – rose like a genie from a bottle to become the overnight presidential frontrunner. Both candidates were shocked and disoriented by the dizzying turns of fortune, and for good reason. Neither Dean nor Kerry had done anything on their own that could have so dramatically altered the race. Corporate America decided that Dean must be savaged, and its media sector made it happen. . . There can be no meaningful discussion of the options available to progressive forces in the United States unless it is first recognized that the corporate media in the current era is the enemy, and must be treated that way. . .(full article)

Mistake Prone: John Kerry as "Pragmatic Choice"
by Mickey Z.

In a recent article, Stormin' Norman Solomon continues his anyone-but-Bush crusade by telling us that John Kerry is "not a progressive candidate" but is "probably the best bet to defeat Bush -- and, as president...would be a very significant improvement over the incumbent." All right, that's Norman's opinion...and in light of his recent articles, it's no surprise. But since he chose to mock Clueless Mikey Moore's love affair with War Criminal Wesley Clark, I have to mention that Solomon went on to offer the following. . . (full article)

Bush’s Budget Priorities
by Seth Sandronsky

Under President Bush, federal government spending, borrowing and taxing is news. What is and is not said about this reveals much. . . (full article)

With All Deliberate Stupidity: US Self-Isolation Makes Iraq
a Virtual Non-Issue in the Elections So Far
by Daniel Patrick Welch

The king is dead -- long live the king! Okay, so the old lefty saw about "it-doesn't-matter-who-gets-elected-they're-all-the-same-anyway" might have less punch this time around. The Bush-led extremist puppet show that has hacked and brutalized its way into power is so evil, so corrupt, so completely dangerous down to the cellular and atomic level that it would be unthinkable not to wish them gone whatever the cost. Still, preventing evil is not the same as promoting good. A grim duty, perhaps. But hardly one that stirs the soul. Of course, it doesn't have to be this way. The rigged two-party shell game has, exactly twice, by my count, been forced to slay The Beast, or at least to lull it to sleep for another few decades. . . (full article)

Zionism is Still the Issue
by Ghada Karmi

For those who have forgotten or never understood what Zionism was all about, two remarkable, recently published pieces will make salutary reading. The first is an interview with the Israeli historian, Benny Morris, that appeared in the Israeli daily Haaretz on January 4th 2004 and the second is an article by Morris in the January 14th edition of the London Guardian newspaper. In these he explains with breathtaking candour what the Zionist project entailed. Few Zionist outside the ranks of the extreme right have been prepared to be so brutally honest and Benny Morris claims to be on the political left. More significantly, it was he who first exposed the true circumstances of Israel’s creation. Using Israel State archive documents for his groundbreaking book on the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem published in 1987, he was hailed as a courageous "revisionist historian." His work suggested to many that, having learned the facts of the case, he was bound to be sympathetic to the Palestinians. In the last few years, however, he has been expressing ever more hardline views, as if he regretted the pioneering research that helped expose the savage reality of Israel’s establishment. This shift seems to have culminated in his most recent utterances about the nature of Zionism. Unpalatable as these are, we must thank him for saying so bluntly what all Zionists, however "liberal", at bottom really think but do not say. . . (full article)

Stopping the Rot: Hunger is Reflection of Policies That Benefit the Few
by Devinder Sharma

In the mid 1980, the sale of Banita, a minor girl from Kalahandi in Orissa, had shocked the nation. Two decades later, the nation refused to even notice the cries of a one month old baby who was sold by her mother for a mere Rs 10 (approximately 21 cents). For Sumitra Behera, 35, a resident of Badibahal village in Angul district of Orissa, selling her one month old daughter was perhaps the only way to feed her two other daughters -- Urbashi, 10, and Banbasi, 2. In the month of December 2003, three other families grappling with hunger in Angul, Puri and Keonjhar in Orissa had reportedly sold their children. . . (full article)

The Clint Stones: Oscar Honors Violence Part I
 by Richard and Sylvie Oxman

"Mystic River," Clint Eastwood's latest film (nominated for five of the top six Oscar categories) is nothing short of an abomination. As it now stands, it's slated to follow "Mystic Pizza" -- another New England flick with predictable plot elements -- in VideoHound's Guide. However, this is NOT a movie review.  Rather, it's a plea for the public to create a Cultural Revolution (w/o Mao, thank you very much).  That's all. In this time of violence escalating out-of-control worldwide, along comes a movie touted as taking a position against violence...which not only feeds The Monster, but feeds It with gusto.  Mucho macho gusto. . . (full article)


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