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May 31

Has the U.S. Government Committed War Crimes in
Afghanistan and Iraq?
by Robert Higgs

If today the U.S. government were to put itself on trial, on the same basis it employed to try the Nazis at Nuremberg, for actions taken in Afghanistan and Iraq in recent years, it might have to convict itself—if only for the sake of consistency. Justice is no respecter of person. Can anyone sincerely maintain that what was a crime for Hermann Goering and Alfred Jodl is not equally a crime for Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney? (full article)

D(isinformation) Day: 60 Years is Enough
by Mickey Z.

June 6, 2004 marks 60 years since the fabled Allied invasion known as "D-Day." Lost amid the self-congratulatory orgy is the minor detail that by the time of the D-Day invasion, the Soviets were engaging 80 percent of the German Army on the Eastern Front. Oops...Alexander Cockburn has called D-Day a "sideshow," explaining that WWII had already been won "by the Russians at Stalingrad and then, a year before D-Day, at the Kursk Salient, where 100 German divisions were mangled. Compared with those epic struggles, D-Day was a skirmish...Hitler's generals knew the war was lost, and the task was to keep the meeting point between the invading Russians and Western armies as far east as possible." Of course, this doesn't fit the "good war" myth (more than just a good war, NBC newsman Tom Brokaw has deemed WWII "the greatest war the world has seen."), so it's down the memory hole. To borrow from the World Bank protestors, I say 60 years is enough...(full article)

Mission Creep: A Force for Global Stability
by Matthew Maavak

Our uncertainties are increasing. The war against Iraq is not abating, and the intensification of this bloodfest is destabilizing the region and the global economy. For those who started this war, the cost is not counted in the numbers of the dead but rather in dollars. We are swamped with mixed economic reports, uncertain growth prognostications, ebbing consumer spending and oil prices that keep floating at a narrow price level marked “high,” despite pledges from OPEC and its Saudi Arabian fixer that it can light a thousand Aladdin’s lamps for 1001 nights. The major oil and gas reserves in the Middle East, Central Asia and Afghanistan can certainly do that, and with ease. It’s just a coincidence that the US army has cornered this huge, priceless swath for the “enduring freedom” of its people. The Thieves of Baghdad are on a roll....(full article)

Major “Liberal” Outlets Clog Media Diets
by Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon on the myth of a liberal NPR and the NY Times' mea culpa (sort of) for its coverage of the buildup to the Iraq War....(full article)

Abu Hamza al-Masri: Made in the USA
by Kurt Nimmo

It is a bit of historical data rarely quoted by Fox News or CNN as they clank out soundbite-sized backgrounders on terrorism: Many of America's Islamic enemies were custom-made to order by the CIA and Pakistan's ISI (Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate) in Afghanistan. Abu Hamza al-Masri is no exception....(full article)

The Nonviolent Warrior
by Ted Glick

Ted Glick remembers the great activist Dave Dellinger, who passed away yesterday at the age of 88....(full article)

Project for a Humanitarian Century
by Troy Skeels

The concept of "no war!" is no longer just a pretty picture. It is serious politics. When faced with the "realism," of Abu Ghraib and its result, the peace movement can no longer be dismissed as "unrealistic." We need a fundamental rethinking of US foreign and domestic policies, and those most qualified to present it are those who opposed this war and the warfare state's policies from the beginning. It is important to seek accountability from the political and military leaders who presided over the war crimes committed in Iraq, as most clearly shown in the notorious photos. But that's only part of a more important opportunity: to change the permissible boundaries of debate....(full article)

"Social Security"
by Kathy Kelly

On June 4, 2004, lawyers for Voices in the Wilderness (VitW) will argue, in federal court, that a judge should allow further “discovery” to help establish why VitW travelers believed they had a duty to challenge economic sanctions against Iraq. The US Government charges us with the “crime” of delivering donated medicines to Iraq, without authorization. The US Treasury Department is attempting to collect $20,000 from VitW for violation of US sanctions against Iraq, sanctions which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children in Iraq and effectively destroyed the civilian infrastructure. VitW is countersuing for reparations for the catastrophic effect of US led economic sanctions....(full article)

Mary’s Paranoia and Other Symptoms of a Dying System
by Joel Wendland

In a recent interview with Political Affairs magazine, novelist and social critic Walter Mosley described the Bush administration preference for neo-imperialism, war and the lies that propelled us toward war, as "the last gasp of white male domination of America." To this Mosley might have accurately added its extra-electoral power grabs, right-wing judicial appointments, anti-women stances, theocratic posturing, anti-union policies, so on. Indeed, Mosley might have added that this permanent war indicates a last gasp of a dying system. Is Mosley right? If so, what does this mean for those of us who claim politics that require us to actively transform society? Are my addenda to Mosley’s analysis jumping the gun? What is "the white male domination of America"? An easy question with an obvious answer, right? Some of us have substituted race for class as the central organizing feature of social relations in the US because of special conditions that at moments seem to cultivate unity by race across class lines. In the past, white working-class people often collaborated with bosses to promote segregation, job discrimination and violence because of racial explanations of inferiority. But the fact that it sometimes still happens may not make the answer to these questions less difficult to untangle....(full article)

Bill Cosby on Thin Ice
by Seth Sandronsky

I fondly remember when my mother took me to see Bill Cosby perform in the early 1970s. I was a teen and enjoyed myself immensely. Mr. Cosby’s recent rant was also memorable. I did not enjoy it. During an event to commemorate the 1954 anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, Mr. Cosby blamed some African Americans for failing to get a formal education. In his view, their failure is a personal problem....(full article)

Memorial Day’s Opposite: Warmongers’ Day
by William Hughes

Suggestion: Why not have a day, set aside once a year, for Americans to roast the repulsive Warmongers who have instigated this mess in Iraq? Isn’t it time to mock some of these villains? Don’t they deserve to be pilloried with a national day of their own? (full article)

Tuna Meltdown
by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

A family doctor friend of ours was irate. For the past two years, he's been pushing a simple message -- a healthy diet combined with regular exercise helps prevent disease. But he is up against a corporate army that undercuts this simple message almost every day -- from drug reps pushing unnecessary or harmful drugs, to junk food companies pushing a high-sugar high-fat diet, to the entire entertainment industry that induces the population at large to sink into its collective barco lounger....(full article)

Organics or . . .
by Richard (The Ox) Oxman

On Saturday, May 22, the San Francisco Chronicle announced on its front page that there would be changes in the standards for organic foods that would permit the use of antibiotics and hormones. And that's just for starters. To say that the modifications in the National Organic Program which were made in April are a weakening of our standards, "weakening consumer confidence in the organic label" (as Nancy Hirshberg, Stonyfield Farm vice president, has asserted), is a severe understatement. It's the beginning of the end....(full article)

May 27

Bush Looks to Heaven While Iraq Goes to Hell
by Nicholas Von Hoffman

To listen to George Bush, you would think that he was elected Pope or Chief Rabbi or something. With Mr. Bush, it’s him and God all the time. "I also have this belief, strong belief, that freedom is not this country’s gift to the world," he averred at his recent press conference. "Freedom is the Almighty’s gift to every man and woman in this world." Freedom is not the Judeo-Christian divinity’s gift to anybody. None of the political and social ideals upon which the nation was begun come from either of these two religions. Remember St. Paul’s injunction that slaves should obey their masters....(full article)

Spreading Our Wings: Driving Up the Cost of Freedom, Continued
by Gregory Stephens

Another “gas out” came and went May 19 without slowing the soaring cost of petrol in the United States, much less denting the escalation of our oil addiction. U.S. oil consumption is now over 20 million barrels per day—a quarter of the 80 million barrels going down the global gullet daily. Our habit will grow by 420,000 barrels this year, a rise of an additional 1150 barrels of oil every day, the Energy Information Administration projects. And we are outraged that the average price of gasoline has passed $2.00 with no end in sight. Furious truckers have blocked freeways in Los Angeles and container terminals in Northern California. Ordinary commuters are impotent, but angry enough to be heard. Even the most progressive politicians genuinely committed to fuel efficiency and renewable energy can bring up these issues only under deep cover while pledging “action on gas prices.”....(full article)

Breeding Brutality
by David Corn

Imagine if the wish-you-were-here photos and video footage of the prisoner abuse in Iraq documented Americans murdering Iraqi detainees. Say  there was film of two military intelligence soldiers sliding a sleeping bag over the head of an Iraqi and rolling him back and forth, sitting on his chest, and placing a hand over his mouth until he was asphyxiated. Might that generate front-page headlines and bipartisan denunciations on Capitol Hill? (full article)

Prisoner Torture Scam is the Tipping Point in the
Anglo-American Occupation of Iraq

by Dilip Hiro

No matter how hard President George W. Bush and his senior aides try, they won’t be able to restore the last bit of the fig leaf with which they had been covering their illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. Having earlier lost most of the fig leaf – Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction and its links with Al Qaida -- they now stand stark naked before the world audience, a reversal of the physical role their vicious prison guards had hitherto imposed on the hapless Iraqi detainees in the privacy of their jails....(full article)

What’s Holding Back Antiwar Activism?
by Sharon Smith

When right-wing pundit Thomas Friedman starts clamoring for "regime change here at home," as he did on May 14, you know that conservatives are deserting the Bush administration’s sinking ship. Growing factions of the military and political establishment are now scrambling to find an "exit strategy" from Iraq, while their entire project to reshape the Middle East is in peril. This is the moment we on the left have been waiting for. Where, then, is the sense of euphoria? The crisis at the top of society has not been matched by a surge in confidence from the antiwar movement below....
(full article)

Corporate Investment, Government Double-Dealing
and the Developing Andean War
by Toni Solo

Plenty has also come to light demonstrating the Bush regime's corporate welfare for businesses like Bechtel, Halliburton and Carlyle in Iraq. The wholesale murder of civilians and widespread torture of detainees there result directly from efforts to quell resistance to control by foreign corporations of the country's resources. It goes without saying these companies are determined to outsource onto domestic taxpayers in the US and the UK the cost of the military muscle necessary to achieve that control. The same is true in the developing war in the Andes where the war in Colombia seems to be spreading inexorably into Ecuador and Venezuela. There, as in Iraq, Britain and Spain have faithfully supported the US. But while in Iraq the war was originally justified as part of the "war on terrorism", the Andean war is also dressed up as part of the "war on drugs". It is worth noting the Andean war's relationship with big business and dubious international finance....(full article)

It’s Not Just the Emperor Who is Naked, but the Whole Empire
by Robert Jensen

republican politicians took potshots at House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi last week after she called President Bush “incompetent” and criticized his judgment and leadership. Her conclusion -- “the emperor has no clothes” -- understandably made Republicans angry, because it is so obviously accurate....(full article)

A Political Obituary: Powell, D.O.A.
by Paul de Rooij

Sometimes it is worth writing someone's obituary ahead of schedule. In the case of politicians, the purpose of an obituary is to serve as a warning against the political zombies – those politicians who are politically spent or have lost their souls. There are many of them around today, e.g., Jose Ma Aznar, Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Kofi Annan, Javier Solana… and Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State....(full article)

Let Them Eat Gruel
by Justin Felux

The track record thus far of Gerard Latortue's puppet regime in Haiti indicates that Randall Robinson was being too generous when he referred to the U.S.-supported Prime Minster as a "buffoon."  Latortue has praised the murderous coup leaders as "freedom fighters" and accused his opponents of being preoccupied with "black power" (something he obviously doesn't have much use for).  Energy and sanitation conditions are on a downward spiral while the cost of living is skyrocketing.  The cost of rice has doubled. Latortue's callous and arrogant solution is for Haitians to "change their dietary habits by henceforth consuming more corn gruel, cassava root and other foods seen to be less expensive and of lesser quality"....(full article)

Sovereignty-lite: The Devil is in the Details
John Negroponte, a veteran enabler of human rights abuses, to head up post-handover operations in Iraq
by Bill Berkowitz

On Thursday, May 20, President Bush high-tailed it over to Capitol Hill to give his sagging troops a pep talk on Iraq. Four days later, the president went to the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., and tried the same elixir in a prime-time address to the American public -- the first of six speeches on the handover of so-called sovereignty to the Iraqi people to be delivered before June 30. The Washington Post called Bush's new campaign "a tightly orchestrated public relations effort." The president's Pennsylvania mission consisted of laying out a five-point transition plan aimed at convincing the American public and Iraqis that this blueprint for the future of Iraq is sound. The reality behind "full sovereignty," however, is that the U.S. will control the major military and economic decisions relating to the post-handover government....(full article)

Barbarians at the Gates
by Nick Pretzlik in East Jerusalem

Zionism is in intensive care ­ dependent on the oxygen of support from the Jewish Diaspora and drip fed funds by the United States. Given the human and financial toll, it is legitimate to query whether the apparent purpose of Zionism today -­ to satisfy the Jewish sense of belonging and the wackier elements of the Christian Right -­ is worth the price. Are the pain and suffering and the political blowback of doing the bidding of these two groups and a handful of settlers worth the decimation of the indigenous Palestinian population, as well as the loss of Jewish lives? (full article)

About That Invitation to Join the Bush-Cheney ’04 Team...
by Norman Solomon

To: Marc Racicot, Chairman, Bush-Cheney ’04
Thanks for including me on your mailing list. I’m very interested in mass communications, and I realize that millions of people have also received the same piece of direct mail this spring. So I was impressed by the personal touch at the top of your letter -- where it says “Dear Friend” but a line is drawn through “Friend” and hand-lettering says “Norman.” Since we’re already on a first-name basis, Marc, here are some thoughts in response to your letter....(full article)

"Slaves Had Jobs Too"
Wal-Mart's Weakest Link Strategy and Black Chicago

by Paul Street

I don't know if they are trying to find a way into the city," black Chicago West Side pastor Joseph Kyles told the Chicago Tribune three weeks ago, "or if they are genuinely wanting to take the lead in dealing with the city's social ills." I hope Reverend Kyles was joking. The "they" to which he referred was the rapacious low-wage and anti-union mega-retailer Wal-Mart, which has recently made black Chicago ground zero in a quest to expand its market reach.  With 3,650 stores in the United States and another 1,499 around the world, Wal-Mart has "reached saturation in the suburbs and rural communities that have made the chain the world's discount retail leader."  Thus it is "venturing," the Chicago Tribune noted yesterday, "into large, union-friendly cities like Chicago to expand its more than 5,000-store empire."....(full article)

Bill Cosby's Heroic Assault on the Poor
by Justin Felux

The easiest way to become a celebrity in America is to be a dark-skinned conservative. Black conservatives probably have more famous people per capita than any other group in the country (Larry Elder, Walter Williams, Alan Keyes, et al). On the whole, there doesn't appear to be very many of them. In fact, a thorough analysis by the Black Commentator indicates that what is "conservative" by black standards is actually more "centrist" by white standards. If you pay attention to television and radio, however, you might get the impression that Jesse Jackson is about the only black liberal in the entire country. Why is this the case? The controversial comments recently made by Bill Cosby shed some light on the matter....(full article)

Just Fade Away:
It’s Time to Lighten Up About Falling Birthrates
by George Monbiot

There is a group in North America -- I am not joking -- whose motto is "Back to the Pleistocene". Its followers would like human society to revert not just to a pre-industrial past, but to a pre-agricultural one. Humans would subsist on the untended fruits of nature, hunting the beasts of the earth and the fowls of the air, gathering roots and berries from the derelict cityscapes reclaimed by the wild. It all sounds rather splendid, if you are young, fit, perfectly sighted, and don't mind dying before you reach 40. But there's another small problem: that without farming, the earth could support not the 6 billion people who are alive today, but just a few hundred thousand. The vision of the members of North American EarthFirst (the folk who put the mental into environmentalism) is achievable only with the annihilation of almost all of mankind. One might have expected them, therefore, to volunteer themselves as the first ecological suicide corps. But, like all such people, they picture themselves as the survivors, not the victims, of humanity's great extinction....(full article)

The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile
by Tracy McLellan

A brief review of The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile: Conversations with Arundhati Roy by David Barsamian....(full article)

May 24

Niemöller be Damned: Standing By in Empire
by Kim Petersen

The psychological literature refers to the inaction of people to assist when others are present as the Bystander Effect. The Bystander Effect is generally attributed to a diffusion of responsibility or maintaining one’s dignity -- a lurid explanation since by any moral standard inaction should reflect conversely on a person’s dignity. Yet many of us are pained to intervene. It is too easy to walk by a bearded, bedraggled man lying motionless on a sidewalk and to alleviate the dissonance caused with some excuse, such as he was probably a drunk sleeping off a hangover, in ignorance of the serious gash on his forehead. It is likewise too easy to escape the truth of the atrocities occurring now in Iraq and Palestine. The corporate media has served well the adage: out of sight, out of mind. And so the world stands by. The greatest military power in history is wreaking its awe-uninspiring might on poor nations that refuse to genuflect before it. The US has the potential do such great works that it could truly be a beacon to the people of the world. But the US government has historically squandered any claim to such moral greatness....(full article)

Staring Down the Jackals:
Liberal Roadkill Along the High Road to Baghdad

by Joe Bageant

Somewhere in hell tonight, the Devil’s wife is setting out an extra dinner plate for America, where presumably we will be toasted by history’s other war criminals. Let’s face it. When we backed a maniac killer like Saddam Hussein, funded the Taliban, and slept with the treacherous Saudi Princes as the price of our national narcotic -- oil -- we’d pretty much bought a place at the dinner table. But when we embraced that murderous old sack of guts, Ariel Sharon, as international brother and accomplice in all things Middle Eastern, we were not merely displaying sick taste in friends; we acceded to becoming war criminals. The entire world sees that, and has seen it for years....
(full article)

"I Killed Innocent People for Our Government"
Interview with an Iraq War Veteran

by Paul Rockwell

For nearly 12 years, Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey was a hard-core, some say gung-ho, Marine. For three years he trained fellow Marines in one of the most grueling indoctrination rituals in military life - Marine boot camp. The Iraq war changed Massey. The brutality, the sheer carnage of the U.S. invasion, touched his conscience and transformed him forever. He was honorably discharged with full severance last Dec. 31 and is now back in his hometown, Waynsville, N.C. When I talked with Massey last week, he expressed his remorse at the civilian loss of life in incidents in which he himself was involved....(full article)

The Silence of the Vultures
by Leilla Matsui

It's unlikely the US will ever fully recover from its latest self-inflicted gun shot wound. The photos of US military personnel torturing Iraqi detainees in the now infamous Abu Ghraib prison are proving to be the equivalent of a silver bullet for the Bush regime.  Despite all the face saving talk of how they have highlighted America's democratic traditions of judicial transparency by owning up to them, (well, sort of) the administration really had little choice in the matter.  The most damning of these atrocity exhibits would have eventually been leaked to the public, anyway, with consequences even more dire for the Bush presidency and the already failed war effort in Iraq. For the US, it has ultimately come down to a choice between a splatteringly swift gun blast to the tonsil regions, or the even less palatable prospect of swallowing cyanide in a neat little pellet....(full article)  

Sarin in Iraq?
by Mina Hamilton

The weapons-of-mass-destruction shoe has been waiting to fall for a long time. The March 20th invasion of Iraq was propelled by fear. It was launched on the fear created by George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Dick Cheney et al constantly warning about the dire and imminent threat of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. In the intervening 14 months nary a sign of said WMDs -- until Monday, May 17th. On this day American commanders in Iraq state that they have "discovered an Iraqi artillery shell last week containing sarin." According to the New York Times, the shell was made into a homemade bomb and found by an American convoy in Baghdad. It was discovered on Saturday, May 15th....(full article)

Suicide Watch: Iraq Reveals Mounting Mental Health
Problems in Our Military
by Bill Berkowitz

Over the past year there have been an unusually high number of suicides among U.S. troops in Iraq, and hundreds of soldiers experiencing psychological problems have been evacuated from the country. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's recent announcement authorizing the extension -- by at least three months -- of the tours of duty of some 20,000 soldiers set to return home, and the possibility of intensified urban warfare, may add to the stress suffered by soldiers serving in Iraq....(full article)

Those Missing Taguba Pages: More Dirty Tricks on the Road
to Bush's Reinstallment

by Kurt Nimmo

It sure is curious how documents entering the Bush Machine exit with blank pages. It happened with Iraq's 11,800-page dossier on weapons and now it has happened again with the report on prison abuse produced by Major General Antonio M. Taguba....(full article)

Not Just for Privates’ Eyes: American Prisons
from de Tocqueville to Donald Rumsfeld

by John Vorasangian

Historically, penology has been intertwined with modernity. It was central to the ideological debates started by the European Enlightenment. It was -- and remains -- on the battle lines of separation between discriminatory ideologies and egalitarian principles. It bears on the important issues of social control, social reform, political repression, and the use of discretionary power. The systematic and excessive maltreatment of mostly innocent people by the American occupiers in Iraq must be situated in such a broad socio-historical context....(full article)

Conservatives Claim Abu Ghraib Abuses Aren't "Real" Torture
by Dennis Rahkonen

Many conservatives are troubled by Abu Ghraib prison abuses. But it isn’t dreadful illegalities and the obscene violation of basic decency they’re most upset about. They’re angry that mistreatment meted out by our troops is being equated with “true” torture, such as the videotaped beheading of Nicolas Berg, or atrocities experienced under Saddam. They worry that world opinion will see Washington as the chief perpetrator of global wrongdoing, rather than evildoers demonized by U.S. propaganda. Well, the horses are long out of the barn on that one, since most of humanity has judged George Bush our species’ worst bane for going on three years now....(full article)

The New Post-Colonial Racism
by Lila Rajiva

Of all the criticisms of the possibility, now moot, of Sonia Gandhi becoming the PM of India, the venom expended on her foreign origin was surely the most ironic. . . . Abroad, it is right and proper for Indians to claim all the benefits of secularism and multiculturalism and run for office, but in India god forbid that we should look past a person’s skin color and examine her candidature in an atmosphere that is not racially and ethnically poisonous....(full article)

In America, Can I Get A Whiteness?
by Seth Sandronsky

My family began to arrive in the U.S. from Eastern Europe and Russia just over a century ago.  Then as now, the capitalist system was changing people’s lives.  That change disrupted my ancestors’ daily rituals and rhythms.  They were part of a wave of U.S. immigrants with distinct ethnic identities who did not initially see themselves as members of a white race. Eventually, my family whitened, as did other immigrant groups.  One was the Irish who had lost their land to British invaders.  For a time, Irish immigrants were seen and treated as a separate race after arriving in the U.S.  Noel Ignatiev details that change in How the Irish Became White....(full article)

Tell Me Lies
by Paul de Rooij

Paul de Rooij reviews Tell me lies: Propaganda and Media Distortion in the Attack on Iraq, edited by David Miller....(full article)

Republican National Committee Convention Schedule
New York, New York, 2004


6:00 PM Opening Prayer, led by the Reverend Jerry Falwell
6:30 PM Pledge of Allegiance
6:35 PM Burning of Bill of Rights (excluding 2nd amendment)
6:45 PM Salute to the Coalition of the Willing
6:46 PM Seminar #1 "Getting your kid a military deferment"....
(full schedule)

May 20-21

Genocide by Public Policy
by Sam Bahour and Michael Dahan

Many words are taboo when used to describe Israel's actions against Palestinians. One word in specific, genocide, sparks emotions that echo across Israel, Europe and America. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines genocide as "the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group." What is happening in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip today is dangerously encroaching on genocide, close enough so that the pictures of Palestinians in Rafah loading their meager belongings on carts and evacuating their homes are too reminiscent of another time, another place and another people. These very same images should be setting off alarms in the hearts and minds of Israelis. Unfortunately, at stake is not the lexicon of conflict but rather, our children, and we refuse to sit still to watch a deaf, dumb and blind world steal their future from them....
(full article)

Homes Destroyed, Death Toll Mounts: Where's Kerry?
by Josh Frank

Even if he turns out to be the second worst president in US history, John F. Kerry will still be better than our sitting president. At least many liberal and progressive Americans are stating as much in order to justify their support for the leading Democrat. However, such rationale does not dilute the fact that most people in the world will not be able to sense any tangible variation between either Bush or Kerry. Just ask the Palestinians....(full article)

Trickle-Down Morality
by William Rivers Pitt

Back in November of 2003, retired Special Forces master sergeant Stan Goff played the role of prophet in an open letter he wrote to American soldiers engaged in the occupation of Iraq. In his letter, Goff wrote: "Bushfeld and their cronies are parasites, and they are the sole beneficiaries of the chaos you are learning to live in. They get the money. You get the prosthetic devices, the nightmares, and the mysterious illnesses. So if your rage needs a target, there they are, responsible for your being there, and responsible for keeping you there. I can't tell you to disobey...But it is perfectly legal for you to refuse illegal orders, and orders to abuse or attack civilians are illegal. Ordering you to keep silent about these crimes is also illegal." Orders to abuse or attack civilians are illegal. Orders to keep soldiers silent about these crimes are also illegal. Six months after Goff wrote those words, we find ourselves drowning in the exact catastrophe he warned of. Seven U.S. service people are accused of visiting torture and abominations upon the bodies and souls of Iraqi prisoners in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison. Prisoners were beaten, sodomized with chemical lights and bananas, raped, molested, attacked by dogs, and their dead bodies were mocked and defiled....(full article)

Soon to Be Losing Feith?
by Jim Lobe

Although it will take weeks, if not months, to sort out precisely who was responsible for what increasingly appears to have been the systemic abuse by U.S. soldiers of Iraqi detainees, it should be no surprise if Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith is found to have played an important role....(full article)

Out of Iraq and Plato's Cave
by Gary Corseri

It's all about images, hype and our salesman's culture. A week before the pictures of Abu Ghraib exploded, killing American credibility with the sudden wonder of a suicide bomb, I picked up a few gems in a talk by Howard Zinn: "Sometimes you know something vaguely, but it's brought home to you powerfully." And, "When you make a war against a tyrant, you kill the victims of the tyrant." And, "If you have the right to overthrow or abolish the government, as our Declaration of Independence asserts you do, then you have the right to disobey it." And, finally, something like this: Our form of government can overcome any kind of opposition, except embarrassment....(full article)

Of Tails and Dogs: The Sacking of Piers Morgan
by David Edwards and Media Lens

Media Lens examines why Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, who published fake photos depicting British troops abusing Iraqi prisoners, has been the target of much outrage, yet the lies Bush and Blair told to justify war on Iraq have elicited no calls for them to quit.... (full article)

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
by Nick Pretzlik in Rahat, Israel

Israelis are proud to announce that their country is the only democracy in the Middle East. What they fail to mention is that you have to be Jewish to enjoy it. For the Bedouin, who are also full citizens of Israel and who vote and pay taxes, democracy is an illusion. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Unrecognized Villages of the Negev....(full article)

Change Agents
by Kathy Kelly

Voices in the Wilderness co-founder Kathy Kelly, currently serving a four month prison sentence for civil disobedience activities at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia and the ELF base in Wisconsin, talks about her encounter in prison with FBI agents seeking to get info about her contacts in Iraq....(full article)

Crushing Loss for India’s Right Wing
by Ganesh Lal

The right-wing coalition that ruled India for the past six years suffered a humiliating defeat in last week’s elections for the country’s parliament. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), lost more than 100 seats in a stunning upset. Leading officials in the BJP-led government, like Human Resources Minister Murli Manohar Joshi and Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, were voted out of parliament altogether. The next government will be led by the centrist Congress Party, with support from left-wing parties--most prominently, India’s two Communist Parties....(full article)

May 18

The Covert Kingdom -- Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Texas
by Joe Bageant

Not long ago I pulled my car up alongside a tiny wooden church in the woods, a stark white frame box my family built in 1840. And as always, an honest-to-god chill went through me, for the ancestral ghosts presumably hovering over the graves there. From the wide open front door the Pentecostal preacher's message echoed from within the plain wooden walls: "Thank you Gawd for giving us strawng leaders like President Bush during this crieeesis. Praise you Lord and guide him in this battle with Satan's Muslim armies."  If I had chosen to go back down the road a mile or so to the sprawling new Bible Baptist church -- complete with school facilities, professional sound system and in-house television production -- I could have heard approximately the same exhortation. Usually offered at the end of a prayer for sons and daughters of members in the congregation serving in Iraq, it can be heard in any of the thousands upon thousands of praise temples across our republic. After a lifetime of identity conflict, I have come to accept that, blood-wise, if not politically or spiritually, these are my people. And as a leftist it is very clear to me these days why urban liberals not only fail to understand these people, but do not even know they exist, other than as some general lump of ignorant, intolerant voters called "the religious right," or the "Christian Right," or "neocon Christians." But until progressives come to understand what these people read, hear, are told and deeply believe, we cannot understand American politics, much less be effective.  Given fundamentalist Christianity's inherent cultural isolation, it is nearly impossible for most enlightened Americans to imagine, in honest human terms, what fundamentalist Americans believe, let alone understand why we should all care....(full article)

The Shame
by Kim Petersen

Professor Norman Finkelstein identifies a gullibility and naivety among a significant sector of the American public that, if true, has disturbing ramifications -- not just for Americans but also for the rest of the world. The consequences are manifest in Iraq. Obviously the invasion of Iraq was never about liberation -- except the liberation of oil from Iraqis....(full article)

“We’re Committing Genocide”: The Wrong Direction
by Kim Petersen

In this brief article, Kim Petersen takes apart a recent NY Times editorial that rallies readers to "support the troops" in Iraq, with nary a concern for the plight of Iraqis...(full article)

Gazans Pile up their Belongings and Flee
by Amira Hass

The streets of Rafah were filled yesterday evening with horse-drawn carts, trucks and pick-ups, all laden to the brim with any and every item that the town's residents could remove from their homes - mattresses, water tanks taken down from roofs, clothes, blankets, doors and windows removed from their hinges, dismantled beds and closets, school books, tin and asbestos sheeting, baby carriages, refrigerators, gas canisters and more. Everyone living up to 300 meters from the border with Egypt and the Israel Defense Forces positions and machine guns; everyone who saw IDF bulldozers raze the homes of his neighbors; everyone who could and had not yet cleared his home of its contents; everyone living close to the site where an IDF armored personnel carrier was blown up last Wednesday - all hastily packed up their belongings. And when the loading was completed, the women sat at the entrances to the homes, on concrete blocks or plastic chairs, and watched the vehicles roll north, to neighborhoods far from the bulldozers....
(full article)

The Gaza Debacle
by Neve Gordon

As Israeli forces rampage through the Gaza Strip and the town of Rafah, Neve Gordon looks at the real motivations behind Ariel Sharon's plan to dismantle settlements and "withdraw" from Gaza....(full article)

Civil Disobedience in New York City and the
Israeli Occupied Palestinian Territories

by Eric Monse

Last year in March, shortly after the United States declared war on Iraq for the second time, sixteen people staged a die-in across Fifth Avenue in protest of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the US occupation of Iraq. They lay still, chanting their message against war and injustice, while an angry crowd hurled insults and hot coffee at them. To the individuals who participated, their message was important enough that it merited disrupting the lives of busy New Yorkers. For this disruption, those sixteen individuals now face up to a year in prison. I am one of those sixteen....(full article)

Letter to Mars
by Peter Kurth

“We have a media system that has failed us absolutely,” says Mark Crispin Miller, a hero of mine whose forthcoming book, Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order, should be on everyone’s summer reading list. “The media cartel is on its knees for Bush,” Miller writes, “delivering him an endless blow job far more scandalous and dangerous than anything that ever happened between Bill and Monica. … Daily life has taken on the quality of nightmare. We look on at horror after horror; protest en masse, and watch the world protest, to no avail; see utter mediocrity exalted, moral idiocy flaunted, fraud and thievery rewarded; hear black called white and white called black. No one in power says anything that makes a lick of sense. And then you flip on CNN, where everybody's acting like it's normal. Well, it isn't normal. And I think the majority of people in this country know it.”....
(full article)

The Shia Rise Up
by Rami El-Amine

Rami El-Amine takes an in-depth look at Shia politics in Iraq, in the aftermath of the Fallujah rebellion against US occupation forces last April....(full article)

The Misogynist Undercurrents of Abu Ghraib
by Lucinda Marshall

Taking a step back, we have to realize that there is an element of stage management involved in the release of the few photos seen so far, out of what are reported to be thousands of pictures (not unlike the staging of the rescue of Private Jessica Lynch).  Why were these particular pictures chosen to be shown in public?  Are they truly representative of what happened, or just a small piece of the puzzle?  Given that women make up less that fifteen percent of those currently on active military duty (and a much smaller percentage of those in command), it is probable that the women receiving notoriety are far less significant than they have been portrayed....(full article)

Playing the CYA Game
by Sheila Samples

Looks like Seymour Hersh has done it again.  Team Bush was still reeling from Hersh's May 1 New Yorker expose of torture at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison when he bitch-slapped them again on May 9 with a second, more powerful investigation into the painfully inept handling of the disaster by everyone in the chain from Baghdad's Central Command Headquarters to Washington D.C.'s 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Hersh was back on Saturday, May 15, with an even more incriminating piece on Donald Rumsfeld's secret torture program for Abu Ghraib, apparently approved across the board by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and perhaps even her boss, President George W. Bush.  According to Hersh, the gruesome and merciless treatment inflicted on Abu Ghraib "detainees" neither starts nor ends there, but is carried out "at secret CIA detention centers scattered around the world." If Hersh has done nothing else, he's forced them to huddle and look at their game plan.  This didn't take long, since there are only three rules in the Team Bush "Cover-Your-Ass" game...(full article)

The John-John Ticket: Kerry Woos McCain
by Kurt Nimmo

John Kerry wants John McCain to be his running mate. But wait a minute. John McCain is a Republican and John Kerry is a Democrat. No problem. It would be a "unity government."...(full article)

The Empire Strikes Out
by Mark Hand

A couple hundred years from now, long after the American Empire has crumbled, historians will attempt to provide their contemporaries with a detailed understanding of how a society that on occasion showed signs of promise ultimately failed to break free from its self-destructive addiction to spectacular violence at home and abroad. One of the texts that could help these new age historians decipher the thought patterns of the failed empire's leaders and its inhabitants, as they blindly traveled down the path to ruin, is Kurt Nimmo's Another Day in the Empire. With Nimmo's trademark clarity and wit, Another Day chronicles a seven-month period of the reign of George W. Bush. The book addresses, through a series of essays in chronological order, such all-American topics as militarism and government secrecy and deception....(full article)

Born Yesterday
by George Monbiot

Perhaps it was a mistake for 20th Century Fox to invite a group of scientists to the preview of its new disaster movie. Before it began, the climatologist Mike Hulme asked the audience to consider whether good science and good film making could go together. A few minutes later, it became pretty obvious that the answer was no. The Day After Tomorrow (1) is a great movie and lousy science....(full review)

Time of Testing for Green Party
by Ted Glick

2004 is a big year in many ways, what with the Presidential election, the war in Iraq and other pressing issues. It is also a big year for the Green Party of the United States. The Green Party (GPUS, is in the midst of what I would call an identity crisis, precipitated by Ralph Nader's decision to run as an Independent rather than going for the GPUS' Presidential nomination, a nomination he likely would have easily won if he had campaigned for it as he did in 2000. As the GPUS approaches its national convention in Milwaukee June 24-27, there are three, primary contending positions as to what the Greens should do about the Presidential race....
(full article)

May 16

Letting Go of America
by Gregory Stephens

From far and wide across the amber waves of grain, in books and cyberspace, in private dreams and public declarations comes the great bleating rally cry: “Take Back America!” This whole notion of “taking back” America is in fact tangled up in the root of our problem, American exceptionalism. Rather than holding on to the illusion that America is something that can be reclaimed, I argue, better to let go of the myth of national unity, to accept and work for the inevitable decentering process. But first let’s listen to some of the voices....(full article)

The Murder of Cassey Auguste
by Justin Felux

Cassey Auguste was a twenty-year-old American citizen.  His mother had moved back to her home country of Haiti after working for paltry wages for over twenty years in the United States.  Her dream was to run a successful family business in the country that she loves.  That dream came to a crashing halt on the morning of March 3rd when her son, who had come to Haiti to help her, was gunned down in cold blood and had his mutilated body dumped over a ravine by men who were members of U.S.-supported death squads.  Will the White House vow to bring Auguste's killers to justice, just as it has vowed to bring those who beheaded Nick Berg in Iraq to justice?
(full article)

Liberal Hawks: Flying in Neocon Circles
by Tom Barry

In the heat of Iraq the neoconservatives are seeing their visions of Pax Americana turn into nightmares and headaches. But they are not alone. Liberal hawks like Ivo Daalder, Robert Kerrey, and Will Marshall also find themselves discredited as the quagmire in Iraq swallows up all their arguments supporting the invasion and occupation. Without the support of the liberals, President George W. Bush’s plan to invade and occupy Iraq may have foundered in Congress. The support of our closest allies and the United Nations wasn’t as important as was the buy-in by Democratic Party leaders. In the lead-up to the war, President Bush also received critical support from well-known writers and analysts who hailed from the center-left....
(full article)

Jobs Down, Thumbs Up
by Naomi Klein

In 1968, the legendary U.S. labor organizer Cesar Chavez went on a 25-day hunger strike. While depriving himself of food, he condemned abusive conditions suffered by farm workers. The slogan of his historic union drive was "Si se puede!" Yes, we can. Last week, U.S. President George W. Bush went on a four-day bus ride. While stopping for multiple pancake breakfasts, he praised tax cuts and condemned everyone who says American workers need protection in the global economy. His battle cry for laissez-faire economics? "Yes, America can." The echo was probably intentional. Mr. Bush is so desperate for the Hispanic vote that he has taken to shouting, "Vamos a ganar! We're going to win!" during stump speeches in Ohio. The main purpose of the "Yes, America can" bus tour, of course, was to shift the attention of U.S. voters away from the Iraq prison scandal toward safer ground: the recovering job market....(full article)

The Christian Dogs of War
by Mina Hamilton

We've heard of the brutality of war before.  How US GI's in Vietnam called the enemy gooks, dinks, and slopes.  How the marines threw terrified prisoners out of helicopters cruising at 1500 feet and machine-gunned down innocent women and children. We know US soldiers are trained to hate the enemy through a careful indoctrination in racism.  How else could they be persuaded to go against the bedrock moral of "Thou shall not kill"?  How else could they be convinced it's okay to embark on a steady diet of murder, decapitating humans with air strikes, smashing brains, severing limbs, burning babies? We know US society as a whole, whenever a war is in the offing, is indoctrinated with the same racism.  How else could good, honest, decent Americans be persuaded to send their innocent sons off to kill and be killed? (full article)

Look Out for "Torture Fatigue": Right wing supporters of the Iraq war are outraged at the outrage over the Abu Ghraib photos
by Bill Berkowitz

A little over two weeks after photos depicting torture in Abu Ghraib prison became public, the right-wing media machine is telling America to get over it already. According to the conservatives, the inhumane treatment of detainees is turning into a scandal because the liberal media is prolonging the attention, allowing lefty "Bush-haters" to politicize and capitalize on the affair. And all this hand-wringing will only hurt the troops in Iraq....(full article)

Sex, Lies and Videotape
by John Chuckman

Among the hoard of pictures from Iraq viewed by members of America's Senate in a top-secret, eavesdrop-proof room -- a rather grandiose version of one of those smelly little, stained booths for which patrons of Times Square shops used to pay to watch "hot stuff" -- were pictures of a young female soldier, already recognized worldwide for her smiling-Nazi poses with abused prisoners, having sex with a gang of fellow soldiers. One of the exalted Senator spectators, with all the dignity he could summon, was quoted, "She was having sex with numerous partners. It appeared to be consensual. Almost everyone was naked all the time." Well, I am relieved to learn that it was all consensual, having feared that gang sex without consent was what had attracted the secret gathering of scores of America's highest officials to spend hours gawking at pornographic videotapes. Equally reassuring was the Senator's observation that everyone was naked. The level of depravity would be hard to imagine were soldiers having group sex with their clothes on. I suppose rumors of such a remarkable occurrence might have boosted attendance at the sessions....(full article)

Ugly America: Wolfie, Hannity & Rent-A-Union Basher
by William Hughes

The Iraq War is creating an ugly, mean-spirited America! Witness the escapades of Paul Wolfowitz, Sean Hannity, and a union-bashing American security company operating in Iraq....(full article)

There Goes the Neighborhood
by J.M. Palmer

Little Johnny marches off to become a man. With his one stripe, his gun and his flag and his pocket sized New Testament that his mother gave him. Now Johnny was a high school football player. He loved wearing the uniform, the school colors, it made him feel important, respected. He loved the violence of crashing headlong into other boys, it made him feel strong, it gave him an outlet. But now Johnny has a new uniform and the town is just as proud. The words “hero” and “patriot” and “good Christian” float up and down the streets of small town USA. So Johnny marches off to save the world from evil as it gathers for the apocalyptic showdown, might makes right and he knows this and like the pastor said, God is on our side. So with his passions inflamed and his body heavily armed he hits the desert running, he is highly trained and he carries out his duties with a cold precision. His unit is the new sheriff in town, they are the law in a lawless land. His ego becomes engorged as he learns new to survive, how to kill, how to torture and humiliate. Johnny learns what it means to be a conquering army, to rape and pillage in the grand military tradition, to have total dominion over a powerless people, to step on those who are down just for kicks. All of these things Johnny learns...and then Johnny comes home....
(full article)

Modern Day Lysenkoism: Fish Groups Pummel Administration
for Removing Protections for  Wild Salmon

by Dan Bacher

A broad coalition of recreational fishing, commercial fishing, scientific and environmental groups condemned the Bush administration for a new and yet unreleased policy that would remove badly-needed protections from many of the 27 listed West Coast salmon stocks. The administration plans to count hatchery-raised salmon and steelhead when deciding whether to continue listing stocks as “threatened” or “endangered” under the federal Endangered Species Act, even though the scientific community has urged them not to do so....(full article)

With Friends Like These...More Election 2004 Madness
by Mickey Z

If a surprising number of Left luminaries think it's wise to vote for John Kerry, well, that's their opinion. I disagree and have explained why in several other articles so, don't worry, I'm not going to offer more damning evidence about the two Yale grads. Instead, I'd like to address another unfortunate Campaign 2004 phenomenon: The Comrades for Kerry camp has employed two rather corporate media-like methods to disparage those radicals who have thus far resisted the siren call of the Lesser Evil. Both methods, I feel, build grade-school debate level straw men and should not be allowed to pass without challenge....(full article)

Class Struggle on Campus: Victory to the Columbia University
Graduate Strikers!
by Derek Seidman

Thursday, May 6, over 300 striking graduate students and their supporters rallied at Columbia University, marching through campus with resounding chants and makeshift drums thumping away. The atmosphere was all the more festive with the show of solidarity by other unions, including a diverse contingent, forty strong, of TWU local 241, Columbia’s Facilities Management. Chants and slogans such as “Union Now”, “UAW on strike for recognition”, and “The unions united will never be defeated” were complimented by creative pickets, such as “Philosophy Hall on strike—Derridians make the différence”. Students marched through some of the same areas and building where, only about 35 years ago, the most historic student occupations of the Sixties had taken place. As of now, the Columbia graduate workers are still on strike. Why are they striking? Their story is similar to the thousands of other grad students who have fought for union recognition in recent years....(full article)

State Terrorism and the United States
by Tracy McLellan

A review of Frederick J. Gareau's book, State Terrorism and the United States: From Counterinsurgency to the War on Terrorism....(full article)

The Man in the Black Suit: Potentially Dangerous Citizens
by Adam Engel

(Fiction) The second installment of Adam Engel's novel in progress, "The Man in the Black Suit"....(full article)

Zbignew's Inferno
by Zbignew Zingh

Dante wrote his Divine Comedy more than 500 years ago. In the Inferno, part one of the three part allegorical poem, Dante described how while walking through the woods he became lost. Confronted by two wild beasts, Dante began to run. He ran deeper into the swamp and became hopeless and confused. In the depth of despair, the shade of the deceased Roman poet Virgil appears and leads him out of the swamp by taking Dante on a journey through Hell. Dante created an underworld with different levels of punishment. He populated the descending rings of the Inferno with people from Dante's own society: the villains and wrongdoers of early Fourteenth Century Italy. Dante placed them in their appropriate circles of Hell, each subject to the personalized punishment suited to their vices. At the center of Hades, Dante put the most evil people eternally devoured and re-devoured by Satan. Were Dante alive in the Twenty-First Century, might this be the Inferno he would have written? (full blaze)

Heat Death - Now Blair Spins Climate Change
by David Edwards and Media Lens

On 29-30 April, 1991 one of history’s premier storms hit Bangladesh -- 138,000 people were killed. One local woman spoke of a "wall of water" rushing towards her home: "The ground shook and the skies split with a roar so loud that I thought I had gone mad," she remembered later. She had just managed to wrap a rope around her three children when the wave broke over their heads. The next eight hours were spent clinging to the roof, before the house was washed away and the family plunged into the floating debris. The woman and her children survived, but her husband was lost without trace." In a warming world, such "extreme" events are likely to occur more frequently and become yet more extreme. Tom Knutson, a climate modeler at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, reports: "If these predictions of future warming, with increased hurricane intensities and sea level rise are true, we haven't seen anything yet - especially with the increase in population and development in hurricane-prone regions."....(full article)

May 13

Adventure Gone Wrong
by Kim Petersen

Unquestionably the beheading of Nick Berg was a heinous act. However, it is not enough to focus only on the gruesomeness of Berg’s execution and those who carried out the heinous act. There is namely the question of what Berg was doing in Iraq? As the Guardian notes, this story has yet to “fully emerge.”...(full article)

Lynndie the Liberator
by John Chuckman

United Kingdom, United States and Israel: Kings of Pain
by John Stanton

A little publicized piece by Ali Abunimah in Lebanon’s Daily Star titled "Israeli link possible in US torture techniques: In exchange for interrogation training, did Washington award security contracts?" should be getting a lot more attention. While it is doubtful that the Pentagon and its defense contractors would need to barter with Israel to get their interrogation techniques (they’ve had them for decades), the Abunimah article provides a gold-mine worth of resources establishing, yet again, the inseparable and often damaging linkage between US and Israeli interests in the Middle East and Central Asia. Reading through some of the resource material cited by Abunimah, it is difficult to figure out where US foreign and defense policy ends and Israel’s begins...(full article)

Open Letter to President Bush on the Inhumane Treatment
of Iraqi Prisoners
by Ralph Nader

"The reported widespread abuse of prisoners by your Administration adds another condition that reflects on your failure of leadership. Anticipation and prevention of such tragedies should have been routine by the top officials whom you command. How can you imagine winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people?  You are expanding what the intelligence agencies call “blowbacks” ­- expanding the networking of stateless terrorists against the United States.  In addition, your Administration’s actions put US soldiers and civilians in Iraq at increased risk from the backlash to the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, most of whom the press reports were charged with no wrongdoing when imprisoned."....(full letter)

On the Necessity of Torture
by Mark Engler

While it has been over a week since the scandal concerning abuses of Iraqi prisoners erupted, our country is only beginning to reckon with the issue of torture. By now, most Americans have seen at least some of the horrific photos from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. We know that more are yet to come. In his testimony before Congress, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld warned that the government holds pictures and video of a "sadistic, cruel and inhuman" nature. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has seen this material, warns that "We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience--we're talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges." This is sad news. But perhaps it is for the best that such evidence is coming to light. Based on our domestic news coverage, many Americans have been persuaded that the present scandal is "just" a matter of sexual humiliation....(full article)

Why is Bush's Loss Not Kerry's Gain?
by Sharon Smith

Support for the U.S. occupation of Iraq is in free fall. . . George Bush’s loss has not been John Kerry’s gain. Opinion polls show the two neck-in-neck in a two-way race--and still neck-in-neck with Ralph Nader in the running... Instead of castigating Nader as a "spoiler," the left should lay the blame for Kerry’s poor showing where it belongs--with Kerry himself....(full article)

The Coming Backlash Against Outrage
by Norman Solomon

Looking at visual images from U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, news watchers now find themselves in the midst of a jolting experience that roughly resembles a process described by Donald Rumsfeld: “It is the photographs that gives one the vivid realization of what actually took place. Words don’t do it. ... You see the photographs, and you get a sense of it, and you cannot help but be outraged.” Yet, unlike most of us, the defense secretary has a vested interest in claiming that the grotesque real-life images have nothing to do with U.S. policies. In Iraq, Rumsfeld has reaffirmed, “I am convinced that we are doing exactly what ought to be done.” Under the circumstances, it would be astonishing if he said anything different. But hopefully most Americans are more willing to consider implications of the fact that the U.S. government has been operating chambers of horrors that run directly counter to America’s self-image as a righteous military force....(full article)

War Crimes of the US Empire
by Nicole Colson

"People in Iraq must understand...that what took place in that prison does not represent the America that I know." So said George W. Bush in interviews on Arab television last week, in response to the pictures of U.S. soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. But America has a long history of torture, violence and bloodshed--committed at home and around the world in the name of U.S. empire. Nicole Colson looks behind the rhetoric about "freedom and democracy"--and uncovers the long record of U.S. military atrocities....(full article)

The Statue of Liberty is Missing
by Zbignew Zingh

When we awoke, the Statue of Liberty had gone. She left in the night, ashamed for the country she had come to represent. . . If you peered deeply into America's soul, you will find that many do not care what happens in Iraq or to Iraqis. Speaking, probably, for many in America, Republican Senator James Inhofe from Oklahoma has as much said that those the Americans tortured in Iraq were 'bad people' who really do not merit our concern....
(full article)

Lifting the Cap: Bush Administration Seeks to Expand
U.S. Military Personnel in Colombia

by Elanor Starmer

Last month the Bush administration announced plans to deepen U.S. involvement in Colombia by doubling the number of U.S. troops and private military contractors stationed there. The move came in the midst of an energetic public-relations campaign by the U.S. State Department and the Colombian government. Both administrations attempted to paint U.S. policy in Colombia as an assured success. However, statistics show a stable presence of cocaine on the U.S. market, and evidence points to continued ties between the Colombian military and brutal right-wing paramilitary groups....(full article)

Plan Puebla Panama and Free Trade:
The Corporate Contribution to Low Intensity Warfare

by Toni Solo

Low intensity conflict against Cuba and Venezuela, infrastructure programs like Plan Puebla Panama, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and the war in Colombia may seem to have little in common. But they are all part of the same “Thing” in the sense used by John Thelwall the 18th Century English dissident. They are all measures taken by a ruthless State and private sector network determined to protect its interests whatever it takes. It also helps to imagine this “Thing” in the sense of the John Carpenter film of that name – a destructive monster that takes on any shape it chooses. In Latin America, the Thing is the determination of the United States corporate plutocracy and its local allies to advance their own interests over those of the poor majority. The fact that George W. Bush and his regional allies are running out of time politically is behind the increasing urgency of attacks on Cuba, provocations in Venezuela and efforts to tie up “free trade” deals in the region by the end of 2005....(full article)

The Boil on the Face of Mona Lisa
by Nick Pretzlik in the West Bank

Two weeks ago, 176 dunums of land (176,000 square meters) were stolen from the beautiful hilltop village of Beit Jalla, whose terraced fields, pristine monasteries and pretty winding streets run up to the municipal boundaries of Bethlehem. Five thousand olive trees, together with orchards of apricots and apples, have been confiscated -- trees which provided a livelihood for generations of Beit Jalla families. No compensation has been offered. An Israeli military order was issued and the land has been requisitioned to accommodate the next phase of the apartheid wall soon to encircle the Bethlehem area. The order is final....(full article)

Disengaging Sharon
by Yacov Ben Efrat

AFTER 37 years of Occupation, to think that Israel could unilaterally disengage from Gaza amounted to a unilateral disengagement from reality. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon submitted his disconnection plan to the members of his party, who proceeded to disconnect themselves from him, as well as from most Israelis. The plan takes its place in a gallery of failures, along with Oslo and the Road Map....(full article)

Brown v. Board Fifty Years Out: Still Separate and Unequal
by Paul Street

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the famous Brown v. Board of Education decision (issued on May 17th, 1954), I have been reflecting on America's persistently segregated and unequal schools. Up until Brown, the standard justification for black-white school segregation held that black schools were "separate but equal," to use the Supreme Court's language in the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896. That justification was a terrible joke. The black schools of Jim Crow America were miserably inferior in quality and funding. After a belated series of partial victories in the 1960s and 1970s, with the strongest and most persistent gains in the South, we have been moving back towards school re-segregation during the last two decades....(full article)

Even Better Than the Real Thing
When it Comes to Boycotts...Coke is It

by Mickey Z.

Nearly 4 billion people around the world earn less than $1,500 (US) a year. At least a billion people subsist on the equivalent of one US dollar a day or less. The world's 587 billionaires are worth $1.9 trillion...a total higher than the gross domestic product of the 170 poorest countries combined. Every two seconds, somewhere on the planet, a child starves to death. Multinational corporations know this. They keep track of such things. They are keenly aware of the insidious role they play in an inequitable world threatened by environmental doom...and they work tirelessly to camouflage this role....(full article)

Some of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Energy Advisers Who are Pushing
for a Competitive Electricity Market Contributed Heavily to Gov's
Campaign Last Year

by Jason Leopold

Late last month Schwarzenegger released the blueprints of his long-awaited energy plan, which calls for the state to return to a fully, competitive deregulated electricity market. That’s a hot-button issue because, according to Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the market is still ripe for manipulation and there are no safeguards in place to protect consumers should another energy crisis hit...(full article)

May 11

Getting to the Bottom of It
by Lou Plummer

One Friday in my early twenties, I took off my camouflage fatigues for the last time. The following Monday I reported to the best civilian job I could get. I was given a new uniform, a can of mace, a set of handcuffs and the keys to a cellblock at a state prison in North Carolina. Although I was no longer in the infantry, my boss was still a sergeant and his boss was still a lieutenant. The paramilitary replaced the military but there was still an enemy and a mission. I no longer trained to kill Central-American communists. Instead, every day, I faced a prison population that was nearly eighty percent African-American in a state with a population that is nearly eighty percent white. It was my intention to treat the inmates I was charged with supervising in much the same way I had been treated as a junior enlisted soldier in places like Ft. Benning, GA and Ft. Hood, TX. I had been belittled and dehumanized in the name of discipline. I intended to use the same tactics to control the criminal scum I was assigned to manage...(full article)

The Crimes at Abu Ghraib Are Not the Worst
by Robert Higgs

Recent days have been hectic ones for the Supreme Rulers in Washington, D.C. President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld have ceased their accustomed swaggering, put on their most somber faces, and issued one apology after another for the mistreatment of prisoners by U.S. soldiers and mercenaries at Abu Ghraib prison. Although the government had known about these disgusting, sadistic, and idiotic amusements for a long time, Rumsfeld kept a close hold on the information, the better to brush it under the official rug. (We know that the government knew, because the International Committee for the Red Cross, which made several inspections of the prisons in Iraq, confirms that long ago it “told the Americans that what was going on at Abu Ghraib is reprehensible.”) Once the photos got out, of course, more than one kind of hell broke loose, and now the government's top dogs all have their tails tucked shamefully between their legs. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham warned reporters after Rumsfeld’s Senate interrogation on May 7 that “there’s more to come” and “we’re talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges” against U.S. soldiers and civilian employees in Iraq....(full article)

The Enemy Within
by M. Junaid Alam

Sharpened on racial and religious hatreds, the dagger of imperialism has thrust itself into the heart of the Iraqi people with vicious force. Our professional liberals, who have moved heaven and earth to not only produce this dagger but supply it a sheath woven of fine phrases about American moral supremacy, now recoil in horror at events in Iraq and propose a thousand solutions to “secure” it and avoid “chaos.” Their minor and meek criticisms of the occupation separate them from the war planners to the same degree that the handle of this dagger is separated from its blade....
(full article)

Torture in Iraq and Chile: The US Connection
by Tito Tricot

Former Chilean political prisoner Tito Tricot on the connections between US torture of prisoners in Iraq, US support of torture in Chile, and how the partial privatization of war is now reaching Latin America....(full article)

From Texas to Abu Ghraib: The Bush Legacy of Prisoner Abuse
by Heather Wokusch

While administration officials express shock and outrage over allegations of the torture and murder of Iraqi prisoners by US forces, a deeper look into Bush's stateside prison-system record shows disturbing similarities...
(full article)

Bush Circles Wagons, But Cavalry Has Joined the Indians
by Jim Lobe

In the old Hollywood westerns, the white settlers circle the wagons to defend themselves against attacks by the Indians until the U.S. Cavalry can arrive to rescue them and chase off their assailants. But in Washington over the last few days it seems that the Cavalry has joined the Indians. US President George W. Bush, backed by his vice president and national security adviser, have been circling the wagons around Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld since the White House told reporters that the president had given him a mild rebuke over the prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq. But the embattled Pentagon chief may have made too many enemies – particularly within his armed forces – to be saved....(full article)

Waging War with the Virgin Soldiers:
Abstinence Teaching is a Disaster for Teenagers

by George Monbiot

The flame of sexual liberation may soon have to be kept alive by us geriatric delinquents. A US evangelical group has announced that next month it will be recruiting British teenagers to its campaign against sex before marriage. In the States, over a million have taken the pledge. "Great Britain," the organizer insists, "is fascinated with the idea of sexual abstinence." In my day such a fellow would have been horse-whipped. Yet young people are flocking to him. Is there no end to the depravity of today's youth? (full article)

Federal Commission Nixes Talk of Paper-Only Elections --
Stacks Panels With Proponents of Paperless Touchscreens

by Lynn Landes

The atmosphere was electric. News cameras and documentary filmmakers jostled for position at last Wednesday's packed hearing of the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) on the "Use, Security, and Reliability of Electronic Voting Systems" in Washington, D.C. The elegant oak-paneled room was jammed with reporters, elections officials, business reps, and a sprinkling of activists. Tensions were running high as public confidence in America's electronic voting systems is collapsing. A steady stream of scientific reports and news stories about shady voting companies, who secretly install uncertified software, has the nation's election officials reeling. At the beginning of the hearing Chairman Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. said, “Voting has ‘evolved’ since the founding of our democracy.” "Devolved" would have been a better description....(full article)

Plan Petroleum in Putumayo
by Garry Leech

In December 2000, U.S.-trained counternarcotics battalions, U.S.-supplied Blackhawk helicopters and U.S.-piloted spray planes descended on Putumayo department to conduct Plan Colombia’s initial aerial fumigation campaign. In the more than three years since the initial spraying of coca crops, Putumayo has been a repeat target, as have many of the country’s other southern departments. Although the U.S. government claims its fumigation prescriptions finally began decreasing coca cultivation in 2002 and 2003, there is still no evidence that Plan Colombia has achieved its principal goal of dramatically reducing the flow of cocaine to the United States. But while Plan Colombia has failed to affect the price, purity and availability of cocaine in U.S. cities, its militarization of Putumayo has contributed significantly to increased oil exploration by multinational companies in this resource-rich region. Neoliberal economic reforms that constitute the economic component of Plan Colombia have further sweetened the pot for foreign oil companies....(full article)

Help Mom Break That Glass Ceiling
by Holly Sklar

Holly Sklar looks at the under-representation of American women in government and the private sector as compared with other nations, and highlights the economic disparities between women and men...(full article)

Next Stop: Pyongyang
by John Feffer

Although human rights organizations have not been able to monitor the situation within North Korea, reports from defectors and refugees converge to a remarkable degree. Minus some exaggerations or misrepresentations at the margins, there is little disagreement about the state of North Korean affairs. Consensus on what to do about the problem, however, remains elusive. Neoconservatives in the United States have a simple answer: squeeze North Korea until the current government collapses....(full article)

Nationalism and Aggression in Japan: The US Model
by Ian Werkheiser

The international community was shocked and appalled at the kidnapping of Japanese civilians in Iraq. When they were released by the members of Mujahedin who had been holding them, everyone breathed a sigh of relief, not least Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro who had been suffering in approval ratings during the crisis. Many were surprised then to see the treatment the freed hostages received upon their return at the hands of the Japanese media and their own government, who even went so far as to begin leveling fines against the former hostages to reimburse the state for the trouble it went through. This mistreatment can be understood as part of a larger move toward right-wing nationalism in Japan today...(full article)

Not Everyone Loves Marineland
by John Sorenson

Do you care about freedom of speech? Are you disturbed by animal suffering? If you answered "yes" to either question, recent events in Niagara Falls should be of concern to you. Marineland, the "theme park" that displays captive marine mammals in Niagara Falls, is attempting to silence criticism of their operations by suing Niagara Action For Animals, a small, non-profit, grass-roots animal protection group....(full article)

Demanding Peace Versus Praying For It: I WANT TO SCREAM
by Kirsten Anderberg

Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said that the privileged will NOT just hand over their privilege when asked. He said that privilege would have to be TAKEN out of the hands of the elite, he said they would not GIVE it over. And this has been true more often than not in human history. It is the RULE that the oppressed do not get their rights by ASKING POLITELY and then WAITING QUIETLY for them. I saw an anarchist zine recently entitled, "Peace is patriotic, that is the problem." It struck me as truth. All these "peaceful" middle-class, white, car and home-owning “activists” who are nicely asking the Bush administration to please, maybe, stop the war, someday soon, are a problem. Their pose is one of an activist, yet the government is benefiting from them more than peace activists are. Dr. King’s “peaceful” tactics were severely challenged by direct action black nationalists. King himself admitted he did not realize the severity of conditions in the inner city that were leading to the anger, hostility and violence, and you can see King’s language change as people aggressively pushed not only for equal rights, but for Black Power and Black Nationalism which, yes, made King uncomfortable, but he was radicalized by their rage as was the whole country, as they had a just message that rang true. You starve people long enough and they organize their own resistance, with or without self-proclaimed “peaceful” leaders. MLK himself said, “We have a right to FIGHT for right.” What “peaceful” and “fight” mean in these contexts needs exploration, not exploitation. We cannot afford to play semantics anymore....(full article)

May 9

Abu Ghraib, Falluja and "All The News That's Fit to Print"
by Mina Hamilton

Abuse at Abu Ghraib: It's obscene, an atrocity and against international law. It's condemned by the world. The assault on Falluja: It's obscene, an atrocity and against international law. It's barely noticed by the Western world, although abhorred in the Arab world. One of the reasons for this striking difference is media coverage...(full article)

Heroism and Patriotism
by Kim Petersen

Kim Petersen on Pat Tillman, patriotism and the censoring of Ted Rall's latest cartoon strip. (full article)

American Denial
by Rahul Mahajan

Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted on Wednesday and Thursday found that six out of ten Americans still believed that the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib were "isolated incidents," the rationalization that all the pundits and spinmeisters led with as soon as the story broke...(full article)

Please Forgive U.S.? (There Are No Innocent Bystanders)
by Mickey Z.

It's interesting to witness how much outrage -- on all sides of the political spectrum -- has been provoked by the prison abuse photos. But where are the calls for investigations and displays of righteous morality as taxpayer-subsidized American bombs blow Iraqi and Afghani babies to bits each and every day? (full article)

Torture Is News But It's Not New
by John Pilger

John Pilger recalls the news coverage of the war in Vietnam and how American atrocities and torture were not considered newsworthy. The same was true of the brutality of British colonial adventures. In Iraq, nothing has changed...(full article)

Projections and Erections
by Gregory Stephens

As soon as I got home internet access the sexual spam began: endless ads offering pills to enlarge my penis, and varieties of black market Viagra and latter-day rhino horn potions. There was also the occasional ad offering various means of increasing breast size. One ad I’ve gotten over and over cracked me up, and then got me to thinking. It began with the direct pitch that if you were not a superstud, your woman might leave you for an Alpha man. Women were insatiable creatures (so goes this sexual mythology), and only men who could perform like professionals in bed could hope to keep their women at home...(full article)

Rummy on the Rocks
by Jim Lobe

With the scandal over the abuse of prisoners in U.S. military custody in Iraq still growing, the administration of President George W Bush appears to be shaken to its very core. While the immediate question is whether Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could be sufficiently persuasive in Congressional testimony scheduled Friday to survive the fast-spreading calls for his resignation, the larger issue has abruptly become whether the U.S. occupation of Iraq, for which the administration has just asked an additional 25 billion dollars this year, is sustainable...(full article)

A Comic Apology
by M. Shahid Alam

This happens rarely – very rarely. An apology from the President of the United States, not for personal lapses, but for the rare slippage in the workings of America’s virtuous, divinely blessed, civilizing mission to the benighted world. Most Americans truly believe – take this to be self-evident – that the United States is not only the world’s greatest country, but it has always been the last great hope of earth, that Americans have always been willing, more than any other Western power, to take on the White Man’s burden, to bring life, liberty and happiness to the rest of mankind. This is a testament to the power of American media: that it can claim to be the world’s freest media and yet control – like no other ‘free’ media – what an overwhelming majority of Americans know and believe about their country. And what they know and believe is America the free, pure and virtuous...
(full article)

Rush Limbaugh and the Babes of Abu Ghraib
by Kurt Nimmo

Torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq? It's no different than fraternity hazing. Or so declares the king of reactionary radio, Rush Limbaugh...
(full article)

Bush’s Death Squad Ambassador to Iraq
by Lance Selfa

John Negroponte sailed through his Senate confirmation on Friday to become the Bush administration’s ambassador to Iraq after June 30. With perfunctory and fawning questioning, senators refused to ask Negroponte -- currently the U.S. representative to the United Nations -- anything that might have caused him difficulty in the hearing room. When a human rights activist jumped up from the audience, shouting that the senators should ask Negroponte about the death squads he helped to defend in Honduras in the 1980s, the senators acted as if they didn’t hear the man. Yet the unasked questions -- about Negroponte’s key role in the Reagan administration’s 1980s contra war against the left-wing Sandinista government in Nicaragua -- tell a lot about what Washington expects from Negroponte...(full article)

Rotten to the Corps
by Adam Engel

Usually, during the bleak hours in which I force myself, nightly, to face the news on websites, such as this one, I read the text and just glance at the photographs, but this gnome-like white woman and her pudgy white male counterpart molding naked brown bodies like clay into various obscene positions was grotesque enough to hypnotize. Something you don’t want to see but can’t help looking at. A corpse in the road or a fight in a family restaurant. And of course, over the next few days this obscenity was spun by Mainstream Media into the old "bad apple" theme. The "truth angle" of this particular narrative, using the plot standards of freedom and democracy versus totalitarian oppression, and the “made-for-TV” characters of an evil dictator and his terrorist minions:  liberating Iraqis from their political sovereignty, oil, and earthly incarnations.  Yawn...(full article)

Let Them Eat "Cakewalk"
by Paul Street

Reflect for a moment on the one hundred and thirty-seven United States troops who died in Iraq during the second April of America's occupation. Their faces are available for your review on the front page of last weekend's USA Today. They are part of the largest one-month American GI body count since the beginning of the war. And the U.S. death toll is mounting at a rapid pace into May. At this rate, the number of American dead should hit one thousand at some point this spring or summer. The president, who orders mostly working-class youth to an early grave -- the April victims' median age was 23 -- in an illegal, immoral, and deceptively sold war, has been unavailable for the growing number of GI funerals. He's been too busy, among other things, with fundraisers, feeding the overstuffed coffers of the largest campaign finance war-chest in the record of modern plutocracy...
(full article)

A Guiding Light Falls on Ramallah
by Sam Bahour

Ramallah is now usually quiet at night.  This has not always been the case for this summer town located in the center of the West Bank.  As a matter of fact, before the latest Israeli military aggression and subsequent re-occupation of the West Bank, Palestinians in Ramallah were known to walk the streets and socialize well into the night.  However, tonight the deafening silence was broken, not by the frequent Israeli tanks and jeeps that now enter and exit the city at will, but rather by the music of the distinguished Daniel Barenboim, one of the great musicians of our time...(full article)

A Progressive Response to the Nader Campaign
by Jeff Cohen

I am ideologically aligned with Ralph Nader, not John Kerry. I agree with Nader on virtually every issue, while agreeing with only about half of Kerry's positions (or what can be deciphered as Kerry's positions). Like other peace and justice activists, I am distressed that Kerry -- who spoke so eloquently decades ago against a war based on racism and lies -- has given support to the current war that is based on racism and lies. But I'm also distressed by the deception coming from the Nader campaign. We keep being told that Nader will draw votes away from the Evildoer-in-Chief, George W. Bush; yet poll after poll shows the Nader vote depleting Kerry and helping Bush, and tipping swing states and their electoral votes to Bush...(full article)

The Challenge and Opportunity of 2004: How to Build a Common Sense, Populist Political Movement and Remove President Bush from Office
by Kevin B. Zeese

I joined Ralph Nader's campaign, not only because I admire Nader, but also because I want to see George Bush removed from office. He is the worst president of my 49-year life and I see his administration as a threat to my hopes for the United States and the health of the planet. However, it is important that we remove him while standing for what we believe in -- and educating others about our view -- so we can expand the populist base seeking common sense solutions to our common problems...(full article)

How Class Works 2004: An Interview with Michael Zweig
by Brandy Baker

Brandy Baker interviews Professor Michael Zweig, director of The Center For Working Class Life at SUNY Stonybrook. The Center will be holding their How Class Works 2004 Conference between June 10-12...(full article)

George Bush's America
by Stan Moore

Actually, George W. Bush has more than one America. When I go to the local WalMart store in Rohnert Park, California, I see one aspect of George W. Bush's America. I see working class poor. I see people earning at or near the minimum wage, recent and past immigrants, people with low education and job skills, and I wonder how America managed to become a superpower with all these undereducated, underperforming people in the general population. There is nothing about the WalMart America which should dominate the entire planet, and the WalMart America is the direction that America the superpower is headed. If George W. Bush was named George W. Jones, with his skill set and intellect, George W. Bush would be a charter member of WalMart America...(full article)

May 6

Royal Coke: How the US and France Let the Smuggling Prince
Get Away to Help the War on Terror
by Doug Ireland

A book to be released this week in Paris lifts the veil on a sordid tale that even John Grisham would have had trouble inventing, about a Saudi prince-diplomat who smuggles two tons of cocaine into Europe on a jetliner owned by the Saudi royal family — and gets away with it. Coming right when Bob Woodward’s report of the Bush-Bandar deal to lower gas prices for electoral purposes has once again put the spotlight on the Saudis, this history of a different sort of carburant doesn’t just reveal another seamy underside of the despotic kingdom — it raises embarrassing new post-9/11 questions for the Bush administration, and exposes the hypocrisy of Jacques Chirac’s government in facilitating the prince’s getaway...(full article)

The Pornography of War
by Kim Petersen

The apologies are starting to flow. At this point in history, much of humanity obviously remains incapable of avoiding the barbarity of war. That savagery was inherent in warfare was assumed in the past. But modern warfare is still replete with human savagery. The moral enlightenment of western warriors -- aside from the question of whether one could ever consider a warrior morally enlightened -- still leaves a whole lot to be desired...(full article)

The West’s Presumption of Moral Superiority
by David Edwards and Media Lens

Writing in the Daily Mirror on April 22, Tony Parsons raged at the brutal killing of four American security guards in Falluja: “The gloating sadistic savagery of those Iraqi ‘freedom fighters’ appalls me”, Parsons declared, before concluding with a judgment that echoes down the centuries: “There is something rotten at the heart of Iraq.” Consider the logic: the West armed Iraq at the height of Saddam Hussein’s atrocities; it wrecked the country with the equivalent of seven Hiroshima-size atom bombs during the 1991 war; it killed a million civilians through “genocidal” sanctions, according to senior UN diplomats who resigned in protest. Last year, the West again waged a massive war based on a set of completely false pretexts killing another 50,000 people, allowing the country to be looted and burned, and has recently killed 600 more people in Falluja alone. But, according to Parsons, there is something rotten at the heart of Iraq!...(full article)

Running the Ship-of-State Aground
by Walter Brasch

Is the explanation that the Abu Ghraib prison abuses were the fault of a few rogue soldiers really plausible? (full article)

This War and Racism -- Media Denial in Overdrive
by Norman Solomon

Among the millions of words that have appeared in the U.S. press since late April about abuse and torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, one has been notably missing: Racism. Overall, when it comes to racial aspects, the news coverage is quite PC -- as in Pentagon Correct. The outlook is “apple pie” egalitarian, with the media picture including high-profile officers who are African-American and Latino. Meanwhile, inside the policy arena, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice are frequently in front of cameras to personify Uncle Sam in blackface...(full article)

Abu Ghraib: Presidents Don't Have to Say They're Sorry
by Kurt Nimmo

Is there a reason Bush did not apologize for the torture at Abu Ghraib? Scott McClellan dutifully answered this question after Bush went on Arab television -- an event that only angered Iraqis even more, if such is possible. McClellan said his boss is "deeply sorry for what occurred and the pain that it has caused," but explained Bush did not apologize because neither Dubai-based al-Arabiya television nor US-based and funded al-Hurra had asked him to do so. In short, the thought never crossed Bush's mind. Besides, he's the president -- and presidents don't have to apologize. George Bush -- former drunk and frat boy who, as a child, liked to blow up frogs with firecrackers, and who, as governor of Texas, mocked the pathetic plea of a death row inmate -- does not have to apologize to anybody, least of all a few million Arabs...(full article)

The Thing With No Brain
by John Chuckman

I had an unpleasant moment on the day Bush decided to address "the Arab world." He is a man I cannot stand hearing, so when his voice comes on the radio, I always switch it off. Well, this time I was too far away and necessarily heard a couple of sentences, the ones starting with "People in Iraq must understand…And they must understand…." Must? The dumb arrogance of his words was stunning. On top of his poorly-chosen vocabulary, the man never apologized as I later learned from the Internet. Here was a commander talking about inexcusable brutality against helpless prisoners telling millions of angry people that they must understand. Here was a pathetically-inadequate man so overtaken by events that he felt the need to address "the Arab world," and he was telling them what they must understand...(full article)

People for the Exploitative Treatment of Arabs?
How PETA’s Iraq Fur Giveaway Betrays Progressive Activism

by Lee Hall

An Internet news site reported on Monday that “one lucky Iraqi will be sporting a mink coat to help them brace against the cold thanks to a program organized by animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).” The Wisconsin resident who donated the mink coat for this “lucky Iraqi” had “decided it was time to pass on her full-length mink coat after some Spring cleaning.” Especially given its timing -- just four days after the release of a hideous photo series of Iraqi prisoners being physically and psychologically tortured by occupation forces in Abu Ghraib prison -- PETA’s latest news represents the worst in a string of abominable stunts employed by the group to grab media attention...(full article)

Return of the Draft? Conscription Wouldn’t Be "More Fair"
by Joe Allen

With Republicans and Democrats floating the idea that the U.S. government will have to bring back military conscription, Joe Allen looks at the myths and realities about the draft...(full article)

Bay Areas Grocery Workers Fight for the Future of America's Healthcare
by Javier Armas

Javier Armas on the organizing efforts of San Francisco grocery workers facing cuts in health care and other benefits when their contracts expire on 9/11/2004. Their struggle has wider implications for workers in a US economy that has become more service sector oriented...(full article)

Biddu: The Struggle Against the Wall
by Tanya Reinhart

Biddu is a beautiful Palestinian village, surrounded with vines and fruit orchards, a few miles to the east of the Israeli border of 1967. In the last couple of months, the village, that has lived in peace with its Israeli neighbors even during the present Intifada, has become yet another symbol in the history of Israel/Palestine. The misfortune of this village is that its lands, as well as the lands of the other small Palestinian villages nearby, border the "Jerusalem corridor" -- a sequence of Israeli neighborhoods to the North of Jerusalem. Israeli control of this land would enable territorial continuity "clean of Palestinians" from this corridor to the settlement of Givat Zeev, built deep inside the occupied West Bank, close to Ramallah. In the massive annexation project of Sharon and the Israeli army, this is the kind of land one "does not give up". For this reason, Israel is imprisoning the villagers inside a wall, and is grabbing their land. Biddu, and the ten villages around it, are allowed only one option - to sit quietly and watch as the fruit orchards that they have nourished from one generation to another, turn into the real-estate reserves of the Jerusalem corridor...(full article)

The Prayer of Bus 19
by James Brooks

For May 6, our National Day of Prayer, the National Day of Prayer Task Force will lead America’s worship with a striking tableau at the Capitol Complex in Washington, DC. The production of this year’s event has been delegated to Christians for Israel USA, who will "pray for America and Israel" all day on the Capitol steps, largely by listening to more than twenty strident Israel boosters expound on the event's edifying theme: "Terror, A One-Way Ticket". One doubts the orators will touch on the implication of their slogan, that our definition of "terror" is a one-way proposition and a dead-end trip. "Terror, we're gonna run you out of town!" is a much more likely line. Judging by the roster of speakers, which will feature such Likudnik luminaries as Gary Bauer and John Podhoretz, we can also expect at least an hour extolling the noble, brave and stunningly efficient expertise of Israel's "brave lads" in routing terror wherever it appears. Since it is, after all, our National Day of Prayer, at least one speaker must mention that Israel leads "the most moral army in the world."...(full article)

May 4-5

The UN Must Demand a "Truth Commission" for the United States
by Bob Fitrakis

The official word from the Bush administration is that the torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison is not “systematic,” according to General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. If we ignore all of the facts in the public record over the last four decades, this would be a plausible explanation. This type of torture of indigenous and Third World people, however, is well-documented as a pattern and practice of the U.S. military and the CIA...(full article)

Ghosts of Abu Ghraib
by Joel Wendland

"Liberation" under the Bush administration is looking more and more like life under Saddam Hussein. Naïve claims of bringing democracy and freedom are being silenced by the realities and contradictions of military occupation and Bush administration hegemony over the transition in Iraq. Many of the old Ba’athist faces are returning to the military and the government. Now Hussein’s prison industrial complex and its methods of "justice" seem to be returning as well....(full article)

Robbing "Defeat" to Pay "Appall"
by Peter Kurth

Right now, of course, we’re all appalled. We’re just appalled! The pictures that came out of Baghdad last week -- photographs of naked Iraqi prisoners subjected to abuse and humiliation by American soldiers -- have left us so “appalled” we can’t think of another word to describe it. . . Just imagine how the Iraqis feel. Or maybe you’re not appalled enough for that. Maybe you’re like Alexander Downer, the Australian foreign minister, who says the torture and degradation of Iraqi prisoners is “appalling,” all right, but that his government -- up till now, a gung-ho, paid-up member in the Coalition of the Willing -- “no longer bears legal responsibility for Iraq as an occupying power under international law.” ....(full article)

Heartland Morality, American Politics
by Gregory Stephens

Many have written about the chasm between conservative and liberal, or religious and secular America: the starkly divided red and the blue spaces of the United States. Yet few seem to fully grasp the nature of the private morality in the American heartland that is driving politics at home and abroad. I live on this fault line in Oklahoma City. I hear it every time I talk to my family in Texas. After Empire Page editor Peter Pollak visited Oklahoma in April 2004, he wrote me: “Unless one visits the ‘heart-land’ and hears what honest, hard-working and moral people hear, read and believe, one can’t understand American politics. 2004 is not going to close the gap.” This gap seems to be growing wider, in fact, with a few exceptions. It is one thing to observe from a distance that millions of Americans who are President Bush’s strongest supporters are in the throes of an “extraordinary delusion,” in which their faith leads them to seek a final world war. It is another matter to witness how private morality in mid-America shapes the conduct of people in often admirable ways. Trying to connect or balance the “salt of the earth” personal warmth and generosity of mid-Americans with the political intolerance many of them support is a great challenge. . . (full article)

Winning the Culture War, Losing the Class Struggle
by Yoshie Furuhashi

The Culture War is over, and conservatives have lost. No less an authority on the conservative camp in the Culture War than Paul M. Weyrich declared in 1999: "I believe that we probably have lost the culture war. That doesn't mean the war is not going to continue, and that it isn't going to be fought on other fronts. But in terms of society in general, we have lost. This is why, even when we win in politics, our victories fail to translate into the kind of policies we believe are important." If we have won the Culture War, though, why are we in such bad shape? (full article)

Torture and Civilian Deaths in Three Counterinsurgencies
by William Marina

It was revealed this past week that, on top of the indiscriminate bombardment of civilians in Iraqi urban areas, both U.S. and British soldiers have become involved in the torture of Iraqi prisoners as well. Ironically, the torture of prisoners by the U.S. military has been carried out in the very same Abu Ghraib Prison used by Saddam Hussein and his murderous regime. This is not the first time that torture has been a central feature of U.S intervention. The war in Iraq shares parallels with both the Vietnam War a generation ago and the Spanish-American War a century earlier—massive civilian deaths and torture are characteristics of all three imperial interventions. . . (full article)

Eyeless in Iraq: The L.A. Times and the Fog of War
by Lila Rajiva

On April 19, the L.A. Times ran a piece entitled “Carnage Dims Hopes for Political Way in Iraq” written by staff writer Alissa J. Rubin. In many ways it is symptomatic of the way journalists today frame, obfuscate, and invert meaning through sub-textual narratives that are much more powerfully and insidiously self-censoring than any overt muzzling of the press. Rubin’s article is the kind of impressionistic piece awash with innuendo that masquerades as unbiased journalism these days. The assumptions under which it is written are a form of a priori restraint beyond the usual limitations of what news to cover, how, and with what words. All the worse, it is on the face rather innocuous -- just another bit of first-hand reporting, seemingly neutral, liberal in sympathies, hardly the war-mongering right. Just for that, it warrants taking apart . . . (full article)

John Ashcroft, Keep Your Mouth Off My Wife!
Talking the Homeland Security Blues with Bingo the Philosopher Dog

by Joe Bageant

I'd be the first to admit that sitting here in this garden shed drinking Jim Beam and feeding pork rinds to my dog Bingo (a black mutt of the type we call a "piss hound" around here) may not be the be the best vantage point from which to examine national security affairs. However, it must be said that when the nebulous tendrils of U.S. security policy begin to reach down this far into everyday life, far enough to rattle a 57-year-old pee dribbler such as myself, it sure as hell can be called pervasive, at the very least. Not only pervasive, but also downright personal too. John Ashcroft publicly insulted my wife. I kid you not. I never thought I'd see the day when I would be ready for a balls-to-the-wall scrap with the Attorney General of the United States. I really didn't. So last week I sent him a nasty note, from which I quote, in order to explain to you, dear reader, the sordid details . . .
(full article)

Cruel and Usual Punishment, US-Style
by Seth Sandronsky

Iraqi oppression under the guise of U.S. liberation connects with another tall tale. That is the false image of America as a true democracy. Prisoner torture can no more end in Iraq while it exists in the U.S. than people anywhere on the planet can live long without clean water. Just ask Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. A black man, he was arrested by New York’s finest in 1997. Later, they sodomized him with a broomstick. If that is not an example of depravity, we need a new definition of the word. . . (full article)

Prisoners' Dilemma: The Devil Made U.S. Do It
by Mickey Z.

As if it were a force of nature, we're often advised "war is hell," and corporate media spin is designed to hide exactly who puts the hell in war. . . (full article)

The Golem Turns on his Creator
by Uri Avnery

In Jewish legend, the Golem was a man-made creature endowed with enormous strength. Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague, also know as the Maharal, created him of clay and gave him life by putting a piece of paper with the secret name of God under his tongue. The Golem helped the Jews defend themselves against anti-Semitic rioters, but one day he turned against his creator. He sowed ruin and destruction, until, at the last moment, the rabbi succeeded in extracting the piece of paper from his mouth. The Golem turned back into a heap of clay. Ariel Sharon is not a rabbi and the Kabbalah is a closed book to him. But he has created a Golem: the settlement movement in the occupied territories. . . (full article)

May 2-3

Abu Ghraib: Has the CIA Privatized Torture?
by Kurt Nimmo

As we now understand, it was not simply the military and the CIA that were involved in the torture at Abu Ghraib -- so-called interrogation specialists from private defense contractors were hired to humiliate and break detainees. . . In fact, the CIA has used torture by proxy for decades. . .
(full article)

The "Good Guys" Who Can Do No Wrong
by Robert Fisk

Why are we surprised at their racism, their brutality, their sheer callousness towards Arabs? Those American soldiers in Saddam's old prison at Abu Ghraib, those young British squaddies in Basra came -- as soldiers often come -- from towns and cities where race hatred has a home: Tennessee and Lancashire. . . (full article)

Mutiny in Iraq
by Naomi Klein

Can we please stop calling it a quagmire? The United States isn't mired in a bog or a marsh in Iraq (quagmire's literal meaning); it is free-falling off a cliff. The only question now is: Who will follow the Bush clan off this precipice, and who will refuse to jump? More and more are, thankfully, choosing the second option. The last month of inflammatory US aggression in Iraq has inspired what can only be described as a mutiny: Waves of soldiers, workers and politicians under the command of the US occupation authority are suddenly refusing to follow orders and abandoning their posts. First Spain announced it would withdraw its troops, then Honduras, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Kazakhstan. South Korean and Bulgarian troops were pulled back to their bases, while New Zealand is withdrawing its engineers. El Salvador, Norway, the Netherlands and Thailand will likely be next. And then there are the mutinous members of the US-controlled Iraqi army. . . (full article)

Don’t Live the Lie, Boycott It
by John Stanton

There seems little point in using the ballot box or electronic voting machines to change the players in the White House, the US Congress and, by extension, the Supreme Court, the federal bureaucracy and the military. Funny how all those folks who are elected or appointed in recent times “leave” government richer than when they started whether measured in dollars, power or connections. And when these officials take their positions in the business world, they use their influence to alter legislation and regulations to favor the organizations they represent. The elected/appointed and the corporate/nonprofit worlds seem indistinguishable. The same person who used to “protect and defend the constitution” might now be the director on the board of the company that recommends that your position be eliminated. And they never seem to fade away as fast as they should. . .
(full article)

The Fairy Tale of Liberation
by Kim Petersen

A period of relative quiescence ensued in Scandinavia until 64 years ago when Adolf Hitler ordered an invasion of Denmark and Norway. Nazi Germany required unhindered access to Danish agriculture and Norwegian resources to continue the war effort. Denmark capitulated immediately while Norway put up a feeble and doomed defense. Thus began what was to be a five-year occupation. Resistance arose in both countries and became the stuff of legend. In truth the Danish resistance was miniscule and in Norway the allies hampered the manifestation of any concerted resistance. Today these two Scandinavian countries that endured an occupation by Nazi imperialism are, however, willing participants in the occupation of another imperial victim. Although the invasion is in contravention of Nuremberg Law and undeniably a theft of a country’s sovereignty and its wealth, Danish and Norwegian troops stand symbolic guard for this expropriation. . . (full article)

Outsource CEOs, Not Workers
by Holly Sklar

American companies are busily outsourcing workers when they should be insourcing CEOs from other countries. U.S. CEOs are way too expensive. . .
(full article)


Accumulate This
by Seth Sandronsky

For centuries, military might has paved the way for the theft of people and nature in Africa, Asia and the Americas. A dead German called this process “primitive accumulation.” Later, people are legally looted of the wealth their energy creates when they become wage workers. A current example of primitive accumulation is underway today in Iraq. That Persian Gulf nation has much oil, an essential input for the global system, and desired by elites in rich countries. A fraction of them in the U.S. is leading the charge. . . (full article)

Corporate America’s CEO Pay Heist
by Nicole Colson and Alan Maass

"I’m a little embarrassed about it." That’s what United Technologies Corp. CEO George David had to say about his paycheck for 2003 -- a cool $70.5 million. He should be embarrassed. But he won’t be alone. According to Business Week magazine’s annual review, paychecks for CEOs at the biggest U.S. corporations in 2003 were "off-the-charts amazing." Overall compensation--including salaries, bonuses and long-term compensation deals like stock options--for CEOs at the country’s 365 largest companies increased by an average of 9.1 percent last year, Business Week found. After two years of declining, the ratio that compares CEO pay to the wages of an average worker was on the rise again--climbing to 301 to 1. . . (full article)

Schwarzenegger Pulls a Cheney: Aides Refuse to Identify People
Who Helped Governor Draft Calif. Energy Plan

by Jason Leopold

In a page torn straight out of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney’s playbook on government secrecy, Schwarzenegger’s aides have refused to disclose the names of individuals who helped the governor draft a plan to retool California’s energy market, a plan that appears to benefit the very same special interests Schwarzenegger said he wasn’t handcuffed to during his campaign. Moreover, for the energy proposal to work, it relies heavily on piecemeal components of the state’s old deregulation law that sparked the energy crisis and wreaked havoc on consumers three years ago. . . (full article)

Beyond Indifference
by David Cromwell and Media Lens

There is an intense feeling that we all experience during our best moments that life has meaning; that it is priceless, and filled with immense potential. The seventeenth century French philosopher Blaise Pascal expressed this as "authentic existence," in contrast to "inauthentic existence" in which people tend to waste their lives in amusements or trivialities. Likewise, the twentieth century German philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote of: "Being that degrades itself in the mediocrity of everyday life" and of our "forgetfulness of Existence." In other words, we can become so swamped by the minutiae of just surviving, day by day, that we forget to enjoy the feeling of being alive in the world. Why is this? (full article)

Rainbow Reborn?
by Ted Glick

I never expected the Democratic Party to nominate Dennis Kucinich or anyone very progressive for President. I did think it was possible that grassroots pressure would lead to better rhetoric and perhaps a few better positions on key issues on the part of the Democrats this year. But so far, since John Kerry became the presumptive Presidential nominee in early March, he has been, in the words of David Cobb, the leading candidate for the Green Party Presidential nomination, "woefully inadequate." Kerry shows every indication of being, if he wins the Presidency and absent mass pressure, little more than warmed-over Bill Clinton. . . (full article)

“No Democrat is Going to Beat Bushism”
An interview with Green Party activist Howie Hawkins
by Derek Seidman

As the 2004 presidential election approaches, the pressure is mounting on advocates of independent politics to go ABB (Anybody But Bush), which in practice means supporting pro-war, pro-occupation, pro-corporation, pro-troop increase, pro-PATRIOT Act candidate John Kerry. Recently Left Hook’s Derek Seidman caught up with Howie Hawkins, a longtime activist-leader of the Green Party and an outspoken voice for the need to fully break from the Democrats and the practice of lesser-evilism. . . (full article)

Driven to Tears
by Yves Engler

How did North Americans get to the point where more than one in three retail dollars are spent on cars? Car enthusiasts would say it is because people love cars and they are an efficient form of transportation. But the real story is more complicated. . . (full article)

Adverse Possession: Why People Squat and How To Do It
by Kirsten Anderberg

Adverse Possession, is squatting, basically, and it occurs in many countries, including the UK, the Netherlands, Scotland, Australia, Canada, Spain, Ireland…as well as in the US, in New York City, Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, DC, Philadelphia, and more. Interestingly, when I was in law school, the students complacently sat through inheritance law and property title law without incident, but when we hit Adverse Possession, all hell broke loose from students fearing they’d lose their land owning privilege. Adverse possession, or legal squatting, has been in place in Europe since the 1400s, and in America since the 1600s. Reasons for squatting vary from political motivations to economic necessities. Some reasons for squatting are bringing community and media attention to the homeless and affordable housing crisis, to save lower income housing from demolition, to create community and lifestyle alternatives, to monkeywrench capitalism, and to challenge land ownership systems. What would it take for squatting to be more widespread and tolerated? (full article)

Lawyers, Guns and Money: The IMF and World Bank Celebrate
Sixty Years of Infamy

by Benjamin Dangl

Amidst belly dancers, jugglers and heavily armed police, activists from around the world converged in Washington DC on April 24, 2004 to wish the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and very unhappy 60th birthday. While international bureaucrats congratulated each other on one more year of “reducing poverty around the globe”, a colorful array of activists in the streets protested against over half a decade of IMF and World Bank structural adjustment programs, undemocratic decision making and destructive free trade agreements. Yet unlike previous years, activists made no major attempts to block the transit of IMF and World Bank officials through direct action, and the low number of protesters in attendance was in sharp contrast to the enormous March for Women’s Lives the next day. Why did a million people show up at the March for Women’s Lives in DC on April 25 and only a few thousand at the IMF/World Bank march? The IMF and the World Bank are instituting policies that are destroying economies, ecosystems and the lives and rights of men and women around the world. Shouldn’t this result in a huge outpouring of protesters as well? (full article)

Another Century of War?
by Tracy McLellan

Book review of Gabriel Kolko's Another Century of War? (full article)

Man in the Black Suit: An Introduction
by Adam Engel

(Fiction) The Man in the Black Suit claimed to be an  IMPORTANT MAN, chairman of the board of DataCo Inc. Research  the credit of the people; research backgrounds of license applicants; research lives of potentially dangerous "citizens."  Database, database, government monkey work. . . (full story)

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