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(DV) May 2005 Articles

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May 31

Improvisation From The Proscenium
The Matter of Mind, Myth, and Metaphor (Part Three of Three)
by Harold Williamson

Philosophy has a warning device called “paradox”, and it calls attention to mistaken assumptions about how something works in the “real” world even though there is no mistake in the logic. It is particularly exemplified by human bias in experimental results, and this “expectancy” can be demonstrated mathematically.  When this occurs, an assumption about the “real” world must be changed -- not the logic.  This was not a problem with Classical or Aristotelian logic that held sway until the 19th century, because it was only concerned with the formal properties of an argument and not its “factual” accuracy. We now use a symbolic logic that supplants ordinary language with mathematical symbols, and from this theorists build models of the “real” universe. When faced with paradox, such as infinite energies or negative probabilities, we are lost in a labyrinth where we must reconcile our senses (“matters of fact”) with our logic (“truths of reason”) to guide us to the “real” world -- wherever that is.  But a compass is useless without a map, and if we are not certain where we are in relation to where we are going, how do we resolve this? (full article)

Killing Americans With Secrecy
by Walter Brasch

The Pennsylvania Department of Health claims it has a plan to deal with a potential outbreak of H5N1, a lethal strain of the Avian influenza.  But it’s a secret plan. So secret that local and county health departments don’t know what it is. Nor do physicians and hospital staffs. “[W]e have to be very careful with how this information is released,” a state official told the Harrisburg Patriot-News, but assured the public that they “can be confident that preparations that we’ve made can be implemented to the fullest without any difficulties caused by information getting into the wrong hands.” In translation, what Troy Thompson said was that the department was worried terrorists could get the plan, and so the public should just trust the government....(full article)

Operation Desperation: Rumsfeld’s Baghdad Fiasco
by Mike Whitney

No one could have dreamed that two years after Bush declared “Mission Accomplished”, 40,000 Iraqi security personnel and 10,000 American soldiers would be needed to pacify Baghdad, but that, in fact, is the underlying meaning of Rumsfeld’s Operation Lightening. Simply put, the magnitude of the failure exceeds our wildest expectations....(full article)

A Dissident Voice Exclusive
The Holy Messiah Speaks to His Congressional Fan Club

by Mark W. Bradley

In what can only be described as a genuine miracle, Dissident Voice has obtained the Official Transcript of Remarks Delivered by the Honorable Joshua ben Joseph (aka Jesus Christ, Messiah, Savior, Son of God, et al) To a Joint Session of Congress....(full transcript)

Paying to Play (Part I)
Privatization of America's public lands is “common
sense” environmentalism for the Bush Administration

by Bill Berkowitz

In an era where the Bush Administration characterizes its environmental agenda as "common sense" environmentalism, a slew of front-burner issues including global warming, drilling for oil in the Artic, new legislation aimed at lifting the ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in the U.S., and increasing threats to the water we drink and air we breathe got little or no attention during last month's Earth Day celebrations. One issue that many don't see as necessarily an environmental issue, and that rarely gets enough attention, is the growing trend toward privatizing America's public lands. Privatization is one of the most "insidious and all-encompassing developments" that will ultimately force Americans to "pay to play," at recreation areas all across the country, says Scott Silver, the Executive Director of Wild Wilderness, a Central Oregon-based environmental organization....(full article)

Episode Insane: Revenge of the Pith
by Peter Kurth

All right -- I’m through pretending that I or anyone or anything makes sense. “All this sanity is killing us,” says columnist Joe Bageant in Winchester, Virginia, and I agree. The burden of mental health is rapidly becoming too great to be endured. So, I’m going to say some crazy things this week. Anyone who doesn’t like it can toddle off to Episode Umpteen: Revenge of the Sick, or whatever the latest Star Wars installment is called. If this over-hyped, overblown exercise in money and computer technology really did “rake in $158.5 million in the first four days of its release,” as reported by CNN, George Lucas should give it all back to the U. S. Treasury to shore up Social Security. You see -- there is money, if people are willing to spend it. Taking some other derangements, let’s start with Laura Bush, my favorite librarian who, winding up a dangerous and grotesquely conceived “good-will mission” to the Middle East a couple weekends ago, was virtually chased out of a mosque in Jerusalem by angry female worshippers. And not just any mosque, either, but the Dome of the Rock, known to the Muslim world as Haram al Sharif....(full article)

With Hand on Heart: Pelosi Admits Israel Comes First
by Joshua Frank

I think it is finally time we stood up and thanked Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the darling Democrat from the San Francisco Bay Area who leads her party in the House. Pelosi's recent speech to the Israel-American lobby AIPAC, the second largest lobby in Washington, was monumental -- truly unparalleled in its candor. Despite the fact that AIPAC was recently busted for spying on the United States, Pelosi, along with many other top bureaucrats from Washington, gushed effusions of praise on the foreign power. "There are those who contend that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza," Pelosi said as she rallied AIPAC loyalists. "This is absolute nonsense. In truth, the history of the conflict is not over occupation, and never has been: it is over the fundamental right of Israel to exist."....(full article)

Manufactured Consensus: The Sun and Saddam Hussein
by Media Lens

Just over one year ago, British journalists and politicians were fulminating over photographs published in the Daily Mirror that appeared to show Iraqi prisoners being abused by British soldiers. The British military, it was claimed, now possessed incontrovertible proof that the pictures were fake. Mirror editor Piers Morgan -- a fierce opponent of the war -- was condemned far and wide for inciting additional hatred of British troops in Iraq, so putting their lives at risk. . . . A year on, and the Mirror’s pro-war newspaper rival, the Sun, this month published photographs of Saddam Hussein in his underwear. Previously published photographs and footage of Saddam’s December 2003 capture and medical examination were felt by many Iraqis to be deeply disrespectful and humiliating -- insurgents have cited this specific event as a factor in motivating their resort to violence....(full article)

May 30

Torture: Knowing/Not Knowing
by Patricia Goldsmith
(Revised and Expanded, 5/31)

Torture is the ultimate act of bad faith on the part of the state, and it is, therefore, credible evidence that a state is illegitimate. Torture strips individuals of all rights, and, very often, of their lives. When George W. Bush “determined” in 2002 that the Geneva Conventions no longer apply, he departed from clear, specific, and well-established norms of civilized conduct, and left military personnel on the ground to decide what is and is not humane treatment. There was one overriding reason why George Bush renounced the Geneva Conventions: he wanted to torture “terrorists.” Alberto Gonzales, who was then White House Counsel, called the Geneva Conventions “quaint” and “obsolete.” Gonzales wrote a memo justifying torture by arguing, “In light of the President’s complete authority over the conduct of war . . . we will not read a criminal statute as infringing on the President’s ultimate authority in these areas” -- presto chango, no more law! -- and then he defined torture as “equivalent in intensity” to the pain associated with “organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” (full article)


One Last Kick at Liberal Dogs -- Just to Hear Them Bark
by Joe Bageant

Many American liberals believe working class conservatives see them as the enemy -- that they stereotype liberals as a bunch of over-educated quasi-queers sucking down cappuccinos at Starbucks or spreading brie at a self-help book signing…or something like that. We can thank television for such ignorance. Yet it is no small liberal hubris that assumes working class conservative voters are as obsessed with liberals as liberals are with themselves. Not to pop progressive bubbles, but the working class people I know seldom ever think about liberals. Or conservatives. Hell, they seldom even think about politics. True, most people born working class experience some class resentment when they see the college educated, middle class liberals on television. But that is about all....(full article)

Memorial Day Interview: Gold Star Families for Peace
by Kevin Zeese

To honor those who have died in Iraq, Democracy Rising interviewed the founder of Gold Star Families for Peace -- an organization made up of families who have lost members to the Iraq War. Cindy Sheehan lost her son, Casey, to the war/occupation and founded Gold Star Families for Peace. Following the interview, we reprint a poem written by Carly Sheehan, Casey's brother. To learn more about their organization and get involved visit: interview)

Memorialize This
by P. Anthony Farruggio

“War is hell, and those who start them belong there,” a wise man once stated. Yet, on each Memorial Day we are subjected to pomp and circumstance by those who send out the young to fight and die. We worship our soldiers, (hopefully) remember the civilian victims, and yet choose to forget the perpetrators. Every May 30th I look back once again and see Tommy Lombardo, the church crossing guard's son (who lost her trademark smile the day she lost her boy), and I see Vito Putchko, the Polish immigrant building superintendent's son. They would be standing so close to me at Saint Edmund's 5 o'clock mass, or pass me on Avenue U, kidding as only teenage boys can. Then, as a sudden postscript to those memories, the two are killed in South Vietnam, “defending the freedom” of a people who did not want us there. Two guys from my Brooklyn neighborhood who never got to see the other side of twenty-one, dying for a cause as phony as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that justified it. War is hell!... (full article)

The Silent Media Curse of Memorial Day
by Norman Solomon

Memorial Day weekend brings media rituals. Old Glory flutters on television and newsprint. Grave ceremonies and oratory pay homage to the fallen. Many officials and pundits speak of remembering the dead. But for all the talk of war and remembrance, no time is more infused with insidious forgetting than the last days of May. This is a holiday that features solemn evasion. Speech-makers and commentators praise the "ultimate sacrifice" of American soldiers -- but say nothing about the duplicity of those who sacrificed them. War efforts are equated with indubitable patriotism. Journalists claim to be writing the latest draft of history, but actual history is no more present than the dead. In the truncated media universe of Memorial Day, the act of remembering bypasses any history that indicates an American war was not inevitable and unavoidable. The populace is made to understand that God and nature must be death dealers. We are encouraged to extol those who bravely gave their lives and took the lives of others -- but not confront those, high in the U.S. government's executive and legislative branches, who cravenly gave their fervent blessings to gratuitous carnage....
(full article)

The EU Constitution: Don’t Believe the BS
by Mike Whitney

The EU constitution is a Trojan horse slapped together by corporate and banking elites with the clear purpose of undermining national sovereignty and accelerating globalization. Thank God the French had the common sense to read the document and vote it down. Unlike their American counterparts, who have been the victims of a barrage of free trade agreements (NAFTA, CAFTA, FTAA) which have sacrificed the environment, eviscerated national sovereignty, and savaged the middle-class, the French thumbed their noses at a plan that was designed to torpedo their economic system. If the constitution had passed, its neoliberal policies would inevitably put Frenchmen in direct competition with the lowest paid workers in Canton Province. No thanks. That’s a model that only works for the corporate oligarchy and their friends in the “free press”....(full article)

French “Non” Wins, Netherlands to Follow Suit
by Matt Reichel

The results are in from the French EU Constitution Referendum of May 29th, and 54.5% of French voters said “Non,” with turnout running at an impressive 70.5%. The “Constitution” has been squarely rejected once, and will probably be rejected again on Wednesday in the Netherlands. This isn’t a vote against Europe or against progress or against togetherness and fuzziness. That’s what the political elite has wanted you to think, but, in all reality, the “no” vote is little more than a demonstration of European capacity to see through the lies that have been constantly slung at them by politicians and their pals in the media....(full article)

A Tale of Two Egyptian Newspapers
by Ahmed Amr

The first stifling gusts of summer heat have arrived in Cairo, a city experiencing a political winter of discontent. Last Wednesday, the Egyptian authorities invited the nation to a referendum and a very small percentage accepted the invitation. No matter, ballot boxes were duly stuffed and the Ministry of the interior just released the official results. The government is claiming that 53% of eligible voters turned out to express support for an amendment to the constitution that would allow opposition candidates to contest Mubarak in the next election. According to government figures, the measure was approved by an overwhelming majority of 87%. Cynical Egyptians -- accustomed to Soviet style referendums that pass by margins of 99% -- were not impressed. You can’t blame the cynics. The country held a total of thirteen referendums since the 1952 revolution. The first twelve passed by margins ranging from a low of 98.2% cent to a high of 99.999% -- when Hosny Mubarak was elected after the assassination of Anwar el Sadat. By 1987, Mubarak’s popularity had declined -- but his poll numbers had him winning a second term with 99.5% of the vote. Fortunately, he regained his popularity and earned his third term in office with a 99.7% majority. And his numbers edged up in the 1999 elections to a respectable 99.8%....(full spectacle)

May 26

Free People Do Bad Things
by Joe Bageant

For now though, our attention is absorbed in the efforts of our armed and clueless youth who, rather like pit bulls, are turned loose on the rest of world. About 1,500 of them have been killed, but not before killing a hundred thousand or so Iraqis, nearly all of them civilians. The carnage in Iraq is not a problem. “Free people do bad things,” said Donald Rumsfeld (referring to the murderous Iraqi clusterfuck masquerading as a government over there). But at least we are returning to our violent roots. As any indigenous person can tell you, we are coming home to the values that made America great. Abu Ghraib was a fresh start at reestablishing our violent national heritage that began with Indian slaughter and seemed to stall out a bit after Vietnam. But we’re baaaaaack! And we’re as bad assed as ever....(full article)

Amnesty International: US Monkeying With Human Rights
by Harold Williamson

Following the release of a report by London-based Amnesty International about the increase of human rights abuse around the world, just where can one go these days to find a model for the humane treatment of others?  Hint: Don't look to the world's only remaining superpower, since US policy is a big part of the problem....(full article)

Propaganda, Bush-Style:
Koran Story Rubber Stamped by DoD

by Joshua Frank

Recently, George W. Bush was in Rochester, New York promoting his social security shtick, when suddenly a flicker of truth gleamed through. "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in -- to kind of catapult the propaganda." Inundate the masses with the same monotonous oratory, and eventually they'll buy it. . . . Well, the Bush administration isn't alone when it comes to dispersing misinformation; they've got their trusted mainstream media allies aiding and abetting every step of the way. Case in point: One of the journalists behind the retracted Newsweek article alleging that US interrogators desecrated the Koran recently came clean about the corporate media's role in disseminating the government line. During the May 23 episode of the Charlie Rose Show, veteran Newsweek investigative reporter Michael Isikoff explained how senior reporters ran their Koran abuse story by a senior Defense Department official. The official, Isikoff claimed, told them to go ahead with the report. It was solid....(full article)

Now We Know Where They Stand
The House Votes on Withdrawing Troops From Iraq:
The Historic Debate and Vote on the Lynn Woolsey Amendment
by Kevin Zeese

On the evening of May 25 the U.S. House of Representatives considered an amendment offered by Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) calling for an exit strategy from Iraq. Amendment No. 26 simply stated: “It is the sense of Congress that the president should -- (1)   develop a plan as soon as practicable after the date of the enactment of this Act to provide for the withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Iraq; and (2)   transmit to the congressional defense committees a report that contains the plan described in paragraph (1).” The simple resolution was a moderate one. It set no specific timetable for withdrawal -- in an effort to make it easy for members of Congress to agree.  After all, we always claim we intend to leave Iraq. This amendment was an opportunity to make leaving Iraq the policy of the United States.  The amendment, part of the debate on the authorization for the Department of Defense, was allotted 30 minutes on the floor of the House of Representatives -- 15 minutes for each side. In the end the amendment failed by a vote of 300 to 128 with 5 not voting. Because Rep. Woolsey insisted on a roll call vote we now know who needs to be convinced....(full article)

Illegally Financing the WMD Hoax
by Ahmed Amr

How many “gotcha” articles have you read lately? Unless you’ve spent the last year on Gilligan’s island -- it should now be clear that Bush lied. Unfortunately, a lot of people who “get it” are missing the point. The question is no longer whether Bush lied but so what if he did. It’s no longer a matter of whether we should trust the president. Rather, the emphasis should be on how Bush dodged his WMD credibility problem and whether he used public funds in the process. Charitable folks are still inclined to believe that Bush lied only to protect the great unwashed from dealing with imperial realities. As Irving Kristol, the godfather of the neo-cons, would say: “There are different kinds of truths for different kinds of people. There are truths appropriate for children; truths that are appropriate for students; truths that are appropriate for educated adults; and truths that are appropriate for highly educated adults, and the notion that there should be one set of truths available to everyone is a modern democratic fallacy. It doesn't work.”....
(full article)

Cambodia: A Victim of “Aid”
by John Pilger

On 27 May, the watchdog ActionAid will publish an extraordinary, damning report, “Real Aid: An Agenda for Making Aid Work.” With the G8 meeting at Gleneagles in Scotland in July, and the Blair government (and other European governments) propagating the nonsense that it is on the side of the world's poor, the report reveals that the government is inflating the value of its already minimal aid to poor countries by a third, and that the majority of all western aid is actually “phantom aid”, which means that it has nothing to do with the reduction of poverty. The ActionAid study describes a gravy train of overpriced “technical assistance” and “consultancies”, of careerism and scant accounting. Britain frequently exaggerates its aid figures (by including debt relief); and America binds its aid to trade and ideology and its “interests”. In fact, real aid accounts for just 0.1 per cent of rich countries’ combined national income. Set against the UN's minimum “target” of 0.7 per cent, this is barely a crumb. Cambodia is a prime example. One of the poorest countries in the world, Cambodia was never allowed to recover from the trauma inflicted by Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger and Pol Pot. During the 1980s, with Pol Pot expelled by the Vietnamese, an American and British-led embargo made reconstruction almost impossible. Instead, a “resistance” was invented by the Americans with the British SAS contracted to train the Khmer Rouge in secret camps in Thailand and Malaysia. In 1990, when the United Nations finally arrived in Cambodia to organize “democracy”, it brought corruption on an unprecedented scale, along with AIDS and “aid”. This was misrepresented as a “triumph” for the "international community"....(full article)

A Film in Search of a Cliché:
A Review of Saverio Costanzo's Film "Private"

by Paul de Rooij

Before reviewing the film, it is important to provide some context and discuss a type of action regularly perpetrated by either the Israeli army or settlers.  An example that I have personally witnessed may enable one to better appreciate and understand the film....(full article)

Les Mains Sales: Taking Sides and Solidarity
by toni solo

In 1988 the social services coordinator in Cardenas on the Nicaraguan border with Costa Rica asked for help to fill in a bomb shelter in the yard of the local childcare center’s refectory. The shelter had been dug in case of further attacks following a 1983 Contra incursion. We soon uncovered the boards, wet-rotten by then, that formed the shelter's roof. We threw them on the woodpile to dry for later use as fuel for the refectory's wood burning stove. It took little time to fill in the thirty-foot long trench, already partially caved in by flooding from past years' rains. That came to mind recently talking in Nicaragua to a retired agricultural development consultant from Britain. They recalled a 1983 encounter in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa with "a dreadful woman" who enthused about her visits to Nicaraguan Contra bases in Honduras and the great job those US funded terrorists were doing. The dreadful woman turned out to be death squad godfather John Negroponte's wife, Diana. Cheerleading the US terrorist war in Nicaragua came naturally to someone who epitomizes the Anglo-US corporate business elite and its intimate links to both governments and their intelligence services. It may be useful to recall other events from the 1980s because one tends to forget basic truths about the conflicts of those years. The Negroponte-Villiers connection is a good starting point....(full article)

Operation Red Flag: Recruiting at the IMAX
by Susan Van Haitsma

Opening on Armed Forces Day at the Texas State History Museum in Austin was the IMAX production, "Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag." To commemorate the occasion, the Air Force was on hand to take minds off what was happening on the ground in Iraq. The public was invited to cross into the blue. Under a hot sun in the museum plaza, several Air Force officers idled around a bare table. They chatted mostly among themselves, as the heat and absence of much to see in the plaza discouraged museum-goers from lingering there. A few families arranged their children for photos in front of a 15-foot mini-jet replica and then headed quickly for shade. Occasionally, the officers changed the radio station that thumped from the blue and silver "Raptor Truck" parked behind them. One officer said that normally the media center in back of the customized SUV provided an interactive simulated flying mission designed for children. As a museum official explained to me later, the simulation game was not interacting with children that day because it was broken, and the table was bare because the Air Force had been specifically instructed by the museum to not use the occasion for recruitment purposes. I was pleased, having attended the event ready to hand reality check fliers to kids who seemed wowed by military glitz. Maybe I could just go home. Stopping inside the museum for a drink of water, I saw a poster urging the public to "meet a real life fighter pilot" at a talk following one of the IMAX showings. I stayed....(full article)

The False God of Patriotism
Rumsfeld Visits Ft. Bragg
by Lou Plummer

Donald Rumsfeld's visit to Ft. Bragg gives the local politicos a chance to bring out their banner proclaiming Bragg's sister community, Fayetteville, as America's Most Patriotic City. Were I a card carrying member of the press rather than just a grass roots activist, I'd like to ask those smarmy small town officials to reflect on patriotism. I know what patriotism means to me and the other military families in this community who are tired of empty slogans and photo ops. It doesn't mean anything any more. I was born in a brick hospital. What if I told you I believe brick hospitals are superior to all other types of hospitals? Would you feel nervous if I told you people born in brick hospitals are unique and special? Would you be uncomfortable if you saw me pray publicly and often for God Almighty to especially bless people born in brick hospitals? Patriotic Americans have that attitude about their birthplace. Through the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune they believe they are lucky enough to have been born into the greatest country ever. These patriots are prepared to defend their country against all detractors. It just doesn't make sense....(full article)

Protecting the Plutocrats
by Mike Whitney

The United States military is a fully owned subsidiary of the corporate and financial establishment. It plays no role in defending the American people. The function of today’s military is to seize the world’s dwindling resources through force of arms and provide a taxpayer–funded security apparatus for multinationals and energy giants. The notion that the $500 billion per year Goliath is designed to protect the American people is sheer lunacy. Its real purpose is to win wars of aggression, siphon off the wealth of foreign nations, and crush the subsequent resistance movements. Anything else is purely public relations pabulum....(full article)

And Now, It's Time For... “Media Jeopardy!”
by Norman Solomon

The endless show that seems to fill America's every waking moment -- and many of its nightmares -- could be called "Media Jeopardy!" Before proceeding, here's a reminder of the rules: Listen to the answer and then try to come up with the question. Let's get started....(full show)

“According to Security Sources…”
What Remains of the Israeli Media
by Tanya Reinhart

In the 1960s there were many jokes in Israel about the “Voice of the UAR (United Arab Republic) from Cairo,” which broadcasted news in broken Hebrew, written by spokesmen of the Egyptian regime. The absurdity of these broadcasts enhanced the credibility of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) spokesmen in our eyes. Today we ourselves are not all that far from the “Voice of the UAR”, and in fluent IDF Hebrew....(full article)

May 25

On the Brink of "Complete Strategic Failure" in Afghanistan
by Ken Sanders

Last week, Colonel Gary Cheek, commander of U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, painted a rosy picture of events in Afghanistan for the press corps. According to Col. Cheek, the Afghan insurgency is "significantly weaker" than it was last year, despite the recent spike in violence that has left dozens dead in the past few weeks. Col. Cheek was either woefully misinformed, or was simply telling convenient lies. Given this administration's overall contempt for the truth, the latter is more likely. On Sunday, May 22, 2005, the Scotsman revealed that Britain's Ministry of Defense was planning to rapidly deploy thousands of British troops to Afghanistan. Apparently, Britain is a bit less optimistic than we are about the state of affairs in Afghanistan. Britain, for instance, is of the opinion that the U.S.-led coalition faces a "complete strategic failure" in Afghanistan. To stave off such a failure, Britain is preparing to send up to 5,500 more troops to Afghanistan, a ten-fold increase of their current military presence there. Why such a dismal assessment? (full article)

Chavez's Economy: Is it Sustainable?
by Joshua Frank

It is difficult not to be fond of Hugo Chavez's politics. There is little question that as president, Chavez is attempting to create a radical social democracy in Venezuela. In many cases his efforts have already been successful. Chavez is seeking to empower the lowest strata of society. He is attempting to implement participatory democracy in the areas of health care through his Mission Barrio Adentro (Inside the Neighborhood) program. However, regardless of how much we may like Chavez's politics and his efforts to redistribute wealth in Venezuela, one has to wonder if an economy based mostly on oil is sustainable in the long run....(full article)

It Runs in the Family: Shouldn't Laura Know the Words of the Song Before Getting Up to Sing?
by John Chuckman

“In the U.S., if there's a terrible report, people don't riot and kill other people. And you can't excuse what they did because of the mistake -- you know, you can't blame it all on Newsweek.” -- Laura Bush at the start of her trip to prop up the world's sagging opinion of America

What can you say about so uninformed a statement? Could it just be dishonest? We all know the Newsweek story was not a rumor. The Koran was dunked in a toilet by American soldiers as an act of psychological torture against their poor captives. Captives, we might remind Laura, since rights are supposedly the point of her journey, held in cages with no legal rights and against the Geneva Accords. "Freedom, especially freedom for women, is more than the absence of oppression. It's the right to speak and vote and worship freely," Laura told business and political leaders. Women's rights she said had made "extraordinary progress" in the Middle East since the Taliban was suppressed. I doubt Laura was referring to uniformed American women photographed torturing Iraqi prisoners and having group sex with other Americans. They certainly set an interesting example of American women exercising freedom....(full article)

What Was Laura Bush Doing at the Al Aqsa Mosque?
by Mike Whitney

Was she performing her ablutions for the last round of cluster bombs the military dumped on the townspeople of al-Qaim? Or did she think she could patch up the differences with the folks whose country was blithely given away by her husband last April in his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon? Either way, she looked quite foolish bobbing through the sea of security goons to make her grand entrance. “What we want to see is results on the ground,” one Palestinian vendor said. “President Bush promised to resolve the conflict two years ago, but nothing has changed.” No, nothing has changed....(full article)

Damage Control: Noam Chomsky and the Israel-Palestine Conflict
by Jeffrey Blankfort

Noam Chomsky has been the foremost critic of America’s imperial adventures for more than three decades. That is probably the only point of agreement shared by his legions of loyal supporters and his equally committed although far less numerous detractors. His domination of the field is so extraordinary and unprecedented that one would be hard-put to find a runner-up. It is a considerable achievement for someone who has been described, at times, as a “reluctant icon.” Despite his low-key demeanor and monotone delivery, Chomsky has been anything but reluctant. On closer examination, however, it appears that he has gained his elevated position less from scholarship than from the sheer body of his work that includes books by the dozens -- 30 in the last 30 years -- and speeches and interviews in the hundreds. In the field of US-Israel-Palestine relations, he has been a virtual human tsunami, washing like a huge wave over genuine scholarly works in the field that contradict his critical positions on the Middle East, namely that Israel serves as a strategic asset for the US and that the Israeli lobby, primarily AIPAC, is little more than a pressure group like any other trying to affect US policy in the Middle East. For both of these positions, as I will show, he offers only the sketchiest of evidence and what undercuts his theory he eliminates altogether....(full article)

“Such a Fuss…Inexcusable!”
The Fascist View of Public Intellectuals
by Gary Leupp

A recent column by Thomas Patrick Carroll in David Horowitz’s Front Page Magazine is well worth reading. In “Bush, Blair and the Plan for War” the former officer in the Clandestine Service of the CIA attacks the “appalling unsophisticated” reaction of the British people to the publication of the secret July 2002 British government memo. You know, the one proving that “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” of invasion and occupation months before Bush assured Congress that he’d still made no decision to go to war and that war should always be the last resort. Carroll finds it “simply inexcusable for opinion makers and public intellectuals” to make “such a fuss” about the memo, thus implying that the intelligentsia generally should just get over their concern with mere truth. What they ought to do, he implies, is trust the State to pursue its objectives using a mix of truth and untruth, and when the untruths are uncovered, shrug them off as something their betters had to concoct in order to realize their wise strategic objectives....(full article)

Ordinary George: What if the Pride of Midland Were a Product
of the Middle-Class?
by Russ Wellen

When presented with evidence that George Bush doesn’t have our best interests at heart, many in the middle- and  working-classes balk. “But he’s down-to-earth and shares our values,” we protest as we dissolve into textbook cases of cognitive dissonance. Following the script of the concept’s originator, psychologist Leon Festinger, we cope with the conflicting messages by falling back on our first impression. However, the fact remains: Since he was governor of Texas, all George Bush has done is toss regular folk the occasional sop while doling out favors to his wealthy compatriots. He must have slept through civics class the day the teacher explained that a public servant serves the public. If not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, might George Bush have been more sensitive to our needs? With the populist demagogue an American tradition, there’s no guarantee. It’s not hard imagining, though, that his life would have taken a different turn if he had not been the great-grandson of a business magnate, the grandson of a senator and the son of a president -- if, instead of the chosen one, he had been born Ordinary George....(full article)

Does ES&S Really Want to Sell the AutoMARK Machines?
by John Gideon

Elections Systems and Software (ES&S) has a marketing agreement with AutoMARK Technical Services (ATS) to be the sole purveyor of the AutoMARK voting machine. ATS can market the system, but pricing and contracts are all handled by ES&S. In March of 2004, when ES&S announced the agreement, Aldo Tesi, ES&S president and CEO said, "we recognize the incredible responsibility we have in supporting the democratic process and ensuring it is open and accessible to all voters." A few months later, when ES&S representative Mike Devereaux praised the AutoMARK over touch screens, it appeared that ES&S had partnered with ATS in order to take advantage of the growing demand for paper ballots. The company's subsequent business decisions seem to say otherwise....(full article)

May 23

Carpooling with Adolf Eichmann: Dark mutterings from the sidelines
on Prozac cookies and our disturbing sort of sanity

by Joe Bageant

Any culture that spends as much money as we do on ugly cars, fast food and liposuction cannot possibly be sane. Certainly we are not paying attention to cause and effect. Then I consider those Australian aborigines who ritualistically smash their cranks with a heavy rock and conclude that we Eurotrash hog thieves have come at least a little way in the last few hundred years. Despite the aboriginals’ eco-friendly grasp of nature and the planet, we have an edge when it comes to male puberty. There is a certain element of national sanity in a country that grasps the post-pubescent male advantages of football over a heavy rock. Unfortunately, our national sanity is of the thoroughly dangerous sort -- the Third Reich sort. Remember that even Adolf Eichmann was determined to be completely sane by a panel of medical experts. At least as sane as you and me and if you would like to be excluded from this comparison, you may be excused. Like the other good Nazis, ole Eich would have easily made a respected member of American society today, probably as a Republican judicial nominee. He would have fit quite well into a nation of Americans going about its daily business caring for and protecting the homeland’s security and profitability. Eichmann slept well at nights, the same as most of us, unaffected in appetite. He would have made a good carpooler, telling us all about the kids and grandkids as we commute the monotonous asphalt strips to and from our jobs, creating the paper work and the information product, the plastics and the commerce of the fatherland, that great sprawling circuit board one sees from airplanes. Like Eichmann, we are efficient, productive, and most terribly of all, untroubled by guilt. Oblivious as gravestones. Sane....(full article)

Free Jose Padilla!
by Mike Whitney

May 8 marked the third anniversary of the imprisonment of Jose Padilla. Padilla was apprehended at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in 2002 by Federal officers under the shaky “material witness” provision and trundled off to prison. In a conspicuous effort to poison public opinion, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced on national TV that Padilla was conspiring to set off a “dirty bomb” (radioactive device) within the United Sates. To date, the government has never produced any evidence to corroborate their spurious claims. In all probability, Padilla may be entirely blameless. Jose Padilla represents the crowning achievement in the war on terror. As the situation in Haiti and Afghanistan steadily deteriorates, and as America’s eight divisions continue to bog down in the Iraqi quagmire, the administration’s one unassailable accomplishment is the deathblow it has delivered to the Bill of Rights. Padilla now faces his 4th year of captivity without any formal charges filed against him and without any reasonable expectation of defending himself in a court of law. Happy anniversary, Jose....(full article)

It’s Not Patriotic to Violate the Constitution
by Walter Brasch

If politics makes strange bedfellows, then I’m at least fluffing Bob Barr’s pillows. Bob Barr?! The far-right self-righteous congressman who led what much of a nation saw as a vindictive impeachment of Bill Clinton? The NRA board of directors member who believes the Second Amendment is the one that guarantees the protection of all the other amendments? The man who proposed eliminating federal funding to PBS and eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts? The author of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman -- and yet may have committed adultery with his future third wife while married to his second wife. The vigorous opponent of pro-choice, who supported his second wife’s abortion? The “family values” proponent who was photographed at what passed as a charity event licking whipped cream off the breasts of two women? Yes, that Bob Barr....(full article)

John Bolton: The Wrong Man
by Sheila Samples

So John Bolton's out there swinging in the wind -- sent to the Senate without endorsement from the Foreign Relations Committee for his nomination as US ambassador to the United Nations. This has committee chairman Richard Luger's drawers in a wad because he failed his assignment to steamroll Bolton through the committee to the UN without embarrassing George Bush. I don't know where Indiana's favorite son has been for the past four years, but with a little help from his proctologist, Lugar should be able to see that what turns Bush on is getting away with brazen lies, and the blood, torture, and destruction of those who are too helpless to resist. Don't fret, Dick. It's impossible to embarrass this president -- because death is his Viagra, and he's currently in the middle of a raging, international orgasm....(full article)

Inventing a Pretext for War: An Interview with James Bamford
by Kevin B. Zeese

For more than two decades James Bamford has been a noted investigative journalist focusing on intelligence gathering in the United States. He exposed the ultra secret National Security Agency two decades ago in The Puzzle Palace and Body of Secrets, both award-winning best sellers. He has testified as an expert witness on intelligence issues before committees of both the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the European Parliament in Brussels and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. His most recent book, A Pretext For War: 9/11, Iraq and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies, examines intelligence gathering related to the Iraq War and 9/11. In addition to writing, he spent most of the 1990s as the Washington Investigative Producer for the ABC News program World News Tonight with Peter Jennings....(full interview)

From Ghettos to Frontiers: What Will Happen After
Israel's Withdrawal from Gaza
by Neve Gordon

In what direction are Israeli-Palestinian relations heading? Will the imminent withdrawal from the Gaza Strip lead the two parties closer to a peace agreement? Or will the fighting between the two peoples reemerge with a vengeance once Jewish settlements have been dismantled and Israeli troops redeployed? In order to gain insight into what lies ahead, it is important first to analyze the use of violence in the region, asking ourselves why the employment of force was less lethal in certain areas than in others. This is precisely the question James Ron asks in his daring and groundbreaking book Frontiers and Ghettos....(full review)

May 21-22

Is Fascism Really All That Bad?
by Mark Drolette

Amidst all that’s been written about Newsweak’s agreement to now let the Bushies vet its reporting in the wake of the magazine’s article about Guantanamo Bay interrogators’ rather rude treatment of the Quran, a particular piece by Terence Hunt of the Associated Press about the whole unholy affair caught my widened orb.  After carefully unsnagging it, I focused it as well as I could on a few quotes that were real eye-poppers (as if that’s what I needed at the moment).  To (nit)wit:....(all revealed here)

Angels of Death
by Kim Petersen

A recent article about some unethical medical experiments in Israeli hospitals fails to mention an obvious and grotesque historical parallel....(full article)

Is the US Recruiting for the Insurgency?
by Kevin Zeese

The U.S. Army has missed its recruiting goals for the last three months. On Friday, May 20 they stopped recruiting to retrain recruiters who were misleading and threatening potential recruits. At the same time the resistance in Iraq is growing. Is the U.S. military more successful in recruiting for the resistance than it is for the U.S. Army? (full article)

Bush to Dine with Porn Star: Mary Carey Does DC
by Joshua Frank

Oh my. This Bush administration is something else. On one hand they are all about "family values" and Jesus. On the other they are all about raising mad loot so they can maintain control of Washington. It's not their conservative principles that really matter; it's all about the cashola and the power it buys. And Bush's new dining partners have very deep pockets. Former California gubernatorial candidate and popular porn star Mary Carey, whose real name is Mary Cook, will be joining her boss Mark Kulkis in attending a dinner with President Bush on June 14....(full peep)


Red, White, and Without a Clue
by Ken Sanders

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, America naively asked in its stunned stupor, "Why do they hate us?" In consoling us, our fearless leaders appealed to our collective sense of superiority and self-righteousness by explaining that the Muslim world (a.k.a. "they") hate us because of what we stand for: freedom, democracy, Mom, baseball, and apple pie. Comforted, we patted ourselves on our collective back for being so gosh-darn wonderful and condemned the savage heathens who wanted nothing less than to destroy all that is right and good in the world -- us. Thanks to a recent confluence of events involving our interaction with the Muslim world, it is clear that "they" do hate us for what we stand for. Unfortunately, what we stand for is not freedom, democracy, nor any other high-minded ideal. Rather, we stand for arrogance, barbarism, and violence....(full article)

Bush Administration Attempts to Influence Global HIV/AIDS Policy
by Gene C. Gerard

In 2001, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria was established to coordinate international HIV/AIDS policies and distribute funding from many governments, health organizations, and religious institutions. The Global Fund has been successful by matching their programs to the specific needs of the nations most affected by HIV/AIDS. And The Global Fund has been willing to apply practical solutions for preventing HIV and treating AIDS, without being influenced by parochial religious viewpoints. However, the Bush administration is now attempting to change that. The administration is positioning itself to ensure that Randall Tobias, Ambassador for AIDS Coordination, is appointed to lead The Global Fund’s committee for policy and strategy. This would give the Bush administration undue influence on international HIV/AIDS policy, and would likely be a death sentence for many living with the disease....(full article)

Incomplete News Undermines US Values
by Peter Phillips

Dozens were kidnapped by roving gangs off the streets of their hometowns, disappeared from families, hooded, chained, repeatedly interrogated, incarcerated for years in military prisons, and then told it was all a mistake. Did this happen in Stalinist Russia, some South American military dictatorship, Apartheid South Africa? No, the gangs were special forces of the US Government operating with approval from the highest levels of the Pentagon, the victims Afghan civilians recently released from the Guantanamo military prison camp in Cuba....(full article)

A Breath of Fresh Air Sweeps Into Hell, But There’s Still No Way Out
by John Chuckman

Like a refreshing breeze blowing briefly over those damned to endure the hell created by America's government came the words of British M.P. George Galloway to an American Senate Committee. The man was simply magnificent. Tough, brave, and articulate -- hurling unanswerable truth at blubbering political lowlifes in silk suits. Washington is the most dishonest place on earth, and with that fact goes another, that the American people are among the earth's worst governed. These creepy American Gauleiters had wronged Galloway with faked accusations of his profiting from oil trading with Saddam Hussein. My God, it's just one filthy lie after another. They tried smearing Kofi Annan with the same kind of stuff. Why is it so rarely Americans who take on their own lying, murderous political establishment?
(full article)

The False Prophet

by Ted Glick

"[Y]ou know what [service] means? It means love a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself. Take time [lots of applause], take time out of your life to make somebody else's life better. By helping heal a broken heart, or surrounding a friend with love, or feeding the hungry, or providing shelter for the homeless, you can help change America for the better, one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time."
--George W. Bush, pre-inaugural youth rally, as quoted in the Washington Post, Jan. 18, 2005

I was raised in a religious family. My father and both of my grandfathers were ministers. Virtually every Sunday morning, from the time I was very little until I left home to go to college, I went to church. I don't go to church very often anymore, but I continue to identify with many of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and believe that my current belief system owes much to my Christian upbringing. As a result, when I read the Bush quote above several months ago while in D.C. participating in various counter-inaugural activities, I had a very strong reaction. George Bush, the liar, war criminal and attacker of the poor, knows as much about "lov(ing) a neighbor" and "mak(ing) somebody else's life better" as I do about the best stocks to buy on Wall Street. As Jesus himself said, in chapter seven, verses 15 and 16 of the book of Matthew in the Bible, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them."....(full article)

Pascal Lamy: The Politics of Consensus
by Devinder Sharma

True to the underlying spirit of “non-transparency”, unfairness and injustice that continues to prevail through “greenroom” negotiations, arm-twisting and coercion, the  former European Union trade chief Pascal Lamy has emerged as the “consensus” candidate to head the beleaguered World Trade Organization (WTO). “Consensus” in WTO parlance stands for autocracy. The multilateral organization, which swears in the name of one country-one vote, has refrained from using the democratic course of action for selection of its chief as well as for its trade negotiations and decisions since the 1950s. Most of its decisions are agreed to upon by “consensus” by a few of the major players and then imposed on the rest of the membership....(full article)

Those Dang Activist Judges
by William Fisher

As the right wing fulminates against "activist judges," William Fisher looks at one historical example of the "the horror" wrought by activist judges, 51 years ago this week....(full article)

May 19

(Report from Uzbekistan)
Path of Faith: Andijan Massacre a Clarion Call to Uzbek Muslims
by Simon Jones

The dust may be settling in Andijan after the recent uprising against Uzbekistan's brutal, corrupt dictatorship, but the implications of this heroic and tragic episode will haunt the regime until it falls. The blocking of all foreign TV news and internet news sites for already more than a week will not stop the word of the hundreds of deaths of innocents, the firing on peaceful demonstrators from a helicopter, the truck full of trigger-happy soldiers which ploughed into the crowd not once but three times, the murdering of people who could no longer tolerate the vileness of their government and who had no other option, from getting out. Possibly 600 Muslims were killed, murdered by their secular US puppet dictator, who stashes his gold in the Bank of England, whose daughter was caught with a plane full of gold in Moscow, our man who approves of boiling people alive. The writing is on the wall, Mr. Karimov....(full article)

Improvisation From The Proscenium
The Matter of Mind, Myth, and Metaphor (Part Two of Three)

by Harold Williamson

Stemming from the earliest attempts to understand our perceptions of fundamental reality has been the belief that there is more to it than meets the eye. The genre of philosophical thought known as metaphysics deals with the implications that arise from the logical analysis of our physical world that go beyond the scope of sensory experience. But any theory that logically implies a metaphysical solution cannot be scientifically conclusive. However, those who have found meaning and truth with the acceptance of metaphysical interpretations should not be troubled because science prohibits it; science as a method of inquiry just simply cannot support it. In the 18th century, Immanuel Kant was troubled because metaphysics had not arrived at acceptable answers to the uncertainties of the existence of God, the soul, and free will. He wondered what he could know, what he ought to do, and what he might hope. Kant arrived at the assertion that no one can understand God in the way we understand “nature” or  “phenomena”.  But he also held that no one can know “things-in-themselves,” or “noumena”, only as the “mind” constitutes them....(full essay)

Impressions from Kabul
by Simon Mars

For some, Kabul has become a party town. Exotic restaurants are everywhere. You can dine out on Thai, on Chinese (some of which are rumored to provide the kind of extras not usually seen on a traditional menu), on Croatian, even on Afghani. For the “Toyota Taliban” as some locals have started calling them it’s fun times with a frisson of danger and intense living. Toyota Taliban? A reference to the ubiquitous white NGO Land Cruisers that scurry from one guarded compound to the next in an endless round of discussions and briefing papers as to what should be done. Well the sewers would be a start....(full article)

Not-So Endearing Enduring US Military Bases in Iraq
by Mark Drolette

It’s not easy writing about something about which I know very little, but I’m going to try anyway. (Hey, you, in the back. I heard that.  It has too stopped me before.) What I think I’m talking about are the fourteen permanent U.S. military bases currently under construction in Iraq. Yes, that Iraq, the country from which we will militarily withdraw just as soon as we get the word from the completely-free-of-U.S.-influence Iraqi government telling us to go. (Look for snow in Baghdad that day.) Well, “go,” that is, except from the fourteen permanent U.S. military bases currently under construction there. But why quibble over semantics when we’re all occupiers and occupied -- I mean, friends -- here? I’ve tried to learn more about these bases from my elected “representatives,” but, for some reason, it’s almost like no one in our government wants to talk about them. Weird, huh? (full article)

The Family Released a Statement . . .
by Michael Gillespie

Mass round-ups and detentions of innocent civilians, torture and abuse of prisoners and detainees, America’s honor and prestige at the lowest point ever, and investigations that whitewash the president’s men and blame it all on the enlisted personnel.  Thus the obscene spectacle of the grieving families at funerals forced by the president’s dishonesty to defend the honor of their dead even as they mourn:  “He was noble and always carried himself with honor.”  “[He was] a loving husband and father, a devoted son and brother.”  “He wanted to go where good people needed help.”  “He will be dearly missed.”  Small wonder that the president, desperately attempting to hide behind a facade of rigid religiosity that glorifies war and false patriotism, that exalts the very evils it claims to despise, never attends the funerals of those who have died in the line of duty.  How could he? (full article)

Shooting the Messenger
by Ken Sanders

On May 16, 2005, rather than lose its press pass, Newsweek fell on its sword and retracted its story about U.S. investigators confirming the desecration of the Koran by U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo. Following the story's publication on May 9, 2005, anti-American riots erupted in Afghanistan and throughout the Muslim world and anti-Newsweek riots erupted throughout the White House and Pentagon. Bush & Co. blame Newsweek for damaging the image of the U.S., as well as for causing the deaths of at least sixteen Muslims outraged by the allegations. The damage to the image of the U.S., however, was accomplished long before the Newsweek story came out and it was done by the very people trying to pin the blame on Newsweek. Those same people caused the deaths of thousands of Muslims by way of smart bombs and and precision strikes. But I digress....(full article)

Alberto Gonzales’ Kristallnacht: Purges for a Safer America
by Mike Whitney

There’s only one way to make sure that the machinery of state-terror is operating at maximum efficiency: flip on the switch and let ‘er rip. That was the thinking behind last month’s massive roundup of 10,000 American citizens in what was aptly christened Operation Falcon....(full article)

Iran Policy Committee: Pentagon Mouthpiece, Israeli Ally, MEK Supporter
by John Stanton

The Iran Policy Committee (IPC) has a website up and running at The IPC made the news in February of 2005 when it released a report titled “US Options for Iran.” In that report, the IPC recommended that a terrorist group known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) be removed from the US government’s hit list. The authors of the IPC report equate the terrorist MEK with the African National Congress that fought long and hard against the despicable all-white South African regime and its US supporters so many years ago. Of course, the implication here is that the MEK will somehow produce a Nelson Mandela, or at least is on the same playing field as Mandela’s group was. Those two wacky thoughts should be enough to dismiss the eleven IPC principals, their mission and their clumsy report as nonsense. But here inside the Washington, DC Beltway, it’s never wise to dismiss ignorance until performing background checks on the individuals and their affiliations. The record shows that the IPC operates in very close proximity to the US intelligence community, has the support of 150 members in the US Congress, and is linked to individuals/groups who successfully lied and led the US into another Vietnam-like war, and whose primary purpose is the creation of a US empire that controls the world’s resources and protects a greater Israel. Crazy is selling these days and the loonies are in charge....(full article)

Confessions of a Conscientious Objector
by Susan Van Haitsma

"Conscience" comes from a Latin word meaning, "to know something with oneself." Each of us knows something about the value of human life. And because we are necessarily social beings, we also know that our lives are not entirely distinct from one another. Is there a spiritual tradition that does not, at its root, conclude that we are all one? When I watch groups of students walking down the hall, leaning together, joined at the hip, I think teenagers must know this better than anyone. Many also recognize and reject the Bush administration's illogic of defending life and freedom through the means of war. As one student wrote in a survey we conducted, "Adults are always telling us not to use violence to solve our problems, but it seems like the government is just a big hypocrite." Concluded another, "I think we should handle things in a nonviolent grown-up way. We should be big enough to reach an agreement with our enemies and settle it like civilized human beings."....(full article)

Keep Hurdles for Judges High
by Herman Schwartz

In his effort to persuade Democrats to drop their filibuster of some of President Bush's 45 Court of Appeals nominees, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee has promised to make no effort to block legislative filibusters. He has it exactly backward....(full article)

Tom Friedman: The Imperial Chronicler
by Mike Whitney

Tom Friedman is the most popular columnist in the United States. He’s also the voice of the American establishment. From his perch at the CFR (Council of Foreign Relations) he delivers his affable-sounding polemics, spreading a gospel of free markets and endless war. His many accolades, including a stockpile of Pulitzer prizes, attest to his ability to convert the self-serving doctrine of personal accumulation into the highest form of personal virtue. Friedman is forever the casual acquaintance, the man on the street, whispering a friendly word of advice to his readers. The world, according to Tom, is getting “flatter” all the time. This is his snappy, non-threatening expression for globalization. Friedman is the foremost pitchman for the new economic paradigm, ignoring the tens of thousands of high-paying American jobs that have fled the country and the withering blow that outsourcing has delivered to the middle class. He carefully avoids the details of how the neoliberal agenda has crushed third world nations with its austerity measures, privatizing resources, deregulating business and compromising national sovereignty. Instead, he champions the dismal results as a sign of emergent democracy....(full article)

Public Opinion in Venezuela
by Benjamin Dangl

Peggy Ortiz is a blonde, 35-year-old self proclaimed Chavista (Chavez supporter) who works as a writer and radio producer in Caracas, Venezuela. On a walk through the city's Plaza Bolivar she introduced me to her friends who were all, in her words, revolucionarios. One of them was a Che Guevara impersonator. He had the same smile, beret and goatee as El Comandante, and proudly rode a black moped around, giving high fives to street vendors selling Hugo Chavez T-shirts, key chains and alarm clocks. "People believe in Chavez, I believe in him," Ortiz explained as we walked past the stalls. "He's a clean president, he doesn't hide anything. Most people who are against Chavez don't understand this political process." The majority of the Venezuelans I met felt this way. Many anti-Chavistas opposed the current administration as passionately as the Chavistas supported it. A history of economic inequality and violence fuel this polarization, which gained momentum in 1989, when right-wing President Carlos Andres Perez came into power. Perez implemented harmful International Monetary Fund (IMF) structural adjustments, and accepted a massive loan from the IMF which critics claim plunged the country deeper into an economic recession. In 1992 Perez was forced from office on corruption charges....(full article)

The Dead-End Street Memo
by Arthur Creosote


Dear Mr. Vice President: Since you and your neo-conservative "brain trust" cannot seem to come up with a viable exit strategy from the quagmire you have put us in, I have come up with one for you. You and your pals have already made us the scourge of the planet, so I do not think what I am proposing could possibly make the international community despise us any more. Anyway, here is my crazy plan....(full article)

May 17-18

Galloway Grills Senate and US Hypocrisy on Iraq
by George Galloway

The following testimony by British parliamentarian George Galloway was delivered yesterday to the US Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee investigating the UN oil-for-food scandal....(full article)


The American Way of Death Casts Its Shadow East
by Lee Hall

Famously exposing the avarice of the U.S. funeral industry, Jessica Mitford’s book The American Way of Death (1963) confronted death and its attendant rituals, removing the shroud of taboo. For today’s military managers, talk of death is taboo once again. Military funerals and coffins have, for as long as possible, been kept out of public view.  Even less has come to light about the grief of Afghanistan and Iraq, where ordinary people deal with death as part of their everyday business....(full article)

The Religious Right: Pushing A Deadly Addiction
by Carolyn Baker

In a recent article, I promised readers that I would address the mindset of the religious right as an addiction. . . . For my purposes, the distinction between fundamentalist Christianity and Dominionism is incidental because what is most important to understand is that any religion, philosophy, or belief system can be addictive, fear-based, and terrorizing, and if it is used to justify changing the Constitution of the United States and creating a society in which the laws of that system are also fear-based and terrorizing, then regardless of the label, fundamentalist or Dominionist, that system is both terrorist and tyrannical. Whether one wishes to debate the differences between fundamentalist Christianity and Dominionism or not, both systems are about domination, power, control, right/wrong, win/lose. Moreover, as in my last article, I am reiterating that terrorism and tyranny, like the word addiction, have much broader definitions than crashing planes into buildings, establishing a superior race, or forcing women to cover their faces....
(full article)

The Propaganda War on Democracy
by John Pilger

In 1987, the Australian sociologist Alex Carey, a second Orwell in his prophesies, wrote "Managing Public Opinion: the corporate offensive." He described how in the United States "great progress [had been] made towards the ideal of a propaganda-managed democracy," whose principal aim was to identify a rapacious business state "with every cherished human value." The power and meaning of true democracy, of the franchise itself, would be "transferred" to the propaganda of advertising, public relations and corporate-run news. This "model of ideological control", he predicted, would be adopted by other countries, such as Britain....(full article)

News Media and "the Madness of Militarism"
by Norman Solomon

Media activism has achieved a lot. But I don't believe there's anything to be satisfied with -- considering the present-day realities of corporate media and the warfare state. War has become a constant of U.S. foreign policy, and media flackery for the war-makers in Washington is routine -- boosting militarism that tilts the country in more authoritarian directions. The dominant news outlets provide an ongoing debate over how to fine-tune the machinery of war. What we need is a debate over how to dismantle the war machine....(full article)

BP Faces Huge Fines Related to Unreported Oil Spills in Alaska --
Is ANWR Next?
by Jason Leopold

While the hacks working for mainstream news organizations were busy chasing the story about the Runaway Bride late last month, a real scandal was just beginning to unfold as Congress inched closer to approving a controversial measure to open up a couple thousand acres of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration. It was then, unbeknownst to the federal lawmakers who debated the merits of drilling in ANWR, that the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation started to lay the groundwork to pursue civil charges against UK oil and gas behemoth BP and the corporation's drilling contractor for failing to report massive oil spills at its Prudhoe Bay operation, just 60 miles west from the pristine wilderness area that would be ravaged by the very same company in its bid to drill for oil should ANWR truly be opened to further development....(full article)

Tom DeLay's Right Arm
by Bill Berkowitz

Inside the National Center for Public Policy Research, a right wing foundation DeLay calls "the Center for conservative communications"....(full article)

Touching Evil: Holding Hands with Uzbekistan
by Ken Sanders

Last week, President Bush spoke to thousands of adoring fans in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. He spoke of freedom, liberty and justice and held up Georgia as an example for other nations to follow. Referring to Georgia's progression to democracy, Bush declared, "Now, across the Caucasus, in Central Asia and the broader Middle East, we see the same desire for liberty burning in the hearts of young people. They are demanding their freedom - and they shall have it." Unless, of course, they happen to live in Uzbekistan....(full article)

Musings of an Intellectually Shell-Shocked Kansan
by Jason Miller

Life in Kansas can be as surreal as the landscape of a Salvador Dali painting. Critical thinking is a scarce commodity. “Scopes II” provided me with ample evidence that Kansans are proudly waving the banner of anti-intellectualism. Last week, the 6-4 conservative Christian majority on the Kansas State School Board contrived a 21st Century reenactment of the Monkey Trial of 1925 to “prove” that Evolution is a flawed theory.  How did my home state time warp past the Age of Reason? (full article)

The Pentecost Strike of 2005
by Matt Reichel

Traditionally, Pentecost is a national holiday in France: one of those paradoxical Catholic holidays in a country that has become increasingly Agnostic (and Muslim) through recent years. Days off of work like this one are held in high esteem within the French cultural framework: wherein the rights of laborers are considered part of the duty of governance, and not commie blither blather like in the United States. However, this year, the conservative government headed by Jacque Chirac and Co. decided to demand that employers send their foot soldiers to work in order that the government could raise enough revenue to cover the health costs of another hot summer. Typical scare tactics were used (as normal when trying to get people to do what they most certainly don’t want to do) wherein images of the heat wave of 2003 were driven down labor’s skull: “if you don’t go to work, then you must want to see another 15,000 elderly people dying in the streets of heat exhaustion like a few years ago.”....(full article)

Did Newsweek Damage America's Image?
by Harold Williamson

The White House said on Monday “that an inaccurate Newsweek report based on an anonymous source had damaged the U.S. image overseas by claiming U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo Bay.”  This after the editor of Newsweek admitted on Monday that there might be a problem with their report. Two weeks ago in their issue dated May 9, Michael Isikoff and John Barry of Newsweek magazine reported that U.S. military investigators had found evidence that American guards at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had committed infractions in trying to get terror suspects to talk, including in one case flushing a Qur'an down a toilet. The story spawned protests in Afghanistan that left 15 dead and many others injured. The White House jumped on this as if it were a story by Dan Rather. White House spokesman Scott McClellan was quoted as saying, “People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged.” Let me make sure I heard that correctly . . . . “The image of the United States abroad has been damaged.”....(full article)

Flushing the Koran: Newsweek Got it Right
by Joshua Frank

White House staffers scurried this past week to souse the flames sparked by Newsweek's recent story, which revealed that an internal US military investigation had found substantial evidence interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Koran. Newsweek's story led to outrage against the US in Afghanistan and elsewhere where violent protests led to at least 15 deaths and hundreds of injuries. The White House damage control team has been successful, however, as Newsweek retracted their story on May 16. But for what? (full article)

Demonizing News Media is Attempt to Divert Attention
from Policy Failures
by Robert Jensen and Pat Youngblood

If there is a political playbook for right-wing conservatives these days, it no doubt begins, “Step #1: Whenever possible, blame the news media.” What to do if the U.S. invasions/occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq have sparked resistance in those countries because people generally don’t like being occupied by a foreign power that has interests in exploiting their resources and/or geopolitical value? Blame journalists....(full article)

May 12

The Religious Right: An Anti-American Terrorist Movement
by Carolyn Baker

When I was in college, I wrote a research paper that changed my life forever. I had grown up in a fundamentalist Christian family living in the buckle of the Bible Belt where I was fed a steady diet of racism and Cold War anti-communism. My grandfather had been a member of the Klan in the 1920s, and as a high school student, I was saving money to join the John Birch Society. Most personally detrimental to me, however, was the denigration by my high-school-educated parents of higher education. “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” they exhorted from the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament. And, when I insisted on attending college, they reminded me incessantly that the wisdom of man is foolishness in the eyes of God. However, getting an education from a fundamentalist, Bob Jones University-like institution would be acceptable. I did not attend Bob Jones, but almost miraculously, given the fact that I was attending a similar institution, I started to think critically, and therefore, from their perspective, my parents’ caveat that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” was validated....(full article)

Improvisation From The Proscenium:
The Matter of Mind, Myth, and Metaphor (Part One of Three)

by Harold Williamson

In an elegant and richly fascinating overview of  modern scientific and philosophical developments, Harold Williamson examines the age-old questions: What do we really know about our world and ourselves?  By “know”, I do not mean to have cognizance or awareness, but to perceive and intellectively grasp a clear and certain understanding.  But what exactly is a clear and certain understanding?  Aside from owing it to ourselves to ponder these deep questions throughout our lives, this three-part series is highly relevant to the contemporary American landscape, where ascendant religious fanaticism, often a product of ignorance and illiteracy, threatens our freedoms and promises the return to an intellectual and spiritual Dark Age. Williamson, however, also argues that science alone cannot provide all the answers to the age-old mysteries we've struggled to comprehend and explain, and that "we should not discount what the ancients knew or observed."....(full article

(Faith vs. Science, Round 2)
The Greatest Show on Earth?

by Jason Miller

Yes, Phineas Taylor Barnum would be green with envy. The master of the hoodwink would be in awe of the Religious Right movement. Mirroring Barnum, snake-charming, beguiling, conning, and flimflamming are at the heart of its repertoire. Yet these masters of manipulation leave Barnum looking like a bush leaguer. Over the last week, the radicals of the Right have been flashing their propagandistic cunning as they soak up the spotlight of national media attention in Topeka, Kansas....(full article)

A Too Convenient Crisis? Neo-Con Logic at the Border
by Greg Moses

At first, I wasn’t sure whether Gov. Schwarzenegger was caught winging it when he praised border vigilantes as good citizens patching up bad government. But as he repeated the account in Sunday's interview with Chris Wallace, I began to suspect that all these signs are beginning to take the appearance of a coherent political strategy....(full article)

CEO Pay Still on Steroids
by Holly Sklar

How would you like a 54 percent pay raise? That's how much pay jumped last year for the chief executives of the 500 largest U.S. companies, reports Forbes magazine. Worker pay is shrinking, the economy is stalling, the trade deficit is growing and the stock market is below 1999 levels, but CEO pay is still on steroids....(full article)

We Are Very Good Drivers
by Sheila Samples

Even as Tim Russert solemnly announced on Meet the Press Sunday that the "Number three man" in the entire Al-Qaeda network was now under lock and key, the world edition of The Sunday Times quoted European intelligence as saying that Abu Faraj al-Libbi was not only NOT number three, he is not even a blip on the terrorist radar screen. According to The Times, "No European or American intelligence expert contacted last week had heard of al-Libbi until a Pakistani intelligence report last year claimed he had taken over as head of operations after Khalid Shaikh Mohammad's arrest. A former close associate of Osama Bin Laden now living in London laughed -- "What I remember of him is he used to make the coffee and do the photocopying."....(full article)

Crony Capitalists
by Ken Sanders

On Tuesday, May 10, 2005, and without a hint of shame, the Bush administration awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) $72 million in bonuses for its "very good" and "excellent" work in Iraq. Excuse me? Just two months ago, the Justice Department indicted a KBR manager for "major fraud against the United States" under the same LOGCAP contract for which KBR is now being awarded bonuses. According to the indictment, former KBR manager Jeff Mazon billed the U.S. more than $5.5 million for $680,000 worth of work. In other words, Mazon inflated KBR's bill by over 700 percent....(full article)

Nomadic Abstracts
by Reza Fiyouzat

Although most of humanity is localized, a better view into the general state of humanity is provided through a closer look at the conditions of the “global nomads”: migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants, international seasonal/migrant workers, gypsies, sex slaves, imperial and mercenary soldiers, to give an incomplete list....(full article)

Against the War Machine
Military Recruiters Face Youth and Student Resistance

by Ian Thompson

We'll give you up to $70,000 for college.” “You won't have to go to Iraq.” “Your service will only last four years.” Much of what recruiters promise is based on exaggeration, half-truths and outright lies. Recruiters have to fill quotas and will do almost anything to meet them, especially during wartime. The U.S. military -- the most powerful and destructive in the world -- is growing increasingly desperate to fill its ranks. In 2005 alone, the Army seeks to recruit 101,200 new active-duty regular Army and Reserve soldiers. But recruitment in nearly all branches of the military is down. The National Guard missed its recruitment quota by 13 percent last year. The Army fell short of its goal by more than 27 percent in February 2005 and is more than six percent behind its year-to-date recruiting target. The Reserve is 10 percent behind its target and the Guard is 26 percent short. January through March 2005 was the first time in a decade that the Marines missed their monthly goals. What is causing this sudden decline? (full article)

Amway: “Masters of Deception”
Multi-billion dollar corporation recruits ordinary folks into the “system”, uses politicians and pastors to build its empire

by Bill Berkowitz

Like many others, Eric Scheibeler and his wife, Patty, were recruited to the Amway Corporation by close friends. Along the "guaranteed" road to success they met powerful politicians, dined with multi-millionaires and spoke to thousands of Amway members at gatherings throughout the world. Then, without warning, their house of cards collapsed: Eric Scheibeler discovered that the operation was committing massive fraud. When he took documentation to Amway Senior Management, they shut off his income and told him not to have contact with distributors he was revealing the fraud to. Scheibeler, a former federal auditor for the US Department of Energy, refused. He and his wife were threatened, ostracized, and lost all they had built over a decade....(full article)

Nigeria Does Not Deserve UN Security Council Seat
by Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

It now appears very likely that Nigeria will, after all, hand over Liberian fugitive leader Charles Taylor (currently in exile in Nigeria) to the Freetown-based UN court investigating war crimes in conflicts in and around Sierra Leone. Thanks to the insistence of the US government, the Obasanjo regime is about to send Taylor to the Freetown court despite its long-held position to the contrary. The regime has until recently argued that it was against its “national honour” (whatever that means) to respond positively to the court’s request to extradite Taylor to face trial for overseeing the slaughter of 1.3 million Africans in the west central states of Liberia, Sierra Leone and southern Guinea while he was president of Liberia. The irony is of course not lost on any keen observer of this development. Whatever may be the US’s strategic interests on this subject (possible Taylor links with al-Qaida, possible Taylor involvement in millions of dollars worth of money laundering, possible Taylor complicity in the January 2005 attempted coup in Conakry to remove the pro-American Guinean president), it has taken the intervention of a non-African power to force a disreputable African leadership to hand over the head of a fellow murderous African leadership to face trial for the murder of 1.3 million Africans -- not 1.3 million non-Africans. African democrats are surely unencumbered by this irony. African leaderships have murdered 15 million Africans across the continent in the past 40 years in appalling spates of genocide. Even if the devil itself were to lecture African leaderships to stop murdering their peoples and, in the process, help prevent just one more African being annihilated by their depraved overlords, that would be readily welcome. African populations are under siege by brutal regimes replete across Africa. The peoples require unremitting support for their right to safeguard their lives and progress from wherever in the world. Not less....(full article)

Not a Real Victory: Columbia ROTC Voted Down
by The Glorious Revolutionary Federation of Fortune 500 Killers

The Glorious Revolutionary Federation of Fortune 500 Killers condemns the Columbia University Senate's deliberations on ROTC last Tuesday. The deliberations resulted in an overwhelming and surprising vote to keep ROTC off Columbia's campus. ROTC has been banned from Columbia since the late 1960s. "Obviously, we are not condemning the outcome at all. Rather, we condemn the path and the process that the Columbia University Senate and some of the so-called activists agitating against ROTC took to reach that outcome," said a spokesperson for the Federation's revolutionary socialist and anti-imperialist Ultra-Left Faction (ULF)....(full article)

May 10-11

Is Intervention in the Gulf Still a Profitable Venture?
by Ahmed Amr

A century ago, the British economist John Hobson wrote an essay that debunked the conventional wisdom that England’s imperial project was a profitable venture. Using facts and figures from officially published government statistics, he basically went about proving his thesis by using a cost-benefit analysis approach to determine the aggregate cost of maintaining British colonies. He then compared them to the aggregate profits that accrued to the British people and to certain sectors of the English economy. While certain colonies were profit centers, most of them generated losses. His conclusion was that, as a national project, the colonies were a financial drain on the government’s coffers and had a negative impact on the British economy. In strictly financial terms, Britain’s imperial project was a losing proposition that bled the nation’s coffers even if did benefit certain domestic financial interests and industries. If Hobson was still around, he might have done us the favor of undertaking a similar review of America’s imperial venture in the Gulf. Is it a profitable enterprise?  More precisely, was it a profitable venture that has now turned sour? Unfortunately Hobson is no longer with us, so all we can do is apply his techniques and perform our own cost-benefit analysis....(full article

God, Gays and George Bernard Shaw
by Mike Whitney

God’s perfected plan for humanity hit another speed-bump yesterday when a group of scientists released a report in the latest edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences proving that there are fundamental differences in the way gay and straight men experience scent. Uh-oh. This is perilously close to saying that there are basic differences between the two groups. The report demonstrates that “sniffing a chemical from testosterone, the male sex hormone, causes a response in the sexual area of gay men’s brains, just as it does in the brains of straight women, but not in the brains of straight men.”....(full article)

Political Bluster and the Filibuster
by Norman Solomon

The battle over the filibuster is now one of the country’s biggest political news stories. The Bush administration seems determined to change Senate rules so a simple majority of senators, instead of three-fifths, can cut off debate and force a vote on the president’s judicial nominees. Both sides claim to be arguing for procedural principles. But a Senate filibuster is not inherently good or bad. Throughout U.S. history, the meaning of the filibuster has always been a matter of political context. The merits have everything to do with what kind of nation people want....(full article)

A Tentative Strategy for Ending the War
by Mike Whitney

“[T]he intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy.”
-- Richard Dearlove, former head of British M16

merican leftists and liberals have failed to grasp the importance of Dearlove’s statement to Tony Blair and his top advisors in a secret meeting nine months before the invasion of Iraq. (Dearlove told Tony Blair that the US attack on Saddam would be “justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.”) Yes, the information does confirm that Bush intended to attack Iraq from the very beginning without any compelling evidence of WMD or connections with al Qaida. And, yes, this does only reinforce what many of us suspected from the very onset: that the justification for war was built entirely on lies and demagoguery. Maybe that’s why so many people are dismissing the memo with a shrug of the shoulders like its yesterday's news. But, the Dearlove memo is much more than that. It is the first piece of incontrovertible evidence that a criminal conspiracy took place at the highest levels of government to lead the nation to war. It’s easy to understand why the mainstream media has concealed this story as much as possible. The circulation of this information has the power to erode public support for the occupation and end the war....(full article)

Iraq in Miniature
by Ken Sanders

Spring has arrived in Afghanistan and after the coldest winter in a decade, the sun is shining, the poppies are blooming, and the casualties are mounting....(full article)

May 9

Column Right
On “Runaway Bride™”
by Mrs. Jolene Fystenbutt

As a devoted wife and mother of three perfect children, I believe that “Runaway Bride™”, Jezebel Wilbanks, should meet her maker while strapped to the electric chair or, better yet, twitching from the end of the veil she was meant to be married in. Anyone who demands any less for this renegade bride is no Christian in my book, and should fry right alongside her. Laugh all you want, but these days a broken engagement is not just an affront to our Savior, but a matter of national security. After all, marriage is the foundation of a stable, Christian society, and by allowing women the option not to walk down the aisle after a man has spent six months wining and dining her at “The Olive Garden” while listening to her endlessly prattle on about Wedgewood China patterns, we're sending a message to the terrorists....
(full article)


The New Jim Crow
by Patricia Goldsmith

The marriage license did not exist before the Civil War. George and Martha Washington, Abe Lincoln and Mary Todd, and every other American up to that point in time got married in a church. Why at that exact moment in time, you may wonder for half a second, before you realize the obvious answer: to stop the world from turning the color of café au lait. That makes the marriage license the last extant vestige of Jim Crow in our society....
(full article)

The Specter of Violence in America
by Mike Whitney

What is the likelihood of violence breaking out in America? The 35-year anniversary of the Kent State massacre may seem like a meaningless footnote in the history of the 1960s for people under 50, but it was much more. The killing of citizens by their own government is the ultimate expression of state terror. It galvanizes the public against the government in a way that cannot be described and it causes a major shifting of political alliances. Is this where the nation is headed? (full article)

The Free Software Challenge in Latin America
by David Sugar

In 2002, then-US Ambassador to Peru, John Hilton, delivered a threatening letter to the Peruvian congress using his public office to act on behalf of a very powerful American private interest. The letter, which was leaked to the press, stated that the Microsoft Corporation and its chairman Bill Gates disapproved of Peru debating a proposed law, Special Bill 1609, which favored the use of free software in public administration. Hilton warned its passage would harm US-Peru relations. This incident was only an early salvo in a brewing international conflict. As nations of the world increasingly turn to free software to cut costs and promote local development, powerful North American commercial interests have responded by bullying. Sometimes they have done so by proxy, such as using public servants like Ambassador Hilton. Sometimes they have threatened legal action to intimidate outspoken critics such as Brazil's National Institute of Information and Technology (ITI) President Sergo Amadeu, who compared Microsoft business practices to that of drug dealers. Sometimes, they have threatened governments directly, such as last November, when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer threatened to sue Asian governments that choose to use free software....(full article)

The European Union: An Artist's Parisian Journey
by Matt Reichel

How many Americans have come to live in Paris, along with their alcoholism and epistemological crises, in search of some sort of artistic and poetic inspiration, or perhaps the answers to all of the world’s great problems? I know that it’s easy to make incorrect assumptions based on the fact that a handful of literary greats (Hemingway, Twain, Emerson, Gertrude Stein, etc.) have come to Paris and wrote romantically about their stay, but I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has been compelled to follow in their footsteps. However, I am completely sure that what I have found is an entirely different Paris: a city whose image currently reflects back the personal crises of all of its starving artists....(full article)

Rumsfeld’s Mystery Contingency Operations CACI Gets Bigger
by John Stanton

According to the Federal Procurement Data System ( database, the US DOD’s US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has awarded just over 29,000 contracts since at least October of 2003. A review of 2,000 of those contracts shows that awards go to the usual suspects like SAIC, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Some go to unusual suspects like Colombia Tri-Star pictures and Time Warner for movie and video distribution services. Within that batch of 2,000 contracts are approximately 50 mentions of a “classified domestic contractor” and a “classified foreign contractor” operating at 18th & F Street, NW, Washington, DC. Tallying up the numbers, it turns out that these two contractors have received approximately $100 million for contingency operations in amounts ranging from $17K to $25M (USD). The bulk of the money has been let to the classified domestic contractor (the foreign contractor is based in the United Kingdom). At least 296 actions (awards, transfer of funds) have taken place on the contract and there have been at least 17 modifications. The contract is consistently extended and will run to at least September of 2006....(full article)

The Downside of the Internet
by William Fisher

The web is a wondrous thing. I couldn’t live without it. But it is not without its problems. One of them is that anyone can pluck anything from any source and copy it. Even knowing the risk, imagine my surprise -- nay, shock and awe -- when an article of mine appeared on the website of that ultra-libertarian citizen journalist, David Duke....(full article)

May 7

John Kerry's Hate Speech
by Joshua Frank

In a swing through Baton Rouge, Louisiana this past week, John F. Kerry made it crystal clear that he doesn't care much for gay rights. The intolerable senator scoffed at reporters when asked whether or not he supported the inclusion of a same-sex marriage plank in the Massachusetts Democratic platform. Kerry answered by saying that such a statement does not represent the views held by most party members, including himself....
(full article)

The Dutiful Wife: More Than Just a Comedy
by Walter Brasch

During George W. Bush’s first presidential campaign, Laura Bush seldom spoke out, and when she did, it was carefully scripted and on message. Part of it was the reluctance of the shy former librarian to be on stage. Much of it was campaign strategy to play to a part of America that believes wives should be shy, relatively meek women who stand by their husband’s side and echo all of his thoughts, unlike the image that Hillary Clinton showed the American people for eight years. During her husband’s first term, the dutiful wife did dutiful things. One of the things she did not do was to join thousands of her fellow librarians in speaking out against the excesses and threats posed by the USA PATRIOT Act to the nation’s libraries and readers. But, she was not alone. Few journalists, and almost none of the Washington correspondents, even wrote about the excesses and Constitutional violations of the PATRIOT Act until it appeared that public opinion was changing....
(full article)

Conservatives, Judicial Impeachment, and Supreme Court
Justice William O. Douglas

by Gene C. Gerard

There has been considerable discussion by conservatives lately of impeaching judges, allegedly for a variety of offenses. Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum criticized U.S. District Judge James Whittemore for ruling against Congressional legislation that required stopping Terri Schiavo’s euthanasia. Senator Santorum said that the ruling is “[A]n offense that should be discussed in Congress….I think he should be held accountable for it.” Florida Circuit Court Judge George Greer, who turned down Congressional subpoenas seeking to question individuals related to the Schiavo case, is now the subject of an impeachment review by the Florida legislature. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has said that Congress must make a strong effort to control the courts and that its actions must amount to “more than rhetoric.” Congressman DeLay has supported judicial impeachment for some time. In a 1997 letter he wrote to the editor of The New York Times, he stated, “I advocate impeaching judges who consistently ignore their constitutional role, violate their oath of office and breach the separation of powers. The Framers provided the tool of impeachment to keep the power of the judiciary in check. It is a tool Congress should explore using.”....(full article)

Toward Global Dialogue: Can We Talk?
by Sam Husseini

Damascus, Syria -- "Can I use your first name in an article that I write?" I asked. "Yes, my name is 'S-A-P'" came the reply.That's how my evening of talking with young "South Park"-watching Syrians ended as I leave this country after a brief stay. There was obviously no illusion about Syria being a police state -– at least one of those at the table had been in jail -- but these Syrians are hardly asking for help from the U.S. government. Said one: "We will change things here, one step at a time, from the bottom up." One despised the Asad regime; another didn't care who was president -- "let Asad be president, we will change the society." They spoke fondly of the courage, though not the intelligence, of Syrians who went to Iraq to take up arms against the U.S. occupation. But even as someone who works on media issues, I was taken aback by their focusing on the U.S. media. Said one: "We hate the U.S. not so much for your government as much as for your media -– your lying, shitty, racist media. Fix the media and the government will follow."....(full article)

Free Speech in the Crosshairs  
by Mike Whitney

Having eviscerated the 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th amendments, the Bush administration has moved on to the cornerstone of American life and culture -- the First Amendment. The Bush strategy for attacking “free speech” has been much more subtle and requires more serious analysis. It will never be possible for the state to simply issue an edict that “free speech” has been summarily repealed. Instead, the administration is trying to affect this change by operating through its many surrogates in the right-wing media....
(full article)

The Right to Choose Abortion is Under Attack...We Won’t Go Back!
by Nicole Colson

The right wing is on the offensive against women’s reproductive freedom overall. At least 12 states have introduced “conscience clause” laws, which allow pharmacists to legally refuse women access to the birth control option known as the “morning-after pill” -- including victims of rape and sexual assault, or women whose birth control methods failed. The Christian Right group “Pharmacists for Life” is spearheading the drive to deny women access to the morning-after pill. Yet while the right has led the war on abortion rights, Democrats are going along for the ride....(full article)

Those Patriotic Magnets
by Richard Joseph

As the war in Iraq perpetuates, and American casualties increase, so does the popularity of the slogan “Support Our Troops.” These three words are highly visible on American roads, and can be readily found on the rear-bumpers of vehicles, as part of that familiar ribbon logo. But with this war of multiple dimensions, I’ve often wondered: “why would someone place a statement of support on an object of cause?” (full article)

The Mother of All Days
by Mickey Z.

With all due disrespect to Joan Crawford and Michael Keaton, I'll take Mother Jones (the woman, not the mag) any day as my pop culture maternal icon. Born in Ireland and raised in Canada, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones did her agitating right here in the U S of A from the late 1800s right into the twentieth century. Her organizing of workers -- mineworkers in particular -- earned her the nickname of “Miner's Angel.” Barely five-feet tall, Mother Jones lived 100 years...most of them according to her personal credo: “Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.”....(full rumination)

Department of Interior Backs Down on Attempted Raid of Trinity Water
by Dan Bacher

The Department of Interior, under pressure from recreational anglers, Indian Tribes and environmental groups, recently withdrew a controversial request to divert cold water from the Trinity River this fall to stop a potential fish kill from taking place on the beleaguered Klamath River. The Bureau of Reclamation on April 22 finalized the Trinity River flow schedule for 2005, following the Trinity Management Council’s rejection of its request for a diversion of Trinity water. The flow is designed to implement the objectives of the historic Trinity River of Decision (ROD) issued by Bruce Babbitt in December 2000. “We called Interior on this attempt to gut the Trinity River Restoration Program and they backed down,” said Byron Leydecker, chair of Friends of the Trinity River and consultant to California Trout. “This is a very significant victory for Trinity River restoration. If Interior’s request had gone through, it would’ve been the camel’s nose under the tent to destroy the total concept and vision of the Trinity Restoration program.”....(full article)

Catching Up With Carol Moseley Braun
by Matthew Cardinale

“Right now I’m a recovering politician and a committed private citizen,” said Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, 57, in a phone interview for the progressive news community. The former US Senator from 1992-1998, US Presidential Candidate in 2004, and US Ambassador to New Zealand, Samoa, the Cook Islands, and  Antarctica, is currently focusing her energies on her new law firm, Moseley Braun, LLC, as well as her new small business. After a year spent largely out of the public eye, she’s continuing her lifetime work of public service on behalf of the disadvantaged through private practice, however, and still has a lot to say about politics, past, present, and future....(full article)

May 5

Smoking Gun Memo Appears, but Where's the Outrage?
by Ken Sanders

I'm sure many of us are familiar with the adage, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." Well, judging by the near-total silence emanating from the United States following a recently leaked British internal memo, it would appear that most of us aren't paying attention. This past Sunday, the Times of London released a leaked memorandum from Matthew Rycroft, a foreign policy aide to Tony Blair. Dated July 23, 2002, the memo records the minutes from a crucial meeting between Blair and British military and intelligence chiefs nearly a year before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. At the meeting, Sir Richard Dearlove, then chief of MI6 (the British equivalent of the CIA), reported on his recent talks in Washington with George Tenet, who was then chief of the CIA. According to Dearlove, there was a "perceptible shift" in U.S. attitude toward Iraq and "[m]ilitary action was now seen as inevitable." "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD." In support of Dearlove's conclusions, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also reported, "It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action." Straw cautioned, however, that "the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbors, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."....(full article)

An Open Letter to My Husband’s Chain of Command: 
The Players of the Game

by Monica Benderman

The following open letter by Monica Benderman was written in response to the denial of Conscientious Objector Status for her husband, US Army Sgt. Kevin Benderman, by his command....(full letter)

Abu Ghraib: Fall Guy Can’t Plead Guilty if Torture Orders Were Lawful
by Kevin Zeese

“What you're saying is it was part of a legitimate cell extraction, you're saying it was legitimate?”, judge Colonel James L. Pohl asked Private Charles Graner, and then turned to the defense: “If Private Graner is to be believed, he was not violating any law, so you could not be violating any law.” Pohl then told Private Lynndie England, “If you don't believe you were guilty, doing what Graner told you, you can't plead guilty.”  In a shocker Colonel Pohl threw out the guilty plea of Private England. Despite photographs showing her holding a leash around an Iraqi prisoner’s neck, pointing to the genitals of prisoners and pointing to a pyramid of naked Iraqis, Pohl could not accept England's guilty plea if she thought she was following lawful orders. It gets messy pleading guilty to torturing Iraqi prisoners being held at Abu Ghraib when you think you are acting consistently with the policy of the United States that seems to allow torture....(full article)

We're Not Going Anywhere
by Ken Sanders

Bush & Co. like to assure everyone that U.S. and coalition forces will remain in Iraq as long as it takes to stabilize the country, but not a moment longer. Democrats, particularly after Iraq's elections in January, like to talk about exit strategies and try to pin down the Bush administration on a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. To that end, on May 1, 2005, Iraq's national security adviser predicted that U.S. troops would being withdrawing from Iraq in mid-2006. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the U.S. will not be leaving Iraq in 2006. In fact, the U.S. never had any intention of ever leaving Iraq. Or Afghanistan, for that matter....(full article)

Nuclear Fundamentalism and the Iran Story
by Norman Solomon

Years from now, when historians look back at agenda-building for a missile attack on Iran, they should closely examine a story that took up the USA’s most coveted space for media spin -- the upper right corner of the New York Times front page -- on the first day of May 2005. Under the headline “Threats Shadow New Conference on Nuclear Arms,” the lead article in the Sunday edition set a tone that was to echo in U.S. media during the next several days. The review conference for the Non-Proliferation Treaty “was meant to offer hope of closing huge loopholes in the treaty, which the United States says Iran and North Korea have exploited to pursue nuclear weapons,” the Times reported. “Instead, the session appears deadlocked even before it begins, according to senior American officials and diplomats.” But the Times could have led off by pointing out that “huge loopholes in the treaty” have been exploited by the United States and a few other countries to maintain their nuclear-arms dominance. And, instead of resorting to fuzzy euphemisms, the story could have clearly reported that the U.S., Japanese and French governments are so committed to the commercial nuclear power industry that they still insist on promoting it -- and further boosting nuclear arms proliferation in the process....(full article)

The American Press: How Free?
by William Fisher

Recent polling data shows that most Americans think their press is the freest in the world -- indeed, some believe it is too free. But according to a new report by Freedom House, a highly respected civil liberties advocacy group, the US is among countries that have experienced “notable setbacks” in press freedom. “Freedom of the Press 2005: A Global Survey of Media Independence,” revealed that the US ranked 17th among a group of 194 countries, behind Costa Rica. The report said the US score declined due to “a number of legal cases in which prosecutors sought to compel journalists to reveal sources or turn over notes or other material they had gathered in the course of investigations.” It declared, “Doubts concerning official influence over media content emerged with the disclosures that several political commentators received grants from federal agencies, and that the Bush administration had significantly increased the practice of distributing government-produced news segments.”....(full article)

Interview with Patrick Resta of Iraq Veterans Against the War:
"Sent Into Combat Unequipped and Unprepared"
by Kevin Zeese

The voices of veterans who have served in Iraq is among the most important in convincing the public and government officials that the war in Iraq is wrong and the occupation must be ended. The interview below is with Patrick Resta of Iraq Veterans against the War. Patrick, who served as a combat medic in Iraq, is 26 years old and been married for five years. He grew up in central New Jersey and now lives in Philadelphia. He is a full time nursing student at the Community College of Philadelphia. His aunt and uncle were killed in the World Trade Center on September 11th and about three weeks later he was called to active duty as part of homeland security. He served for one year at Ft. Jackson, SC. Then when he began to get his life back to normal and less than one year after leaving Ft. Jackson he found out that he was being deployed again, this time to Iraq....(full article)

The Gates of Hell: Occupied Iraq
by Jack Random

On March 22, 2003, the Department of Defense announced the identities of two Marines killed in action in Southern Iraq. Second Lieutenant Therrel S. Childers of Mississippi and Lance Corporal Jose Gutierrez of California became the first Americans to die for the ambitions of the White House warlords and the little man with an inferiority complex who should never have become president -- even in his dreams. History is a strange and fascinating tale.  What historians make of this president will be a fiercely fought battle between those with integrity and those with a political agenda.  While past presidencies have been held somewhat in check by the knowledge that historians will hold them to account, the current lot believes it is immune to historical judgment.  They are determined to control the pen with which the tale is told.  They will discredit all accounts contrary to their interests and reduce history itself to the basest form of propaganda....(full article)

Vigilante Wedge: Schwarzenegger Reprises Birth of a Nation
by Greg Moses

Since this is the season for intensive pre-election-year planning, we have to be worried about the public relations victory achieved by the Minuteman Project in Arizona. In five weeks time, they have gone from "vigilante" to "brave and caring." And in the process they have staged a powerful wedge issue for 2006. The public relations success of the Minuteman Project shows up in a poll from Arizona that reports 57 percent approval for the border action, but please note first of all how nicely the question is asked: "The Minuteman Project is a group of citizen volunteers who have been patrolling the Arizona-Mexico border to watch for people coming into the United States illegally and reporting them to the U.S. Border Patrol. Do you support or oppose the Minuteman Project?" The first line of challenge to the public relations victory of the Minuteman Project is to ask how the organization is best described: as a group of "citizen volunteers" or a group of "armed vigilantes"? (full article)

Al Franken is a Big Fat Phony
by John Walsh

Al Franken is a shrewd guy, which is why he can write some good comedy. He is also something of a student of the lie, having written a book, using considerable student slave labor, entitled Lies and the Lying Liars That Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. That book followed another, Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot, in which he debunks the stuff that Rush "pulls out of his butt," as Franken puts it. So Franken certainly knows that one of the most insidious forms of prevarication is lying by omission. And on the subject of rapid and total withdrawal from Iraq, that is precisely what Franken and most of the rest of Air America Radio do day in and day out ­- omit any mention of the topic. Their attitude to grass roots opposition to the war is the same -- bury it. And compared to Franken's favorite topics, that is the ones sanctioned by the Democratic establishment, for example, the corrupt practices of Tom DeLay, the war in Iraq which is laying waste an entire country and claiming tens of thousands of lives, takes a back seat -­ far, far back....(full article)

China-Japan: What’s Behind the Growing Conflict?
by David Whitehouse

For three weekends in April, Chinese cities were rocked by anti-Japanese protests organized with the tacit approval of the Beijing government. In one incident on April 16, Shanghai police stood by as a crowd of 10,000 young Chinese pelted the Japanese consulate with stones and paint bombs -- after trashing Japanese cars and restaurants. The immediate spur to the protests was the Japanese government’s approval of a junior high school textbook that whitewashes Japanese atrocities committed against Chinese and other Asians from the 1930s through the Second World War. But Chinese government media outlets had already stirred up anti-Japanese feelings for weeks previously -- in response to Japan’s bid to join the United Nations (UN) Security Council. As many observers noted, the mounting friction is a symptom of China’s attempt to assert political clout to match its growing economic power -- which, by some measures, is already greater than Japan’s. But the conflict is also a product of Japan’s own attempt to assert itself....(full article)

The Peculiar State
by John Chuckman

A lawyer gave a brief opinion piece on Canada's public radio, the CBC, in which he flatly said that criticism of Israel is a form of anti-Semitism. I guess we should be grateful that people in Canada are much less violent in their opinions than people in the U.S. where one lawyer wrote an essay, published on the Internet, seriously advocating the execution of the families of those who commit terrorist acts in Israel. Another American lawyer, a very prominent one, has advocated protocols governing the legal use of torture in the United States....(full article)

Why Us? (On the Academic Boycott )
by Tanya Reinhart

A boycott decision, like that passed by Britain’s Association of University Teachers to boycott two Israeli universities, naturally raises a hue and cry among Israelis. Why us? And why now, “just when negotiations with the Palestinians might be renewed”? (full article)

Crawling Towards Equality:
The Importance of Gay Rights in Today's Political Climate
by Igor Volsky and Amanda Waas

Conservative reactionaries have expressed their dislike for the “homosexual agenda” and their tentacles have penetrated the American political system. Strong evangelical efficacy has ensured political compliance from weak politicians. Yet human consideration must supersede short-term political gain. An individual’s humanity should not be sacrificed to votes. Public relations experts and high priced political consultants make this nearly impossible. To take their advice is to win political office; to go against the tide is to accomplish a structural social adjustment (and a personal disservice). The former is characteristic of the majority; the latter requires a higher level of social awareness and political courage....(full article)

Bill Frist: Doctor Hypocrite, M.D.
by Allen Snyder

I've lived in Tennessee for just over a decade.  I’ve watched Bill Frist go from a filthy rich doctor who, despite being a Republican, I uncharacteristically thought might still make a good Senator to leading the party, in our apparently single-party system, currently presiding over the ongoing and escalating corruption, humiliation, and destruction of Democracy 2.0:  The American Version....(full article)

Voting Machine Rulemakers Poised to Violate Their
Public Interest Mandate
by John Gideon

Should the makers of voting machines set the standards that their voting machines must live up to in order to satisfy the public interest? Though the answer is obviously “No”, a recent meeting of a technical subcommittee of the Election Assistance Commission shows that this is happening, yet the EAC may reveal these new standards, on or about July 1, coupled with a claim that they adequately protect the heart of democracy....(full article)

May 3

++ The Gospel According to DV ++
America's Most Insidious, Immoral Movement
by Lee Salisbury

Lead by the likes of Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, Tom DeLay and Karl Rove, an army of misguided Christian fundamentalists, the Religious Right, continues to push for tearing down the “wall of separation” established by America’s founding fathers. They claim there is no “wall of separation,” and that the framers of the Constitution intended that America be a Christian nation, implying that America’s laws should reflect biblical law. A brief survey of America’s history, taken from Robert Boston's Why The Religious Right Is Wrong, reveals what life in America was like before our Constitution was adopted when in fact Christian theocrats did rule the colonies....(full article)

We the People, You the Rest… and the Sierra Club
Part II:  Where Does Animal Advocacy Come In?

by Lee Hall

While the alliance of animal advocates and immigration restrictionists wanting to influence the Sierra Club’s future has caused a furor, the role that animal advocates could actually play is largely unexamined. The issues, however, are serious: Do environmentalists view other animals as resources to be protected? As objects of aesthetic interest? Or should environmentalists take the position that animals, other than the human ones, have their own interests? John Muir, who helped establish the Sierra Club, employed the political rhetoric of viewing nature as a composite of material resources and aesthetic benefits to humanity when backing the establishment of a national forest system -- a system whose primary purpose would be the guarantee of a perpetual timber supply. Since its early days, the Sierra Club has identified its mission as environmental advocacy for people. Given the inherent growth needs of capitalism, and the consequent advantages enjoyed by economic values, an effective environmentalism would emphasize the idea of nature itself as inherently worthy of moral consideration. Non-human animals, for the same reason, should be freed from the limitations our current legal paradigm imposes; for as long as they carry the status of things to serve human interests, by simple operation of law we obstruct our ability to perceive them as beings with their own interests in, and experiences of, the natural world....(full article)

Bolton’s Proudest Moment: Breaking the UN’s Anti-Zionist Resolution
by Gary Leupp

Those campaigning against John Bolton’s nomination for U.N. ambassador continue to collect anecdotes testifying to his bullying, abrasive style. (Seems the Brits were so peeved by his behavior in the Anglo-American negotiations with Libya’s Col. Qaddhafi, which resulted in Libya’s agreement to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, that they asked he be removed from the talks.) And daily we learn more about his lies and exaggerations, most recently about those publicly raised in late 2001 concerning Sudan’s supposed interest in biological weapons. In response to the controversy, Rice, Cheney and Bush continue to express confidence in Bolton, insisting he’s just what the doctor ordered for the ailing United Nations. Thomas M. Boyd, an assistant attorney general under the Reagan administration and former Bolton deputy, is another important Bolton defender. He sheds light on Bush’s choice, and focuses on what is surely the Bolton achievement most likely to evoke public support, in an op-ed piece in the Boston Globe April 27.  He opens with the frank observation that Bolton is indeed a bull in a china shop. But “[w]hile it is certainly true that Bolton sometimes breaks china,” Boyd declares, “it is also true that he carefully selects the pattern first.” Bolton’s crowning moment of destruction? December 16, 1991, when the United Nations General Assembly repealed, by a vote of 111 to 25 (and 30 abstentions) the 1975 resolution that described Zionism as a form of racism. As the debate heats up this will be the bully’s chief selling point....
(full article)

Rethinking the D-Word: Does the Military Really Instill Discipline?
by Susan Van Haitsma

As my military veteran colleague and I arranged our literature table near the high school cafeteria with materials about alternatives to military service, the armed police officers assigned to the school were our first customers.  They glanced at our brochures, gave us a look that said, “You people mean well, but get real,” and launched the D-word argument we've come to expect wherever we go....(full article)

Bush Administration Bluster Exacerbates Nuclear Proliferation
by Ivan Eland

As North Korea tests a short-range missile and Iran threatens to resume its enrichment of nuclear fuel, President Bush and his administration continue their counterproductive bluster against these two nations. The United States is preparing to echo its hard-line rhetoric as 180 countries meet this month for the periodic review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Yet only fantasy generals on the big screen use macho bombast against their fictional foes. The best real-life commanders try to walk quietly in the enemy’s moccasins to best predict their next move. The Bush administration spends so much time strutting and flexing before the world gallery that it fails to realize that such behavior accelerates nuclear proliferation....(full article)

Rejected Jokes From Laura Bush's Monologue
by Arthur Creosote

(Associated Depressed Newswire) The Associated Depressed has learned that an anonymous White House staffer tried to sneak the following jokes into Laura Bush's now famous monologue at the White House Correspondents' Dinner on Saturday night. However, Chief White House political advisor Karl Rove managed to catch these and redacted them from her prepared notes before an unsuspecting, and quite inebriated First Lady, read them out loud....(full article)

Deathbed Dollars
by Bill Berkowitz

While radical right wing Christian groups were raising bundles off the Terri Schiavo case, her parents were agreeing to sell its donor list to a right wing mail house....(full article)

Leaked UK Memo Indicts Blair's Iraq Folly
by Joshua Frank

As if there weren't already enough damning reports floating around that prove President Bush and the neo-cons were hell-bent on invading Iraq -- now this. On Sunday, May 1, The Independent in the UK released a report that cites an internal memo released in July of 2002, which exposes that Prime Minister Tony Blair, after meeting with his top government officials, had already committed to overthrowing Saddam Hussein....(full article)

by Richard Estes

With a continuing stream of damaging disclosures about Tony Blair’s deception concerning the United Kingdom’s participation in the war against Iraq, the outcome of the election remains uncertain, although a Labour victory with a reduced majority appears most probable. The Guardian’s disclosure on Wednesday that the Attorney General’s opinion about thewar was anything but "unequivocal", as asserted by Blair, has now been trumped by the Sunday Times’ disclosure that Blair, as suspected, indicated a willingness to go to war in the summer of 2002 after meeting with President Bush in Texas. Another year, 1970, and another war, the Vietnam war, haunts Labour in the final days of the campaign....(full article)

A Birthday Message From The IWW: Rebel, And Mean It!
by Michael Smith

One hundred years ago Big Bill Haywood lumbered onto the platform at Brand's Hall in Chicago, gaveled the podium with a piece of loose board, and called the assembly to order. Flanked by Eugene Debs, Mother Jones, and Lucy Parsons, he announced the birth of the Industrial Workers of the World, a union of native-born radicals whose capacity for militant solidarity was and remains unmatched in U.S. history....(full article)

May 2, 2005

We the People, You the Rest… and the Sierra Club
Part I: The Country and the Club
by Lee Hall

Notwithstanding the Statue of Liberty’s expansive call, the people of the United States do, as a matter of national law, restrict immigration. Debates over who will and who won’t be accepted run fiercely through the nation’s history. No area of social life is untouched by the matter; and lately, the topic of migration has found its way into environmentalists’ debates. In early 2004, immigration foes sued the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest environmental organization, as part of their bid to secure most of the fifteen seats of its board of directors. With five seats open for votes, the Los Angeles Times described the suspense:  “Three prominent immigration control advocates -- UCLA astronomy professor Ben Zuckerman, Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug LaFollette, and Paul Watson, leader of the group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, already had won seats to the board in recent years, putting majority control within the grasp of the dissidents in this year’s election.” And the immigration debate had already struck an ominous note. After winning a seat in 2002, Ben Zuckerman reportedly gave other board members an article claiming that migrants spread disease and crime in the U.S., facilitated by “Hispandering politicians.” The article came from, a site named after Virginia Dare, the first white child born in a U.S. colony....(full article)

Why America Needs to be Defeated in Iraq
by Mike Whitney

The greatest moral quandary of our day is whether we, as Americans, support the Iraqi insurgency. It’s an issue that has caused anti-war Leftist’s the same pangs of conscience that many felt 30 years ago in their opposition to the Vietnam War. The specter of disloyalty weighs heavily on all of us, even those who’ve never been inclined to wave flags or champion the notion of American “Exceptionalism”. For myself, I can say without hesitation, that I support the insurgency, and would do so even if my only 21-year-old son was serving in Iraq. There’s simply no other morally acceptable option....
(full article)

Bankruptcy, Prisons and Work
by Seth Sandronsky

The bankruptcy reform bill that President Bush just signed into law will do more than discipline those who live riotously on loans without paying them back in full. Think for a moment about new prisons to house the indebted. This trend will expand investment opportunities. Surely, Wall Street is salivating at the thought of housing incarcerated debtors. Bonds, some of them tax-exempt, will need to be issued to fund such construction projects, with many fees to be paid from the public purse. Some of this cash will get invested in Congress. Honest graft. Profits and punishment are the mother’s milk of American politics. Jobs come with growth. Thus in the 2005 slow/no jobs “recovery,” debtors prisons will expand payrolls.  Construction workers will be needed to build these facilities.  Service workers will be hired to staff them. This is “economic development” that creates growth with employment. Where are you when we need you most, Mr. Dickens?
(full article)

Leftist Victories in Latin America Create
New Opportunities for SOA Opponents
by Dan Bacher

The increasing number of leftist, populist led governments winning elections in Latin America means a new opportunity for Fr. Roy Bourgeois and other opponents of the School of the Americas (SOA) to close the institution down. The left is on an unprecedented ascendance in Latin America. After years of suffering under U.S. backed dictatorships, the majority of the people in South America has rejected neo-liberal policies and are under the rule of left-leading governments. SOA Watch, the organization started by Bourgeois, now has the chance to ask the elected leaders of these countries to pull their troops out of training at the school....(full article)

Star-Struck (Dumb) and (Damn) Proud of It
by Mark Drolette

I’m pretty ticked off at the media right now, and here’s why: Why should I have to turn to page A7 of the local paper before I get to the news that matters most to me and other well-informed Americans these days: the Michael Jackson case?  This is the type of meaningful information many of us live for, set our watches by, make love to (I am not naming names), and, most importantly, count on to make our lives count, yet all of a sudden, we gotta dig for it? I know Yahoo has a blurb just about every day about poor M.J.’s tribulations, but it’s invariably the last item.  This means -- yep, you’re way ahead of me -- I must look all the way to the bottom of the list for it, and, you know, that’s just a little too much work....(full article)

International Law Not Fit to Print:
The New York Times and Israel/Palestine

by Ahmed Bouzid and Patrick O'Connor

More than any other newspaper, The New York Times influences how policymakers, journalists and the general public understand important issues. Unfortunately, the Times' news reporters continue to misrepresent the Israeli/Palestinian conflict by failing to acknowledge the broad international consensus that Israel's settlements and West Bank Wall violate international law. The Times' reporters instead present Palestinian and Israeli views using a “he said, she said” formula, without an appropriate framework to help readers evaluate competing claims....(full article)

How Far Have We Come?
by Minna vander Pfaltz

The memory of men -- and I do mean men -- is short, it is said. The historical memory of Americans in particular quite simply does not exist. History to the American is right now; even four years ago is too long a time into the past to be within the grasp of memory. America writes its history as it needs it. And so humanity's capacity for illusion -- or perhaps that is delusion? -- continues unabated. There are no lessons to learn from history....(full article)

April 30-May 1

Watching George Bush Trying to Pull a Rabbit Out of His Hat
by Harold Williamson

First it was Saddam's WMD's.  Now as a result of the Bush administration's bloody quagmire in Iraq coupled with tax cuts for the wealthy, the federal budget is swimming in red ink and the economy is literally going in the tank. So how can a president in this predicament save his political hide? George Bush is using psychological diversion, the oldest ploy in the book used by conjurers for centuries to create illusions by diverting attention away from reality.  This time it's called "social security reform."....(full article)

What the Pre-War Intelligence Reports Won't Tell You About Iraq's Nukes
by Ken Sanders

Following the reports of, first, the Senate Intelligence Committee and, most recently, the Commission on Intelligence Capabilities of the U.S. regarding Iraq's WMD, it is by now well-known that the intelligence community is solely to blame for the false promise that Iraq possessed chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. According to both reports, the key judgments of the intelligence community regarding Iraq's WMD capabilities were either overstated or unsupported. It was on this intelligence that the Bush administration purportedly relied in its decision to invade Iraq. Both reports would have us believe that President Bush was merely a patsy who was duped by an incompetent and politically-motivated intelligence community. Even if that were true, it would not paint a particularly flattering picture of our beloved President....(full article)

The Disengaged: Gaza and the Fragmentation of Palestinian Nationhood
by Jennifer Loewenstein

Shortly before midnight on July 22nd, 2002 I heard an unusually loud roar from an aircraft flying low above the skies of Gaza City. Because the sound of Israeli warplanes is commonplace in the area, I didn't feel particularly alarmed and went to sleep as usual. I was awakened less than a half hour later by a call on my cell phone: An F-16 fighter jet had just dropped a one-ton bomb on an apartment building in one of Gaza City's poorest and most crowded neighborhoods, about 15 minutes from where I lived....(full article)

Vietnam, 30 Years Later
by Ted Glick

For those who wonder if the struggle is worth it, if there is reason to believe that we can ever fundamentally transform our society, today is a day to have one's hope renewed. On this day, 30 years ago, the United States hurriedly completed the withdrawal of all its military troops from Vietnam as the Vietnamese independence movement entered and took control of the city of Saigon, since renamed Ho Chi Minh City. This was one of the most profound political and military accomplishments of the 20th century. A poor and primarily peasant society defeated the greatest military power in the world in a war that went on for close to two decades. It did so despite more bombs being dropped on this small corner of the world than were dropped in all of World War II in both Europe and the Pacific. It did so despite the presence of half a million heavily armed U.S. troops and many hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese forced into military service to fight on their side. It did so despite the deaths of over a million Vietnamese and the wounding and displacement of many millions more....(full article)

More Madness at the Bush News Conference
by Mike Whitney

Thursday night’s press conference gave us a solid example of how elite interests dominate the news cycle. Consider this. At the same time Bush was braying about fixing the Social Security system, the violence in Iraq was reaching a crescendo (13 bombs went off in Baghdad on Friday killing 50 civilians and 3 American servicemen), the convicted fraudster, Ahmad Chalabi, was assuming his position in the Iraqi cabinet as oil minister in the new Iraqi government, and the journal Science was releasing a report confirming that “Climate scientists have found the heat exchange between earth and space is seriously out of balance -- validating forecasts of global warming.” (Adding that if carbon dioxide levels continue to grow things could “spin out of control”) None of these topics found their way into the presidential press conference. Instead, Bush was given an open platform on prime time TV to assail the most successful government program ever initiated, which, by conservative estimates, will be solvent until 2051....
(full article)

A Bipartisan Assault on Teenage Girls: Abortion a No-No
by Joshua Frank

Life for teenage girls in the US of A took a dark turn this past week. On Wednesday, April 27, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would strengthen state statutes in over two-dozen states that currently require clinics to obtain parental consent before they treat a female under the age of eighteen. The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (H.R. 748) passed with eager bipartisan support. Over fifty House Democrats voted in favor of the anti-choice measure. The bill, which was put forward by a right-wing Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, would make it a federal crime to transport a female minor to an clinic in a state where parental involvement laws are not as strong as those in the state where the girl resides....(full article)

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