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January 31 - February 1

Calling Dubya to Book on Neocon Lies
by Kurt Nimmo

Like the main character in Christopher Nolan's noir film Memento, members of the House and Senate intelligence committees seem to have lost their short-term memory. They can't remember who exactly pedaled Bush's lies about Saddam's illusory weapons of mass destruction. They recall Iraq had WMD at one time, although they say nothing about who provided those weapons (the US government did). Looking around for scapegoats to cover Bush's calculated lies, or rather the calculated lies of his neocon advisors -- Bush only repeats what these advisors tell him -- members of the intelligence committees are determined to blame the CIA for "bad intelligence," for the absurd contrivances repeated by the president. . . (full article)

Presidential Candidates: Compared to What?
by Norman Solomon

Engaged in a continuous PR blitz, presidential campaign strategists always strive to portray their candidate as damn near perfect. Even obvious flaws are apt to be touted as signs of integrity and human depth. Such media spin encourages Americans to confuse being excellent with being preferable. Eager to dislodge George W. Bush from the White House, many voters lined up behind John Kerry in late January. It’s true that the junior senator from Massachusetts is probably the best bet to defeat Bush -- and, as president, Kerry would be a very significant improvement over the incumbent. But truth in labeling should impel acknowledgment that Kerry is not a progressive candidate. . . (full article)

UN Spy Scandal on Iraq: Prominent Americans Support
British Whistleblower
by The Institute for Public Accuracy

An array of high-profile Americans -- including Rev. Jesse Jackson, feminist Gloria Steinem, Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, leaders of the ACLU and the Newspaper Guild, and artists such as Sean Penn, Bonnie Raitt and Martin Sheen -- released a joint statement Thursday (Jan. 29) in support of Katharine Gun, a British whistleblower. Ms. Gun faces two years in prison in England for alerting the public about U.S. spying on United Nations diplomats aimed at securing U.N. approval for war against Iraq. . . (full article)

Bush Administration Faces Growing Chaos in Iraq While
Some Plan Expansion of War

by Jim Lobe

Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni began warning that ousting Saddam Hussein, let alone invading Iraq, risked destabilizing the entire Middle East back in 1998, when he led U.S. Central Command and testified against the Iraq Liberation Act that made “regime change” official U.S. policy. And just six months before the actual invasion last March, in October 2002, he told the annual Fletcher Conference on National Security Strategy, “we are about to do something that will ignite a fuse in this region that we will rue the day we ever started.” While President George W. Bush tried hard to project a sense of confidence and control concerning Iraq and the larger Middle East in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, a careful look at the news this week suggested that Zinni's fears were not unfounded. . .
(full article)

Will Dubya Dump Dick?
by Jim Lobe

While the rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination battle it out in a succession of grueling primary elections and caucuses, Vice President Dick Cheney appears to be fighting to secure his spot on the Republican ticket behind President George W. Bush. . . (full article)

W's Election Avoidance Syndrome
by Maria Tomchick

In his state of the union address, George W. Bush pledged to "finish the historic work of democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq." That's a promise which differs markedly from the reality on the ground. . . (full article)

Nothing to Preempt: According to the CIA's Chief Weapons Inspector, There Were No WMD in Iraq. So Why Have More than 500 Troops Died?
by Ray McGovern

Finally, some honesty. But mounting problems for the White House. The CIA's chief weapons inspector, David Kay, has driven the final nail into the coffin where rests the Bush administration's policy of preemptive war. It turns out that there was nothing to preempt. Which calls into question the real reason why more than 500 U.S. troops have been killed and at least 6,000 severely wounded—and why untold thousands of Iraqi army conscripts and civilians have also been killed. . .
(full article)

New Study Documents Evictions Scourge
by Kari Lydersen

"Two U.S. marshals approached a two-story brick garden apartment building erected 50 years ago for Washington D.C.-based military personnel. One rapped on the door and shouted his presence. His partner fingered the gun at his hip…A young woman talking on a cell phone opened the door and a small boy peered out through her legs. As a dozen movers laboriously removed all the family's possessions and threw them out on the street, a young girl "pointed at her toys tied up in a bed sheet, carried away in a reverse Christmas morning where Santa takes her gifts back up the chimney. She began to cry and hugged the woman's legs. The oldest boy, perhaps five or six…his lips pinched and his jaw tightened as his face filled with rage and helplessness, as he experienced something hurtful beyond his control." This is how Michael Herlihy described an eviction in a 1998 article, cited in the newly-released study "Evictions: The Hidden Housing Problem". . . similar scenes are repeated every few minutes around the country. . .
(full article)

How Global Warming May Cause the Next Ice Age
by Thom Hartmann

While global warming is being officially ignored by the political arm of the Bush administration, and Al Gore's recent conference on the topic during one of the coldest days of recent years provided joke fodder for conservative talk show hosts, the citizens of Europe and the Pentagon are taking a new look at the greatest danger such climate change could produce for the northern hemisphere - a sudden shift into a new ice age. What they're finding is not at all comforting. . .
(full article)

My Only Name is Returner
by Annie Higgins, Reporting from Palestinian Refugee Camps in Lebanon

We are introducing ourselves, and our host tells me, “In all honesty, I tell you that my only name is “Returner/`A’id,” i.e. “one who is returning to his home.” This is the masculine version of the name known to opera lovers for Verdi’s heroine, Aida. You hear it frequently as a name for women, but not for men. Our host never does say his real name, but I hear it when the others address him. Another attendee, the convener of the poetry salon, defers to “our professor,” the self-taught returner, and asks him to open the session by reciting a poem. He agrees, but first introduces his daughter, telling the story of her name. If the baby was a girl, he and his wife decided they would call her Palestine. However, since he was away when she was born, his wife yielded to the political tension of the times, giving her the name of a fragrant flower instead. But he still calls her Palestine. . .
(full article)

Recalling Pol Pot's Terror, But Forgetting His Backers
by John Pilger

"S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine" directed by Cambodian filmmaker, Rithy Panh, brings together survivors and torturers from Pol Pot's death centre, Tuol Sleng, in extraordinary scenes. But John Pilger reminds us that the genocide did not begin at 'Year Zero' with the Khmer Rouge, but with the secret and illegal American bombing five years earlier, which killed 600,000 people and was the catalyst Pol Pot was waiting for. . . (full article)

January 29-30

Weapons of Mass Destruction Are Overrated as a Threat to America 
by Ivan Eland

David Kay, the president’s handpicked weapons of mass destruction snoop in Iraq, has resigned and criticized U.S. intelligence for not realizing that Iraqi weapons programs were in disarray. He now thinks that the stocks of chemical and biological weapons were destroyed in the 1990s — out of fear that U.N. weapons inspectors would discover them — and that new production was not initiated. He also believes that Iraq’s nuclear program had been restarted but was only at a very primitive stage — hardly the imminent threat alleged by the Bush administration as a justification for immediate war. So with the final nail being driven into the coffin of the administration’s main rationale for war against Iraq, Iraqi weapons programs are not the only things in disarray. After Kay’s initial comments, Secretary of State Colin Powell had to admit that the Iraqi government may no longer have had such arms. . . (full article)

BBC At War: M'Lord Hutton Blesses Blair's Attack on BBC's
Investigation of Iraq War Claims
by Greg Palast

He did not say, "hello," or even his name, just left a one-word message: "Whitewash." It came from an embattled journalist whispering from inside the bowels of a television and radio station under siege, on a small island off the coast of Ireland: from BBC London. And another call, from a colleague at the Guardian: "The future of British journalism is very bleak." However, the future for fake and farcical war propaganda is quite bright indeed. Today, Lord Hutton issued his report that followed an inquiry revealing the Blair government's manipulation of intelligence to claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass murder threatening immanent attack on London. . . (full article)

Concerns Grow Over Taliban Resurgence, Opium
by Jim Lobe

Suicide bombings that killed two peacekeepers from Britain and Canada in 48 hours have abruptly reminded Washington and its NATO allies they face major challenges in ensuring sufficient security in Afghanistan to hold credible elections scheduled for June. Already, some officials are suggesting the vote might have to be rescheduled as a result of both delays in the registration process and the security situation, particularly in the south, southeast and eastern parts of the country, where the Taliban, which was ousted by U.S.-led forces in late 2001, is resurgent. . . Reports this week that the Pentagon is preparing a major "spring offensive" against the Taliban and members of the al-Qaeda terrorist group, both in Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan, suggest Washington has opted for a proactive strategy aimed precisely at minimizing the ability of those groups to disrupt the elections. . . (full article)

Iraqi Democracy and Anti-Chomsky Tantrums: Some Reflections on
Power and Dissent

by Derek Seidman

The great historian E.H. Carr once advised to “Study the historian before you begin to study the facts… By and large, the historian will get the type of facts he wants." The principle behind this advice is pretty obvious, and it need not be confined to the practice of history: reality will be framed in a way as to support the legitimacy and interests of those doing the framing. If the latter happen to possess real power—especially control of the mass media, educational institutions, and so forth— their version of history and reality will be all the more dominant. The Iraqi people are being taught a blunt lesson in what does and does not constitute legitimate history. A January 20 article from Reuters is quite revealing, if one was lucky enough to catch it before it quickly left the headlines. Titled “Iraqis want to see Saddam’s American allies on Trial”, the report began: "If Iraqis ever see Saddam Hussein on trial, they want his former American allies shackled beside him." . . . (full article)

Kerry vs. Dean; New Hampshire vs. Iraq
by Rahul Mahajan

So the results are in. After shellacking Dean in Iowa, Kerry once again won a very convincing victory in New Hampshire. Democrats who made up their minds last year tended to favor Dean, while those who made up their minds in the last four weeks favored Kerry; those who voted based on the issues favored Dean, while those who voted based on "electability" favored Kerry. Some cast this as a matter of Kerry's greater experience in Washington, dealing with national and international issues. Much more important, however, is the elephant in the room that Democratic strategists alternately discuss feverishly and ignore: the significance of Iraq in the upcoming election. . . (full article)

A Populist Make-Over: Meet John Edwards, the Corporate Man 
by Doug Ireland

John Edwards has the best smile, the best hair and the most effective populist discourse of all the Democrats who want to be president. His endlessly repeated “Two Americas” stump speech — flaying the haves for fleecing the have-nots — has been carefully honed over months on the campaign trail. It won him second place in Iowa. But it takes more than one speech to give a contender real staying power — as the cash-strapped Edwards discovered when, by an eyelash, he lost the third-place ticket out of New Hampshire to a treasury-rich general with a weightier résumé. But what’s under the hair and behind the smile? (full article)

Does New Hampshire Mean Anything? Nervous Dems Beg Nader
Not to Run
by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair

The facial topography of Senator John Kerry -- gravity and the exactions of time pulling his features inexorably southward, a forlorn Hawthornian feel to the whole ensemble -- remind us of another conqueror of New Hampshire in 1972: Senator Ed Muskie of Maine, on whose cheek a single tear (or was it just a snow flake?) turned into a mighty river of defeat as the press derided him for being a cry-baby, chided him for not winning by a larger margin and consigned him to history's trashcan, same way they're trying to do with Howard Dean. . . (full article)

Clueless in America: When Mikey Met Wesley
by Mickey Z.

General Wesley Clark is a war criminal.
Filmmaker Michael Moore is clueless.
This is a love story. . . (full article)

Democracy Now! Confronts Wesley Clark Over his Bombing of Civilians, Use of Cluster Bombs and Depleted Uranium, and the Bombing of Serb TV
by Jeremy Scahill and Democracy Now!

In a Democracy Now! exclusive, General Wesley Clark responds for the first time to in-depth questions about his targeting of civilian infrastructure in Yugoslavia, his bombing of Radio Television Serbia, the use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium, the speeding-up of the cockpit video of a bombing of a passenger train to make it appear as though it was an accident and other decisions he made and orders he gave as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander. . . (full article)

(Israel-Palestine) There's No Democracy Like No Democracy 
by Neve Gordon

JERUSALEM: Anyone who follows the news has no doubt come across the claim that “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.” Usually, this claim is followed by its logical inference: “As an island of freedom located in a region controlled by military dictators, feudal kings and religious leaders, Israel should receive unreserved support from western liberal states interested in strengthening democratic values around the globe.” Over the years, some of the fallacies informing this line of argument have been exposed. Whereas many commentators have emphasized that foreign policy is determined by selfish interests rather than by moral dictates, few analysts have challenged the prevailing view that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. . . (full article)

“If You Organize, You Can Win": Philly School Workers Fight
for Fair Contract
by M. Junaid Alam

Fed up with their inexcusably low poverty-line wages and bare-minimum medical care, Full-time Food Service Workers and Noon Time Aides working for the Philadelphia school District have been waging a campaign for decent wages and benefits. Recently M. Junaid Alam, co-editor of the new radical youth journal Left Hook had the opportunity to discuss the situation with Warren Heyman, chief negotiator for Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union Local 634 and Secretary Treasurer of Local 217. . . (full article)

Marriage and the Moon: A Curious Union 
State of the Union Address is Wedding-Veiled Endorsement of Right Wing's Anti-Same-Sex Marriage Amendment
by Bill Berkowitz

It’s a deluge of bad news Bush stories: Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's revelations on the genesis of the war in Iraq -- initiated within weeks of President Bush taking office; O’Neill’s criticism of the president's less-than-commanding performance during cabinet meetings; a report by the Army War College's Jeffrey Record, calling the war on terrorism unfocused and the war on Iraq "a strategic error"; reports and news stories confirming no weapons of mass destruction stockpiles in Iraq. Inundated by stories such as these, Team Bush came up with its own unlikely union of initiatives -- one that shoots for the Moon and Mars, and one that aims to protect and encourage marriages here on Earth. . . (full article)

American Taliban: The Ignorant and Damaging Politics
of George W. Bush
by Manuel Valenzuela

In the United States we have a group, conservative and unenlightened, ignorant to the tunes of history, in many ways similar but not as extreme as the Taliban, that is trying to impose unclimbable walls of razor sharp wire around progress for the sake of attempting to change our society to suit their conservative agenda. George W. Bush, the American Taliban, heads this group. . . (full article)

The Education of Benny the Barbarian
by Ahmed Amr

First things first. Allow me to introduce Benny the Barbarian, a Professor of history at Ben-Gurion University.  His opinions are considered progressive in Israel and in certain western circles, including The Guardian, a leftist British paper that regularly publishes his articles.  Of late, Benny the Barbarian has come across newly released documents from Israeli Archives that deal with the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948. . . In an interview with Haaretz, Benny “the barbarian” Morris voiced some candid and disturbing opinions about his newly acquired knowledge. Being a barbarian, Morris apparently enjoyed the accounts of massacres, rapes and forced transfers. So much so, that he opines that Ben Gurion was a wimp who didn’t have the stomach to finish off the Palestinians by cleansing them all the way to the Jordan River. He goes on to make a case for future episodes of ethnic cleansing that would include the possible transfer of Israeli Arabs. Just so you get a visual of Benny the Barbarian, the account in Haaretz noted that Morris “describes horrific war crimes offhandedly, paints apocalyptic visions with a smile on his lips.” Remember that smile as you review the discoveries of Benny the Barbarian. Here, in his own words, is a sample of the atrocities that so delighted this Israeli "progressive" historian. . . (full article)

Here Come Da’ Judge, Here Come Da’ Judge!
by Jack Dalton

What has and is happening to our basic founding principals of “…establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare…”, and remember “…Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” For one, I will not sit idle and silent while neo-con, right-wing, hand picked judges attempt to tell us that those words do not carry constitutional weight, while at the same time making decisions that are effectively handing this country over to multi-national corporate America. It has been and is the duty and obligation of our federal courts to help preserve, protect and guarantee that those “ideas” are adhered to by all, all the time. But what if the federal court system becomes a collection of right-wing judges that are political ideologues? Just take a brief look at the decisions being handed down by the Bush appointed federal judges and it’s not to difficult to see what the result to this country will be. . . (full article)

January 27-28

Dean, Democrats, and Democracy
by Paul Street

Left democrats should not mourn the Iowa debacle and possible unraveling of Howard Dean’s supposedly populist Democratic presidential campaign. There are at least two reasons for them to hold back the tears. . .
(full article)

"Thus Far and No Further": Journalists Screen Presidential Candidates
and Establish Boundaries

by Chris Shumway

Last autumn, long before Democratic Party insiders Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina finished one-two in the Iowa Caucus, the most important primary of the political season was already underway. But unlike the Iowa Caucus, or the Washington DC primary held one week before it, this primary does not involve actual voters going to the polls. Rather, it is the process through which major news outlets "elect" the presidential front-runners and frame the issues, thus setting the boundaries for acceptable political discussion. Such a process - call it the Media Primary - established Kerry and, to a lesser degree, Edwards as serious candidates worthy of attention, while at the same time, it declared the campaigns of several other candidates to be unworthy of public interest. . . (full article)

Top Ten Responses To "I Love Kucinich But He Can't Win" 
by Ted Daley

How many times have you heard someone say: "I love Kucinich ... but I just don't think he's electable"? I often encounter staffers for other candidates out here in Los Angeles where I'm based, and even they often say these words to me. Saul Landau recently said on National Public Radio that Dennis's name has apparently been changed to the hyphenated "Kucinich-ButHeCan'tWin." The Congressman himself has been asked about the phenomenon repeatedly in the presidential debates. Our campaign's overarching theme is 'Fear Ends / Hope Begins.' Over and over again, people say to us: "Dennis stands for so many of my hopes and dreams. But I so intensely fear George Bush's re-election ... that I will not vote for Dennis, or donate to Dennis, or volunteer for Dennis. I will support instead some other, lesser candidate who does not really reflect my aspirations for the human community, but who has a better chance of winning on November 2nd." At the Kucinich campaign, we believe our single most effective strategy now to gain new votes is to move these individuals to change their minds. . . (full article)

The State of the Media Union
by Norman Solomon

My fellow American media consumers: At a time when news cycles bring us such portentous events as the remarkable wedding of Britney Spears, the advent of Michael Jackson's actual trial proceedings and the start of the Democratic presidential primaries, it is time to reflect upon the state of the media union. . .
(full article)

Will There be Jobs on the Moon?
by Mark Weisbrot

Will there be jobs on the moon? Or will American workers have to wait until we get to Mars? These kinds of questions were inevitable as the White House announced a bold new initiative to establish a base on the moon, as a first step towards sending people to Mars. On the same day, the Labor Department surprised everyone by reporting that only 1000 new jobs had been gained for the month of December. . .
(full article)

Runaway Corporate Compensation Packages Gaining Speed
by Ralph Nader

In reading the latest news reports of uncontrollable corporate greed, I recalled the cover of Fortune Magazine about 2 years ago which headlined the runaway compensation packages of the big corporate bosses and why nothing would be done about it. Also recalled was the Business Week cover story in the year 2000 titled "Too Much Corporate Power?" which this leading magazine answered yes! yes! yes! in a long article. The editors took a poll and found 72% of the responders believed that corporations had too much control over their lives. And that response was before the corporate crime wave (Enron, Worldcom, Tyco, Wall Street, etc.) that looted or drained trillions of dollars from tens of millions of small investors, workers and pension holders! Now comes Jason Adkins, the leading attorney challenging self-enriching conversions of mutual insurance companies to stock companies, to report on the John Hancock shenanigans. With apologies to the American patriot, John Hancock, whose name this company seized and slandered, here is what the top executives pulled off. . . (full article)

Monkey See, Monkey Do
by Peter Kurth

Last week, in anticipation of George W. Bush’s State of the Union address, I took steps to prevent a full-scale attack on my intelligence and credulity by shutting off the television, powering down the computer, turning out the lights, canceling the newspaper, drawing the blinds, locking the doors, hopping into bed and pulling the covers over my face for two whole days. I believe this is what the people at Homeland Security recommend during a Red Alert, which, in my opinion, any speech from Boo-Boo Brain automatically becomes. Well, it didn’t work. I got a nice rest, but that was all. Because, when I dared to come out again, there he still was, reprinted, re-broadcast and re-spun, lying through his teeth about “peace” and “prosperity,” vowing to keep the world safe from “terrorists,” posing, strutting, taunting, smirking, turning black into white and tin into gold. . .
(full article)

Cold, Dead Fish & Shiny Steelhead Awards For 2003
by Dan Bacher

The year 2003 saw a number of tragedies in the efforts of conservation groups to restore our state’s marine, anadromous and fresh water fisheries. Just as the Klamath River fish kill dominated the headlines in 2002, the horrendous fish kill of 90 percent of the threatened spring chinook run on Butte Creek in July and August was the big fishery story of 2003. Other notable setbacks included the die off of salmon fingerlings and the dewatering of steelhead redds (nests) after flows on the American River were reduced by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in February. . .
(full article)

What's Left?
by Adam Engel

Don't get me wrong. I'm no corporatist. I don't know anything about markets, free or otherwise, so I really have no right to comment on them. Nevertheless, my natural hatred of authority, and something inside me that says that every child should have at least a decent opportunity to get an education, three squares a day, and sleep every night with a roof over his head, and old and sick people should have access to medical care, naturally pushed me to the left side of the spectrum, where I thought these values were cherished. On the other hand, I'm no socialist, I don't believe in any kind of government doing anything but, if the people so decide, building roads, schools and hospitals, with money the people decide to allocate, not have taken from them, stolen actually, to the tune of 40 percent of their yearly income. . . (full article)

Lula Visits India: Standing Up to US Trade Bullying
by Ashok B. Sharma

India celebrates its 55th Republic Day on January 26, 2004. The guest of honour on the occasion is President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil. This is the best tribute which India can pay to the architect of G-22 coalition and a friend of the Third World farmers. . . (full article)

January 26

The Patriarch Act: Who Wants to Marry a Welfare Queen?
by Leilla Matsui

In his recent "Disgrace of the Union" speech, President Bush once again highlighted his administration's bent knee proposal to deal with the problems facing low-income women; particularly single mothers. In three words: marry them off. Under his recently "unveiled" $1.5 billion "marriage initiative," $100 million dollars a year of taxpayer's money will be distributed among religious organizations to coerce low-income couples out of sinful co-habitation, with the other half going to state agencies to do pretty much the same thing. Administration Tribal Elders are clearly hoping to revive the archaic tradition of placing daughters on the matrimonial chopping block in the hopes of fobbing them off to the highest bidder, or in many cases, the guy who knocked them up in the first place. . . (full article)

Celestial Land Grabs and the Demise of Science
by Barbara Sumner Burstyn

Bush's rhetoric has been inspiring, filling us all with images of the great advances opening for mankind, as if travel to the moon and Mars were the apex of science and, therefore, humanity. Certainly back when John F. Kennedy announced America's race to the moon it was. Sure it was about beating the Soviets but it was also about nation-building, a vast quest underpinned by the desire to make America the leading scientific nation in the world. But this time around you don't have to be a rocket scientist to realize things are a little different. . .  there's the extensive investigation released last year on the state of science in Bush's America. Prepared by Democratic Representative Henry Waxman, the report, "Politics and Science - Investigating the State of Science Under the Bush Administration," charges the White House with misusing science to advance a conservative agenda. . . (full article)

Dennis Kucinich and the Question
by William Rivers Pitt

The three most powerful letters in American politics are ‘FDR.’ Franklin Roosevelt unleashed a political revolution so powerful and complete that it required the incredible extremism of the Bush administration to bring it to heel. That is not to say the revolution wasn’t flagging before George took the Oval Office chair. Democratic Presidents and Presidential hopefuls have been running on Roosevelt rhetoric since the titan died in his fourth term, but the facts on the ground are clear. The country has been steadily retreating from the legacy of FDR for decades. Enter Dennis Kucinich, Democratic congressman from Ohio, former Mayor of Cleveland, and candidate for President in 2004. There is not a single polling indicator that puts him above ten percent support at this point, and he managed only a 1% showing in the Iowa caucuses. Pragmatism dictates that he is merely tilting at windmills, but a closer look reveals something far different in play. . .
(full article)

On The Campaign Trail, Bush Talks About Job Training
by Seth Sandronsky

President Bush spoke on Jan. 21 about training for workers in Arizona and Ohio. In the 2000 election, he barely beat Democrat Al Gore in both states. The president’s campaign for a second term faces a bit of a “soft patch” around national job creation. A job loss economy with growth equals a potentially big presidential campaign issue. Karl Rove, Bush’s main political adviser, knows it. Millions of U.S. workers are living it. . . (full article)

The Trouble With CAFTA
by Mark Engler

On December 17 officials from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua finished negotiations with the United States on the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). CAFTA is a bad deal, one that promises to extend the harmful impacts of NAFTA to Mexico's weaker southern neighbors. At the same time, boosters like US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick are premature in declaring victory for their hemispheric "free trade" agenda. A week of intense negotiations in Washington demonstrated that developing countries are not as easily browbeaten as in the past. And the coming fight to stop ratification of the agreement will likely show opponents of corporate globalization to be in a stronger position than ever...
(full article)

Higher Education is More than Corporate Logo
by Henry A. Giroux

Anyone who spends anytime on a college campus these days cannot miss how higher education is changing. Strapped for money and increasingly defined in the language of corporate culture, many universities seem less interested in higher learning than in becoming licensed storefronts for brand name corporations--selling off space, buildings, and endowed chairs to rich corporate donors. . . (full article)

American Ali Baba: George W. Bush and the Stealing of America
by Manuel Valenzuela

Iraqis have a slang term for those whom they believe guilty of thievery and chicanery, those people who steal, lie, cheat and are endowed with low levels of scruples. This term, Ali Baba, in reference to the great fictional work Arabian Nights and its story, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, has, since the occupation began, spread throughout Iraq’s population when talking about American soldiers, and, to a more extreme personality, George W. Bush. . . (full article)

The Hour Before Dawn
by Nick Pretzlik in Jerusalem

Returning to Jerusalem yesterday, an Israeli soldier at the Bethlehem checkpoint glanced at my passport and mumbled "Did you enjoy the visit?" "Yes" I replied. "Well," he said pointing towards the town "it stinks in there. I smell it every day."  Taken aback, I asked "What do you mean?" He repeated the comment and waved me through. The previous day at the al Hamra checkpoint, south of Jenin, I had watched a soldier order people out of their cars. It was 7:00 in the morning and the slopes of the hills down one side of the valley were bathed in soft dawn light. Songbirds flitted from tree to tree and the valley floor was lush and green – the sky pristine blue. An extensive queue of cars taking Palestinians to work had formed already and the soldier was strutting up and down in Chaplinesque fashion, his rifle comically large in proportion to his diminutive frame. Passengers were shouted instructions to line up in front of him – even local UN personnel – and harangued, while he jabbed his finger repeatedly in their direction. The intention was to humiliate and the process continued until appropriate signs of submission were displayed. Only then were the passengers permitted to continue on their way. The charade took hours and did nothing for security. But that was not the intention. . . (full article)

Diagnosing Benny Morris: The Mind of a European Settler
by Gabriel Ash

Israeli historian Benny Morris crossed a new line of shame when he put his academic credentials and respectability in the service of outlining the "moral" justification for a future genocide against Palestinians. . . (full article)

January 24-25

For Whom The Death Tolls: Deliberate Undercounting
of “Coalition” Fatalities
by Paul de Rooij

There is evidence of a concerted effort afoot to obfuscate the number of casualties in the US-led “war on terror.”  May 1st was the day the president Bush landed on an aircraft carrier and declared the end to the war and the start of the occupation of Iraq. [1]  Since then many casualty numbers have been publicized, most of them disingenuous fudges of the real death toll.  There are many reasons why the casualty toll is understated, which we dissect in this brief essay. . . (full article)

Operating America From a Bingo Hall
by Ahmed Amr

I am starting to believe that America is currently operated from a bingo hall in Florida. If this sounds outlandish, just pay a little attention to the neo-con lads who now infest the corridors of power in the Beltway. Most Americans don’t know what a neo-con looks like. You could load all the neo-cons in America on a Greyhound bus and still have room for a dozen US marshals to accompany them to their treason trials. Statistically, you are more likely to meet an American Maoist than a neo-con of any nationality. If you think I exaggerate the minuscule size of this political "movement", than how come you’ve never met a real live neo-conservative? Just because these freaks are constantly beamed into your living room by FOX doesn’t mean they actually exist. In the real world you can’t find a trace of them on the political landscape of America’s heartland. In political parlance, they have no footprint, no constituency and are not a political party. . . (full article)

The Sharon-Rumsfeld Plan: Going after Hezbollah
by Kurt Nimmo

As Jane's Intelligence Digest and the Jerusalem Post report, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld is considering "provoking a military confrontation with Syria by attacking Hezbollah bases near the Syrian border in Lebanon." The "multi-faceted US attacks" would fall under Bush's war on terrorism, according to Douglas Davis of the Jerusalem Post, the Israeli newspaper where the dual-allegiance Richard Perle, Pentagon Defense Policy Board member, serves as director. . . (full article)

In Defense of Polluters: Howard Dean's Vermont
by Josh Frank

Governor Howard Dean repeatedly defended dangerous levels of pesticide use on Vermont farms. Vermonters for a Clean Environment has been reporting as much ever since it issued a report almost a year ago, in March of 2002. . . (full article)

Relinquishing Sovereignty: People Power or the Police State

by Kim Petersen


Canadians often distinguish themselves from Americans by pointing to Canada’s more progressive social politics as opposed to the harder line conservatism of the US. Cases in point are the Canadian reluctance to openly support an invasion of Iraq, the push behind the international treaty banning landmines (much to the chagrin of then US president Bill Clinton who found himself alienated from the international Zeitgeist), relaxing of marijuana possession laws, and recognition of same-sex marriages. These progressive trends stand in stark juxtaposition to an emboldened surge of the political right-wing in Canada. Canadian politics is beginning to resemble the same two-corporate-party choice Americans have. . .
(full article)



We Refuse to Take Part in the Occupation
by Yonathan Shapira


I am Yonathan, one of the initiators and signatories of the pilot’s letter.  Until some weeks ago I was a pilot and active leader in a squadron of “Blackhawk” helicopters in the air force.  On the eve of last Yom Kippur I was called for an interview with the commander of the air force, wherein he told me that I was dismissed and that I was not a pilot anymore in the Israeli air force and all this because I announced that I will not agree to take part in obeying illegal and immoral orders. . .
(full article)


Bush's Iraq an Appointocracy
by Naomi Klein

“The people of Iraq are free,” declared U.S. President George W. Bush in Tuesday’s State of the Union. The day before, 100,000 Iraqis begged to differ. They took to the streets of Baghdad shouting “Yes, yes to elections. No, no to selection.” According to Iraq occupation chief Paul Bremer, there really is no difference between the White House’s version of freedom and the one being demanded on the street. Asked Friday whether his plan to form an Iraqi government through appointed caucuses was headed towards a clash with Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani ’s call for direct elections, Bremer said he had no “fundamental disagreement with him.” It was, he said, a mere quibble over details. .  . (full article)

Bush's Move-On Mantra Bludgeons Democracy: Stephen Kinzer's Book Documenting the CIA's 1953 Coup in Iran Provides a Footprint to the Current Mess in Iraq 
by Bill Berkowitz

President Bush's State of the Union address was one small example of self-aggrandizing puffery and one large chutzpatic attempt to wipe the failed occupation of Iraq from our collective memory. I'll let you decide if the president: a) said enough about the hundreds of US and Iraqi dead and the thousands of US and Iraqi wounded; b) recognized the reality of bombs bursting in cars on the streets of Baghdad and other cities; c) explained why he won't extend the time for investigating the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; and d) addressed Paul Bremer's desperate attempts to get the United Nations involved in resolving the question of elections in Iraq. Did Bush really say that David Kay had discovered evidence of dozens of "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities" in Iraq? And, did the president actually boast of the involvement of Norway and El Salvador in his bought-and-paid-for "coalition of the willing?"
(full article)

I, Clitoris
by Adam Engel

Shame on you thinking with your monkey heads these 5 thousand years. Shame on you all for wasting this planet without at least consulting me. Your heads above and below incurred this outrageous bill from Mother Earth, but we're out of all the Time we borrowed we have no collateral we cannot pay we’re through as a species, finished. . . (full article)

January 22-23

No Child's Behind Left: The New Educational Eugenics in Bush's State of the Union
by Greg Palast

Go ahead, George, and lie to me. Lie to my dog. Lie to my sister. But don't you ever lie to my kids. Deep into your State of the Siege lecture last night, long after sensible adults had turned off the tube or kicked in the screen, you came after our children. "By passing the No Child Left Behind Act," you said, "We are regularly testing every child ... and making sure they have better options when schools are not performing." You said it ... and then that little tongue came out; that weird way you stick your tongue out between your lips like the little kid who knows he's fibbing. Like a snake licking a rat. I saw that snakey tongue dart out and I thought, "He knows." And what you know, Mr. Bush, is this: you've ordered this testing to hunt down, identify and target for destruction the hopes of millions of children you find too expensive, too heavy a burden, to educate. . . (full article)

State of the Union 2004
by Rahul Mahajan

George W. Bush's most recent state of the union address didn't contain the caliber of bald-faced, smoking-gun lies that we have come to expect from him, like the "sixteen words" in the last one (about Iraq supposedly seeking uranium from "Africa"), but it was certainly replete with dishonesty and misrepresentation. Disclaimer: The author in no way undertakes to assure that the examples of dishonesty presented below constitute an exhaustive list. . . (full article)

The Real State of the Union: A Nation in Crisis, an Economy in Disaster, Soaring Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness
by Jay Shaft

George Bush went on TV Tuesday night and told us all how good it is in America thanks to all the things he has done. He painted a rosy picture of economic recovery, renewed prosperity, new job growth, and many victories in the war on terror. The facts he presented to America did not even remotely resemble the true facts behind the greatest crisis America has ever faced. No matter how he described the current situation in America, nothing he said came close to the truth about the real state of the union. The facts Bush used to show how great we are doing are just so many more lies and deceptions on top of an already long list of betrayals and deceits that he has committed against the country as a whole. . .
(full article)

Misleading Rhetoric in 2004 State of the Union Address:
An Annotated Critique of Foreign Policy Segments
by Stephen Zunes

Stephen Zunes takes apart the foreign policy side of Bush's State of the Union Address. Commentary you won't hear on CNN or Faux News . . . (full article)

Does the American Election Matter?
by John Chuckman

In America's early years, only a few men of considerable substance could vote. Any concept of wider democracy disturbed America's founding fathers as risking their wealth to the votes and whims of men without any. With the gradual, unavoidable extension of the American franchise over two hundred years of wars and social movements, a political system gradually emerged preserving the founders' concerns. Americans in theory can vote for anyone, but the candidates they see and hear and whose names appear on all the ballots in so vast a land will only be people effectively pre-selected by those of great substance. It is an inherently conservative system. . . (full article)

Election 2004: From One Dance to Same Old Dance
by Mickey Z.

In the face of non-stop assaults on peace, justice, and common sense, even hardened radicals are suddenly touting mainstream Democratic candidates and ruthlessly attacking anyone who has stuck to the belief that both parties merely offer different versions of the same poison. Thanks to the antics of people like Rumsfeld and Ashcroft, war criminal Wesley Clark has even convinced Michael Moore of his "anti-war" status. Dubya and his cartoonish band of reactionaries have accomplished something Al Gore couldn't manage: They've made the Democratic Party appear distinct...even (shudder) progressive. From my perspective, the key word in that last sentence is "appear." While the parties are not monolithic (spending time with Cynthia McKinney will convince anyone of that), at the highest level (i.e. presidential candidates, powerful Senate and House members), perception surmounts reality. Bush may talk the talk on national security while Ted Kennedy regurgitates his pro-social services spiel but neither really gives a shit about the soldiers dying Iraq or a disabled (dis-labeled?) child in an inner city school. They're selling an image, a package...and we're the all-too-willing consumers. . . (full article)

The End of Freedom
by John Stanton

The American nation-state led by the Bush Administration, and the transnational rebel group led by Bin Laden, has brought to life the artificially fabricated insanity that Hannah Arendt so dreaded. But the situation is far worse than she could have imagined. The insanity that permeates the psyche of the United States of America and the mysterious Al Qaeda is being carefully nurtured by Bush and Bin Laden, the products of wealthy families intertwined in business dealings for decades. Rather than trying to find a mid-point where some commonality and reduction of violence might be found, these two zealots and their minions have eliminated the possibility of any peaceful outcome and, instead, daily sow the seeds of destruction for the causes they claim to promote. In short, perpetual ideological conflict played out on the battlefields of the world. . . (full article)

Power, Propaganda and Conscience in the War on Terror
Speech delivered on 1/12/04, University of Western Australia in Perth
by John Pilger

I am a reporter, who values bearing witness. That is to say, I place paramount importance in the evidence of what I see, and hear, and sense to be the truth, or as close to the truth as possible. By comparing this evidence with the statements, and actions of those with power, I believe it’s possible to assess fairly how our world is controlled and divided, and manipulated – and how language and debate are distorted and a false consciousness developed. . . (full article)

Why Do Iowans Like to Caucus But Iraqis Don’t?
by Ivan Eland

Iowans seem pretty happy with their quadrennial caucuses. The results are now in and the 2004 presidential election season has been kicked off. Half a world away, however, Iraqi Shiites have launched massive demonstrations against the Bush administration’s plan for caucuses to elect an interim national assembly. Why do Iowans love what Iraqi Shiites hate? (full article)

The Syrian Threat
by Ran HaCohen

"Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land" (Jer 1:14) is a verse every Israeli pupil learns by heart. This biblical truth has never been more true than these days: the Syrian President, in a major threat to the Jewish state, offers Israel to resume peace talks. A blatant crime against war itself. Israel, understandably, is forced to defend itself. . . (full article)

Iowa's Lessons
by Doug Ireland

The Dean movement was always more interesting than its candidate. It carried seeds of hope for the progressive left because it appeared to be coagulating a new, grassroots, alternative power center within the Democratic Party to fight its money-addicted, poll-driven establishment. But that movement was dealt two fatal body blows Monday night—once by the Iowa voters, 82 percent of whom voted against its candidate. And once by the candidate himself. . . (full article)

Havoc in the Cornfields
by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair

The prime beneficiary of the Iowa caucuses was the battered Iowa economy, pulling in $100 per voter in the caucuses, spent by the candidates mostly in TV advertising. In terms of political import history instructs that the victory in these caucuses offers a high likelihood of imminent political extinction. . . (full article)

Dancing with Dean, Coming Home to Kucinich
by Stephen Dinan

A pervasive illusion has been dissolved this week, creating an opportunity for a powerful step forward. It's an illusion that has gone under the banner of "electability" -- rational people assessing which candidate has the best chance of beating Bush. Underneath the surface debate, there's another truth, driven more by fear and emotion than an accurate appraisal of the landscape. People have been afraid that, in order to defeat a colossal bully, we need an even more macho fighter in our corner. And thus a lot of very well-meaning people propelled Dean to the foreground, believing his fire, attitude and military-like campaign would prove a clear match for the other, much nastier bully. A natural, very human instinct. Round 1 is over. The unstoppable, win-win-win bluster of our favored tough guy detonated back on him. . . (full article)

Michael Moore, McGovern Surrender to Clark
by Matthew Rothschild

In a sign of abject and anyone-but-Bush desperation, leftie filmmaker Michael Moore and George McGovern, the dove of the Democrats in 1972, have both come out for General Wesley Clark. Moore, in a January 14 posting on his website, wrote, "I believe that Wesley Clark will end this war. He will make the rich pay their fair share of taxes. He will stand up for the rights of women, African Americans, and the working people of this country. And he will cream George Bush." Why Moore thinks Clark will get the United States out of Iraq and end that war is beyond me. . . (full article)

The States of Iowa and the Union Agree: Bush Can Be Beaten
by Harvey Wasserman

Is the tide turning? George W. Bush and his puppetmaster Karl Rove tried to upstage the Democrats with a State of the Union Address full of tricks and gimmicks, martian distractions and rattling sabers. It backfired. The stunning results from Iowa far overshadowed Bush's lame, malapropic stump speech. Space travel, gay marriage, steriods in baseball, these are the burning issues for a Republican Party smug enough to be certain they can steal any election. The week's signature GOP moment came from Tom DeLay's Texas, where a woman who sells vibrators was arrested for possessing more than two. In a state that's just been redistricted to prevent any Democrats from going to Congress, we see the GOP as the ultimate Luddites. Are Texas men that insecure? What will they ban next? Massage oil? (full article)

January 20-21

George W. Bush and the Real State of the Union
by The Independent (UK)

Today the President gives his annual address. As the election battle begins, how does his first term add up? (full article)

Planet Lunch Attacks Mars
by Leilla Matsui

As if we didn't have enough to worry about here on "Terror Firma," the Bushi'ites have now set their unblinking, beady eyes on space, starting with a plan to extend Texas's borders to the moon and moving on to conquering the war planet itself.  In the wake of NASA's success with "Spirit", a Mars probing rover now scouring the Martian soil for signs of life, Bush has cashed in on the moment with a blank check to cover the future costs of destabilizing the solar system, with the eventual goal of establishing a permanent military presence on Mars.  For the evil geniuses plotting Intergalactic Armageddon from their revolving steakhouse headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue, regime change can now be applied to any ravaged and barren "wasteland", particularly ones ill-equipped to defend themselves against their "liberators". . . (full article)

An Urgent Apollo Project Here on Earth
by Holly Sklar

When astronauts first walked on the moon back in 1969, the original "Star Trek" had just ended, our poverty rate was 12.1 percent, the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, the federal budget had a surplus, the national debt was an inflation-adjusted $1.8 trillion, the Vietnam War was raging, and the National Environmental Policy Act signaled a greener future. Three-and-a-half decades later, our poverty rate is 12.1 percent and unemployment is nearly 6 percent, not counting workers so discouraged by the longest job-loss period since the Great Depression they've given up seeking work. The budget deficit zooms toward $500 billion, the national debt is over $7 trillion, casualties mount in Iraq, and catastrophic climate change is a real and present danger. With the state our union is in, we must not squander billions to boldly go where man has gone before. . . (full article)

Will Bush's State of the Union Speech Lack the Hyperbole
That "Justified" War?
by Ray McGovern

Iraqi chickens are coming to roost as President Bush's advisors attempt to draft a State of the Union Message without the embarrassing flaws of their last try. With last year's hyperbole -- replete with the knee-slapper about Baghdad's seeking uranium in Africa -- forming part of the backdrop, they have their work cut out for them. And the facts are not cooperating. Administration claims originally adduced to justify war could not withstand close scrutiny, and even the likes of columnist George Will have disdainfully rejected ''retroactive'' justifications. The gap between earlier claims about the Iraqi threat and last year's experience on the ground has become a chasm too wide to be bridged by rhetorical finesse. . . (full article)

Parecon: Toward an Equitable Economy
by Kim Petersen

It is well established that money is increasingly concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people. Neoliberalism has accelerated the ever-widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. The developing nations are a source of massive profits for the foreign corporations that exploit the resources; meanwhile the locals become poorer. Within the rich nations, the same economic dichotomization plays out with the poor becoming increasingly worse off and the rich becoming obscenely richer. Is this the kind of world that most people want? (full article)



When is a Democracy Not a Democracy?
by Barbara Sumner Burstyn


In a speech on November 19 last year, President George W. Bush extolled the virtues of democracy. "We will help the Iraqi people establish a peaceful and democratic country in the heart of the Middle East," he said. The call for democracy has become so constant that one Gulf-based political analyst, Moghazy al-Badrawy, likens it to a boring, broken record that nobody believes. But while Arabs are skeptical about America's motives and its methods of bringing democracy to their world, closer to home few people are querying the supposed base of their society. Perhaps they should be. It's not only the growing reality of Fortress America and the increasing level of civil constraints that are causing some Americans to question their democratic basis; the integrity of the electoral system itself is under fire. . . (full article)



Jenin: A Town of Wasted Hopes
by Nick Pretzlik in Jenin

The Israeli policy of early release from jail for hardened criminals -- in exchange for military service in the Occupied Territories -- coupled with the racist attitudes embedded in Israeli army culture encourages the cycle of violence, which ensures that prospects for peace in Palestine remain remote. Jenin, a trading centre on the northern fringe of the West Bank, is a town of wasted hopes -– the debris of destruction visible on every corner. . . (full article)

Multiple Corporate Personality Disorder
by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

We hate to sound like your parents, but people must take responsibility for their actions. Steal from the grocery store, go to jail. Double park, pay the ticket. But why doesn't this simple principle apply to corporations and their executives?
(full article)


Bushwhacking Mother Nature: US Environmental Destruction Abroad
by Heather Wokusch


While some German politicians are worried about the closing of US military bases in their regions, others fear nasty surprises will surface after the Americans depart. The United States has consistently valued military power more than the environment  - but at what price?  (full article)


The Defense Budget Is Bigger Than You Think
by Robert Higgs


When President Bush signed the defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2004 on November 24, 2003, the event received considerable attention in the news media. At $401.3 billion, the public's visible cost of funding the nation's defense seemed to be reaching astronomical heights, and the president took pains to justify that enormous cost by linking it to the horrors of 9/11 and to the “war on terror.” He pledged that “we will do whatever it takes to keep our nation strong, to keep the peace, and to keep the American people secure,” clearly implying that such payoffs would accrue from the expenditures and other measures that the act authorizes. Although the public may appreciate that $401.3 billion is a great deal of money, few citizens realize that it is only part of the total bill for defense. . . (full article)

Letter from Israel: International Human Rights March
by Gila Svirsky and Coalition of Women for Peace

The International Human Rights March of Women has finally come to an end, and it was much harder and more successful than any of us had hoped for. This was a 3-week march (from December 20 through January 10) through Israel and Palestine, and 100-150 women came from overseas to participate, in addition to the locals - Palestinians and Israelis - who joined intermittently.  Women marched in all the major cities of Palestine (with the exception of Nablus, then under curfew) and Israel (with the exception of Haifa).  Along the way, the women witnessed and often experienced the brutal heart of the occupation -- checkpoints, curfews, closures, demolished homes, the 'security' wall, refugee camps, and -- on the Israeli side -- sites of terrible suicide bombings. . . (full article)

January 17-19, 2004

A False U.S. Recovery
by Seth Sandronsky

One thousand. That is the total number of new jobs the U.S. economy created in December, the Labor Department reported. On average, 65,000 new jobs were created each of the three previous months. Then in December there was a sharp stop in U.S. job creation. Officially, the American economy is in a recovery mode. It is growing since the recession that began in March 2001 ended eight months later. But recovering is not what the 309,000 people who left the U.S. work force in December are doing. These hapless and nameless souls are surely struggling to survive as best they can. . . (full article)

The Case That Wouldn't Close

by Sheila Samples

Tom Hurndall is dead. Nine months after being shot in the head by an Israeli soldier which left him in a coma, two months after his 22nd birthday, and one day after his mother knelt at his bedside and whispered the good news that his assailant had finally been arrested, Tom Hurndall's name was added to a growing, but mostly unmentioned, unheralded and unknown list of innocents slaughtered by Ariel Sharon's brutal IDF (Israel Defense Forces). Sadly, neither the young British photographer's meaningful life nor his meaningless death created a discernable blip on the world media screen. April 11, 2003 -- the day an IDF sniper atop a tower in Rafah took careful aim with a telescopic lens and put a bullet into Herndall's forehead -- was just another day in Gaza wherein the streets and alleys of its towns are strewn with the dead, most of whom are guilty of the heinous crime of daring to breathe while Palestinian. . . (full article)

Damning Evidence: Carnegie Foundation Report Charges
Bush Administration of Misrepresenting Iraqi Threat
by Jim Lobe

The administration of President George W. Bush "systematically misrepresented" the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD), three non-proliferation experts from a prominent Washington think tank charged last week. In a 107-page report, Jessica Mathews, Joseph Cirincione and George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) called for the creation of an independent commission to fully investigate what the U.S. intelligence community knew, or believed it knew, about Iraq's WMD programme from 1991 to 2003, and whether its analyses were tainted by foreign intelligence agencies or political pressure. . . (full article)

Memo for the President: Your State-of-the-Union Address
by Ray McGovern and Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

We write this, our fifth such memorandum to you since our critique of Secretary of State Colin Powell's UN speech last February, out of concern that the same advisers who served you so poorly in drafting the Iraq section of last year's state-of-the-union address will embarrass you again. Your credibility and that of the intelligence community suffered a major blow from the hyperbole that characterized that speech-not to mention the infamous 16 words based on the forgery alleging that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa. The panel led by Gen. Brent Scowcroft, whom you asked to investigate how that wound up in your speech, reportedly attributes it to desperation on the part of your staff to "find something affirmative" to support claims like those made by Vice President Dick Cheney that Saddam Hussein had "reconstituted" Iraq's nuclear program. We suggest you ensure that those over-eager functionaries responsible for the 16 words, and for your claim last spring that weapons of mass destruction had been found in the form of two "bio-trailers"-since proven to be generators of hydrogen for weather balloons-take no hand in drafting this year's address. . . (full article)

Bad Days at Indian Point: Inside America's Most Dangerous
Nuclear Power Plant

by Jeffrey St. Clair

These are desperate days for Entergy, the big Arkansas-based power conglomerate that owns the frail Indian Point nuclear plant, located on the east bank of the Hudson River outside Buchanan, New York-just 22 miles from Manhattan. First, a scathing report by a nuclear engineer fingered Indian Point as one of five worst nuclear plants in the United States and predicted that its emergency cooling system "is virtually certain to fail." . . . (full article)

MLK Day More Than A Dream
by Tommy Ates

"I have a dream.” The words were not just a vision, but an attitude of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for all Americans. But, we had to get there first. 41 years later, where are we? (full article)

Nabokov and “W”
by Daniel Estulin

I recently saw a TV special on the First Lady -- Mrs. Laura Bush. As TV cameras rolled I got a nagging feeling that I had experienced this once before until I remembered one passage in “Bend Sinister” written by a Russian born American writer Vladimir Nabokov in the years between Hitler’s rise to power and his defeat, depicting the home life of two of its protagonists: “With conventional humour and sympathy bordering upon the obscene, Mr. Etermon and the little woman were followed through all mentionable stages of their existence, which despite the presence of cozy furniture and high tech gadgets did not differ essentially from the life of a Neanderthal couple.” . . . (full article)

The U.S. Supreme Court and The Imperial Presidency: How President Bush Is Testing the Limits of His Presidential Powers
by John W. Dean

Can the President of the United States arrest any American he suspects of being a terrorist and toss him in a military brig, deny him a lawyer, omit to bring any charges against him -- yet indefinitely keep him imprisoned nonetheless?
(full article)

Globalization and the Rise of the Radical Right
by Yacov Ben Efrat

At a time when people speak of a new world order, when production, capital, the labor force, and the market are all being internationalized, when borders no longer seem important, suddenly there emerges the phenomenon known as the radical right, associated with extreme nationalism. We see it in Europe and in the US administration, while among the have-nots we find its counterpart in Islamic fundamentalism. Before what, then, do we stand: before an era of globalization or before one of nationalism and religious fanaticism? Is the world opening or closing?
(full article)

Genocide Hides Behind Expulsion
by Adi Ophir, Prefatory Note by Jim Hulston

Benny Morris is the dean of Israeli "new historians," who have done so much to create a critical vision of Zionism--its expulsion and continuing oppression of the Palestinians, its pressing need for moral and political atonement. His 1987 book, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, chronicled the Zionist murders, terrorism, and ethnic cleansing that drove 600,000-750,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948, thus refuting the myth that they fled under the orders of Arab leaders. . .  But in an astonishing recent Ha'aretz interview, after summarizing his new research, Morris proceeds to argue for the necessity of ethnic cleansing in 1948. He faults David Ben-Gurion for failing to expel all Arab Israelis, and hints that it may be necessary to finish the job in the future. Though he calls himself a left-wing Zionist, he invokes and praises the fascist Vladimir Jabotinsky in calling for an "iron wall" solution to the current crisis. Referring to Sharon's Security Wall, he says, "Something like a cage has to be built for them. I know that sounds terrible. It is really cruel. But there is no choice. There is a wild animal there that has to be locked up in one way or another." He calls the conflict between Israelis and Arabs a struggle between civilization and barbarism, and suggests an analogy frequently drawn by Palestinians, though from the other side of the Winchester: "Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians." . . . (full article)

In Iraq, Timing Is Everything
by Ronald Bruce St. John

The Bush administration, in the mid-November Agreement on Political Process signed by L. Paul Bremer for the Coalition Provisional Authority and Jalal Talabani for the Iraqi Governing Council, came face to face with the fundamental issue in Iraq. In the pursuit of democracy, does the United States work out a process and a calendar that fits Iraqi needs or one that dovetails with the logic of the 2004 presidential election? Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the White House opted for the latter. . . (full article)

US Contradicts Itself On Democracy In Iraq
by Sam Hamod

Once again, the U.S. government is contradicting itself with regard to democracy in Iraq. By denying the people a chance to vote, with UN monitors, the U.S. is pushing the idea of selected caucuses with voting to be done in limited ways; by doing this, the U.S. is showing that it is being hypocritical when it says it wants “democracy” for Iraq. What it actually wants is a fractured country, with Shi’a, Sunni and Kurds all having small sections of the country and a legislature that will be powerless to agree on anything because of these three divisions. If we are to be the leader in "democracy," then we have to be consistent and responsible in our behavior; otherwise, we will continue to be seen as a hollow imitation of democracy in the third and even in other first world. . . (full article)

Libyan Disarmament a Positive Step,
But Threat of Proliferation Remains
by Stephen Zunes

In a world seemingly gone mad, it is ironic that one of most sane and reasonable actions to come out of the Middle East recently has emanated from the government of Muammar Qaddafi, the Libyan dictator long recognized as an international outlaw. Libya's stunning announcement that it is giving up its nascent biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs and accepting international assistance and verification of its disarmament efforts is a small but important positive step in the struggle to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). It would be a big mistake, however, to accept claims by the Bush administration and its supporters that it was the invasion of Iraq and other threatened uses of force against so-called "rogue states" which pursue WMD programs that led to Libya's decision to end its WMD programs. . . (full article)

Budget Cuts Threaten to Close American River Parkway
by Dan Bacher

Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Chronicle outdoor columnist and author, once described the American River Parkway as the "crown jewel" of the Sacramento region. For the hundreds of thousands of anglers, bicyclists, runners, kayakers, picnickers and other users of this unique urban river and parkway, this description is perfect. . . However, this wonderful parkway and the great fishing and other recreational opportunities may be shut down if the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors proceeds with their proposed budget cuts. According to the Sacramento Bee front page story on January 12, "the county likely will consider closing the American River Parkway and other regional parks February 10 on its way to cutting another $10 million and 92 jobs." . . . (full article)

January 15-16

O’Neill’s Claims Against Bush Supported By 1998 "War" Letters
to Clinton Signed By Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz
by Jason Leopold

Anyone who doubts former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill’s recent claims that President Bush mislead the public and secretly planned the Iraq war eight months before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 needs to read the two letters sent to then President Bill Clinton in 1998 and Speaker of the House Trent Lott by current members of the Bush administration urging Clinton to launch a preemptive strike against Iraq. . . (full article)

America, Iraq, and Presidential Leadership
by Senator Edward Kennedy

I believe that this Administration is indeed leading this country to a perilous place. It has broken faith with the American people, aided and abetted by a Congressional majority willing to pursue ideology at any price, even the price of distorting the truth. On issue after issue, they have moved brazenly to impose their agenda on America and on the world. They have pursued their goals at the expense of urgent national and human needs and at the expense of the truth. America deserves better. . . Nowhere is the danger to our country and to our founding ideals more evident than in the decision to go to war in Iraq. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill has now revealed what many of us have long suspected. Despite protestations to the contrary, the President and his senior aides began the march to war in Iraq in the earliest days of the Administration, long before the terrorists struck this nation on 9/11.  (full article)

Presidential Campaign Fever: Too Much “Vision” Without Hearing
by Norman Solomon

For decades, one of the most important public voices of clarity has come from Ralph Nader. First known as a “consumer advocate” in the 1960s, his focus soon broadened to include the fundamental imperatives of fighting corporate power and promoting genuine participatory democracy. When he ran for president in 1996 and more vehemently in 2000, he seemed to embody a cause much greater than himself. Nader was a leader with a keen sense of hearing ordinary people -- including activists strategically at work to improve our country. But now, Nader seems to be so transfixed with his own vision that he’s much less inclined to be listening. Many who supported his previous presidential campaigns (myself included) are opposed to a 2004 Nader race -- and aghast that he’s on the verge of deciding to go ahead with it. . . (full article)

President from Podunk Drilling Inc.
by John Chuckman

Paul O'Neill, in interviews to publicize a new book, offers candid snapshots of a President who doesn't even discuss policy with some of his highest officials. It is interesting that O'Neill got himself sacked as Treasury Secretary for voicing sound and traditional conservative views on two Bush economic policies, the imposition of import tariffs against steel and a gigantic, irresponsible tax-cut. . . (full article)

A War in Search of a Reason
by Ivan Eland

Paul O’Neill, George W. Bush’s former Secretary of the Treasury, has confirmed what many critics of the Iraq war had already suspected to be a cynical and self-serving Bush administration myth: that the September 11 attacks had moved a reluctant president, who during his campaign had advocated a “more humble U.S. foreign policy,” to invade and occupy Iraq. Despite campaign rhetoric accusing the Clinton-Gore administration of being overly interventionist, O’Neill asserts that going after Saddam Hussein was the most important topic on the National Security Council’s agenda 10 days after the president’s inauguration and eight months before September 11. . . And there’s more cynical manipulation to come. Rather than talking about democratizing Iraq and then the Middle East by invading and occupying Iraq -- the public face of the intervention -- the council meetings focused more on divvying up Iraq’s oil booty. . . (full article)

The Great Auks, Wild Salmon, and Money
by Kim Petersen

The recent peer-reviewed article in the journal Science on the risks of consuming wild versus farmed salmon instantly drew a barrage of counter claims by fish-farming advocates. How is the public to decide between the opposing messages? Of course one should endeavor to determine what the facts are and then decide. But how does one distinguish between factually accurate versus inaccurate information? A look at the messengers and who their backers are would be helpful in this regard. The biggest indicator usually is to follow the money trail. . .
(full article)

Watching the HORROR of the Patriot Act: How We Can Make a Difference
by Norma Sherry

Art often imitates life. The star of a recent episode of the TV series, ‘The Practice’(1/11/04,) was not James Spader or Sharon Stone, it was The US Patriot Act – and what a despicable role it was. If there is still a citizen unaware of the US Patriot Act and the soon to be Victory Act, and how the US Patriot Act has eroded seven of ten amendments in our Bill of Rights, this episode was a rude awakening..
(full article)

Not in Our Back Yard:
The Decline and Failure of American-Imposed Capitalism and the Rise of Social Democracy/Leftist Ideology in Latin America
by Manuel Valenzuela

Ten years ago, deep in the Lacandona jungle in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas a movement arose like an early morning fog lifting up from the moist, rich ground. The Zapatista Revolution began, January 1, 1994, the same day NAFTA was implemented in Canada, the US and Mexico. . . Today, the small movement that began in Chiapas ten years ago has, like an octopus extending its tentacles, enveloped almost all Latin American nations, especially those of South America. The region’s citizens are taking matters into their own hands, creating a new dynamic to a once American dominated and subservient area, unleashing mass unrest, mass solidarity and mass calls for change. . . (full article)

Catholics Silencing Catholics:
US Conference of Catholic Bishops Forms
Task Force to Monitor Catholic Politicians
by Bill Berkowitz

While The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown's historical mystery novel about the Catholic Church, has topped the bestseller lists for months, and Mel Gibson's controversial upcoming movie portraying the last day of Jesus Christ has garnered much media coverage, a real-life battle for the hearts and minds of Catholic voters may have recently tilted a few more degrees to the right. In November, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced the formation of a task force aimed at holding Catholic politicians accountable for their political positions. For years, only fringe and far-right Catholic organizations demanded the heads of Catholic politicos who broke with the Vatican on such issues as abortion and gay rights. Now, it looks like the new Bishops-sponsored task force will be exerting pressure to bring wayward legislators in line. . . (full article)

With Us or Solaris
by Troy Skeels

According to senior officials in the Bush Administration, the President is planning a reinvigorated space program, including the establishment of a permanent moon base. In addition to mining hydrogen and other energy sources, the lunar base would be used to prepare and launch a human mission to Mars. . . (full article)

No Free Ride: Right-to-Work Laws Undermine American Belief in
Everyone Paying Their Fare Share
by Jonathan Tasini

I mourn for the idea of freedom. It's a powerful, great philosophical notion. Yet too often, I find myself cringing when I hear the words "free" or "freedom" because the words are used to express truly dreadful selfish, reactionary sentiments. To wit: A few weeks ago, Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC's Hardball, was badgering Howard Dean about unions (in fairness, I only read the transcript and might have been projecting a brain imprint of Matthews' foaming style). Matthews asked Dean, "Do you accept the right of right-to-work states to say you don't have to join a union?" He was demanding Dean declare whether he would do what Richard Gephardt has pledged to do if elected president—eliminate laws that let a minority of people dodge paying their fair share in shouldering the task of getting better working conditions for everyone; in other words, paying dues to the union which has been democratically elected by the majority. . . (full article)

E.U. Researchers Publish Findings of Widespread Mad Cow Infection
by Zbignew Zingh

Researchers at the multinational European Institute for Ruminant Research in La Vache, Switzerland have published their first detailed analysis of the global reach of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease. Their findings show that the disease is much more prevalent than previously believed and that its human counterpart, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, or vCJD, has been manifest in Europe and the United States for many years. . . “These are very startling findings,” Dr. Wahnsinn announced at a hastily convened press conference at the EIRR laboratory in suburban La Vache, Switzerland. “But we can no longer hide ourselves from the obvious truth. Human variant mad cow disease is not only here and widespread, but it has been raging through the human population for many years now. There are probably reporters among those of you at this very news conference who are already infected and showing subtle, early symptoms of the illness.” . . . (full article)

The Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part Six
Deliberation, Or Isaac Newton and the Naughty Apple
by B.J. Sabri

Two contentions emerged at the end of part five. First, U.S. infatuation with its own military power is such that inflicting an unprecedented mass killing is only a way to demonstrate that power. Second, the U.S. deliberately used radioactive material on Iraq, on Serbia-Kosovo, as well as in Afghanistan for reasons that go beyond military imperatives. The question is how can we substantiate a contention? Simple: prove it wrong by a method similar to scientific refutation -- if you cannot prove it wrong, then it is probably right! Under this premise, what is deliberation? . . . While small nations may go to war in the name of territorial claims; imperialistic nations go to war deliberately for imperialistic objectives. . .
(full article)

Natural Aesthetes: Wildlife is Wonderful, We Don’t Need Any
Other Excuse to Protect It
by George Monbiot

Last week the journal Nature published a report suggesting that, by 2050, around a quarter of the world's animal and plant species could die out as a result of global warming. To these we must add the millions threatened by farming, logging, hunting, fishing and introduced species. The future is beginning to look a little lonely. Does it matter? To most of those who govern us, plainly not. To most of the rest of us, the answer seems to be yes, but we are not quite sure why. . .
(full article)

If the Sky is Falling, the Chrisraelis are Coming!!
by Lane Pope

It is customary as one year ends to reflect on our failures, successes, and look to change in the next. On our agenda: Peace in the world? That may not even be necessary as, in the Holy Land, The Christian Right seeks to convert Israeli Jews to Christianity. . . (full article)

January 13-14

Bush and the Supreme Court: Going After the Bill of Rights
by Kurt Nimmo

The Sixth Amendment was lopped off the Constitution earlier this week. AG Ashcroft can now have you arrested -- more accurately, abducted and detained -- and thrown in a military brig or sent to the Guantanamo concentration camp. Like military dictators in Chile or Guatemala, or the Gestapo in Nazi Germany, the Bushites don't have tell your family where you are, or even acknowledge your detention. They can detain you for years, decades -- or until Bush's war on "terr'sim" is over -- that is to say forever. All of this is now perfectly legal -- or so the Supreme Court ruled the other day when it refused to consider whether the government properly withheld names and other details of hundreds of people detained after 9/11. In other words, Bush may continue abducting people and throwing them in secret prisons without charge. . . (full article)

Fascism and the American Polity
by Walter Contreras Sheasby

The Bush-Cheney Administration's assault on civil liberties is starkly authoritarian and must be resisted with every bit of strength the broad left can muster. The question here is whether we are experiencing a lurch to the right by the governing elites or actually witnessing the rise of an American fascism. . . (full article)

The Lies for War Unravel
by William Rivers Pitt

Air Force Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski wore the uniform of the United States military for most of her adult life. In the last few years, until her retirement last April after 20 years of service, she has watched the infrastructure of American foreign policy creation rot from the inside out. Her view was not from the cheap seats, from some faraway vantage point, but from the hallways where the cancer walked and talked. Lt. Colonel Kwiatkowski worked in the same Defense Department offices where the cadre of hawkish neoconservatives that came in with George W. Bush trashed America's reputation, denigrated her fellow soldiers, and recreated the processes of government into a contra-constitutional laughingstock. William Rivers Pitt interviews Karen Kwiatowski . . . (full article)

Iraq’s Right to Resist: Outside the Spectacle
by M. Junaid Alam

Waging war is a peculiar American pastime: its appeal does not diminish as corpses multiply. Quite the contrary - each new round of this gruesome spectacle is greeted with the greatest fervor by the elites, the loudest applause from the intellectuals, and the proudest swagger of the patriots. No effort is spared in hammering into the public consciousness two absolute Truths about the contenders in this sordid spectacle: America is absolutely good, and the Enemy absolutely evil. America, preaches an appropriate (and appropriately paid) representative of Capital, is the savior of the world, the benevolent exporter of democracy, the deliverer of freedom; The Enemy, whatever small, poor, far-away and relatively defenseless nation it may be, is savage, senseless, a direct and immediate threat to American interests which must be destroyed. . . (full article)

Lerner, Said And The Palestinians
by M. Shahid Alam

Very few intellectuals in our times would measure up to Edward Said in the eulogies he received upon his death last year. Indirectly, every obituary, tribute, essay, reminiscence honoring his memory was a rebuke to the mercenaries who populate our media, academia and that execrable category, think tanks. But would they notice? Yet, I chanced upon one obituary notice that I found troubling. I was troubled because it was from Rabbi Michael Lerner, who has earned the opprobrium of America’s Jewish establishment for opposing the Israeli Occupation of West Bank and Gaza. . . (full article)

Relative Humanity: The Fundamental Obstacle To A
One-State Solution in Historic Palestine

by Omar Barghouti

From the scandalous Nusseibeh-Ayalon agreement to the irreparably flawed Geneva Accords, the last true Zionists -- with the crucial help of acquiescent Palestinian officials -- have tried their best to resuscitate the two-state solution with the declared intention of saving Zionism. But it is arguably too little, too late. The two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is really dead. Good riddance! But someone has to issue an official death certificate before the rotting corpse is given a proper burial and we can all move on and explore the more just, moral and therefore enduring alternative for peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Mandate Palestine: the one-state solution. . . (full article)

Crank Call
by Peter Kurth

Gee, only two weeks into the new year and I’ve already got a case of the “what ifs?” What if we had an honest government? What if our media told the truth? What if Americans studied world history, or, for that matter, their own? Really, you’d think with all those bestselling biographies of the Founding Fathers floating around -– John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, etc. -- people would be learning something. But I guess they never do. “I wander alone, and ponder,” as Adams said. “I muse, I mope, I ruminate. We have not men fit for the times.” I’m talking about “the Bush and Hitler thing,” as I see it called, the giant flap created last week over a couple of TV ads that never aired. These commercials –- two of them -- were entries in the “Bush in 30 Seconds” campaign, a nationwide competition for anti-Bush TV spots sponsored by the MoveOn.org Voter Fund. . .
(full article)

Democrats Send Mixed Signals in Voting Technology Debate
by Lynn Landes

There's something strange going on in the Democratic Party. While George Bush's buddies dominate the vote counting business with no apologies to anyone about this rather incredible conflict-of-interest, Democrats are sending mixed signals on this continuing train wreck for democracy. . .
(full article)

Dixie Trap for Democrats in Presidential Race
by Norman Solomon

Many pundits say President Bush is sitting pretty, but this year began with new poll data telling a very different story. A national Harris survey, completed on Jan. 1 for Time magazine and CNN, found that just 51 percent of respondents said they were "likely" to vote for Bush in November, compared to 46 percent "unlikely." When people were asked to "choose between Howard Dean, the Democrat, and George W. Bush, the Republican," the margin for Bush was only 51-43, and when the survey focused on "likely voters" the gap narrowed to 51-46. While other polls have some different numbers, clearly the race for the White House could be quite close. But one of the obstacles to Democratic success is the pretense of having a chance to carry a bunch of Southern states. Actually, for a Democratic presidential campaign in 2004 -- in terms of money, travel time, rhetoric and espoused ideology -- Dixie is a sinkhole. . . (full article)

Nader and the Newmanites
by Doug Ireland

What in the world is Ralph Nader doing in bed with the ultrasectarian cult-racket formerly known as the New Alliance Party? That's the question raised by Nader's January 11 appearance as the featured speaker at a conference in Bedford, New Hampshire, of so-called "independents" that is nothing more than a front for the New Alliance crazies. . . (full article)

Global Warming: Not Just Another Issue
by Ted Glick

This is not just another issue. It is an absolutely central one. There is widespread agreement in the world scientific community that unless we dramatically shift from the use of fossil fuels to the use of clean and renewable energy, we are facing a truly apocalyptic future. Among the likely consequence . . . (full article)

More Trouble for Bremer (and Iraq)
by Tommy Ates

As if bombings, industrial sabotage, and coalition casualties weren’t enough, Presidential Envoy to Iraq Paul Bremer has more trouble on his hands. Top Shiite Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani repeated his call for early elections before the United States cedes control over Iraq to the U.S. coalition-appointed Governing Council. Or else. . . (full article)

Canada in the Crossfire
by Heather Wokusch

Canadian Prime Minister Martin is due to meet George Bush today at the "Summit of the Americas" in Mexico. While missile defense, terrorism and trade issues will no doubt top their agenda, an equally crucial matter will be hidden from the headlines: the raging Franco-US battle and its troubling implications for Canada. . .
(full article)

Logical Media Lunacy
by David Edwards and Media Lens

In the last hours of a momentous year for the media, both the BBC and ITN reported that Dotty, an English bull terrier owned by Princess Anne, had been cleared by Buckingham Palace of fatally wounding Pharos, one of the Queen's corgis. A second bull terrier, Florence, it seemed, had been responsible. The reports were the last in a week-long series on the attack - the BBC website records mentions of the story on December 24, 28, 30 and 31. In mid-December, the news also broke that David Kay, head of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) searching for Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, would “leave his post prematurely” in the next few months “amid dwindling expectations that there is anything to be found”. (‘Iraq weapons hunter to quit early as hopes of finding arsenal dwindle’, Julian Borger, The Guardian, December 19, 2003) This was “a big blow to the administration”, one that would “signal the effective end of the search for weapons of mass destruction," according to Joseph Cirincione, a weapons expert at the Carnegie Endowment Institute for Peace in Washington. "Some will continue looking”, Cirincione added, “but very, very few expect there to be any significant finds at this point". (Ibid) Kay’s early departure was big news -- the final disaster for the Bush-Blair claims on WMD -- but it was afforded only a fraction of the coverage granted the story of the attack on the Queen’s corgi. . . (full article)

Colombia’s Winds of Change
by Wilson Borja

An old legend says that when God made Colombia, St. Peter asked, “Why have you given so much natural wealth to one country?” God replied, “You haven’t seen the leaders I will give them yet.” It is this same wealth that is at the heart of the West’s close interest in Colombia, and it is this same poor leadership that explains why Colombia has so frequently handed it over to them. For despite Colombia possessing 16 of the world’s 22 most desirable resources, including oil, gold, platinum, emeralds and some of the richest soils in the world, 64 per cent of Colombians live in poverty. And while 2.5 million families have no homes and 3.5 million children have no school to attend, a mere one percent of the population own well over half of Colombia’s land. Colombia’s wealth could benefit not just the Colombian people, but many throughout the world. The fact that it has only benefited a few at the top, explains the 19 conflicts that have blighted Colombia since independence. . . (full article)

January 12

Bush Should be Facing "A Long, Hard Slog" on Campaign Trail, but Dems Too Busy Fighting With Each Other
by Jason Leopold

You’d think that President Bush would be facing, to quote Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, a long, hard slog in his bid to recapture the White House for a second term what with all the information trickling out of the president’s administration the past few months showing that senior administration officials knowingly mislead the American public about the reasons for launching a preemptive attack against Iraq. But, unfortunately, there’s too much infighting taking place among the nine Democrats campaigning for their party’s presidential nomination and not enough attention to the administration’s misdeeds. Too bad, because this is the type of ammunition that even the weakest Democratic candidate should be able to easily spin to convince voters that Bush should be replaced come November. . . Maybe the drama now unfolding will put a permanent dent in Bush’s armor once and for all. Bush’s former Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, has revealed in a new book, The Price of Loyalty, that the Iraq war was planned just days after the president was sworn into office. . . (full article)

True Heroes Will Help Beggars Through Another Day
by Barbara Sumner Burstyn

Letters to the editor are often a source of inspiration. Like the recent letter to the [New Zealand] Herald headlined "Meet a true hero", in which Rob Roche, of Parnell, told us about his trip to the United States. He and his wife were concerned by all the beggars intoning their endless mantra, "got any change." Luckily for Mr. Roche, he was advised by friends that the beggars were not interested in gainful employment in a country where welfare was "evidently available." Then, back home, our world traveler was heartened to find a disabled man selling chocolates, thereby earning his keep. A true hero, Mr. Roche said. . . With an election coming up, President George W. Bush has just drafted a budget that will continue to reduce the viability of the poor, with such stellar moves as further limiting rental assistance vouchers, and eliminating some job training and employment programs. (full article)

The Cleaning Lady
by Phillip A. Farruggio

She works hard for her money, as the song relates. She's the cleaning lady, the one who gets on her knees and scrubs your toilet of all the things that none of us would ever wish to look at, let alone touch. She mops and dusts and vacuums your house for $40-$50 bucks, then hurries off to her next job, if she's so lucky. Does this 5 days a week, pulling in anywhere from $400 -$500, minus her supplies and gas, and sweat and aches. Then she has to factor in the nanny who watches her boy so she can work at all. That's another $150 off the top. Even still, her 2 year college degree could never get her that much in some white collar job- not with today's economy. So, she's the "cleaning lady", trading in respectability for some green. . .
(full article)


Does "Star Reporter" Always Equal Accurate Reporter?
by Regan Boychuk

Of course, it is completely legitimate for newspapers to publish eye-witness accounts of breaking news events. Nevertheless, in the interest of accuracy, those newspapers owe their readers follow up to ensure what they publish can be trusted. The recent resignation of USA Today star reporter Jack Kelley amid allegations he falsified stories offers a poignant example. . . One report that deserves scrutiny is Kelley's 23 October 2000 dispatch from the Israeli-occupied West Bank. . . (full article)

The Journalist as War Criminal
by Ahmed Amr

In 1946, Julius Streicher, the Editor of Der Sturmer, an anti-Semitic paper, was sentenced to hang by the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal for Nazi War Crimes. In sentencing him, the tribunal gave as cause the evidence that “with knowledge of the extermination of the Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territory, this defendant continued to write and publish his propaganda of death.” Streicher was convicted of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace and crimes against humanity. . . Half a century later, the Streicher case was cited as a precedent for convicting three Hutus of using the media to incite genocide against Tutsis. The three judges presiding over the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda set another precedent by declaring that “those who control the media are accountable for its consequences”. According to the BBC, the chief prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, said that “The tribunal has established an international precedent that those who use media to target a racial or ethnic group for destruction will face justice." He also stated that “the verdict would serve as a warning for journalists and editors in other conflicts.” . . . A few years after the genocide in Rwanda, Daniel Pipes writing in the National Post (7/18/2001), recommended that the Israeli government intensify the brutality of the occupation. His specific recipe for new forms of collective punishment against the residents of the West Bank and Gaza was to accelerate the pace of economic warfare against the population and "permit no transportation of people or goods beyond basic necessities. Shut off utilities to the PA. Raze the PA's illegal offices in Jerusalem, its security infrastructure, and villages from which attacks are launched.” Read that again and notice that he was advocating "razing villages" a la Lidice. . . (full article)

Abraham & Sons, LLP
by Adam Engel

Okay, see I'm trying to figure out why half the world's population still believes in angry sky gods who HATE PEOPLE (especially women). This much I got: Jews tried to ruin all the fun in the ancient world (they sure tried to ruin my fun as a kid) by slaughtering anyone who wouldn't kiss the spacious yet invisible tuchass of Yahweh. Then Jesus came along and tried to loosen things up -- not too much, but enough -- but the Rabbis fingered him to the Romans (Americans in sandals) who nailed him to a cross to show the world, ancient and modern, that that's what everybody who tried to live his own life was in for: pain, pain and more pain (forgive them, Pops, they knew not what they did? Damn straight they did!). But just because the West has been so barbarically cruel and despotic to the Islamic world for the past two centuries (and during the Great Crusades) it doesn't make Islam any better or worse than the previous two nightmares. I'd say they're on equal footing. . . (full spectacle)

January 11

The Declassified Ads
by Zbignew Zingh

For Sale: One United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. Hardly used. First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments missing. Will sell cheap or exchange for handgun. Contact John Ashcroft, Box DOJ, Wash. DC

Wanted to Buy: One Osama action toy. Needed for 2004 election year October surprise party. Will pay extra for mint condition, but will purchase even if limbs or head missing. Must not come with original American CIA packaging. Contact GW Bush, c/o Caretaker, the White House, Wash. DC. . . (full ad listings)

What They Don't Want You To Know
by John Pilger

The disaster in Iraq is rotting the Blairite establishment. Blair himself appears ever more removed from reality; his latest tomfoolery about the "discovery" of "a huge system of clandestine weapons laboratories," which even the American viceroy in Baghdad mocked, would be astonishing, were it not merely another of his vapid attempts to justify his crime against humanity. (His crime, and George Bush's, is clearly defined as "supreme" in the Nuremberg judgment.) This is not what the guardians of the faith want you to know. Lord Hutton, who is due to report on the Kelly affair, will provide the most effective distraction, just as Lord Justice Scott did with his arms-to-Iraq report almost ten years ago, ensuring that the top echelon of the political class escaped criminal charges. . . What the normalizers don't want you to know is the nature and scale of the "coalition" crime in Iraq . . Outside the work of a few outstanding journalists prepared to go beyond the official compounds in Iraq, the extent of the human carnage and material devastation is barely acknowledged. . . (full article)

Toxic Farmed Salmon
by Kim Petersen

A report in the latest issue of the prestigious academic journal Science finds that farmed salmon has significantly higher amounts of suspected carcinogens than their wild counterparts -- in fact a ten fold increase, said collaborative study team member David Carpenter in an interview on the CBC Radio program “As it Happens.” Scientists from six research centers investigated European, North American, and South American farmed salmon purchased in markets and compared them to the five species of wild Pacific salmon. The research points to the fish feed as a likely source of the heightened toxicity in farmed salmon. Dr. Carpenter said the fish feed was produced from “trash ocean fish” that people don’t eat. These “trash fish” had high concentrations of industrial pollutants. . .
(full article)

That Vision Thing: US Life in the Time of Mad Cow
by Seth Sandronsky

Mad cow disease detected in Washington state as last year faded is having many consequences, from Congress to Main Street. One is that more light is being shed, slowly, on this thing called the market. . . (full article)

Bush’s Education Policies Aim To Undermine: Democracy and
Dumb Students Down
by Allen Snyder

BushCo hates America ’s public schools. Their education policies are proof positive of it. They’re specifically designed not just to dismantle the ‘free’ public education system, but more deeply, to undermine American democracy and consolidate right-wing conservative and religious political power. . . (full article)

Bush as Hitler? Let's Be Fair
by Alexander Cockburn

Beyond the shared enthusiasm of the Fuehrer and all US presidents (with the possible exception of Warren Harding) for mass murder as an appropriate expression of national policy, I've never seen any particularly close affinity between Adolf Hitler and the current White House incumbent but the Republican National Committee seems peculiarly sensitive on the matter. . . (full article)

The Young Bushite
by Kyle Sleeth

Being a young white male in California, I encounter an abundance of ignorance stemming from other young white males. My friend -- let's call him Wally -- is a prime example. . . (full article)

The Year of the Fake
by Naomi Klein

Don't think and drive. That was the message sent out by the FBI to roughly 18,000 law enforcement agencies on Christmas Eve. The alert urged police pulling over drivers for traffic violations, and conducting other routine investigations, to keep their eyes open for people carrying almanacs. Why almanacs? Because they are filled with facts--population figures, weather predictions, diagrams of buildings and landmarks. And according to the FBI Intelligence Bulletin, facts are dangerous weapons in the hands of terrorists, who can use them to "to assist with target selection and pre-operational planning." But in a world filled with potentially lethal facts and figures, it seems unfair to single out almanac readers for police harassment. As the editor of The World Almanac and Book of Facts rightly points out, "The government is our biggest single supplier of information." Not to mention the local library: A cache of potentially dangerous information weaponry is housed at the center of almost every American town. The FBI, of course, is all over the library threat, seizing library records at will under the Patriot Act. . . (full article)

Syrian Truths
by Nick Pretzlik

Damascus: Although Syria is not yet a failed state, it is in danger of becoming one. Without the support received from Egypt and the Soviet bloc during the cold war era the economy has decayed alarmingly. However, the country is not a basket case.  It has a wealth of natural resources and a sophisticated population more than capable of exploiting them. Why then is the West not rushing to lend it support? Unfortunately for Syria, in the eyes of the US it is deemed to be non-compliant, a capital crime with the Bush Administration. . . (full article)

January 8-10

Running On Empty: Ralph Nader Shouldn’t Run in 2004
by Norman Solomon

alph Nader plans to announce this month whether he'll be running for president in 2004. Some believe that such a campaign is needed to make a strong political statement nationwide. But if Nader does run this year, what kind of support -- in the form of volunteers, resources and votes -- could he reasonably expect?
(full article)

Interrogation, Torture, the Constitution, and the Courts
by Joanne Mariner

In concluding last month that prisoners held on the Guantanamo naval base in Cuba have the right to challenge their detention in federal court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit focused on the question of Guantanamo's legal status. Much of the court's long and scholarly opinion is taken up by a close examination of the terms of the 1903 lease agreement between the U.S. and Cuba, their meaning in Spanish, their interpretation in analogous treaties, and other fairly technical minutiae. But a few phrases that lie near the end of the majority opinion grab the reader's attention. . .
(full article)

Help the Israeli Refusniks Sentenced to Prison
by Neve Gordon

On January 4th, an Israeli Military Court sentenced five refuseniks, Noam Bahat, Hagai Matar, Adam Maor, Shimri Tsameret and Matan Kaminer to one year in jail for refusing to enlist. The judges declared that the five conscientious objectors deserved to be harshly punished since they questioned the morality of the military's actions and challenged the legitimacy of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. . . (full article)

Apocalypse Cow: US Needs to do the Right Thing to Stop Mad Cow Disease
by John Stauber

When Sheldon Rampton and I wrote our 1997 book, Mad Cow USA: Could the Nightmare Happen Here?, it received favorable reviews from some interesting publications such as the Journal of the American Medical Association, New Scientist, and Chemical & Engineering News. Yet although the book was released just before the infamous Texas trial of Oprah Winfrey and her guest Howard Lyman, for the alleged crime of "food disparagement," the book was ignored by the mainstream media, and even most left and alternative publications failed to review it. Apparently many people who never read it at the time bought the official government and industry spin that mad cow disease was just some hysterical European food scare, not a deadly human and animal disease that could emerge in America. . . (full article)

Could Mad Cow Disease Already be Killing Thousands of
Americans Every Year? 
by Michael Greger, M.D.

October 2001, 34-year-old Washington State native Peter Putnam started losing his mind. One month he was delivering a keynote business address, the next he couldn't form a complete sentence. Once athletic, soon he couldn't walk. Then he couldn't eat. After a brain biopsy showed it was Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, his doctor could no longer offer any hope. "Just take him home and love him," the doctor counseled his family. Peter's tragic death, October 2002, may have been caused by Mad Cow disease. Seven years earlier and 5000 miles away, Stephen Churchill was the first in England to die. His first symptoms of depression and dizziness gave way to a living nightmare of terrifying hallucinations; he was dead in 12 months at age 19. Next was Peter Hall, 20, who showed the first signs of depression around Christmas, 1994. By the next Christmas, he couldn't walk, talk, or do anything for himself. Then it was Anna's turn, then Michelle's. Michelle Bowen, age 29, died in a coma three weeks after giving birth to her son via emergency cesarean section. Then it was Alison's turn. These were the first five named victims of Britain's Mad Cow epidemic. They died from what the British Secretary of Health called the worst form of death imaginable, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a relentlessly progressive and invariably fatal human dementia. The announcement of their deaths, released on March 20, 1996 (ironically, Meatout Day), reversed the British government's decade-old stance that British beef was safe to eat. . . (full article)

The Fed and the Bubble
by Mark Weisbrot

Alan Greenspan used the occasion of his speech to the American Economic Association to defend his legacy. His 16-year record as Chairman of the Federal Reserve is certainly mixed, but there is one mistake he shouldn't be allowed to brush off: the stock market bubble. . . (full article)

Whither America's Homegrown Terrorists: In Rush to Fingerprint Foreign Visitors, has Government Lost Sight of America's Homegrown, Religiously-Inspired Anti-government Terrorists?
by Bill Berkowitz

While it's wise for the government to be vigilant about al-Qaeda-type threats, are law enforcement officials so fixated on foreign groups that they're overlooking threats from America's homegrown terrorists? Is the mainstream media so consumed by "chatter" that they're giving America's antigovernment and religious extremists a pass? (full article)

Uncharitable Care: How Hospitals Are Gouging and Even
Arresting the Uninsured
by The Staff of Democracy Now!

What do the Emir of Kuwait and the working poor of the United States have in common? Not much, except when it comes to paying for health care in the United States. They all pay the highest price: up to 500% more than the hospital receives from insured patients. That's because hospitals negotiate discounts with big institutions like insurance companies, HMOs or the government that require payment of only a fraction of the listed charges. Those institutions have substantial bargaining power and can guarantee hospitals a certain number of patients. Uninsured people, on the other hand, have no bargaining power and are left to fend for themselves once they get their bills. . . (full article)

The Price of Ignorance
by Gideon Levy

The suicide bomber at the Geha Junction, Shehad Hanani, was from Beit Furik, one of the most imprisoned villages in the territories that is surrounded by earth roadblocks on all sides. It's a place where women in labor and the sick have to risk walking through fields to get to the hospital in adjacent Nablus. At least one woman in labor, Rula Ashatiya, gave birth at the Beit Furik checkpoint and lost her infant. Few Israelis are capable of imagining what life is like in Beit Furik: the almost universal unemployment, poverty, endless siege and humiliations of life inside a prison. A young man like Hanani, who was 21, had no reason to get up in the morning other than to face another day of joblessness and humiliation. However, Israelis have little interest in knowing the lay of the land from which terror springs. The Israeli media have next to nothing to say about life in Beit Furik. By the same token, few Israelis heard about the killing of the suicide bomber's relative, Fadi Hanani, 10 days ago in Nablus, just as they hadn't heard about all the killings of Palestinians in the past few months. Life in Beit Furik and the killing in Nablus do not justify a suicide bombing at a bus station, but whoever wants to fight terror must first and foremost improve life in Beit Furik. . .
(full article)

With Friends Like These US Enemies Don’t Seem As Bad
by Ivan Eland

The media made much of President Bush’s “axis of evil” -- much as administration “spinners” had hoped. The excessive demonization of the admittedly autocratic Iran, North Korea, and Iraq allowed the administration to build public support for an aggressive invasion of Iraq as well as hard-line policies toward these “rogue” states. But a more appropriate moniker might be “axis of exaggeration.” The Bush administration has failed to find unconventional (nuclear, biological and chemical) weapons in Iraq or to provide convincing evidence that the crude and limited super weapons programs in any of these three nations actually constitute a threat to a superpower half a world away. Perhaps as shocking as the administration’s exaggeration of the threat from these three “rogues,” is the unacknowledged real danger posed by snuggling up to “friendly” despotic countries -- Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt -- the Bush administration’s “axis of expediency.” . . . (full article)

Shot For A Mercedes And Left To Die
by Robert Fisk

Maybe my driver had a premonition. All the way back from Basra, he was nervous, anxious not to stop at villages - even petrol stations - for fear of thieves. "Everywhere there are Ali Babas," he kept saying. And no sooner did we reach Baghdad than he went home to a house of tears and agony and mourning. His brother-in-law, Mohamed, had just become the latest victim of "New" Iraq, shot by car thieves and left to bleed to death for half an hour at a motorway intersection. . . (full article)

Why Did Attorney General Ashcroft Remove Himself From The Valerie Plame Wilson Leak Investigation?
by John W. Dean

Recently, Attorney General John Ashcroft removed himself from the investigation into who leaked the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson. Since the announcement, there has been considerable speculation as to why this occurred, and what it means. Some think the move suggests the inquiry will be scuttled -- and Ashcroft is ducking out early to avoid the heat. But that seems unlikely. The new head of the investigation, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, is a high profile, well-respected U.S. Attorney, who runs one of the more important offices in the country, Chicago's. Fitzgerald is also a close friend of Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who announced his appointment. It seems unlikely that Fitzgerald was brought in merely to kill the case. Others believe that Ashcroft's decision to remove himself suggests that the investigation must be focusing on people politically close to Ashcroft, and that Ashcroft thus pulled out because he knew he would be criticized whatever he did. That is certainly possible. But as I will explain, I have a slightly different take on what has occurred and why. Here is what the latest positioning of the tea leaves tells me. . . (full article)

Climate Catastrophe: The Ultimate Media Betrayal
by David Edwards and Media Lens

Today’s Guardian and Independent newspapers both report that over the next 50 years, global warming could drive a quarter of land animals and plants into extinction. According to a four-year research project by scientists from eight countries, published today in the prestigious journal Nature, 1 million species will have disappeared by 2050. The findings have been described as “terrifying” by the report’s lead author, Chris Thomas, professor of conservation biology at Leeds University. Professor Thomas said: "When scientists set about research they hope to come up with definite results, but what we found we wish we had not. It was far, far worse than we thought, and what we have discovered may even be an underestimate." . . .
(full article)

January 7

Saddam's Defense: Call Bush Senior to the Stand
by Kurt Nimmo

Is it possible French lawyer Jacques Vergès will be allowed to defend Saddam Hussein? Vergès told AFP on December 19 that if called to defend Saddam, he'd march a slew of US and European witnesses to the stand. At the top of the list are Reagan and Bush Senior. "Right now the former Iraqi regime is being blamed for certain events that took place at a time when its members were treated as allies or friends by countries that had embassies in Baghdad and ambassadors not all of whom were blind (to Iraqi crimes)," said Vergès. "Today, this indignation appears to me contrived." "When we reprove the use of certain weapons (we need to know) who sold these weapons," he said about Iraq's past purchase of arms from France, Britain, the United States, and Russia. "When we disapprove of the war against Iran (we need to know) who encouraged it." . . . (full article)

Sick Puppies
by John Chuckman

The title is not part of my usual vocabulary, but sometimes an expression fits so perfectly that it becomes irresistible. And so it is for the authors of a neo-con "manifesto" on foreign policy. The Gomer Pyle of American Presidents recently was presented with a plan to reorder much of the world, a plan intended to build on his remarkable achievements in Iraq and Afghanistan, spreading resentment and future mayhem against Americans across the world. . . (full article)

The Next War
by Doug Ireland

It’s a helluva New Year’s present: a new neocon manifesto which wants to put the United States on a course for war with three countries. Published the day before 2004 by Random House, An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror bears the signature of two of Washington’s most influential ideologues. Richard Perle, known as the “Prince of Darkness”, helped put together the now-famous 1999 neocon manifesto (signed by Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, among others) calling for war on Iraq. David Frum is Dubya’s former speechwriter, the man who coined “axis of evil” and put it in the president’s mouth. . . (full article)

Anarchism, Or The Revolutionary Movement Of The 21st Century
by David Graeber and Andrej Grubacic

It is becoming increasingly clear that the age of revolutions is not over. It's becoming equally clear that the global revolutionary movement in the 21st century will be one that traces its origins less to the tradition of Marxism, or even of socialism narrowly defined, but of anarchism. Everywhere from Eastern Europe to Argentina, from Seattle to Bombay, anarchist ideas and principles are generating new radical dreams and visions. . . (full article)

The Exploitation of the American Soldier, Part II: The Vietnam Example, Guinea Pigs and Systemic Abuse
by Manuel Valenzuela

To fully understand the epidemic that is the exploitation of the American Soldier one need look no further than the 250,000 to 500,000 homeless veterans that on any given day wonder the streets of the United States. Up to half a million veterans, mostly those who fought in the terror-filled jungles of Vietnam, have been forgotten in time, left to fend for themselves lost among concrete jungles and steel-glass canyons. Forgotten by a government that sent them across the globe to fight the evildoers of the moment, namely Communists, most men fought in ghastly battles, witnessed appalling atrocities, experienced death firsthand and saw gruesome injuries that scarred them for life. . . (full article)

The Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part 5 of 22
America and Depleted Uranium: Infatuation or Deliberation?
by B.J. Sabri

Is it reasonable to include different subjects such as the U.N.’s role in the occupation of Iraq, the U.S. hyper-imperialistic agenda, and radioactive “depleted” uranium (RDU) all in one argument? . . . The culpability of the U.N. system in relation to the American use of RDU is flagrant and requires no verification –- it never condemned its use in battle. Consequently, we ended up with a paradox whereby two imperialist states (the U.S. and the U.K.) preaching on the immorality of WMD and claiming a self-given mandate to ban them, deliberately used them against their designated enemies! This conveniently and ideologically structured dualistic attitude toward the use of WMD resembles an association of paid assassins giving solemn public seminars on the virtues of nonviolence and the value of human life. . .
(full article)

Necessary Chinese Illusions: Socialism with Chinese Characteristics
by Kim Petersen

SARS has raised its infectious head again in southeastern China. The suspected cause is the civet cat, prized for its exotic meat. Chinese officials have ordered the immediate extermination of every captive civet cat in Guangdong province. The civet cat had been pinpointed as the likely source for the human contraction of the SARS corona virus earlier and its capture, sale, and consumption was banned. Business pressures led, however, to the lifting of the ban. Human health concerns were, in essence, trumped by the pursuit of profit. It is emblematic of today’s capitalist China. At one end of Tiananmen Square, just above the entrance to the Forbidden City, a huge portrait of Mao Zedong, the first leader of the People’s Republic of China, is prominent. Mao represents the victory of socialism over feudalism. Yet the China of today is a far cry from the revolution of the mid-twentieth century. One wonders why the portrait of Mao still features so prominently at Tiananmen Square. A denial of Mao, as many Chinese will tell you, would imply undercutting the legitimacy of the ruling Chinese Communist Party. The upshot of all this is the oxymoronic absurdity of a Communist Party espousing free market capitalism. . . (full article)

Unilateral Delusion
by Roni Ben Efrat

Beside the government and the Knesset, a parallel institution has developed in Israel. It is known as the Herzlia Conference. All the "who's who" of Israeli politics, the rich and the powerful, assemble there. Generals and politicians announce their plans in Olympian serenity – without the catcalls, backbiting and endless maneuvers that color our elected institutions. This alternative arena suits the Prime Minister well. It is the second consecutive year in which Ariel Sharon has sealed the Conference with a "speech to the nation". Suspense, this time, was higher than ever. Sharon's deputy and presumed trial balloonist, Ehud Olmert, had given an interview to Yediot Aharonot (December 5). A consensus-sniffing right-winger, Olmert stopped the breath of the nation with a call for "the unilateral evacuation of most of the Territories and parts of East Jerusalem and the division of the land of Israel into two states with the border between them determined not by politics, national sentiment or religious tradition, but by demography." Olmert was referring to the projection that by 2012, the majority west of the Jordan River will be Arab.
(full article)

The BBC on Hiroshima
by David Edwards and Media Lens

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 was one of history’s bloodiest single acts claiming 100,000 Japanese lives. Exposing men, women and children to one million degrees of heat and a supersonic blast wave, the attack had unimaginably horrific results. . .  In last night’s one-hour documentary on the bombing, Days That Shook The World, the BBC spent 35 seconds examining the justification for the attack. This involved presenting, unchallenged, the unfounded claim that the attack was required to avoid one million US combat casualties in the event of an invasion of the Japanese mainland. . . (full article)

Fit To Be Tamed
by Lee Hall

With all the talk of the connection between human and nonhuman rights these days, one might wonder why so little is said about pets. In North America today, pet ownership is the most common context in which humans interact with other animals; yet the institution has largely escaped critique. Use of the word "pet" as a term of sexual objectification has rightly incurred the ire of the socially aware, but the existence of the pet animal has largely been taken as a given. . . (full article)

January 5

Challenging Two-Party Rule: The Avocado Declaration
by Peter Camejo

The Green Party is at a crossroads. The 2004 elections place before us a clear and unavoidable choice. On one side, we can continue on the path of political independence, building a party of, by and for the people by running our own campaign for President of the United States. The other choice is the well-trodden path of lesser evil politics, sacrificing our own voice and independence to support who the Democrats nominate in order, we are told, to defeat Bush. The difference is not over whether to "defeat Bush" -- understanding by that the program of corporate globalization and the wars and trampling of the Constitution that come with it -- but rather how to do it. We do not believe it is possible to defeat the "greater" evil by supporting a shamefaced version of the same evil. We believe it is precisely by openly and sharply confronting the two major parties that the policies of the corporate interests these parties represent can be set back and defeated. Ralph Nader's 2000 presidential campaign exposed a crisis of confidence in the two party system. His 2.7 million votes marked the first time in modern history that millions voted for a more progressive and independent alternative. Now, after three years of capitulation by the Democratic Party to George Bush, they are launching a pre-emptive strike against a 2004 Ralph Nader campaign or any Green Party challenge. Were the Greens right to run in 2000? Should we do the same in 2004? The Avocado Declaration is based on an analysis of our two party duopoly, and history of the system declares we were right, and we must run. . . (full article)

Snipers: No Nuts In Iraq
by Mickey Z.

An article by Eric Schmitt, in the January 2, 2004 edition of the New York Times ("In Iraq's Murky Battle, Snipers Offer U.S. a Precision Weapon") offered a fine illustration of how heavily conditioned a society we live in. Consider the opening lines: "The intimate horror of the guerrilla war here in Iraq seems most vivid when seen through the sights of a sniper's rifle. In an age of satellite-guided bombs dropped at featureless targets from 30,000 feet, Army snipers can see the expression on a man's face when the bullet hits." Schmitt goes on to quote an American sniper boasting: "I shot one guy in the head, and his head exploded. Usually, though, you just see a dust cloud pop up off their clothes, and see a little blood splatter come out the front." Schmitt also crows about a sniper's ability "to fell guerrilla gunmen and their leaders with a single shot from as far as half a mile away" all in the name of protecting "infantry patrols sweeping through urban streets and alleyways." Schmitt explains: "Soldiering is a violent business, and emotions in combat run high. But commanders say snipers are a different breed of warrior - quiet, unflappable marksmen who bring a dispassionate intensity to their deadly task." . . . (full article)

Questions for the Peace Movement: The U.S. Occupation of Iraq
by Joanne Landy

In February 2003, millions of people in the United States and around the world protested the impending U.S.-led war on Iraq. But today, even among opponents of the war, there is widespread confusion on the question of the ongoing occupation. Many who opposed the war before it began now argue that "Yes, it was a mistake to go into Iraq in the first place, but now that we're there, we have to stay -- it's our responsibility to ensure democracy to the Iraqi people and protect them from chaos and civil war, as well as to promote global peace and stability." Democratic presidential candidates Howard Dean and Carol Moseley Braun make this argument, and it is an approach shared by many non-politicians as well. In my view, this line of reasoning is seriously flawed, and leads to disastrous consequences; it ignores the deeply destructive, reactionary and inhumane character of the American role in Iraq, and in the world. However, at the same time that the peace movement opposes war and the continued U.S. military presence in Iraq, it also needs to address the question of how to respond to ruthless dictators like Saddam Hussein, to terrorism and to Islamic political fundamentalism. .. (full article)

The Sum Total of My Body Parts
by Barbara Sumner Burstyn

It's confession time again: the photo at the top of this column is not a true likeness. Some of my lines are missing, erased courtesy of Photoshop technology. Thinking I'd like this look in real life, I started investigating new dermal filler products. The one the doctor recommended is made with cadaver dermis. It comes in either dissolvable sheets or micronized for easy injection into those tiny wrinkles and skin folds that seem to spring up overnight. In soothing tones, the doctor assures me there's nothing wrong with using cadaver dermis. Yes, he says, this product is made from the skin of dead people. And, yes, they were organ donors. But when I ask if the donor's gift of life-saving organs included consent to use their skin in expensive, profit-heavy cosmetic procedures, he's not so confident. . .
(full article)

One Novak, One Vote
by Ahmed Amr

I don’t know about you, but I was starting to miss John Ashcroft. Where has he been? It seems that he disappeared a few months ago and took the Plame file with him. Word is he was too busy choreographing the "Ashcroft Trot" to make a public appearance. Inside sources say that the "Ashcroft Trot" is a very precise dance that involves a fake step forward on New Year’s Eve and a couple of steps back by spring. The dance ends with a few steps to the right after the November elections. Dance steps between Spring and Fall are still on Ashcroft’s drawing board. Last week, after five months of attempting to bury the probe, Ashcroft couldn’t spare a few moments to announce his recusal from playing the Plame game. That task was left to James Comey, the second in command at the Justice Department. Comey is now technically in charge of the probe and has assigned Patrick Fitzgerald the task of investigating the scandal. The reason given for distancing Ashcroft from case was the "appearance of a conflict of interest" based on "the totality of the circumstances and the facts and evidence developed at this stage of the investigation." . . . (full article)

"The British Said My Son Would be Free Soon. Three Days Later
I Had His Body"

by Robert Fisk

The last time Lieutenant Colonel Daoud Mousa of the Iraqi police saw his son Baha alive was on 14 September, as British soldiers raided the Basra hotel where the young man worked as a receptionist. "He was lying with the other seven staff on the marble floor with his hands over his head," Col Mousa says today. "I said to him: 'Don't worry, I've spoken to the British officer and he says you'll be freed in a couple of hours.'" The officer, a second lieutenant, even gave the Iraqi policeman a piece of paper and wrote "2Lt. Mike" on it, alongside an indecipherable signature and a Basra telephone number. There was no surname. "Three days later, I was looking at my son's body," the colonel says, sitting on the concrete floor of his slum house in Basra. "The British came to say he had 'died in custody'. His nose was broken, there was blood above his mouth and I could see the bruising of his ribs and thighs. The skin was ripped off his wrists where the handcuffs had been."
(full article)

Homeland Insecurity
by Steven Hass

First of all, happy new year...there, now that we got that out of the way, let's get to it. Has anybody discovered where the security is to be found in having a Department of Homeland Security? I have to be honest with you - I don't feel a whole lot more secure having them around. But, then again, I wasn't feeling very insecure before they were created. . . (full article)

Palestinian Resistance Must Spare Civilians
by Ramzy Baroud

Palestinian resistance factions must stop targeting Israeli civilians, with or without an officially bargained cease-fire and regardless of what Israel and its reckless government do in response. This is imperative if the Palestinian struggle is to safeguard its historic values and maintain its morality. . .
(full article)

January 3-4

Bush's Police State: Going After the Left, Not al-Qaeda
by Kurt Nimmo

In an apparently ludicrous turn of events, the FBI warned local law enforcement across the country to be on the lookout for the latest al-Qaeda manual -- the Farmer's Almanac. "The FBI is warning police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning," reports the Bush Ministry of Disinformation, Fox News Division. "It urged officers to watch during searches, traffic stops and other investigations for anyone carrying almanacs, especially if the books are annotated in suspicious ways." "If the police discover anything "suspicious," they are to report it immediately to their local Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), according to the FBI bulletin released on Christmas Eve. JTTFs are new and relatively unknown. They are essentially the FBI's vanguard -- a crucial and emerging link between the FBI, various federal agencies, state law enforcement, and local police departments. . . (full article)

Coffee and State Authority in Colombia
by Josh Frank

The global coffee industry has endured colossal changes over the past fifty years. Production of beans has shifted from country to country. Profiteering from the product has increased almost exponentially through huge sales at retail outlets such as Starbucks and Seattle’s Best. But not all involved in the coffee market have benefited equally. Small coffee farmers have suffered tremendous loss. Environmental degradation has also increased as ancient forests have been cleared in hopes that the bare land can be transformed into fertile ground, worthy of growing cash crops. Countries have lost entire export industries as multinational corporations race to purchase the cheapest beans they can find. And no country has felt the pain of these transformations greater than Colombia. . . (full article)

George Will’s Ethics: None of Our Business?
by Norman Solomon

We can argue about George Will's political views. But there's no need to debate his professional ethics. Late December brought to light a pair of self-inflicted wounds to the famous columnist's ethical pretensions. He broke an elementary rule of journalism – and then, when the New York Times called him on it, proclaimed the transgression to be no one's business but his own. . . (full article)

Mad Cow and Main Street USA
by Seth Sandronsky

Mad cow disease in America discovered during the recent holiday season may well sway “consumer confidence” near and far. Yet this disaster-in-progress is about far more than confident consumers. . . (full article)

Why Bush Must be Captured and Tried Alongside Saddam Hussein
by Bob Fitrakis

As the new year unfolds, one unmistakable fact remains unreported in America’s submissive mainstream media: our President George W. Bush is a war criminal. Any attempt to state this obvious fact is ignored and any Democratic Presidential hopeful who suggests we repudiate the new Bush doctrine of American imperialism and instead, work for world peace, is dismissed as a “vanity” candidate and told to drop out of the race. . .
(full article)

God's Grandeur
by Richard Oxman

So help me, there will be no more abominations within the progressive community such as Medea Benjamin's listing of ten things to be grateful for in 2003 (on Common Dreams)...without a confrontation. Howard Dean? The sales of Michael Moore's and Al Franken's books? These are signs of progress? (full article)

CBC Newspeak
by Kim Petersen

The year 2004 has just been ushered in and nothing has really changed. The resistance in Iraq continues and the news still reads the same. Well, not quite. The first sentence of a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) online news article reads: “Anti-U.S. fighters shot down a helicopter near Fallujah, Iraq, on Friday, killing one American soldier and wounding another.” “Anti-U.S. fighters.” What kind of biased nonsense is this? What kind of deranged thought processes could have skewered the language of the news in such a biased fashion? (full article)

Bush's Faith-Based Parks: Your Nat. Park Service is Displaying Religious Symbols, Selling Creationist Materials, and Contemplating Adding 'Conservatively Correct' Images to Government Videos
by Bill Berkowitz

Although President Bush's faith-based initiative -- one of the centerpieces of his domestic agenda -- has yet to win congressional approval, ramifications of the proposal has been felt in a number government agencies. The latest agency to take up the president's faith-based call is the National Park Service. Over the past several months, the NPS has brought Christian displays to our national parks and creationist books to the souvenir shops at the parks. It has also been reported that the NPS was considering removing historical information it found "conservatively incorrect" from historical documents and video presentations. . .
(full article)

After Samarra: Another US Massacre In The "Sunni Triangle"
by Milan Rai

First reports were unequivocal: "US forces killed 46 Iraqis after a military convoy was ambushed in the town of Samarra last night [November 30] in the most deadly firefight in the seven months since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq." (The London Times, 1 Dec., p. 1) . . . "US and Iraqi reports differed sharply. Mr Mohammed, the police chief, said [on the first day] that only six Iraqis had been killed in the clashes, along with one Iranian pilgrim. He accused US troops of 'firing randomly' on Iraqi civilians after they had been ambushed “by one or two people”. He said 54 Iraqis had been injured." (Financial Times, 2 Dec., p.11) . . .(full article)

Enough is Too Much
by Adam Engel

Dead sheep shuffle. Do the dead sheep shuffle. Get in line. Waste your time.
Get yer gonads groped and your belongings touched by strangers' fingers.
Get shoved, get yelled at. "No, you ASS, don't go down THAT line, I said THIS ONE HERE." . . . (full article)









by John Chuckman


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