default.html Issue 95
Table of Contents


Bush Was Allied With Taliban Until August, Book Says

by Julio Godoy A new book by two French intelligence analysts claims that at the behest of U.S. oil companies, the Bush administration initially blocked FBI investigations into terrorism, while it bargained with the Taliban for the delivery of Osama bin Laden in exchange for political recognition and economic aid


Quick Taliban Retreat Makes Pakistan Situation More Volatile

by Syed Saleem Shahzad The quick retreats of the Taliban from Mazar-e-Sharif and the dramatic withdrawals from the capital Kabul and Jalalabad have exploded like a bombshell among Pakistani military decision makers. The developments are in stark contrast to what the Pakistani intelligence services had reported to President General Pervez Musharraf -- that the war would drag on much longer and that Pakistan would maintain a strong bargaining position with the U.S. and its allies over the composition of a new Afghan government


U.S.-Backed Rebels Accused of Wholesale Slaughter

by James Ridgeway Welcomed here as a heroic, victorious force just yesterday, the Northern Alliance today is being painted as a gang of murderers on the loose. The Pakistani press reports two alliance massacres of Taliban soldiers


Bush Takes Heat For Military Tribunal Plans

by Jim Lobe Lawmakers from the left and the right of the U.S. political spectrum express growing concern about the idea, particularly in the context of other actions taken by the Justice Department since the Sep. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States to curb the rights of terrorist suspects. "We oppose the creation of military tribunals, which would permit secret arrests, secret charges using secret evidence, secret prosecutions, secret witnesses, secret trials, secret convictions, secret sentencing and even secret executions," wrote Democrat Dennis Kucinich and 38 other members of the House of Representatives, including right-wing Republican Bob Barr, in a letter to Attorney-General John Ashcroft last week


Bush's Permanent War

by David Corn So if bin Laden and the Taliban have indeed been decimated, what does Bush do for an encore? He has committed himself to waging war beyond Afghanistan. When will he let the citizens of this republic know what he has in mind? Or inform Congress? It is true Congress supplied him a veritable blank check in the war resolution it passed after September 11, permitting Bush to fire away at any state or party he deems to have been involved in the attacks. Nevertheless, it would be good manners for the President to clue in the people's representatives as to where the war is heading next


One Giant Step Towards A Police State

by Randolph T. Holhut While most Americans were busy hanging flags and fretting about anthrax, your elected representatives in Washington decided to repeal a large chunk of the U.S. Constitution


The Real American Emergency

by Randolph T. Holhut Wrapping itself in the flag, Congress and the Bush Administration is getting to give the rich more tax breaks, to devote more money to the still unworkable "Star Wars" strategic missile defense sham, to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, to give the President the authority to approve trade deals without congressional approval, and to privatize Social Security. The Democrats will continue to be impotent, lest they be seen as "disloyal" to their "wartime" president


Did We Walk Into Osama's Trap?

by Randolph T. Holhut An air war on Afghanistan is easy. The Taliban has little weaponry or infrastructure befitting a modern military power. The ground war, if it happens, promises to be much more difficult. The brutal weather and inhospitable terrain are the Taliban's greatest ally


Pentagon Blocks Public Release Of Afghan Pictures

by Ben Schiller In September this year, just as the U.S. military began its campaign in the Mid-east, the National Imaging and Mapping Agency (NIMA), part of the U.S. Defense Department, contacted a company in Colorado called SpaceImaging, which sells images from a commercial satellite. NIMA offered to pay $1.9 million a month for exclusive rights to all pictures from the war region. Although the military has plenty of its own satellites, it said it needed the pictures for its war effort


The Ghost of COINTELPRO

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson Ashcroft has made a public pitch to dump the guidelines put in place in the 1970s that ban FBI spying on domestic organizations. Ashcroft says the guidelines are obsolete and hinder the hunt for domestic terrorists. The FBI would again have unbridled power to determine what groups and individuals it could target. Ashcroft is banking that most Americans and public officials have a short or no memory of the colossal havoc the super-secret, and blatantly illegal counter-intelligence COINTELPRO program


Terrorism Becomes Favorite Excuse to Trash Environment

by Danielle Knight Since the Sept. 11 attacks, advocacy groups also have warned that while the public and the media focus on terrorism and the war in Afghanistan, the Bush administration continues its drive to dismantle domestic environmental protections -- including rules on hard-rock mining and logging in national forests


Bush "Coal Czar" Nominee Has Troubling Record

by Phillip Babich Americans who live near coal mines are worried about their future health and safety if President Bush's nominee to oversee that industry receives congressional approval. Residents, community groups and others charge that Jeffrey Jarrett tried in the past to undermine the authority of the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) -- the very agency he has now been chosen to lead


2001 Political Blunders

by Arianna Huffington The biggest political blunder had to be the White House's ham-fisted handling of Sen. Jim Jeffords, who ended up bolting the GOP, turning over control of the Senate to the Democrats. President Bush may have nicknamed Karl Rove "Boy Genius," but it doesn't take a Mensa member to realize that, with a 50-50 Senate, humiliating one of your own is a pretty dumb move


Bush Snubs Black Congress Members

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson By continuing to snub the Congressional Black Caucus, Bush risks perpetuating the racial deep freeze of the Reagan years. In those days, black Democrats and civil rights leaders were persona non grata at the White House, and the doors were slammed shut on them. This cost Republicans dearly. It cemented the belief among blacks and minorities that the Republican Party is an insular, bigoted party hostile to their interests. They flocked to the Democrats in droves, helped boot George Bush Sr. from the White House, despite his sky-high public approval rating following the Gulf War in 1991, and virtually deified Clinton as their savior


Congress Kills Restrictions On Pesticide Use In Schools

by Frank Lingo Although politicians are jostling to take credit for the new education bill, there's one deleted part that belongs in their hall of shame. On Friday Nov. 30, the School Environment Protection Act (SEPA) was killed in a joint House-Senate conference committee. Only one Republican voted for the bill, which would have required public schools to notify parents about the use of bug-killing chemicals. The bill also would have required the states to develop a pest-management plan that considers alternatives to toxic sprays in schools


Was Bush Changed By Sept. 11? Hardly

by David Corn The plot-line: smirky boy-President, in the post-9/11 crucible, becomes a man and a true leader. Bush loyalists have simultaneously pooh-poohed and encouraged such talk. They certainly cannot admit their boss was a lightweight to start, and they deny he needed maturation. But they are eager to enhance (and exploit) his image as a strong, in-charge wartime president. But practically anyone in public life would have been able in this situation to grow and rise to the god-awful occasion. In other words, the challenge was not that hard


Pentagon Denials and Civilian Death in Afghanistan

by David Corn "The village is no more," said a man named Khalil. "All my family, 12 people, were killed. I am the only one left in this family. I have lost my children, my wife. They are no more." Another survivor said she had lost 38 relatives; another estimated up to 200 were dead. The Pentagon denied everything


Why They Hate Us, Part II: America And Iran: Burning Bridges, Igniting Hatred

by Jeff Elliott There's no better example of America's folly than our misadventures in Iran, the fourth-largest oil producer in the world. We created, then nurtured a puppet government infamous for its well-documented cruelty, and when the regime was toppled by a popular uprising, we were mystified that the new leaders hated us and blamed the U.S. for decades of misery


Why They Hate Us, Part I: Afghanistan and the Taliban

by Jeff Elliott and Ahmar Khan As cruel and irrational as the Taliban seems to the rest of the world, we seem just as bad to them. When diplomats were begging them to not destroy the Buddah statues, the Taliban were angered that the world cared more about artifacts than aiding their starving people. "Why is the world so upset about this? If they are destroying our future with sanctions, then they shouldn't worry about our past," a Taliban spokesman said


The Politics of Oil

by Michael T. Klare Osama bin Laden does not talk about oil when he calls for a holy war against the enemies of Islam. Neither does George Bush, when he calls for a global war against terrorism. Both major protagonists in the current conflict stress moral and religious themes in their public pronouncements, claiming that this is a struggle between good and evil. But both bin Laden and Bush are well aware that the conflict also represents a struggle for control over the greater Persian Gulf region -- the location of about two-thirds of the world's known petroleum reserves


Fear and Crime Follow Taliban Retreat

by Ted Rall The bad old days, it seems, may be coming back. At this point, the sole expression of government authority here is a lone traffic policeman standing at the Pakistani-style rotary in the middle of the main intersection. By yesterday, even he had repaired to a disused ammunition dump nearby where he could be found fast asleep, a lit cigarette dangling from his lips. Half of the male population -- the heavily armed half -- is cruising the streets looking for people to rob. And the drug trade has made a remarkable overnight comeback; pure opium paste is selling briskly a few blocks off the main drag


Taiwan 2001: What Democracy Looks Like

by Joshua Samuel Brown A mob of people in an East Asian country march through the avenues of the capital to the American Embassy, where leaders make speeches in front of the embassy's closed doors while the mob waves signs and banners. A protest against the American war in Afghanistan? Not quite. In Taiwan, politics are rarely that simple


The Real Price of Oil

by Mark Hertsgaard According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, an eco-think tank that analyzed Pentagon and Department of Energy spending data for the mid-1990s, federally funded research and development provided at least $300 million annually in subsidies for the fossil-fuel industry. And at least $50 billion of the U.S. annual military budget during those years paid for forces whose primary purpose is to safeguard Middle Eastern oil fields and shipping lanes


Once-Obscure Central Asia Now In Global Spotlight

by Mushahid Hussain Not since their achievement of independence a decade ago have the Central Asian republics been as central to world politics as they are now. Thanks to the U.S. campaign against terrorism, the former Soviet republics, all predominantly Muslim, have become the focus of global attention


U.S. Backing Of Palestine Becomes Key Bargaining Chip

by N. Janardhan Sharon's ministers went to the extent of warning Bush that the support that Israel enjoys in the U.S. Congress was enough to ensure that the president would be overridden on the issue of Palestinian independence and statehood


India Offers Cheap, Superior Anthrax Vaccine

by Ranjit Devraj In 1999, the United States hauled India before the dispute settlement tribunal of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and compelled it to begin work on legislation to introduce product patents. However, following the anthrax scare, U.S. lawmakers have been calling for the lifting of patents on ciprofloxacin held by the German drug-maker Bayer Corp, which do not expire till December 2003


India Outrage Over Military "Coffin-gate" Scandal

by Rahul Bedi Demands grew for the resignation of Defense Minister George Fernandes over the extravagant importation of coffins and body bags for soldiers who died during the 1999 undeclared war with Pakistan on the disputed border in Kashmir. A report, tabled on Dec. 11 by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), showing that coffins imported from the United States at around $2,500 apiece were substandard


U.S. Approved of 1975 E Timor Invasion, Documents Show

by Jim Lobe Kissinger, who has previously denied that the issue of East Timor came up during their discussions with Suharto, seconded Ford's statement with one reservation. He stressed that the use of U.S.-made arms in the invasion "could create problems" given existing legislation that outlawed the use of U.S. military equipment in offensive actions. "It depends on how we construe it; whether it is in self-defense or is a foreign operation," he added, suggesting the invasion might be framed in a way that was acceptable under U.S. law


Life for Mumia Abu-Jamal?

by Steven Rosenfeld A federal judge overturned the 1982 death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted for killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981, and ordered the state of Pennsylvania to hold a new penalty hearing within 180 days or impose a life sentence. Abu-Jamal, perhaps the nation's best-known prisoner on death row, sought a new trial, but that motion was denied. He still faces a life sentence or the death penalty


Japan Says It Will Ratify Kyoto Protocol

by Suvendrini Kakuchi A major concern for the Japanese government now is how to bring the United States, the world's biggest polluter, back to the accord after the Bush administration turned its back on the Kyoto Protocol, saying it was against America's economic interests. Activists say the decision by European countries to throw their weight behind the Kyoto protocol forced Japan to go along despite its deference to the United States position


Afghanistan's Coming Humanitarian Disaster

by Tamara Straus One of the questions humanitarian aid workers are asking is, should mass starvation come, and should Afghanistan be depleted of almost all resources as a result of the war, will the U.S. spend the billions of dollars necessary to prevent a long-term humanitarian crisis


Is Bush Still an Enron Fan?

by Robert Scheer The most important question for America's economic future should be directed to the president himself: Does he still believe in the miracle of Enron? Why, after Enron's collapse, does Bush still insist on a stimulus package that rewards high-flying executives while resisting extending unemployment insurance and medical coverage to workers thrown out of their jobs because of the mismanagement and other acts of economic stupidity by companies like Enron?


Afghan Women Speak from Behind the Media Veil

by Laura Flanders We've begun, finally, to hear about the women whom the Taliban ban from working, keep from school, flog for wearing makeup, even execute. Now that U.S. leaders are selling the nation on war against the Taliban, there are a lot of pictures of silent, shrouded Afghan women on the news. But the U.S. media veil Afghan women, too. You sure don't get to hear what any of them have to say


Al Qaeda a Cult, Not Religious Group

by Paulo Pontoniere "The most disturbing aspect about the Al Qaeda members is how normal they appear, when in fact they all fit the profile of the 'true believer,' an individual whose low self-esteem and confusion push him to seek refuge within a charismatic mass movement," Post says. In this sense, the manual is not just a nuts-and-bolts how-to for terrorists. It also plays a role in the brainwashing of Al Qaeda members, encouraging them to subordinate their individual will to the charismatic power of the group's leader, Osama bin Laden


Drug Warriors Seek To Link Drugs With Terrorism

by Philip Smith, DRCNet While the drug reform movement debates the seemliness of pointing out the connection between drug prohibition and the funding of the Osama bin Laden network, hardliners and drug warriors in Washington and elsewhere are showing no such scruples. Even before the dust had settled around the site of the World Trade Center, U.S. and foreign political figures were attempting to make political hay out of the drugs-terror link


UN Can't Agree On Definition Of "Terrorism"

by Thalif Deen The United Nations remains deadlocked on a major international treaty against terrorism because of sharp political divisions among member states. "The simple fact is that terrorism means different things to different people," said one diplomat from a developing country, on condition of anonymity. "We couldn't find common political ground on several issues, despite the fact that the entire world is preoccupied with international terrorism"


Could Irradiated Mail Cause Super-Anthrax?

by J.A. Savage What might happen if the irradiation process isn't fully effective? According to NIRS Project Coordinator Cindy Folkers, "If spores are not destroyed with irradiation, mutation is risked," their Nov. 2 letter pointed out. As Folkers asks, "Might you end up with something worse if you irradiate anthrax?"


Unprecedented UN Warning: Don't Curb Freedom to Fight Terrorism

by Thalif Deen The heads of three leading inter-governmental human rights bodies have cautioned against imposing excessive new curbs on basic freedoms in the rush to battle terrorism. The warning, in a statement released Nov. 29, is unprecedented and is an implicit challenge to the backlash against civil liberties under way in the West and especially in the United States, Canada, and Britain, said a senior UN official


Anti-Terror Bill Becomes Law: Sweeping New Police Powers

by Jim Lobe Controversial measures include giving the CIA director authority to identify priority targets for intelligence surveillance within the United States, a function from which the CIA previously was barred, and broadening the definition of "domestic terrorism" in a way that could subject people engaged in political protest to wiretapping and even criminal prosecution


Enviros Sue U.S. Over Lax Mining Rules

by Danielle Knight In October, Interior Secretary Gale Norton reversed regulations enacted last year by former President Bill Clinton's administration. These would have imposed more rigorous environmental standards on mining operations. Norton argued they were unjustifiably restrictive


U.S. Bomb "Mistake" Hits Independent Arab TV

by Laura Flanders The Al-Jazeera office was obliterated by U.S. bombing around 3AM, according to the network's managing director, Mohammed Jassim al-Ali. Speaking to the Associated Press, he said that none of the network's ten staff members was injured (the office was empty at the time.) But he did suggest that the strike could have been deliberate, because the office sits in a residential area of Kabul


China Emerges as Big Winner in Afghan War

by Franz Schurmann China is awesome. Of all countries in the world, it has been least affected by and has benefited most from the persisting slowdown of the world's economic giant, America. As America gets ever more deeply entangled in the Afghanistan quagmire, global markets ready and eager to move are reluctant to hitch their economies to the American locomotive. As a result, one key part of the world, Southeast Asia, is more and more turning to three Northeast Asian giants -- China, Japan and South Korea -- as substitute engines


Desperate Palestinian Workers Sneak Into Israel

by Thalif Deen Abu Layl's secret life as an illegal worker in Israel, as related by his brother, is nearly as disturbing as his death: a tale of constant fear and exploitation, of sleeping under trees. But it is a daily reality for about 1,000 Palestinians


Dropping ABM Treaty A Big Win For U.S. Right-Wing

by Jim Lobe Bush's announcement sets the stage for the development and deployment of a national missile defense (NMD) system. It has long been a top priority for the U.S. extreme right, which tried to scuttle the treaty even as then President Richard Nixon was negotiating it. The move follows a string of unilateralist actions since his administration began


Bush Call For Military Courts Unprecedented

by Abid Aslam "To our knowledge, the move to establish a military tribunal when Congress has not declared war is unprecedented," the ACLU said, adding that it would be "hypocritical of the United States to impose such a tribunal when we have repeatedly protested the use of such courts against U.S. citizens abroad"


Pakistan, Iran Mend Fences After Taliban Fall

by Nadeem Iqbal The Taliban's retreat from Kabul has nudged Pakistan and Iran into ending a decade of frosty relations and working to accommodate each other's strategic and economic interests in Afghanistan


Iran Drug Traffic To Skyrocket During Afghanistan Chaos

by Yassaman Taghibeiji Iran is seeing dismal results in its fight against drug trafficking, but officials predict the struggle will only get harder due to the current conflict in Afghanistan and its aftermath


Beijing Downplays Impact Of Taiwan Vote

by Antoaneta Bezlova Taken aback by the upset legislative victory of Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, Beijing has been trying to downplay the impact of last week's vote on its long-term goal of reunification with the island


Settlement Ends David "Gypsy" Chain Death Suit

by Nicholas Wilson Less than an hour before Chain was killed, the activists had tried to talk to the logger, but were met with angry threats, including that he would fell a tree in their direction, and that he wished he had brought his gun


Tobacco Company Tried To Meddle With Science Standards

by Wallace Ravven Philip Morris tobacco company launched a hidden campaign in the 1990s to change the standards of scientific proof needed to demonstrate that secondhand smoke was dangerous, according to an analysis of internal tobacco industry documents


UN Warns Of Impending Global Economic Crisis

by Thalif Deen The United Nations is warning of an impending global economic crisis in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. The crisis is expected to have a devastating impact on the world's poorer nations, where the battle to reduce poverty has already been crippled by cuts in development aid, onerous debt burdens, a rise in protectionism, and a rash of civil and military conflicts


Key Afghan Ethnic Group Remains Wildcard

by Jim Lobe As U.S. warplanes batter the Taliban's military infrastructure, Washington may be losing the war for the hearts and minds of potential allies from Afghanistan's leading Pashtun ethnic group, especially in the Taliban's southern heartland


Afghan Children a Lost Generation

by Thalif Deen One out of every four Afghan children dies before the age of five from preventable diseases, he says. Half of all surviving children suffer from malnutrition. In the capital of Kabul alone, 40 percent of children have lost at least one parent. Nationwide, some 700,000 women are war widows. Of the estimated 100,000 victims of landmines, more than two-thirds were children


Why Bush Needs to Spin the War

by David Corn Bush could not have had an easier set-up. A villain out of a James Bond film unleashes murder and mayhem against thousands of civilians -- including many from countries other than the United States. He essentially acknowledges his culpability and threatens more of the same. He calls for uprisings against various Arab states. He is protected by a regime of totalitarian, misogynistic, extremists who maintain official relations with only three other nations in the world. How could Bush be outflanked by this foul individual? How much more can bin Laden be demonized? (He's Lucifer and he has nuclear weapons!)


Interior Secretary Lied To Congress, Watchdog Group Says

by Cat Lazaroff Secretary Gale Norton substantially altered biological findings from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concerning effects of oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before she transmitted them to Congress, according to documents released October 19 by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility


Corporations Charged With Plundering Patriotism

by Jim Lobe Since Sept. 11, "members of Congress have served up a non-stop buffet of corporate pork legislation," says Ralph Nader. Nader and others say they are incensed by economic stimulus legislation in Congress that provides more than $200 billion in tax breaks and related benefits to big corporations and upper-income taxpayers


Bush Dismantles Environment Rules Using Terrorism Claims

by Danielle Knight Bush administration continues its drive to dismantle domestic environmental protections under cover of its public preoccupation with terrorism and anthrax, advocacy groups warn


Sept 11 Becomes Religious Right New Fundraising Tool

by Bill Berkowitz In early October, the Rev. Lou Sheldon of Traditional Values Coalition said that gay or lesbian partners of victims of Sept. 11, should not be granted aid money because it could be seen as an affirmation of their relationships. "[Relief] organizations should be first giving priority to those widows who were at home with their babies, and those widowers who lost their wives," Sheldon said. "It should be given on the basis and priority of one man and one woman in a marital relationship"


Afghanistan's Everyday Misery

by Ted Rall Nights are almost always shockingly cold, and so are the days from November through May. Afghans heat their uninsulated mud-adobe homes with Chinese-made camping lanterns fueled by eye-burning, lung-searing benzene. Every teeth-chattering minute offers a terrible dilemma: which is worse, freezing to death or poisoning yourself on low-grade Central Asian benzene?


Afghan Aid Worker: The Worst Humanitarian Crisis Of Our Era

by Bob Geary The American bombing complicated things, but it was not the chief cause of the disaster. The cause is a three-and-a-half year drought that is crippling all of Central Asia, combined with years of fighting in Afghanistan that has forced millions of people to flee their homes and become refugees. Because Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan all have closed their borders for fear of infiltration by Afghan-based Islamic terrorist groups, these displaced populations "are like fish circling in a bowl," Buchanan says, "because there is no place for them to go"


Eight Weeks in Jail: Life on Ashcroft's Enemies List

by Carole Bass Al-Maqtari told of being interrogated for 12 hours straight, lied to by the FBI, accused of beating his wife, then locked up with little ability to contact his wife or attorneys, all because Tiffinay Al-Maqtari wore a head scarf to a recruiting center where she enlisted in the Army, and because soldiers found box cutters and New York City postcards in their car


Still Possible To Block Bush Drug Czar

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson Last May, John Walters, President Bush's pick to spearhead the country's drug fight, ridiculed the charge that too many minorities are being imprisoned for illegal drugs, as an "urban myth." What Walters was thinking when he made that borderline racially insulting remark is a mystery. But it drew instant howls of protest from members of the Congressional Black Caucus, drug reform groups, and even some conservatives. All have ganged up to oppose Walter's pending Senate confirmation


Now Colombia Drug War is Part of Terror War

by Philip Smith Even as Congress grows increasingly queasy about the U.S. drug war adventure in Colombia -- the Senate last week voted to slash President Bush's Andean counter-drug budget by 22 percent -- Bush administration officials and congressional drug war diehards are turning up the "terrorist" rhetoric in an effort to strengthen their cause


Does The Democratic Party Matter Anymore?

by Laura Flanders Democratic acquiescence didn't come in with the flights that hit the Trade Towers. It was a trademark of the Democratic response to Election 2000, as Toobin, who wrote a book about that, points out. "The Democratic gene for unreciprocated bipartisanship was also on display during the tumultuous recount in Florida"


About Those High Approval Ratings For Bush And War

by Arianna Huffington Take this week's startling -- and widely reported -- finding that 83 percent of Pakistanis side with the Taliban in the current conflict. It was, we were told by Newsweek, CNN and assorted pundits, the result of a Gallup poll. Trouble is, it was "Gallup Pakistan" -- a dubious organization with absolutely no ties to the U.S. polling company. But even if media outlets had not been warned by the real Gallup about the poll's reliability, shouldn't they have been skeptical of such an outrageous number and, at least, asked how the pollsters had got to it?


Colin Powell Losing Power Struggle Within Bush Admin

by Jim Lobe Bureaucratic maneuvering part of a pattern of excluding or circumventing Powell, the target of a number of recent attacks by hawks' supporters outside the administration who have claimed that the secretary's focus on Afghanistan is at odds with Bush's vow to take on terrorists and all states which shelter or support them


GOP Tax Cuts Won't Help Economy Says Nobel Winner

by Tim Shorrock The $100 billion Republican stimulus bill being considered this week in the House of Representatives is badly skewed towards the rich and will do little to stimulate the immediate investment needed to pull the United States out of recession, says Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz


A Wet Noodle Economy

by Robert Reich Tax cuts for companies won't spur them to spend or invest because companies already have too much capacity on their hands. They won't spend or invest a penny more until they know that consumers are coming back. The $15 billion airline bailout is a case in point. The airlines didn't take the money and invest it. They turned around and announced they were firing 120,000 of their employees. Not exactly a way to boost consumer confidence


Taliban Apparently Fell For Joke Nuclear Bomb Recipe

by David Cassel An abandoned Taliban building in Kabul contained an alarming document that apparently described how to make an atomic bomb. But alarm turned to laughter when a webmaster who'd viewed news footage of the document recognized it as a 1979 parody


The Man Who Screwed The World

by David Morris Kenneth Lay is living proof that one person can change the world. His company, Enron, may be in shambles. In three months, it may no longer exist. But for the rest of our lives we will live in a world redesigned by Kenneth Lay


The New Battlefield

by Tamara Straus The post-Sept. 11 world has taken the veil off a manifold of problems -- Islamic hostility toward modernization, U.S. greed, Middle East corruption, widespread poverty and the failures of globalization -- a shroud remains over the slippery spread of weapons of mass destruction


Mexican Maize Contaminated with Engineered Genes

by Cat Lazaroff Testing of maize varieties from 22 communities in the Oaxaca, Mexico areas have revealed genetic contamination in 15 of them. The findings raise questions about the potential for genetic pollution in a region considered the world's best repository of maize genetic diversity, and about American policies of exporting engineered crops


Soy-Based Food May Be Harmful To Infants, Researcher Says

by Kurt Pfitzer While some people believe soy products protect women against heart disease and other ailments, she says, the products might be linked to a number of health risks including breast cancer and accelerated aging in the brain. Estrogen stimulates cell division and growth in some types of breast cancers. Isoflavones, which bind to estrogen receptors, can mimic estrogen in some cases


Israel/Palestine Unspoken Question: Do You REALLY Want Peace?

by Ben Lynfield Ending an eight-year silence on the Israeli-Palestinean conflict, Nusseibeh, a philosopher who is president of al-Quds University in Jerusalem, is calling for wrenching compromises -- before it is too late. He urges that it be adopted before the continued growth of extremism on both sides makes it impossible: a two-state solution without illusions by either side that they can have more than that


Jewish Colonists Begin Moving Out Of West Bank

by Ben Lynfield The flight from the Jordan Valley and from other small, secular remote outposts of the West Bank is hardly a mass exodus. It does not reflect the situation in larger settlements or an ideological shift. But strong supporters of settlement activity acknowledge the flight as a worrisome trend, a threat to Israel's territorial claims and also a challenge to the idea that Zionism is about holding one's own and redeeming the land in a hostile environment


Israel Puts Palestinian Areas Under Lockdown

by Ferry Biedermann Arafat has been given an ultimatum to start acting against extremists who killed 25 Israeli's in suicide attacks last weekend and the Palestinians are being made to feel the seriousness of the situation


Israeli "Warning" Injures 100, Kills 2

by Ben Lynfield The Israeli military Dec. 4 staged a terrifying display of just how vulnerable the Palestinian Authority and population are to its aircraft. It came hours after a cabinet decision to significantly escalate what Israel considers to be a war on terrorism, but which Palestinians experience as a campaign of attacks against their entire population. A 15-year-old boy and a police officer were killed in Gaza City airstrikes and doctors said more than 100 people were injured, many of them youngsters


Canadian Natives Not Told About Toxic Fishing For Two Years

by Ranjit Devraj For years, Cree fishers, who catch most of the community's food, suspected there was a problem with the three lakes that they use. They reported catching fish with strange defects, lacking fins and eyes. The government did not admit to the pollution problem until the Cree tribal council hired U.S. researchers Christopher Covel and Roger Masters to investigate. The pair found high levels of arsenic, cyanide, lead, and mercury in fish caught by Cree fishers


Too Much News Can Be Hazardous To Your Heath

by Andrea Lynn Even in better times, uncertainty management involves a kind of mental balancing act -- "a balance between a desire for information and a need to avoid extreme or pathological anxiety." This moment in time, when cases of inhalation anthrax -- and deaths caused by it -- are being verified, not only is taxing citizens, it also is taxing the experts


Bangladesh Clothing Industry Collapses

by Tabibul Islam Global recession coupled with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States have dealt a heavy blow to Bangladesh's garment sector, with at least 1,000 ready-made clothing factories (almost 30 percent of the total) already forced to close


Energy Dept. Reviewing Ban on Radioactive Scrap Metals

by Danielle Knight Radioactive metal could end up in everything from dinner forks and knives to children's dental braces if the Bush administration lifts a ban on recycling scrap metal from nuclear weapons and reactors, activists warn


Citizens Victims In Colombia War Crossfire

by Yadira Ferrer The civilian population tries to live with the fear of being caught in the cross-fire of the armed groups involved in Colombia's decades-old civil conflict, fleeing when one or another of the armed groups arrives, seeking refuge in nearby towns, and returning home when things calm down -- only to flee again when the violence flares back up


Secret Banking System Welcomes Terrorist As Well As Corporate Money

by Hank Hoffman Clients of Clearstream can be bankers, investment managers, offshore companies, tax evaders, officials of secret services, the CEOs of multinationals -- or terrorists. For example, the records list a Clearstream account belonging to Bahrain International Bank, which is suspected of moving Osama bin Laden's money


The Swiss Connection: Bioweapons, Terrorism, And Money Laundering

by Lucy Komisar To protect America from terrorist attack, the United States must investigate illicit trade in biological weapons and trace the movement of terrorist money. A good starting point is a controversial Swiss bank that may have facilitated the sale of hazardous biological materials to Islamic militants


Bush To Africa: Call Us Next Year

by Jim Lobe Hopes that President George W. Bush might announce more debt relief and aid for Africa, especially for the fight against AIDS, evaporated as Bush and top officials instead lectured ministers from more than 40 sub-Saharan nations on terrorism and the virtues of free trade and economic liberalization


Appeals Court Throws Out Exxon Valdez Penalty

A federal appeals court has overturned a $5.3 billion punitive damages award against Exxon stemming from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. The court called the amount, which was determined by a jury in Alaska, excessive, and ordered a judge to set a lower penalty


The Fall of Enron

by Jim Hightower Some of the new ventures that Lay launched with Enron ended up in the ditch, the company's stock price went into a dive ... and then there's the little matter of the scandal


Cheap Lives -- The East St. Louis Murders

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson The East St. Louis murders underscore the colossal risk of murder and criminal violence more black women now face. Homicide now ranks as a major cause of death for young black females. A black woman is ten times likelier to be raped and assaulted than a white woman. The media often magnifies and sensationalizes crimes by black men against white women, and ignores or downplays crimes against black women


Afghan Women Spell Out Demands For Government Role

by Brian Kenety With such high-profile meetings in the works, Wali told IPS she was certain that the role of women in Afghanistan "will not be diminished, because there is a lot of attention on the issue and everybody is watching," but stressed that in order to keep the Afghan men in line, the international community needed to exert further financial pressure


Afghan Warlords Threaten Reconstruction

by Brian Kenety Major donors to Afghanistan have warned that reconstruction and development aid will not be released to areas of the war-torn country under the control of undemocratic warlords


No Quick Fixes For Afghanistan This Time

by Nadeem Iqbal Estimates by international bureaucrats here put reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan at up to $10 billion. How donor agencies respond and whether the manner is inclusive of local needs and aspirations will have to be seen in the months and years ahead


Bush Would Have Not Won Recount

by John Nichols Had election officials and the courts sought to identify the choice of the electorate, rather than to satisfy the demands of partisans, Gore would have emerged as the winner


Go After Saddam, Bush's Right-Wing Advisory Council Says

by Jim Lobe In an open letter to Bush that has become their current mission statement, 38 PNAC associates urged Saddam's ouster "even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the (Sept. 11) attack." Lebanon, Syria, Iran and the Palestinian Authority should be punished, they added, if these do not take immediate steps to shut down "terrorists," such as Hezbollah and Hamas, opposed to Israel. Washington's closest European allies strongly oppose the idea of going after Saddam in the absence of credible evidence tying the Iraqi leader to the Sept. 11 attacks


Terrorist War Seen As Excuse For Asia Crackdown

by Marwaan Macan-Markar When the Chinese government lined up to march in step with the U.S.-led war against terrorism, human rights activists knew that the Uighurs, a Turkish-speaking Muslim minority in China, were in for harsh times. By mid-October, evidence began trickling out of the western Xinjiang province, where some eight million Uighurs live, that Beijing had begun cracking down on this ethnic minority as part of its own new "anti-terrorism campaign"


The Face That Haunts Me

by Joyce Marcel I close my eyes and see the Afghani woman. She, too, is in the arms of her husband. They are a handsome pair, these two -- young, dark-haired, dark-eyed, as much in love as my husband and me. And like us, all they want is to live their life together. But they have not eaten for days, their home has been demolished, and they are crouching for cover behind a rock


Media Self-Censorship Pushing News Coverage to Right

by Laura Flanders Organized right-wing "patriot police" have been hounding network executives since Sept. 11, reports the Times. The president of ABC News, David Westin, apologized after he was criticized by Rush Limbaugh. News executives at CNN, ABC and MSNBC all say they are "conscious" of the conservatives' criticism while making their day-to-day news decisions


Taliban Retreat Dampens Islamic Extremist Movement

by Muddassir Rizvi The Taliban retreat has dampened the fervor over the so-called jihad that had gripped Pakistan in the wake of the Sep. 11 terror attacks in the U.S. and subsequent military ambitions of Washington


Afghan Power Vacuum: 1989 All Over Again

by Mushahid Hussain As Afghanistan's second international war in a decade enters a new phase, similarities are emerging between the manner of the Red Army's exit from Kabul in 1989 and the Northern Alliance's entry into the capital late last month


God Bless America, Chili Fries $1.49

by Walter M. Brasch A flyer I received at home combined the flag, a patriotic call, a message of sympathy -- and my inviolate right to buy sofas on sale. General Motors, trying to sell cars, declared "In this time of terrible adversity, let's stand together. And let's keep America rolling"


Swept Up In The Terrorism Dragnet

by David Morton These days, civil liberties are no longer considered the weave of the American fabric; they are shiny medals to be put away when dress grays are exchanged for camouflage. Civil libertarians are spoken of as an obsessive cult. Yet even those who weigh in favor of "national security" should be concerned. As Leopold suggests, when FBI agents use the strict letter of immigration law, rather than the spirit of Constitutional law, to jail people blindly and then keep them there arbitrarily, no matter their country of origin, the agency is also wasting valuable investigative manpower and financial resources better used elsewhere


Connect the Enron Dots to Bush

by Robert Scheer Enron is Whitewater in spades. This isn't just some rinky-dink land investment like the one dredged up by right-wing enemies to haunt the Clinton White House--but rather it has the makings of the greatest presidential scandal since the Teapot Dome


"Radical Evil" A Dangerous Argument

by Robert Scheer The assumption that we are at war with a uniquely evil force is dangerous precisely because it is again used to defend undemocratic measures that will destroy our society as effectively as any enemy might hope to


The Great Bush Environmental Giveaway

by Molly Ivins I suspect that when the history of this era is written, the lack of vision on the part of our government will be deemed the greatest tragedy of all. This was the opportunity, this was the great shining moment when we could have reversed energy policy -- as Bush so stunningly reversed his foreign policy -- and moved toward energy independence based on conservation and the development of renewable resources


Afghan Warlord Dostum Is Bad News

by Molly Ivins Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, the warlord's warlord, is a man who has changed sides nine times, including stints fighting for the Soviets, the Soviet puppets, the Mujahadeen, the Taliban and now the Northern Alliance. This one is a classic. One Western diplomat, according to the Times, says Dostum has "a very checkered human rights record." Now that's diplomatic language. According to intelligence sources, the guy is brutal and corrupt, as well as untrustworthy -- and according to the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, his soldiers' record of rape is ghastly


Holiday Book List

by Molly Ivins We prefer, of course, to shop at independent bookstores, but if a chain store is all that's available, it will do. Though there are no guarantees on the quality of the Christmas help: I once heard a woman ask for "The Odyssey" by Homer, to which the high-school honey hired for the holidays replied, "Uh, Homer Who?"


Israeli Settlements Are The Problem

by Molly Ivins President Clinton had the two sides so close to a settlement summer a year ago, we know this can be done. It is a doable deal. In the American press, Yasir Arafat took full blame for letting that deal get away, although some were given pause when they saw the proposed map, which did have an unfortunate resemblance to bantustans. And that's the real problem: The map was drawn that way to protect the settlers on the West Bank. The settlers will have to be gotten off the West Bank. Actually, that's what you negotiate -- how many stay and where. It was crazy to ever let them build to begin with, it's been a bad idea ever since, and it gets worse every day


Ashcroft's Sweeping Police Powers

by Molly Ivins The government can now delve into personal and private records of individuals even if they cannot be directly connected to a terrorist or foreign government. Bank records, e-mails, library records, even the track of discount cards at grocery stories can be obtained on individuals without establishing any connection to a terrorist before a judge. According to the Los Angeles Times, Al Qaeda uses sophisticated encryption devices freely available on the Internet that cannot be cracked. So the terrorists are safe from cyber-snooping, but we're not


Media Swallows Enron PR About Collapse

by Molly Ivins The main problem with Enron is that it has never produced much of anything in the way of either goods or services; it has not added a single widget to the world widget supply. Enron is in the business of "financializing," making markets, trading in wholesale electricity, water, data storage, fiber-optics, just about anything. One Enron executive told The New York Times the company's achievement was to create "a regulatory black hole"


Has Poor John Ashcroft Lost His Mind?

by Molly Ivins Not content with the noxious USA PATRIOT bill (for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act -- urp), which was bad enough, Ashcroft has steadily moved from bad to worse. Now he wants to bring back FBI surveillance of domestic religious and political groups


Right Wingers Run Amok

by Molly Ivins So, much depends on how captured Pakistani Taliban fighters are treated, and apparently most of them are being sent to Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum -- my personal fave among our Northern Alliance allies. He's the one who's changed sides nine times. Then we have this claque of right-wingers here pounding the drum for war with Iraq. We haven't even got Bin Laden yet. Could we take this one step at a time?


R.I.P. Bob Eckhardt, Last of a Breed

by Molly Ivins If ever a politician of the 20th century deserved the title "legislator," it was Eckhardt -- legal scholar, craftsman, steeped to his bones in the constitution, law and history. They called him, "The House's lawyer." The only politician I ever knew who could write a bill so that it did precisely what it was intended to do, and did nothing it was not intended to do, with a vision lasting past generations


Let's Not Trash the Constitution, Okay?

by Molly Ivins Absolutely nothing in the Constitution would have prevented us from stopping 9-11, so why would we want to change it? I also think we're arguing from the wrong historical analogies. Yes, during past wars civil liberties have been abrogated and the courts have even upheld this. We regret it later, but we don't seem to learn from that


Better War PR Isn't the Solution

by Molly Ivins Now the big concern is that the Pashtuns will break and run into Pakistan, creating a province seething with discontent, if not actually provoking civil war. Pakistan is estimated to have between 30 and 40 nuclear weapons. no shortage of worries, eh mate?


It's a Good Time to Have Our Wits About Us

by Molly Ivins Americans on the front lines of this war, including the NYFD, are handling their jobs without swooning, and from my own travels around the country, it seems to me most of the rest of us are managing to comport ourselves with reason and dignity, whatever our anxiety levels. Unfortunately, the few nincompoops among us now have fresh occasion for hysteria: the always-timely advice THINK comes to mind. The absolute last thing we need is another round of Arab-bashing


We Don't Need The Patriotism Police

by Molly Ivins The more one reads about Afghanistan, the more apparent it becomes that we cannot afford to underestimate the complexity of this task. For example, the Northern Alliance is not the good guys; they're just a different set of bad guys. And at least two of our allies, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, have done more to nourish the Taliban than has Bin Laden


Homeland Security Czars and Fast Tracking

by Molly Ivins Between panic attacks about anthrax, you should eyeball the "fast track" negotiating authority on trade agreements. The effect of this legislation, which House Republicans are pushing for an early vote, is to allow trade agreements to be enacted without congressional input. No amendments to the agreements will be permitted, Congress can only vote up or down. This will make trade negotiations even more secret and unaccountable


And Now For Some War Profiteering

by Molly Ivins At this rate, we're going to look up from the war against terrorism to find both our civil liberties and economic justice long gone. Long term, that's a lot scarier than anthrax


Obscene Acts Of Congress

by Molly Ivins Legislators have already passed much of this garbage and proudly claim that the most controversial surveillance sections will expire in 2005. In fact, the 2005 expiration date applies only to a tiny portion of the sprawling bill. The police will have permanent ability to conduct Internet surveillance without a court order, and secretly search homes and offices-- the CIA will have cosmetic authority. It's an abomination


Why U.S. Media Shuns World News

by Molly Ivins Thirty years ago, the publisher of a good size city daily expected a return of 7 to 8 percent. Today, there is virtually no competition, and getting less than 20 percent is considered a failure: Some have gotten as high as 28 percent. A news organization has only one way to cut costs, and that is to cut news gathering. As foreign bureaus have been closed and even networks of stringers (local journalists) fall into disrepair, the effects cascade


Let's Have More Irresponsible Tax Cuts!

by Molly Ivins If Bush thinks he's getting good economic or political advice from Tom DeLay, Dick Armey and rest of the right-wing in the House, we'll have to go back to wondering how bright he is. His daddy made exactly the same mistake


War Fever And Rumors

by Molly Ivins On anthrax and rumors of anthrax, television is showing symptoms of the Condit Syndrome -- a story with little news and a lot of speculation


Yahoo! News Vs. Info From Radio Yahoos

by Molly Ivins There are some signs of what could become a dangerous division in what has been an unusually unified America since this crisis began, and they have to do with a class difference in information. To oversimplify, those who are getting their information from the Internet and/or a broad range of publications are having conversations with one another that are radically different from those heard on many radio talk shows. This is more than the simplistic jingoism that is a constant in American life; this is simplistic jingoism with a dangerously short attention span


So What's Wrong With Trying The World Court?

by Molly Ivins I think the media do a disservice by reducing this debate to a simplistic false choice: either we nuke 'em or we engage in some tedious, years-long process which ends not with a bang but a whimper. Again, the question is, what works? When Timothy McVeigh committed a terrible act of terrorism, we did not go bomb the right-wing nut camps in Idaho for the very good reason that it was A. illegal and B. would have created a pile of martyrs, in the style of David Koresh, and thus a whole new set of citizens who think the government is the enemy. This is the Catch-22 of "nuke 'em:" the endless daisy chain of reaction that keeps creating more terrorists, who then strike and cause more reaction, creating more terrorists, etc. If killing more people were the answer, there would have been peace in the Middle East 50 years ago


A Foreign Policy Would Be Nice, Right About Now

by Molly Ivins As near anyone could tell, the sole unifying theme of G.W. Bush's foreign policy was to be for whatever Bill Clinton had been against and vice versa. Clinton pushed mightily for a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, therefore Bush would not push. Clinton was for the Kyoto Accord and various international treaties banning biological weapons, small arms trade, etc., therefore Bush was opposed to same. And so it went


When Madmen Lead The Blind

by Norman Solomon In American media's echo chamber, much of the genuine anguish from Sept. 11 has segued into a lot of braying about national greatness. Like many other pundits now in their glory days on cable TV networks, Chris Matthews knows how to dodge difficult truths. "Patriotism is more important than politics," he proclaimed the other day. What "unites us" is "democracy, freedom, human rights, the right to pursue happiness." And what about the "right to pursue happiness" for the kids dying from lack of food or clean water or medicine, while Matthews and thousands of other journalists fawn over the U.S. military?


The P.U.-Litzer Prizes For 2001

by Norman Solomon When Newsweek published a Dec. 3 cover story on George W. and Laura Bush, it was a paean to "the First Team" more akin to worship than journalism. Along the way, the magazine explained that the president doesn't read many books: "He's busy making history, but doesn't look back at his own, or the world's.... Bush would rather look forward than backward. It's the way he's built, and the result is a president who operates without evident remorse or second-guessing"


Noam Chomsky Says What U.S. Media Won't

by Norman Solomon Mainstream journalists in other nations often interview Chomsky. Based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he's a world-renowned analyst of propaganda and global politics. But the chances are slim that you'll ever find him on a large network here at home. Chomsky is ill-suited to providing soundbites -- and that's not just a matter of style. A few snappy words are sufficient when they harmonize with the conventional wisdom in a matter of seconds. It takes longer to intelligibly present a very different assessment of political realities


Surprise! U.S. Not Center Of World

by Norman Solomon Satire


Enron And The Green Seal

by Alexander Cockburn The fall of Enron sounds the death knell for one of the great rackets of the last decade: Green Seals of Approval, whereby some outfit like the Natural Resources Defense Council or the Environmental Defense Fund would issue testimonials to the enviro-conscience and selfless devotion to the public weal of corporations like Enron. These green seals of approval were part and parcel of the neoliberal pitch, that fuddy-duddy regulation should yield to modern, "market-oriented" inducements to environmental problems, to which indeed NRDC and EDF were always the prime salesfolk of neoliberal remedies for environmental problems


How Monica Lewinsky Saved Social Security

by Alexander Cockburn Accounts by Clinton White House insiders this last summer have made it clear that had it not been for Monica Lewinsky's captivating smile and the inviting snap of her famous thong, President Bill Clinton would have consummated the politics of triangulation, heeding the counsel of a secret White House team headed by Treasury's Larry Summers


Sharon Or Arafat: Which Is The Sponsor Of Terror?

by Alexander Cockburn Ever since Sept. 11, Israel's leaders followed with deep trepidation the building of the coalition against the Taliban and al Qaeda. The months of studious indifference displayed by the Bush administration towards the Middle East's crises suddenly gave way to President Bush's abrupt, post-Sept. 11 statement that he had always nourished the dream of a Palestinian state. Consequently, the prime task of the Israeli government and of its supporters here has been to turn back any serious pressure for accommodation with even the most modest of Palestinian demands


From Tora Bora To Squaw Valley

by Alexander Cockburn You either like snow or you don't, and these days, I'm of the latter persuasion, having spent too many winters of my adolescence at a fierce Scottish school where early morning runs in one's underclothes through the snow were mandatory


Secularism Unlocks the Door to Stability

by Robert Scheer President Bush must break with a popular American notion that religion is inherently a benign experience. For most of the world, although it has guided people to high standards of community, religion just as often has been a divisive nightmare. The best thing we could do for the Afghan people, beyond our clear obligation to bear the enormous cost of creating a national economy where none exists, would be to export the concept of separation between church and state -- the key tool to keeping our own nation religiously sane


News Media Has Shunnned Women Since Sept. 11

by Jennifer L. Pozner The broadcast blackout of women's views is mirrored on the op-ed pages of three of the country's leading daily newspapers. According to a survey I conducted for the media watch group FAIR, women wrote only 8 percent of bylined opeds for The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today in the month following the terrorist attacks



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