default.html Issue 102
Table of Contents

The Anthrax Letters: Five deaths, Five grams, Five Clues

by Paul de Armond Now as the anniversary of the attacks approaches, the FBI investigation remains an embarrassing failure. The problems with the investigation lie with the circumstances that made the attack possible, not with the cleverness of the attacker

Death and Boredom in the Afghan War

by Ron Callari Rall sees Afghanistan as a "clash between Islamic fundamentalism...left-over Soviet totalitarian dictatorships, mixed with its special witches' brew of tribal feuds and a Caspian Sea Oil rush." His 112-page "To Afghanistan and Back" reads like a dispatch from the wartime trenches, but the book's centerpiece is a 50-page graphic depiction that features Rall's unique cartooning style

Save America, Spy on Your Neighbors

by Randolph T. Holhut Up to one million volunteers are set to participate in the Citizen Corps' pilot program called the Terrorism Information and Prevention System (or Operation TIPS). The volunteers would be trained by the Justice Department to report any "suspicious and potentially terrorist activity" to law enforcement agencies. Do you trust Ashcroft? I don't, and given the dismal track record of the federal government in the area of protecting civil liberties, I don't see a reason to expect TIPS to be anything other than a government spy operation

American History Defined by "One Nation Under God" Bias

by Paul Blaum As early as the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, Americans, then far more ethnically homogenous, started thinking of themselves as a new, improved version of the English Anglo-Saxons, says Dr. Daniel B. Lee, assistant professor of sociology at Penn State. Since Anglo-Saxon England had allegedly become morally and politically corrupt, its former colonists in America were now poised to take up England's mantle as the superior civilization. Within a few decades, this view resulted in the doctrine of Manifest Destiny

Where's Ralph?

by Janet Reynolds As one of the most influential persons of the 20th century, a man whom we can thank for many of the safety, health and pubic information privileges we enjoy, the 68-year-old Nader could retire to Winsted to write books and garden, and no one would think less of him. Instead, he continues to criss-cross this country to lecture and exhort people to action at a level that leaves many of his younger staffers exhausted. After the election, Nader founded Democracy Rising, a coalition designed to link local groups together in a civic movement for accountability and action that he hopes will help hold politicians more accountable in coming elections. To spread the word, he organizes and speaks at Super Rallies

Colombia Paramilitary Splits Into 3 Groups

by Yadira Ferrer The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a 10,000-strong paramilitary group classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and blamed by human rights groups for countless massacres of unarmed civilians, has splintered into three groups

Colombia Rebels Kidnap Entire Village

by Yadira Ferrer Colombia's FARC rebels have taken nearly every single resident of a small farming town hostage, civilian and military authorities reported July 31. People's Defender Eduardo Cifuentes confirmed reports of the mass kidnapping, and said the residents of Puerto Alvira, a town of 1,200 people in the northeastern department of Meta, as "human shields"

House Shoots Down Bush on Cuban Embargo

by Jim Lobe In a striking rejection of President George W. Bush's hard line toward Cuba, the House of Representatives voted decisively last week to ease the 42-year-old U.S. trade embargo against the Caribbean island

Israel Complaining About Setbacks in Propaganda War

by Ferry Biedermann Israelis blame more and more what they see as skewed reporting by the foreign media. "The playing field is not level," says Danny Seaman, director of Israel's Government Press Office (GPO). "We play by democratic rules and have open access and freedom of expression, while the other side does not." Seaman is unapologetic about restrictions such as closing Palestinian towns to reporters. The GPO no longer offers accreditation to Palestinian journalists working for the foreign media in the West Bank and the Gaza strip. Foreign journalists often depend on these journalists for translations, contacts and sometimes even for interpretation of events

Israel Complaining About Setbacks in Propaganda War

by Ferry Biedermann Israelis blame more and more what they see as skewed reporting by the foreign media. "The playing field is not level," says Danny Seaman, director of Israel's Government Press Office (GPO). "We play by democratic rules and have open access and freedom of expression, while the other side does not." Seaman is unapologetic about restrictions such as closing Palestinian towns to reporters. The GPO no longer offers accreditation to Palestinian journalists working for the foreign media in the West Bank and the Gaza strip. Foreign journalists often depend on these journalists for translations, contacts and sometimes even for interpretation of events

Bush Fine-Tunes Enemies List

by Mushahid Hussain Saddam's softened gestures -- like inviting a U.S. congressional delegation to visit Iraq with technical experts to verify what he says are unsubstantiated allegations of building chemical, biological and nuclear weapons -- carry no weight with U.S. policymakers

UN Toothless in Mideast Crisis

by N. Janardhan "The United Nations has become an organization which can churn out plenty of resolutions but is helpless in implementing any of them," Koechler told a conference on "Human Rights, Victims of War and International Law" here last week. Criticizing the United Nations for its failure in undertaking an independent investigation of the grave violations of international law by the Israeli occupying forces in Palestine, Koechler says the UN secretary-general's attitude has been one of "defeatism" when confronted with Israeli moves such as its rejection of the visit by the fact-finding team for Jenin

Indonesia Covering up 1999 Atrocities, UN Says

by Thalif Deen Human rights activists and senior UN officials have faulted an Indonesian tribunal for imposing a lenient sentence on a former governor of East Timor charged with war crimes. On August 15, the tribunal also found that the former regional police commander and five other military, police and government officials were not guilty of similar crimes

Bush Turns His Back on World Summit

President George W. Bush made the announcement August 19, giving no explanation as to why he will not be attending the summit to join 106 other world leaders on the speaker's podium. Bush has been under pressure from Republican Party and conservative lobbyists not to attend the summit

Spillover From Corporate Fraud Will Cost Economy Billion$, Report says

by Emad Mekay Besides pummelling the stock markets, the accounting frauds at corporate giants Enron, WorldCom and others will have spillover effects throughout the economy, affecting employment, inflation, and foreign investment in the United States, says the study by the Washington-based Brookings Institution

Russia Pushing Forward With Risky Gas Project

by Sergei Blagov Russian authorities have decided to proceed with construction of the world's biggest liquefied natural gas plant on Sakhalin Island, despite a lack of committed buyers and concerns that it will cause widespread environmental damage

Is "Left Behind" Evangelical Book Series a Blueprint for Bush Administration?

by Jim Lobe If you have been curious about why the George W. Bush administration, one of whose most important constituencies is the Christian Right, seems to hate the United Nations, despise peacekeeping, love Ariel Sharon, and want desperately to bomb Baghdad to "kingdom come," you might choose the book that has been number one on the New York Times best-seller list since its release in early July

Argentina Economic Collapse Leads to "Express Kidnaps"

by Marcela Valente Young, inexperienced thieves in Argentina are taking advantage of people's fear of depositing money in banks, where the savings of millions of people are frozen, by staging brief kidnappings in exchange for cash and jewelry stashed in safes or under mattresses at home

One Million Russian Children Under 14 Working

by Sergei Blagov Most of these children live on a combination of irregular work, begging and small theft, the ministry says. They clear garbage, they pump gas and wash cars, and other such work. The ILO report says that 10 to 30 percent of these children slip into crime or prostitution

Mexico Awash in Untreated Toxic Waste

by Diego Cevallos Mexico generates at least eight million tons a year of hazardous waste, has no policy for its treatment and disposal, and most of it goes unreported and ends up in open-air pits or buried without the minimum safety procedures

Microsoft Sets Sights on "E-Mexico"

by Diego Cevallos Mexico is on its way towards becoming part of the developed world, with the tools of digital technology, said President Vicente Fox, who promised that the entire country would be online by the end of his six-year term in 2006. But critics point out that there are much more urgent priorities in a country where half of the population lives below the poverty line, many have no clean water or sewage services, and a large number of people do not even know what a computer is

The Boom or Bush Cycle

by Robert Scheer The Bushes are, as a matter of breeding, terminally irresponsible. And while being a loose cannon can sometimes be useful in making war, it is stability and pragmatism that breed prosperity. The Bushes' contempt for government regulation of capitalism has allowed corporate piracy to drive the nation toward financial ruin. The American public now stares in disbelief as our infamous boom-Bush cycle wreaks havoc on its retirement plans and endangers its jobs. Meanwhile, yet another President George seeks to distract us with patriotic-sounding gibberish

Simplistic Hunt for Evil in a Complex World

by Robert Scheer How depressing for Bush administration militarists that the world is such a complex place. For a few months, it seemed that the invasion of Iraq was the ticket to ride into another four-year term, but then the most respected of GOP elders, Brent Scowcroft and Henry Kissinger, rose up to remind Junior that just such hubris had destroyed his father's presidency

Dirty Dealings? Bush Is Shocked ... Shocked!

by Robert Scheer WorldCom was only a minor player until the Telecommunications Act of 1996, pushed through Congress by Rep. Newt Gingrich and Sen. Trent Lott and signed into law with the enthusiastic support of corporation-friendly "New Democrat" President Clinton. At the behest of lobbyists for WorldCom -- based in Lott's home state of Mississippi -- the senator stuck in an amendment specifically designed to enable WorldCom to grab a huge chunk of the telephone market

Attacking Iraq For the Hell of It

by Robert Scheer What the heck, let's bomb Baghdad. Sure, it's one of the more historically important cities in the world, and many of its more than 3 million inhabitants will probably end up as "collateral damage," but if George the Younger is determined to avenge his father and keep his standings in the polls, that's the price to be paid

Another Bankrupt Idea From Congress

by Robert Scheer With their customers squeezed by ever-higher interest rates allowed in the small print -- even as the prime rate was shifted far downward -- the profits of banks' credit card operations soared. Now, still making out like bandits, these lenders want the government to strong-arm their debtors

Saudi - U.S. Relationship Going, Going...

by N. Janardhan A series of recent incidents -- ranging from the reported flight of Saudi capital from the United States to open differences over Iraq -- underline how U.S.-Saudi ties have taken a U-turn since Sept. 11

Pope Beatifies Mexico Indians Who Spied For Church

by Diego Cevallos Pope John Paul II left Mexico today amidst outpourings of affection and admiration, but there were also criticisms about the canonization of a 16th century Indian portrayed as submissive and the beatification of two others who renounced their pre-Hispanic religion for Catholicism

State Dept. Asked Court to Drop ExxonMobil Human Rights Suit

by Jim Lobe The department's letter caught human rights groups by surprise, especially because it is the first time it has urged the dismissal of a case filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), a law that permits foreigners to sue for damages for serious human rights violations in federal court against defendants who are present in the United States

Bush Ignored Facts to Withhold UN Aid

by Alex Sanger Bush Monday not to approve $34 million in aid for the United Nations Population Fund, which provides voluntary family-planning assistance in more than 140 nations worldwide -- although the President's own fact-finding team came back from China with a report that clears the UN agency of involvement in these activities

Time to Investigate 9/11

by Randolph T. Holhut The one year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks is just a few weeks away, and we will be deluged with all sorts of weepy tributes to the dead from that day. I believe the best tribute we can offer the more than 3,000 people who died in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania is the truth

Bush Signs Corporate Reform Law, Then Undermines It

by Philip E. Daoust Only hours after signing the Accounting Industry Reform Act in a grand East Room ceremony on Tuesday, the White House released a statement that it was narrowly interpreting a number of the bill's provisions, including a section that offers federal protection to corporate whistle-blowers who present Congress with evidence of fraud. Members from both parties of Congress are openly criticizing the President's action, accusing him of endorsing a "watered-down" version of the legislation

Congress Fights Over Special Bankruptcy Protection For Abortion Clinic Protestors

by Philip E. Daoust A hotly-contested provision that would prohibit anti-abortion protestors from declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying court fines became the central obstacle in getting a final vote on the bill before the Congressional recess

Bush Team Squabbles With Dad's Crowd Over Iraq War

by Jim Lobe For now, the war is strictly among Republicans -- between the old-line conservatives from the administration of former President George H.W. Bush and the new-line hawkish conservatives among the civilians in the Pentagon and in Vice President Dick Cheney's office. A series of leaks this month from senior military brass, who have grown increasingly distrustful of the warlike tendencies of their civilian bosses, marked the preliminary skirmishes in the conflict

Brent Scowcroft, Unlikely Peacenik

by Jim Lobe The second-most frustrated man in Washington's foreign-policy establishment these days -- next to Secretary of State Colin Powell -- must be Brent Scowcroft, the courtly and self-effacing retired army general who served as George Bush Sr's national security adviser. The significance of the fact that Scowcroft has gone public with his advice on several occasions over the last three months cannot be exaggerated

Bush Sneaks Subsidy Cheat Factory Farmer Into USDA

by Jim Hightower As head of a large corporate farm in Iowa, Thomas Dorr was slipperier than an Enron executive. He once made the unfortunate comment that three Iowa counties were enjoying economic progress because of their homogeneity -- meaning white and Christian. Dorr also doesn't like small, as in small farmers. He says that 200,000-acre factory farms fit his vision of what agriculture should be

No Dissent Welcome at Bush Economic "Summit"

by Jim Hightower At taxpayer expense, Bush flew in Vice President Cheney, seven cabinet members, a gaggle of White House aides and a load of PR flacks to sit around for four hours with fat cat CEOs, a bunch of economists, and a handpicked crowd of partisan cheerleaders -- all to tell him what an excellent job he's doing. Afterwards, Bush's top political operative bragged with a straight face that "There was unanimity that we've taken the right [economic] steps, that we're going in the right direction." Then he scolded critics: "Everyone ought to applaud when the president sits down with ordinary people"

Holding Dick Cheney "Accountable"

by Arianna Huffington Let's start by looking at the problem of the vice president and Halliburton. During the number two's time as the company's number one, the number of Halliburton subsidiaries registered in tax-friendly locations ballooned from nine in 1995 to 44 in 1999. The result? A dramatic drop in Halliburton's federal taxes, which fell from $302 million in 1998 to less than zero -- to wit, an $85 million rebate -- in 1999. At the same time they were hard at work stiffing U.S. taxpayers, Cheney and Halliburton were happily feasting at the public trough

Harvey Pitt's Job Insurance: Protecting Bush

by Jim Hightower Because he's been such a toy poodle for corporations that now are proving to be systemically corrupt, Harvey's been taking heat, including bipartisan demands that he resign. But he says he won't quit because he has the "full support" of Bush. Why would the president keep such a weak regulator when the White House is trying to look tough on corporate crime? Because Harvey recently turned into Pitt the Ferocious Bulldog on another agency matter: Keeping the media and We the People away from SEC File No. MHO-3180

Riots in Venezuela as Court Debates Coup Leader's Fate

by Jose Zambrano Snipers opened fire today in the Venezuelan capital against police, leaving at least four people injured, including one officer, marking an escalation of the tensions evident in street demonstrations as the Supreme Court considers the fate of four military officers who led a failed coup attempt in April.

Young Afghan Women Setting Themselves Ablaze

by Fariba Nawa Young women feeling trapped in family conflicts are setting themselves ablaze in an age-old suicide method for women in the region. In Herat, a prosperous city on the Iranian border in Southwestern Afghanistan, no one died of self-immolation last year during the reign of the Taliban, but four women have killed themselves so far this year, including a 14-year-old girl whose family had married her off to a 60-year-old man, hospital records show

Xerox Caught in India Accounting Fraud

by Ranjit Devraj Searches carried out by the Income Tax Department at more than 20 locations in the national capital and the eastern metropolis of Calcutta resulted in the recovery of unaccountable cash worth more than $200,000 and tax evasion in excess of $5 million over the past five years. Xerox Corp., which holds 68 percent stakes in XML, declined comment on the raids, which followed the parent companies' admissions to the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month that "improper payments" had indeed been paid to secure government contracts. In April, the SEC alleged that Xerox Corp. had resorted to accounting improprieties to increase its pre-tax profits by $1.5 billion over a three-year period from 1997 through 2000

CIA Was In On Operation Condor Conspiracy, Memo Shows

by Lucy Komisar In the days after the 1976 assassination in Washington of two opponents of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, the Central Intelligence Agency learned that a conspiracy to murder leftist political opponents around the world by six Latin American governments was planning a Paris operation. If Washington knew about a specific operation, rather than Operation Condor's general outlines, it has more comprehensive information about the network's activities than it has made public. That evidence is wanted in Europe and Latin America by victims' families and by judges investigating charges of murder and crimes against humanity

India Faces Economic Collapse as Worst-Ever Drought Looms

by Aman Singh This year is set to break all previous records as India reels again under a drought that could leave an already sluggish economy even slower and inflation driving prices at the market out of reach. Millions of families in India's northern and central states could go hungry as the nation faces its worst drought since 1987

No Fed Funding for Church-Centered Chastity Programs, Judge Rules

by Asjylyn Loder Some groups funded by the Louisiana program used the money to sponsor religious revivals, radio messages and school skits and clubs that preached abstinence in a Christian context, Porteous wrote. A fact sheet distributed to Louisiana high school students by the governor's program asked why sexually transmitted diseases had spread over the last 30 years. "The answer is moral relativism," the fact sheet stated. "We removed God from the classroom." Another fact sheet read, "It's time to restore our Judeo-Christian heritage in America"

Oregon Protesters Slam Bush Timber Plans

by Cat Lazaroff Conservation groups say they do not oppose forest thinning projects aimed at protecting homes and communities, and in fact, few such projects are challenged by environmental appeals or lawsuits. But under the Bush proposal, thinning projects could be undertaken across thousands of acres of forest, far from human habitation -- and the projects would not be limited to clearing brush and small trees

UN: 13 Million Africans Facing Famine

by Thalif Deen A "severe food crisis" is developing in a region already struggling to overcome the legacy of conflict and the debilitating effects of HIV/AIDS, said Annan. "There is still an opportunity to avert famine and to save lives, but this window is closing rapidly," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council

Authors Slam Amazon.Com for Pushing Used Books Over New

by Walter M. Brasch In a strong letter to Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and chief executive officer, Nick Taylor argued: "We're not against Amazon's selling used books, or used book sales generally. We're against Amazon's selling 'used' (frequently new copies sent out for review) books on the same page as new ones. Neither authors, who frequently devote years of hard work to their books, nor publishers, who invest faith and money in bringing books to print, receive credit for books sold in this way. Only the seller, who often paid nothing in the first place, and of course Amazon, turns a profit"

U.S. Calls Zimbabwe Election "Fraudulent," Won't Recognize Government

by Lewis Machipisa President Mugabe, who is seizing white-owned farms to resettle black Zimbabweans, said: 'They (western countries) don't want us to be economically independent. They want us to be beggars ... coming to them everyday with a bowl asking for help. No ... we have our resources here. They belong to us and we are taking and giving them to our people"

As Half of Zimbabwe Near Starvation, White Farmers Fight Land Reform

by Lewis Machipisa At the height of production, commercial agriculture provided the bulk of the country's food supplies of wheat, meat and dairy products. In a normal year, they used to produce some 30 percent of annual maize output, the bulk of it coming from communal farmers. But the government says it is correcting a skewed colonial land policy where some 4,500 white commercial farmers owned more than 70 percent of the country's prime farmland

Bush 's Folly: Plans for Fighting a War Without Allies

by Molly Ivins Anti-Americanism thrives on the perception that we don't give a rat's behind how the rest of the world feels about anything. That's the famous "arrogance" for which we get criticized. On that count, a war with Iraq could play right into terrorist hands. It's apparent that our ally Saudi Arabia has a far stronger connection to Sept. 11 than our enemy Saddam Hussein, so attacking Hussein makes us look like hypocrites willing to sell out our foreign policy for oil

CEOs and Ashcroft's Selective Prosecution

by Molly Ivins Attorney General John Ashcroft makes five guys do a perp walk and thinks we're dumb enough to assume that's the end of corporate fraud. It is notoriously difficult to prove fraud and I, for one, am cynical enough to believe that there is a class of people in the country called Too Rich to Go to Prison

Bush Economic Summit Shows Repubs Just Don't Get It

by Molly Ivins The president dropped in on the assorted gabfests, repeating the same fatuous remarks. "I want a self-regulating (financial) industry," "I want to see a self-policing industry." There was a lot of this self-congratulatory gush about, "We have the world's best whatever." I haven't seen any polls on the state of envy in the rest of the world, but I do know what they think of President Bush

Class Warfare by any Other Name

by Molly Ivins Some days, you have to believe right-wing ideologues have lost touch with reality completely. Their latest proposal to prevent future Enrons is -- ta-da! -- cut the capital gains tax. And exactly what does that do to prevent future Enrons? Nothing. Except Ken Lay won't have to pay taxes on the stock he sold while his company cratered and his employees watched their life savings disappear

Guilty as (Not) Charged

by Molly Ivins Now is not the time to dismiss concerns over civil liberties as alarmist. "O pshaw," is not a helpful response to violations of the Constitution. Worse than the dismissive pooh-poohing of concern is the implication that those who speak up on behalf of those caught up in the post-Sept. 11 sweep who have still not been charged with anything are themselves somehow unpatriotic. Boy, is that standing the world on its head. Seems to me every sentient patriot should be concerned

The Joy of Texas Mudslinging

by Molly Ivins This is the summer of our discontent -- the stock market is dropping like a rock, the corporate world is riddled with crooks, the Washington politicians are hand-in-glove with the crooks, terrorists threaten, John Ashcroft is in charge of civil liberty, a baseball strike looms and, except for the miners, there's nothing but gloom in Mudville. Except here in the Lone Star, where it's back-scratching time at the old corral

Three Little Horrors Behind Enron Economics

by Molly Ivins The Sarbanes bill, which would never have seen the light of day had the stock market not tanked, fixes one of the Three Little Horrors that set up Enron Economics. Good on Sen. Sarbanes and all who toiled with him to pass it. Lord knows, many years at the Texas Legislature have taught me how hard it is to pass a bill supported by no special interest, but only in the public interest

Wall St. Scams and Born Again Populists

by Molly Ivins We are now treated to the edifying sight of innumerable politicians scrambling to get right with Jesus, or at least with the voters. Witnessing this land-rush toward civic virtue requires a cast-iron stomach

The Bad Lessons of the Telecom Bill

by Molly Ivins The Telecommunications Deregulation Act of 1996 was actually written by industry lobbyists, each of the several components of telecom snarling at one another like wolves over a piece of meat as they ripped up 70 years worth of regulatory experience. The wolves united once the bill hit the floor to push it through. We few, we happy few, who raised hell about it at the time had it condescendingly explained to us that the magic of the marketplace would take care of all our doubts

Widget World vs. Enron Economics

by Molly Ivins As many economic poohbahs have been at pains to explain to us lately, out there in Widget World, where people produce actual goods and provide useful services, things are going along quite nicely. It's the financial sector that's the disaster, the part where they play fancy games with other people's money for a living. That's Enron Economics, the land of stock options, commodities futures, derivatives, swaps, financializing markets and offshore partnerships

Media Forgets Iraq Had Reason to Block UN Arms Inspectors

by Norman Solomon "U.S. Spied on Iraq Under UN Cover, Officials Now Say," a front-page New York Times headline announced on Jan. 7, 1999. The article was unequivocal: "United States officials said today that American spies had worked undercover on teams of United Nations arms inspectors ferreting out secret Iraqi weapons programs... . By being part of the team, the Americans gained a first-hand knowledge of the investigation and a protected presence inside Baghdad." But such facts don't assist the conditioned media reflex of blaming everything on Saddam Hussein. No matter how hard you search major American media databases of the last couple of years for mention of the spy caper, you'll come up nearly empty

All The Hallmarks of "Official" Scandal

by Norman Solomon The latest "official scandal" shows no indication of abating anytime soon, there's still a shortage of high-profile reporting on the nation's extreme disparities of power

Bush "Wagging the Puppy," Using Iraq Rumors to Distract Public

by Norman Solomon The more that Iraq dominates front pages, magazine covers, news broadcasts and cable channels, the less space there is for such matters as the intensifying retirement worries of many Americans, the Wall Street scandals, and specific stories about entanglements that link Bush or Dick Cheney with malodorous corporate firms like Enron, Harken and Halliburton

If a Media CEO Were to File an Honest Report

by Norman Solomon After buying several hundred radio stations across the country since enactment of the bipartisan telecommunications law in 1996, we're able to clone our sound with just enough trickery to make most people think they're listening to a station with a local staff. For those who don't care for our daily offerings of Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura and various imitators, we provide the free-market choice of insipid oldies and present-day pop to help listeners wile away their pitiful consumptive lives

Fending Off the Threat of Peace

by Norman Solomon Why should anyone in Washington try to defuse this crisis when we have such a clear opportunity to light such an enormous fuse in the Middle East?

The Politics of Solitary Confinement for Life

by Anita Roddick I met a man last month who has spent more than 30 years in solitary confinement. When I returned home to tell of my visit to Angola, friends and colleagues shook their heads sternly, muttering about African nations torn apart by civil war and chaos. They reminded me how hard it is for Westerners to grasp the traditions and political realities of the Third World. Thank God, they added, for Amnesty International. But, I said, I wasn't in Africa. I wasn't in the Third World. I was in Louisiana, at Angola prison

The Stock Option Hog Wallow

by Alexander Cockburn There are villains in this story, an entire piranha-elite. And there are victims, the people whose pension funds were pumped dry to flood the hog wallow with loot. One great battleground of the next decade across much of the world will revolve around pensions and issues of asset-based welfare for the swelling ranks of older folk

Pro-Israeli Money Defeats Pro-Palestine Candidates

by Alexander Cockburn Suppose someone started looking at names in the pro-Israel groups funding Majette, who by mid-August had raised twice as much money as McKinney. Aren't they supporting and helping fund terror that has U.S.-made F-16s machine-gunning kids in Gaza? What's the game here? It's the reiteration of the same message delivered to politicians down the years, as when Senator Charles Percy went down. Put your head over the parapet on the topic of Israel and the Palestinians, and we'll blow it off

If War It Is... Here's Why

by Alexander Cockburn The U.S. game plan could be to continue with the present "strategy of tension," or to gradually ratchet up the level of military harassment

Don't Criticize Israel in Election Year

by Alexander Cockburn David Hilliard, the first black elected to Congress in Alabama since Reconstruction, dared to call for some sense of balance in U.S. policy in the Middle East. Hilliard was overwhelmed by a primary opponent, middle-of-the road lawyer Arthur Davis, whom Hilliard had trounced in earlier contests, but to whom American-Jewish organizations suddenly shoveled a ton of money. Davis lashed Hilliard for being anti-Israels

Why Bush Didn't Bailout Enron

by Alexander Cockburn The Senate hearings last week confirmed that the banks knew that there were big problems with both Enron and WorldCom -- in fact, they helped devise the "prepays" (loans disguised as trades) and other devices which concealed how highly leveraged the companies were. The recent hearings in Congress have yielded some remarkable material. Here's an internal e-mail exchange at Chase: One executive wrote simply: "$5 bn in prepays!!!!!!!!"; the other replied, "Shut up and delete this e-mail," an exchange later variously described as "misstatements by young bankers" or simply as jokes

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