default.html Issue 115
Table of Contents

Will Schwarzenegger Deregulate California Energy?

by Jason Leopold One of Schwarzenegger's first political moves as the state's chief executive will be an effort to push the state's electricity market closer toward deregulation, a move halted by Gov. Gray Davis two years ago in the wake of California's energy crisis. Schwarzenegger, while on the campaign trail, blamed Davis for his handling of the energy crisis. He said he wants to eliminate public oversight on future power supply contracts the state signs with energy companies and adopt a design plan for deregulating California's electricity market from other states that restructured its electricity markets, such as Texas

Kudos To LA Times For Schwarzenegger "Groper" Stories

by Jackson Thoreau It's only fair to commend the members of the press when they do their jobs, and the Los Angeles Times did its job in sparkling fashion with its investigation of "Arnold the Groper" published this week. It was an excellent, explosive story, the kind of which American journalism needs more. It was not so much a story about sex, as the age-old abuse of power. And the Times showed that Arnold the Would-be Emperor really has no clothes -- or morals or conscience

West Bank, Gaza, 2003: Ghetto Palestine

by Lori A. Allen The Palestinian intifada completed its third year on September 28, and after three years, the two targets of the uprising -- the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian Authority (PA) -- still stand. But most Palestinians admit that, in many respects, their personal and collective political status has in fact deteriorated. Militant groups' attacks on Israeli civilians inside the Green Line, such as the October 4 suicide bombing that killed 19 Israelis in Haifa, continue to arouse deep disquiet among Palestinians, disquiet that is not limited to fear of Israeli reprisal. Confusion reigns: what have we achieved? Where are we going? What is coming next? Nobody seems to know. "The situation" is not moving in any particular direction, despite the fact that Israeli forces have been killing a steady stream of Islamist activists in the summer and early fall, and that Islamist groups have retaliated with bombings inside Israel

Justice Should Treat Rush Limbaugh Like Any Other Junkie

by Kimberle Williams Crenshaw Limbaugh's camp has to be relieved -- indeed ecstatic -- that the so-called "liberals and media" are squandering this moment to voice support for what is essentially a foregone conclusion. If political elites like the Limbaughs and Bushes of the world had to suffer the devastating penalties for drug use that hundreds of thousands of nameless others face on a daily basis, this drug war would come to a halt in short order. What is needed now, it seems, is less " and neither should you be incarcerated, Rush" and more hard-hitting analysis uncovering why the Limbaughs of the world are less likely to have their lives destroyed by draconian drug laws

Pentagon Wants More Time To Destroy Toxic Biochemical Arsenal

Pentagon officials have asked international regulators for an extension of the deadline for destroying the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile

GM Crops Blanket Latin America

by Diego Cevallos Genetically modified crops already cover more than 45 million acres in Latin America, promoted by a handful of transnational corporations that impose prices and conditions, while the debate about their cultivation, trade and consumption is charged with threats, lawsuits and cash

Confrontation As Brazil State Rejects Government OK For GM Crops

by Mario Osava The decision to make Parana GM-free was made by the state legislature, which on Oct. 14 approved a law that bans the planting, marketing and industrialization of transgenic soy until 2006. Parana's ban on non-certified soya is creating a legal conflict because the national government authorized the production of GM soya throughout the country, issuing a special decree exclusively for the growing season that has recently gotten underway, and in force through the end of 2004

GM Crops Get Bad Marks In New Experiments

by Sanjay Suri "Some insect groups, such as bees in beet crops and butterflies in beet and spring rape, were recorded more frequently in and around the conventional crops because there were more weeds to provide food and cover," the report says. Over the last 50 years, she says, intensification of farming has meant fewer weeds, and therefore fewer birds and insects that could live off them. That has meant a direct threat to wildlife. The herbicides used along with the GM crops were so strong that they killed everything around except that particular plant. GM crops are developed with matching herbicides that seek to destroy other forms of plant life that 'interfere' with the main plant

GM Corn Now Widspread In Mexico, Despite Ban

by Stephen Leahy The study also found that some plants contained two, three and four different GM types, all patented by transnational biotechnology corporations. The first scientific proof that Mexico's traditional corn crop is contaminated with DNA from GM corn was released two years ago by U.S. scientists. Mexico prohibits planting of GM corn anywhere in the country in a bid to protect the plant that originated in the country, and which has become one of the world's most important food crops

Book Claims FDA Blocked Probe Into Biotech Food Safety

by J.R. Pegg "Internal documents made public by a lawsuit reveal that the FDA's own scientists warned that GM foods could lead to unpredictable toxins, allergies, and new diseases," Smith said. "They insisted that each GM food be subject to long term safety testing before it was approved." Smith says the agency's political appointees, including a former lawyer for biotech giant Monsanto, overruled the scientists' recommendations. No safety tests for GM foods are required and few have been conducted, Smith said

Worst Attacks On U.S. Forces Since Start Of Iraq Occupation

by Jim Lobe The rhetoric around the resistance is already changing, as even neo-conservative war-boosters who predicted U.S. forces would be greeted as "liberators" by the Iraqi population and did not conceive of an active post-war resistance have begun recognizing that opposition to occupation has a broader popular base than they anticipated. Tom Donnelly of the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Garry Schmitt, director of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), have now called on Washington to launch a major counter-insurgency campaign based on the bloody onslaughts by the U.S. in the Caribbean and the Philippines in the first half of the 20th century.

October Attacks Mark Escalation In Iraq Resistance

by Peyman Pejman In the attack on Sunday against a hotel in Baghdad housing military and civilian officials, including neo-con Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, one of the chief architects of the war, the bombers used an electricity generator, a home-welded rocket launcher filled with dozens of 68mm and 85mm missiles, and a timer to launch multiple missiles. The fighters did not even have to be there

Israel At New High As Superpower Of Mideast

by Ferry Biedermann The fall of the Saddam Hussein regime seems to have left Israel in a position of unprecedented strategic strength in the Middle East. Academics and politicians alike say that Israeli arms -- conventional and nuclear -- give it overpowering dominance in the current political constellation in the region

Despite Failures, Pentagon Bets It All On Special-Ops Forces

by William M. Arkin These forces can move quickly, blow things up, bolster and protect friendly forces. But they cannot cover all of the avenues of escape or occupy territory. And they cannot establish popular support when they are here one day and gone tomorrow. What was the biggest complaint about Operation Iraqi Freedom, as the combat phase of U.S. intervention in Iraq was called? It was that the United States was not deploying enough troops. After Baghdad fell in just three weeks, most of the complaints about the war plan subsided. But the peace plan is a shambles: There are not sufficient troops on the ground to maintain security. Nor is there a basic strategy beyond the "raid over the beach" approach

U.S. Looking To Israel For Lessons In Occupation

by Ferry Biedermann The U.S. army is looking at the example of the West Bank and the Gaza strip to learn from the Israelis how to run its occupation of Iraq

Afghan Crime Rate Skyrockets

by Peyman Pejman Afghan officials say they need three times as much as previously estimated to rebuild their country in the coming years, but analysts here say that the world is unlikely to commit more funds unless the worsening security situation there improves. Afghan officials admit that increased fighting in the countryside between Taliban hardliners and the fledgling Afghan army and U.S. advisers plus the renewal of drug trafficking have become a serious threat in the years since November 2001, when the Taliban regime was ousted

Most U.S. Forces Pull Out of Liberia

by Lansana Fofana Most of the 200 American troops deployed in the West African country pulled out as around 3,500 West African peacekeeping soldiers will make the first contingent of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). They will be joined by 12,000 other UN peacekeepers, whose deployment was approved by the United Nations on Sept. 19. In the meantime, Liberians are waiting to see when the disarmament of the 30,000 combatants, including child soldiers, will commence. The government of President Blah has said this would be a priority once the UN takes over fully

Groups Angry That Bush Only Hits Prostitution For Human Trafficking

by Ushani Agalawatta Activists have welcomed the spotlight shone on human trafficking by President George W. Bush's speech here but fear his remarks could mislead because they link the phenomenon of human trafficking solely with the prostitution of women and girls

Lethal Injection May Not Be Painless And Humane

by Christopher Brauchli People who have watched someone being killed by lethal injection have observed that those being sent on their way appear as tranquil as those in a hospital room whose lives are being preserved by the most modern techniques known to civilized people. That is in part because one part of the cocktail that is administered to the soon to be departed is a chemical, pancuronium bromide, known by the trade name, Pavulon. Pavulon paralyzes the skeletal muscles but not the brain or nerves. Thus, people receiving it cannot move or speak, nor can they let onlookers know that contrary to appearances, what is happening is no fun at all

Who Pays For Iraq?

by Joyce Marcel Maybe, in the end, there will be millions of hard-working Americans with better things to do with the little money they earn today -- providing they still have a job -- than paying for the President's idiotic policies. Maybe it will become a movement. Maybe our voices will be heard. Because as far as I'm concerned, Rupert Murdoch and his wretched Fox News can pick up the tab themselves. Or those overpaid pundits. Or the Bush family. Or their oil industry friends. Or their Saudi friends

Arnold's Next Script: Debt And Taxes

by Donal Brown Too bad the word "taxes" is such an obscenity in California political discourse, because governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to have to say it sooner or later

The Pentagon Unleashes A Holy Warrior

by William M. Arkin Public support for the U.S. military operation in Iraq has eroded significantly over the past two months, as has confidence in President George W. Bush and his administration's credibility, according to two new polls released July 1

Don't Blame Attacks In Iraq On "Foreign Fighters"

by Rami Khouri President Bush recently called suicide bombers in Iraq "foreign terrorists," and his general, Mark Hertling, blamed the coordinated bombings in Baghdad on "foreign fighters." The Americans in Iraq want the world to believe that evil people who hate goodness, democracy and freedom are waging a campaign against them, which must be stamped out with force. In this view, evil emanates unilaterally from twisted minds and manifests itself in the form of terror attacks such as we witness in Iraq. The rest of the world is not buying this line

Bush Punishes Still More Nations For Backing International Criminal Court

by Jim Lobe Countries that refuse to exempt U.S. citizens and soldiers from the jurisdiction of the new International Criminal Court (ICC) could lose almost $90 million in military aid from the United States in fiscal year 2004

Iranian Peace Prize Winner: A Different Path to Mideast Freedom

by Behrouz Saba Instead of war and military occupation, the Bush administration could promote the best of American values in the Mideast by finding and supporting people like Nobel winner Shirin Ebadi

Paraguay Most Corrupt Country In S America

by Alejandro Sciscioli Ranking at the bottom of the list are Bangladesh -- seen as the world's most corrupt country -- followed by Nigeria, Haiti, Paraguay, Myanmar, Cameroon, Angola, Tajikistan, Kenya, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Indonesia

SARS-Like Pandemics Will Continue To Haunt

by Franz Schurmann Some experts speculate that SARS might have come from animals like the civet cat. Many other epidemics have had their roots in animals as well. But the problem is less the animal and more our prosperity. Prosperity attracts not only human migrants but animal ones as well

Mexico's Fox To Press Schwarzenegger On Immigrants

by Diego Cevallos During the campaign Schwarzenegger altered his former view on immigrants and said he would respect their rights. He said he would work with the U.S. federal authorities to resolve the situation of many undocumented immigrants so that they no longer have to live in hiding. But despite his statements, suspicions persist. Schwarzenegger opponents point out that in 1994 the actor supported Proposition 187, a law that was later frozen by a federal judge. The anti-Arnold camp also notes that the governor-elect opposed allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses

Bush Lies Tumble Out

by Molly Ivins "The point is not that the president and his senior aides were consciously lying. What was taking place was much more systematic -- and potentially just as troublesome," writes Seymour Hersh in the current issue of The New Yorker, in a long, detailed account about our intelligence failures and the politically motivated "stovepiping" -- shooting unconfirmed intelligence reports, without analysis -- up to decision-makers

Tom DeLay's Bold Stand For Demon Rum

by Molly Ivins The amendment itself is a little charmer designed to help the Bacardi rum folks (vague memories of many good tropical drinks are stirred) with a trademark problem they have with one of the world's oldest rum labels, Havana Club. Not being an expert on fundamentalist theology, I have no idea whether assisting a rum company fits into a Biblical worldview, but I can tell you that Bacardi-Martini Inc. is a Bermuda-based company run by a family of prominent Cuban exiles who happen to be very generous, very large campaign donors. They have been especially generous to Tom DeLay for several years now

Bush: Like The Guy, Hate The Policies

by Molly Ivins In the sickening vein is the naked profiteering by various Bushies on the Iraq War. Bob Dole used to wander around the country demanding, "Where is the outrage?" Where's Dole when we need him?

Financial System Alarm Bells Ringing, Big-time

by Molly Ivins The manipulation of mutual funds -- nice, safe, comfortable old mutual funds -- is a story heating up nicely. In addition, if you are following the trial of Frank Quattrone in the nasty case of manipulating high-tech IPOs, you already have been whomperjawed over the goings on. Add The New York Times Sunday account of how states and municipalities have been talked into bond issues by investment banking firms to cover pension costs, with highly unfortunate results, and you have a creepy and getting-creepier picture of the entire financial services industry

Scandals Gather

by Molly Ivins In the sickening vein is the naked profiteering by various Bushies on the Iraq War. Bob Dole used to wander around the country demanding, "Where is the outrage?" Where's Dole when we need him?

Our Chaos In Iraq

by Molly Ivins Iraq is in chaos, and apparently the only way we'll be able to stop it will be to kill a lot of Iraqis. Just what Saddam used to do. The other day, we announced we were going to shoot looters, and when that produced nightmare scenarios of children dead for stealing bread, we had to cancel that plan

Bush Reasons For Iraq War Still Shifting

by Molly Ivins I have been trying to concentrate on the pragmatic lately. Even if we were wrong to go into Iraq, let's focus on what can be done now to save the situation. But sometimes -- such as when the president admits Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 or our official WMD searchers admit they have nothing -- it seems to me useful to go back and review the bidding

Demo Candidate Pack Doesn't Look Bad, After All

by Molly Ivins You can tell which ones the R's think are dangerous by the way they attack. They're pushing a storyline on Dean that the Washington press corps has bought into, big-time. That Dean is "thin-skinned" and "riles easily." There was much chatter on the chat shows about what was alleged to be a Dean show of temper over Gephardt's comparing him to Newt Gingrich. Aside from the fact that anybody would be insulted by being compared to Gingrich, I must say the alleged flash of temper didn't show much on television

Ecuador Sending Army To Protect Foreign Oil Workers From Indians

by Kintto Lucas The Ecuadorian government plans to send troops into the territory of the Kichwa Indians in the eastern Amazon jungle region of Pastaza in order to allow foreign oil companies to carry out exploration despite the resistance of local residents and environmental groups. The announcement by a government minister that the army would be called out to back the operations of U.S. oil giant ChevronTexaco and its Argentine partner CGC (Compan’a General de Combustibles) on land to which the Sarayacu Kichwa people hold legal title drew an outcry from local and international environmental and human rights groups

Daily Life Harder For Most Iraqis Since Invasion

by Peyman Pejman Six months later, many Iraqis are openly asking whether the end of 35 years of Saddam Hussein's tyrannical rule has brought them the benefits they expected. "When the Americans came, people were happy," Ban Ali, a mother of two told IPS. "We thought the Americans would increase the food ration or give each family $50 to improve their livelihood. But nothing has changed. Same amount of food, same quality of food." The quality of food matters, but these issues are not the primary concern for most Iraqis. Security and jobs are. No official figures are available, but some estimates place unemployment around 80 percent

UN Failure To Protect Staff Lead To Deadly Baghdad Bombing

by Thalif Deen The UN security is so "dysfunctional" that it provides little or no protection for staff members in Iraq or in other high-risk UN missions and peacekeeping operations worldwide, a four-member independent panel reported. The 40-page panel report says "there is no place without risk in Iraq." But it argues that the United Nations was "unprepared to work in these circumstances," primarily because "it failed to provide adequate security to UN staff"

Bush Threat To Withold Israel $$ Over Apartheid Wall Called "Sham"

by Thalif Deen Over the objections of the United States, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided Tuesday to go on building the barrier, which includes trenches, fortified guard towers and electronic sensors-- aimed at thwarting Palestinian attacks. Last week the United States threatened to deduct the cost of the wall from a proposed $9 billion U.S. loan guarantee to Israel. But Professor As'ad AbuKhalil of California State University says the U.S. threat is a sham. "There is no credibility to U.S. threats. And it is not accurate to refer to mild U.S. statements about the barrier as threats." "Threats is the language the U.S. government reserves for Arabs and Muslims, not for Israelis"

TV Media Misled U.S. Public On Iraq War, Study Finds

by Jim Lobe The more commercial television news you watch, the more wrong you are likely to be about key elements of the Iraq War and its aftermath, according to a major new study. And the more you watch the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News channel, in particular, the more likely it is that your perceptions about the war are wrong

Enron May Have Influenced Probe On Calif Power Crisis

by Jason Leopold About two dozen of the more than one million Enron emails dealing with California's energy crisis, recently released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, appear to make a strong case that the one-time high-flying energy company had some role in influencing the FERC decision three years ago -- a major blow to California consumers and two of the state's investor-owned utilities that were teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Utilities in California lost billions of dollars buying high-cost power on the wholesale market and selling it at a loss under a state mandated rate freeze

India Building Risky Fast-Breeder Nuclear Reactors

by Ranjit Devraj Under a deal signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin when he visited India two years ago, a pair of seawater cooled and moderated reactors are to be built at Koodankulam, which faces the Sri Lankan coast across the Palk Straits and has drawn protests from activists in the island country. Udayakumar and other opponents of the Koodankulam project have contended that it sidelined democratic norms and, as with other nuclear weapon and energy programs in this country, was being pursued in secrecy in spite of the fact that it endangered the lives and future of millions of ordinary people

India, Pakistan In Full-Blown Nuclear Arms Race

by Praful Bidwai As India and Pakistan ready their nuclear arsenals for deployment, their leaders seem to be slipping into denial mode, refusing to acknowledge that they are in a potentially ruinous nuclear arms race

Iraqi Women Face Rape, Kidnapping

by Peyman Pejman Six months after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraqi women are waiting on the sidelines to see if and how they can achieve the rights they were deprived of under 35 years of dictatorship

Native Language On Rise In Mexico

by Eduardo Stanley For Mixtecs, indigenous people from the mountains of southern Mexico, neither the Spanish conquest of Mexico nor the migration of hundreds of thousands of Mixtecs to the United States has destroyed their "language of rain"

Israel's Raid On Syria: Stage Four In The Terror War

by Gary Leupp What is the U.S. trying to say, by supporting the first such strike by Israel against Syria in 30 years? (Why now, when Palestinian militant groups have been active in Syria, often more significantly than now, for a long time?) Is Damascus supposed to congratulate the U.S. on invading and occupying a neighboring Arab country? (Actually, they just, reluctantly, voted to support the U.S.-authored resolution to approve the occupation.) Is it expected to somehow prevent all supporters of the Iraqi resistance from crossing its vast border? Is it supposed to lay down its (perfectly legal) guard while Israel maintains its WMD arsenal? Is it supposed to lock up or turn over to Israeli justice all Palestinian militants resident in the country? Already the Bush administration has presented such demands (which some might find unreasonable and contrary to the "American" principle of press freedom) as insisting that Syria close down Palestinian press offices, and Syria, out of fear, has partly complied

Romanians Long For Good Old Days Of Dracula In Modern Corrupt Society

by Marian Chiriac Many Romanians look on the Communist days as a golden age. They see corruption everywhere now, and almost every international institution lists corruption as the main stumbling block to reform and foreign investment. Last week Romania was listed the third most corrupt country in Europe

Who's Writing Schwarzenegger's Script?

by Robert Scheer Speaking of Davis, Arnold intoned, "It is time to terminate him." Schwarzenegger admits that he does not plan to even begin a study of the budget until after he is elected, but he insists that the budget can be trimmed not by cutting needed programs but by cutting only waste. That is nonsense

Global Village Market Leads To Quickly Emerging New Diseases

by Stephen Sautner

The result is a dangerous mix of humans and animals that allow viruses and bacteria to rapidly mutate. The staggering numbers of animals and people involved change one-in-a-million odds of a disease spillover into almost a daily possibility. Even under the most hygienic conditions, this pool of viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens creates ideal conditions for diseases to multiply rapidly and jump between species

Only Clark Can Challenge Bush Foreign Policy

by Robert Scheer Isn't it odd that after a terrorist attack that relied on $2 box cutters, we are redoubling our pursuit of fantastical weaponry?

Schwarzenegger Misconduct Just 'Frat-Boy Behavior'?

by Robert Scheer Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer told reporters that although he believed a slew of women's allegations that the governor-elect had grabbed them sexually without permission or invitation, "I'm convinced Arnold didn't really understand that he was caught up in frat-boy behavior." On the movie sets where many of the incidents are said to have occurred, Schwarzenegger was in an enormously powerful position over the people who later leveled complaints against him -- he could have ruined their careers

Limbaugh's Drug Use The Least Of His Crimes

by Robert Scheer Let me be on record as being strongly opposed to sending Limbaugh up the river, even though that is the penalty he wished to inflict on others. Limbaugh's experience is the best argument against the demonization of all junkies -- this one throughout his addiction held a big job and presumably paid a lot in taxes.

Latin America Poverty Creates Boom In Child Sex Rings

by Jose Eduardo Mora Commercial child sexual exploitation is a growing problem in Central America, where hundreds of minors fall victim to crime rings that find fertile recruiting ground in the poverty that affects well over half of the population of countries like Honduras and Nicaragua

Fear, Anger Grow In Iran As Nuke Deadline Nears

by Ramin Mostaghim Many express concern that Iran is being targeted for some kind of military action by countries like the U.S., whose 'axis of evil' list includes Iran along with North Korea and Iraq. Iranians' fears were heightened further by U.S. and German news reports in recent days that the Israeli spy agency Mossad has drawn up plans to attack nuclear sites in Iran with U.S.-made missiles

Don't Attack Iran, Crisis Group Warns Bush

by Jim Lobe The Bush administration must be patient with Iran, where growing popular unhappiness with the conservative leadership is unlikely to lead to swift political change, let alone a popular insurrection as some U.S. neo-conservatives have predicted, says a new report

Bush Accusations At Iran Aimed At Justifying Regime Change

by William O. Beeman The United States has accused Iran of harboring al Qaeda leaders. There is not a shred of evidence that this is true. The accusation is so insubstantial that it leads one to believe that the accusation is a prelude to some dramatic political or military move, such as an attempt at regime change in Iran. The latest accusation is nothing new. The United States has a long list of unsubstantiated accusations against Iran

Shi'ite Iraqi Leader Calls For United Resistance With Sunnis

by Aws al-Sharqy The policy shift -- as Shiites had previously opted for peaceful resistance of occupation -- comes after mounting confrontations between occupation forces and Shiite, particularly the latest clashes between U.S. soldiers and followers of Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr, which left several Shiites dead and injured. The Shiite scholar further said that the Shiites became furious at the U.S. insistence on disarming Shiite fighters, who played a pivotal role in guarding holy mausoleums and mosques after the failure of occupation forces to do so

In Muslim World, Anti-U.S. Feelings Now Prevail

by Mushahid Hussain While Muslims complain that their religion has been 'demonized' particularly after Sept. 11, U.S. journalists, academics and policymakers are finding widespread sentiment growing against the United States. It is a sentiment that is no longer confined to the Muslim world. On Saturday, most European capitals witnessed popular street protests against the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The Muslim world witnessed only two such rallies in the countries closest to Washington, Turkey and Egypt

Contaminated Chinese Honey Puts Sara Lee, Smuckers In Sticky Situation

by DeWayne Lumpkin Two of America's best-known brands, Sara Lee and J.M. Smuckers, have found themselves embroiled in a sticky situation involving Chinese honey smuggling that has roiled the global honey industry and led to investigations and recalls. Two federal agencies and both companies acknowledge they have a problem with companies that disguise the origin of Chinese honey contaminated with a powerful antibiotic that in some cases can cause anemia

U.S. Soldiers To Be Tried For Reporter's Death In Iraq

by Tito Drago Three U.S. soldiers are to be indicted in Spain for the death of Spanish journalist and cameraman Jose Couso in the war in Iraq

Pentagon Not Investigating Iraq Civilian Deaths

by Jim Lobe In an investigation undertaken in late September, Human Rights Watch collected what it called credible reports of 94 civilian deaths at the hands of U.S. forces from May - October in the capital city, all of which its says took place in circumstances that warrant an official investigation

Israel Shaken As Pilots Protest Bombing Palestinian Civilians

byPeter Hirschberg A group of 27 pilots, some retired and some still doing active reserve duty, have sent a letter to the chief of the air force declaring their opposition to bombing missions in Palestinian cities. "We, veteran pilots and active pilots alike, who have served and who continue to serve the State of Israel for many weeks every year, are opposed to carrying out illegal and immoral attack orders -- in civilian population centers," they said in a letter made public

IMF Policy Source Of Deep Unrest In Bolivia

by Emad Mekay Current unrest in Bolivia over an unpopular gas pipeline has deeper roots in public anger over free market policies imposed by the IMF and the World Bank, which have impoverished more Bolivians and deepened inequality in Latin America's poorest nation, say analysts here

U.S. Religious, Racial Profiling Growing, Experts Testify

by Dina Rashed Drawing on his experience with the Muslim and Arab communities, Jim Fennerty, of the National Lawyers Guild, said they have been under attack every time they criticized the American foreign policy, and even more after 9/11. "We are heading to a society where everything is based on secrecy," he said, referring to the measures of law enforcement officers in rounding up whom they consider suspects without properly notifying their family members about their charges or even their whereabouts

IMF, World Bank Consider Iraq's Future

by Simran Bose Estimates Iraq's reconstruction needs have been put at nearly $200 billion over three years by Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator of Iraq. Restoring water and electricity systems alone will cost some $30 billion. "We don't have a clear picture yet on the requirements for, financial or otherwise, for reconstruction in Iraq," Abed said. "We don't have a figure yet (for resources needed)." The assessment of Iraq's needs -- the United Nations, World Bank and the Fund have done research -- will be presented to the donors' conference later this month. Local media reports quoted a spokesman for the World Bank as saying that Iraq will not be a part of the formal agenda of the annual meetings, but "there will be discussions alongside the meetings."

Iraqi Council Invites Total Foreign Ownership Of Iraqi Businesses

by Simran Bose The Iraqi Governing Council, appointed by the U.S. announced sweeping economic changes to allow total foreign ownership of businesses in the country without the need for prior approval by anyone. These measures, which include tax cuts and trade tariff rollbacks, would apply to all industries except oil. Oil, of which Iraq has the world's second largest reserves, would be controlled by the U.S.

Fake Letter From Soldier In Iraq Was Desperate PR Move

by Randolph T. Holhut "Astroturfing" has been a staple of politics since the 1970s. Virtually every PR and lobbying shop in Washington does it on behalf of their corporate clients and special interest groups to dress up odious public policy in the cloak of "grassroots" support. What is unusual is that the Army has to resort to this sort of manipulation of public opinion. But the Army is merely following the lead of its civilian leaders, which recently embarked on a PR campaign to convince Americans to stay the course on Iraq

Tests Show People More Likely To Shoot Black Men Than Whites

by Joel Schwarz Given only a fraction of a second to respond to images of men popping out from behind a garbage dumpster, people were more likely to shoot blacks than whites, even when the men were holding a harmless object such as a flashlight

Burma's Dictatorship Stripping Ancient Forests

The forests of Burma are being liquidated to serve the needs and desires of the country's cash-poor military government, according to a new report

Arms Sales To Latin America Soar

by Jim Lobe Spurred by the wars on drugs and terrorism, U.S. military aid to Latin America has more than tripled over the last five years

Chaos In Iraq Blocks Millions Of Refugees From Returning Home

by Gustavo Capdevila Plans to assist millions of Iraqi refugees to return home have been put on hold due to the military and political insecurity that persists after six months of U.S. occupation, according to organizations involved in humanitarian operations

Iraq Sunni Minority Seethes Under U.S. Occupation

by Ferry Biedermann Although a minority in Iraq, Sunnis dominated both his Baath party and the government. Historically, Iraq has always been dominated by Sunnis, whether under the Abbasid Caliphs, the Ottoman Turks or the Hashemite monarchs. That Sunni dominance is under direct threat for the first time now under the Coalition Provisional Council (CPA) that rules Iraq in the name of the U.S. and British occupation. The Governing Council of Iraqi politicians appointed by the CPA reflects the Shia Muslim numerical majority. There has never been a census dividing Iraq's population along sectarian lines, but most experts agree that Shias have a majority. Of the 25 members on the new Council, only five can be described as Arab Sunni

The Allure Of Al Qaeda To Young, Jobless Muslim Men

by Franz Schurmann Young, jobless Muslim men in Afghanistan and across the Middle East cannot afford bride prices. Bloated armies have traditionally absorbed many of these rural youths. Now, new, fearsome groups linked loosely or tightly to Al Qaeda capitalize on hopelessness and loneliness by promising, often via cassette-tape songs, heavenly brides for martyred fighters

Pope Curbed Church's Progressive Latin Wing

by Diego Cevallos In his 25 years in the papacy, John Paul II visited many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and his travels changed the face of the Roman Catholic Church in the region, pushing to the sidelines its once vigorous progressive wing

AmeriCorps Near Collapse, Despite Bush Promises

by Will Marshall and Marc Magee Despite President Bush's promise in his 2002 State of the Union address to expand AmeriCorps by 50 percent, the national service venture is only weeks away from shrinking dramatically. Unless the president proves willing to face down GOP ideologues in Congress this fall, a decade of hard-won progress in building national service will be lost

Bush Admin Faces Mounting Charges On All Sides

by Jim Lobe With the exception of having sex in the Oval Office, Bush and his Iraq policy advisers are now being charged with violating just about every imaginable tenet of governance -- from deceit and corruption, to incompetence and betrayal. That many of these charges have moved from the alternative to the mainstream media and from grassroots activists to Capitol Hill indicates the seriousness of the situation

President Cheney, VP Libby

by Jim Lobe While the mainstream media continue to refer to Bush as the captain of his own foreign policy ship, indications that Cheney -- a Republican right-winger surrounded by neo-conservatives, many with very close ties to Israel's rightist Likud Party -- is the dominant figure in Washington's diplomacy have become too plentiful to ignore. Cheney's own chief of staff and national security adviser, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a Washington lawyer and Wolfowitz protege, is considered a far more skilled and experienced bureaucratic and political operator than Rice.

Broad Coalition Formed To Oppose "Bush Empire"

by Jim Lobe "The time for debate is now," the charter states, noting that imperial policies "can quickly gain momentum, with new interventions begetting new dangers." Among the more prominent right-wing signers are Doug Bandow, a special assistant to former president Ronald Reagan and now a senior officer at the libertarian Cato Institute, Scott McConnell, chief editor of 'The American Conservative' magazine and Alan Tonelson of the U.S. Business & Industrial Council Educational Foundation. Representing more centrist positions are Steven Clemons of the New America Foundation, former senator Gary Hart and Harvard international relations professor Stephen Walt. More left-wing figures in the group include Charles Kupchan, an aide to former president Bill Clinton now with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and Kenneth Sharpe, a prominent foreign-policy analyst from Swarthmore College in Philadelphia.

Cheney Emerging As Top Zealot In Bush Admin

by Jim Lobe Already tarnished by questions surrounding the huge no-bid reconstruction contracts won by his former company, Halliburton, in which he retains a financial interest, as well as his refusal to disclose to Congress what meetings he held during his creation of Bush's energy policy, Cheney is increasingly seen as a serious right-wing extremist and ideologue, and by far the most powerful number two in U.S. history

Bush Nominates Right-Wing Activist To UNESCO Post

by Jim Lobe The White House statement announcing her nomination made no reference to her former position at GOPAC. Instead, she was described as president of Oliver Management Consultants and as "previously appointed by the president to be commissioner of the National Council on Children." But 'Roll Call' failed to turn up any record of Oliver Management Consultants on the Internet and the "National Council on Children" did not exist

Lessons For The Next Recall

by Norman Solomon Media strategists were key to the recall drive that ended in triumph for Arnold Schwarzenegger's savvy corporate backers. So, as a public service, here are some tips for any partisans who want a shot at spinning their way into recall history

The "Anti-American" Smear Against Critics

by Norman Solomon The elastic "anti-American" label stretches along a wide gamut. The routine aim is to disparage and stigmatize activities or sentiments that displease policymakers in Washington. Thus, "anti-American" has spanned from al-Qaida terrorists, to angry Iraqis tiring of occupation, to recalcitrant German and French leaders, to Labor Party backbenchers in Britain's House of Commons. Any Americans gauged to be insufficiently supportive of U.S. government policies may also qualify for similar aspersions

The Booming Deception Industry

by Norman Solomon For wars, brand loyalty is crucial. By the time most people think critically, tragedies are history. And unlike a defective product (or a California governor), wars are not subject to recall

The Politics of Media Filtration

by Norman Solomon We ain't seen nothing yet. Much of Bush's anticipated $200 million campaign war chest next year will be devoted to purchasing entirely "unfiltered" access to the public in the form of commercials lauding the man's supposed greatness. Bush does have one thing right: By and large, the news media are functioning as a filtration system in this country. Of course, he wants it to filter out a lot more of the news and views he doesn't like. But Bush would be truly shocked if the nation's mass media acted less like a filtration system and more like a means for widespread democratic communication

Did The Brits Blackmail David Kelly Before Suicide?

by Alexander Cockburn as Kelly's relationship with Pederson a factor in his death? Why exactly did he kill himself, assuming that he wasn't murdered? Was it anguish at being exposed by the British government as someone who had lunch with a BBC journalist? It seems unlikely. Maybe he was told by his employers that they were prepared to make insinuations about his relationship with Mai Pederson unless he testified to the Select Committee at the BBC's expense

Israel Declares Determination To "Change Behavior" Of Syria

by Ferry Biedermann Israel is determined to "change the behavior" of the Syrian government, Major General Amos Gilad, a senior political adviser to Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said, adding that there was no intention "for the moment" to achieve a "regime change" in Damascus

Syria Hawk Given A Top White House Post

by Jim Lobe David Wurmser, who had been working for Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, joined Cheney's staff under its powerful national security director, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, in mid-September, according to Cheney's office. Damascus has been in Wurmser's sights at least since he began working with Perle at AEI in the mid-1990s. For the latter part of the decade, he wrote frequently to support a joint U.S.-Israeli effort to undermine then-President Hafez Assad in hopes of destroying Baathist rule and hastening the creation of a new order in the Levant to be dominated by "tribal, familial and clan unions under limited governments."

Israel Attack On Syria Raises Fears Of Escalation

by Peter Hirschberg "What was the point of attacking Syria?" former Labor Party leader Amram Mitzna asked. "Who can even explain the goal? Was the goal to calm down the Israeli public? To divert the public's attention from our day-to-day problems here and the government's inability to deal with terrorism?" If this was a one-time strike, however, its effectiveness will be limited. That raises the question of whether Israel can really hit Syria, or other states in the region it says are harboring terrorists after every suicide attack. This is unlikely. Even U.S. understanding will wear thin if such strikes continue and they begin to impact negatively on U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq

Attack On Syria A Top Goal For U.S. Neo-Conservative Extremists

by Jim Lobe Many of the same people both in and out of the administration who have favored making Syria a primary target in the U.S. "war on terrorism" signed a report released four years ago that called explicitly for using military force to disarm Syria of supposed weapons of mass destruction

Iran Hardliners Downplay Shirin Ebadi Nobel Prize

by Ramin Mostaghim State-run television treated the news as minor item. Many newspapers aligned with hardliners' factions did not carry the news or criticized it, observed Bahram Rouzbahani, expressing frustration over the 'warped' reporting by media on Ebadi's win. "Between the lines, it was implied that the prize was granted to Shirin Ebadi as she was pro-homosexuality, abortion and pre-marriage sexual relationships," said Rouzbahani, a dissident in charge of a newsstand in Engelab Avenue near Tehran University.

Bush, Blair, Sinking Together

by Alexander Cockburn The postwar travails of the Bush and Blair regimes have been moving at roughly the same tempo. Last Saturday, the Financial Times announced on its front page, "Blow for Blair as 50 percent want him to go." At that same moment, U.S. headlines were assigning the same collapse in popular esteem for Bush

Monsanto Plans For Biotech World Conquest Face Setback

by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair Monsanto, clearly on the run, says it's abandoning Europe for now. Following Bill Clinton's lead, Blair stocked his cabinet with Monsanto flacks and fought off attempts by the European Union to ban GM crops. The lone holdout in the Blair camp was Meacher, the environment minister, who vowed last year that the government would ban the crops if the studies produced negative results. But Blair sacked him last year, after Meacher publicly savaged Blair's support of the Monsanto machine. So far, the top levels of the Blair government have taken a low-key posture about the study, saying only that they will "carefully reflect" on the results. All this hits Monsanto, already bruised by declining sales, at a bad time. A week after the British study was released, the agricultural-chemical giant announced that it was laying off 10 percent of its U.S. workforce in a desperate attempt to slash costs associated with its RoundUp and biotech business

Study Finds Wolves Rebalancing Yellowstone Ecosystem

by David Stauth The reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park may be the key to maintaining groves of cottonwood trees that were well on their way to localized extinction, and is working to rebalance a stream ecosystem in the park for the first time in seven decade

U.S. Returns To UNESCO, Confrontations Immediately Begin

by Julio Godoy The UNESCO budget for 2004-2005 is $610 million. The U.S. government will now pay $53 million a year, and an additional reintegration fee of $5.3 million. Some officials at UNESCO say this is about the only good thing about the U.S. decision to rejoin the organization. The U.S. based its return on several conditions. The first is an immediate place on the executive council, whose members are elected. This U.S. demand forced four European countries -- Luxembourg, Portugal, Greece, and Monaco -- to withdraw their candidatures for the council, making sure that the U.S. ambassador to UNESCO will be elected

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