default.html Issue 116
Table of Contents

Reagan, AIDS, & CBS

by Jeff Elliott It's clear that the network was under enormous pressure from the religious and political right to cancel the series. Within days, the right-wing media machine was at full throttle; Fox News attacked relentlessly, Internet campaigns against CBS began, and "grassroot" protest letters poured in to newspapers (the Albion Monitor received at least 40 identical copies of the same letter). Conservatives painted the miniseries as not "historically accurate," and a smear produced by "openly gay activists" starring "Mr. Barbara Streisand" as the Gipper himself. Ignored was that producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan are respected Oscar-winners, and veteran TV actor James Brolin apparently had no part in writing the script. It was classic McCarthyism

FTAA: Police Violence In The Miami Streets

by Rebecca Solnit For months beforehand, Police Chief John Timoney -- engineer of the coup against constitutional rights at the 2000 Republican National Convention when he headed Philadelphia's police force -- had portrayed protestors as terrorists and the gathering in Miami as a siege of the city. Much of the money for militarizing Miami came, appropriately enough, from an $8.5 million rider tacked onto the $87 million spending bill for the war in Iraq. Miami will pay directly, however, both in revenue lost from shutting the city down and, presumably, for activists' police brutality and civil rights-violation lawsuits. Perhaps the silliest example of the paranoiac reaction to the arrival of protestors was the removal of all coconuts from downtown Miami palm trees, lest activists throw them at the authorities

Last-Minute Dirty Trick By Schwarzenegger Campaign

by Robert Gelfand On Monday October 6, 2003, the day before the recall election, attorney Gloria Allred introduced a woman by the name of Rhonda Miller at a press conference. Miller explained that she had worked as a stunt double with Arnold Schwarzenegger and then alleged that he had groped her sexually. A few hours later, the Schwarzenegger campaign sent out an email inviting the press to access and review certain Superior Court records that, they suggested, bore on the credibility of Miller's account. The implication was that the accuser Rhonda Miller was a convicted criminal. The punch line to this story is that it was the wrong Rhonda Miller, not the actress and stuntwoman, whose criminal history was being exposed

Delegates, Protesters Converge On Miami For FTAA Summit

Workers from Immokalee, a South Florida community with many Central and South American residents, have come to Miami to march in protest of the FTAA tomorrow. Lucas Benitez, a member of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, says, "Thousands of us who find ourselves in Florida have been obligated to leave our countries because of the consequences of the free trade agreements that have flooded our countries' markets with cheap agricultural products from the United States and Canada, making it impossible for us to sell the crops that we have grown for generations." "Every day we wake up at 4AM to go beg a day's work in the central parking lot in town," Benitez says. "We may find work harvesting tomatoes today, picking oranges tomorrow, and doing maintenance at a golf course the next day, or we might not find any work at all. We earn subpoverty wages, with no access to benefits, and we are denied the right to overtime and to organize on the job"

Florida Oranges Just One Industry FTAA May Destroy

by Mark Scheinbaum One FTAA analyst has speculated that "free trade" for the Americas means a free flow of Brazilian citrus into the U.S. markets. If that happens, the orange and lemon groves will be turned into housing developments and gas stations

FTAA Talks A Matter Of Life And Death, Doctors Warn

by Gustavo Gonzalez Doctors Without Borders has warned against the efforts by the United States to include in the FTAA rules that would annul the advances made in improving access of poor countries to low-cost medicines, particularly as stipulated in the Doha Declaration of the World Trade Organization

Critics of FTAA Given Just 90 Minutes To Present Arguments

by Emad Mekay Those inside the perimeter, dubbed the "inside groups," also say that only about 15 of the participants, out of nearly 1,000 people, were invited to a brief meeting with ministers. Civil society groups were further angered at U.S. officials' attempt to portray the invitation to participate as an "unprecedented milestone" and their claim that activists have the same access as business groups to ministers and trade negotiators

U.S. Strikes Side Deals At FTAA Talks

by Emad Mekay "I am concerned that the bilateral agreements may ultimately destroy the few benefits that exist in a multilateral process," said Eric Dannenmaier of the Tulane Institute for Environmental Law and Policy at Tulane Law School in New Orleans. Dannenmaier told the media that bilateral deals could accomplish many of the same trading goals of large economies as would region-wide agreements, like opening up foreign investment and reducing trade barriers, without the larger nations having to face coalitions of developing countries. "If you are afraid of the FTAA, then you should be very afraid of the bilaterals"

U.S. Strikes Side Deals At FTAA Talks

by Emad Mekay "I am concerned that the bilateral agreements may ultimately destroy the few benefits that exist in a multilateral process," said Eric Dannenmaier of the Tulane Institute for Environmental Law and Policy at Tulane Law School in New Orleans. Dannenmaier told the media that bilateral deals could accomplish many of the same trading goals of large economies as would region-wide agreements, like opening up foreign investment and reducing trade barriers, without the larger nations having to face coalitions of developing countries. "If you are afraid of the FTAA, then you should be very afraid of the bilaterals"

FTAA Ignores Harm To Women From Previous Trade Pacts

by Ushani Agalawatta "In the WTO discussions, there was at least some recognition that trade policies affect women and men differently and an understanding of women's critical role in food production," said June Zeitlin of the Women's Environmental Development Organization (WEDO) one of the groups scoring the administration. "Yet, in all the FTAA discussions so far we have been unable to find any direct reference ... to women's concerns or the specific impact on women, either in the market or in the home."

U.S. Plans To Squeeze FTAA Opponents

by Emad Mekay "The strategy is all about how to corner Brazil to make them feel they will be isolated if they don't go along with the kind of FTAA that the U.S. government wants," said Sarah Anderson a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington. "That's because I think they see Brazil as really the crown jewel of the Americas."

Greenpeace In Confrontations Over Amazon Logging

Alerted by ribeirinhos (traditional riverbank settlers) in the northern state of Para after loggers attempted to cut trees on their community land, Greenpeace found a large-scale illegal logging operation that included at least 120 miles of access roads. On a barge with over 200,000 cubic feet of logs, activists painted "CRIME" and marked the area with yellow tape as a "Forest Crime" scene. IBAMA, Brazil's equivalent to the EPA, brought logging in the area to a halt

FTAA Talks Quit Abruptly, Avoids Another Summit Stalemate

by Emad Mekay The watered down blueprint for the trade area now allows member countries to pick and choose which obligations they will commit to rather than having to sign on to an all-embracing pact

Muslims Snub White House Ramadan Dinner

by Jim Lobe A denunciation of the White House event by a number of national U.S. Muslim organizations just hours before it took place got more attention in the news media than the dinner itself, blunting whatever favorable impact Bush had hoped the gesture might make. "It seems that the only time this administration wants to meet with us is for photo opportunities, not to hear our concerns about policies here at home and abroad," Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society's Freedom Foundation, told reporters at the National Press Club

U.S. Hasn't Accounted For $4 Billion In Seized Iraq Cash

by Emad Mekay British charity Christian Aid last week accused the CPA of lacking transparency, saying it did not publicly account for the four billion dollars that came from seized Iraqi assets in the United States and from oil revenues generated since May. Some United Nations Security Council diplomats had previously criticized the CPA for cloaking in secrecy the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) -- authorized by Security Council resolution 1483 last May to safeguard the oil revenues and other money earmarked for reconstruction. The CPA was also faulted for trying to make a bookkeeper of an international advisory and monitoring board designated by the Security Council to monitor the proceeds of Iraq's oil sales

Private Armies Growing In Iraq, Afghanistan

by Julio Godoy Van Niekerk sees the growing presence of PMCs in Iraq and Afghanistan in tasks such as protecting diplomats "a sign of the U.S.-British alliance getting stretched thin." PMCs enlist their personnel from the same ranks that old-style mercenaries came from -- former soldiers, military officers and secret agents who need to go on living off the business of war

Bush Hawks Forced To Take Back Seat On China

by Jim Lobe Despite a White House decision to begin normalizing those ties after Sept. 11 in the greater interest of the "war on terrorism," Rumsfeld did what he could to slow the process, even refusing to permit the military attache posted to the Chinese embassy to enter the Pentagon for 16 months. It now appears that, despite rising tensions over the bilateral trade balance and the value of the yuan, the realists centered in the State Department have decisively taken control over U.S. China policy, thanks largely to Beijing's own behavior and rapidly growing influence.

EU "Water Mafia" Scheming To Privatize E Europe Utilities

by Julio Godoy The EU is offering state subsidies and credit to private companies for taking over water and other public utilities in Eastern European countries, Havlicek said. The EU is also intervening directly to promote privatization policies. These policies are scandalous because they support a system of private management of public services that has failed repeatedly in the EU

Like Stalinist Russia, Bush Admin Demands Reporters Pay For Access

by Randolph T. Holhut The Bush administration is as ruthless and disciplined when it comes to dealing with the press as Stalin was. And when a reporter displeases the White House, that reporter will quickly find himself on the outs. Who wants to rock the boat and jeopardize a nice high-paying job like covering the White House and lose out on those appearances on the Sunday talk shows? Better to shut up and go along

Poor Children on Mexico-U.S. Border Dying from Air Pollution

Children from poor neighborhoods in the Mexico-U.S. border city of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua are being hospitalized and dying because of air pollution at levels within Mexico's current health standards. It is the first time a study has measured air pollution impacts on children living in poor conditions along the border. Investigators say that to prevent some of these child fatalities, the Mexican air pollution standards should be revised

Iranian Peace Prize Winner Challenges Western Feminists

by Fadwa El Guindi Western notions of feminism can promote an interventionist, aggressive stance toward the Muslim world. But Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi shows that feminism can grow from within Islam

Russia's Richest Man Arrested, Charged With Fraud

by Sergei Blagov The company he headed expanded with the merger of the oil giant Yukos and the Russian oil company Sibneft earlier this month. The firm is now worth $50 billion. Its oil and gas production equivalent to 2.35 million barrels per day makes it among the world's largest oil companies. No one was surprised that the arrest set off waves, and not just ripples

Insider Reveals Details Of Russia's Greatest Financial Scam

by Lucy Komisar Prosecutors are pouring over thousands of documents related to Yukos oil scandal, the giant Menatep business group and its offshore banking and securities dealings over the past decade. The papers offer a window on the dramatic rise and fall of billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian oil tycoon and that nation's richest man. He is now being held in prison following seizure of his oil company Yukos, Russia's largest petroleum exploration and development firm

Bush Lets Clean Air Act Violators Off the Hook

The EPA has decided not going to pursue pending enforcement actions against 70 power plants, refineries and other industrial facilities that received a Notice of Violation under the New Source Review rules of the Clean Air Act. It means the agency may abandon enforcement even against companies that have already been found in violation of the law, and drop cases that are ongoing in federal court

U.S. Invokes Obscure 19th Century Law To Hassle Greenpeace

by Miriam Kagan The Esperanza was set to anchor offshore after Port of Miami authorities had earlier denied it docking rights, saying the boat posed a danger, particularly in light of upcoming meetings on the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) there. Authorities used an obscure 1872 law, aimed at preventing boarding-house owners from luring sailors to their establishments, to charge Greenpeace

Rwanda Women Take Lead In Reconstruction

by Jodi Enda Women have played a pivotal role in reconstructing Rwanda since Hutu extremists slaughtered 800,000 people in 1994. They have been prominent in and outside the government, and recently were elected to fill nearly half the seats in the lower house of Parliament. Their leadership has been critical to the continuing recovery of a nation that lost one-tenth of its population in about 100 days, according to international peace experts

Israel Courts Block Unions From General Strike

Unions have been angered by the budget which would see the government take control of pension funds and convert the public works department into a state-owned compan. The unions have been pushing the government to at least freeze its proposals on pensions for six months, but the finance ministry has made clear that it has no intention of backing down. The Israeli economy has been left reeling by the twin impact of the three-year-old Palestinian intifada and the global economic slowdown which has left about 11 percent of the population unemployed

Pentagon PR Ignores Dead, Injured Soldiers

by Molly Ivins The Pentagon believes public support for a military action is eroded by photos of coffins, so it's fixing that problem by stopping the photos. Reminding people of the real cost of Iraq, which is not in billions of dollars but in dead young Americans, seems to me something the media have an obligation to do. However, the flag-draped coffin photo is only one way to do it

Reagan Docudrama Another Pointless Debate

by Molly Ivins It is an odd feature of our national life that Ronald Reagan, of all people, is now considered by some to be above criticism. I assume the historians will take care of most of these questions, though I did once draw the odd journalistic assignment of reviewing the book by Nancy Reagan's astrologer, Joan Quigley. It did not persuade me that life in the Reagan White House was the avatar of normalcy. And obviously historians will argue for years over when and how seriously Reagan's Alzheimer's set in. Those who remember the tape of his deposition in the Iran-Contra case, immediately after he left office, will recall the horrifying total impact of all those, "I'm sorry, I can't remembers," as we slowly realized he actually couldn't

No Accountability Required

by Molly Ivins It's not so much that the number of attacks on Americans per day in Iraq has been creeping up. It's that after these successful attacks on convoys, choppers or patrols, hundreds of Iraqis gather around the smoking results and cheer. Call me alarmist, but I think that's a bad sign. I suspect they do not like being occupied by a foreign power. They do not seem to think our intentions are benevolent. To be sure, a good public relations campaign, masterminded by Karl Rove and other geniuses, could probably solve this unfortunate problem of perception in Iraq (it has worked so well here), EXCEPT, we don't have enough people who even speak the language to mount a PR campaign, or for that matter, to direct traffic, train cops, get intelligence or anything else we need to do

Cointelpro Is Back

by Molly Ivins If the FBI is worried about anarchists opposed to free trade agreements, why doesn't the FBI infiltrate anarchist groups that are opposed to free trade agreements, instead of the peace movement? Eh? Why should one's freedom be undermined or should one be a suspect because one is for peace? Are we not allowed to be for peace? What would Jesus say?

Record Shattering Bad Legislation

by Molly Ivins This is an amazing energy bill because it does not: A) reduce our dependence on foreign oil, B) provide significant new energy sources, C) create many jobs, D) improve the grid system so we won't have more blackouts, E) promote energy efficiency or conservation or F) do anything about global warming. BUT, it will cost at least $20 billion in subsides to fossil fuel companies. Those poor li'l oil, gas, coal and nuclear companies like Exxon/Mobil and General Electric need our help -- this is compassionate conservatism

If Bush Doesn't Admit The Bad News, It Doesn't Exist

by Molly Ivins On the it-won't-go-away-if-you-ignore-it front, we find Osama bin Laden, the nation's health care system, the Israeli-Palestinian problem, regulation of the financial industry, the environment, Afghanistan, dependence on foreign oil, dependence on fossil fuels and a whole host more. In fairness, once you start in on any list of sins of omission, it can rapidly become endless -- try listing the important stuff to which the news media devote too little attention, and you'll find it's more than you ever asked Santa for

Bush "Stay The Course" Becomes "Cut And Run"

by Molly Ivins It's not so much that the number of attacks on Americans per day in Iraq has been creeping up. It's that after these successful attacks on convoys, choppers or patrols, hundreds of Iraqis gather around the smoking results and cheer. Call me alarmist, but I think that's a bad sign. I suspect they do not like being occupied by a foreign power. They do not seem to think our intentions are benevolent. To be sure, a good public relations campaign, masterminded by Karl Rove and other geniuses, could probably solve this unfortunate problem of perception in Iraq (it has worked so well here), EXCEPT, we don't have enough people who even speak the language to mount a PR campaign, or for that matter, to direct traffic, train cops, get intelligence or anything else we need to do

Medicare Bill A Stunning Giveaway To Drug Companies

by Molly Ivins Sixty-one percent of what the plan costs will be additional profit for drug companies. Just what we had in mind. Only our fully-bought-and-paid-for politicians (in Texas, we rather delicately refer to them as "whored out') could have taken a plan to help seniors and turned it into a plan to help drug companies already making obscene profits. Their estimated increased profits under this bill are $139 billion over eight years

The Mutual Fund Betrayal

by Molly Ivins So what's been going on with your money in mutual funds? Late trading, short trading and insider trading. And in a depressingly familiar pattern, the regulators who were supposed to be watching mutual funds didn't notice a thing until after New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer jumped in and started talking criminal fraud charges. If there were a Democratic candidate with a brain, he'd be talking about making Spitzer either head of the Securities and Exchange Commission or attorney general. We are talking about billions of dollars in total rip-offs. Why do they do it? Because they can get away with it

Sorry, No Troops For Iraq, Japan Says

In a fresh blow to the United States, Japan said today it would delay sending troops to Iraq until next year, and South Korea agreed to dispatch no more than 3,000 troops to the war-ravaged country, a number far fewer than Washington has requested

Sorry, No Troops For Iraq, Turkey Says

by Hilmi Toros Turkey acted Friday after the United States acknowledged that Turkish troops would receive an unfriendly reception, if not resistance. The Turkish government had obtained parliamentary authorization under intense U.S. insistence earlier to dispatch as many as 10,000 troops the first major force from a Muslim nation

Philippines Will Pull Soldiers Out Of Iraq If Endangered

President Gloria Arroyo said Nov. 18 that Philippine troops stationed in Iraq would be pulled out swiftly if the security situation threatened their safety. The Philippines has deployed 178 soldiers, police and humanitarian workers to Iraq and pledged to the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council last month to boost their number to 500 early next year

Portugal Sending 128 Soldiers To Iraq

by Mario de Queiroz While Iraq turns into a serious problem for the U.S.-led occupying forces, Portugal's government has reaffirmed its steadfast alliance with Washington, keeping its pledge to send small force of soldiers to the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. Portugal confirmed the dispatch of a Republican National Guard (GNR) unit of 128 soldiers despite the deadly attack in that city, where an explosion of a car-bomb at a military barracks killed at least 31, among them 17 Italians

Landmark Trial Against ChevronTexaco Pollution Begins

by Lou Dematteis and Suzana Sawyer ChevronTexaco stands accused of severely contaminating the surrounding region during more than two decades of oil drilling in what was once an untouched rainforest with pristine rivers and crystal-clear lakes. The trial's outcome could affect the way U.S. corporations do business around the world. More immediately, the San Ramon, California-based corporate giant could end up paying more than $1 billion to clean up waste and pollution locals say it left behind

GM Fish As Controversial As Biotech Plants

by Anil Netto Expectations of long-term productivity increases from the use of fish genetic resources have led to the extension of property rights over them -- in a process that parallels that of plant genetic resources for agriculture. Many also worry about whether genetic research would lead to the patenting of strains of genetically improved fish and the transfer of "ownership" or commercial rights of such fish from the public to the private domain.

U.S. Shuts Out Local Companies From Contracts, Iraqis Say

by Peyman Pejman U.S. officials have shut Iraqis out of the business of reconstruction contracts, many local businessmen say. U.S. officials and the contractors working for them favor a few high-profile Iraqi companies they trust, and set excessively high contract standards that most Iraqi companies cannot meet, allowing some companies closely associated with the former regime to win lucrative contracts

Kofi Annan Walks Tightrope Between Bush And Rest Of World

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"

Black Georgia Neighborhood Gets Taste Of Environmental Racism

by Mary Jo McConahay For residents of a smoggy black neighborhood in a small Georgia city, federal agencies' failure to address environmental racism -- documented in a scathing new government report -- is felt each time they take a breath

Bush Crowd Steps Up Political Pressure To Reject Global Warming Accord

by Stephen Leahy While the Bush administration denies the alleged global-warming effects of greenhouse gas emissions, conservative lobby groups and environmentalists in Washington and beyond continue to question the findings of the global Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

CIA Report From Iraq Nothing But Bad News

by Jim Lobe The report, written by the CIA's station chief in Baghdad, was formally presented to top officials Monday, but word of its conclusions was also selectively leaked to various reporters, apparently, said the newspaper, to "make sure the assessment reaches Bush." The news that at least 15 Italian paramilitary troops, as well as at least 16 others, were killed in a suicide attack on the carabinieri headquarters in the hitherto relatively peaceful southern city of Nasariyeh on Wednesday seemed only to underline the sense here that resistance to the U.S.-led occupation in Iraq is both growing and beyond control

Neo-Cons Snipe At Rumsfeld Over Iraq Failures

by Jim Lobe The right-wing coalition that led the United States into Iraq earlier this year appears in ever greater disarray amid increasingly heated complaints by friends as well as foes that the U.S. occupation is not going well at all. The main target is Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld, who appears increasingly at a loss to explain U.S. strategy beyond his now-famous admission in a "leaked" memo to his top aides last month that the situation in Iraq -- not to mention the wider war against al-Qaeda terrorists -- will be a "long, hard slog."

Iraq Chaos Puts U.S.-Chosen Council Failures In Spotlight

by Peyman Pejman While in public Bremer and his top advisers have nothing but praise for the members, they are less than shy about criticizing them in private. "You've got a bunch of people who are more interested in their private business deals and boosting their political and personal portfolio among the Iraqis than they are about getting the job done," says an official of Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)

NAFTA Created Decade Of Disaster For Mexico, Two Studies Find

by Emad Mekay A decade-old trade deal between Canada, the United States and Mexico was a setback for Mexico -- it neither helped boost its economy, create jobs or rejuvenate its agricultural sector as promised, say two studies. "Farms by the hundreds of thousands have been driven into bankruptcy, creating havoc in the Mexican countryside. Three-fourths of the Mexican population now lives in poverty, up 80 percent since 1984." Many of the displaced farmers have come to the U.S., legally or illegally, looking for work

Israeli Human Rights Abuses Worst In 35 Years, UN Panel Finds

by Thalif Deen The Palestinians did not only see their freedom of movement and residence severely restricted through curfews, road closures and checkpoints, but also their economic, social and cultural rights were harshly violated and undermined. The committee, which has never been permitted to enter the occupied territories, has been forced to hold sittings in Jordan, Egypt and Syria. Palestinians who appear before the body travel to Amman, Cairo and Damascus yearly to detail the continued human rights abuses by Israel. Rather than denying the importance of human rights treaties, Israel simply argues that these agreements do not apply to the occupied territories, therefore Israel is not required to report to UN bodies on its practices there

One Meal A Day For Most Palestinians, UN Reports

by Jim Lobe Most Palestinians living in the Israeli-occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank are eating only one meal a day, leading to malnutrition at levels found in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a new United Nations report

Bush Mideast "Freedom Strategy" Gets Poor Reviews

by Jim Lobe Bush had no criticism for Israel's continued attacks on the West Bank and Gaza, which include targeted assassinations of Palestinian leaders and the building of a Berlin-style wall on territory claimed by the Arabs on the West Bank Democratization need not take the form of "Westernization," Bush stressed, suggesting that Middle East states could be "constitutional monarchies, federal republics or parliamentary systems."

Baghdad Schools Become Latest Battleground

by Peyman Pejman Among the first decisions by CPA head L. Paul Bremer was to order a revision of textbooks without pictures of Saddam, or any references to him. But a month into the new school year, at least half the students do not have their new books. Many parents have been pushed into buying old books for their children at prices that put extra hardship on meagre family budgets in a time of financial and political uncertainty

India Is Dumping Ground For Mercury

by Ranjit Devraj Over the last seven years, European exporters including Spain, Britain, Russia, Italy as well as the United States have managed to sell -- critics say "dump" -- 3,000 tonnes of mercury to India. Activists say this is happening because of tougher laws in Europe, which has decided to phase out all its mercury-based plants. It needs to export about 15,000 tonnes of mercury to countries like India, which have weak laws and unsuspecting publics

Bush Appears To Hit Panic Button After Latest Bad News In Iraq

by Jim Lobe While maintaining a brave face on the accelerating stream of bad news coming out of Baghdad, the administration of President George W. Bush appears increasingly at a loss, not to say panicked, about what to do. This week's abrupt and unscheduled return here by L. Paul Bremer, Washington's proconsul in Baghdad, for top-level White House consultations, as well as the partial leak of a pessimistic Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report on public attitudes in Iraq, pushed the administration off balance

Escalation Of Military Force In Iraq Will Backfire, Experts Say

by Peyman Pejman "A prerequisite of having power is to know how to use it," says Haitham al-Hosseiny, political advisor to Abdel Aziz Hakim, a governing council member and head of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). "The Americans cannot distinguish between common criminals of the past regime and terrorists who have come here for a reason." Now criminals and terrorists are getting together, he says

UN Ties Diamond Giant De Beers To Looting Of Congo Resources

by Varsha Gupta d'Souza The United Nations, in a report, which was made public last week, has linked diamond marketing and mining giant De Beers to the looting of the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) natural resources. The report on Congo said the diamond producer had breached guidelines on multinational enterprises as a result of the alleged rough diamond buying activities of two of its clients, or sightholders

Mr. President, You're No Moses

by Robert Scheer It takes stunning arrogance for a president to invade an oil-rich, politically strategic country on the basis of demonstrable lies, put his favorite companies in control of its economic future, create a puppet regime to do his bidding and then claim, as George Bush did last week in a speech, that this is all a bold exercise in spreading democracy

How Many Body Bags?

by Robert Scheer Unless we are willing to trade the lives of U.S. troops and Iraqis for the obsessions of empire, we must end the occupation now. If the President can back off from the edge of the cliff to which his hyper-aggressive foreign policy has taken us, the public might be conned into giving him another term.

Scapegoating Illegal Workers Won't Seal the Borders

by Robert Scheer Ending the endemic use of undocumented workers in low-wage, dead-end jobs would force employers to pay real wages and offer real benefits to attract "real Americans" to do the work, and some jobs would simply leave the country. Prices for food, clothing and any product that relies on dirt-cheap labor would rise for everybody, and those middle- and upper-class families that count on don't-ask, don't-tell relationships with undocumented housekeepers, gardeners, nannies and elder-care workers would be affected

Shades Of Vietnam

by Robert Scheer Here we go again. Only now it's the "Iraqification" rather than the "Vietnamization" of a quagmire war in another distant and increasingly hostile land

GOP Takes Lowest Road

by Robert Scheer The president has a lot to answer for in his failed war on terrorism. If the president were serious about heeding the lessons of Sept. 11, 2001, the White House would not be refusing to send executive records to the independent commission that is trying to determine how those attacks were allowed to occur and what might prevent them in the future

U.S. To Block World Bank Aid To Iran

by Emad Mekay U.S. officials have vowed to continue to fight World Bank assistance for Iran in a bid to derail funding for the country's alleged nuclear weapons program and to penalize Tehran for its confrontational policies towards the United States and Israel. Patrick L. Clawson, deputy director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a hawkish pro-Israel Washington-based think tank, said that withholding bank funding to Iran could in fact dent Teheran's will to confront the United States

Bush Has Polarized U.S, Study Finds

by Jim Lobe Bush -- and the policies he has pursued, particularly in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon -- has polarized the electorate to a far greater extent than at any time since 1987, when the Pew Research Centre for the People and the Press first began assessing basic values and outlooks of U.S. voters

A Year Later, Prestige Oil Spill Continues

A year after the Prestige oil tanker sank off the northwestern coast of Spain, the ecological and economic crisis caused by the massive oil spill is far from over, according to a new report by the World Wildlife Fund

Immigrant Workers Facing Health Problems From Ground Zero Cleanup

by Katherine Stapp More than two years after hijacked planes smashed into the World Trade Center, unleashing a toxic cloud of dust and debris that blanketed Lower Manhattan, hundreds of day laborers hired to clean up the mess are still suffering from severe breathing problems, skin rashes, nausea, depression and anxiety. Some who had been given face masks or respirators by labor groups were told to remove them, most likely to keep their co-workers from asking for similar protective equipment

One In Five Israelis Now Living In Poverty

by Peter Hirschberg Close to one in five families are below the poverty line. An average of almost one in three children live in poverty. That is a total of 1.32 million people, including 618,000 children in a population of 6.5 million. This is the stark reality of modern-day Israel, as revealed this week in the annual report of the National Insurance Institute, the government body in charge of welfare payments. Once the most egalitarian society in the developed world, Israel is now among the least so. A society in which the welfare safety net is being shredded even as the country remains mired in its deepest recession ever. Few jobs are available, and more and more people desperately need state assistance

Two Years And Counting For Forgotten Refugees On Nauru

by Bob Burton A summit of 10 refugee community support groups seek an end to the "limbo-like" status of 308 asylum seekers, mostly from Afghanistan and Iraq, stranded in an Australian government-funded immigration detention centre on the Pacific island nation of Nauru

Call For Boycott Of "Lonely Planet" Travel Co

by Bob Burton Lonely Planet, which publishes 650 guidebooks around the world and is reported to turn over approximately $40 million, has ignored calls from pro-democracy activists to withdraw from sale its travel guide for Burma. The secretary of the Human Rights Department of the Federation of Trade Unions Burma (FTUB), Saw Min Lwin, who is currently in Australia, backs a boycott on tourism. "I know that the country is beautiful and the people are so good but I would like to say, 'please wait for a while and stay away while there is no democracy in Burma," he said

WTO Struggles To Regroup After Cancun Summit Disaster

by Gustavo Capdevila The revival of the WTO negotiations will depend on the attitude taken in the talks this week with the world's leading trade powers, which have so far maintained a significant silence, say diplomatic sources. Argentina's chief negotiator at the WTO points to the silence maintained by the leading trade powers: the United States, European Union, Japan and other industrialized nations

Bush Cronies Hit $8 Billion Jackpot In Iraq, Afghanistan

by Emad Mekay Some 70 U.S. companies with good connections to the Bush administration have won at least eight billion dollars worth of reconstruction contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past two years, an independent research group has found

Israel Assassination Retaliation Leads To Dead Civilians

by Ferry Biedermann The October 20 Israeli strikes were unprecedented, and initial reports of a large death toll among mostly civilian drew protests even among some ministers in the hard-line government. The army defended its actions. The strikes have reignited a debate over 'targeted assassinations' of Palestinian militants whom Israel suspects are planning attacks against its citizens

Pentagon Crosses Line With New Domestic Spying, Police Powers

by William M. Arkin Preoccupied with the war in Iraq and still traumatized by Sept. 11, 2001, the American public has paid little attention to some of what is being done inside the United States in the name of anti-terrorism. Under the banner of "homeland security," the military and intelligence communities are implementing far-reaching changes that blur the lines between terrorism and other kinds of crises and will break down long-established barriers to military action and surveillance within the U.S.

U.S. Now In Control Of Iraq Multi-Billion $$ "Oil For Food" Program

by Thalif Deen The U.S.-run Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) will get control of billions of dollars in Iraqi oil revenues beginning midnight, Friday Nov. 21 when it formally takes over the seven-year-old, UN administered "oil-for-food" program (OFFP). The program had been generating $7-10 billion annually in oil revenues, but proceeds from oil sales will now end up in the coffers of the CPA, headed by U.S. envoy Paul Bremer

Is Bush Moving Away From Hard-Right Cheney "Iron Triangle?"

by Franz Schurmann In recent weeks, President Bush has taken his first steps down pathways to peace. Clipping the wings of Pentagon hawks on Iraq and showing new willingness to negotiate with North Korea may be just the beginning. Those of us who followed the Washington scene back in September-October 1973 are reminded of a similar situation with Nixon

Spending More, But Losing The War On Cancer/A>

by Samuel S. Epstein and Quentin D. Young Paradoxically, it seems that the more we spend on cancer, the more cancer we get. The reason why we are losing the winnable cancer war is because the cancer establishment's priorities remain fixated on damage control -- screening, diagnosis, and treatment -- and related basic research. All these are unarguably important, and deserve substantial funding. However, much less funding would be needed if more cancer was prevented, with less cancer to treat

Dissolving Iraq Army Was #1 U.S. Mistake

by Peyman Pejman "One of the biggest mistakes of the coalition forces was to dissolve the army and the security forces," Brig. Gen. Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani told IPS in Baghdad. Shahwani left Iraq in 1990 and became a part of Washington's covert efforts to topple Saddam Hussein. Both Iraqi and U.S. sources here say the order to dissolve the army and other security services was a direct order from the Pentagon, and not an idea promoted by L. Paul Bremer, Iraq's civilian administrator

Confrontation Imminent Over California Immigrant Driver License

by Pilar Marrero Along with raging wildfires in Southern California, governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger faces a growing political firestorm over the issue of driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. Right-wing radio is already fanning the flames

Tiger Force And Forgetting America's Crimes In Vietnam

by Joesph Nevins A platoon of 45 highly trained soldiers deliberately killed hundreds of unarmed men, women and children in a seven-month period. They tortured and executed prisoners, kicked out the teeth of the dead for gold fillings, and cut off their victims' ears and scalps, keeping them as souvenirs. This story is not from Saddam Hussein's Iraq, or Russia's war in Chechnya. It is an American one, revealed in late October by The Toledo Blade newspaper in an extraordinary four-day series about an elite U.S. paratrooper group in Vietnam in 1967 called Tiger Force. Despite the shocking revelations, most major newspapers and the television networks gave them short shrift or ignored them

Major Pentagon Hawk Abruptly Resigns

by Jim Lobe A major Pentagon hawk has abruptly resigned his post in a move that, in the context of other recent developments, is likely to fuel speculation that the White House might be trying to soften the harder edges of its controversial policies. "He's not being fired, but they're starting to move people around," said one knowledgeable source. "It's all about (Bush's) re-election and how to get rid of the loonies without looking like they screwed up."

"Hooters And Polluters" Energy Bill Defeated For Now

by J.R. Pegg The bill's mandated doubling of ethanol use attracted several Democrats from farm states, including Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who admitted that much of the bill was not worth supporting. House Republicans had also added a "Safe Harbor" provision to the bill that would protect MTBE manufacturers from class-action lawsuits. Cleanup of water supplies contaminated by MTBE has been estimated at nearly $30 billion. Sen. McCain dubbed the legislation "the Hooters and polluters bill" for special-interest pork added to the bill, including financing for an energy-efficient shopping center in Shreveport, Louisiana, that would include a Hooters restaurant

No Oversight Of Mutual Funds By SEC, Chairman Admits

by Margie Burns Despite their professed ignorance of abuses that have become widespread over the past few years, the witnesses tried to convince skeptical members of the Banking Committee that the frauds in mutual funds management will be stopped, prosecuted, and prevented from recurring by self-regulation

Was Leak Of "The Memo" A Desperate Ploy By Neo-Cons?

by Jim Lobe The blockbuster leak of a secret memorandum from a senior Pentagon official to the Senate Intelligence Committee has spurred speculation that neo-conservative hawks in the Bush administration are on the defensive and growing desperate. The leaked memo consists mainly of 50 excerpts culled from raw intelligence reports by four U.S. intelligence agencies about alleged al-Qaeda-Iraqi contacts from 1990 to 2003. Some of the reports include brief analysis, but most cite accounts by unnamed sources, such as "a contact with good access," "a well placed source," "a former senior Iraqi intelligence officer," a "regular and reliable source," "sensitive CIA reporting," and "a foreign government service."

Bring Me The Head Of Douglas Feith

by Jim Lobe If the administration is looking for scapegoats for the situation it faces in Iraq, Feith is a most likely candidate both because of his relative obscurity compared to other administration hawks and the fact that, of virtually all of them, his ideas -- particularly on the Middle East -- might be the most hard-line. But, more to the point, virtually everything that has gone wrong in Iraq -- especially those matters that Congress is either investigating or is poised to probe -- is linked directly to his office. "All roads lead to Feith," noted one knowledgeable administration official this week

Iraq Just The First American War Over Natural Resources

by Joyce Marcel The wars of the future will be fought over resources. The U.S. invasion of Iraq is a good example of this. The U.S. currently imports about 55 percent of its oil and that figure may rise to 75 percent by 2025. With no signs that the U.S. lifestyle is going to change -- in other words, without a summoning of the national will to embark on a Manhattan Project-level program to wean the nation off fossil fuels -- the U.S. will have to keep invading other oil-producing nations to maintain the current American standard of living. That is not a sustainable strategy

Wal-Mart Dragging America Down

by Randolph T. Holhut With 1.4 million employees, Wal-Mart is the nation's biggest employer. Just as its size allows it to control the market for many items it sells, it also has the power to affect wages and benefits beyond its stores. Nearly half of its "associates" (as Wal-Mart likes to call its employees) make less than $15,300 -- what the federal government considers the poverty level for a family of three. It also carefully controls how many of its associates achieve full-time status. It's no wonder the turnover rate for Wal-Mart's hourly workers, by the company's own estimates, is 44 percent a year

Linking Iraq Occupation With "War On Terrorism"

by Norman Solomon Often the coverage in U.S. news media sanitizes the human consequences -- and yes, the terror -- of routine actions by the occupiers. On Wednesday, the U.S. military announced that it had dropped a pair of 2,000-pound bombs 30 miles northeast of Baghdad. Meanwhile, to the north, near the city of Kirkuk, the U.S. Air Force used 1,000-pound bombs -- against “terrorist targets,” an American officer told reporters. Clearly, the vast majority of the people dying in these attacks are Iraqis who are no more “terrorists” than many Americans would be if foreign troops were occupying the United States. But U.S. news outlets sometimes go into raptures of praise as they describe the high-tech arsenal of the occupiers

Brazil Learns Tough Lessons About Media Control

by Norman Solomon After a quarter-century of intensive grassroots organizing and a victorious presidential campaign a year ago, Brazilian social movements are in a strong position as they push the left-wing Workers Party government to fulfill its promises. The contrast to Washington's current political climate is as diametrical as the opposite seasons of the two countries. Yet Brazilian activists are now giving heightened priority to the same concern that preoccupies an increasing number of people in the United States -- the imperative of challenging the corporate media

The Ungrateful President

by Norman Solomon With the U.S. economy still slumping and the occupation of Iraq still in what Daddy Bush might call "deep doo-doo," we can expect the political exploitation of 9/11 to intensify between now and November 2004. Get ready for an election year full of efforts to wring every drop of media juice out of what happened on Sept. 11

The Steady Theft of Our Time

by Norman Solomon During a two-month period over the summer, upwards of 40 million people in the United States signed up to declare their home phone numbers off-limits to the marketing juggernaut. But the do-not-call list speaks to merely one manifestation of an ongoing assault on our time. While a current TV ad blitz by a credit-card company is warning against "identity theft," we have yet to see a national campaign against a much bigger problem -- time theft

London Visit By Global Tyrant Murdoch

by Alexander Cockburn At BskyB's annual general meeting on Friday, Nov. 14, Murdoch conducted himself in a manner that would have won the approval of Vlad the Impaler, snarling at one dissident that if he didn't like it, he should sell his shares, and bickering openly with BskyB's chief executive, his son James. Investors irked by a share price dead in the water for six years and virtually nothing offered in the way of dividends, did make their views clear. But he carried the day, at least for now

31 Million Americans Looking For Soup Kitchen Lines

by Alexander Cockburn Last year, another 1.7 million Americans slid below the poverty line, bringing the overall total to 34.6 million, one in eight as a proportion of the population. Over 13 million are children

Clintonomics was Foundation For The Bush Era

by Alexander Cockburn We now have just such an unsparing scrutiny of Clintonomics in the form of Robert Pollin's "Contours of Descent," subtitled "U.S. Economic Fractures and the Landscape of Global Austerity." Across his 238 pages Pollin is unambiguous. "It was under Clinton," he points out, "that the distribution of wealth in the U.S. became more skewed than it had at any time in the previous forty years. Inside the U.S. under Clinton, the ratio of wages for the average worker to the pay of the average CEO rose from 113 to 1 in 1991 to 1 to 449 when he quit

Krugman's World

by Alexander Cockburn For an economist he writes pretty good basic English. He lays about him with simple words like "liar," as applied to the Bush crowd, from the president on down. He makes liberals feel good, the way William Safire returned right-wingers their sense of self-esteem after Watergate

Tasers And Rubber Bullets In Miami

by Alexander Cockburn Mainstream coverage of the protests has missed a very big story, which is Miami proved once again that these days, lawful political protest is a very dangerous business. The top cop in Miami was none other than Miami Police Chief John Timoney. Back in the summer of 2000, this same Timoney was police chief in Philadelphia, trampling on rights to lawful assembly during the Republican National Convention. His storm troopers were found later by the courts to have had infiltrated protesters' meetings and acted as agents provocateurs; to have acted with undue force; to have illegally detained peaceful protesters. The macabre climax of Timoney's rampages was the arrest of John Sellers of the Ruckus Society as he walked down the street. Sellers famously became the first American ever accused of brandishing a cellphone with intent to commit a crime. Bail for Sellers was initially set at $1 million before a judge threw the charges out

Terrorism-Expert Industry Booming

by Tim Shorrock The Sept. 11 attacks on the United States and the U.S.- led invasion of Iraq have spawned a new industry of alleged terrorism experts, who have made their mark -- and a lot of money -- by explaining their theories to the media and advising governments and corporations on how to cope with real or imagined threats

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