default.html Issue 117
Table of Contents

FTAA Meltdown In Miami

by Tom Hayden The scaling back to "FTAA Lite" was a "severe disappointment" to U.S. corporate lobbies, according to the Financial Times. Indeed, the 350-page draft agreement includes 5,000 bracketed items -- policies drafted by staff for which there is no consensus so far. The ministers left it untouched. Instead, they spent their first morning listening to irrelevent reports by United Nations agencies, then to droning testimony from inter-American labor ministers. Finally, about mid-afternoon Thursday, U.S. trade representative Robert Zoellick offered the low-key suggestion that the meeing should finish one day early since many ministers seemed to want to leave. The 350-page draft remained unopened. If anyone had insisted on debate or consensus, the FTAA would have collapsed. As one observer said of the bizarre scene "it was so fragile it could come apart on any detail. Everyone was scared shitless of putting new issues on the table." When the Venezuelan delegate raised the question of how the FTAA would reach its January 2005 deadline, the U.S. and Brazilian co-chairs became visibly upset. The meeting then adjourned, some 30 hours ahead of schedule.

Miami Police Violence Called "A Model For Homeland Defense"

by Randolph T. Holhut Anyone who was on the street was considered the enemy by police. Hundreds of unarmed protesters were reportedly clubbed, gassed and shot in the back with rubber bullets. More than 200 people were arrested -- some at gunpoint -- mostly on trumped up charges. Many were denied food, water and medical treatment. The reports of abuse and mistreatment were enough to have Amnesty International to call for an independent investigation into the actions of the more than 2,500 law enforcement personnel who made up the FTAA security detail

History in the Remaking

by John W. Dower Japan was also spared egregious incompetence, blind hubris and blatant war profiteering on the part of the occupiers. No one went into defeated Japan thinking of it as a new Gold Rush. Although the nation lay in ruins in 1945, it was essentially taken for granted that the Japanese government and private sector, working together, should assume primary responsibility for economic reconstruction

Schwarzenegger Can Balance Calif Budget By Cutting Back On Prisons

by Esta Soler and Vincent Schiraldi Experts know the period right after school lets out is when youth are at risk of committing crimes or being a victim themselves. Gov. Schwarzenegger campaigned for after-school programs in 2002, but now he needs to fund them. He can start by cutting the states bloated prison budget

Israel Training U.S. Assassins In Iraq

The U.S. army in Iraq is enlisting Israeli experts to train its forces on assassinating resistance leaders, a move which bears an uncomfortable similarity to the Vietnam War-era "Operation Phoenix," and is the latest in an increasingly growing Israeli involvement in U.S.-occupied Iraq

Long-Term Health Effects Of Iraq War Unknown

by Sanjay Suri The number of deaths and injuries during the conflict and in its aftermath have been high, but "the full effects of war on health are felt through many other less direct but potentially equally or more deadly pathways," says the report released in London Nov. 11. "The full impact of the war on health will not be known for years"

Forest Act A New Low Point For Bush

by David Muhly While presented as a "fuels reduction" bill, ostensibly to protect homes and communities at risk from wildfire, the legislation does little of that. Instead, the Bush administration exploited the public's justified fear of fires to pass a bill that effectively cuts the public out of the process, interferes with an independent judiciary, and encourages the logging of trees far removed from areas at risk

Count Saddam Down, But Not Out

by Franz Schurmann Saddam was ruthless and brutal. He also knew how to govern Iraq, a country split between two Muslim sects. He did it through deal making, and the U.S. desperately needs Saddam's knowledge, and a little help from Iran and Saudi Arabia, to succeed in Iraq

Will U.S. Demand Secret Trial For Saddam?

by William O. Beeman Saddam may know so much that the United States will try to control the proceedings. Having him alive and talking to the world may implicate his captors in a particularly uncomfortable manner. The decade-long Iran-Iraq conflict of the 1980s is one particularly thorny event, in which the United States is complicit in supplying intelligence support -- and perhaps weaponry -- to Iraq

Saddam's Humiliation Could Backfire On U.S. Allies

by Emad Mekay The humiliating scenes of the once feared Arab dictator, ragged and unkempt, being examined by a doctor in custody revealed not only his mortality but that of other incumbent, and similarly awe-inspiring, Arab leaders -- a view that could renew popular demands for regime change or at least political and economic reforms. The mostly Western-backed regimes in the Middle East have often ruled brutally over the past half-century, with human rights abuses widely reported in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Algeria -- countries whose ruling elites are strong allies of Washington

Shifting Resources Away From WMD Search Led To Saddam Capture

by William M. Arkin At some point, insiders say, Dayton and David Kay, the highly regarded former UN weapons inspector brought in to provide strategic direction to the group, realized that there wasn't going to be a smoking gun, and the group shifted its operations. By fall, the group's interrogation facility and intelligence fusion center were the envy of U.S. commanders

Kurds Say They Captured Saddam, Not U.S.

Ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was not captured by U.S. forces, but rather Kurdish troops, who drugged the former leader and handed him over to the Americans later after negotiating a deal, a British newspaper asserted Dec. 22

Saddam Capture Moves Iraq Closer To Civil War

by Abdul Raheem Ali Saad Jawad, a political scientist at the University of Baghdad thinks it was wrong of U.S. officials to show their joy over the arrest of the former leader. "Many people just don't like it when the Americans are happy after all they have done here. It was the same when Uday and Qusay got killed." But Jawad does not think that the demonstrators in Adamiyeh are driven by nationalistic motives. "They are mainly upset at what they regard, incorrectly, as the Shias taking over the country with the assistance of the Americans, which harms them, the Sunnis"

The Problem Of What To Do With Saddam

by Peyman Pejman Gen. Sanchez says the arrest is not likely to end attacks against coalition forces. It raises the question whether Saddam's arrest will embolden guerrillas into launching an all-out attack, and whether such an attack against much better equipped coalition forces can be sustained. Aside from the military aspect, the coalition forces now face a political challenge: what to do with Saddam?

CAFTA Trade Deal Threatens Affordable AIDS Drugs In Central America

by Emad Mekay CAFTA would eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade in goods, agriculture, services, investment and the imposition of intellectual property rights on medicine, among other things. But health activists are warning that the deal could establish new rules for the protection and enforcement of drug company patents and other forms of intellectual property rights that would reduce access to medicine in one of the Latin American regions hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS pandemic

Iraq Contracts Reveal Bush True Intentions, Critics Say

by Emad Mekay The Bush administration's decision to exclude countries that opposed the U.S.-led war on Iraq from multi-billion-dollar reconstruction deals contradicts its position both on free trade and its self-described mission in Iraq

UN Documents Palestinian Newborns, Mothers, Dying At Israeli Checkpoints

by Miren Gutierrez The Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees has documented around 80 deaths between Oct. 11, 2000 and Dec. 10, 2002 as a direct result of Israelis blocking medical treatment for Palestinians. Several of these were women or their newborn babies. "Even in a UN car, going through a checkpoint is no joke," says Yaish. "Earlier, going to Ramallah from Jerusalem took 15 minutes, now it takes 90 minutes. The closure is making matters worse in terms of access to health. Something as simple as the right of a woman to give birth, to receive health care, is denied." Israeli soldiers have instructions to let ambulances through checkpoints. But these instructions are not always followed

Bush Seeks UN Approval For Rushed Iraq Transition

by Thalif Deen After coercing the United Nations to give its blessings to the military occupation and post-war reconstruction of Iraq, the United States is planning to return to the world body -- this time to legitimize the transfer of political power to Iraqis

Colombia Cocaine Industry Turns Poor Into Drug Traffickers

by Constanza Vieira One kg of basic cocaine paste fetches $1,000. By comparison, a cluster of plantains, a staple of the Colombian diet, sells for $2.50, without counting the cost of transportation to market. One kg of cocaine paste is obtained from leaves that take four months to grow, while the plantain harvest takes at least a year. But the chemical precursors needed to produce cocaine paste are costly, and the peasants who grow coca end up earning only $180 per hectare. And by the time the coca growers are paid, they already owe that money in debt

Don't Send Home The Chinese Muslims At Guantanamo, Rights Group Says

by Jim Lobe Uighur separatists from China are likely to be mistreated if they are returned to Beijing's custody from the Guantanamo Bay naval base as the U.S. administration is reportedly considering, says Human Rights Watch

EPA Drops Tight Restrictions On Worst Air Pollutant

by Christopher Brauchli Mercury has been identified by the EPA as the "toxic of greatest concern among all the air toxics emitted from power plants." It contributes to neurological disorders and is a particular threat to pregnant women. One has to applaud the EPA's straightforward description of the effects of mercury. Its proposal to ease the rules on its emission into the atmosphere is another matter

The Unpardonable Lenny Bruce

by Norman Solomon No doubt Lenny Bruce would have laughed with at least a tinge of bitterness if -- like millions of Americans -- he picked up a newspaper the day before Christmas 2003 and read that he'd been "pardoned" by the governor of New York for an obscenity conviction

U.S. Releases "Guantanamo Spy," But Charges Him With Internet Porn

by Pueng Vongs Captain James Yee, the Army chaplain at Guantanamo Bay, was freed after spending almost 3 months in military prison on espionage charges. But his release is bittersweet to his family and supporters. Yee is now charged with downloading pornography and adultery, charges many say are outrageous and untrue

Consumers Would Be Shocked by True Cost Of Shrimp, Group Says

Prawn farming has been associated with hazardous forms of child labor, illegal land seizures, large scale destruction of mangrove forests, pollution of water and agricultural land, violence and intimidation. Prawn fisheries are responsible for one-third of the world’s discarded catch, while producing just two percent of global seafood, the celebrity chef says.

Oil Companies Aid Sudan In Repression, Report Says

by Jim Lobe The new report details the history of the war, including the government's political and military tactics, and documents how Khartoum used the transportation infrastructure -- roads, bridges and airfields -- built by the companies to launch attacks on civilians in the oil region

"This Could Go Either Way" Say Experts Back From Iraq

by Jim Lobe While electricity generation now exceeds pre-invasion levels, markets are full of goods, and virtually all school-aged children are back at their desks, the war for Iraqi "hearts and minds" remains very much up in the air, say analysts who have recently returned from that country. "This could go either way," Kenneth Pollack, a former Middle East analyst for the CIA, told an audience at the Brookings Institution

U.S. Arrests Iraqi Union Leaders

by David Bacon There's another kind of battle being waged in Iraq -- the fight for worker's rights. Many Iraqi union organizers are finding that the U.S. authority isn't much kinder to them than was Saddam

Exxon Valdez Shows Oil Spills Have Longer, More Harmful Impact

The new study finds oil lingers in sea bed sediments. Researchers found that marine mammals and sea ducks suffered high mortality for years after the accident in part because they ate invertebrates contaminated by the hidden oil and also because they contacted oil directly while digging up prey. Species as diverse as sea otters, harlequin ducks and killer whales suffered large, long term losses, and other tidal shoreline habitats will take an estimated 30 years to recover

Bank Robbing Returns To Impoverished Balkans

by Vesna Peric Zimonjic The Balkan countries have often been called the hub of organized crime in Europe. And the past weeks have seen something unprecedented in the region for years -- a rise in robberies of banks and currency exchange and post offices that hold a lot of cash

Israel Used "Banned Weapon" Against Palestinians

An Arab Israeli lawmaker has accused the Israeli occupation forces of using a "banned weapon" in a deadly raids in the Gaza Strip in Oct. 20, as another left wing Meretz party deputy threatened to reveal confidential information on the deadly raids. Israel public radio said that the Israeli army admitted that arms other than Hellfire missiles were used in the Gaza attack

Iraq Marvels Of Hypocrisy

by Molly Ivins Unlike the Germans, the French and the Russians, Halliburton was not punished by the Bush administration for dealing with the dictator. Instead, it got the largest reconstruction contract given by this administration, with an estimated value between $5 billion and $15 billion. And the company got the contract without competitive bidding

We Wish You A Merry Empire

by Molly Ivins Vice President Cheney's Christmas card this year not only offers best wishes in this holiday season but also bears the following quotation from Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention: "And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?" Food for thought there: a heavy meal, in fact

Holiday Book List

by Molly Ivins Jim Hightower's "Thieves in High Places: They've Stolen Our Country and It's Time to Take It Back" is a rollicking good read. Since the country is demonstrably being run by kleptocrats, someone needs to say so, and Hightower is awfully good at it. But I think even more important is that the book is optimistic and for good reason -- because the American people are pretty damn terrific, and they're fighting back. (Hightower is an old friend, but I'd plug him even if he weren't.)

A Better Gift Than Another Popcorn Popper

by Molly Ivins Whenever I get discouraged about the greed and corruption that seems so rampant in both the corporate and political worlds these days, the thought of Granny D always perks me up. Doris Haddock is the priceless activist who walked across the entire country three years ago at the age of 90 to build support for campaign finance reform. She's at it again, this time traveling from one workplace to another registering people to vote, especially working mothers

Bush Chooses Polluting Political Donors Over Kid's Heath

by Molly Ivins How millions of small children and unborn fetuses came to be enemies of Bush & Co. is beyond my political or theological understanding. We are talking about the rollback announced last week in regulating mercury pollution. Except, of course, it wasn't announced as a rollback, it was announced as a great step forward. This raises the always timely question, "How dumb do they think we are?" and this time the answer is "profoundly dumb," because it is real hard to get fooled by this one

The Corrupt Corporate Culture Run Amok

by Molly Ivins Talk about the lunatics running the asylum. Former lobbyists for special interests now dominate the top of the bureaucracies -- not to regulate, but to facilitate corporate rip-offs. Michael Powell at the Federal Communications Commission thinks more media mergers will be good for the nation. At the Interior Department, it is rip and run, all-out exploitation of natural resources, leaving nothing but a trash heap behind -- a trash heap, incidentally, that the taxpayers will have to pay to clean up, since the Superfund for toxic waste cleanups has been allowed to lapse entirely

Dean's A Winner

by Molly Ivins Dean gives a hell of a speech -- even if you're Republican, you should go and hear him just for the experience. But I fretted about Dean on TV -- TV is so important. How could anyone poker up on Margaret Carlson of PBS, not one of the world's toughest interviewers? But then I saw Dean laugh his way through a Chris Matthews interview (which he should have done with Tim Russert, who was hell-bent on gotcha questions), and I know the guy can take care of himself. So he fights back if you get in his face -- that's not all bad

GOP Breaks The Rules It Doesn't Like

by Molly Ivins The Medicare bill went down in the House -- it lost. And then the Republicans just held the vote open, for three hours, from 3:00AM to 6:00AM, until Tom DeLay could bludgeon some sleep-deprived members into changing their votes. These guys think nothing of changing the rules in the middle of the game. For that matter, they think nothing of rules

Right On The Rise Across Europe

by Julio Godoy Recent elections and opinion polls show that parties taking rightist and racist positions are winning substantial support all over Europe

World Bank Rejects Criticism And Funds Caspian Oil

by Emad Mekay The World Bank decided to back a multi-billion-dollar oil field and pipeline project in the Caspian region Nov. 4, overriding objections from activists who say the scheme will endanger the local environment and people

Hamas, Islamic Jihad Now Joint Operation

by Mohammad Gamal Arafa The two main Palestinian resistance groups -- Hamas and Islamic Jihad -- are operating through a joint political leadership that looks into political positions related to the Palestinian cause and coordinates joint operations against the Israeli occupation

"No Money, No Guns" Chant Angry Liberian Fighters

by Abdullah Dukuly Disarmament and reintegration of 40,000 Liberian combatants started off on a chaotic note Dec. 7 when hundreds of angry fighters went on the rampage, shooting at random in demand for benefits in exchange for the surrender of their weapons. Gun-toting youths of the country's three armed factions chanted "No Money, No Weapons." They flocked the street corners of the capital, Monrovia, brandishing their AK-47 rifles in anticipation of exchanging them for cash rewards

Pro-Israel Senators Call For Sanctions Against Saudis

by Emad Mekay The Saudi Accountability Act bill would require the president to certify annually that Riyadh, a veteran Washington ally, has met an extensive list of strict conditions related to fighting terror and cooperating with the United States in related investigations. Washington would impose sanctions, including prohibiting the export of any defense articles to Saudi Arabia, barring export of materials that could be used for both military and civilian use, and restricting travel of Saudi diplomats The bill is not the only current initiative here against Saudi Arabia. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has also recommended that Congress authorize and fund a public study to determine whether the Saudi government is directly or indirectly funding efforts to propagate globally an ideology that promotes hate, intolerance and other human rights violations

Rumsfeld Says Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, Working With "Insurgents"

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed on November 25 that he has seen reports suggesting Arab television channels Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera have cooperated with Iraqi resistance fighters attacking U.S. troops

U.S. Gives Iraq Media Control To Mysterious Pentagon Contractor

by Katrin Dauenhauer and Jim Lobe The IMN was considerably more ambitious in scope, since its aim, as an outgrowth of the IRDC operation, was to put together a new information ministry, complete with television, radio and a newspaper, and the content that would make all three attractive to average Iraqis. To oversee the job, SAIC hired away the controversial director of Voice of America (VOA), Robert Reilly, an outspoken right-wing ideologue who began his public career in the 1980s as a propagandist in the White House for the Nicaraguan contras

Iraqis Prefer Satellite Channels To Fledgling State TV

by Valentinas Mite The Iraqi Media Network (IMN) operates a television network and two radio outlets with a $6-million monthly budget provided by the United States. But the news -- which attempts to cast the U.S.-led occupation in a positive light -- has met with a cold reception from many Iraqis. They liken the programming to Saddam-era propaganda and say IMN is little more than a mouthpiece for the CPA and its chief administrator Paul Bremer

The Campaign To Monopolize Iraq's Media

by Jeff Elliott Part of the problem is that IMN -- which was first named "Middle East Television Network" and is now called "Al-Iraqiya" -- is that the Pentagon runs the show, not the State Dept. or the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an independent federal agency which oversees all U.S. international, non-military broadcasting, including the Voice of America (VOA). The first goal after taking control of Saddam's TV studios was to get pro-American shows on the air. Iraqi viewers used to watching Egyptian soap operas and reruns of Saddam's greatest speeches were now presented with reruns of the sitcom Friends and translated speeches by administrator Paul Bremer

U.S. Tries To Censor Major Satellite Broadcasters In Iraq

by Jim Lobe The barring of two major Arab satellite TV stations from Iraqi government ministries and press events held by the country's governing council is an ominous sign for the future of the media in the nation, warn global press freedom groups

U.S. Wants Media Monopoly In Iraq

by Alex Gourevitch On one hand, the American presence in Iraq was intended to nurture basic democratic liberties. On the other, as an occupying power, the Americans needed to root out the Baathist regime and eradicate support for its values. For the IMN, that meant serving as a model for a free press while at the same time ensuring that anti-American and pro-Baathist sentiments did not flourish on air. And it's between that rock and a hard place that the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the American-orchestrated transitional body running postwar Iraq, ran into trouble

Pentagon's Plan To Bypass U.S. TV Networks

by Joe Hagan The Coalition Provisional Authority running Iraq, created by the Bush administration, dissatisfied with the American television news decisions on covering the conflict, is about to create its own broadcast operation, with the capacity to bypass the networks, live from Iraq, 24 hours a day

U.S. Casino Owner Funding Most Radical Israeli Extremists

by Jim Lobe While U.S. Treasury officials scour financial records worldwide to stop funds donated by wealthy Arabs from flowing to radical Islamist groups, a small group of U.S. citizens is trying to shut down a major source of funding for Jewish extremists in Israel and the occupied territories

Infamous Netzarim Israeli Colony Feeling Isolated, Betrayed

by Ferry Biedermann Many Israelis see isolated settlements, and particularly Netzarim as a burden they are no longer willing to bear both in economic terms and in terms of loss of life. Some 400 soldiers are now stationed in the settlement to protect an equal number of settlers. Residents who all tend to the religious nationalist side of the political spectrum argue that they have a right to live "anywhere in the land of Israel" and that they are a security asset

Bush's Colonialism Will Only Deepen Iraq Resistance

by Tariq Ali Iraq's state-run health service, which, prior to the killer sanctions, was the most advanced in the region, is now being privatized, courtesy of Abt Associates, a U.S. firm specializing in privatizations that has clearly been forgiven its record of "invoice irregularities" by its Washington patron. Its first priority is instructive. It has demanded armored cars for its staff. Khudair Abbas, the orthopedic surgeon from Ilford and "minister for health" in the puppet government, was recently in London boasting of the state-of-the-art hospitals they would soon build to create a "two-tier health system." Sound familiar?

Indonesia Nervous As Suharto's Daughter Runs For President

by Kafil Yamin Some Indonesians see the presidential candidacy next year of former strongman Suharto's daughter -- on the heels of that of her father's former military chief Wiranto -- as a sign of the failure of reforms in the post-Suharto era. The irony of Suharto allies benefiting from democratic reforms is not lost on people who say that the nomination of Siti Hardianti Rukamana, popularly known as 'Tutut', indeed signals the re-emergence of the old forces of Suharto's 'New Order' in the political arena

The Next Great Empire Belongs To India And China

by Franz Schurmann India and China, both with a strong and prosperous economy, have overcome old vehemence to shake hands across their once bloody border. This new Indo-Sino relationship will spur a vast common market in Asia and bring back the glories of their civilization

Venezuela State Oil Company Recovers From Crisis

by Humberto Marquez A year ago, the Caracas headquarters of the state-run Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) oil company was a gloomy building when its chief, Ali Rodriguez, gathered a handful of foreign correspondents and outlined the status of the industry under the strike/walkout that paralyzed the country at the time

Second Pakistan Assassination Attempt Means Trouble For Key Bush Ally

by M.B. Naqvi   The second unsuccessful attempt on the life of Pakistan's embattled President Gen. Pervez Musharraf this week, only 11 days after the earlier attempt, underscores the point that there are indeed enemies of the head of state who are determined to kill him. The assassination bids took place at an area where intelligence hounds are patrolling every inhabited nook and corner. Pakistan has many intelligence services, some big and some small

Two Assassination Tries On Pakistan's Musharraf

by M.B. Naqvi   What is disconcerting about the Dec. 14 bomb attack was its sophistication. It was an expertly assembled operation that must have taken experienced bombers at least an hour or more to attach to a bridge and was timed to go off at exactly the time when Musharraf's motorcade was to pass over the bridge. The second attack was almost identical. Speculation is rife: either the Islamic terrorists have penetrated the official security apparatus or it was an elaborate drama staged to impress the U.S. administration about the perilous circumstances that Musharraf is in, while stoutly defending western causes

Iran's Nuclear Reactor To Be Completed In 2004

The last major hurdles for Iran's nuclear reactor cleared last week, when the State Department backed away from a confrontation with Russia over the project and the UN backed away from slapping sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activities. The plant is now expected to be operational next year -- unless Israel launches a pre-emptive missle attack on Iran first

All Quiet On World's Coldest, Costliest Battlefield

by Ranjit Devraj For the first time in two decades, the big guns have fallen silent on the world's highest, coldest and costliest battlefield because India and Pakistan saw the wisdom of extending the Eid ceasefire in Kashmir last month all the way to the Siachen glacier

Secrets, Lies and Media Privilege

by Robert Scheer Should government agents, operating on their own authority and in violation of privacy law, be allowed to smear Americans by leaking false information to the media? Are journalists who print those lies protected by the 1st Amendment from revealing their sources, thereby preventing those falsely accused from obtaining justice through lawsuits?

We Got Him ... Now What?

by Robert Scheer The capture of Hussein, while providing the president with fantastic propaganda footage, does nothing to make us safer from international terrorism. It could, however, shine a harsh light on Washington's decade-long military and economic support of the barbaric Hussein in his war against Iran's religious fanatics, who were making inroads with their brethren in Iraq

The GOP Grabs For The Face On The Dime

by Robert Scheer What made this right-wing political ploy particularly objectionable was that the dime commemoration, a year after FDR's death, was in honor of the March of Dimes' support of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which Roosevelt founded in 1938. In the foundation's first year, more than 2.6 million dimes were mailed to the White House in what was to become one of the great private charity efforts. It led to the eventual eradication of polio, which Roosevelt had. Roosevelt picked the dime as the fund-raising device because he felt that everyone could afford to make at least that contribution

Cities Alter Local Climates And May Affect Global Weather

Cities with their asphalt, buildings, and aerosols, are impacting local climate processes and possibly the global climate as well. Warming from urban heat islands, the varied heights of urban structures that alter winds, and interactions with sea breezes are believed to be the primary causes for findings of climate alteration in a coastal city like Houston.

Death Takes No Holiday In Iraq

by Robert Scheer In the days after the president's quickie holiday visit, seven Spanish agents, two Japanese diplomats, a Colombian contractor and two South Korean electricians were murdered and three more GIs were killed. The administration, however, insists everything is, has been and will be just fine, thank you very much. On Saturday, a U.S. spokesperson stated that attacks on Americans were down. The very next day witnessed the fiercest attack on American convoys since the so-called end of major hostilities

Safety Questions Persist After FDA Approval Of Meat Clones

by Daniel Porras Some scientists feel that the existence of large populations of cloned animals could jeopardize efforts to stop the spread of disease. "The only way to overcome disease is to have genetic diversity," says Dr. Peter Rosset of the Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First) in California State. Cloned animals share the same DNA, the substance that translates genes into physical traits. If more animals have the same genes, viruses and other disease can spread more easily, he added in an interview. "Basic epidemiology tells us that if you have a single basis of resistance, viruses will overcome that resistance and flourish," Rosset said. "Putting cloned animals in cramped quarters in a factory farm runs counter to the basic epidemiology of disease control."

Without Israel Or Palestine Involved, Mideast Peace Plan Approved

by Jim Lobe The detailed, 50-page initiative, based largely on official peace talks held in Taba, Egypt just before the Labour Party was voted out of office in January 2001, was completed in October and has been circulating since, drawing support from prominent global figures, including United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Secretary of State Colin Powell

Israel Hardliners Rush To Discredit New Peace Plan

by Jim Lobe Both Powell and Wolfowitz scheduled meetings with Beilin and Nusseibeh, who traveled to the U.S. to mobilize support for the effort after the signing in Geneva. The Israeli government, however, and its right-wing Jewish and Christian allies in Washington also mobilized to try to prevent the meetings from taking place. Sharon's deputy prime minister, Ehud Olmert, for example, publicly warned that Powell would be making a mistake if he went ahead with the meeting. As pressure increased, the administration began to succumb

Unofficial Mideast Peace Plan Met With Israeli Criticism, Threats

by Ferry Biedermann As was to be expected, opponents of the plan object to central provisions. Many Israelis are opposed both to the wide-ranging 'territorial concessions' and to what they consider too vague guarantees that the Palestinians will not continue to claim their "right of return." For many Palestinians, on the other hand, it is unpalatable to "give away" the right of return and large parts of Jerusalem. A group of 250 right-wing Israeli rabbis has branded the participants in the Geneva talks "traitors." The same group whipped up sentiment against Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin before he was assassinated by a religious student in 1995.

Will Washington Allow Geneva Peace Plan To Work?

by Stephen Zunes Washington has not been terribly supportive of the Geneva Initiative, since it is only through such distortions that the United States can justify its support for Sharon’s rightist government, its occupation forces and its colonization drive in the West Bank. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, who has dismissed this breakthrough as “a private effort,” put forward the administration’s position that it was premature to talk about the substantive issues since they should be reserved for the latter stages of the U.S.-led peace process, which could not even begin until there was a cessation of Palestinian violence

U.S. Warned Over Collective Punishment In Iraq

Amnesty International said Nov. 21, that U.S. forces appeared to be destroying houses in Iraq as a form of collective punishment for attacks on U.S. troops and warned that the practice would violate the Geneva Conventions

Bush Signs Anti-Forest "Healthy Forests" Act

by J.R. Pegg "The president's signature is an invitation for timber companies and the Forest Service to play fast and loose with our national forests," said Amy Mall, a forest specialist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "There is a real danger that the President's pen might as well be a chainsaw."

With Anti-Forest Law Passed, Bush Now Targets Endangered Species Act

by J.R. Pegg The regulations put in place by the Bush administration remove that obligation for actions that fall under the National Fire Plan. Instead of consulting with either agency tasked with enforcing the ESA, biologists within the federal land management agencies will make the initial determination of whether there is likely to be an adverse effect on listed species or habitat

Baghdad Parks Off-Limits To Iraqis

by Awadh al-Tae'e Throughout Baghdad, recreational areas have been taken over by American forces -- yet another reason why many Iraqis feel their lives are on hold so long as coalition troops are deployed in their cities. Of Baghdad's former weekend attractions, the gardens of the Martyr's Monument, the nearby Games City theme park, the popular marriage venue Wedding Island, and the lakes of Habbaniya and Saddamiyat al-Tharthar are now military zones. Of the capital's major parks, only the local zoo remains open to the public.

Anti-Choice "Nuremberg Files" Off The Internet -- For Now

by Frederick Clarkson On the "New Nuremberg Files," renamed in September, pro-choice advocates saw a renewed round of threats, albeit in an almost tauntingly obvious, yet slightly encrypted fashion. Gone were the crossed-out names of murdered doctors and the calls for Nuremberg-style trials of other abortion providers. Instead the site claimed to take a "happy and loving" approach and called on followers to pray for the "Dear Abortionists." "We'll visualize the faces of the dear abortionists," he wrote, "and we'll pray and pray and pray some more!!! That way all the Dear Abortionists will quit killing the Dear Little Babies. Now is that a really, really, really, great plan! Or What!" The site purported to want to make these visualizations more "specific" by soliciting and posting pictures of abortion providers including two of the plaintiffs protected by the judge's order. Horsley also requested photos of their homes and details of their daily routines such as where they stop for gas

Optimistic Milosevic Plots Comeback From Prison Cell

by Vesna Peric Zimonjic Former president Slobodan Milosevic and his longtime political ally Vojislav Seselj are both accused of crimes through the wars of the 1990s that took thousands of lives in former Yugoslavia. Now both Milosevic and Seselj top the election lists of their parties, the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) in elections due Dec. 28. This means both could be elected members of parliament

IAEA Asks Israel To Turn In Secret Nuclear Arsenal

While the U.S. is pressing Iran over its alleged nuclear arsenal while it is accused of having misled and lied to the world over Iraq's alleged WMDs, Israel's nuclear arsenal has grown from an estimated 13 nuclear bombs in 1967 to 400 nuclear and thermonuclear weapons

Central Asia Ripe For Radical Islamic Movements

by Behrouz Saba Many of the ingredients necessary for Islamic radicalism exist in Central Asia -- especially U.S. support for repressive regimes

Israeli Pilots Speak Out Against "Immoral And Illegal" Orders

The pilots recalled a deadly incident that weighed heavily on their consciences and drove them into signing the letter, which sent shockwaves across Israel. The line was crossed with the dropping of the one-ton bomb last year on the home of a Hamas military leader, Salah Shehade, killing him and 14 of his family, mostly children. One captain described the bombing as deliberate killing, even murder. Another called it state terrorism

What Really Happened That Sunday In Samarra?

by Jim Lobe On one point, all sources appear to agree: what happened in Samarra last Sunday could tell us a great deal about whether U.S. forces are likely to succeed or fail in pacifying and stabilizing Iraq. The problem is there is an almost total lack of agreement about what happened that Sunday in Samarra, where U.S. soldiers insist they battled dozens of Iraqi guerrillas for some three hours

Samarra Massacre Bodes Ill For U.S. In Iraq

by William O. Beeman The firefight in Samarra, Iraq, will come to haunt U.S. troops in the country. The attackers deliberately wore black to evoke symbolic battles from Iraqi history that resonate with Iraqi Sunni and Shi'a alike. Now, the fighters are being hailed as heroes

A Chance For Peace In The Diamond War

by Varsha Gupta d'Souza To rein in the diamond trade in Congo, the government will have to first rein in the rebels who roam the countryside. Kikumbi conceded that many former rebel groups that have joined the transitional government still control large areas of the country, so enforcing the certification scheme will not be easy

"No Child Left Behind" Turning Education Into Farce

by Todd Oppenheimer In some schools, wise principals and teachers have used the law's new testing standards to leverage more profound understanding of the "three Rs." The vast majority, though, are so desperate to pass these tests that they're ignoring valuable subjects that aren't being tested -- principally foreign languages and the arts, the latter being a domain that science has shown can develop broad, creative, even analytical skills. Meanwhile, obsession with standardized tests has reached nearly absurd proportions. A particularly graphic example has occurred in Texas, where the president's ideas about education obviously hatched. Pressures to excel on this state's exam, the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS), have been so intense that they've created a whole new industry. There are "TAAS camps," instructional videos for teachers, cram booklets and tutorial software such as "HeartBeeps for TAAS," which, by mid-2000, an estimated 1,000 schools had purchased at $4,200 a copy. In many schools, class work has been largely given over to test preparation from New Year's through April

SF Mayor Race Energized Youth Like Dean Campaign

by Elena Shore The Matt Gonzalez campaign, outspent 10 to 1 by Newsom, did take at least one cue from Howard Dean and used of technology to spread the word among some young voters all over the city. Like Dean's largely Internet-propelled campaign, Gonzalez used e-mail blasts, cellular phone text messaging and other "flash mob" technology to get people to vote

Schwarzenegger Knows "Art Of The Deal," First Weeks Show

by Pilar Marrero Instead of becoming a stumbling block for California's new governor, the red-hot issue of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants is being skillfully wielded by Arnold Schwarzenegger as a bargaining chip with state Democrats

Is Iraq To Be New Home For Overseas Military Bases?

by Jim Lobe Is it possible that the most compelling reason for the administration to retain control of the transition is its determination to build permanent military bases in Iraq, bases that it knows would under no circumstances be approved by veto-wielding potential strategic rivals on the UN Security Council, namely China, Russia and, according to some neo-conservatives, France? According to plans, which are now being discussed formally with affected allies, much of the U.S. military based in Germany and the rest of Western Europe during the Cold War is to be shifted to central Europe and the Balkans, closer to the oil-producing and -transiting Caucasus and Middle East

CIA Taught Muslim Guerillas The ABCs Of Terrorism

by Peter Dale Scott A technique to shoot down Soviet helicopters that CIA operatives taught mujahideen and Arab Islamists in Afghanistan in the 1980s is being used in guerrilla attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq0

U.S. Violates Policy By Selling Tools For Torture Worldwide

by Jim Lobe U.S. companies are exporting millions of dollars worth of equipment used for torture, including devices to 12 countries where the State Department says the use of torture is "persistent," according to a new report by Amnesty International. "Although torture is endemic in Saudi Arabia, Smith & Wesson had no qualms about exporting approximately 10,000 leg-irons to Riyadh, and, apparently sharing this lack of concern, the Bush administration approved the sale"

Carrie Butler And Strom Thurmond

by Annette Gordon-Reed Imagine being a Southern black woman in the early 1960s and walking your half-white daughter, the very image of her white father, into his law office to introduce the two. By then Butler was gravely ill and may well have wanted to leave her daughter with something positive, some connection that might make her path in life smoother than her own had been. Mothers often do that

Iraq Factories Fight Against Flood Of Cheap Goods

by Valentinas Mite The U.S.-led occupation of Iraq has opened new opportunities for businessmen to import cheap products into the country. Iraq is now flooded with cheap Asian goods and second-hand cars, and the country's small and medium-sized businesses are suffering due to the lack of border controls, insecurity, and economic disorder

No Doubt Of Link Between Humans And Global Warming, Researchers Say

There is no doubt that human activities are having measurable -- and increasing -- impacts on global climate, say a pair of the nation's best-known atmospheric scientists, after reviewing extensive research. Climate changes likely to buffet Earth in coming decades include rising temperatures and an increase in extreme weather events

How John Kerry Missed The Boat

by Randolph T. Holhut If Kerry had the courage of his convictions and voted against the war and maintained that opposition in the months afterward, I seriously doubt that Howard Dean would be the frontrunner right now. But Kerry played it safe and got creamed. The same holds true for Edwards, Gephardt and Lieberman. They all voted for war and all are paying the political price for trusting President Bush

Cheney A Liability For Bush Reelect, Repub Old Guard Thinks

by Jim Lobe Cheney has a large bull's-eye on his back, painted there by Republican "realists," who largely controlled the party through most of the 45-year Cold War. For them, Cheney has become a major liability, not only to Bush's re-election chances, but -- as the leader of the administration's imperialist faction with the greatest direct influence on Bush himself -- to U.S. economic and strategic interests abroad as well

Jim Baker's Return Spells Heartburn For Cheney

by Jim Lobe "If you deal with Baker, you know you're going to get what you need," said one unnamed "senior administration official" quoted by the New York Times in a phrase that must have sent chills down the backs of the neo-conservatives and their right-wing fellow-travelers, most notably Cheney himself

The General Unease With Wesley Clark

by William Arkin Clark had his strong admirers, most prominent his commander in chief, President Clinton. But he also had prominent detractors, including his three primary military bosses

White House Re-election Plan: Clip Wings Of Neo-con Hawks

by Jim Lobe Karl Rove, Bush's closest political adviser, who is reported to have warned already in September that there should be "no wars in 2004," proffers advice that makes a lot of sense in view of Bush's precipitous drop in the polls, much of it due to a growing lack of confidence about his Iraq policy

Bush Finds New Way To Slant Science For Special Interests

by Anthony Robbins A year ago, we complained publicly, but only in a scientific journal, about administration appointment practices: "Scientific advisory committees do not exist to tell the secretary what he or she wants to hear, but rather to help the secretary, and the nation, address complex issues." Now President Bush's Office of Management and Budget has crafted a far more subtle way to assure that policies that serve the president's political donors will move forward, while those less favored will suffer endless delay

If The Green River Killer Doesn't Deserve Death, Who Does?

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson As a result of a plea bargain, Gary Ridgway, confessed murderer of 48 women, won't face execution. By contrast, many death row prisoners have a date with the hangman for committing a single murder

Announcing the P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2003

by Norman Solomon In a Nov. 30 piece, Times columnist Thomas Friedman gushed that "this war (in Iraq) is the most important liberal, revolutionary U.S. democracy-building project since the Marshall Plan." He lauded the war as "one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad." Friedman did not mention the estimated 112 billion barrels of oil in Iraq ... or the continuous deceptions that led to the "noble" enterprise

Pew Poll on "Trade" Doesn't Pass the Sniff Test

by Norman Solomon The survey questions cited by the report asked people in 10 nations of the hemisphere about "the growing trade and business ties" between their country and other countries. But the report overlaid the replies about generic commerce onto particular types of trade arrangements -- "free trade" deals such as the proposed FTAA

SF Mayor Race A Victory For Greens

by Norman Solomon Up against the campaign of a wealthy businessman who outspent him nearly 10-to-1, a strong progressive candidate nearly won the runoff election last Tuesday to become this city's mayor. Some national news stories depicted the strong showing for Matt Gonzalez as a big surprise. But it shouldn't perplex anyone when vigorous grassroots organizing combines with a sound strategy to get breakthrough results

Howard Dean Is Asking For Media Trouble

by Norman Solomon On Dec. 1, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination went where few national politicians have dared to go -- directly challenging the media conglomerates. Pressing for more clarity about Dean's presidential agenda, Matthews asked: "Are you going to break up the giant media enterprises in this country?" Dean responded, "Yes, we're going to break up giant media enterprises"

Five Good Causes To Support

by Alexander Cockburn These groups don't act like subsidiaries of the Democratic Party and aren't neutered by big foundations. So, of course, they mostly operate on a shoestring and greatly value each contribution. Give them what you can. We don't think you'll be disappointed in the results. All are non-profit charitable organizations

IAEA Condemns Iran, Rules Out Sanctions

The UN nuclear watchdog unanimously condemned Iran November 26, for its nuclear activities but did not recommend that Tehran be sent to the UN Security Council to face possible sanctions

Iran Suspends Uranium Enrichment Program - For Now

Iran said Nov. 10 that it is suspending uranium enrichment temporarily, and is handing a letter to the UN nuclear watchdog agreeing to sign the so-called Additional Protocol

U.S. Using 9/11 To Attack Human Rights, Nobel Winner Says

Detainees held by the U.S. at Guantanamo base had been deprived of "the rights stipulated under the international Geneva conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the [United Nations] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights." During a press conference at the Nobel Institute in Oslo yesterday, Ebadi further criticized the U.S. for trying to impose democracy by military force, warning that such attempts were "null and void."

How To Kill Saddam

by Alexander Cockburn All the U.S. wants is for the former Iraqi president to be hauled into some kangaroo court and, after a brisk procedure in which Saddam will not doubt be denied opportunities to interrogate old pals from happier days like Donald Rumsfeld, be dropped through a trap door with a rope tied around his neck, maybe with an Iraqi, or at least a son of the Prophet pulling the lever

Dean's Dilemma

by Alexander Cockburn Some Republicans speculate that Gore's endorsement of Dean was made in the belief that the Vermonter is certain to meet defeat in November 2004 and that Gore is holding himself ready in 2008. But this may reflect wishful thinking on the part of many Republican strategists that Dean will be a pushover for Bush. He won't. As his blitzkrieg drive for the Democratic nomination shows, Dean is a very hard man to stop. He's put his foot in his mouth more than once, tangled furiously with Tim Russert and other poobahs of the national press elite. After each supposed setback he's rebounded with ever-greater strength

Undemocratic UN Should Have No Role In Iraq

by Alexander Cockburn Another way of assaying the UN's role in Iraq is to remember that it made a profit out of its own blockade and the consequent starvation of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi babies in the 1990s. As a fee for handling the financial side of the oil-for-food program, the UN helped itself to 2 percent off the top

Ground Zero Special Ops Firefighters Took Heavy Chemical Hit

Of all the hundreds of firefighters who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Special Operations Command people in rescue, squad, and marine units absorbed the greatest concentrations of 13 chemicals released by the burning buildings

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