default.html Issue 118
Table of Contents

1 Of 4 Animals Predicted For Extinction Within Fifty Years, Study Says

Climate change could drive more than a quarter of all land animals and plants into extinction, a new study published January 8 has determined. The Earth's warming climate could extinguish the existence of more than one million species, the researchers estimate. The largest collaboration of scientists to ever investigate this issue used computer models to simulate the ways species' ranges are expected to move in response to changing temperatures and climate. Their findings are published in today's edition of the journal "Nature"


Beef Lobby Blocks Action On Mad Cow, Activists Say

by Emad Mekay Consumer groups fear the government's position is dangerous -- as it tries to simultaneously protect the industry and maintain public health. "Three years ago, we submitted a list of recommendations to the U.S. government regarding mad cow disease -- none were implemented," said Simon Chaitowitz of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington-based non-profit group that promotes preventive medicine. "We believe the USDA has not instituted these protections because many of its top staffers come from the meat and dairy industries and they care more about protecting cattle industry profits than public safety."


Is Mad Cow Already A Silent Epidemic?

by Michael Greger, M.D. Over the last 20 years the rates of Alzheimer's disease in the United States have skyrocketed. According to the CDC, Alzheimer's Disease is now the eighth leading cause of death in the United States, afflicting an estimated 4 million Americans. Twenty percent or more of people clinically diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, though, are found at autopsy not to have had Alzheimer's at all. A number of autopsy studies have shown that a few percent of Alzheimer's deaths may in fact be CJD. Given the new research showing that infected beef may be responsible for some sporadic CJD, thousands of Americans may already be dying because of Mad Cow disease every year


Will Bush Do The Right Thing To Contain Mad Cow?

by John Stauber What I can predict is that the international boycott of United States beef, rendered byproducts, animals and animal products will continue, and this will apply a major economic hurt to meat producers big and small across the country. Will their anger turn against the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the Animal Feed Industry Association and other lobbies that have prevented the United States from doing the right thing in the past? Or will this become some sort of nationalistic food culture issue, with confused consumers and family farmers blaming everyone but the real culprits in industry and government?


Mad Cow Risk Is Global, Will Require Meat Industry Revolution

The discovery of the first case of mad cow disease in the United States in December 2003 underlines the need for countries to strengthen their control measures for the fatal disease, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said. The agency warned of the "considerable risk" of spreading infectious materials around the world, given the global trade in animal feed and animal products. Governments must ensure that the meat handlers remove and destroy specified risk materials such as the brain and spinal cord from cattle over 30 months, the agency said. The use of mechanically removed meat must also be banned to ensure safety


Mad Cow Crisis Brewing For 14 Years

by Andrew Nikiforuk The tests aren't perfect, and are mostly designed to pick up the tail end of an infection. "But tests are better than no testing," adds Prof. Westaway. "We have to get the prevalence. It's unlikely we have an enormous epidemic -- but we don't know what's out there." Prof. Westaway's plea for more testing has gone unanswered for three years. No one from the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency has ever called him about the issue. Nor has anyone investigated why Alberta's animal-disease surveillance system, one of the best in North America, was drastically downsized after an imported cow from England with BSE was discovered in 1993.


New York Times Ignored, Then Distorted Story Of Vietnam Atrocities

by Jack Lessenberry The New York Times seem to be arguing that behavior like that of Tiger Force was more the rule than the exception. In the case of Tiger Force, this included cutting off human ears to make necklaces, rape and wanton murder, and in one case, evidently cutting off a baby’s head to steal a necklace. This characterization does a disservice to the many hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers who served admirably in Vietnam. Indeed, even some members of Tiger Force tried to stop the violence and ultimately complained to higher authorities, taking those steps at the cost of grave personal risk to their careers and, perhaps, even their lives. This is not journalism worthy of the New York Times


Ten Years Of Privatization Made Argentina's Crisis Worse

by Viviana Alonso Argentina's privatization process began in 1989. In just 10 years, the state had transferred the country's oil, gas, telecommunications, power and water companies to the private sector, as well as railways, subways, airports, ports and some health services. Many of the purchasers were foreign, mainly American, corporations


Don't Sell Middle Earth, New Zealand Enviros Cry

Many scenes in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy were filmed in the high country of New Zealand's South Island. These lands were once owned by the Crown on behalf of all New Zealanders, but in the largest land privatization exercise since New Zealand's early colonization, the government is selling out over the objections of the country's largest conservation organization


Growing Charges Of U.S. Abuse In Iraq

by Thalif Deen As charges of human rights violations by U.S. and other coalition soldiers in Iraq grow, a rising chorus of voices is demanding urgent international action. The criticisms -- mostly against civilian killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions without trial -- have come from human rights activists, U.S. academics and international lawyers and jurists


CAFTA Called "Colonization" By Central American Leader

by Jorge Alberto Grochembake Just over a year ago, the United States proposed a free trade treaty (CAFTA) to five Central American countries as a means to develop their economies and eradicate poverty by creating jobs in this region of 37 million people. But after nine rounds of talks, which wrapped up on Dec. 17, the promising outlook turned threatening, according to activists


Evidence Said To Show That Saddam Was Captured By Others

by Ritt Goldstein U.S. accounts have portrayed Saddam's capture as a triumph of American high-tech innovation and old-fashioned ingenuity, but reports in the Middle East and off-the-record interviews give a version of events decidedly different from those already known


Top Iraq Religious Leader Ups The Stakes Against Bush

In what could be a major challenge to the U.S. Authority in Iraq, the most influential Shiite scholar, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, threatened Jan. 16 to call for civil disobedience if the U.S.-led occupation authority did not rescind its plan to form an Iraqi government without direct elections


One Out Of Three U.S. Black Males Will Be Jailed, Study Finds

by Katrin Dauenhauer One out of three African American males in the United States can be expected to be jailed during his lifetime, according to a Justice Department report. One in six Latinos and one in 17 whites will also serve time, says the study by the department's office of justice programs


Pakistan In Turmoil Over Disclosure Of Nuke Deals With Iran

by M B Naqvi Pakistan finds itself in a serious crisis after Iran's disclosure to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that its military-oriented nuclear program has been actively helped by Pakistani scientists' advice and middlemen who helped it acquire key technology parts. Pakistan has reacted to Iran's disclosure -- made two months ago but reported in the media this week -- by arresting three top nuclear scientists after investigations by the FBI. An outcry erupted over the arrests and the FBI role. Until this week, these scientists were considered as heroes by the Pakistani government and right-wing parties for giving the country its nuclear deterrent. Now, they are being interrogated like criminals


Zimbabwe Crisis As Mugabe Refuses To Step Down

by Chris Anold Msipa The future has never been as uncertain for Zimbabwe as it is now. Ever rising food prices, shortages of basic needs, strikes in vital public services and angry speeches have now become the way of life


Iraq War Was Strategic Error, Army War Scholar Says

by Jim Lobe In a new attack on Washington's invasion of Iraq, a paper published by the U.S. Army's War College has sharply criticized U.S. strategy in "the war on terrorism," calling the invasion of Iraq an unnecessary "detour" that diverted attention and resources from the battle against al-Qaeda


The Real Issue In Iraq: War Crimes

by Paul Rockwell A cluster bomb is a 14-foot weapon that weighs about 1,000 pounds. When it explodes it sprays hundreds of smaller bomblets over an area the size of two or three football fields. The bomblets are bright yellow and look like beer cans. And because they look like playthings, thousands of children have been killed by dormant bomblets in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq. Each bomblet sprays flying shards of metal that can tear through a quarter inch of steel


Killing Of Journalists Soared In 2003

by Jim Lobe The news was not good for journalists in 2003, as media workers were killed, jailed and censored at much higher rates than a year earlier, according to reports by two watchdog groups


Monsanto's Roundup Blamed For Spread Of Powerful Fungus

by Jeremy Bigwood Roundup, produced by food-industry giant Monsanto, contains a chemical called glyphosate that researchers are blaming for increased amounts of fusarium head blight, a fungus of often very toxic molds that occurs naturally in soils and occasionally invades crops, but is usually held in check by other microbes. If true, the allegations could not only call into question the world's number-one weed killer, but they also jeopardize global acceptance of Monsanto's flagship line of genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops


Venezuela President A Thorn In Bush's Side At Summit

by Marcelo Ballve Latin American bad boy Hugo Chavez hammed it up at the recently concluded Summit of the Americas in Monterrey, Mexico, comparing the barren surface of Mars to what poor countries look like after the IMF gets done with them. But like a court jester, writes PNS associate editor Marcelo Ballvé, the leftist leader can bring up uncomfortable truths


Each Gallon Of Gas Requires 98 Tons Of Plants

by Lee Siegel/ University of Utah A staggering 98 tons of prehistoric, buried plant material -- that's 196,000 pounds -- is required to produce each gallon of gasoline we burn in our cars, SUVs, trucks and other vehicles


U.S. Plays Key Role In Small Arms Proliferation

by Thalif Deen A new study on small arms which says there are at least 639 million firearms currently in circulation, of which 59 percent are legally held by civilians. The study, 'Small Arms Survey, 2003' published by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies, points out that the United States, with roughly 83 to 96 guns per 100 people, is approaching the statistical level of one gun per man, woman and child


Iranian Woman Facing Execution For Killing Her Rapist

by Shadi Sadr In Iran, if a woman is raped, she is considered an adulteress and faces death by stoning. But if a woman fights off a sexual predator and kills him, she can then be tried for murder and face death by hanging


2003: Rough And Tumble And Crazy Times In Texas

by Molly Ivins Our only governor, Goodhair Perry, remains convinced that his greatest accomplishment was not raising taxes, even though fees, tuition, fines and everything else they could find to jack up without calling it a tax was jacked sky-high. Concerning the citizens' reaction to more toll roads, the Guv said, "I think they understand full well that concrete and that asphalt doesn't get out there because of the concrete fairy." It's Texas: We were all amazed to learn there's no concrete fairy


The "So What?" Presidency Of George W. Bush

by Molly Ivins We learn that there are no weapons of mass destruction, and the Bushes reply, "So what?" We learn there never was a connection between Sadism Hussein and Al Qaeda, and the Bushes say, "So what?" It matters because we need to understand how we got into the mess we're in, so we won't get ourselves into another one


John Kerry's Got No Elvis

by Molly Ivins The pundits all thought Kerry was a lead-pipe cinch when this started (until, of course, the pack turned on him and pronounced him dead meat). He looks presidential, people in Washington know him, he knows how the game is played, he's got the war record and quite a few bright people find him mega-impressive at close range. But he's got no Elvis. You can't win without Elvis


The Poor State Of The Union's Pocketbook

by Molly Ivins It is unclear to me why anyone would believe anything the president says about our fiscal situation. Keep in mind, this is a man who took three Texas oil companies into bankruptcy


Bush Immigration Deal: Clueless, Or Dishonest?

by Molly Ivins Longtime workers would not automatically be put on the path to obtaining citizenship or even permanent resident status. They would further logjam a system that already takes up to 10 years. Bush, who proposes to cut domestic spending again this year, made no mention of how to pay for the new program. Realistically, the bureaucratic hassles of getting 8 million to 11 million people biometric cards and then reviewing them in three years makes the whole idea silly. Try a cost estimate on that. From the undocumented worker's point of view, the proposal actually makes things worse by making their legal status dependent on their employers: If the temporary worker quits or gets fired, he is subject to deportation. This makes the workers incredibly vulnerable to exploitation, effectively indentured servants


Mad Cow A Profoundly Political Issue

by Molly Ivins I was amused to hear a television pundit conclude that mad cow is "not a political issue." What he meant was, "not a partisan issue," in that R's and D's can be found on both sides of the efforts to prevent this very thing from happening. I assure you, this is profoundly political. Mad cow disease is exactly about how our political system is corrupted by special interest money. It is also a perfect example of how greed leads directly to bone-headed stupidity


Pakistan's Glass Bangle Industry Built On Child Labor

by Zofeen Ebrahim There is little doubt that Pakistan's glass bangle industry exploits children. Jiwan Das, country program manager for Save the Children UK, a Britain-based international children's charity, said that while the work itself is not life-threatening, it is hazardous. In the closed, unventilated rooms where the delicate work is done, children are the mainstays of the industry, working while under the care of their parents. The current wage for 'sadai' and 'jorai' is three and five cents per batch of 300 respectively. In a day, an individual may complete between 25 and 35 batches


Afghans Living In World Without Law, UN Official Says

by Thalif Deen Despite a heavy Western military presence and a two-year-old U.S.-backed government in Kabul, Afghanistan has been reduced to a country with no rule of law, a senior UN official warned


France Blames U.S. "Hysteria" For Terror Alerts

by Julio Godoy In response to U.S. warnings, the French government not only cancelled the six flights of state-owned Air France Dec. 24 and 25, but placed air marshals on board other aircraft. In some instances French military aircraft escorted commercial planes flying into the United States. But privately French officials described the U.S. alarms as "hysteria," or even "deliberate misinformation." They said the aim behind these was to question the firmness of the French stand against terrorism


Indonesia Gives Light Sentence To General Who Directed Atrocities

by Jim Lobe Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri was found guilty by a special human rights court in Jakarta for what Judge Marmi Mustafa described as "gross human rights violations." Damiri is now the senior military officer responsible for prosecuting a major counter-insurgency war in Aceh province in northern Sumatra.


Latino, Immigrant Media Pick Apart Bush Amnesty Deal

by Marcelo Ballve A mix of hope and suspicion is filling the editorial pages of the nation's ethnic news media in response to President Bush's new proposal on undocumented immigrants


Virtually All Immigration Processing Stopped Since 9/11

by Pilar Marrero A huge backlog of immigration paperwork threatens to bury President Bush's move to legalize some undocumented workers. But after early opposition to the president's plan, some advocates are working to improve the proposal and clear a pathway toward residency and citizenship for the nation's millions of undocumented immigrants


Undocumented Workers In U.S. See Bush Amnesty Plan As Threat

by Mario Dintel Bush's plan is not an amnesty, but a system for recruiting foreign labor power that would require immigrants to provide their personal data, which would be put into a registry -- an aspect not welcomed by wary undocumented workers who are used to covering up their tracks in order to keep a step ahead of the authorities


American Missionaries Pour Into Iraq

Shrouded in secrecy and under the guise of humanitarian aid, American missionaries, mainly evangelicals, are pouring into the predominantly Muslim Iraq, fearing the now "open door" may be soon closed when an Iraqi government takes over power in six months' time


Bush Withdraws WMD Search Team From Iraq

by Jim Lobe Some military officials described the step as a sign that the administration might have lowered its sights and no longer expected to uncover the caches of chemical and biological weapons that the White House cited as a principal reason for going to war last March, the New York Times said. A separate military team that specializes in disposing of chemical and biological weapons remains part of the 1,400-member Iraq Survey Group, which has been searching Iraq for more that seven months at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars


Iraq Gas, Electricity Shortages Hit New Lows

by Valentinas Mite Iraq, the country with the world's second-largest oil reserves, is suffering severe fuel shortages. Drivers are spending hours in queues at gasoline stations and are forbidden to buy more than 30 liters of fuel at a time. With little fuel to spare on generators, families are spending long hours in the dark, with power outages continuing on a regular basis. The U.S. administration in Iraq and religious leaders are holding black marketeers responsible for the crisis


NAFTA Results "Grim," Rights Group Says

by Emad Mekay According to a recent report by the Global Resource Action Centre for the Environment (GRACE), NAFTA has displaced 1.75 million Mexican farmers from their land, forcing them to migrate to the cities or the United States. According to Lauren Carlsen, director of the Americas program of the Inter-hemispheric Resource Centre, an advocacy group based in Mexico City, farm prices -- especially for corn -- have plummeted during the deal's lifetime in the face of heftily subsidised imports from the United States. Incomes in Mexico have also nose-dived


NAFTA Environmental Watchdog Has Money Woes

by Diego Cevallos The mission of the Commission is to prevent potential environmental conflicts arising from trade relations and to monitor compliance. But it is suffering financial problems that cast its future into doubt. While annual trade amongst Mexico, Canada and the United States has risen since 1993 to more than $620 billion by 2002, the Commission's budget remains unchanged at nine million dollars


Israeli Soldiers Refusing Role In "Army Of Occupation"

Two weeks ago, 13 members of the Israeli army's most elite commando unit publicly refused to serve in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying the army's operations there are as oppressive as immoral. The commandos refusal came three months after 27 reserve and active duty airmen signed a letter last September addressed to Sharon, refusing to carry out "immoral and illegal" raids on Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip


Bush Killed Hope Of Better Iran-U.S. Ties After Quake

by William O. Beeman Iran's rejection of a U.S. humanitarian visit clearly came about due largely to an offhand and baseless remark by President Bush. Now, two countries that should be seeking improved relations are back to square one


Bush Scuttles Plans To Restructure Iraq Economy

by Charles Recknagel Recent months have seen CPA officials slow down or postpone several once-ambitious initiatives to rapidly introduce market reforms. He says the slowdown is partly due to a sense that Iraq's political and security environment need to stabilize first, and partly due to worries that dramatic changes might only add to unemployment levels. Iraq currently suffers an estimated 50 percent unemployment rate


U.S. Sets Up Institute To Employ Iraqi Scientists

The United States plans to make the best of the elite Iraqi scientists and technicians, who helped develop the military arsenal and weapons program of the ousted regime, to prevent them from selling their expertise to other countries or terrorist groups


U.S. Ignoring Indonesia Army Terrorism In Oil-Rich Region, Say Groups

by Jacqueline Koch Hidden behind travel and press blackouts, the Indonesian military is waging war against minorities in two resource-rich regions, Aceh and West Papua, according to two new reports. The government executions and torture are occurring even as the Bush administration lobbies to renew military aid to Jakarta


Milosevic Trial May Foreshadow Saddam's

by Terence Sheridan Prosecutors at The Hague were jubilant at U.S. presidential hopeful Wesley Clark's testimony against former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic. But on the streets of Belgrade the mood is different. Anger at government corruption and perceived U.S. duplicity brought parliamentary seats to ultra-nationalists led by Milosevic, who campaigns from his jail cell. Could a trial of Saddam Hussein bring similar unintended consequences?


U.S. Restricts Demonstrations In Iraq

by Aws Al-Sharqy A statement issued by the U.S.-led authority and broadcast by the Iraqi media network Wednesday, December 31, said no individual or group is allowed to organize marches or demonstrations or even gather in streets, public places or buildings at any time without a prior from the occupation command. It demanded those who want to demonstrate or organize a meeting submit a written request to the occupation authorities no less than a day before


Pakistan Politics, Tribal Law Complicate Hunt For Al-Qaeda

by Ron Synovitz A top expert on the Taliban and Islamic fundamentalism, author and journalist Ahmed Rashid, says Pakistan's military operations near the Afghan border appear to be the result of enormous international pressure on Islamabad to capture Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. But the hunt is complicated by domestic politics and tribal law in Pakistan


Pakistanis Fleeing U.S. Face Tough Test In Canada

by Mark Bourrie Many Pakistanis fleeing a U.S. immigration crackdown have crossed the northern border into Canada but activists here say Pakistan's new role as a partner in the 'War on Terrorism' is making it easier for Ottawa to reject those refugee applicants


The Buzz About The Missing Bees Of Nepal

by Sanjay Suri Thousands of farmers in China lived off hundreds of varieties of rice, and now they grow just four species. The loss of one more can mean poverty for millions


Baghdad Is Bush's Blue Dress

by Robert Scheer Now, can we talk of impeachment? The rueful admission by former chief U.S. weapons inspector David Kay that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction or the means to create them at the time of the U.S. invasion confirms the fact that the Bush administration is complicit in arguably the greatest scandal in U.S. history. It's only because the Republicans control both houses of Congress that we hear no calls for a broad-ranging investigation of the type that led to the discovery of Monica Lewinsky's infamous blue dress


So Now We're Opposing Democracy In Iraq

by Robert Scheer If we now fail to promptly return full sovereignty to the Iraqis, inconvenient as that outcome may be, the invasion will stand exposed as nothing more than old-fashioned imperial plunder of the region's oil riches — and the continued occupation could devolve into civil war. Now, the top U.S. general in Iraq tells us that the Iraqis "don't want us to stay, but they don't want us to go," which is as good a definition of quagmire as any


Schwarzenegger's Budget Axe Chops Services For Poor And Needy

by Robert Scheer Scripted campaign over, Arnold now aims to balance budget on backs of those who can least afford it


Bush Global Warming Plan Could Devastate Oceans

by Todd McLeish/ University of Rhode Island

A Bush Administration proposal to mitigate the effects of global warming by capturing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and injecting it into the deep sea could have disastrous effects on sea life, according to a University of Rhode Island researcher


Lord Knows What Pat Robertson Wants

by Robert Scheer We all know that Robertson is a longtime supporter of Bush and that the president has adhered to the reverend's right-wing agenda, but would Robertson dare use the Lord's name in vain for partisan politics? Divine or not, Robertson heard some voices. And the explanation for why God might have chosen to speak up in favor of a president who has made such a hash of our economy and foreign policy came to me in a dream.


New Documents Show How Rumsfeld And Reagan Armed Saddam

by Robert Scheer The work of the National Security Archive, a dogged organization fighting for government transparency, has cast light on the trove of documents that depict in damning detail how the United States, working with U.S. corporations including Bechtel, cynically and secretly allied itself with Hussein's dictatorship. That administration's eye was not on the carnage from chemical weapons but rather the profit to be obtained from the flow of oil


Indonesia Again Filling Prisons With Political Opponents

by Jim Lobe Two of the world's largest human rights organizations say that the government of Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputra is filling the country's jails once again with political prisoners, only five years after all prisoners of conscience were released with the ouster of former President Suharto


Burma Political Oppression Becoming Worse

by Marwaan Macan-Markar Global human rights lobby Amnesty International slammed Burma's military government for perpetuating a widespread climate of oppression, reflecting a turn for the worse in that Southeast Asian country. There has been a rise in the number of people being arbitrarily arrested and detained due to their political activity, said Amnesty's researchers following a three-week visit to Burma


Kurds want Their Own Federation In Oil-Rich Northern Iraq

by Hilmi Toros Kurds in northern Iraq appear to be planning to turn their tactical gains for being unflinching U.S. allies in ousting Saddam Hussein into a strategic and historic advance -- a Kurdish federation that would include one of the world's richest oil reserves in Kirkuk


Israel Set To Resume Assassinations

Israel considers resuming the wave of assassinations against Palestinian resistance fighters, sending a clear threatening message to Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin


Iraqi Shiites To Kurds: A United Nation, No Federation

Iraqi Shiites vehemently rejected the Kurdish-proposed federalism of Iraq, joining an increasingly growing Arab, Sunni and Turkoman opposition to the drive


Kurds Oppose Call For Quick Iraq Elections

by Valentinas Mite Kurdish politicians in Iraq say they strongly oppose the demand by the country's Shi'a Muslims for direct elections in selecting an interim local government to assume control from the U.S.-led coalition. They say Iraq is not ready to hold such elections, and criticize Shi'a clerics for taking the debate to the streets


Radical Islamist Muslim Brotherhood Has New Leader

The Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt's largest political opposition party and a proponent of fundamentalist-nationalist policies. After Sept. 11, El-Hodaibi sympathized with the loss of American lives but rejected the idea that Arab or Islamic groups were responsible


$4 Billion Missing From Angola Oil Money

by Emad Mekay More than four billion dollars disappeared from government coffers in oil-rich Angola from 1997-2002, says a leading human rights watchdog, blaming official wrongdoing


Florida Woman Has Rare Foreign Accent Syndrome

by Tom Evelyn/ University of Central Florida In November 1999, 57-year-old Judi Roberts of Sarasota, Florida, suffered a stroke that left her unable to speak and the right side of her body paralyzed. Her speech gradually improved during the next year until she was speaking with the same fluency as she had before the stroke. However, instead of the familiar New York accent she once had, she spoke with a British accent


Bush "Systematically Misrepresented" WMD Threat, Report Says

by Jim Lobe The administration of President George W. Bush "systematically misrepresented" the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD), three non-proliferation experts charged in a 107-page report from the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


U.S. Military Bases Growing Worldwide

by Franz Schurmann U.S. military bases have been a strong presence globally, but thanks to The War on Terror, the number of bases will increase substantially -- with enormous political and economic implications


Death Penalty Missing As Election Year Topic

by Haider Rizvi Though skeptical about the workings of the death penalty system, Democrat front-runner Howard Dean says he is in favor of capital punishment. However, in a bid to attract liberal voters, he says he wants the penalty only for extreme and heinous crimes "such as terrorism or the killing of police officers or young children." John Kerry, Wesley Clark and John Edwards, three other leading candidates, have expressed similar views during their campaigns, while Joseph Lieberman and Dick Gephardt are staunch supporters of capital punishment


Nixon Planned Gulf Invasion in 1973

The U.S. mulled military invasion of the Arab Gulf region to seize oilfields during an oil embargo in 1973, but feared a possible counter-attack by Iraq whose vice-president at the time was none other than Saddam Hussein, according to recently declassified British government documents


U.S. Military More Conservative Than Public, Poll Shows

by Jim Lobe About two-thirds of the active-duty U.S. military approve of President George W. Bush's overall performance, while the same percentage of officers consider themselves Republicans, according to an unprecedented poll released Dec. 30


European Roma Living Conditions Akin To Africa's Worst

by Sanjay Suri The survey on the Roma -- a word used loosely to describe people some of whom migrated to Europe from what is now north-west India and Pakistan between 1000 and 2000 years ago -- shows that one out of every two Roma in the countries surveyed, goes hungry at least a few days every year. One out of six is "constantly starving."


No Sign That WTO Talks Will Resume Soon

by Sanjay Suri Meetings held December failed to start the stalled World Trade Organization negotiations and there are few signs of movement in the New Year either, activists say


Iraq Sunni Minority Feels Marginalized, Provoked By U.S. And Shiites

For the first time since modern day Iraq was founded in 1921, the Sunnis are no longer in charge of Iraq. They have only five seats on the 25-member Interim Governing Council. They are nervous at the site of the country's Kurds clamoring for a federalist state and Iraq's Shiite majority poised to rule Iraq after years of oppression under captured former President Saddam Hussein. At the time the Council was being assembled in June and early July, "the Americans listened to their allies" like the Kurds and the Shiites "but excluded the Arab nationalists and the Sunni community at large"


Congress Asked To Probe Leak Of CIA Agent's Identity

by Andrew Tully A group of former CIA officials are urging Congress to hold hearings into the U.S. administration's reported role in revealing the identity of a CIA operative who is the wife of a former American ambassador who directly challenged President George W. Bush's assertion about Iraq's nuclear weapons capability. The Justice Department already is investigating the case, prompting some observers to question whether a congressional inquiry would be superfluous or, at worst, might interfere with the existing probe. But other experts say a congressional investigation might be the only way to push ahead with a potentially politically damaging probe the White House may be trying to stall.


Latest Bin Laden Tape Threatens Arab Regimes, Not U.S.

by Jalal Ghazi Osama bin Laden's comments on his latest tape break with a pattern set in his previous six audio recordings. This time, the Al Qaeda leader turns his attention away from threats against American civilians and toward Arab regimes he calls brutal


Militant Kurdish Group Ansar Al-Islam A Mystery To U.S.

by Valentinas Mite Ansar al-Islam's ideology entails a literal interpretation of the Koran and advocates a return to the proclaimed purity of the early Islamic community. Representatives of the New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) visited Ansar al-Islam camps in 2002. In a report, HRW says that, in its early days, the group issued decrees ordering women to wear veils, men to grow beards, the segregation of the sexes, banning music, and barring women from education and employment. The group also said it favored Islamic punishments -- amputations and floggings -- sometimes to the death -- for offenses such as theft, the consumption of alcohol, and adultery


Jeb Bush Opens "Faith Based" Prison

by Wayne Besen Gov. Jeb Bush's pronouncement that Florida will open the nation's first "faith-based" prison is a terrible idea that is unethical, probably unconstitutional and may even lead to favoritism of fundamentalist Christian inmates


U.S. Interests Buying Up European Arms Makers

by Julio Godoy The increasing pace of takeovers of European military companies by U.S. corporations is raising new concerns in France and Germany


Their Media War and Ours in 2004

by Danny Schechter Media institutions, which report on the corporate irresponsibility of others, like the endless stream of indicted Wall Street operators, need to turn the cameras on themselves. How socially responsible and accountable are they? How transparent? Had activists been paying attention, there would have been a protest against revelations in 2000 by the Alliance for Better Campaigns that showed how many local TV stations violated federal laws by overcharging candidates while reducing their electoral coverage


Thomas Friedman's Scary Plan For World War III

by Ira Chernus Between the lines, Tom suggests that there is another goal: to preserve our belief that we are rational, civilized, and morally pure; that we must teach the rest of the world how to be rational, civilized, and pure. It's the same thing Englishmen believed when they started killing Native Americans nearly 400 years ago. Some ideas just won't quit, even after Hiroshima, the nuclear arms race, and the Shah.


Ex-Iraqi Soldiers Riot, Saying Pension Promises Broken

by Charles Recknagel Two former Iraqi soldiers were shot dead Jan. 6 in Al-Basrah by Iraqi police while demonstrating for back payment of wages. The transformation of the Iraqi Army, and the reintegration of so many former soldiers into Iraqi civilian life, has not proved easy. Just how mixed a record of success there has been was amply on display Jan. 6 as Iraq celebrated Army Day, traditionally one of the most important of the country's national holidays. Several hundred former soldiers took to the streets in the southern city of Al-Basrah to march on the Central Bank. They claimed they had not been paid for months under the coalition's compensation plan, which offers ex-soldiers stipends of $50 to $150 a month depending on their past rank


The Spirit Of Teddy Roosevelt Stalks The Pentagon

by Jim Lobe More than a century after Theodore Roosevelt's presidency (1901-1909), TR's fighting and imperial spirit is being aggressively promoted as a model for U.S. policies overseas in the 21st century by both the civilian policymakers in the Pentagon and their neo-conservative and right-wing allies


Bush 'Marriage For Welfare' Plan Won't Work, Says Researcher

The Bush Administration's proposal to set aside federal welfare funds for marriage promotion programs has more to do with symbolism and is not likely to be effective at promoting model families and reducing poverty


Tough-Talking Bush Ignores Deficit And Joblessness In Speech

by Jim Lobe By announcing that the next four years will be very much like the last three, Bush, like his father before him -- president from 1989 to 1993 -- has become a fixed target for next November's elections, a point brought home by an uncharacteristically aggressive Democratic Party response after the president finished his speech. Bush's father, who loved international diplomacy above all, failed to understand that most voters in 1992 were more concerned about job losses caused by corporate downsizing and overseas competition. He missed the wisdom of Bill Clinton's political adviser, James Carville, who observed succinctly, "It's the economy, stupid."


The Phony Dean 'Meltdown'

by Russ Baker Sometimes it's hard to remember, but presidents aren't primarily dinner party hosts or recruiting posters for perfection. They're supposed to be smart people who can make intelligent choices, mostly in private, that serve our interests. And they're supposed to be human


"No One Can Now Doubt The Word Of America"

by Stephen Zunes Perhaps even more disheartening than these misleading statements by President Bush during his State of the Union address is that, in their formal responses to Bush's speech, Democratic Congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Tom Daschle failed to challenge them other than a vague appeal for stronger diplomatic efforts. None of the analysts on the major networks challenged these misleading statements either. Meanwhile, the two Democratic presidential contenders who dominated the Iowa caucuses the previous evening were senators who have largely supported Bush Administration policy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel/Palestine and elsewhere in the Middle East


Bush State of the Union Ignores Environment

Bush did not once mention the environment during his State of the Union address to a Joint Session of Congress last night. Nor was the environment mentioned in the Democratic response to the President's address given by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota


Expect Return Of Military Draft If Bush Reelected

by Randolph T. Holhut It will take a vote by Congress and a presidential signature to bring back conscription. And if Bush happens to get another term, it's a pretty good bet that we'll see the draft return in 2005. Restarting the draft wouldn't take long to do. Since 1980, federal law requires virtually all men to register with the Selective Service System (SSS) within 30 days of turning 18. The SSS has millions of names of potential draftees on file and estimates that currently 88 percent of all men between ages 18 and 26 are registered


Demos Risk Disaster With Southern Strategy

by Norman Solomon The notion of carrying several Southern states is often encouraged by media pundits eager for a more “moderate” Democratic standard bearer. But the Dixie trip is a dead end. And a fixation on the conservative sensibilities of white Southerners is apt to tilt the ticket away from the kind of political message that could resonate sufficiently elsewhere to mean victory


Demo Attacks on Dean Enhance Bush's Re-election Prospects

by Stephen Zunes It is not the increasingly likely prospect of Howard Dean's nomination that could lead to a Democratic defeat in November, it's his opponents' attacks against him. As Dick Gephardt, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman see themselves lagging in the polls running up to the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary later this month, their campaigns are engaging in increasingly desperate attacks against the front-runner for their party's nomination


Repubs Launch Insanity Offense Against Dean

by Randolph T. Holhut It's interesting how vigorously conservatives are attacking Howard Dean while at the same time they are fervently hoping that he's the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. They have visions of a 50-state landslide win for Bush if Dean is the opponent


Sharpton Not Only Black American Critical Of Dean

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson The continuing racial pot-shots by Al Sharpton against fellow presidential candidate Howard Dean aren't the point, writes PNS contributor Earl Ofari Hutchinson. The Vermont governor is an easy target due to his lack of familiarity with black issues and his stands on several issues


2004 May See Widespread Strikes And Lockouts

by David Bacon Supermarket workers in southern California have hit the picket lines in answer to their employers' demand that they pay for their health insurance. This is just the opening salvo in what promises to be a year of labor wars


George Will's Ethics: None of Our Business?

by Norman Solomon In early March, Will wrote a syndicated piece that blasted critics of President Bush's plans to launch an all-out war on Iraq. Several paragraphs of the column featured quotations from a speech by Black. The laudatory treatment began high in the column as Will referred to some criticisms of Bush policies and then wrote: "Into this welter of foolishness has waded Conrad Black." The column did not contain the slightest hint that this wonderful foe of "foolishness" had provided checks to fatten the columnist's assets at $25,000 a pop


Presidential Candidates: Compared to What?

by Norman Solomon Eager to dislodge George W. Bush from the White House, many voters lined up behind John Kerry in late January. It's true that the junior senator from Massachusetts is probably the best bet to defeat Bush -- and, as president, Kerry would be a very significant improvement over the incumbent. But truth in labeling should impel acknowledgment that Kerry is not a progressive candidate


Don't Run Again In 2004, Ralph

by Norman Solomon While Nader may talk about opening up a second front against the President, there is no plausible scenario where a Nader candidacy actually increases the likelihood of President Bush's defeat. At best, a Nader campaign would have no effect on whether the President loses. And the fact remains that a presidential campaign by Nader -- who has vocally rejected the idea of campaigning only in "safe states" -- could help President Bush win -- again


The State of the Media Union

by Norman Solomon At a time when news cycles bring us such portentous events as the remarkable wedding of Britney Spears, the advent of Michael Jackson's actual trial proceedings and the start of the Democratic presidential primaries, it is time to reflect upon the state of the media union


Presidential Campaign Fever And "The Vision Thing"

by Norman Solomon Often it's much more difficult to challenge those you hold in high regard than those you disdain. So far, many progressive leaders and journalists who don't think twice about denouncing George W. Bush or criticizing Democratic presidential candidates have hesitated to make public their private negative views of a Nader presidential campaign this year. Overall, we're acculturated to perceive stubbornness -- adherence to a "vision" -- as a sign of strength. Sometimes it is. But at other times it is a weakness. Allies can assist us to distinguish between the two. That's what friends are for -- to help us understand when we might be truly visionary and when we're just seeing things


Robert McNamara And The Fog Of Cop-Out

by Alexander Cockburn McNamara is self-serving and disingenuous. Reminiscing about his acceptance of Kennedy's invitation to come from Ford in Detroit to Camelot, McNamara claims to Morris that he insisted he would not be part of Georgetown's pesky social round. Nonsense. He took to it like a parvenu to ermine, as more than one Washington hostess could glowingly recall


Iraq War Dominated 2003 TV News

by Jim Lobe AIDS killed three million people around the world last year, more than two million of them in Africa. The three major U.S. television networks' evening news programs devoted a combined total of 39 minutes to the issue


Havoc In The Cornfields

by Alexander Cockburn The Iowa caucuses are rigged to favor candidates in good odor with the DNC, which is part of the reason why Dean did badly. It could be that Dean never was the front-runner in Iowa that brought such panic to the Clinton establishment marshaled by Terry McAuliffe at the Democratic National Committee. The press played him up, as did Karl Rove. But if you believe exit polls, 58 percent of caucus attenders had made up their minds more than a week ago, and of that number, 33 percent voted for Kerry, and only 26 percent for Dean


Bush And Iraq: The Truth At Last

by Alexander Cockburn What bothers the White House is one particular National Security Council (NSC) document shown in the "60 Minutes" interview, clearly drafted in the early weeks of the new administration, which showed plans for the post-invasion dispersal of Iraq's oil assets among the world's great powers, starting with the major oil companies. For the brief moment it was on the TV screen one could see that this bit of paper, stamped Secret, was undoubtedly one of the most explosive documents in the history of imperial conspiracy. Here, dead center in the camera's lens, was the refutation of every single rationalization for the attack on Iraq ever offered by George W. Bush and his co-conspirators, including Tony Blair


Comparing Bush To Hitler

by Alexander Cockburn My problem with the Hitler-Bush pairing is not so much the comparison per se, which is solidly in the respectable mainstream of political abuse, but in the strange hysteria of Democrats about Bush as a leader of such consummate evil, so vile that any Democrat would be preferable. Any Democrat? George Bush is by definition a warmonger, but Wesley Clark, one of the contenders for the Democratic nomination, actually issued an order that could have sparked Armageddon


Count Your Blessings Looking Back At 2003

by Alexander Cockburn John L. Hess's vivid memoir "My Times, A Memoir of Dissent," really writes the Times's obituary as America's supposedly greatest paper, and there is nothing more savage and contrite than his account of what the New York Times did not report about the Vietnam War in the late 1960s. Every journalism student and reporter should have it in his or her knapsack


Mexican Immigrants Reject Bush "Guest Worker" Plan

by Diego Cevallos Groups of Mexican immigrants in the United States say it is unlikely that the immigration policy reform proposal presented by the U.S. government, which would issue temporary work visas, will make it through Congress. But they are anything but sad about that



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