default.html Issue 130
Table of Contents

Bush "Iraqification" The Real Threat, Not Ethnic Divide

by Gareth Porter The real threat of civil war in Iraq comes not from Sunni-Shia conflict but from the Kurdish- Arab tensions that have been stoked by the U.S. strategy of "Iraqification." For the past year, the U.S. military has been trying to get Sunnis and Shiites to fight the insurgents along with U.S. troops. But the only Iraqi troops willing to participate in the war in any numbers have been the Kurds. Reliance on the Kurds as auxiliaries to the U.S. occupation is a dangerous strategy. Neither Sunnis nor Shiites have forgotten that the Kurds supported Iran in the war between Iraq and Iran in the early 1980s

Election Hardly A "Historic Day" For Iraq

by Chris Toensing U.S. confidence about Iraq reflects the Bush foreign policy team's belief in the self-evident moral force of U.S. 'leadership' and their colder calculation that where the U.S. leads, most weaker parties will follow. At a Brookings Institution forum on January 25, neo-conservative pundit William Kristol expressed this mindset best when he noted, a bit smugly, that in Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq elections are happening because those territories are occupied

White House Calls Off WMD Search, But War Still "Absolutely" Worth It, Bush Says

by Daisy Sindelar In a new television interview, Bush defends the invasion as 'absolutely' worth it, despite the lack of weapons evidence. He says the world is a safer place without former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and it remains to be determined why WMD intelligence-gathering failed prior to the war

Liberal Talk Comes (Back) To LA

by Steve Young Things have changed since that inauspicious stuttering start, and now liberal talk with Air America personalities, syndicated with some other progressive talkers, are ready to give it another go. Starting February 3, Air America will re-begin broadcasting Los Angeles on 1150AM/ KTLK (K-Talk Radio). Questions arise. Is there any reason and will they succeed?

Hello, FCC? Some Attention Over Here, Please?

by Steve Young Perhaps on that one day there'll be a man name of Michael Powell who, instead of investigating four-letter slips, lesbian-dating radio segments and garb malfunctions, would take a listen to the opiners spreading harmful misinformation who are seemingly off the FCC's radar. Perhaps if we said we heard them mention a naked breast while telling our kids that 'condoms are only ten-percent effective'(another trusted conservative host's 'looking out for you and your kids' quote)

Search For WMD Ends, Search For Outrage Begins

by Steve Young If one thing I knew for sure, it was that my Lords of Loud, few of whom had the privilege to volunteer their services and bodies to protect their freedom of speech, would not let the President off the hook. Why would they? Certainly, this would become one of the most egregious events ever put upon our nation by the people who are supposed to be protecting our lives.

First-Time Iraqi Voters Face Ballot From Hell

by Dahr Jamail The polling process itself is confusing many people. With 7,785 mostly unnamed candidates on the lists of 83 coalitions of political parties, voters have little idea who they will be voting for. Each list contains between 83 and 275 candidates, running on platforms championing all sorts of causes. Allawi is a member of a list running under the slogan 'For a strong, secure, prosperous, democratic and unified Iraq.' Most candidate lists do not mention the occupation of Iraq. One election poster reads, "Let the polls be our answer to the car bombings and insecurity." Another has a smiling face of a man with the promise that this list will focus on restoring electricity

Iraq Election: Unknown Candidates, Unknown Polling Places

by Dahr Jamail Amin Hajar, 52, who owns a small auto garage in Baghdad, says "There is a rumor that if we don't vote our ration will be stopped. And if that happened, I and my family would starve to death." He said that when he picked up his monthly food ration recently, he was forced to sign a form saying he had picked up his voter registration. He believes that the government may use this to track whether he votes or not.This rumor has circulated broadly around Baghdad even though there appears to be no truth in it

Gonzales Narrowly Wins Approval By Senate Committee

by Jim Lobe MALDEF, the nation's most important Latino civil rights group and one of three national Latino groups who oppose his nomination, said its specific concerns included Gonzales' strong backing for the primacy of presidential power, and the potential conflict of interest deriving from Gonzales' past representation of Bush as White House counsel

Iraqi-Americans Frustrated By U.S. Restrictions On Voting

by Rebecca Romani The San Diego area alone is home to between 30,000 and 35,000 Iraqis, one of the largest populations of Iraqis in the United States after Detroit and Chicago. Another 10,000-15,000 Iraqis live in the surrounding western states, including Washington State and Arizona. Yet fewer than 4,000 have signed up at the El Toro Marine Base in Irvine, California, one of only five voting centers in the country

Mishandled Aid Could Easily Hurt Tsunami Victims

by Suvendrini Kakuchi 'Every step must be taken to ensure the huge collections of aid are used properly and with a long-term view to help the most affected areas,' economist Daisuke Hiratsuka, an expert on Thailand said. 'There is a risk that the money could just be used on producing short-term results like, for instance, pouring everything into the construction industry for rebuilding houses -- rather than also focusing on people's lives'

India Black Market Trying To Get Hands On Tsunami Aid

by Ranjit Devraj Collecting funds is one thing and translating it into tangible benefits for the tsunami survivors that need it badly is another. Already the media has exposed racketeering by suppliers caught cheating on the quality of tarpaulins that were needed in large quantities to immediately shelter people whose homes were washed away by the waves

Possible U.S. "Death Squads" In Iraq Send Chills To Those Who Remember El Salvador

Analysis by Jason Vest The report by Newsweek that the Pentagon is actively intensively debating a 'Salvador option' of forming death squads to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers may be the best indicator to date as to just how far 'round the bend the current crop of Pentagonistas has gone in their bid to check the insurgency-they-never-thought-could happen

Few Iraqis Living Abroad Will Vote

by Meena S Janardhan The Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM), which is conducting the elections overseas, had in fact expected a million Iraqis expatriates to vote and initially planned to close registration on Jan. 23. The deadline was, however, extended by two days when the tally of registered voters had reached only about 130,000. The IOM is no stranger to such a massive endeavor. It has conducted out-of-country voting in conflict-ridden areas such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and East Timor and prepared 850,000 Afghans in Pakistan and Iran to vote in their country's presidential poll last October. But Iraq has turned out differently

Female Genital Mutilation Moves Into Hospitals

by Fredrick Nzwili Activists working to end female genital mutilation in Africa find themselves in a bitter phase of the struggle. Now that some traditional practitioners have disavowed it, many doctors and nurses are taking up the illegal practice

Arabs In N Iraq Fear Ethnic Cleansing After Election

by Aaron Glantz Tensions in the northern Iraqi city Kirkuk have reached breaking point after Arab parties announced they will boycott the election Jan. 30. The boycott is potentially explosive. The Arab population of Kirkuk was settled there largely as a move by the Saddam regime to dilute the Kurdish strength in this oil-rich region. The boycott by the Arab population was a long-awaited fallout of the Jan. 16 decision by the Iraqi government to permit Kurds expelled from the city under Saddam Hussein to vote from Kirkuk

Cancel The Inauguration Parties, Give The Millions To Tsunami Victims

by David Krieger It would be an impressive sign to the world that America cares and is capable of compassion and empathy if the President were to cancel the planned inauguration ceremony, the parades and parties, the pomp and circumstance, and add the tens of millions saved to the relief fund for the victims of the disaster

Pakistan Governor Says Foreign Militants Regrouping Near Afghan Border

by Ron Synovitz The governor of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) has expressed fears that what he calls 'foreign terrorists' are regrouping in the tribal regions of Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan

Enviros Falsely Charged With Exploiting Tsunami

by Amanda Griscom Little Was global warming behind the recent catastrophic tsunami in the Indian Ocean? Of course not. But you wouldn't know that from listening this past week to the global-warming skeptics who see green conspiracies everywhere they look

UN Oil-for-Food Audit Finds Much Ado About Not Much

by Thalif Deen A series of 58 internal audits of the multi-billion-dollar oil-for-food program in Iraq has revealed overbilling and management lapses by its UN supervisors, but no large-scale fraud. The reports show management failings resulting in losses amounting to about two million dollars -- mostly due to overbilling

Exit, Feith

by Jim Lobe 'I think they decided to get rid him of long ago but were afraid that doing so would have been seen as a tacit admission that Bush screwed up in Iraq,' said one administration official who asked not to be identified. He added that Feith's authority over policy had been gradually reduced over the past 18 months due to complaints about his performance from Congress, the uniformed military, and Washington's coalition partners in Iraq -- particularly British Prime Minister Tony Blair who, according to one source, had asked Bush to remove Feith well over a year ago

Word Games Republicans Play

by Molly Ivins Karl Rove, Frank Luntz and many other smart political operatives were perfecting the art of changing language for political reasons. Do people perceive most conservatives as mean? Then run on the slogan 'compassionate conservative.' It has no meaning, but it sounds better. People don't think the government should be involved in religion? Call it 'faith-based policy.' People are against more air pollution? Then call it 'the Clear Skies Initiative.'

Not Exactly Your Reality-Based President

by Molly Ivins If Britain had been following the Bush plan, it would have nuked us years ago for being the largest single source of money for the Irish Republican Army. Reality is so often much more complicated than George W. Bush thinks it is

Protecting The Bosses, Not The Workers

by Molly Ivins Jonathan L. Snare has been named to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Just the guy we would have chosen ourselves, because his background is so relevant. No, he's not an expert in health or safety, but he used to be the lobbyist for Metabolife, the ephedra diet pill that attracted so much unpleasant attention. Ephedrine was finally barred in 2003 after the FDA decided it had caused 155 deaths. I guess we're lucky Bush didn't put Snare at the FDA

Not Much To Laugh About In 2004

by Molly Ivins I think the only natural joke set-up of the whole year was the time President Bush told the Amish in the Midwest that God speaks through him. A thousand instant punchlines occur, for instance: Darn, I thought the Almighty knew how to pronounce the word nuclear

Bush Flat Out Lying About Social Security

by Molly Ivins Let's try this again, slowly, for those who, like the president, seem to be having difficulty with reality. Social Security will not be bankrupt, will not be flat bust in 2042 or 2052 or even, as the president has also claimed, by 2018. According to the deliberately alarmist projections of the fund's trustees, it will have exhausted the trust fund in 2042. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Social Security will be able to rely on the trust fund until 2052 and after that will still be able to pay 81 percent of scheduled benefits. And that's if no changes are made to the current system

Now They're Feeding Us Actual Covert Propaganda

by Molly Ivins Now, in addition to the regular misleading, fudging, distorting and phony statistics games, we're getting actual covert propaganda, and dammittohell, they're making us pay for it

GOP Launch Campaign To Kill Social Security

by Molly Ivins Let's get this straight. The Republicans do not want to fix Social Security, they want to kill it. Period

Happy New Year Disgraces

by Molly Ivins As it is now, if the ethics committee, five Republicans and five Democrats, deadlocks, the complaint automatically goes to an investigative subcommittee after 45 days. Nope, they want to change that to a majority of the committee. More 'Protect Tom DeLay' changes. Does it not occur to the Republicans that Tom DeLay brings 'discredit' on the House every day he is in office?

Women's Rights In The Balance As Dems Ponder "Red State" Appeal

by Cynthia L. Cooper Women and pro-choice leaders both inside and outside the Democratic Party insist that the party's strong pro-choice position will not be abandoned or shaken, despite rumors to the contrary flying through blogs, Web sites, TV commentary and newspaper articles

Gaza Killings Ends Abbas' Election Honeymoon

Analysis by Peter Hirschberg The Palestinian militant groups who carried out the attack Jan. 13 in the Gaza Strip that killed six Israeli civilians said they had been planning the assault for weeks. But the timing is not coincidental: it is the first major challenge by armed groups to the newly elected Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian Election Over, Abbas' Honeymoon May Be Short

Analysis by Peter Hirschberg On the campaign trail, Abbas reiterated his long-held view that armed attacks undermined Palestinian national interests and that these interests would best be served by returning to the negotiating table with Israel. Now that Palestinians have put him in office, they will be scrutinizing Abbas to see whether his approach improves their lot

In Mosul, Iraq Solders Turn From Hunter To Hunted

by Ferry Biedermann Troop reinforcements from the U.S.-supervized Iraqi National Guard (ING) are being brought from Kurdistan into the violence-plagued city. In mostly night-time raids, they have arrested scores of people suspected of carrying out attacks. But the troops often turn from the hunters into the hunted on the mean streets of Mosul. One column of Kurdish soldiers of the 104th battalion of the 23rd ING brigade ran into ambushes twice over the last couple of days

Indonesia Relief Aid Must Be Carefully Monitored, Watchdog Group Says

by Fabio Scarpello Indonesia Corruption Watch has announced that it will conduct independent monitoring of the management of tsunami-related aid. The concern about corruption and mismanagement stems from past experience in Indonesia. "It has happened in virtually every emergency situation in the past and, unless steps are taken, it will happen again"

Homeland Nominee Chertoff Was Behind Roundup Of Muslims After 9/11

by William Fisher The controversy surrounding Judge Chertoff stems largely from his role in developing and supervising policies by the Justice Department (DOJ) and FBI in the months immediately following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It was during this period that the DOJ and FBI rounded up over 1,000 immigrants and visitors to the U.S., mostly Arabs and other Muslims, and South Asians

Iraqi Election Workers Resigning Under Threat

by Kathleen Ridolfo Members of the Iraqi Electoral Commission have reportedly been resigning in large numbers in recent weeks under the threat of attack by militants, according to Iraqi and other Arab media reports

Smokers Most At Risk From Radon Gas In Homes

Exposure to radon in homes leads to an increased risk of lung cancer, in particular among smokers, according to a new study of risk from exposure to radon gas in European homes. The first study to examine radon risk to smokers separately from risk to nonsmokers, it found that for any given level of radon, smokers have about 25 times the risk of developing lung cancer as non-smokers

ACLU Report Traces Jailing, Torture Of Innocent Muslims After 9/11

by William Fisher The stories of the 13 deportees chronicled in the new report are based on interviews with deportees in Pakistan, arranged with the help of the Pakistan Human Rights Commission. They vary widely. Says the report: 'Some men drove cabs, some delivered pizzas and still others pumped gas. Some spoke Urdu and others Arabic. Some came from tiny villages, others from major, cosmopolitan cities. Some had children who attended public schools,speaking perfect English and playing basketball with American friends'

Allawi's Dollar Deals

by Dahr Jamail U.S.-appointed interim Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi recently handed out $100 dollars to journalists at a press conference. He then gave teachers an unexpected $100 dollar bonus. Wa'il Issam, an unemployed translator, has his views about this kind of campaign. 'Allawi is bribing people and using money to buy votes and support from journalists, retired people and teachers,' he said. "And I promise you that Allawi is fixing it so 70 percent of the Shias will vote for him, even though it will be a faked election'

Is Public Education Working? How Would We Know?

by Robert Freeman Part of the problem is that over the last two decades an intense lobby has emerged that wants to turn public education over to private industry, make McStudents of the nation's youth. It has operated a not-so-stealth campaign to disparage public education and to try to convince Americans that it isn't working. This campaign has mounted a relentless, mantra-like vilification of public schools: schools are failing; teachers are lazy; education bureaucracies are unresponsive; students are being cheated; America is at risk. Sound familiar?

Why Do Historians Ignore Noam Chomsky?

by John H. Summers Chomsky has written more than 30 books over the last three decades. Yet neither the Journal of American History, nor the American Historical Review, nor Reviews in American History has reviewed them. If the journals had overlooked one or two of Chomsky's books, then the omissions might not rise to the status of a problem, and could be attributed to a combination of reasons each of them incidental to Chomsky himself. If the journals had in fact devoted attention to him, but the preponderance of the attention had been hostile, then they might stand accused of harboring a bias. This is the most respectable way to disagree about such matters. But the journals have not done enough to deserve the accusation. They have not reviewed a single one of his books. Chomsky is one of most widely read political intellectuals in the world. Academic history pretends he does not exist

White House Tightens Homeland Secrecy Rules

by William Fisher All 180,000 department employees and contractors are now required to sign a nondisclosure agreement. But they will be held responsible for keeping secrets, even if they did not sign the pledge or were unaware of it. Further, employees and contractors can be searched at any place or any time to ensure they are abiding by the policy, and can also face administrative, civil or criminal penalties if they violate the rules

Father Of Killed U.S. Soldier Brings Aid To Iraqis

by Rebecca Romani 'When the Iraqi families listen to my story, hear that my son died, it opens their hearts and they give me a beautiful welcome. The Iraqi families see that Americans cry too, that Americans have pain, and we are humans and they see this. It doesn't matter where we come from'

Ag Secretary Hearing Becomes Gripe Session On Mad Cow Policy

by J.R. Pegg Committee members spent little time discussing Johanns' qualifications for the job and instead spent the majority of the hearing airing renewed concerns about the impact of mad cow disease on the U.S. beef industry

Neo-Conservatives Apparently Losing Ear Of White House

by Jim Lobe All are on board for the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq, and military strikes against suspected Iranian nuclear facilities to prevent Teheran from getting a bomb. But they cannot seem to forge a consensus on U.S. military strategy in Iraq, whether to demand greater military spending than the Bush administration appears comfortable with, or whether to back a policy of engagement with Iran prior to a military strike

Afghanistan "Dark Alliance" Sparks New Opium War

by Bill Weinberg When journalist Gary Webb died recently, media again focused on the shortcomings of his 'Dark Alliance' series on CIA-contra cocaine links. Yet the same dynamic that Webb described -- a CIA proxy army supporting itself through the drug trade -- was also at work in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The drug trade is still central to Afghanistan's economy as a legacy of these operations, and new developments there now suggest a looming opium war

Wave Of Kurd Refugees Flood Into Kirkuk

by Aaron Glantz As the occupation becomes more violent, more and more Kurds who were forced out of Kirkuk in the 1980s have tried to return to the city, and so the number of people living in camps has grown. Today about 500 families live in the municipal football stadium, more than twice as many as a year ago

Kurdistan Gets Taste Of War With U.S. Attack Mistake

by Aaron Glantz Just past midnight Jan. 5, three U.S. helicopters arrived over Arbil from a base in Baghdad, and began circling over a college dormitory near the center of town. The helicopter attack sent a wave of dismay throughout the Kurdish autonomous region, where nearly everyone supports the U.S. presence

Kurds Anger Over Finding Saddam's Men On Ballot

by Aaron Glantz Many Kurds are taken aback by the inclusion of these members of the former Ba'ath party, since they ostensibly are voting for the Kurdish list to put Saddam's dictatorship behind them

Return To Kurdistan

by Aaron Glantz Because of violence in the northern city Mosul, it was no longer advisable for me to take a direct route from Zakho to the Kurdistan regional capital, Arbil. A circuitous route through the country's northern mountains was required

Arab Media Split Over Iraq Election

by Jalal Ghazi Probably no television is as supportive of the Iraqi elections as Al Alam, a 24-hour Arab television news channel based in Tehran

Arab Media Calls Iraq Election Day "Historic"

by Mohamad Ozeir Even state-owned newspapers, which by custom lead their front pages with stories on their own kings and leaders, nevertheless left room for front-page reports, editorials, and analysis spotlighting the most significant election experiment in the modern history of the Arab World

Vote Or Lose Your Food Rations, Iraqis Were Threatened

by Dahr Jamail Iraqis said Monday that their names were marked on a list provided by the government agency that provides monthly food rations before they were allowed to vote. 'I went to the voting center and gave my name and district where I lived to a man,' said Wassif Hamsa, a 32-year-old journalist who lives in the predominantly Shia area Janila in Baghdad. 'This man then sent me to the person who distributed my monthly food ration.'

Under Pressure, Some Oil-Rich States Boost Tsunami Aid

by Thalif Deen Stung by mounting criticism, the government of Kuwait has increased its contribution ten-fold: from $10 million to $100 million within less than a week. And Saudi Arabia, whose government pledged $30 million, has raized an additional $82 million from a nationwide telethon

World Judging Wealthy Nations By How They Respond To Catastrophe

by Ranjit Devraj Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former World Bank economist and champion of globalization was: "We have to share this tragedy." That vision of sharing was missing in the $350 million pledged by Washington which critics point out looks like small change compared to the more than $150 billion spent, so far, on the proclaimed aim of bringing democracy to Iraq

Stone-Age Tribes Believed Unharmed By Tsunami-Earthquake Disaster

by Jim Lobe Asia's last Paleolithic tribes appear to have survived the tsunamis, despite the fact that their homelands in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Andaman Sea were among the hardest hit of all the areas affected by the catastrophe

Sri Lanka Unites Over Asia Disaster

by Amantha Perera Buddhist temples, mosques and churches have overnight become catalysts for the massive relief effort, even as international aid began to come in. At Kurunegala near the central hills, village temples have networked together to collect dry rations and other essentials destined for the displaced. Villagers walking from house to house announcing the effort said that it did not matter to them where or to which ethnic group the aid was ultimately headed for

Despite Disaster, Indonesia Continues Fight Against Rebels

by Sonny Inbaraj While relief workers and families are salvaging bodies in Indonesia's tsunami-stricken Aceh province, the Indonesian army is continuing its offensive against separatist rebels, critics say. This, say international human rights groups, is hindering the delivery of badly needed humanitarian aid to survivors of the world's worst natural disaster in 40 years

Where Are Burma's Earthquake Casualties?

by Sonny Inbaraj It remains one of the greatest mysteries so far on how Burma, with over 2,000 kilometers of its coastline along the Andaman Sea directly exposed to the devastating tsunami waves

UN Expects Big Donors To Skip Out On Disaster Aid

by Thalif Deen The United Nations -- along with international aid agencies and non-governmental organizations -- is expressing skepticism over the eventual delivery of the hefty $2.5 billion in pledges made by donors for tsunami disaster relief operations in Southeast Asia

Iraq Rebel Force 2x U.S. Estimate, Says Iraqi Spy Chief

by Jim Lobe To underline the security problem, the interim government's intelligence chief, Gen. Mohammed Shahwani, told a Saudi newspaper this week that he believed that U.S. and Iraqi forces were facing as many as 40,000 'hard-core fighters' -- twice Washington's previous biggest estimate -- backed by as many as 150,000 to 200,000 others who acted as part-time guerillas, spies, and logistics personnel

Another Pentagon Advisory Group Slams Bush Admin Over Iraq

by Jim Lobe For the second time in as many months, a report by a key Pentagon advisory group has implicitly taken the administration of President George W. Bush to task for major failures in pre-war planning, particularly with respect to Iraq

Cheney Delivers The Real Inaugurial Speech

Analysis by Jim Lobe Even as the Bush Inaugurial speech was much criticized by normally friendly critics -- probably more than the White House had anticipated -- as being hopelessly ambitious and unrealistic, the idealism that it expressed was widely praised and unquestioned. On the other hand, Vice Pres. Dick Cheney's dark words of warning against Iran on MSNBC's 'Imus in the Morning' television show conveyed something altogether different, both in tone and substance

Unclouded by Doubt, Bush Vows Freedom-Spreading

by Jim Lobe Kicking off his second four-year term, President George W. Bush Thursday delivered an inaugural address filled with the righteous resolve and soaring rhetoric that are music to his core constituency, but will almost certainly grate on the nerves of almost everybody else, both here and abroad

Champagne and Pepper Spray Herald Bush Inauguration

by Katherine Stapp In downtown Washington, demonstrators faced the tightest security of any inauguration in U.S. history, with 6,000 uniformed and undercover police and 2,500 troops guarding the 1.7-mile parade route. Surrounding streets were sealed off with security barriers, and the airspace over Washington was shut down to commercial jets. The public is footing the 20-million-dollar security bill, which reportedly included anti-aircraft missiles deployed within range of the Capitol

International Poll: Please, Not Another Four Years Of Bush

by Jim Lobe As George W. Bush prepares to be sworn in for his second term as U.S. president, a strong majority of the world's people are concerned his tenure is likely to produce more setbacks to the cause of world peace and security, according to a major international poll

Tsunami Warning Plans Were Turned Down Two Years Ago

by Hilmi Toros 'We prepared a plan for the Indian Ocean two years ago. Governments concerned did not act. Donors did not respond. Humanity learned a lesson. We learned it in a costly way'

Iraq Elections Worry Neighbor Countries

by Aaron Glantz 'They will probably be able to pull the elections together,' says Mohammed Waked of the independent Egyptian Anti-Globalization Group. 'But it will not change things, except that it will bring the Shias to power as an organized group. And when the Americans fail to deliver their aspirations, they'll have a double problem. So it's really going to get worse and worse as far as the American plan is concerned'

Monsanto Collecting Million$ By Suing Farmers

by Stephen Leahy Agribusiness giant Monsanto has sued more than 100 U.S. farmers, and its 'seed police' have investigated thousands of others, for what the company terms illegal use of its patented genetically engineered seeds, and activists charge is 'corporate extortion'

Rice Steps Away From Neo-Cons With Pick For Deputy Post At State Dept.

by Jim Lobe News of Zoellick's appointment offered a sudden and largely unexpected ray of light for foreign policy realists who had become increasingly gloomy since it became known two weeks after the November elections that Bush had essentially told Powell that his services would no longer be required

Scientists Pin Europe's 2003 Heat Wave On Global Warming

by Stephen Leahy British scientists say they now have proof linking Europe's deadly heat wave of 2003 to climate change caused by human activities, portending a raft of lawsuits against countries and companies

Fox News: The Whole World's Watching

by Christian Christensen Fox News does not stop at the U.S. border, but carries over into the global arena. Despite what some people might think, this is actually a mixed blessing

U.S. Hiding Info On Guantanamo Abuse, ACLU Charges

by William Fisher A leading civil rights group says that government records on an investigation of alleged prisoner abuses at the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba are still being withheld, and those it has received under a court order are so heavily censored that they raise more questions than they answer

U.S. Media Misses Key Message In Latest Bin Laden Tape

by Jalal Ghazi U.S. media focused on Osama Bin Laden's recent taped remarks calling for Iraqis to boycott upcoming elections. But Arab media are paying close attention to Bin Laden's musings on exploiting America's Achilles heel: its dependence on oil

World Headlines React To Bush Win

Beirut's Assafir Daily considered Bush's victory a coup in the political, social, and intellectual life of America, and a sharp turn toward the extreme religious right. Its editorial calls for the whole world to go into hiding

"No Bombs Went Off Here. It Was A Good Day"

by Ferry Biedermann Safar Jamil, who headed the elections team at the site, came bounding out of the school's metal gates once the voting was done. 'This was a great day,' he said. Relief was written on his face, and it spoke in his voice. 'So many people came to vote even though they were frightened.' He paused and then gave voice to his own fears. 'And no bombs went off here. It was a good day'

U.S. Forces In Iraq Follow Israel's Lead: Collective Punishment Of Public

by Dahr Jamail Military bulldozers have mown down palm groves in the rural al-Dora farming area on the outskirts of Baghdad, residents say. Electricity has been cut, the local fuel station destroyed and the access road blocked. The U.S. action comes after resistance fighters attacked soldiers from this area several weeks back

Muqtada al-Sadr's Army Eases Baghdad Fuel Woes

by Zynab Naji and Hussein Ali In a bid to win the support of the local population, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army has begun organizing fuel distribution in eastern Baghdad to ease the growing fuel shortages

The Mystery Of Musa Al-Sadr

by Franz Schurmann Musa al-Sadr wanted to bring all the major religious groups in Lebanon together and put an end to the civil war before it became out of control. He was on the verge of becoming a major player in Middle Eastern politics before he vanished on August 31, 1978. And even as one of his clan, Muqtada al-Sadr, is confronting Americans in Baghdad's Sadr-City, the Lebanese branch of the family keeps demanding from the world powers that they furnish an explanation of Musa al-Sadr's fate

The Real CBS Scandal: When 60 Minutes Promoted WMD Fantasies

by Doug Giebel Nearly two years ago on February 23, 2003, shortly before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the CBS program 60 Minutes ran an interview with Dr. Hussein Shahristani, formerly a top nuclear scientist in Saddam Hussein's regime. Apparently bitten by the now-discredited Weapons-of-Mass-Destruction Bug that was then infecting political discourse to justify the undeclared war with Iraq, 60 Minutes devoted serious air time to reporter Steve Kroft's interview with Shahristani, whose 'facts' lent authenticity to the Bush claim that Iraq was awash in WMD

U.S. Now Downplaying Goal Of Middle East Democracy

by Adam Morrow After a year of brave talk from U.S. policymakers about the 'democratization' of the Middle East, Washington appears to be backtracking, along with its autocratic Arab friends in the region

Schwarzenegger's Dismal Education Ideas

by Donal Brown Schwarzenegger disappointed advocates in his brief comments on education by failing to address the poor test scores of California's students or propose viable ways to improve performance

Behind Mask Of United Front, Kurd Parties Strong-Arm Voters

by Aaron Glantz The election is complicated by the lack of any independent election monitors, not only in Kurdistan but in the whole of Iraq. Due to the difficult security situation all international election monitors will be based in Amman, Jordan, a day's drive away

Kurds Rush To Polling Places

by Aaron Glantz Money is playing its part in the Kurdish election, local people say. Over the last week many Kurds told me they had been given money to vote either by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) or the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The two have a common slate for elections to the 275-member national assembly, but are contesting against one another in simultaneous elections for the regional council

$9 Billion Found Missing From Iraq Accounts

by Emad Mekay The U.S.-run administration in Baghdad failed to keep track of nearly nine billion dollars of money it transferred to various Iraqi ministries, according to an official audit released Jan. 30 as Iraqis went to the polls

"DREAM" Act Green-Card Bill Would Force Latinos Into Military

by Jorge Mariscal While the educational and community service provisions of the DREAM Act may merit our support, the military service provision poses a number of political and moral dilemmas. Does our desire to protect undocumented children by securing their legal residency override the likelihood that many of these children will fill the lowest ranks of the U.S. military? Is getting a green card worth the risk of young Latinos and Latinas losing their lives on foreign soil?

Bush Inaugural Cheapens The Name Of Freedom

by Robert Scheer What critics here and abroad are glossing over, however, is that as a political marketing device, Bush's address was absolutely brilliant. It takes a true demagogue to remorselessly cheapen the lovely word 'freedom' by deploying it 27 times in a 21-minute speech, while never admitting that its real-life creation is more complicated than cranking out a batch of Pepsi-Cola and selling it to the natives with a catchy 'Feeling Free!' jingle

Pomp and Improper Circumstance

by Robert Scheer Although it is true that Bush secured a (very slim) majority of the popular vote, it is a portent of how history will judge him that the days ahead of his inauguration have been soured by a string of critical statements about his Iraq policy from some of the biggest Iraq hands in the Republican ranks

Is Al Qaeda Just A Bush Boogeyman?

by Robert Scheer Everything we know comes from two sides that both have a great stake in exaggerating the threat posed by Al Qaeda

Backing Gonzales Is Backing Torture

by Robert Scheer Acting like a sleazy attorney advising a client on how not to be convicted of an ongoing crime, Gonzales was apparently not worried about irrational foreign courts or high-minded jurists in The Hague, but rather U.S. prosecutors who might enforce federal laws that ban torture of foreign prisoners of war

U.S. Mistreatment Of Prisoner Scandal Expands

by William Fisher The scope of U.S. mistreatment of prisoners, at home and abroad, has continued to widen in recent weeks, even as the government is reportedly considering building a 25-million-dollar, 200-bed prison to hold detainees who are unlikely to ever appear before a military tribunal for lack of evidence

Tehran Air Pollution Reaches Critical Levels

by Golnaz Esfandiari According to Tehran's official Air Quality Control Unit, the January 1 Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) -- a measurement that incorporates carbon monoxide and other pollutants -- reached 168, or close to 'very unhealthy.' By comparison, the PSI in New York City was 52

Flood Of Aid To Asia May Come At Expense Of Other Disasters

by Thalif Deen UN officials are hoping that the overwhelming generosity towards victims of the tsunami disaster will not divert funds from the ongoing humanitarian crises in Sudan, Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, Burundi, Somalia and eastern Congo, which are desperately in need of help from the international donor community

Alaska Oil Spill Cleanup Slow - Still Unknown How Much Dumped

Hampered by rough, cold weather, crews are making slow progress cleaning up the oil spill and shipwreck of the Malaysian freighter Selendang Ayu near Unalaska Island in the Aleutian archipelago

Argentina Groups Fight Two Decades Of Media Monopoly

by Marcela Valente The handful of conglomerates that control the media in Argentina have pressured successive administrations and the Congress to delay the adoption of new legislation that would entail greater competition for advertising revenues, currently estimated at around one billion dollars

Tsunami Aid Turning Into Garbage In India Province

by Satya Sivaraman Despite an outpouring of national and global sympathy and an unprecedented flow of funds and relief supplies to populations in the tsunami-struck southern Indian province of Tamil Nadu, it might all go to waste due to the inexperience of local groups in dealing with post-disaster situations

Europe Warns Against Tsunami Adoptions

by Julio Godoy Thousands of other couples across Europe have expressed an interest in adopting an orphaned child from the tsunami-hit region. But organizations that work with children's interests see this as misplaced compassion

There's More To Disaster Mitigation Than Just A Warning System

by Suvendrini Kakuchi Non-governmental organizations are worried that important aspects of global disaster reduction would be overlooked at an international conference as countries and agencies jostle to take the lead in a high-profile tsunami early warning system

China Defends 'Nominal' Role In Tsunami Relief Effort

by Antoaneta Bezlova While China's media and academics are defending the country's conspicuously small aid donations to the tsunami-battered countries, they also denounced major donors as engaging in 'political chess play' -- as these countries doled out huge sums of money in emergency aid packages

Now It's Bird Flu Worry In Tsunami-Hit Asia

by Marwaan Macan-Markar 'The instability and food shortages creates a vacuum and an influx of food and animals is needed,' said Lubroth. 'Under this scenario there is a risk that avian influenza could spread to areas where it had not been reported before.'

Europe Proposal To 'Rescue' Tsunami Orphans Draws Ire

by Stefania Bianchi The dispute arose after European Union (EU) commissioner for justice, freedom and security Franco Frattini indicated that Europe could offer temporary refuge to thousands of affected children. Frattini told the Italian newspaper la Republica on Jan. 7 that he envisages bringing children from the South Asian countries hit by the disaster to Europe for several months. He said this would allow them to recover from the shock and to escape criminal gangs reportedly targeting orphans

Sudan Ends Africa's Longest Civil War

by Joyce Mulama More than two years of talks to end Africa's longest-running civil war paid dividends in January, when a final peace accord was signed between Sudan's government and southern rebels. But while war in the south has been brought to an end, the Darfur region in western Sudan remains in turmoil

Rainforest Tribe Fighting Ecuador Army, Argentine Oil Company Over Drilling

by Marcela Valente The Ecuadorian government of President Lucio Gutierrez has now militarized the area in an attempt to ensure that the project goes ahead, claiming that it will bring development and jobs to the region. So far, however, the Native inhabitants have managed to block oil company operations on their land with the help of international campaigns denouncing the illegal encroachment on their territory and the potentially devastating environmental effects

The Ritual of Executions

by Michael Kroll As the execution of Donald Beardslee looms in California, I've been wondering what argument for or against the death penalty hasn't already been made thousands of times before. But the honest, though depressing, answer to my question is: nothing has really changed. The death penalty in America is little more than a ritual sacrifice in which various participants -- including me, the crusading abolitionist -- assume their predictable roles

War On Terror Ignores Root Causes, Global Report Says

by Jim Lobe The Bush administration's 'war on terrorism' has diverted the world's attention from the deeper roots of global insecurity, according to the latest edition of Worldwatch Institute's annual 'State of the World' report, which calls poverty, disease and environmental decline the 'true axis of evil'

A Very Slippery "Landslide" for Mahmoud Abbas

by Peter Lagerquist Abbas' main task will be to downsize Palestinian expectations and attempt to secure the modest relief that many hunger for. It was telling that one of the strongest and most common arguments in his favor was that he was likely to bring "quiet and some sort of easing oflife," as one Ramallah businessman put it. The apparent backing of theinternational community, Israel and the United States for Abbas boosted the perception that he would be able to secure greater donor assistance and easier access to the Israeli market. In a population worn down by four fruitless and costly years of the intifada, these aspirations are not limited to the middle class

Human Rights Watch Taps U.S. And Sudan As 2004 Worst Offenders

by Jim Lobe With the mistreatment of U.S. detainees held in alleged violation of the Geneva Conventions, Washington has not only seriously weakened its ability to speak out with any credibility about human rights violations by other countries, according to the HRW director, but has also actually made it easier for terrorists, who are responsible for much more serious crimes, to recruit followers

Bush's Coalition Slipping Quietly Out The Door

by Charles Recknagel The Netherlands has announced that it will withdraw its 1,350 troops from Iraq by mid-March. It's the latest in a string of similar announcements by Washington's allies, including plans by Poland and Ukraine to get mostly or completely out of Iraq over the course of this year. When the troop reductions are complete, how much of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq will be left, and who will shoulder the additional security burdens?

Unocal Agrees To Settle Forced Labor Suit Over Burma Oil Pipeline

by Marwaan Macan-Markar U.S. oil company Unocal agreed to compensate victims from Burma's Karen ethnic community for the abuse they were allegedly subject to when it was building a natural gas pipeline in Southeastern Burma. The Burmese soldiers, who were the main perpetrators of the abuse, had detained, tortured, murdered and raped villagers in the area where the pipeline was being built -- in addition to the practice of forced labor, according to the villagers

Tsunami Crisis Offers Chance To End Aceh Civil War Stalemate

by Joseph Nevins Indonesia's military is playing the lead role in providing aid to the afflicted population but it is exploiting the crisis and undercutting the delivery of humanitarian assistance by refusing to allow local non-governmental organizations to distribute aid channeled through the Indonesian government. In addition, it continues to target the Free Aceh Movement and its civilian supporters despite the rebel's post-tsunami declaration of a unilateral cease-fire

Wolfowitz' Indonesia Visit Was For Military Ties, Not Tsunami Aid

by Joseph Nevins Paul Wolfowitz, the Bush administration's deputy defense secretary, has just visited tsunami-stricken Indonesia under a humanitarian guise. But the mission's real significance lies in his effort to strengthen U.S. ties with Indonesia's brutal military (TNI), a role that he has long played

Tsunami Survivors Say Aid Agencies Aren't Listening To Them

by Satya Sivaraman Affected populations that are struggling to piece their lives together after losing everything to the Dec. 26 deadly waves, have rarely been allowed to have a say in community rehabilitation plans

Aceh Fears Christian Missionaries Will Steal Tsunami Orphans

by Andreas Harsono In the capital Banda Aceh, activists of the Muslim-based Prosperous and Justice Party later put up posters in public spaces with this warning: 'Don't let Acehnese orphans be taken away by Christians and their missionaries.' The party also printed their telephone numbers, encouraging the public to hand over orphans to Muslim child-care centers instead

UK Shocked By Iraq Prisoner Torture By Its Own Soldiers

by Sanjay Suri The new pictures from the coalition soldiers' album have dispensed with the myth that British soldiers were somehow better and more disciplined than their partners in the U.S. forces. The Abu Ghraib pictures had led to silent and sometimes not so silent boasts that this was something British soldiers would never do

Bush Lifts Canadian Beef Ban As New Mad Cow Case Found

The U.S. Agriculture Department's announcement last week that the United States will lift its mad cow ban on Canadian beef imposed in May 2003 has stirred up a storm of controversy in the U.S. livestock community. Some organizations are outraged that Canadian beef will once again be imported, especially since on Sunday, Canadian food safety officials announced that another mad cow had been identified in Alberta

The Other Armstrong Williams Scandal

by Bob Burton Internal tobacco industry documents reveal that in 1996 Williams allowed his nationally syndicated radio program, The Right Side, to be guest hosted by Malcolm Wallop, the chairman of Frontiers of Freedom (FoF), a front group partly funded by tobacco companies

Look To Lebanon For Iraq's Future

by Mark LeVine What we'll likely see are several major blocs divided between Shi'as, Kurds, and Sunnis, with women effectively marginalized from or co-opted into the emerging male and religiously defined power structure -- in short, the 'Lebanon scenario' more than one Bush administration official has declared would be an acceptable and even preferred outcome of the January elections. The problem with such an outcome is that in Lebanon the post-colonial power structure failed to chase away or disarm the golems of ethnic and religious hostility so carefully nurtured under French rule. It took a 14-year civil war to do that

Kurd Power Brokers Have Decided Region's Election Outcome

by Aaron Glantz Kani can be sure of a commanding victory because nearly every political force in Kurdistan has joined his coalition. Not only are the PUK and KDP together, but Kurdish parties representing Islamists, Communists, Christians, and ethnic Turks as well. Each party's representation in the Kurdish Parliament has been negotiated in advance: the PUK and KDP will get 41 seats each, the Communists 10, the Kurdistan Islamic Union nine, the Turkomen four.

Catastrophe As Photo-Op

by Steve Young You know more than one network news executive had to whisper, "We haven't had this kind of good luck since O.J. didn't kill Nicole." The tsunami was followed by a flood of news anchors rushing to the scene, broadcasting from the midst of the destruction; misery and wreckage became a backdrop for every morning and evening newscast

Gulf Arabs Debate Aid For Tsunami Victims

by Neil MacFarquhar Noting that the bulk of the nannies, drivers, menial laborers and other servants who keep most households running in the emirate come from Southeast Asia -- imported workers easily outnumber the native population -- some Kuwaitis agree that the country and its Persian Gulf neighbors need to be doing much more. But the campaign to shut down Islamic charities accused of financing terrorism has left many people confused about where to turn when they do want to donate money

Gonzales Faces Stormy Hearing Over Torture Memos

by Jim Lobe The paper trail disclosed to date, however, clearly establishes that Gonzales played a central role in three major policy documents, including the original November 2001 presidential order establishing military commissions that allowed terrorism suspects to be secretly charged, tried, and even executed without basic due process protections

Abuse, Torture by Iraqi Police Called Routine

by Jim Lobe Despite the millions of dollars spent by the U.S. and other nations to improve their performance, Iraqi police still routinely abuse and often torture detainees, according to a report by Human Rights Watch

U.S. And Polish Troops Destroyed Artifacts At Ruins Of Babylon

by Don Hill Interim Iraqi Culture Minister Mufid al-Jaza'iri has announced that the ancient city of Babylon will be closed to visitors until experts can catalog the extent of damage U.S. and Polish troops have done to the site. A new report by the prestigious British Museum finds that troops who used the site as a military base did irreparable harm to one of the world's foremost historical treasures

Malpractice Suits Aren't What Needs Fixing Here

by David Morris The medical insurance system needs fixing, and so does the medical system itself. Studies have also found a higher risk of dying in hospitals where nurses have heavier workloads. One analysis concluded that every additional patient per nurse results in a 7 percent increase in both patient mortality and deaths following complications

Acts of God, Acts of Media

by Norman Solomon It doesn't seem to matter that almost all the notable Americans invited on the networks to talk about their faith in God are supportive of bankrolling the carnage in Iraq. This is nothing new. For a long time, high-profile talk about belief in God has been a useful fog for agendas that enrich weapons manufacturers while helping the wealthy get wealthier and further impoverishing the already poor

A Shaky Media Taboo -- Withdrawal from Iraq

by Norman Solomon The latest polls show that most Americans are critical of the war in Iraq. But the option of swiftly withdrawing all U.S. troops from that country gets little media attention

Far From Media Spotlights, The Shadows Of "Losers"

by Norman Solomon The flip side of adulation for winners is often contempt for people with cumulative misfortune, who routinely slog through murky quasi-netherworlds and do their best to keep from going under. According to mass-media calculations, they just don't rate. In a society overdosing on unmitigated capitalism, it's not just a matter of scant disposable income. As a practical matter, the country treats many people as disposable

Killing Nothing To Be Proud Of

by Norman Solomon Now the media buzz about the election in Iraq has turned into a siren. The sincerity and courage of many millions of Iraqi people is beyond dispute; no one should doubt their willingness to take risks for democracy. But under the occupation circumstances, the electoral process is highly dubious at best. Whether in peacetime Florida or wartime Iraq, it's not too difficult to steal an election

Nigeria Rushes To Privatize Water Supply

by Sam Olukoya In Lagos, Nigeria's largest metropolis, where clean water is in short supply. More than half of the city's 15 million people lack access to potable water. As a result of budgetary constraints, Lagos state officials have turned to the private sector to supply water to Lagos' inhabitants. A law that allows both local and foreign firms to invest in water services was passed in November last year

Many Tsunami-Hit Nations Wary Of Debt Freeze

by Julio Godoy Richer nations have made much of the freeze they have offered on debt repayments from tsunami-hit countries, but many of the affected countries do not want this concession. The reluctance of countries such as India, Thailand and Malaysia to seek a freeze arises from negative consequences attached to such concessions, debt experts say. A debt moratorium normally leads to a lowering of the beneficiary country's financial reputation and international credit rating -- and to higher interest rates for fresh borrowing

Indonesia Requests Pen-Pals For Tsunami Children

by Richel Dursin The best form of therapy for children is sometimes words of comfort from other children. With that in mind, the Indonesian government will soon request all elementary students throughout the country and other nations to write letters to traumatized Acehnese children to help them cope with tragic memories of the Dec. 26 tsunami

Armstrong Williams Payoff Just Latest Bush Media Scandal

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson Columnist and TV personality Armstrong Williams' acceptance of public money to plug educational policy is just the latest Bush administration attempt to blur the line between objective news and government infomercials

Chinese Hostages In Iraq Spotlight China's Global Reach

by Sandip Roy The eight Chinese workers recently kidnapped in Iraq are symbolic of China's increasing global engagements -- and the difficulty the country may have in maintaining its studied neutrality

The CIA's New Campus Spies

by Alexander Cockburn After disclosure of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's effort to set a new and spectacularly unaccountable version of the CIA in the Pentagon, the sprouting forest of secret intelligence operations set up in the wake of 9/11 is at last coming under some scrutiny. Here's a sinister one in the academic field that until this week escaped scrutiny

There's Always Bad News In There, Somewhere

by Alexander Cockburn The private dealings of the Annan family may well be fragrant with corruption, but it's hard to get too excited about alleged skims off the oil-for-food deals against so vivid a backdrop as hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, many of them infants, being starved to death or dying for lack of suitable medicines under the UN sanctions commanded by the United States

Will Israel Keep America In Iraq?

by Alexander Cockburn The great dread of the Israel lobby back in the early 1970s was that withdrawal from Vietnam might presage withdrawal of support for Israel. The same lobby would see withdrawal from Iraq as a huge setback, and the Sharon government is no doubt pondering scenarios -- maybe a Tonkin Gulf-type incident involving Iran, perhaps an attack on its reactor -- to ensure withdrawal is postponed

Is Bush Wearing A Heart Attack Harness?

by Alexander Cockburn So here's the president strapped into his shock harness. And if he's a health risk, what about Dick Cheney? Given the state of the veep's heart, he's probably hard-wired into a local generating station. They both go down, and we have Hastert, the former wrestling coach who weighs in these days at 275 pounds

Tsunami Survivors Fear Return To Fishing

by Satya Sivaraman The fishing folk on the coast of Tamil Nadu in southern India are among the most hardened sea-faring communities anywhere in the world, with a centuries-old reverence for the sea. But all that changed after last month's killer tsunami. Now, they have a deep fear of the same sea that has sustained them for generations

Dems Ran A Campaign, But Repubs Fought A War

by Steve Young I wondered if the inauguration, this final nail in the Kerry coffin -- the not-his inauguration -- would once and for all drive home the point that the Democrats had run a campaign and had lost miserably, while the Republicans fought a war and won miserably Make no mistake: they treated the election like a blood and guts war, and in any war you want to win, you get 100 percent behind the effort. The Republicans did. The Democrats...lost

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