default.html Issue 131
Table of Contents

Silencing The Whistleblowers

by Merrill Goozner About 15 years ago, the Whistleblower Protection Act was passed to encourage public employees to go outside the chain of command to report incompetance and waste by the federal government. But these days, the actual protection it provides is sparse: Only one recent whistleblower was protected from losing his job, and he was a maintenance worker. Any big-headline scandals -- like the problems with the drug Vioxx -- essentially trap the whistleblower instead of protecting them

David Kay: Bush Iran Talk Sounds Like Run-Up To Iraq War

by Andrew Tully Former U.S. weapons inspector David Kay said the Bush administration's current rhetoric on Iran is 'very, very similar' to what it was on Iraq two years ago

Air America Magic

by Steve Young 'Al Pals' gives us not just 'talk radio,' but entertainment that actually makes soaking in political partisanship intellectually stimulating. And it's damn funny

Get Off Jeff Gannon's Back

by Steve Young What is being drowned out in this screaming for Gannon's head and pen and gay military escort websites is something special he has given all of us incompetent ne'er-do-wells. Something we may have never known if not for Jeff's nerve in breaking up the skilled, news professional, old boy's club. He has given rise to a realm of possibilities where only hopelessness lived. No longer will inexperience or egregious bias keep us from becoming useful cogs in the dissemination of government- issued information

Congress Enabling Corruption

by Gary Ruskin During the last 30 years, we've been moving from a system of one person, one vote to a system of one dollar, one vote. The Federal Election Commission is toothless. The Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department has flubbed some major cases. The most important federal anti-corruption laws -- the bribery and illegal gratuities laws -- have been gutted by courts. And the ethics committees are in a shambles

Hariri's Assassination Puts Spotlight on Syria

Analysis by Ferry Biedermann Whoever was behind the attack has managed to strike at several of post-war Lebanon's most sensitive political and emotional issues. And the attack has brought the spectre of violence back to one of the few countries in the Middle East that had of late come to be regarded as quiet and relatively stable

Female Genital Mutilation Widespread In North Iraq

by Golnaz Esfandiari A survey by a German nongovernmental organization in northern Iraq suggests that female genital mutilation (FGM) is more widespread there than previously thought

Bush Budget Seeks Big Boost In Foreign Aid

by Jim Lobe President George W. Bush has asked Congress to increase foreign aid in fiscal year 2006 by a whopping 17 percent, although analysts here say he will have a difficult time getting approval for all of it, particularly from his increasingly deficit-conscious fellow Republicans

Bush Budget Hits Environmental Agencies Hard

by J.R. Pegg Cuts highlighted by environmentalists include a $700 million decrease for clean water projects, a $750 million cut to the Land and Water Conservation Fund and a $333 million decline in spending for NOAA

Bush Budget Slashes Domestic Programs

by J.R. Pegg The federal budget plan proposed Monday by President Bush calls for reduced spending on the environment, agriculture, education, low-income housing aid, and health care. The $2.58 trillion spending plan cuts funding for 12 of 23 government agencies, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) facing some of the larger cuts

The Whistle-Blower That Chertoff Tried To Silence

by Jesselyn Radack In 2001, Chertoff was the head of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department and I was legal advisor to the department on matters of ethics. When I 'did the right thing,' and gave the department advice that conflicted with what it wanted to hear, I was forced out of my job, fired from my subsequent private sector job at the government's behest, placed under criminal investigation without any charges ever being brought, referred for disciplinary action to the state bars where I'm licensed as a lawyer, and, so I've been told as I've been searched time and again at airports, put on the no-fly list

The Accountability Moment

by Byron Williams Bush seems to think that Election 2004 was our only opportunity to halt what it is becoming a 21st century version of Manifest Destiny. The president's belief in his God-given right to act as he sees fit reduces the Geneva Convention and the Constitution to secondary considerations. And from the president's perspective, the accountability moment is something that happens once every four years

Cruise Ships Dumping Tons Of Waste In Caribbean Waters

by Dionne Jackson Miller A typical cruise ship carries 3,000 passengers and produces between 400 and 1,200 cubic metres of watery waste daily, including waste from kitchens and showers, according to UNEP. Passenger cruise ships also dump as much as 70 litres of dangerous waste a day into the sea. Toxins include photo processing chemicals, paints, solvents and batteries, which threaten animal and human life alike

Europe Moves To Ban Swastika On Auschwitz Anniversary

by Sanjay Suri While the memorial service has drawn attention to the Holocaust, and the British prince's party to the swastika associated with it, the debate masks the more recent association of the swastika with racist killings in today's Europe

Unguarded Radiation Sites In Chechnya A Ticking Bomb

by Amina Bisaeva Radiation levels are increasing from virtually unguarded supplies of radioactive cobalt in Grozny's former chemical factory, which has been torn apart by war and looters. According to the Ministry for Emergency Situations of Chechnya, levels there are tens of thousands of times higher than normal

Bush Using "Rush Limbaugh Strategy" To Pass Agenda

by Robert L. Borosage The president clearly plans to govern just as he ran for re-election. LA Times columnist Ron Brownstein dubs this the 'Rush Limbaugh strategy' -- the president as radio shock jock. Moderate and independent opinion matters little. The president will rouse his own base, discipline his party, and seek to pick off just as much support from vulnerable Democrats as he needs to get the program through. Mr. Bush left after his speech to stump in five red states where Democratic Senators face re-election next year

Iraq War Led To Boycott Of U.S. Businesses Abroad

by Jim Lobe One-third of all consumers in Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom said that U.S. foreign policy, particularly the "war on terror" and the occupation of Iraq, constituted their strongest impression of the United States. Twenty percent of respondents in Europe and Canada said they consciously avoided buying U.S. products as a protest against those policies

Iraq Oil-For-Food Audit Finds No Widespread Abuse

by Haider Rizvi After spending months combing through thousands of documents and questioning scores of officials, the investigators of alleged irregularities in the UN-led Oil-for-Food program in Iraq acknowledge that they have so far failed to find a smoking gun. However, in an interim report released Thursday, they accused the world body of failing to abide by the rules to assure fairness, transparency and accountability

Texas Wants To Tighten Screws On Pregnant Minors

by Molly Ivins Among the nasty horrors awaiting in the Texas legislature is H.B. 1212, mandating parental consent for the performance of an abortion. We already have a parental notification requirement in Texas, so how much different can consent be? Of course you don't want your underage daughter getting an abortion without your knowledge, what parent would?

When Bush Moral Values And Special Interests Collide

by Molly Ivins Also of note is what appears to be a new dimension in how monied special interests buy legislation through Congress. We are all familiar with both corporate lobbyists and the system of legalized bribery known as 'campaign finance.' But now comes an unholy tsunami of corporate money aimed not at politicians but at ourselves. Over $200 million will be spent to convince us that we should privatize Social Security and change the rules of class-action lawsuits. In other words, they want to make us in favor of our own screwing by corporate special interests

A Screw-The-Kids Budget

by Molly Ivins With President Bush's proposed budget, may it die in committee, no pause is necessary. Read any overview of the proposal, and you can see exactly who's getting screwed: children. Good Lord, what a nasty document. The cuts are in health care, childcare, Head Start, nutrition programs, food stamps and foster care. Because budgets are such abstract things -- add a little here, cut some there, all produced by the Department of Great Big Numbers -- it's hard to see what they actually mean to real people's lives

Repubs Finally Shove Through Anti-Class Action Law

by Molly Ivins There is no 'flood of frivolous lawsuits' -- in fact, tort claims are declining and only 2 percent of injured people ever sue for compensation to begin with. Public Citizen did a study showing that corporations themselves file four times as many lawsuits as do individuals, and they are penalized much more often by judges for pursuing frivolous litigation

Bush's Budget Of Shame

by Molly Ivins In the first place, they're trying to fool you into thinking the deficit is less than it is by using a fake number from the previous year -- an early deficit estimate set way high so they could claim the deficit had been 'dramatically reduced.' Last year's actual deficit was $412 billion, the largest ever, and under Bush's budget this year, it will be $427 billion. The actual deficit, with war spending included, would balloon to $1.4 trillion by 2010 under this plan

Private Account Smokescreen

by Molly Ivins If you aren't smart enough to figure out what's wrong with President Bush's plan to privatize Social Security, then you won't be able to run one of the accounts- formerly- known- as- private, either. (The White House doesn't want anyone to call them private accounts anymore, even though they have always been known as private accounts -- it's the new political correctness.)

Plenty Of Dissonance From The White House

by Molly Ivins The divide between the rhetoric and the reality in this administration is larger than I can span. The dissonance between the noble ideals expressed and the nasty actions is too raw for me

Hard To Be Optimistic About Iraq

by Molly Ivins We're potentially looking at an anti-American Shiite government that signs right up with the mullahs in Iran. What do we do then, re-invade?

UN 'Purges' Suggest Annan Caving In To U.S. Pressure

by Thalif Deen Annan has also been shaken by allegations that his son, Kojo Annan, was linked to a Swiss company currently under investigation in the scandal-tarred, multi-million dollar oil-for-food program in Iraq. But Annan's defenders say the continued muckraking against the world body has been sparked primarily by the strong stand he took against the U.S. military attack on Iraq in March 2003, calling it 'illegal'

Is U.S. Working With Anti-Iran Terror Group?

by Jim Lobe The MEK fought on Iraq's side during the Iran-Iraq war and has been listed as a 'terrorist group' by the State Department since 1997 as a result of its assassination of U.S. officials during the Shah's reign and of Iranian officials after the Revolution. However, it has long been supported by the Pentagon civilians and Cheney's office and their backers in Congress and the press as a possible asset against Iran despite its official terrorist status.

Cheney Won't Rule Out Air Attack On Iran -- By Israel

by Peter Hirschberg When Israel dispatched F-16 bombers almost 24 years ago to destroy Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor in Osirak, the pilots knew they only had to hit a single target. Were Israeli or U.S. planes to be sent today to neutralize Iran's nuclear program, the mission would be far more complicated. With Iranian facilities spread out as they are, the pilots would have to strike targets across the country, and none of them a large, clearly identifiable reactor. Speaking last week, though, Dick Cheney was not ready to rule out military action -- by Israel

Neo-Nazis March In Dresden

by Jeffrey Donovan Waving black flags and banners stating 'Never Forget, Never Forgive,' 5,000 people took part in the neo-Nazi march through the eastern German city once so beautiful it was called the Florence of northern Europe. About 70 people, including antifascist protesters, were arrested after minor clashes

Talabani The Next President Of Iraq?

Analysis by Aaron Glantz Fresh from their success at the polls, Iraq's two main Kurdish political parties have put forward 72-year-old Jalal Talabani as their candidate for the presidency of Iraq. If he succeeds in winning the post, it will be a fitting coda to one of Iraq's most colorful careers

Iran's Shadow Falls Over Baghdad

by Aaron Glantz Earlier this week, Allawi traveled to Northern Iraq to meet Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani. The two held a joint press conference where they denounced the formation of any government ruled by a single sect. Some observers see this an attempt at a coalition that would keep Allawi in power in Baghdad with the support of Kurds and Sunni parties that boycotted the election

Bush, Sharansky's Mutual Admiration Society

by Tom Barry The coherence between the Likud party's agenda and that of the Bush administration was clearly on display at the December 2004 "Herzliya Conference on National Strength and Security in Israel," which featured Sharansky and Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Sharansky said that Bush shared his own belief that there could be no peace in the Middle East or resolution of the Palestinian issue until the Arab world adopted economic and political reforms in line with those promoted by the Bush administration and the Likud party

After West Bank Wall, Israel Plans Gaza Trench

by Jim Lobe A major U.S. human rights organization is urging the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to reject proposals to build a trench along the Gaza-Egyptian border, saying it could destroy up to 3,000 Palestinian homes

100 Day Window For Palestine/Israel Peace

by Marlene Nadle As the militants keep telling him, the fighting will stop when the occupation ends. He and the Europeans believe the negotiations have to be started quickly. Analysts say Abbas has only 100 days, about six months, before he begins losing legitimacy with his people. Yet, Bush and Sharon keep procrastinating, refusing to prove to the men with guns that negotiations can deliver a viable state and an end to the occupation

Indonesia Red Crescent To Foreign Docs: Get Out

by Andreas Harsono The Indonesian Red Crescent -- claiming there is an oversupply of 'do-gooders' who do not speak the language -- wants all foreign doctors helping the Indian Ocean tsunami survivors in Aceh to leave and hand over their medical functions to local doctors

"Black Widow" Trial Spotlights New Fear Of Possible Women Bombers

by Mariya Rasner Guilty or innocent, Murtazaliyeva has come to represent much more to both sides in the conflict between Russia and Chechnya. To many Russians, she justifies their rising fear of all women who appear to be Muslim -- and wear black. Human rights advocates, while recognizing the rise in female suicide bombers, say many innocent Muslim-appearing women are suffering from a generalized apprehension about 'black widows.' That is the term for a battalion of Chechen female fighters that was first organized in 2000 by Shamil Basayev, who has since taken responsibility for major bombings and hostage-takings in Russia

Risks Of Disasterous Climate Change Increasing, Scientists Warn

Calls for immediate 'major investment' to deal with both mitigation of climate warming and adaptation to it. The first is essential to minimize future impacts, the committee said, and the latter is essential to cope with impacts which cannot be avoided in the near to medium term

First Person-to-Person Avian Flu Transmission Confirmed

The first documented case of human-to-human transmission of bird flu occurred in Thailand last September, Thai, U.S. and international health officials are saying

Pentagon Fights Disclosure Of "Revolving Door" For Defense Contractors, Ex-Workers

by Katherine Stapp Nearly one-third of the members of the influential Defense Policy Board, a Pentagon advisory group, had ties to companies that earned more than $76 billion in defense contracts in 2001 and 2002

Tsunami Tourists Put Strain on Indonesia's Aceh

by Andreas Harsono Aceh is huge -- with a large interior -- but network TV news transmission has done injustice to it. It seemed that the whole province was wiped out by the tsunami. But it hasn't been. There are 199 foreign NGOs and 259 media organizations working in the province, which has caused prices of basic commodities to skyrocket

Iraq Election Fraud In Kurdish Region, Groups Charge

by Aaron Glantz 'This election was done without any oversight from the United Nations,' says Ali Mahdi, an officer in the Iraqi Turkomen Front, the largest party of ethnic Turks in Kirkuk. The Turkomen front alleges many of the 100,000 Kurdish refugees allowed to vote in Kirkuk's election were not forced out of the city by Saddam Hussein as they claimed. He says many of the refugees never actually lived in Kirkuk

Situational Charity: Tsunami And War

by Rachard Itani For victims of natural disasters: billions of dollars in donations, dozens of live-aid concerts and celebrity appearances, and two former U.S. presidents urging their compatriots to give generously. But for victims of man-made disasters, be they Iraqi, Afghan, Rwandan, Congolese, Timorese, or Haitian, no world-wide fund-raising efforts, no concerts, and no former presidents urging relief: just current ones intent on bringing them more harm

Neo-Cons Want Big Boost In Size Of Army

by Caille Millner Amid rising concern about the over-extension of U.S. military forces and the growing budget deficit, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neo-conservative group whose past foreign policy recommendations have often been followed by President George W. Bush, is urging Congress to add 25,000 new soldiers to U.S. ground forces each year over the next several years

Neo-Cons Want Big Boost In Size Of Army

by Jim Lobe Amid rising concern about the over-extension of U.S. military forces and the growing budget deficit, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neo-conservative group whose past foreign policy recommendations have often been followed by President George W. Bush, is urging Congress to add 25,000 new soldiers to U.S. ground forces each year over the next several years

Business Tax Evasion Not Seen As Crime At Davos Summit

by Gustavo Capdevila Despite the recent headline-grabbing cases of tax fraud -- by the likes of Enron, WorldCom and Parmalat -- boards of directors and the World Economic Forum itself do not consider tax non-compliance as part of the corporate social responsibility agenda in the business world. All the rhetoric about corporations' social responsibility, heralded in the international media and adopted by the WEF, suffers from a structural flaw because it pays little attention to corporate tax evasion

Retrohistory For Dummies

by Eric L. Muller The book basically stitches together every moment in American history that might conceivably be given a free-market, states'-rights spin and any piece of scholarship that might be used (or misused) to support it, adds to it more than a sprinkling of Democrat-hero-bashing, and seasons the mix with a defense of the white majority against suspicions of racial cruelty or oppression. The book is said to be selling like hotcakes on college campuses, where its eye-catching format and its 9th-grade-level prose are undoubtedly appealing

Brutal Conditions In Meat Slaughterhouses Found

by Katherine Stapp These victims, mostly undocumented immigrants working the nightshift to scrub down slaughterhouses in the midwestern state of Nebraska, were just some of the hundreds who are maimed and killed in animal 'disassembly' factories around the United States every year

Drug Mafia Running Mexico's Top Security Prisons

by Diego Cevallos The attorney-general's office admits that several drug kingpins continue to run their businesses from their cells in these facilities, and that there is even a risk that they could organize an armed attack on the prisons with the aim of freeing certain inmates

Russia Looking For Foothold In Iraq

by Kester Kenn Klomegah The Russian government has announced its intention of looking for economic opportunities under a new regime in Iraq

With Kyoto Protocol Launched, What Now?

by Diego Cevallos The 1997 Kyoto Protocol, frequently given up for dead, finally entered into force on Wednesday, with its critics say the global pact for fighting climate change comes too late and offers too little

Congress Bypassing Bush On Global Warming Policy

by Katherine Stapp With most of the world leaving the United States in the dust on climate change policy, the fray is shifting from global summits to Washington's Capitol Hill, where a growing coalition of Democrats and Republicans is lobbying for a national cap on carbon dioxide emissions

Terror In Kathmandu As Army Runs Amok

by Ranjit Devraj The daughter of the prominent former Nepal prime minister and several politicians from her father's party then made a six-day trek overland -- walking and at times hitching rides on motorcycles -- to neighboring India

Hundreds Of Political, Labor Leaders Arrested

Some 1,000 activists from political parties, student groups and trade unions have been rounded up nationwide by security forces since the king suspended civil liberties and imposed emergency rule last week

Fear Spreads As Arrests Continue

by Devdoot Sharma The latest to be arrested were Nepali Congress spokesperson Arjun Narsingh and president of the Nepali Congress affiliated Nepal Women's Organization, Meena Pandey. Both Narsingh and Pandey were arrested in the Nepali Congress central office in the capital, while they were speaking at a press conference

Martial Law Until Rebel Movement Crushed

by Surendra Phuyal On Feb. 4, a senior minister in a new 10-man cabinet appointed by the king said in the Nepali capital Kathmandu that multi-party democracy could not be restored until the Maoist insurgency had been crushed

Exiles Vow To Support Maoist Rebels

by Ankit Kapur Sporting red ribbons with a star around their head, thousands of Maoist supporters converged on the Janta Mantar, an ancient observatory with grassy lawns, before marching towards the Indian Parliament demanding democracy in their homeland. The demonstrators included tiny toddlers tagging along with their parents, mothers and fathers carrying their infants, teenagers, young and old men and women of all ages

Nepal's Donors Threaten Military Aid Cutoff

by Satish Pande The government of Nepal's King Gyanendra is clearly in a state of denial when it said that it was 'business as usual' after the ambassadors of several donor countries, who were recalled home for consultations, returned back to the capital Kathmandu. This week, India confirmed that it has stopped military aid to Nepal, fearing it could be used against pro-democracy demonstrators. Other donors are doing the same

Nepal Settles Into Life Under Martial Law

by Marty Logan Since then the nation's security forces have promptly detained anyone who publicly opposes the rules of the 'emergency,' including those collared late last week in various cities -- ironically during celebrations to mark Democracy Day on Feb. 18. But those isolated incidents are witnessed by relatively few of the capital's one million citizens. Instead they see that the garbage is now being promptly collected, small groups of khaki-clad soldiers still guard most major intersections but now rarely bother them with vehicle roadblocks

Bush Ignores Plea To Cut Off Military Aid

by Jim Lobe More than a week after King Gyanendra seized control of the government of Nepal, President Bush is still undecided precisely how to react, beyond urging the monarch to free all political detainees and restore constitutional freedoms

Negroponte Pick As Intel Chief Seen As Defeat For Neo-Cons

by Jim Lobe The diplomat will get daily face-time with his boss, something which only Rice, as national security adviser, former CIA director George Tenet, and Cheney have enjoyed to date. The impact of that on actual policy remains to be seen, but Negroponte, unlike some senior officials around Bush, is considered much less likely to shade the intelligence according to what he believes the president wants to hear

World Bank Audit Urges Major Overhaul

by Emad Mekay Activists who have long criticized the Bank for being dominated by the world's richest nations welcomed the report as validation of their contention that the massive lender has financed development disasters in numerous countries

The King's Desperate Illusion

by Conn Hallinan The Feb. 1 coup puts the King firmly back in power, which will undoubtedly ramp up the war in the countryside. However, besides adding to the list of dead, wounded, and disappeared, such escalation is unlikely to alter the present stalemate

Murder Rate Of Haiti Street Kids Soaring

by Lyn Duff The killing of Haitian street children, which had declined after child-welfare campaigns waged by former President Jean Bertrand Aristide, have skyrocketed, according to human rights workers in Haiti

Countryside Revolt Feared If Crackdown On Afghan Opium

by Jim Lobe A rejuvenated campaign to crack down on Afghanistan's booming heroin trade could backfire and end up alienating large sectors of the population from the government of President Hamid Karzai, warn Afghan development and rights groups

"Carbon Sinks" Could Help Fight Climate Change, Report Says

by Katherine Stapp The amount of agricultural land involved would be huge, the Pew report underlined. To sequester 300 million tons of carbon each year -- about one-fifth of U.S. emissions -- would require 148 million acres, at a total annual cost of $7.2 billion

Bush Turned Foreign Aid Into Strategic Weapon After 9/11

by Tom Barry Depending on how you view foreign assistance -- total aid or as a percentage of income -- Uncle Sam is either generous or a miser. But a narrow focus on dollar amounts and percentages misses the bigger picture of the changes in U.S. economic aid in the past several years. What cannot be debated is that U.S. economic aid is increasingly strategic

Opposing Groups Get Opposite Results In ANWR Polls

by Jalal Ghazi A survey conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz found that opening ANWR was supported by 53 percent of the American voters polled. These findings are distinct from a Zogby poll released December 21, 2004 funded by the Wilderness Society and other conservation groups. That poll of likely voters found those surveyed oppose opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling by 55 percent

Bush Quietly Drops 2002 Budget Pledge To Poorest Nations

by Jim Lobe Even as the Bush administration denies charges by critics that U.S. aid to poor nations is miserly compared to the contributions of other wealthy countries, it appears to be quietly rolling back its previous commitments to increase development assistance by 50 percent beginning next year

U.S. Invokes "State Secrets Privilege" To Block Torture Lawsuit

by William Fisher The Justice Department has again asserted 'state secrets privilege' in seeking to dismiss a lawsuit by Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen who was detained in the United States in 2002 and sent against his will to Syria, where he says he was tortured until his release a year later. This is the third time the Department of Justice has invoked the 'state secrets privilege' in recent years

Previously Unknown Bacteria Frozen 32,000 Years Comes Back To Life

An undiscovered species of bacteria that was frozen in the Alaskan ice for 32,000 years came to life in a laboratory when thawed out, NASA scientists reported Feb. 23. The bacterium -- the first fully described, validated species ever found alive in ancient ice -- is NASA’s latest discovery of a 'psychrotolerant' organism, one capable of enduring deep cold that resumes normal activity when temperatures rise

What I Would Have Told Larry King

by Cindy Sheehan I was supposed to be on the Larry King Live show Monday night. I was asked to be on the show to offer my opinion on the election in Iraq from the perspective of a mom whose son was killed in the war prior to the elections. One of the questions I was going to be asked was: Do I think my son's sacrifice was 'worth it?' Well, I didn't get a chance to be on the show that night because I was bumped for something that is really important: The Michael Jackson Trial

Moscow Says It's Close To "Unique" Nuclear Weapons

by Valentinas Mite Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov announced Feb. 13 that Moscow will soon have a unique new generation of nuclear weapons 'not possessed by any country in the world.' The minister did not give any technical details. Russian President Vladimir Putin first spoke of the new generation of nuclear weaponry in November but also provided no details

Neo-Con Elliott Abrams Moves To Center Stage In U.S. Foreign Policy

by Tom Barry In his new position, Abrams, an ardent Zionist, will oversee the administration's stated goal of spreading democracy and human rights while continuing to provide oversight to the National Security Council's directorate of Near East and North African affairs -- including involvement in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict

Guantanamo Tribunals Ruled Illegal

by Jim Lobe If upheld, the long-awaited decision by veteran judge Joyce Hens Green would deal a mortal blow to the Pentagon courts, called Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs), which have been hearing the cases of some 550 detainees who remain at Guantanamo since late last summer

Buoyed By Elections, Kurds Begin Push For Independence

by Aaron Glantz The politics of freedom is very much in the air. Kurdish parties are already hinting that they have won a victory in local council elections. And already they have begun to make noises about independence

Without Warning, India Bulldozes The Great Slums Of Mumbai

by Sandhya Srinivasan When Mumbai hosted the World Social Forum (WSF), in January 2004, row upon row of squalid slums reaching right up to the international airport served to give visitors a ready view of India's glaring social disparities. But, a year later, the authorities have found a quick and simple solution: demolish the slums ruthlessly and like the tsunami, give no warning to the victims

Rumsfeld's Baby Nukes And The Terror War

by Abhinav Aima Rumsfeld's favorite toy is the nuclear burrowing bunker buster. Such a weapon, it is argued, could dig deep into the ground or a cave in order to destroy "terrorists" hiding there. The notion that "terrorists" live in caves and tunnels underground is one that is particularly publicized by this administration, even though most of its captured terrorists have been found living in urban cities in Pakistan. Of course, the nuclear burrowing bunker buster could also be used very effectively to bring down a large multi-storied building, and kill everyone and everything in it

Viruses, Grilled Meat Added To Cancer-Cause List

For the first time, the federal government has added viruses to the official list of agents that are known to cause cancer. Hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, and some human papillomaviruses that cause common sexually transmitted diseases Other new listings include lead and lead compounds, X-rays, compounds found in grilled meats, and a number of substances used in textile dyes, paints and inks

Now, U.S. Must Get Out of Iraq's Way

by Robert Scheer Make no mistake: A clear victory for Sistani does not fit the White House neoconservatives' blueprint for creating a more pliable Middle East

Government Of, By And For Big Business

by Robert Scheer Watching the 109th Congress, one would be forgiven for thinking our Constitution was the blueprint for a government of Big Business, by Big Business and for Big Business. Forget the people – this is Robin Hood in reverse

What We Don't Know About 9/11 Hurts Us

by Robert Scheer Would George W. Bush have been reelected president if the public understood how much responsibility his administration bears for allowing the 9/11 attacks to succeed? The answer is unknowable and, at this date, moot. Yet it was appalling to learn last week that the White House suppressed until after the election a damning report that exposes the administration as woefully incompetent if not criminally negligent

Iraq Looks More Like Iran Every Day

by Robert Scheer It would be naive for the White House to think that a winning coalition headed by self-defined Islamic revolutionaries long nurtured by Iran would not emulate key aspects of their former Tehran hosts' thinking

U.S. And Polish Troops Looting Iraq Artifacts, Researcher Says

by Humberto Marquez 'U.S. and Polish soldiers are still stealing treasures today and selling them across the borders with Jordan and Kuwait, where art merchants pay up to $57,000 for a Sumerian tablet,' said Fernando Baez

Scientists At Fish & Wildlife Told To Fake Research

More than half reported cases where 'commercial interests have inappropriately induced the reversal or withdrawal of scientific conclusions or decisions through political intervention' and 42% said they could not openly express 'concerns about the biological needs of species and habitats without fear of retaliation'

Turkey Nervously Watching Kurd Region Of Iraq

by Jean-Christophe Peuch "The situation is much worse, from a Turkish viewpoint, since the Americans went in," Unal says. "And in the last few months, developments have been extremely unacceptable [for Ankara]. The reasoning behind all this is that the situation in northern Iraq is leading to the establishment of some sort of a Kurdish state."

California Sues U.S. Over Budget Abortion Ban

by Rebecca Vesely California is the first state to challenge an abortion amendment attached to a federal spending bill approved in December, arguing that it holds billions of dollars in education and labor funds 'hostage' until states restrict women's rights

Bush Could Bribe His Way To Iran Overthrow

by Anonymous With 70 percent of civil servants living below the poverty line (a conservative government estimate), money is the best way to penetrate Iran. If the United States just spent a small portion of its military budget in Iraq on bribes in Iran, the regime would crumble

World Hunger Could Be Easily Cut In Half

by Stephen Leahy World hunger can be cut in half in a single decade for a mere 60 cents per month for every person living in a developed country, say two renowned scientists heading the United Nations task force on hunger

Paraguay, Brazil Saving Ancient Trails From Search For "Land Without Evil"

by Alejandro Sciscioli Today this ancient network of trails is being rescued from oblivion by scientists and officials from Paraguay and Brazil as they attempt to protect the Native Guarani culture. The web of pathways was woven in the Guarani people's constant search for the 'Land Without Evil,' and connected what is currently the southern Brazil state of Santa Catarina with the Peruvian Andes, passing through Paraguay and Bolivia

Outside Pakistan's Cities, Childbirth Often Deadly

by Zofeen Ebrahim 'There are no adequate government-run health facilities. There is a complete lack of facilities for mother and child care, there is lack of awareness regarding family planning, the rate of routine immunization is low'

Note Written In Blood Led To Probe Of Sex Slave Rings

by Baradan Kuppusamy 'We were hired as maids but on arrival tricked and forced into prostitution. We were held as sex slaves and forced to service numerous clients,' they said. 'Please save us from this ordeal.' They would have languished in the camp while waiting for the trial scheduled for September had they not written the note in their blood

Rolls-Royce Among Corporate Backers Of Burma Regime

by Marwaan Macan-Markar Other prominent names from Britain's corporate world in this notorious list include the insurance company Lloyd's of London, the Cambrian Group -- a conglomerate of petroleum consultants, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline and the wood industrialist Robbins Timber

Advice To Schwarzenegger: Don't Be a Captive Of Prison-Industrial Complex

by Vincent Schiraldi and Javier Stauring Schwarzenegger started with tough talk about the guards, shunning their donations and preaching prison reform. But during his first legislative session, no laws were passed to curb the growth of prisons or to reform abhorrent conditions. The governor vetoed a raft of relatively benign legislation, including a bill allowing the media greater access to cover prisons, and another protecting chaplains from reprisals should they speak out against prison abuses. Soon, the guards had negotiated one more sweetheart deal with one more resident of the governor's mansion

The Tsunami And The Killing Fields

by John Roosa Most of the some $4 billion that has been raised worldwide for tsunami relief will likely be devoted to Aceh. The only other country that needs a large amount of aid is Sri Lanka. Both Thailand and India have stated they do not need foreign aid. This means that Indonesia's military in Aceh is now under an international microscope. There is no reason to believe, however, that this will guarantee better behavior

A Weary, Guarded Hope In Gaza

by Omar Karmi An end to Israeli assassinations comes high on Hamas' list of stipulations, which also includes an end to Israeli incursions into Palestinian territory, the removal of checkpoints, a withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian towns and villages, and the return of the bodies of slain Palestinians as well as a return of those who were deported by Israel from the West Bank to Gaza

China Giant Poised To Stomp Key U.S. Industries

by Emad S. Mekay China is also rapidly winning ground in advanced industries like car manufacturing and aerospace products, which have provided the foundations of the United States' industrial base for generations. Semiconductors technology, once thought immune to lower-wage Chinese competition, is now open for Chinese imports

Neo-Con Wolfowitz Represents U.S. At Holocaust Ceremony

by Jim Lobe The Nazi Holocaust also lies at the core of the neo-conservative worldview that has animated and given coherence to much of the Bush administration's post-9/11 foreign policy that itself is changing the world, albeit not necessarily in ways that either Annan or the international human rights movement would approve

White House Skews Science To Fit Goals, Researchers Say

by William Fisher "The political manipulation of science is an ongoing problem with this administration," said Lexi Shultz of the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Employing scientists only to undermine their findings is at best a mismanagement of public resources and at worst a serious betrayal of the public trust."

Vigilantes Vow To Patrol Border And Block Mexicans

by Diego Cevallos A U.S. vigilante group that is calling for volunteers, especially people with law enforcement or military experience, "for the purpose of aiding the U.S. Border Patrol in 'spotting' intruders entering the U.S. illegally." The invitation to help "protect our country from a 40-year-long invasion across our southern border with Mexico" is for April 1-30 in Tombstone, Arizona

A Year After Coup, Haiti Still Racked By Violence

by Jane Regan Armed pro-Aristide gangs have attacked police, shops and drivers; police have retaliated, sometimes brutally and sometimes, critics say, openly eliminating peaceful Aristide supporters. Former soldiers who helped overthrow Aristide and who now refuse to put down their arms have also entered the mix. In a number of provincial cities, they patrol and even make arrests with their aging weapons and worn fatigues

Iraq Election Unites The West, Not Iraq

by Tariq Ali The Iraqi elections were designed not so much to preserve the unity of Iraq but to re-establish the unity of the west. After Bush's re-election the French and Germans were looking for a bridge back to Washington. Will their citizens accept the propaganda that sees the illegitimate election (the Carter Center, which monitors elections worldwide, refused to send observers) as justifying the occupation?

Burmese Migrants Find Welcome Wearing Thin In Thailand

by Sonny Inbaraj When the killer tsunami lashed the western Andaman Sea coastline of Thailand on Dec. 26, it came as no surprise to Burmese activists that none of the local authorities bothered to account for the bodies of migrants washed up on beaches

Lebanon In Shock From Hariri Assassination

by Mohamad Ozeir For Lebanon, Valentine's Day will never be the same. This small, fragile country, which enjoyed celebrating the holiday as a sign of belonging to the Western world, lost a symbol of hope for a better future in a troubled region. Rafiq Al-Hariri, Lebanon's former prime minister and the driving force behind the rebuilding efforts in the post-war era, was assassinated in Beirut, the city he loved and served for over the past three decades

Media Begins Looking At Women Prisoners Beyond Martha Stewart

by Sheila Gibbons The female inmate population has been soaring, with the number of women in state and federal prisons leaping eight-fold since between 1980 and 2003, from 12,300 to 101,000. Much of the increase has been attributed to mandatory sentencing guidelines, especially for drug offenses. The vast majority of these prisoners are mothers

"Real ID" Proposal Threatens Asylum Seekers

by William Fisher Controversial anti-immigration provisions that were stripped from an intelligence bill last year have resurfaced as the 'Real ID Act.' It sets tougher security standards for the issuance of drivers' licenses, including proof of lawful presence in the U.S. All states would be required to comply, to 'eliminate weak links in domestic identity security.' But it is the asylum provisions of the proposal that have drawn fire from human rights groups

Bush Hawks Likely To Exploit Hariri Assassination

by Jim Lobe Whether or not Syrian President Bashar Assad was behind Monday's assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the car-bombing is sure to strengthen forces inside the Bush administration who have long argued for 'regime change' in Damascus

Bush Stand On Darfur Genocide May Force U.S. To Join International Criminal Court

by Jim Lobe Despite his strong opposition, Bush is under growing pressure from human rights groups and U.S. allies to refer what his administration has called 'genocide' in Darfur, Sudan to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague

Faith-Based Programs Escape Bush Budget Cuts

by William Fisher Most of the grant recipients have a 'Statement of Faith' prominently displayed on their websites or other promotional materials. Others declare themselves 'faith-based' or 'Christ-centered.' Nearly all of them incorporate three distinct elements into their mission, social services and public policy advocacy: personal salvation, biblical infallibility and a commitment to religious proselytising

Iraq Economy Balances On Turkey And Its Truck Drivers

by Aaron Glantz If Turkey were to close the border and disrupt the flow of oil, Iraq's economy could be paralyzed, especially since the country's other major borders -- with Jordan, Syria, and Iran -- are far more dangerous than the Turkish one. But while Turkey has thus far kept its border open, many truckers have refused to work. Six weeks ago, Turkish truckers launched a strike seeking higher wages and greater security. So far, a few have returned, but most continue to stay away

Unclear If Neo-Cons Still In Driver's Seat For 2nd Term

by Jim Lobe In divining the power balance, the biggest unknown is what Rice herself will do. No one doubts that, on a personal basis, she is far closer to Bush than any other foreign policy adviser, but, during the first term, it appears that she was reluctant to press her personal views on the president

U.S. Appears Indifferent To Central Asia Democracy Movements

by Farangis Najibullah Upcoming elections in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have prompted local fears of vote rigging and electoral fraud. Such scenarios drew widespread Western attention to other former Soviet republics like Ukraine and Georgia. But opposition politicians and other observers in Central Asia say the United States and European Union are far less interested in pro-democracy movements in their region

Rice European Tour Saw Change In Style, But Not In Substance

by Ahto Lobjakas Rice adopted a conciliatory tone on previously divisive issues like Iraq and the Middle East. But most observers agree the U.S. stance will only become clear once Bush himself arrives in Europe later this month. They say while Rice's visit was a victory for diplomacy, it will depend on developments in Iran and China -- among other issues -- to determine how substantial the present thaw in trans-Atlantic relations will be.

Stem Cells Used To Treat Type 2 Diabetes

by Marcela Valente A team of doctors in Argentina has pioneered a new technique using adult stem cells for treating diabetes. It was the first time that the procedure had been used to treat diabetes, and the doctors confirmed that the patient's pancreas, which had ceased to produce insulin, began to function again as a result of the treatment

U.S. Citizen Caught In Terror War Catch-22, Held In Saudi Jail Since 2003

by William Fisher The United States says it had nothing to do with Abu Ali's detention, although three federal agents reportedly questioned him soon after his arrest. Saudi officials say they are holding him at the request of the State Department and would be glad to release him if there was a request from the United States. But in a surprise legal manoeuver, government attorneys argued last week that federal privacy restrictions bar the public release of government documents concerning Abu Ali, and the judge in the case agreed

What Our Government Won't Tell Us About Carcinogens

by Robert Tufel Why not list every substance that we now know causes cancer? Because listing every known carcinogen would force the four government agencies (the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) responsible for "regulating hazardous substance and limiting the exposure to and the use of each substances" to take action?

Arctic's Inuit To Sue U.S. Over Global Warming

by Stephen Leahy The Inuit people of the Arctic regions are preparing to charge the United States with human rights violations, saying that country is the leading culprit behind climate change, which threatens their way of life and their very survival. This will be the first climate change case the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has heard, and likely the first of its kind anywhere else

Osama, Islamicists Silent On Tsunami Disaster

by Marwaan Macan-Markar Bin Laden's silence has been matched by an equally heartless view about the victims of the tsunami from fellow Saudi Arabian Fawzan al-Fawzan, a cleric who delivers religious sermons on the satellite television channel al-Majid. Al-Fawzan is also a member of Saudi Arabia's highest religious body, the senior council of clerics

Rights Group Believes FBI Monitoring Web Page Readership

by William Fisher The Justice Department says the new definitions allow pen-traps to collect e-mail and Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. However, the agency has been less forthcoming about web surveillance. It will not reveal whether it believes URLs (the global address of documents and other resources on the web) can be collected using pen-traps, despite the fact that URLs clearly reveal content by identifying the web pages being read

Galapagos Islands At Risk From Illegal Fishing, Ecuador's Politics

by Francesca Colombo In February and May, the 970 family fishing operations on the islands -- organized under four cooperatives -- staged strikes. They took over public offices and tourist sites, and threatened to burn them down if the government did not attend to their demands: lift restrictions on harvesting sea cucumbers and overturn the fishing regulations

Gore Says Bush Lacks Moral Courage To Tackle Global Warming

by J.R. Pegg Gore slammed the White House for distracting the nation with 'false crises' such as the Iraqi threat of weapons of mass destruction and the need to privatize Social Security, while 'ignoring a real crisis unfolding right before our eyes'

Tsunami Aid Contrasts With Neglect Of Asia's Greater Crises

by David Bryden Even on AIDS relief, the U.S. is hardly exercising global leadership. Bush's budget for global AIDS programs, if it remains on the current track, will provide just 12 percent of what the UN says is needed from all sources beginning in 2007, that is $20 billion. The world is falling dangerously short of the amount of financing needed to halt the epidemic's expansion, which grows at the rate of 13,000 new infections per day. The daily death toll from AIDS is 9,000 people. That's the equivalent of the tsunami body count every two weeks

What They Really Mean. . .

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

Ex-President Tsunami Tour Signals End Of U.S. Humanitarian Aid

by Norman Solomon The global-scale PR work of Bush, Bush & Clinton underscores the idea that the era of big government is over -- for humanitarian efforts, anyway. From tuberculosis to AIDS to tsunamis, while global disasters ravage the public, the responses are increasingly private. Instead of boosting the U.S. Treasury's commitment -- or, heaven forbid, devoting a major portion of the Pentagon's aircraft and vessels to swift delivery of aid to remote stricken areas -- Bush dispatched two ex-presidents to the PR rescue

Bush Steers Ship Of State Deeper Into Middle East Waters

by Jim Lobe Clearly buoyed by Sunday's election in Iraq, a confident George W. Bush told the nation that the Middle East will dominate U.S. foreign policy during his second term as president, just as his proposals to privatize the 70-year-old U.S. social security system will be his top priority at home

Not Enough Media Curiosity In Iraq Coverage

by Norman Solomon Anyone who keeps an eye on mainstream news is up to speed on the latest presidential spin. But the reporters who tell us what the president wants us to hear should go beyond stenography to note historic echoes and point out basic contradictions

Serbia's Best-Selling Authors: Accused War Criminals

by Vesna Peric Zimonjic The authors of three of the most popular books in this 'prison literature' as it has come to be called are either serving prison sentences, in hiding, or standing trial. Each author participated directly in the wars of the 1990s that tore former Yugoslavia apart at a cost of 250,000 lives, mostly non-Serbs

Bush Quietly Building Up Nuclear Arsenal

by Katherine Stapp U.S. nuclear weapons spending has swelled by 84 percent since 1995, now amounting to $40 billion annually. This budget supports the maintenance of some 10,000 nuclear warheads -- 2,000 on hair-trigger alert. Some experts say the 'Reliable Replacement Warhead Program,' approved by Congress in November, marks a disturbing evolution of the former policy introduced under President Clinton of 'stockpile stewardship,' in which the labs concentrated on maintaining the safety and reliability of the nation's existing nuclear arsenal

Nuclear Waste Project Divides Utah's Skull Valley Tribe

by Katherine Stapp Since 1981, activists say that 60 reservations have been targeted for 'temporary' radioactive waste dumps by the federal government and nuclear power industry; 59 tribes have fended off the dumps. Skull Valley has come closer than any others to actually opening a facility

Suicide On Rise In Europe, Particularly Among Youth

by Linus Atarah Most suicides are linked to mental illness, experts say. Fifteen percent of people who suffer severe depression commit suicide, 56 percent of them attempt it. But despite the high incidence of mental illness, 44-70 percent of people with mental health disorders in Europe receive no treatment

Will Kurds Break Away From Iraq?

by Aaron Glantz Already, Kurdistan has its own flag, its own police force and its own budget -- all this was guaranteed in the Jan. 30 election. Kurds scored 26 percent of the vote and secured the second largest bloc in Parliament. Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani is front-runner for the presidency of Iraq. The only question now is where the borderline will be drawn, and whether Kurdistan will include Kirkuk, which Saddam cleared of Kurds in the 1970s and 1980s

Turkey Prepared To Invade N Iraq If Kurds Claim Independence

by Hilmi Toros Turkey says it holds the option of unilateral intervention in northern Iraq if Kurds declare independence and claim the oil wealth of disputed Kirkuk, considered the main spoils in the uncertain Iraqi equation

Left And Right, Sane And Mad

by Alexander Cockburn The bottom line of Ward Churchill's argument is that the best and perhaps only way to prevent 9/11-style attacks on the United States is for American citizens to compel their government to comply with the rule of law. "The lesson of Nuremberg is that this is not only our right, but our obligation." But now a storm has burst over Churchill's head, provoked by protests at Hamilton College at his scheduled participation on a panel called "Limits of Dissent." He's been forced to resign his chairmanship of the department of ethnic studies, and now, politicians are howling for his blood

The Witch Hunt Of Father Paul Shanley

by Alexander Cockburn What landed Shanley in the courtroom and now in prison was not anything in the Church's file but the uncorroborated 'recovered memories' of one man, Paul Busa. This case is a throwback to the high 1990s, when people were put behind bars for lifetimes on the basis of memories elicited by the leading questions of psychotherapists. Ultimately, after years of patient effort by a few journalists, psychoanalysts, psychological researchers and advocates for justice, 'recovered memory' as a tool of the latter-day Inquisition fell into well-deserved disrepute

Hunter S. Thompson A Willing Captive Of The Gonzo Myth

by Alexander Cockburn "Gonzo" was an act, defined by its beholders, the thought that here was one of Us, fried on drugs, hanging on to the cliff edge of reality only by his fingernails, doing hyperbolic battle with the pomposities and corruptions of Politics as Usual. And no man was ever a more willing captive of the gonzo myth he created, decked out in its increasingly frayed bunting

Tsunami Aid: Who Gives, Who Gets?

by Alexander Cockburn What better than direct contact with towns and villages across the region hit by the tsunami, with money and work parties, prelude to long-term relations. There's nothing like a friendly person showing up, preferably with a wad of money in hand, rather than an aid bureaucrat with a hundred forms to be filled out in triplicate before you can get a dime

World Bank Warns Of A World Of "Silent Forests"

by Sonny Inbaraj The threat that East Asia's rich biodiversity faces, with 95 percent of its forests already lost because of uncontrolled logging and wildlife being decimated at alarming rates, may well create what the World Bank calls 'silent forests' devoid of animals

Air America Needs A Farm Team ASAP

by Steve Young I understand that Air America's budget is tight, and running a radio deficit that borrows from our children's listening future is out of the question (as opposed to the Bush economic model). But does AA really think that the way to keep the budding fan-base growing is to replay the classics from a couple days ago?

The Social Security Misinfotainers

by Steve Young Bush took his Social Security message on the road this week and his puppy dog followed so close in step you'd have to be surprised he didn't trip on the pooch. More amazing is how anything with their nose so far up the president's ass ever gets the smell off. I'm not speaking about Miss Beazley. I'm talking about that adorable little Talk Radio

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