default.html Issue 133
Table of Contents

The Mystery Hostages Of Madain, Iraq

by Valentinas Mite After reports on 16 and 17 April that Sunni militants were holding Shi'ite residents of Madain hostage, the Iraqi Army moved in. The military operation in the small town south of Baghdad involved more than 1,000 soldiers. But the alarm proved to be false. Many say the incident shows how Iraqi society is still consumed by rumors and conspiracy theories

Canada Ranchers Sue Government Over Mad Cow

The lawsuit claims that Agriculture Canada failed to consider safety issues when compiling a list of permitted animal feed ingredients in 1988-1990 and lost track of 80 cattle that had been imported from the UK and Ireland, allowing them to be ground up into cattle feed

Lots Of Bad News To Spin

by Steve Young The best thing for conservative talk radio last week was the death of the Pope. It gave them something to deflect attention from the other deaths -- most notable, the death of Tom DeLay's career and the President Bush's Social Security plan

The LA Times' Daring Gambit

by Steve Young I can understand wanting a balanced editorial page -- though if we be honest, even if every column was right- winged, O'Reilly would still call the Times a socialist rag. But why are all of these authors used by the Times so obviously incompetent? There's got to be plenty of conservative pundits who could place two thoughts together without needing to be mean-spirited or laughably inept. Well, maybe not many, but I'm sure George Will has some book to sell.

Why Hasn't Bush Opposed Nepal's Coup?

by Frida Berrigan Even as the international community -- including the United States -- condemned King Gyanendra's coup, Nepali and U.S. soldiers were shoulder to shoulder in joint military training along with soldiers from Uganda, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and India. The troops received training in unconventional warfare in a six-week course at the Counter Insurgency Jungle Warfare School in northeastern India

China's Quest For Oil Moves To Central Asia

by Franz Schurmann Before the end of this month, Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao will have gone to the once sleepy Pakistani fishing village of Gwadar, not far from the Iranian border. He will inaugurate one of the biggest energy projects in the world. Gwadar is not far from areas in Pakistan where Al Qaeda activities have been on the rise. Already, Chinese engineers are being attacked in Gwadar. Some analysts worry that growing scarcity of resources will spark more warfare around the world. But China's need for oil and its willingness to make deals with whomever has it could be a calming influence globally

Earth Day's Devolution

by Bill Berkowitz Thirty-five years ago, a core group of visionaries took notice of the extent to which the activities of man were impacting our planet. Earth Day was created in response to what were then new understandings and developing realizations about how the world worked. In the weeks leading up to Earth Day 2005 and especially upon the day itself, corporations will cloak themselves in earthy images in much the same way President Bush dressed up to inform the world that the Iraq Mission was accomplished

Much-Hyped Mexico Border Vigilante Patrol A Bust

by Diego Cevallos Although the organization claims that its volunteers have helped apprehend 268 immigrants since they began to carry out 'patrols' along the border near Tombstone, Arizona in early April, U.S. and Mexican government sources deny that this is true. The diplomat said that so far, there has only been one report of an immigrant making contact with the Minuteman volunteers

WMD Commission -- Yet Another Intelligence Failure

by Rahul Mahajan The 'Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction' has done reasonably well what it was created to do. Unfortunately, it was created to provide political cover for the Bush administration in the middle of a scandal that dwarfs Watergate, Iran-contra, and even Lewinsky-gate, but that, in contrast to those events, has led to no in-depth investigation, minimal television coverage, and hardly any calls for the heads responsible to roll

That Wartime Feeling Returns To Lebanon

by Marianne Stigset Rumors abound as to where the next bomb will hit, and Beirut's once bustling nightlife, already subdued since the Hariri attack, is brought to a virtual standstill after each explosion

Besides Israeli Conflict, Palestinian Women Also Victims Of Their Own Society

by Sanjay Suri Palestinian women, says an Amnesty report , 'have borne the brunt of the escalation of the conflict and decades of Israeli occupation, while in Palestinian society they are subjected to a system of laws and norms that treats them as unequal members of society'

Bush Threatens Asian Stability With Fighter Jet Sales To Pakistan

by Thalif Deen The notion being pushed by proponents of the sale -- that F-16s can be a reward for Pakistan's cooperation in the war on terrorism or a tool for fighting terrorism -- 'is both laughable and dangerous

Violence Against Women In Latin America Rarely Reported

by Diego Cevallos Latin America and the Caribbean have up-to-date statistics on inflation, trade, GDP growth and other economic indicators. But there are few- to- no hard figures on violence against women, a problem that reportedly affects as many as four or five women out of 10

Russia's Media Freedoms Under Attack

by Elisa Marincola Twenty years after former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev began his process of economic restructuring called perestroika, media freedom in Russia is under attack again from the Kremlin, watchdogs say

"Ghost" Prisoner Resurfaces At Guantanamo

by William Fisher A major advocacy group charges that a Yemeni businessman captured in Egypt was handed over to U.S. authorities and 'disappeared' for more than a year and a half before being sent to the Pentagon's Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba

Iraq Terror Spills Over To Kuwait

by Mary Ann Tetreault Largely unnoticed with the focus on the war and insurgency in Iraq, and overshadowed by an upsurge in violence in Saudi Arabia, terrorist violence is also on the increase in neighboring Kuwait

U.S. Envoy Played Key Role In Ecuador's Latest Regime Change

by Kintto Lucas The beginning of the end of the Gutierrez administration, besieged by massive protests, was U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Kristie Kenney's visit to the government palace

Corruption Draining Iraq's Oil Industry

by Yaseen al-Rubai'I Abdul Kareem Li'aibi, the oil ministry's fuel distribution project manager, said that the government had recently discovered that one of its southern pipelines was peppered with more than 20 illegal taps, allowing tankers to top up their loads at will. Li'aibi claims that organized gangs are behind these corrupt practices, and blames them for the fact that only 60 percent of trucks carrying oil products from wells to other areas reach their destination, while the remainder are attacked and hijacked

Notes From The Homeland Security State Part I: The Military Half

by Nick Turse By the fall of 2004, FBI spokespeople had moved on from such anodyne reassurances and, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, the bureau was launching its 'October Plan' of 'aggressive -- even obvious -- surveillance techniques to be used on... people suspected of being terrorist sympathizers, but who have not committed a crime' while '[o]ther 'persons of interest,' including their family members, m[ight] also be brought in for questioning...'

Notes From The Homeland Security State Part II: The Civilian Half

by Nick Turse With the federal government casting off the Geneva Conventions as quaint, employing secret law at home, and tasking average Americans to become Peeping Toms and undercover informants, its little wonder that those in the private sector have now taken up the task of helping the Feds in fashioning a Homeland Security State. After all, with surveillance bureaucracies burgeoning and security budgets growing, there's suddenly a fortune to be made. Last year, alone, under the Urban Area Security Initiative, the DHS doled out $675 million to 50 large cities across America. This year, the total will jump to $854.6 million

Argentina's Radioactive Groundwater

by Marcela Valente Laboratory testing ordered by an Argentine court concluded that the water consumed by close to a million people living near a nuclear facility is contaminated with uranium and not fit for human consumption

New Sri Lanka Fighting Puts Tsunami Aid At Risk

by Amantha Perera It is unclear how long would tsunami relief operations can be in place and how far can the relief effort reach, under rising tensions. One attack, not to mention shellfire, can drive aid convoys scampering out of affected areas

New Quake Leaves Indonesians Distrustful Of Government

by Baradan Kuppusamy Anything made of brick and mortar or concrete -- houses, buildings, bridges, churches, schools, mosques and community halls have collapsed or are so severely damaged that they have to be pulled down. UN officials say that soon there will be nothing left standing on the island -- which once was a thriving trading centre for rubber, copra, cocoa and seafood

U.S. Behind Coups In Central America 25 Years Ago, Central Asia Today

by John Laughland The formulaic repetition of a third 'people power' revolution in the former Soviet Union in just over one year means that the post-Soviet space now resembles Central America in the 1970s and 1980s, when a series of U.S.-backed coups consolidated that country's control over the western hemisphere. Many of the same U.S. government operatives in Latin America have plied their trade in eastern Europe under George Bush, most notably Michael Kozak, former U.S. ambassador to Belarus, who boasted in 2001 that he was doing in Belarus exactly what he had been doing in Nicaragua: 'supporting democracy'

Shareholder Activists Demand Changes From Big Oil

by Jim Lobe Activists with stock in six of the 10 biggest U.S. oil and gas firms -- including ChevronTexaco, Unocal Corp., and Marathon Oil -- have reached agreements with the companies on steps the latter will take to lessen the growing risks posed by global warming to their share value

People Who Work For A Living Get The Short End

by Molly Ivins The unholy combination of theocracy and plutocracy that now rules this country is, in fact, enabled by dumb liberals. Many a weary liberal on the Internet and elsewhere has been involved in the tedious study of the entrails from the last election, trying to figure out where Democrats went wrong. I don't have a dog in that fight, but I can guarantee you where they're going wrong for the next election: 73 Democratic House members and 18 Democratic senators voted for that hideous bankruptcy 'reform' bill that absolutely screws regular people

God, The Repubs, And The Filibuster

by Molly Ivins Look, this is a system of government based on protecting the rights of the minority. It is also based on the premise that there are three separate branches of government, each of which forms a check and a balance on the others. It was carefully designed to prevent the dictatorship of the majority

Repubs Defending Bolton Show Character Doesn't Matter

by Molly Ivins The prospect of Bolton at the United Nations is so appalling -- that is, assuming the Bush administration has any interest at all in: A) getting anything done there, and B) our reputation around the world -- I rather think it's time to forget politics and unite for the good of the country

It's All Just A Conspiracy To Get Tom DeLay

by Molly Ivins DeLay has urged the Republicans in Congress, when asked about his ethics problems, to blame Democrats. DeLay also said there is a 'mammoth operation' funded by Democratic supporters designed to destroy him. People on the right just will not give up this eternal pretense of being victims

Tax System Subsidizes Bush's Pals

by Molly Ivins Every year at this time, conservatives moan and groan and tell us how terribly, terribly overburdened we are by taxes. We wouldn't be overburdened if the tax code hadn't been rewritten by Republicans, and if Republicans hadn't weakened the IRS so much it can barely function. Damn right, this is a partisan effort. And damn right, I'm bitter about it. We don't need to raise taxes in this country, we need to collect them. We need tax cuts that don't favor the obscenely rich. You are getting screwed

Bush Won't Dare Go After Real Tax Cheats

by Molly Ivins Oh, the howling over the plan to give government access to possibly hundreds of millions of international banking records in order to track and deter terrorism. As a good civil libertarian, I'm concerned about the privacy issues here myself. But money laundering, whether for terrorist purposes or tax evasion, is a crime

The Oil-For-Food Non-Scandal Scandal

by Molly Ivins Some days, it's hard to pick the outrage du jour, but hypocrisy is always an inviting target, and the United Nations oil-for-food scandal provides a two-fer. We have been hearing much right-wing huffing over the dreadful, terrible, awful, unprecedented, worst-ever scandal in all history

Bush's Tiresome Lying On Energy Problems

by Molly Ivins I'm tired of arguing about whether Bush is so ignorant he doesn't know that he is cutting alternative energy programs and subsidizing oil companies or so fiendishly clever that he knows and doesn't care what he says. In the end, it doesn't make any difference. You get wretched policy either way

Right-Wing Catholic Order Launches "Megamission"

by Diego Cevallos Some 50,000 followers of the Legionaries of Christ, a conservative Catholic congregation founded in Mexico and viewed with favor by the Vatican, will set out to distribute donations and doctrine to the poor in 31 different countries -- while fervently striving to defend their founder, accused of pedophilia

Behind China's Anti-Japan Riots

by Gary Leupp No issue with Japan grates more on Chinese or Korean sensitivities than the perceived refusal of the Japanese state to acknowledge and reflect upon its history of aggression, culminating with what the Japanese call the 'Sino-Japanese War' of 1937 to 1945. The archconservative Japanese Education Ministry approved for middle school use a history textbook that whitewashes the record of Japanese aggression in East Asia. Specifically, it downplays the Nanjing Massacre and other atrocities, ignores germ warfare experiments, and omits discussion of the tens of thousands of (principally Korean) 'comfort women" forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military

U.S. Breaks 1994 UN Agreement On Birth Control

by Thalif Deen 'At a moment when the United States should be leading the world on advancing women's equality, the Bush administration chose instead to alienate government ministers and 6,000 other delegates at an important UN conference on that issue with a burst of anti-abortion zealotry,' said a New York Times editorial

Texas Refinery Blast Raises Safety Questions

by Katherine Stapp As federal investigators sift through the ruins of a Texas oil refinery where 15 workers were killed and more than 100 injured in a Mar. 23 explosion, watchdog groups say the accident raises questions about the safety of chemical plants around the United States

Canada's Bloody Seal Hunt Expands To Ice Floes

by Stephen Leahy Nearly 100,000 baby seals have been clubbed and shot in the past few weeks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the first part of the annual commercial hunt that will harvest some 319,000 harp seals. On Apr. 12, the hunters moved out onto the desolate ice floes, some 100 km on the open sea, where they have not been since the 1980s due to factors of distance and danger

Huge Bottled Water Industry Plays On Fear Of Faucets

by Stephen Leahy Four large corporations control much of the world's booming bottled water industry and pose a threat to public water utilities, although they either obtain the water for free or at very low cost from public taps

India's AIDS Funds Being Stolen By Militants On Burma Border

by Ranjit Devraj Manipur's population of about 250,000 people now has around 20,000 militants who collect at least $25 million every year in extortions

"Liberation Theology" Survived Despite Reactionary Vatican

by Adrian Reyes Liberation theology, or the 'preferential option for the poor,' calls for particular attention to be paid to the poor, in the understanding that the liberation preached in the message of Christ does not only apply to spirituality, but to physical and social conditions as well

Top U.S. Commander Approved Iraq Prisoner Abuse

by William Fisher The ACLU has disclosed a Sept. 14, 2003 memo signed by Lt. Gen. Ricardo A. Sanchez, then senior commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, authorizing 29 interrogation techniques, including 12 which 'far exceeded limits established by the Army's own Field Manual.' The Sanchez memo allows for interrogation techniques involving the use of military dogs specifically to 'exploit(s) Arab fear of dogs,' sensory deprivation, and stress positions

Emission Traders Cash In, But Don't Cut Pollution

by Sanjay Suri European Union governments have in effect sabotaged the market they have created by setting quotas for emissions by their industry that are so generous that it is nowhere near feeling the squeeze that would make trading possible

Marla Ruzicka

by Kevin Danaher and Medea Benjamin Marla worked with AIDS victims in Zimbabwe, refugees in Palestine, campesinos in Nicaragua. Following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Marla traveled to Afghanistan with a Global Exchange delegation and she was so moved by the plight of the civilian victims that she dedicated the rest of her too short life to helping innocent victims of war. She was on a similar mission in Iraq when she met with her untimely death

Fallout From Schiavo Case Hits Hospice Movement

by Hilary Abramson The Terri Schiavo case -- and public reaction to it -- has troubled the nation's hospice organizations, where end-of-life decisions are commonplace

Conservative Islam, Christianity Join In Hatred Of Condoms

by Moyiga Nduru Muslims and Catholics do not see eye-to-eye on many issues. But when it comes to practices which they fear will allow the encroachment of what they see as unacceptable secular values -- abortion, gay marriage and condom use -- they quickly close ranks to form a united front

Attempts To Lift Bush Veil Of Government Secrecy

by William Fisher FOIA request focuses on a section of the Patriot Act that permits the government to exclude foreign scholars from the country if in its view they have 'used (their) position of prominence to endorse or espouse terrorist activity or to persuade others to support terrorist activity'

Book Reveals Cruelty Of Israel's Military Justice System

by Neve Gordon Israel has always been wary of rejecting the law outright, attempting to project an image of an occupation informed by the rule of law and principles of justice. 'Courting Conflict' undermines simplistic conceptions regarding the significance of the rule of law by laying bare how the judiciary institutions in the West Bank and Gaza were used to legitimize egregious human rights violations and the use of violence

Sharon Prepares Prison-State For Palestine

by Jeff Halper The euphoria generated around the 'moderate and pragmatic' Abu Mazen in this 'post-Arafat era" is intended to put him in a corner, to place expectations of concessions upon him that he cannot possibly fulfill

Bill Gates and the Corporatization of American "Public" Schools

by Philip Kovacs Gates has spent almost a billion dollars influencing American public schools, and while his donations seem laudable on some fronts, especially in an era of increased federal demands coupled with reduced federal spending, his philanthropy remains problematic. When corporate leaders shape government institutions according to their needs, we move away from democracy and toward corporatism, a relative of, and arguably a precursor to, fascism

Tsunami Women Survivors Still Abused

by Sonny Inbaraj While the transition from relief to recovery might be in full gear 100 days after the Dec. 26 tsunami ripped through the Indian Ocean coastline killing over 290,000 people, activists have revealed that governments are not paying much attention to the human rights of survivors

The Nazi Shadow Lingers

by Ira Chernus The Roman Catholic Church now has a Pope who grew up in Nazi Germany. Though he was briefly forced into the Hitler Youth, his biographer, John L. Allen, says the Pope was strongly anti-Nazi. "Having seen fascism in action," Allen wrote, "Ratzinger believes that the best antidote to political totalitarianism is ecclesiastical totalitarianism." In the U.S., in the Catholic Church, and all over the world, many people of strong faith resist totalitarian political trends, just as some did in the Nazi era. However, there is one big difference between the 1930s and the 21st century. Now, the faithful who stand up for political freedom are less likely to buy the new Pope's argument. They are more likely to stand up for religious freedom, too, because they realize one simple truth: You can't expect people to cherish freedom of conscience in the political arena if you make them check their free conscience at the church door

Cigarettes, Not Bird Flu, Is Vietnam's Big Killer

by Andrew Lam Vietnam is now paying dearly for its bad habit. Fear of the avian flu is rising in the country, but it has only killed 35 people so far. Smoking, on the other hand, kills more than 40,000 people each year, and the number is increasing, fast. The WHO warns that possibly 10 percent of Vietnam's 84 million population, or more than 8 million people, will die early of smoking

Activist's Death Leads To New Call For Iraq Body Count Disclosure

by Susan Wood Marla Ruzicka, who fought to obtain recognition and compensation for Iraqis injured in U.S. military attacks, did not live to see all her goals accomplished. But a week before a car bomb took her life and that of her Iraqi co-workers, Ruzicka wrote a toughly worded essay. In it, she contradicted senior Pentagon officials, stating that military commanders do keep track of Iraqi civilians killed by U.S. forces and that the number is important

The Juarez Women's Murders

by Kent Paterson President Fox appointed Maria Lopez Urbina special federal prosecutor and it was widely expected that Lopez Urbina would immediately launch a criminal investigation in search of the murderers. Although Lopez Urbina's office located some of the missing women alive, it has not detained any serial murder suspects or assigned many new cases to federal investigators. Reviewing old state files, the special prosecutor singled out 129 former and current PGJE officials for negligence and possible prosecution for omission of duties

Mexico's Catholic Church Fights Ads Against Gay Murders

by Diego Cevallos With their hands and feet bound, tortured or stabbed to death, the gay men and women murdered in numerous parts of the country are proof of the injustice and hatred that prevail in Mexico, which will be launching an official government campaign against homophobia. But the Catholic Church and conservative groups have loudly protested the initiative, claiming that it will promote homosexuality, which they view as an 'aberrant disease'

Genetic Crops Harm Wildlife, Study Finds

by Stephen Leahy Rather than directly affecting wildlife, the genetically engineered (GE) canola fields had an indirect impact by suppressing the growth of broad-leaved weeds that produced flowers and seeds favored by wildlife. While the GE fields did not have less weeds overall than conventional canola fields, they had more weedy grass species, which are not as beneficial to wildlife

Doctors Link Junk Food To Rise In Childhood Asthma

by Zofeen T. Ebrahim Fresh and dry fruits are out for many Pakistani children and have been replaced by cookies, colas and candies. This is worrying pediatricians who say diets rich in junk food could be the culprits behind the rapid rise of asthma and allergies in children

Lebanon Fears Return To Bad Old Days

by Marianne Stigset A fragile nation still in the process of rebuilding itself after a devastating 15-year civil war, Lebanon is at pains to unite a still fragmented sectarian society. Members of the country's 18 different religious factions tend to group together in settlement patterns which have changed little since the seventh century, sending their children to their respective private religious schools and still predominantly marrying within their own confessional group

Tsunami Ghosts Keep Tourists Away From Phuket

by Pueng Vongs Stretches of white sand here are mostly deserted in the height of the hot season, even though many coastal areas have been rebuilt. Fears of spirits are keeping Thais away. One visitor is even said to have captured the image of a spirit on a cell phone camera and circulated the photo via the Internet

Sri Lanka's Weavers Return To Work After Tsunami

by Marwaan Macan-Markar From her house that has been partially restored, after it was destroyed by the killer waves, flows the whirr and thud of a weaver at work. Beside the entrance to her home where she works with pink, light blue and yellow yarn are reminders of what the tsunami wrought -- white tents to house the homeless survivors

AIDS Spreading In Russia At Alarming Pace

by Kester Kenn Klomegah The rapid spread of HIV/AIDS has added to the burdens of Russia's public health service already reeling from the dissolution of the Soviet Union, says Vadim Pokrovsky who heads the Federal AIDS Center. Birth rates are low and average life expectancy has slumped. An average Russian male can expect to die before 60. That is far worse than European averages. The shrinking population has made the need to tackle HIV/AIDS more pressing

Remember Those Big Tsunami Pledges? Most Countries Don't

by Thalif Deen "Such generosity had never been recorded in the history of the United Nations," UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland told reporters last week. But of the $6.7 billion pledged, only about $2.5 billion have been "recorded as committed or paid up." The problem, Egeland says, is "to convert pledges into cash commitments."

Israel Fears 'Civil War' Over Gaza Pullout Plans

by Peter Hirschberg Come the withdrawal from Gaza, opponents of Sharon's plan have said they will carry out acts of protest and civil disobedience across Israel -- including the blocking of major traffic intersections -- in an effort to divert Israeli security forces away from dismantling settlements

Israel Fears 'Civil War' Over Gaza Pullout Plans

by Peter Hirschberg Come the withdrawal from Gaza, opponents of Sharon's plan have said they will carry out acts of protest and civil disobedience across Israel -- including the blocking of major traffic intersections -- in an effort to divert Israeli security forces away from dismantling settlements

Swiss Company Fined $375k For Selling Unauthorized GM Corn

by Stephen Leahy The case of a genetically engineered variety of maize that escaped detection by U.S. and European Union authorities for four years illustrates weaknesses in the safety and regulatory systems on both sides of the Atlantic, say critics

John Bolton And The Western Sahara

by Maria Carrión At his raucous confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this month, Bolton pointed to his pro-bono work on a little-known area of the world as evidence that he respects the work of the UN: Africa's last colony, the Western Sahara. Bolton assisted former Secretary of State James Baker when his then-boss was appointed UN Special Envoy to the Western Sahara and given the task of organizing a referendum for self-determination in the territory, which has been occupied by Morocco for the past 30 years. For just a minute, Bolton put this tiny territory on the Senate's map

Haiti's Political Personality Cults

by Jane Regan Haiti's political culture has relied too much on violence and is too 'Manichean', with intolerance and polarization ruling the day. Instead of dealing with Haiti's problems, political parties and their seemingly eternal leaders take shots at one another. According to the Lavalas Family statutes, Aristide is head of the party unless he dies or resigns

Delay On Bolton Vote Marks Defeat For Hawks

by Jim Lobe It came as a major surprise when Sen. George Voinovich, who had been absent for the confirmation hearings leading up to Tuesday's meeting, said he was not prepared to vote for the nominee based on what he heard about Bolton from his colleagues

EPA Program To Detect Bioterror A Flop, Warns Inspector General

The BioWatch program set up by the Bush administration to detect biowarfare agents in cities is behind the technological curve for air sampling, and is not adequately prepared to assist with consequence management plans in the event of a biological agent release, the Inspector General of the EPA said

Japan Union Blames Company Pressure On Train Operators For Crash

by Suvendrini Kakuchi While Japan still searches for the reason a packed commuter train on Monday jumped the tracks on the outskirts of the western city of Osaka and smashed into an apartment complex, labor activists said that West Japan Railway Co. bore a large part of the blame for the country's worst rail accident in 40 years

Homeland Chief Chertoff Quick To Round-Up Immigrants

by Tom Barry As the architect of the post-September 11th initiatives on the domestic war on terror, Chertoff supervised the round-up of 750 Arabs and other Muslims on suspicion of immigration violations. Treated as suspected terrorist sympathizers or material witnesses, the 'suspects' were held without bond for as long as three months, often in solitary confinement, despite having never been charged with any crime. Eventually, most were released or deported after secret tribunals

Haiti Uneasy As Elections Near

by Jane Regan For over a year now, Haitian political parties, UN officials and foreign consultants armed with plans, charts and millions upon millions of dollars have been planning for Haiti's general elections. But just seven months away from races for over 1,000 posts, elections don't yet have the feel of a certainty

Chile's Private Pensions Were Disaster For Retirees

by Manuel Riesco If two colleagues reach retirement age in Chile today, both with the same salary and the same number of years contributing to social security, the one who changed to the privatized system back in 1981 will receive less than half of the pension amount that the one who remained in the old system

Liberal Hawks Ally With Neo-Con PNAC

by Tom Barry The liberal hawks not only joined with the neo-cons to support the war and the post-war restructuring but have published their own statements in favor of what is now widely regarded as a morally bankrupt policy agenda

Marla Ruzicka, Rachel Corrie, And Revolution of Heart

by Elisa Salasin How can I help to nurture, as Dorothy Day said, a 'revolution of the heart' in my own children? This is a challenge that each of us must take on if we hope to achieve Marla Ruzicka's and Rachel Corrie's vision, if we hope to honor the lives of all victims of war, oppression, injustice

Selection Of Ratzinger Shows Regressive Wing Of Church In Charge

by Elisa Marincola Ratzinger wants to cleanse the Church of 'filthiness,' reinforce the doctrinal and moral formation of the clergy, and bring a new missionary campaign. Moves in this direction have already brought a reconciliation with the conservative Bush administration. But Cardinal Ratzinger, chief of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is unpopular with large sections of the Church for his antimodernist positions and for methodically persecuting and silencing dissenters

Evangelist James Kennedy Bids To Lead Culture War

by Bill Berkowitz In all the hullabaloo raized by the cable news coverage of the Terri Schiavo case and the so-called miracle of Ashley Smith, a Georgia woman freed by her kidnapper after she read him passages from a bestselling Christian self-help book, few are talking about the elephant in the room -- the Christian right's vision of cultural transformation in the United States

Boycott Of LA Times Shows Advertising's Power Over Media

by Christian Christensen What is interesting about the volume of coverage devoted to the GM-LAT story is that it serves as an excellent reminder of how rarely we see the inverse: stories on how commercial media companies and marketers get along just fine and make billions in profits as a result. GM has actually done all of us a huge favor by exposing a more accurate version of the relationship between commercial media and their corporate sponsors

Winners And Losers On Earth Day 2005

The greens are getting pounded politically, losing almost every national battle they fight including the new energy bill, and today they can't even beat George Bush at the PR game on the 35th anniversary of Earth Day

Pope Didn't Buy Bush's Iraq Scam

by Robert Scheer The Bush administration was concerned enough with the pope's stance that a crack team of Catholic neo-conservative ideologues was sent to lobby his holiness. In February 2003, hawkish columnist Michael Novak was dispatched to a Rome meeting with Vatican officials arranged by the State Department to explain why the invasion of Iraq would be a 'just war' of self-defense. Novak warned Vatican officials that there was no time for peaceful initiatives because Saddam Hussein had empowered Iraqi scientists 'to breed huge destruction in the United States and Europe'

Bush Threw Us A 'Curveball'

by Robert Scheer Unfortunately for the American people, we were to an embarrassing extent persuaded to go to war based on the fantasies of this known liar, the main source of the administration's claim that Saddam Hussein had a functioning biological weapons program. It was Curveball, an Iraqi chemical engineer who defected, who was the inspiration for then-Secretary of State Colin Powell's statements before the United Nations that the U.S. knew Iraq possessed mobile bio-weapons labs

A Con Job By Pakistan's Pal, George Bush

by Robert Scheer Pakistan's ruling generals could be excused for believing that Washington is not seriously concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons. How else to explain invading a country -- Iraq -- that didn't possess nukes, didn't sell nuclear technology to unstable nations and didn't maintain an unholy alliance with Al Qaeda -- and then turning around and giving the plum prizes of U.S. military ingenuity to the country that did?

What Price Empire?

by Robert Scheer Welcome to late-era Rome, where mindless militaristic expansion is considered patriotic and where demagogues who recklessly waste taxes and young lives in empire-building are deemed valorous. Wolfowitz, for example, has been rewarded for his ignorance and arrogance with the top job at the World Bank

GOP Gays And The 'Finkelstein Phenomenon'

by Robert Scheer Arthur Finkelstein, for example, is an enormously effective right-wing GOP political operative who revealed recently that in December he took advantage of the groundbreaking and much-maligned Massachusetts law to marry his longtime partner. When asked why, he cited 'visitation rights, healthcare benefits and other human relationship contracts'

GOP Courting Black Evangelicals

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson The spectacular emergence of the black evangelical as a potent political force has been a boon to the GOP and a nightmare for Democrats. The great untold story of Campaign 2004 was that black evangelicals helped tip Ohio and the White House to Bush. If Republicans play their anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion cards right, they'll get even more black evangelical votes in the 2006 elections

EPA Nominee Drops Controversial Pesticide Study On Children

A study planned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would pay parents to test their childrens' reaction to pesticides nearly proved to be an insurmountable stumbling block for the nominee to the agency's top post

With John Paul Gone, Hope For A Vatican II Renaissance

by Elisa Marincola Disputes over the authority of the Pope are as old as the Church itself; and they are likely to rise again with the appointment of a new Pope. At the heart of this new debate are two models: the first Vatican Council, and Vatican Council II

U.S. Should Be Sympathetic To China's Anti-Japan Protests

by Philip J. Cunningham Do Americans, who sacrificed so many of their "greatest generation" to defeat Japanese fascism really want to live in a world where the massacre of America's steadfast allies in Nanking is reduced to a non-event? Where Pearl Harbor is repainted as a justified attack? Is the United States ready to live in a world where the war against Japan was but an example of white man's racism?

Annan's Blueprint For UN Reform Shows U.S. Pressure

by Thalif Deen 'Key aspects of the report reflect UN efforts to comply with U.S. pressures,' says Phyllis Bennis, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies. She told IPS there is obviously some focus on recent U.S. attacks on the United Nations for allegations of misconduct, including calls for a large-scale buy-out of UN staff

Record Number of Injuries, Fatalities For U.S. Women Soldiers In Iraq

by Molly M. Ginty The death and injury toll for female soldiers in the current conflicts shatters previous records for women serving in positions that are also shared by men. In the Gulf War -- the first major conflict where women soldiers served alongside male soldiers -- 216,000 women were enlisted and 16 were killed. In Iraq and Afghanistan, only 17,000 female soldiers are enlisted with 33 deaths

Pentagon Audits Shows $212 Million Overcharge By Halliburton

by William Fisher The new overcharges bring to two billion dollars, or 42 percent of the contract amounts, the grand total of questionable bills from Halliburton

Russia Crackdown On Beer

by Kester Kenn Klomegah According to official figures, there are about five million alcoholics, and a fifth of the population regularly takes beer or other alcoholic drinks. Most addiction specialists say the real figure is closer to twice that. About 40,000 people die from alcohol abuse every year, speeding up the decline in population. The average life expectancy for a Russian male is about 59, compared with 73.4 in the United States

Few U.S. War Resisters Heading For Canada

by Paul Weinberg Toronto lawyer Jeffrey House, says there are about eight young soldiers in similar circumstances to Jeremy Hinzman who have deserted the from U.S. military and sought legal refugee status in Canada. He estimates that there may be about 100 U.S. deserters in this country. The Toronto lawyer suggests that other U.S. military deserters headed south of the border

John Bolton Plays Nice At Senate Hearing

by William Fisher One of the more dramatic moments came when Sen. Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, played a three-minute tape of the speech in which Bolton made his disparaging statement about the United Nations Secretariat building in New York, and also said: 'There is no United Nations'

Annan Faces UN Staff To Boost Morale

by Thalif Deen After facing a barrage of criticism -- from neo-conservatives and right-wing newspapers in the United States -- Annan decided to address staff members in an attempt to boost sagging morale. "I know it has cast a shadow over all of us and you have no idea what a personal pain it has been for me as secretary-general and as a father having to deal with the situation," he said.

Don't Credit Bush For Lebanon's Ouster Of Syrian Forces

by Stephen Zunes Many of the protesters not only opposed Syrian intervention, but opposed French, Israeli, and American intervention as well

Dust Bowl Conditions Across Asia

by Franz Schurmann The first yellow dust storm this year struck both Koreas on March 17. The year's first sandstorm struck Beijing in the form of a windy cold front and a yellow, dusty haze coming from the Mongolian steppe. Former Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji predicted that within two or three decades the people of Beijing will have no choice but to abandon their capital. The sand dunes, he noted, are advancing towards Beijing by 1.3 miles plus every year

Only Fraction Of Money Pledged To Haiti Actually Paid

by Marcela Valente In July of last year, representatives of the UN, the World Bank, the United States, Canada and the European Union met in Washington for a conference of donors and approved a budget for $1.37 billion in aid for Haiti. Valdes says that only a fifth of the money promised, some $250 million, has been handed over

Fall Of Another Post-Soviet Regime Shocks Central Asia

by Kester Kenn Klomegah The fall of the government in the former Soviet republic Kyrghyzstan could shake up authoritarian regimes in Belarus, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan

U.S. Turns Historic Fort Near Mexico Border Into Mercenary School

by Pratap Chatterjee In 2003, just 237 interrogators graduated from the United States Army Intelligence Center, headquartered at the fort. Today, because of the war on terrorism, there are plans to quadruple the number of qualified interrogators to 1,000 a year by 2006 and the number of soldiers trained in basic intelligence skills to 7,000

Ratzinger Crushed Latin Church - Will He Listen As Pope?

by Mary Jo McConahay Pope Benedict XVI announced his papacy in a spirit of humility, calling himself an 'insufficient instrument.' In the 1980s, however, he led Catholic Church efforts to quell liberation theology, which many priests embraced after watching their parishioners' struggles for survival

As Soy Farming Booms, Argentina's Forests Vanish

by Marcela Valente Argentina is experiencing the most intense deforestation in its history due to the replacement of forests with soy plantations

Iraq's New Government First Order Of Business: How To Deal With U.S. Military

by Aaron Glantz One of the first orders of business for the new Iraqi government under Kurdish President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, a Shi'ite Islamist, will be to strike a deal with the United States military over the terms of the 150,000-troop-strong U.S. military presence

GM Corn Sent To Europe Leads To Antibiotic Resistance

European officials were alarmed to learn that the unauthorized corn carries a gene that confers resistance to a widely used antibiotic

Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough With Palm-Sized Device

by Tom Barry The inventors of the device emphasize that it cannot generate power because it does not support a self-sustaining thermonuclear reaction. They anticipate that their 'simple palm-sized neutron generator' will be used to power small spacecraft or zap cancerous tumors

Vietnamese Girls Sold To Chinese Men For "Instant Marriages"

by Tran Dinh Thanh Lam News of the sale of young Vietnamese girls to single men in neighboring China seeking wives and the public exhibition of Vietnamese brides for 'instant marriage' at a recent fair in Singapore have shocked the public here

Canada Offers Hard-Core Junkies Free Heroin In Study

by Am Johal The site location is in Vancouver's downtown eastside neighborhood, not far from where the Olympic Games will take place in 2010. It is located near the existing health board-managed safe injection site where users bring in their own drugs from the street. The purity of heroin available on the street has been an issue in the past and was deemed to be a contributing factor in many overdose deaths

From The Vatican To Neverland

by Tom Turnipseed In a startling rebuke to elemental principles of justice Pope John Paul II named Cardinal Law as the archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica in the holy city of Rome on May 27, 2004. Living in a classical Roman apartment on a $12,000 monthly stipend, Cardinal Law was selected for the honor of celebrating mass on one of the nine days of mourning for Pope John Paul II and will now join the other Cardinals in choosing the next Pope

Juarez Murders Just Tip Of Iceberg

by Adrian Reyes A Mexican congressional commission is drawing up a nationwide map of murders of women, which totalled 625 in just four of the country's 31 states last year alone -- almost double the number recorded since 1993 in Ciudad Juarez, which has gained international notoriety over the past decade

Air America Afloat After Sink Or Swim Birth

by Steve Young Things have changed in the year since the traumatic launch. Most of the original investors have uninvested though most of the talent remains. Air America broadcast outlets have sprung up all over the country and the original bounced-check debacles that closed stations in Chicago and Los Angeles a year ago have given way to renewed ventures

Cheney's Hostile Takeover Of World Bank

by Jim Vallette Dick Cheney, a long-time beneficiary of World Bank largess, has moved to take ownership of the world's development coffers through his man, Wolfowitz. For his part, Wolfowitz will have a chance to extend his Iraq reconstruction theories to the global level. These concepts mostly involve U.S. control over energy resources. While the Bank, over which the U.S. holds de facto veto power, has done a lot for the nation's oil interests over the years, his nomination is a clear signal that the administration craves more

Wiretaps Up Sharply As Congress Debates Patriot Act Renewal

by Bill Fisher Disclosure of a 75 percent increase in secret wiretaps and "sneak and peek" searches since 2000 is likely to provide ammunition for civil liberties groups determined to modify the USA Patriot Act when Congress begins two months of debate on the law

TB And AIDS An Increasingly Toxic Mix

by Isaac Baker 'When people die in a plane crash or a tsunami or another major disaster with a fixed place and time, these tragedies register more intensely on the global scene. But when every day 5,000 people die in villages and shanty towns all over the world from a curable disease, there is only silence'

Bush's New "Axis Of Evil" -- Castro And Chavez

by Jim Lobe While President Bush played nice with Mexican President Vicente Fox at the North American Summit in Texas, U.S. media attention was focused more on Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld's efforts to sound the alarm against Latin American 'troublemakers' in his swing through the region

The War For The UN

by Stephen Zunes The truth is, the neo-cons wish to destroy the United Nations in any meaningful form, though they'd probably settle for the British monarchy model of institutional problem solving: gut it of all power, but leave the building for tourists to visit. A sort of neutron bomb of international governance

ChevronTexaco CEO Closes Investor's Meeting To Silence Enviro

ChevronTexaco CEO David O'Reilly today reported record oil profits to stockholders at the company's annual general meeting and then abruptly shut off the microphone and adjourned the meeting in the middle of a presentation. He cut off a speech by Atossa Soltani, the executive director of Amazon Watch, a nonprofit group that works with Ecuadorian communities who claim their lands and health were damaged by Texaco oil operations

Australia To Shoot Wild Camels From Helicopters

Animal welfare groups, including the RSPCA, were upset by the idea of shooting camels from the air because they may not be killed outright. Hugh Wirth, president RSPCA Australia said, 'You cannot cleanly kill, instantly kill, humanely kill a moving animal from a moving platform.' Turner did not say how many camels would be killed from the air, but he said there are as many as 60,000 feral camels near ranch lands

Pentagon Saw Marla Ruzicka As Ally

by Norman Solomon In the United States, the mainstream news coverage of Marla Ruzicka would not have been so favorable if she had been a vocal opponent of the U.S. military occupation during the past two years. It was not only Ruzicka's warmth and charm that endeared her to American generals in Baghdad and policymakers in Washington. It was also the reality that her work came to be understood as pragmatically helpful to the war effort

The Media's Pope Problem

by Norman Solomon For right-wing religious activists, Ratzinger has been a Godsend. And now that he's running a church with 1.l billion members, the odds are excellent that he will proceed to gladden the hearts of misogynists, homophobes, and anti-left crusaders around the world. Contrary to the predictable media spin since Tuesday about the uncertainty of his papal course, everything we know about Ratzinger's extensive record during the last quarter-century tells us that he is a reactionary zealot who is determined to shove much of the world's history of progressive social change into reverse

A Quarterly Report From Bush-Cheney Media Enterprises

by Norman Solomon On cable television, satisfactory trends continue. At MSNBC the process of imitating Fox News Channel is apparently secure. Other good news: The benign junk quotient on prime-time CNN continues to rise, with a welcome boost from the Michael Jackson trial. Overall, the ambient TV trajectory is edging toward our target: No journalism is good journalism

When The Advertiser - Media Marriage Goes Sour

by Norman Solomon The most insidious instances of advertiser pressure are the ones we never hear about -- implemented with winks and nods or the simple tacit understanding that the media business is, after all, a business. In the mysterious case of why mainstream news outlets aren't more aggressive in challenging corporate power large and small, Sherlock Holmes would probably conclude that the most profound clues are to be found when the media dogs don't bark

Another Cost Of War: Closed Libraries

by Norman Solomon Through the night's darkness, on an outer wall of the Cesar Chavez Library, a projection showed the mounting revenues from Salinas taxpayers that have helped to pay for the war in Iraq -- already more than $80 million. The odometer image kept spinning while authors read into the night as part of the protest against the planned closure of the public libraries in a city that John Steinbeck once called home

Tax Activist Movement Demands Big Business Pay Fair Share

by Lucy Komisar Concern over the fate of Social Security is casting light on corporate tax evasion. A new global movement is tracking the increasing number of offshore tax shelters and pressuring governments to make multinationals pay up

UAE Latest Gulf Nation To Say "Enough"

by Meena S Janardhan Many Arabs are fed up and want democracy and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's announcement that his country is ready to hold its first-ever secret, multiparty presidential elections later this year indicates that the winds of change may be blowing through the Middle East

Chavez Seizes Large Venezuela Ranch Under Land Reform

by Bob Burton The Venezuelan government announced that parts of a British-owned cattle ranch and an ecotourism/ranch that is famous among birdwatchers will be seized by the government under its agrarian reform program

Over $1 Billion Needed To Contain Ghosts Of Chernobyl

by Zoltan Dujisin Ukraine had to outgrow two separate Chernobyl traumas: the first following the explosion, the second when mass media gave a true account of its consequences. It is estimated that around six million people have been affected in some manner. Even a close estimate of the number of deaths will probably never be reached

Pentagon Seeks To Drop Geneva Rules On Prisoners

by William Fisher If the draft memorandum is approved, it will formalize 'enemy combatant' as a class of prisoner that the Bush administration says has no protections under the Geneva Conventions. There are no categories of prisoners unprotected by one or another of the Geneva Convention

Exxon, Free-Trade Skeptics Still Trying To Undermine Kyoto Treaty

by Bob Burton Organizer of the seminar Alan Oxley, chairman of the pro-free trade Australian APEC Study Center at Monash University in Melbourne, described the skeptics' seminar as a 'reality check' on last week's announcement by Australian state governments that they would bypass the national government and their own national system to regulate and trade greenhouse gas emissions Oxley is now seeking to woo developing countries as potential allies in an effort to ensure the Kyoto Treaty lapses at the end of the first implementation period in 2012

Is Bush's Call For Democracy Helping Islamist Recruiters?

by Jalal Ghazi Many predicted that the war in Iraq would so inflame Arabs and Muslims that Al Qaeda and other extremist groups would enjoy a rise in influence. Now, many Arab observers are saying it is not George Bush's military approach to the Middle East that is making fundamentalist influence grow -- it is his call for the democratization of Arab regimes

China Media Blackout Of Anti-Japan Protests In Beijing

by Antoaneta Bezlova In a country where little public expression of political sentiment is tolerated, the magnitude and continuity of anti-Japan marches were seen by many as indication of real antipathy at the top towards Japan's emerging military profile in the region and its ambitions for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council

Death, Depression, Prozac

by Alexander Cockburn How many times, amid the carnage of such homicidal sprees, do investigators find a prescription for antidepressants at the murder scene? Luvox at Columbine, Prozac at Louisville, Ky., where Joseph Wesbecker killed nine, including himself. You'll find many such stories in the past 15 years

A Suicide In Kerala

by Alexander Cockburn Thousands and thousands of farmers across India have committed suicide across the last decade, victims of the neo-liberal 'reforms' that have seared the world's poor from the early Nineties forward

Marla Ruzicka And Rachel Corrie

by Alexander Cockburn Any sourness in my soul had to do with a contrast. Almost exactly two years earlier, on March 16, 2003, another brave young woman in a foreign land lost her life, not to a suicide bomber, but under the blade of a 60-ton bulldozer made in America by the Caterpillar company, specifically for house demolitions. It was driven by an Israeli soldier who surely saw Rachel Corrie, clearly visible in her fluorescent orange jacket and rolled the bulldozer blade right over her

Coca-Cola Plant Brings Misery To India

by Alexander Cockburn The whole process would play well on 'The Simpsons.' It has a ghastly symmetry to it. When the plant was running at full tilt, 85 truckloads rolled out of the plant gates, each load consisting of 550 to 600 cases, 24 bottles to the case, all containing Plachimada's prime asset, water, now enhanced in cash value by Coca-Cola's infusions of its syrups

The City Of Murder

by Diego Cevallos The discovery of two raped and strangled women's corpses in just one week would send shock waves throughout most cities. But in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, this fate has befallen so many women in the last 11 years that such a discovery is hardly newsworthy anymore

I Want To Be On The Cover Of TIME

by Steve Young High Lordess of Loud, Ann Coulter, makes the cover of TIME, and isn't it just like the whiny Democrats to start... whining. These clueless dweebs just don't get it; Ann's bilious remarks aren't vicious slanders and outrageous attacks -- they're only witty remarks and clever japes. As her bud, Miguel Estrada says, 'people miss her humor and satire and take her way too literally'

Talkers Mum On Real Obscenity: How Repubs Screwed The Vets

by Steve Young The Lords of Loud, who have collaborated with this administration, bombastically shilling for the Iraqi invasion, sending our young men and women into war, and then refusing to give appropriate health services to our disabled veterans haven't raised a vocal cord in protest

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