default.html Issue 138
Table of Contents

America Gets Glimpse Of Its Own "Third World"

by Jim Lobe What Katrina laid bare to the world, as well as to U.S. viewers who watched the scenes of U.S. citizens in desperate need of basic necessities, is that the United States -- despite its status as the world's sole superpower and global hegemon -- has a great deal in common with the Third World, and increasingly so

Katrina Catches Bush War Machine Unprepared

by Jim Lobe New Orleans' largest-circulation newspaper, The Times-Picayune, had consistently reported over the past several years that the administration had slashed tens of million dollars for hurricane- and flood-control projects, and, in nine articles, had related the cuts explicitly to the unanticipated costs of the Iraq War

Loss Of Wetlands Left Gulf Coast Vulnerable

by Stephen Leahy Millions of tons of sediment from the river no longer reaches the delta to replenish the wetlands. Meanwhile, oil and gas companies have dug channels through the wetlands and sucked oil from underneath, causing the land to sink and saltwater to intrude, killing the vegetation. More than 1.3 million acres of coastal wetlands have been lost

Global Warming Tied To More Intense Hurricanes

by Stephen Leahy According to landmark study the warmer ocean is pumping up the destructive power of hurricanes and typhoons. The global increase in ocean temperature has resulted in a doubling of the destructive power of North Atlantic hurricanes, Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology wrote in July in the journal Nature

Looting New Orleans

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson Two things happened in one day that tell much about the abysmal failure of the Bush administration to get a handle on poverty in America. The first was the tragic and disgraceful images of hordes of New Orleans residents scurrying down the city's hurricane-ravaged streets with their arms loaded with food, clothes, appliances, and in some cases guns that they looted from stores and shops. The second was a Census Bureau report released the same day, which found that the number of poor Americans has leaped even higher since Bush took office in 2000

Afghanistan Women Candidates Face Attacks

by Freshta Jalalzai and Ron Synovitz Many of the 328 women competing for seats in the lower house of Afghanistan's national parliament have faced death threats from gunmen who want to deny women any role in the country's political system

Koizumi Wins Mandate For Japan Reforms

by Edwin Karmiol Besides the privatization issue, the prime minister will also have to attend to pressing diplomatic tasks, starting with hostility from China over what are seen as attempts to whitewash Japan's wartime record. Some Japanese citizens too are worried about Koizumi's controversial visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, and which may have exacerbated worsening relations with China, and also South Korea

Know When To Fold 'Em

by Steve Young You said that this week there has been a campaign to take your comments out of context, totally reversing your meaning. Have you ever listened to your station? I know not many do. But how in the world can you be upset with anyone taking your remarks out of context to reverse your meaning? You guys at Salem have made it a cottage industry

President Moses

by Steve Young The major point of our president's 'New Orleans was more than a party-hearty place to me' speech was that America would spend whatever it takes to bring New Orleans back to life. No, he'd make it better than it had ever been, better than the almighty God had made it Himself. A Newer Orleans, improved

Katrina A Future Vision

by Bill McKibben It is currently pro forma for politicians to announce that it will be rebuilt, and doubtless it will be. Once. But if hurricanes like Katrina go from once-in-a-century storms to once-in-a-decade-or-two storms, how many times are you going to rebuild it? Even in America there's not that kind of money

Always The People Left Behind

by Michael Winship For the first days of the New Orleans Katrina story, the elephant in the room was the basic truth that almost all of those abandoned in the floodwaters were poor men, women and children of color

"If You Don't Have Money You Stay"

by Dorothy Gaines People are talking about this as a race issue now. I can't say it's a race issue -- you do have whites mixed in with it. It's a class issue. It's a poor issue

"Armed And Angry"

by Dorothy Gaines For five days, helicopters are flying overhead, but none of them are dropping water or food down for anyone. They fly by, using loudspeakers saying that anyone found looting or stealing will be arrested, and those are the helicopters that are followed by gunshots

FEMA Endorses Pat Robertson Controversial Charity

by Jim Lobe Operation Blessing, which has been investigated for diverting aid to Robertson's African mining interests and political contributions, was listed just after the American Red Cross and America's Second Harvest, a national coalition of food banks for poor people. It was ahead of much larger mainstream church and secular relief organizations, such as Church World Service and Catholic Charities USA

Bush Riding Out The Storm - So Far

by William Fisher The Bush administration may have found some comfort in Monday's ABC/Washington Post poll, which found that while U.S. citizens are broadly critical of government preparedness for the disaster, far fewer blame Bush personally, and public anger about the response is less widespread than some critics would suggest

Ethnic Victims Invisible To Media

by Pacific News Services Although images of Katrina's hardest-hit victims have been gracing the covers of newspapers and television sets across the country, images of mostly foreign-born Latino New Orleans residents who were also caught in the grips of the storm have been scant. Local, federal and consular authorities are having trouble locating Latino victims because many are undocumented

China Making Oil Deals With Blacklisted Nations

by Antoaneta Bezlova China's strategy of tapping new oil reserves in some countries that the United States has blacklisted as troublesome is meeting increasing political resistance from Washington

Program To Teach Airplane Hijack Defense A Failure: GAO

by William Fisher TSA lacks written procedures for reviewing training programs, assessing the quality of classroom instruction and ensuring that airlines follow up with their employees

Iraq Contractors Snap Up No-Bid Hurricane Recovery Deals

by Pratap Chatterjee In Iraq, limited accountability, corruption, massive cost overruns and devastating failures fed the chaotic mess that has followed the 2003 fall of Baghdad. Nonetheless, the largest Katrina contracts have been won by many of the same politically connected companies that oversaw that failed reconstruction

UN Summit Ends - No Progress, But Lots Of Posturing

by Thalif Deen Saradha Iyer of the Malaysia-based Third World Network says that the outcome document adopted by world leaders on Friday was 'cleverly crafted' but with 'watered-down language' that was 'agreed or imposed upon the majority of member states.' While this has avoided a failure of historic proportions, Iyer told IPS, 'It is clear that the United Nations shows signs of degenerating into the biggest talk -- but not act -- shop in the world.'

Sinai Peninsula Becomes Nexus For Criminals, Terrorists

by Adam Morrow Emad Gad, an expert on Israeli affairs at the state-run Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, says some areas of the Peninsula that remain outside police control have become nexuses of anti-state activity. 'Now we're seeing cooperation between civil criminals -- like drug smugglers, who have modern arms -- and terrorists motivated by ideology'

Death Squads In Honduras, Guatemala Killing Youth Gang Suspects

by Manuel Bermudez Human rights organizations say the increased repression is generating greater violence, and is pushing the youth gangs to develop more complex structures as a survival strategy. Some gang leaders have reportedly forged new links with the world of drug trafficking and organized crime, in search of protection from the stepped-up police action

The Big Greasy

Four major oil spills and dozens of smaller ones have released at least 7.2 million gallons of oil into Louisiana waters as a result of Hurricane Katrina, U.S. Coast Guard figures show. Most of that oil has gone into the Mississippi River and downstream into the Gulf of Mexico

Repub Plans To Gut Endangered Species Act Leaked

The Pombo bill would allow destructive projects to "proceed by default," the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) says. Pombo has long stood for the rights of property owners, and this bill requires the federal government to pay private landowners for the loss of commercial value when an action such as timber harvest or development

As Afghan War Heats Up, Canada Debates Peace Keeping Role

by Paul Weinberg In hooking up with the U.S.-led campaign of counterinsurgency against the Taliban and other resistance forces in the volatile Kandahar region of Afghanistan, Canadian soldiers are abandoning their traditional mandate of peace-building in troubled parts of the world, says a former diplomat

Roberts Leaves Senators On Both Sides Guessing

by William Fisher After three days of hearings on the confirmation of Judge John G. Roberts to be the seventeenth Chief Justice of the United States, what the public has learned is that the nominee appears to be as much Talmudic scholar as jurist. In the relatively few questions he did not duck altogether by saying they related to issues likely to come before the Court, or by claiming the views he wrote were those of the administrations he has worked for in the past, Roberts responded even to most specific questions with an 'on the one hand, on the other hand' approach

Iraq Waterways Choked With Deadly Pollution

by Sahar al-Haideri Iraq's Ministry of Health estimates that 250 to 300 metric tons of garbage are dumped every day into rivers and canals across the country. A new study by researchers at the University of Baghdad says hospitals are the worst offenders, with many of them dumping their trash -- which often includes medical waste -- into the waterways

China Seeks To Soothe U.S. Fears Over Its Growing Clout

by Antoaneta Bezlova In recent days, dignitaries and senior Chinese politicians have taken turns emphasizing that China's spectacular rise on the world stage should not be regarded as an economic or military threat, but as an enormous opportunity amid a wave of anti-China sentiments in Washington. U.S. politicians and business leaders are blaming China for a host of ills, including the deteriorating trade deficit, the declining textiles industry, and growing joblessness in parts of the country

Afghan Elections May Be Less Than Free

by Jim Lobe The presence on the ballot of a number of notorious warlords and their close associates, as well as the continuing threat posed by the Taliban insurgency, which has become increasingly aggressive since last spring, leads a list of concerns about the vote and its effectiveness in moving the country toward more democratic rule. The election results, it is feared, could not only legitimize the power of warlords and militia leaders, but also increase ethnic and sectarian tensions within the country

Mexico's Troops Bring Aid To Gulf Victims

by Diego Cevallos The Mexican storm relief convoy was to cross into the United States late Wednesday. A navy ship was sent as well. The vehicles are carrying a total of 550 engineers, doctors, nurses, dentists, cooks, communications experts and rescue workers. The aid includes some 165 tons of food, water and medicines, blankets, water treatment plants, mobile kitchens, all-terrain and amphibious vehicles, ambulances, rescue boats and helicopters

Toll Of Katrina's Toxic Sludge Unknown

by Stephen Leahy As polluted floodwaters are pumped from the devastated city of New Orleans, the true environmental impact of Hurricane Katrina -- including oil spills, chemical leaks and toxic waste -- will remain unknown for months

Sorry, Tom DeLay -- Ronnie Earle's No "Partisan Fanatic"

by Molly Ivins For the one-zillionth time, of the 15 cases Ronnie Earle has brought against politicians over the years, 12 of them were against Democrats. Earle was so aggressive in going after corrupt Democrats, the Republicans never even put up a candidate against him all during the '80s. Partisan is not a word anyone can honestly use about Ronnie Earle

Nothing Wrong With Blaming Bush For New Orleans Flooding

by Molly Ivins Had a storm the size of Katrina just had the grace to hold off for a while, it's quite likely no one would even remember that in June, Bush took his little ax and chopped $71.2 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent reduction. As was reported in New Orleans CityBusiness at the time, that meant 'major hurricane and flood projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now'

Bush's Spiteful Appointments

by Molly Ivins So here are all the liberals going into a giant snit just because George W. Bush appointed a veterinarian to head the women's health section of the Food and Drug Administration. For Pete's sake, you whiners, the only reason he chose the vet is because Michael Brown wasn't available

Project Censored Holds Media Feet To The Fire

by Molly Ivins Gene Roberts, a great news editor, says we tend to miss the stories that seep and creep, the ones whose effects are cumulative, not abrupt. This administration has drastically changed the rules on Freedom of Information Act requests; has changed laws that restrict public access to federal records, mostly by expanding the national security classification; operates in secret under the Patriot Act; and consistently refuses to provide information to Congress and the Government Accountability Office. The cumulative total effect is horrifying

Katrina Will End Up Funding Texas Schools

by Molly Ivins Texas is standing right in the path of some beneficial fallout from Hurricane Katrina. See, you and the federal government will pay Texas to educate the schoolchildren of Louisiana, which will be real handy for us on account of we don't have the money to educate the schoolchildren of Texas. We'll just take a nice, generous payoff from y'all, meld it in to our underfunded schools and -- viola! -- education all 'round

Katrina Cleanup And The Bush Playbook

by Molly Ivins Some of you may have heard me observe a time or two -- going back to when George W. was still governor of Texas -- that the trouble with the guy is that while he is good at politics, he stinks at governance. It bores him, he's not interested, he thinks government is bad to begin with and everything would be done better if it were contracted out to corporations

Blaming The Locals, Both Politicos And Poor

by Molly Ivins According to The New York Times, Karl Rove and Dan Bartlett, White House communications director, began a campaign this weekend to blame local and state officials. The 'woefully inadequate response,' said 'sources close to the White House,' was the fault of 'bureaucratic obstacles from state and local officials.' The bottom line is they're playing the race card

Where Was The Louisiana Guard? Oh, Right - Iraq

by Norman Solomon Newscasts were reporting that in a city whose desperate state is akin to Dacca in Bangladesh a few years ago, there were precisely seven Coast Guard helicopters in operation. Where are the others? Presumably strafing Iraqi citizens on the roads outside Baghdad and Fallujah. As the war's unpopularity soars, there will be millions asking why the National Guard is in Iraq instead of helping the afflicted along the Gulf in the first crucial hours

Labor Revolt, Anyone?

by Molly Ivins How could you be part of labor when you don't wear a hardhat or carry a lunch bucket? When you live in a suburb and own a bass boat, as well as an SUV? When you wear a suit and tie or high heels to work? When you're management, for pity's sake? Because that's what American labor looks like now -- just like you

Mexico Drug Use Soars

by Diego Cevallos Statistics from the attorney general's office show that small-scale drug sales grew more than 700 percent between 2001 and 2004. So far this year, over 5,000 people have been arrested for drug dealing in the city

The Hammer Falls

by Jim Lobe After a year of dismissing as 'politically motivated' charges that he had repeatedly violated Congressional ethics rules, the troubles of Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay dramatically escalated Wednesday when he was forced to temporarily resign his post after being indicted by a Texas grand jury for his role in helping the Republican Party win control of that state's legislature in the 2002 elections

World Bank, IMF Cancel $40 In Debt From Poorest Nations

by Shirin The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have agreed to cancel $40 billion in debts owed by 18 of world's poorest countries to them and to the African Development Bank. The countries whose debt will be erased are Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia

Bush Patronage Scandals Dwarf Tammany Hall

by Joe Conason Led by George W. Bush, today's conservatives have elevated political patronage from a universal and tolerable peccadillo to a public menace. So intent are they on providing lucrative, comfortable federal jobs to the members of their own gang that they have come to resemble the old clubhouse Democrats of Tammany Hall. (The difference is that Tammany, for all its corruption, provided employment and benefits to the poor, while the Bush White House reserves its patronage for the well-fed and well-heeled.) The result is incompetence slicked over with arrogance and inexperience guided by ideology

Halliburton Whistleblower Demoted By Army Corps

by William Fisher A senior contracting officer for the Army Corps of Engineers who blew the whistle on a multibillion dollar, no-bid contract with the Halliburton company for work in Iraq has been demoted

Baghdad On The Bayou

by Molly Ivins Already, Homeland Security is flooding what's left of New Orleans with mercenaries from the same private security contractors florishing in Iraq. The Nation reports companies like DynCorp, Intercon Security, American Security Group, Blackwater, Wackenhut and an Israeli company called Instinctive Shooting International are all in New Orleans

What Else Is In New Orleans' Toxic Waters

Broken sewers, flooded industrial plants and dead bodies are all likely to blame for poisoning the waters being drained from New Orleans. But the water -- and the muck it is leaving behind -- also owes its contamination to a source as mundane as it is unexpected: Toxins common in most urban environments that made their way en masse into the water as it stagnated atop the city

Scenes Of Iraq Anarchy: British Bust Buddies Out Of Jail

by Linda S. Heard What if Iraqis had stormed Abu Ghraib to free the prisoners there from sexual abuse, torture, beatings and assaults on their religious beliefs? If they had succeeded bashing down the wall of that jail and plucking their friends from their cells, would that cavalry have been termed 'rescuers' or 'terrorists?'

Bush Promises To Investigate His Cronies

by Joe Conason If the president were to lead an investigation of what went wrong at FEMA over the past four years, to whom would he direct the appropriate questions about the appointments of Allbaugh and Brown? Who would he question about the decision to drastically reduce funding for federal levee maintenance and repair? Who would he interrogate concerning the warnings his administration received from FEMA four years ago, and the notification from the National Hurricane Center in the days before Katrina struck?

Roberts Dodges Key Questions In Senate Hearings

by William Fisher Senators continued their judicial minuet with Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee John G. Roberts, with the witness refusing to answer questions about abortion, but expressing the view that privacy is a Constitutional right and asserting support for most of the court's landmark civil rights decisions

Is Iraq's Constitution Closed, Or Not?

by Mohammed Amin Abdulqadir U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad acknowledged at a press conference this week that further changes are being considered to accommodate Sunnis. Khalilzad's remarks shocked Shias and Kurds who had thought the constitution file was closed

4th Anniversary Of Neo-Con's World War IV Manifesto

by Jim Lobe It was four years ago today that a little-known group called the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) published an open letter to President George W. Bush advising him on how precisely he should carry out his brand-new 'war on terrorism'

Waiting For Huey

by Franz Schurmann Huey P. Long and Huey P. Newton were both highly learned men despite the poverty that each grew up in, and also had a flair for the strategies and maneuverings of politics. If Long had lived to see the 1940 presidential race, he would have had a good chance of winning. Like Long in Louisiana, Newton had grand designs for Oakland. With Oakland's black population at 40 percent, he kept saying that blacks are not exploited, but expendable. The result was that a good portion of that 40 percent went to the polling booths. The country was shocked to see the utter wretchedness and poverty that was made visible by Katrina. But it was that kind of despair and deprivation that once spawned the two Hueys. Now the country waits to see if a leader who is sui generis like them will emerge from the debris

After 2 Year Battle, India Orders Coca-Cola Plant Shutdown

by D. Rajeev In the end it was the 'generosity' of Coca-Cola in distributing cadmium-laden waste sludge as 'free fertilizer' to the tribal Natives who live near the beverage giant's bottling plant in this remote Kerala village that proved to be its undoing

GOP Silence On Bennett's Racial Remarks Speaks Volumes

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson The reaction was swift and angry to former Reagan honcho William Bennett's oddball racist crack that aborting black babies could reduce crime. The problem, though, was that those who instantly denounced Bennett were all Democrats. Even as calls were made for an apology or for Bennett to be fired from his syndicated national radio show, neither President Bush nor any other top GOP leader said a mumbling word about Bennett. Eventually the White House issued a weak statement calling Bennett's comments "inappropriate."

UN Summit May Be Political Fiasco

+ by Thalif Deen In a joint statement early this week, three international NGOs, namely Human Rights Watch, Oxfam International and Amnesty International, called on a small number of 'spoiler' countries to stop holding the summit hostage over crucial measures on human rights, security, genocide and poverty reductions

Did The Hurricanes End The Era Of Bush?

by Jim Lobe "I think there are a lot of southern Republicans who are asking why we're still spending blood and treasure in Iraq and Afghanistan when we can't seem to take care of our own at home," said one congressional aide this week. "Katrina brings home those kinds of policy choices in a very dramatic and concrete way."

Wal-Mart Plans New Move Into Culturally Sensitive Mexico Area

by Diego Cevallos The U.S.-based retail giant Wal-Mart, which last year opened a store near the ancient Teotihuacan pyramids of Mexico despite loud protests from local activists and small businesses, is now seeking a repeat of its earlier victory, this time in two heavily Native areas

Roberts Has Troubling Record On Non-Citizens

by Rene P. Ciria-Cruz Ted Wang, a public policy consultant for nonprofit groups and foundations, is concerned about a memorandum the nominee wrote criticizing the U.S. attorney general for not actively supporting a Texas law that allowed elementary schools to bar undocumented children. 'I want to know why doesn't he see immigrants as part of the U.S. community'

Japan Gives Generously To Raise Profile Worldwide

by Suvendrini Kakuchi In a bid to meet international expectations and boost its image as a generous donor, Japan is taking steps to shore up its falling Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget in fiscal 2005

Bolton Angers UN With Demand To Control Summit Agenda

by Haider Rizvi The proposed U.S. amendments also exclude references to actions on climate change under the Kyoto Protocol, disarmament, official development assistance to developing countries and the International Criminal Court

Iraq Begins Oil Rationing

by Samah Samad The ministry hopes that rationing will ease a fuel distribution crisis which has resulted in long lines at gas stations and an upsurge in smuggling. But the experiment in Kurdish areas is not encouraging. Many people simply sell their fuel ration onward the moment they collect it, instantly doubling their money

House Repubs Move To Drop Environmental Regs, Open Coasts To Oil Drilling

by J.R. Pegg Republican leaders said the impact of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina on energy prices exposed the need to boost domestic energy supplies and ease regulation of the nation's energy infrastructure, despite the recent passage of a $16 billion energy bill

New Orleans Levees Underfunded, Incomplete

The hurricane protection levees surrounding New Orleans were a work in progress that was chronically underfunded, a top natural resources official with the investigative branch of Congress told a House subcommittee

The 1,000 Martyrs Of Imamayn Bridge

by Daniel Variso No bombs went off among those mourners. No planes strafed the streets. Ordinary, innocent Iraqis caught in a web of terror were consumed by panic and stampeded to their death, many falling off the bridge into the Tigris. Yet on the same day there were more suicide explosions in Iraq. American planes searching for Al Qaeda targets killed and maimed civilians. More American soldiers died. It was a day like any other day of the past year, not unlike that day of political terror 1,200 years ago when Imam Musa ibn Ja'far was assassinated. History is not only repeating itself, it is doing so with a vengeance

Blessed Are The Agnostics

by Jim Lobe Nations where fewer people attend church tend to be more generous in their support for development in poor countries than those where church attendance is much greater

Iraq's Deadliest Day Needed No Bombs

by Katherine Stapp Most were trampled or fell into the Tigris River, as panic spread through the crowd of thousands following an attack by insurgents on a nearby mosque. 'We were on the bridge. It was so crowded. Thousands of people were surrounding me,' one survivor, Fadhel Ali, 28, told reporters. 'We heard that a suicide attacker was among the crowd. Everybody was yelling, so I jumped from the bridge into the river, swam and reached the bank. I saw women, children and old men falling after me into the water'

New 'Roberts Rules' Are Recipe For Surprise

by Jules Boykoff Trying to predict future judicial behavior of a nominee through scrutiny of his or her past record has always been a capricious endeavor. But the new-wave Roberts Rules make an already challenging task completely unpredictable

Arabs Urged To Join International Court

by Nabil Sultan Arab regimes are afraid of ratifying the Rome statute on the basis of which the ICC was set up because 'they are not in harmony with their people,' lawyer Naji Alaw said. Disappearances, torture and arbitrary detentions without charge or trial are common in the Arab world, he said. The situation had worsened in the course of the 'war on terror,' he said

To Iraq Rebels, Defeating Constitution Same As Beating U.S.

by Ferry Biedermann Each new incident makes it harder for representatives of the two groups to compromise on the draft. This is particularly so after the stampede that killed close to a thousand Shia pilgrims in Baghdad last week. News that the criminal trial of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein is to start in October, when the referendum on the constitution is also to be held, is bound to increase tensions. Many Sunnis, who now feel increasingly marginalized, still see him as their champion

Iran Gives Ahmadinejad Hero's Welcome After UN Defiance

by Saloumeh Peyman Hundreds of Iranian men, families in tow and the women doffing their veils in a departure from Islamic tradition, joined in welcoming Ahmadinejad, who won a landslide victory against wealthy reformists in the presidential elections in June. Many older-generation Iranians said the welcome accorded to Ahmadinejad reminded them 60 years ago when another popular leader, Mohammed Mossadegh, returned home from the Hague after successfully defending Iran's national rights to its oil against British oil companies and Iranian elite

Domestic Terrorist List Includes Enviros, Affirmative Action Groups

by William Fisher A draft internal document from the DHS obtained by The Congressional Quarterly lists the only serious domestic terrorist threats as radical animal rights and environmental groups such as the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front. But an FBI report released to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last week lumps neo-Nazi groups such as the Michigan Militia and the Aryan World Church together as potential terrorists with organizations such as the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary (BAMN) -- a national civil rights and affirmative action organization

U.S. Meddled In Iraq Constitution Talks

by Dahr Jamail "It is a matter of public record that in the final weeks of the process the newly arrived U.S. ambassador (Zalmay Khalizad) took an extremely hands-on role," Justin Alexander, legal affairs officer for the office of constitutional support with the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) told IPS. Khalizad even circulated at least one U.S. draft

Iraq's Constitution Another Bush Embarrassment

by Robert Scheer The 'preemptive' American invasion -- which has led to the deaths of nearly 2,000 Americans, roughly 10 times as many Iraqis, the expenditure of about $200 billion and incalculable damage to the United States' global reputation -- has had exactly the opposite effect predicted by its neo-conservative sponsors. No amount of crowing over a fig leaf Iraqi constitution by President Bush can hide the fact that the hand of the region's autocrats, theocrats and terrorists is stronger than ever

Widening Abramoff Scandal Exposes GOP Cronyism

by Robert Scheer In the last fortnight alone, the spreading stain of Abramoff's legacy is seen in the possible undoing of Bush's nominee to the nation's No. 2 law enforcement position, the resignation and arrest of the Office of Management and Budget's former procurement chief and another blow to the already tawdry reputation of top Bush political advisor Karl Rove

Does Bush Finally See Poor People?

by Robert Scheer It took divine intervention in the form of Hurricane Katrina to make George W. Bush, the compassionate conservative, aware of the existence of poor people in our midst. Unfortunately, the president still seems to believe that the severe poverty of New Orleans is an anomaly exposed by the storm, rather than a disturbing national reality he should have long since confronted

Finally Fooling Most of the People None of the Time

by Robert Scheer With a terrorist sighting, Bush likely would not have lingered on his Crawford ranch vacation, which he interrupted only for politicking and fundraising opportunities. Nor would Condoleezza Rice have gone shoe shopping while the world witnessed the sorry spectacle of the Gulf Coast in deadly disarray. And surely Donald Rumsfeld, who blithely attended a San Diego Padres game as New Orleans was filling with water, wouldn't have dithered for days before sending in troops to aid desperate Americans

The Broken Social Contract Revealed

by Robert Scheer For half a century, free-market purists have to great effect denigrated the essential role that modern government performs as some terrible liberal plot. Thus, the symbolism of New Orleans' flooding is tragically apt: Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and Louisiana Gov. Huey Long's ambitious populist reforms in the 1930s eased Louisiana out of feudalism and toward modernity; the Reagan Revolution and the callousness of both Bush administrations have sent them back toward the abyss

Wave Of Refugees Flee Tal Afar As U.S. Forces Settle In

Nearly 4,000 families are believed to have fled from the city, which has a population of some 200,000, according to aid agencies. There is still, however, also a large number of families staying in their homes despite the fighting. Residents who fled the city are now spread in about 11 camps established by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society and the number of the families heading to the IRCS camp is increasing

Baghdad Down To Four Hours Of Electricity Daily

by Alan Maass Iraqis are still suffering from power shortages countrywide -- receiving less than four hours of electricity daily -- despite the government's recent announcement that more money would be spent on this sector

Domestic Workers In Mexico Often Virtually Slaves

by Diego Cevallos Although under Mexican law employers are obliged to pay domestic workers a decent wage, give them room and board, and provide them with health care coverage, these obligations are rarely fulfilled

Failure Of Constitution May Actually Boost Iraq Democracy

by Jim Lobe Some analysts in and out of the administration argue that the possibility of the constitution's rejection may be a blessing because it might encourage more Sunnis to participate in the political process, if only to assure the charter's defeat in the referendum

Most Caribbean, Latin Wastewater Flushed Into Sea Untreated

by Diego Cevallos Latin American and Caribbean nations seem hardly to worry about treating the massive discharge of garbage, fossil fuels and pesticides into their maritime waters. Millions of dollars are lost as a result, in the deterioration of ecosystems, reduction of fish populations and harm to human health. Studies show that between 80 and 90 percent of the region's wastewater coming from land-based sources reaches the sea without being treated. The polluted water surrounds millions of fish and crustaceans, including those in greatest demand on the market, and flows into fragile ecosystems, which are already showing signs of damage

A Year Later, Beslan Parents Still Angry Over 335 Dead In Siege

by Kester Kenn Klomegah Parents of many of the children who died say the Russian government has not learned from its mistakes, and that Russia is open to more terrorist attacks. And they want to know why the government failed to protect the Beslan hostages

Gitmo Prisoner Hunger Strike Spreads

by William Fisher A hunger strike started in June by terror suspects imprisoned by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has been restarted and is growing, with 15 detainees hospitalized and 13 being fed through tubes

The Scandal-Ridden Frist Empire

by Joe Conason Ever since the telegenic surgeon from Tennessee entered the Senate in 1995, he has been plagued by questions about HCA, the gigantic, highly profitable hospital and insurance conglomerate founded by his father and brother. While Frist billed himself as a health care expert with a 'free-market" orientation, he also had tens of millions of dollars invested in HCA stock

Suddenly FDR's Legacy Doesn't Look So Bad

by Jim Lobe 60 years after his death, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the policies he pursued -- both at home and abroad -- during his record 12-year presidency appear to be enjoying something of a comeback

Katrina's Undocumented Immigrants Face Deportation If Aid Sought

by Elena Shore Undocumented survivors of Katrina are being denied federal relief services, and at a time when they most need to come forward to seek assistance still find themselves vulnerable to deportation. Many immigrants are afraid they'll be arrested and deported if they seek aid, a fear that's no longer hypothetical. Five victims of Katrina were arrested in Texas and West Virginia and are now facing deportation proceedings

Katrina's Full Environmental Damage Won't Be Known For Years

by Stephen Leahy Millions of gallons of New Orleans' contaminated floodwaters are being pumped into nearby Lake Pontchartrain with the full knowledge it will damage marine life. The lake is actually a huge estuary that opens directly into the Gulf of Mexico, so there are fears that contaminants will hurt the marine life in the Gulf

Chasing A Katrina Conspiracy Shields The Real Culprit

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson Conspiracy theories, fanned by the likes of the Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan, that see an anti-black plot behind Hurricane Katrina, deflect heat from the real culprit - an ill-prepared administration and reckless fiscal policies

Arab Nations Giving Media Greater Freedoms

by Meena Janardhan "Media coverage is definitely more open these days," said Ahmed Raouf, an Egyptian journalist based in Dubai. "For example, press reports of irregularities in the education system saw authorities swinging into action, not against the press but against the offenders -- a sure example that press freedom is no longer a myth but a fast-progressing reality." Change will come slowly, he said. "We must remember that these are extremely conservative countries that are changing their mindsets and opening up for reforms.

Hyped G8 Debt Forgiveness Deal Already Falling Apart

by Ulysses de la Torre Speaking on the sidelines of a major UN summit Sept. 15, British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned that the much-touted debt relief deal negotiated at the June G8 meeting is in serious danger of being scuttled

No Clear Winner In German Elections, Both Sides Claim Mandate

by Ramesh Jaura Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called for an early election in the hope of winning a stable majority for the red-green coalition government that would pave the way for pushing through economic reforms. But German voters on Sunday declined to give the parties of either Schroeder or challenger Angela Merkel a clear majority in parliament, leaving political leadership of the country in limbo

Repubs, Demos, Stake Out Ground As Roberts' Hearings Begin

by William Fisher Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- 10 Republicans and eight Democrats -- appeared unanimously opposed to 'activist judges who legislate from the bench' during the first day of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court candidate John Roberts. But in their 10-minute opening statements, it was clear that senators on the political left and right meant very different things by 'judicial activism'

9/11 Anniversary Finds Dwindling Support For Anti-Terror Strategy

by Jim Lobe If Bush was counting on Sunday's "Freedom Walk" and country music festival at the Pentagon to revive the patriotic spirit (and rally his sagging approval ratings) that followed the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on their fourth anniversary, he is likely to be very disappointed

Bush: Goodbye Uzbekistan, Hello Tajikistan

by William O. Beeman Now that the United States has been kicked out of its air base in Uzbekistan for daring to question why President Islam Karimov ordered the slaughter of hundreds of protestors in the town of Andijan, suddenly Uzbekistan's neighbor Tajikistan is beginning to look much more interesting to Washington. Tajikistan was long ignored by the United States as too poor and remote to bother with, but Tajikistan is deceptive. In fact, through Tajik eyes it looks like the center of the world, perched high in the Pamir Mountains of Asia. It is the United States that seems peripheral and distant

Indonesia Prepares To Treat Up To 1 Million If Bird Flu Breakout

by Marwaan Macan-Markar The new urgency follows the deaths announced on Sept. 21 of two young girls, admitted in Jakarta hospitals, after they developed symptoms indicating bird flu. Five others are currently under treatment for suspected bird flu in Indonesia

U.S. And Europe Embrace Outsourcing Torture

by William Fisher There is substantial evidence that in the course of the global 'war on terrorism,' an increasing number of governments have transferred, or proposed sending, alleged terrorist suspects to countries where they know the suspects will be at risk of torture or ill-treatment

Afghan Election Turnout Far Lower Than Expected

The turnout in Sunday's parliamentary and provincial polls in Afghanistan is estimated at around 50 percent of the electorate, considerably lower than last year's presidential poll where 70 percent of the electorate voted. An electoral official talking on condition of anonymity, said that the basic cause of less participation was the people could not trust the candidates, who were mainly warlords and still linked to irresponsible armed groups

UN Summit Meets To Sign Vague, Meaningless Document

by Stefania Bianchi The agreement was intended to spur the world community into a new era of collective security and aggressive action on global poverty and environmental protection. Instead, negotiators had to gut many of the commitments laid out earlier by Annan in order to reach a deal

AIDS Fund Yanks Million$ In Grants For Burma

by Marwaan Macan-Markar In an unprecedented move, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria canceled millions of dollars in grants to Burma. Programs in Burma, called Myanmar by the military regime, had been slated to receive $98.4 million in grants over five years

The Warden Takes No Prisoners

by Steve Young This lady is not a tramp. She's military; spent more time serving her country in a war torn country than her boss did serving a country he's ended up tearing apart. She even had a star on her shoulder -- until she displayed the courage that got her the star in the first place. Come this October, her new book, 'One Woman's Army...The Commanding General of Abu Ghraib Tells Her Story,' comes out and she will be dishing names, crimes, and culpability

Oil Products To Be Rationed In Oil-Rich Iraq

by Duraed Salman While Iraq is believed to have the world's second largest oil reserves, the lack of refining capacity, due in part to insurgent attacks, means it is forced to import petroleum products rather than produce them out of its own crude oil. The rationing scheme is being introduced in time for winter, when prices for goods like kerosene would otherwise be likely to soar

Bush Turned FEMA Into Political Payout Machine

by William Fisher Homeland Security sources said after the hurricane that Brown and his allies promoted him as a successor to Tom Ridge as Homeland Security secretary because of their contention that he helped deliver Florida to Bush by efficiently responding to the Florida hurricanes

Asia Now Top Arms Buyer

by Jim Lobe Asia has now replaced the Near East as the world's top conventional weapons market, led by purchases by China and India, the world's most populous region accounted for nearly 50 percent of the total value of all new arms-transfer agreements with developing nations

Solved: The Mystery of New Orleans' Missing Latinos

by Daffodil Altan For several weeks now, consulates and relief organizations have been stumped. They don't know where, exactly, the thousands of Honduran and Mexican people living in New Orleans went before and after the hurricane

Katrina Just Latest Disaster For Louisiana's "Cancer Alley"

by Beverly Wright Long before Hurricane Katrina, blacks in Louisiana's 'Cancer Alley' suffered the effects of nearby fossil fuel plants. Now the hurricane shows how people of color will bear the brunt of climate change

World Press Shocked By Images Of Katrina, Bush Inaction

by Pueng Vongs Readers and commentators from abroad are watching images of chaos and despair in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and are wondering how a country so mighty could have fallen so far

"I Am A Refugee"

by Diane Sustendal I am a middle class, middle age, well-educated, well-traveled journalist. But he saw only my immediate past. If you are from New Orleans or the Gulf Coast, everyone around here knows you are one of this country's newest of refugees

The New Orleans Stare

by Kevin Weston A woman looks blankly at nothing -- rubbing her face and short graying afro with wrinkled brown hands, sitting on a lonely chair outside the complex. Old men sit on the curb smoking cigarettes and talking quietly to one another. Young men try to occupy themselves by talking with relief workers and National Guardsmen with M-16s. The stare -- the facial manifestation of overwhelming loss -- is in all of the evacuees' eyes

Confidence In Bush, GOP Congress Plummet

by Jim Lobe According to one poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, nearly half of all respondents want to see most members of the Republican-controlled Congress voted out next year -- the highest level of dissatisfaction with the country's lawmakers in the past decade

New Orleans Diaspora May Redraw South's Political Map

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson Nature's catastrophe scattered thousands of poor, black Democratic voters throughout more than 30 states, from New Hampshire to California. That could dilute black voting power and Democratic strength in Louisiana and the South. Black voters make up one-third of the state's voters, and nearly one-half of New Orleans voters. They gave Clinton more than 90 percent of their vote in 1992 and 1996. That propelled him to victory over Bush Sr. and Robert Dole, and helped break the GOP stranglehold on state offices

Mental Health Outreach Vital For Black Hurricane Victims

by Kevin Weston Though their immediate physical needs are being met, the mental health issues black people are dealing with are off the radar screen in the debate surrounding the recovery of the Gulf Coast region. 'There is a lot of stigma in the black community about therapy,' Perine says. "'You are supposed to deal with your own problems. We are like super-people -- we're not supposed to cry'

Katrina's Legacy Will Be Deep Psychological Scars

by Paul Weinberg Evidence from past disasters indicates that social adjustment is more difficult if the person affected is forced out of the community and has no choice in where to resettle -- which is what occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

Afghan Election Quiet After Months Of Violence

by IPS/Pajhwok Afghan News Agency Candidates were prone to using force or personal influence in Sunday's polling which, however, was peaceful, considering that nearly 1,200 people perished in violence during the last six months, including seven candidates. Residents of Baghlan, Kapisa and Herat provinces told reporters from the Pajhwok Afghan News agency that some polling agents, staff and police officials had forced them to cast votes for particular candidates

Stronger Hurricanes Becoming More Numerous, Researchers Say

The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide has nearly doubled over the past 35 years, even though the total number of hurricanes has dropped since the 1990s

Pre-Emptive Use Of Nukes Considered By Pentagon

by Jim Lobe According to a March document by the Joint Chiefs of Staff that was recently posted to the Pentagon's website, Washington will not necessarily wait for potential adversaries to use 'weapons of mass destruction' before resorting to a nuclear strike against them

ACLU Claims Proof Of Wide FBI Library Spying

by William Fisher As Congress prepares to vote on the final version of a reauthorized USA Patriot Act, a major civil rights group claims to have proof that the FBI has used the law to snoop into people's library records -- a charge the FBI has vigorously denied

India Women Sieze Control Of Village From Men

by Nitin Jugran Bahuguna Organizing themselves into a small but determined Self Help Group, the women set about the twin tasks of getting their girl children to school in defiance of male opinion, while simultaneously launching an aggressive anti-liquor campaign

So When Did Torture Become Acceptable?

by Norman Solomon In late September, there were new reports that U.S. soldiers have engaged in extreme abuse of Iraqi prisoners. Sen. John McCain responded by voicing support for a Senate measure that would require the American military to adhere to the Geneva Convention's prohibitions on torture. Sadly, rather than just taking a moral position, McCain felt the need to point out that torture means bad public relations for Uncle Sam: 'We've got to have it stopped. It is hurting America's image abroad'

Katrina Takes Wind Out Of Bush's Sails

by Norman Solomon On the White House propaganda calendar, this week was scheduled to culminate with a blitz of oratory marking the Sept. 11 anniversary. But Hurricane Katrina has rained on President Bush's 9/11 parade, and his militaristic pomp will lose some luster

Michael Brown, Scapegoat

by Norman Solomon In the grisly wake of the hurricane, Brown's job performance cannot be separated from Bush's job performance. To similar deadly effect, the president has brought to bear on people in New Orleans the same qualities that he has inflicted on people in Iraq -- refusal to acknowledge basic realities, lethally misplaced priorities, lack of compassion (cue the guitar), and overarching arrogance

Network Anchors Are Foul Weather Friends

by Norman Solomon As a matter of routine, television anchors and their colleagues at the networks avidly go along with the White House and the Pentagon. When there's a war, with rare exceptions they provide the kind of coverage that Washington officials appreciate. Long afterward, when the mania subsides, a few TV journalists may express some misgivings. But when the next war comes along, it's back to propaganda business as usual

Media Knocks Bush, But Also Props Him Up

by Norman Solomon Sure, we can expect more outcries of condemnation from the nation's press. Many news outlets have adopted a critical tone unmatched by previous coverage of the Bush administration. But you might read the editorials of virtually every daily newspaper in the United States and not find a single paper calling for the impeachment or resignation of the deadly Bush-Cheney duo, whether for deceptions about Iraq or failures to protect lives from Hurricane Katrina

Bush Appoints His Homeland Security Advisor To Probe Katrina Failures

by William Fisher President Bush's appointment of his own homeland security advisor to head a White House investigation of what went wrong with the government's Hurricane Katrina response and how to fix it is being greeted with some skepticism by emergency preparedness and response experts

Army Whistleblowers Describe Routine, Severe Abuse Of Iraq Prisoners

by Jim Lobe 3 soldiers in one of the U.S. Army's most decorated combat units have come forward with accounts of routine, systematic and often severe beatings committed against detainees at a base near Falluja, Iraq, from 2003 through 2004

Republicans Find They Elected Mr. Big Spender

by Joe Conason Although George W. Bush is universally acknowledged to be the most conservative president in recent memory, he is now doing exactly what he and his ideological allies have always mocked liberals for doing. In the classic right-wing cliche (which isn't heard much these days), he is 'throwing money at the problem' of the hurricane's aftermath

Anti-War Movement Attacked As War Support Sinks

by Bill Berkowitz When the going gets tough for supporters of President Bush's war on Iraq, they go on the attack. Typical targets have been liberal academics on U.S. college campuses, Hollywood celebrities that have dared speak out against the war, liberal talk show hosts, and of course, the anti-war movement

Rehnquist Led Supreme Court To The Right

by William Fisher As the late chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, legal scholars and analysts continued to debate his legacy -- and attempted to draw comparisons to his proposed successor, Judge John G. Roberts

Hurricane Malthus

by Alexander Cockburn Malthus, a Christian, proposed locating the surplus poor next to unhealthy marshes, in the hope they would get sick and die. How much of a difference is there between that and the 'emergency preparedness' and evacuation procedures before, during and after Katrina? How did Washington perceive New Orleans and most of the Gulf coast? Basically as a vast huddle of the mostly poor and the mostly black

Who Will Reconstruct Levee Town?

by Alexander Cockburn The post-Katrina 'reconstruction' of New Orleans promises to be the first really big outing for the Kelo decision. Kelo? It will be recalled that on June 23 of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court's liberals, plus Souter and Kennedy, decreed that between private property rights on the one side and big time developers with city councils in their pockets on the other, the latter win every time, using the weapon of eminent domain in the furtherance of 'public purpose.' As Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in her dissent, 'the specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton. Any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.' Or any black neighborhood with some simulacrum of the Garden District

Democrats Slip Ever Deeper Into The Ooze

by Alexander Cockburn While Interstate 45 from Galveston to Houston was clogged with evacuees fleeing the wrath of Hurricane Rita, there was a similar jam on the beltway round Washington, DC, as Democrats fled the city on the eve on the Sept. 24 anti-war rally, panic-stricken lest their presence in Washington might somehow be construed as endorsement of the rally's anti-war message. Democrats have not only forgotten how to fix elections, they've lost the simplest political instincts of all, opportunism and grandstanding

FEMA's Woes Began Long Before Michael Brown

by Bill Berkowitz Long before Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and Mississippi, FEMA, then headed by Allbaugh -- Bush's former chief of staff in Texas, and his 2000 campaign manager -- was developing its own shrinkage agenda

No One Could've Anticipated A Follow-Up

by Steve Young While some are cynical of the press secretary's repeated dodges, you can't help but place a big helping of the responsibility on the press's plate that either doesn't ask the questions we would want them to ask

Will Bush Allow Us To See The Coffins Of New Orleans?

by Steve Young Yes, the 'love the country, hate the people' Lords of Loud showed that no matter how tragic the plight of the people, they could still ramp up some good ole fashion slam-bam-thank you-Dems

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