default.html Issue 141
Table of Contents

Cheney Camp Loses Big Time As Bush Agrees To Torture Ban

by William Fisher The president's reversal came after months of White House attempts -- led by Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor Steven Hadley -- to weaken the measure, which would prohibit the 'cruel, inhuman, or degrading' treatment of any detainee in U.S. custody anywhere in the world. The administration had been negotiating with McCain to either drop the measure or to modify it so that interrogators, especially those working for the CIA, would have significant exemptions

Patriot Act In Limbo Amid Discovery Of NSA Domestic Spying

by William Fisher Critics of the Act were handed new ammunition for their campaign by a report in Friday's New York Times alleging that President Bush authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) -- part of the Pentagon's intelligence apparatus -- to monitor the international phone calls and international e-mails of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States

No Question Of Iraqi Election Outcome In Kurdish Territory

by Mohammed Amin Abdulqadir While most of Iraq waits as the counting of votes begins, much of the Kurdish north is celebrating election victory already. Election in several areas Thursday turned out to be no more than an endorsement of the Kurdish Alliance List (KAL) comprising the two major Kurdish parties

Christian Right Renews Annual Attack On "Christmas Attack"

by Bill Berkowitz Christian fundamentalists, right-wing Christian legal groups, and most of the Fox News Channel's prime time crew are echoing variations on the same theme -- liberals are out to take the Christ out of Christmas

The White House Contempt For The Press

by Jim Lobe Covert manipulation of the Iraqi news media certainly must have seemed like a brilliant idea to some civilian genius in the Pentagon. In a conflict that is costing U.S. billions every week, even the projected cost of $300 million must have seemed cheap. What could possibly go wrong with a plan to pay journalists in Baghdad for favorable coverage of the coalition war effort?

Farmers Battle Cops At WTO Summit

by Aaron Glantz It was a fight over rice. South Korean farmers battled police outside the halls where the week-long ministerial meet of the World Trade Organization (WTO) was ending Sunday, with little progress on the issue of export subsidies that rich nations pay to keep their agriculture going and undercut farmers in developing countries

Subs Bring Holiday Shrill

by Steve Young In the case of O'Reilly, he always leaves instructions for the substitute teacher to direct the folks to Factor Gear, as well as reminding them to buy Bill's 'The Factor For Kids' book. Even when he's on vacation, Bill's thinking of you and how parents would never want to miss the opportunity to buy their kid a book on how to live a moral life written by a man who sexually harassed a younger employee

Send Steph To Iraq

by Steve Young Our guys have enough hardship to deal with. ItÕs time to lighten their load without dumbing 'em down. So it is that I call on you, AFRN, Donald Rumsfeld, the Defense Department, and everyone else who cares about the well-being of our boys listening to radio over there so we donÕt have to listen to radio over here: place Stephanie Miller and her hysterical crew on the Armed Forces Radio Network

Talkin' Trash With The Lords Of Loud

by Steve Young Talk radio may make you think it loves you, but once youÕre finished, youÕre left with nothing but a glowing memory, a lie, and perhaps an STD (Severe Truth Distortion) or two. Screwed? Sure. Loved? Not on your dial

Muqtada al-Sadr's Militia Becoming Iraq's Default Police

Militiamen loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have increasingly adopted a policing role in recent months. In both Baghdad and Al-Basrah, al-Sadr's Imam Al-Mahdi Army has claimed to have fought alongside police forces against terrorists, and has carried out its own operations to free hostages from terrorist safe houses

Deserts Advancing Around World Despite Efforts To Slow Sands

by Julia Spurzem Desertification drives migration, poverty and famine. In Africa, more than 10 million people have been displaced in the past 20 years because of the spread of deserts. Every year, between 700,000 and 900,000 Mexicans leave their dryland homes to seek a living in the United States

Million$ In Farm Subsidies Go To Europe's Richest

by Julio Godoy Prince Albert, the monarch of Monaco, is not what you would call a farmer in need. But like Queen Elizabeth of Britain, he is among the elite farmers who benefit from billions of dollars in European agricultural subsidies

WTO Protesters Met With Hong Kong Harassment

by Aaron Glantz In recent days, police have rigged wire mesh across pedestrian walkways, sewer gates have been welded shut, truckloads of barricades have been put up, and miles of 10-foot high linked water-filled crowd control barriers have been erected along the perimetre of an exclusion zone around the convention center.

Bolivia's Morales Seeks To Make Coca Legitimate Crop

by Marcelo Ballve Morales has sought to reassure the world he won't harbor drug runners. But he also was emphatic in making the distinction between cocaine, made via an involved chemical processing of the leaf, and the plant, which is sacred in the Andes

Canadian Natives To Get $1.7 Billion For School Abuse

by Howard Williams The Canadian government announced Nov. 23 an 'agreement in principle' to pay $1.7 billion to tens of thousands of Canada's Native peoples who were physically and sexually abused in government-financed, largely church-run 'residential schools'

DuPont Pays Record Fine In Teflon Case

The fine is the largest civil administrative penalty ever obtained by the EPA under any federal environmental statute, the agency said

Iraqis Often Finding Bread, Other Basics In Short Supply

by Dahr Jamail and Harb Al-Mukhtar The biggest surprise was the acceptance by Kurdish and Shiite representatives of the statement that 'resistance is a legitimate right for all people,' which implies recognition that the Sunni resistance is legitimate politically. The Sunnis agreed that 'terrorism does not represent legitimate resistance' and that attacks on non-military targets are indeed 'terrorism'

Mara Salvatrucha Gang Spreads In Central Mexico Following Hurricane

by Diego Cevallos Members of the Mara Salvatrucha and Mara 18 gangs have been taking advantage of the destruction and chaos caused by Hurricane Stan in early October in southern Mexico, along the Guatemalan border, to move deeper into Mexico, says an army document leaked to the local press

UN Budget Shutdown Looms

by Thalif Deen With a week before a Dec. 31 deadline, the United Nations is in danger of beginning the new year inauspiciously -- without an approved budget and unable to pay staff salaries

Groups Implore Rice To Rein In Bolton

by Jim Lobe The groups, which include the U.S. section of Amnesty International, Oxfam America and Citizens for Global Solutions, say Bolton's threats to prevent the world body from adopting the proposed 2006-7 budget by consensus unless it first enacts Washington's reform proposals are counter-productive

Bolton Holding UN Budget Hostage To Force "Reform"

by Haider Rizvi The United States appears to be on verge of a head-on collision with the United Nations over the question of how the world body should be running its affairs. The confrontation intensified last week when U.S. Ambassador John Bolton suggested that his country would not approve the full UN budget unless the organization implements proposed management reforms

Bolton Presses To Eliminate Palestinian Funding

by Thalif Deen Besides cutting costs, the United States is also calling for a restructuring of the management, the creation of a new Peace Building Commission, and the establishment of a Human Rights Council. The budget cutting, if any, is to be directed primarily at Palestinian programs

Another Execution Over A Questioned Crime

by JR Valrey There is no smoking-gun proof that Williams is innocent. But the case against him is based on scant physical evidence, the testimony of crime-prone jailhouse informants and his fearsome reputation as street thug, doper and the co-founder of the notorious Crips gang

Tookie Is Topic #1 In Black Press

by JR Valrey Most, but not all, commentary in African American publications has favored granting clemency to Tookie, a five-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize and a co-founder of the notorious Crips street gang

Arabs Believe U.S. Plans To Hand Iraq Over To Iran

by Jalal Ghazi "The (American) decision to open direct contacts with Iran means that Iraq will be handed over to Iran," Fadel Al Rabee, a spokesman for the National Iraqi Alliance, told "Behind the News," a daily news program on Al Jazeera. "The U.S. is ignoring the Saudi advice not to do so. Instead, they are allowing the Iranian influence to grow stronger in Iraq," Al Rabee added.

Read This, Fellow Procrastinators

by Molly Ivins Look at this, fellow procrastinators -- almost two weeks before the actual day, and here I am to solve all your shopping problems with the annual one-stop, hit-the-bookstore with less than 24-hours-to-go, all-purpose Procrastinator's List

GOP Pros At God-Fearing, Corruption

by Molly Ivins Some Christians seem to me inclined to lose track of love, compassion and mercy. I don't think I have any special brief to go around judging them, but when the stink of hypocrisy becomes so foul in the nostrils it makes you start to puke it becomes necessary to point out there is one more good reason to observe the separation of church and state: If God keeps hanging out with politicians, it's gonna hurt his reputation

Adios, Mo-Fo 2005

by Molly Ivins 2006 makes the ninth year in a row the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 an hour. It's bad economics, it's bad policy, it's stupid, it's unfair, and it's high damn time to do something about it. It is also, as Sen. Edward Kennedy says, a moral issue

How the ACLU Didn't Steal Christmas

by Fran Quigley Of course, there is no 'Merry Christmas' lawsuit, nor is there any ACLU litigation about U.S. currency, military chaplains, etc. But the facts are not important to these groups, because their real message is this: By protecting the freedom of Muslims, Jews and other non-Christians through preventing government entanglement with religion, the ACLU is somehow infringing on the rights of those with majority religious beliefs

Thousands Of Quake Survivors Still Without Shelter As Harsh Winter Begins

According to the latest UN situation report on shelter, aid agencies, local authorities and the Pakistan military -- who say they are constructing 6,000 temporary shelters a day -- will have provided non-tent shelter for at least 595,000 people by December 10. These shelters will be mostly for survivors living above 1,500 m. However, many aid workers in the field say there are many survivors who still urgently need shelter. 'The majority of people here are without shelter. Even if they're under some sort of cover it's not enough'

Haiti Groups Blame U.S. For Dozens Of Killings By Police, UN Forces

by Jim Lobe While MINUSTAH and the PNH have generally blamed any civilian casualties resulting from these raids on the gangs themselves, some community residents and other witnesses have charged that the uniformed forces have been responsible for most of the deaths and serious injuries

Lockheed Martin Joins Ranks of Outsourced Interrogators

by Pratap Chatterjee This summer, dozens of people converged in the high desert town of El Paso, Texas, en route to spending six months in Iraqi prisons. Their job will be to interrogate prisoners. Just for signing up, they got a $2,000 check from a company that is rapidly becoming one of the key employers in the world of intelligence: Lockheed Martin.

Heaven Help Us, Bush Is Reading Again

Analysis by Jim Lobe The Reader-in-Chief is at it again, and anti-imperialists around the world have reason to be concerned. The choices are not unimportant. Indeed, Bush is known to read so little -- both for official business and for diversion -- and to be so impressed by the few books he does read that it is imperative for people who are paid to know what's happening in Washington to find out what's on the president's nightstand when he turns out the light

U.S. Won't Join In Landmark Tobacco Treaty

by Barbara Litzlbeck The United States has missed the deadline to ratify a global treaty regulating tobacco in time to vote at a key tobacco conference in Geneva next February

Was Tookie Williams Framed?

by Clive Leeman Focusing on Stanley 'Tookie' Williams' good works while on death row misses the inconsistencies, lack of physical evidence and questionable stories spun by informants that formed much of the evidence that convicted him

U.S. Renditions Are Operation Condor Version 2

by Jim Lobe In the kind of legalistic subtlety of which the Condor regimes seemed largely incapable, U.S. officials have based their insistence that they have done nothing that violates U.S. or international law -- assertions that cause nothing but consternation among human rights experts -- on carefully constructed sentences that, on close examination, appear designed to mislead, rather than to outright lie

The Popularity Of Unforgiveness

by Bob Burnett What does the U.S. have in common with China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia? All four countries support the death penalty. And, account for most of the world's executions. America's membership in this macabre club is an indication that the focus of our prison system is on punishment. The pending execution of Stanley 'Tookie' Williams is yet another example of this

30,000 Iraq Dead? Since You Brought It Up, Mr. Bush...

'The acknowledgement by President Bush of the human cost of war is a positive step by this administration. It must now go further and make the counting and compensation of civilians part of U.S. policy in conflict,' said Sutton. 'We believe that the U.S. military goes to great lengths to avoid harming civilians; however unless they keep records, there remains little way to improve'

Not Just Your Average Government Spying

by Molly Ivins The creepy part is the overlap. Damned if they aren't still here, after all these years, the old Nixon hands -- Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, the whole gang whose yearning for authoritarian government rose like a stink over the Nixon years. Imperial executive. Bring back those special White House guard uniforms. Cheney, like some malignancy that cannot be killed off, back at the same old stand, pushing the same old crap

A Genuine Constitutional Crisis

by Molly Ivins This is the same pattern we have seen with Bush when it came to the Geneva Conventions for handling prisoners and to using torture. Not only does he consider himself above the law, he has surrounded himself with people who keep inventing perverse readings of the Constitution to justify him. Makes it especially nice to hear him go on about the importance of bringing democracy to Iraq

Writing Good News For The Baghdad Daily Bugle

by Molly Ivins Haven't the conservatives been saying all along what we needed was the media to report the good, dandy, better, best news from Iraq? Turns out we've actually been paying for it, and look what a difference it has made: 'Good News Stories Stop 750 Attacks a Day!'

Lies Don't Lead To Road To Victory

by Molly Ivins It has long been clear that this administration thinks it can spin reality to a blue-bellied fare-thee-well, but isn't it a little late for this kind of thing?

Slovakia Wakes Up To Neo-Nazi Threat

by Pavol Stracansky Anti-racism groups estimate that there are up to 3,000 right-wing extremists and neo- Nazi supporters in Slovakia carrying out racially motivated attacks and spreading hate propaganda. Of those, they say a hardcore few are linked to both legitimate and illegal right-wing political groups. Slovakia's far-right political parties have enjoyed a reasonably stable level of political support since the country came into existence in 1993 after the split of Czechoslovakia

More Evidence Points To Falluja War Crimes

by Dahr Jamail The Study Center for Human Rights and Democracy based in Fallujah estimates the number of people killed in the city during the operation in October and November 2004 at 4,000 to 6,000, most of them civilians. Mass graves were dug on the outskirts of the city for thousands of the bodies

Bush Fails To Step Between China, Japan Growing Tensions

by Jim Lobe 'Whether fair or not, the absence of apparent U.S. concerns looks, at the very least, to the rest of Asia like a tacit endorsement of Koizumi's actions; and some circles, it is no doubt is no doubt seen as explicit approval'

Germany Knew About Illegal U.S. Rendition Flights

by Julio Godoy New reports indicate that Germany's former coalition government was informed of the illegal U.S. flights using German territory. Official documents both in Berlin and in Washington also show that the German government was informed about the illegal detention of Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese origin, by U.S. secret services

Europe Demands U.S. Come Clean On Secret Torture Centers

by Julio Godoy According to several reports, U.S. secret services, including the CIA, frequently used European airports in Belgium, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain between 2002 and 2005 to transfer Muslim prisoners from one secret imprisonment camp to another. Other reports quoted firm government sources to say that the U.S. army and secret services had maintained illegal prisons for Muslim detainees in European countries, especially in Eastern Europe, in countries of the former Soviet bloc

Eugene McCarthy And The Winds Of Change

by Jack Random The death of Eugene McCarthy is the latest and most powerful reminder that the Democratic Party has lost its moral backbone

Why Many Blacks Oppose Clemency For "Tookie"

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson It's a myth that a large majority of blacks oppose the death penalty, detest police and as jurors won't vote to convict a fellow black. In fact, some of the loudest voices calling for the execution of Stanley 'Tookie' Williams are coming from black communities

Did Bush Block Deal To Capture Zarqawi?

by Gareth Porter At the recent Iraqi reconciliation meeting in Cairo, leaders of three Sunni armed organizations -- the Islamic Army, the Bloc of Holy Warriors and the Revolution of 1920 Brigades -- told U.S. and Arab officials they were willing to track down terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and turn him over to Iraqi authorities as part of a negotiated settlement with the United States, according to the highly respected London-based Arabic-language Al-Hayat newspaper

U.S. Planting "Good News" In Iraq Media

by William Fisher The story of the Pentagon's latest public relations efforts was revealed last week by the Los Angeles Times. It said that many of the articles were presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country

Vigilantes Control Law In Much Of Bolivia

by Franz Chavez Lynch mobs taking justice into their own hands have become common in Bolivia, leading to questions about why home-grown justice is taking such a violent turn

For Iraqis, Survival More Important Than Saddam Trial

by Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed Most Iraqis are more concerned with finding jobs, putting food on the table, personal safety and the removal of the occupation forces than the ongoing trial of former dictator Saddam Hussein

Iraq's Victimhood Vote

Analysis by Jim Lobe 'The unfortunate thing is that the common ground of Iraqi identity was really lost,' said Rend Al-Rahim, head of The Iraq Foundation here. 'Iraqis are still voting their grievances; they're voting their victimhood'

Latin American Journalists Blocked From In-Depth Reporting

Diana Cariboni Even though they directly affect millions of lives, it can be difficult to get stories about development issues like poverty, education, health, the environment and gender equality on the front pages of newspapers or radio and TV newscasts. Latin American journalists at a seminar organized by the international news agency IPS (Inter Press Service) in Montevideo cited everything from governmental control of their publications and broadcasts to understaffing from cost-cutting

HIV Among Japan's Youth At Record High

Suvendrini Kakuchi In Japan, the only major industrialized nation in which new HIV/AIDS infections have been increasing since 1993, new infections hit a record high in 2004. Equally troubling, about 40 percent of new HIV/AIDS cases in Japan are people in their teens and 20s -- up 20 percent from 2003

The Real James Bond Uncovered

Mario de Queiroz Popov differed from his fellow spies in that he lived a life of luxury, drove fast cars, seduced beautiful women and bankrupted Germans -- especially spies, diplomats -- at the Estoril Casino. It was at the Palace Hotel that Fleming, also an agent of the British Naval Intelligence Service headed by celebrated Adm. John Henry Godfrey, met Popov. A decade later, Fleming launched his famous character

Iraqis Protest Big Jump In Oil Prices

by Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed For two days demonstrations have continued across Iraq in protest against the government's decision to raise the price of petrol, cooking and heating fuels. With costs increased up to nine-fold, Iraq's oil minister, Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum has threatened to resign. Yet this has done nothing to quell the outburst of anger in Iraqis towards the sudden and drastic price hike

U.S. No Longer Seeks "Defeat" Of Sunni Insurgents

by Gareth Porter The administration is evidently preparing for serious negotiations with the Sunni insurgents, whom it has started referring to as 'nationalists,' emphasising their opposition to al Qaeda's objectives

Red Tape Keeps Katrina Survivors From Returning Home, Moving On

by William Fisher Three months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast, Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans faced several hundred displaced constituents seething with anger, frustration, confusion and hopelessness

Gulf Coast Sludge Is Poisonous, Tests Show

by Julia Spurzem Soil analyses released by the Sierra Club this week reveal high levels of arsenic and other heavy metals at nearly every location tested in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi following the severe floods unleashed by Hurricane Katrina

Muslim Brotherhood Makes Big Gains In Egypt Election

by Adam Morrow By the end of the second round of voting, the officially banned but tolerated group had secured some 18 percent of the seats in parliament, to the surprise and disappointment of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) headed by longtime President Hosni Mubarak

UN: It's Time For World To Pay Up On AIDS Promises

by Haider Rizvi International funding to fight AIDS has increased significantly in recent years -- from $300 million in 1995 to $8 billion in 2005. However, it remains to be seen how effectively governments implement the pledges made in the 2001 Declaration

Slave Labor Alive And Well In Argentinan Sweatshops

by Marcela Valente Parque Avellaneda is a neighborhood on the west side of the Argentine capital. In this district alone, there are approximately 40 small sweatshops, according to investigators. The textile factories, which operate in what are ostensibly private homes, produce clothes for top-line labels like Montagne or Lacar. The workers are Bolivian immigrants who are drawn to this country by the promise of a good income and a place to live. But soon after they arrive, many of them discover a hell on earth

Women Cancer Patient Beauty Products Contain Carcinogens

by Samuel S. Epstein, MD There is no doubt that the products donated by the cosmetic companies, such as eye and cheek colors, lipsticks, moisture lotions, pressed powders and other makeups, are restorative. However, there is also no doubt that the ACS and the companies involved are oblivious to or strangely silent on the dangers of the Look Good products, whose ingredients are readily absorbed through the skin

U.S. Fears Shiite Control Of Iraq Ministries

by Gareth Porter For Shiite party leaders, U.S. pressure to share state power with secular or Sunni representatives -- especially on internal security -- touches a raw nerve. They regard control over the organs of state repression as the key to maintaining a Shiite regime in power

Fake Vaccines, Corruption May Doom China Efforts To Stop Bird Flu

by Antoaneta Bezlova Efforts to inoculate China's 14 billion farmed birds could be easily undermined by the use of substandard or fake vaccines and by lax local implementation -- two areas of grave concern for the central government, which has invested huge political capital into defeating the avian flu epidemic

CIA's "Dark Prison" In Afghanistan Revealed

by Jim Lobe Their shackles often made it impossible to lie down or sleep, and interrogations carried out apparently by civilian U.S. personnel -- presumed to be CIA operatives -- included slaps and punches. Guards at the prison were mostly Afghan, according to the report

World Sees U.S. As "Rogue State"

by Isaac Baker The United States, especially in recent years, is increasingly being seen in the world as a lone state, thumbing its diplomatic nose at international pacts on everything from banning the use and production of landmines to curbing global warming. This staunch refusal to join with other nations on such a wide range of treaties, experts say, is hurting the already tarnished image of the world's sole superpower in the eyes of the international community

Polls Show Americans Ambivalent On Torture

by William Fisher As the battle between the White House and a leading Republican senator over U.S. policies on treating terrorist suspects appears headed toward a final showdown, polls suggest that the U.S. public is ambivalent on the issue of torture

WTO Debate: Are Fish And Forests Products Like Toys?

by Ngoc Nguyen Under WTO rules, fish, forest and mineral products are classified as non-agricultural goods and lumped together with manufactured items like toys. But fisher folk and environmentalists point out that these are shared natural resources, the management of which has major repercussions on local communities and the environment

Sunnis Opt For Voting ... AND Armed Resistance

by Gareth Porter The decision to support participation in the election is the latest step in an evolving Sunni strategy that now combines armed struggle, participation in electoral politics and negotiations for a peace settlement -- all aimed at ending the occupation and gaining bargaining leverage for Sunnis in post-Saddam Hussein politics

Shiite Death Squads Step Up Killings In Advance Of Election

by Dahr Jamail and Harb al-Mukhtar 'The Badr Army is conducting a campaign to destroy other political parties and their electoral advertisements,' said Saleh Hassir, a doctor at a Baghdad medical center. 'We see black paint and tears on ex-prime minister Allawi's posters and those of the Sunni groups, but pictures of al-Hakim remain unaffected'

Iraq Police Often Shiite Death Squads

by Jim Lobe While the Bush administration tries to persuade the public that an accelerated buildup of Iraqi security forces will permit substantial numbers of U.S. troops to begin returning home next year, recent reports from Iraq suggest that the security forces -- and their sectarian make-up -- are themselves contributing to the country's destabilization

Koreans Take Stem Cell Scientist's Fall Personally

by Aruna Lee and Peter Schurmann Through Korean media, Web sites and blogs, South Koreans are asking how a scientist who faked his stem-cell research could have become a national hero

Pakistan Quake Victims Trying To Survive Freezing Conditions

Nearly 10 weeks after the quake, many victims are still in a miserable state, with the arrival of winter having added immensely to the hardships they face. Often cooking fires or oil stoves offer the only source of warmth, with families huddled around them through much of the day. Poor sanitation, a lack of toilets and an absence of cooking arrangements add to the stench that lingers around many camps, with rotting rubbish lying in heaps in some areas

Abramoff Scandal Highlights Right's Moral Bankruptcy

by Robert Scheer Selling firewater to the Natives -- or in this case charging them $82 million for government breaks on slot machine and other gaming licenses -- is not exactly what the high-minded prophets of the Republican revolution promised. And to see behind the scenes as Christian right superstar Ralph Reed, bought off by top Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, dupes his grassroots 'pro-family' followers into unwittingly supporting casino-rich Indian tribes under the guise of anti-gambling initiatives, is to glimpse moral corruption of biblical proportion

Media Silent As Iraq's WMD Scientists Go Free

by Robert Scheer Why is it not bigger news that those infamous Iraqi female scientists once routinely referred to in the media as 'Dr. Germ' and 'Mrs. Anthrax' have been quietly released from imprisonment in Iraq without any charges being brought by their U.S. captors? Don't the newspapers and TV networks that all but pre-convicted them of crimes against humanity owe them -- and U.S. -- the courtesy of an explanation for the sudden presumption of their innocence?

Iraq Vote Moves Baghdad Closer To Tehran

by Robert Scheer What we will leave behind, after hundreds of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lost lives, will be a long ways from the neo-conservative fantasy of creating a compliant democracy in the heart of the Middle East. It is absurd for Bush to assert that the election 'means that America has an ally of growing strength in the fight against terror'

The Beauty Of U.S. Renditions: Deniability

by Robert Scheer Sure, they tried water boarding and extreme stress positions in Guantanamo, but would U.S. interrogators be willing to pull out fingernails or use electric shock, as was inflicted upon at least a dozen of the 625 Baghdad inmates released Sunday from yet another secret inhuman jail run by our Iraqi surrogates?

Bush Making Saddam Look Good In Comparison

by Robert Scheer So, it is Mission Impossible that Bush has accomplished: A terminally inept U.S. occupation of Iraq now threatens to make the despot we overthrew look good by comparison

WTO Debate: U.S. Cotton Subsidies Drive African Farmers Deep Into Debt

by Jason Nardi The livelihoods of about 20 million people in Africa depend on cotton farming. Until 2001, the cotton industry was a rare agricultural success story, but trade distortions and dumping changed all that

"Duke" Cunningham's Comeuppance

by Joe Conason Forced to resign his office immediately as part of his plea bargain with federal prosecutors, the once-powerful California congressman, whose leverage derived from his chairmanship of an important defense subcommittee, was a dominant type in the Republican Party of this era. During his career on Capitol Hill, Cunningham's style was loud, mindlessly reactionary and full of flag-waving bluster. He once described Bill Clinton as a 'traitor' and compared Sen. John Kerry to Jane Fonda on the House floor

Hip-Hop Predicted Liquor Store Trashings

by Adisa Banjoko To much of mainstream America this issue is new. But African Americans coast to coast have a longstanding issue with the infestation of corner liquor stores that they believe peddle poor-quality foods and dangerous alcohol. They believe that these stores devalue not only the surrounding property but also the lives of those who live near them

China Has Forced Millions From Homes For Sake Of Progress

Analysis by Marwaan Macan-Markar Just how many people have to be thrown out of their homes in the name of 'economic progress' to arouse the interest of a regional United Nations body that claims to care for Asians living marginal existences? At least 1.25 million households were demolished and nearly 3.7 million people evicted and relocated throughout China in the past decade, causing widespread suffering to thousands of communities across the country

Impeach Cheney?

by Michael Winship Actions reminiscent of some of the impeachable conduct cited in the case of Richard M. Nixon, especially 'making or causing to be made false or misleading statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States'

Pakistan's Corrupt Army Controls Quake Cash

by Muddassir Rizvi International and local NGOs are demanding transparency and greater people's participation in decision-making, while opposition political parties accuse the military-controlled government of bypassing parliament to supervise long-term reconstruction

Hundreds Of W Iraq Families Fear Returning Home After U.S. Offensive

U.S. military forces ended a major offensive in al-Qaim, some 420 km west of the capital, in November. But several hundred families have refused to return home in the interim, preferring to live in an improvised camp near Rawa or with relatives in the countryside

Congress To Probe Bush Approval Of Illegal Wiretaps

by William Fisher As Bush loyalists circle the wagons to aggressively defend his program of conducting surveillance of phone calls and emails of U.S. citizens, a judge on the court set up to review requests for such actions has resigned, apparently in protest

New Mammal Discovered in Borneo Already At Risk

by Ray McGovern Believed to be a carnivorous mammal, the creature could be an entirely new species or a new species of marten or civet cat, which looks like a cross between a cat and a fox. It is very rare to discover a new mammal species of this size

Growing Rift Between U.S. And Israel Over Middle East

by Jim Lobe Despite their mutual enthusiasm for ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Israel and the United States appear increasingly at odds over what to do about the larger Middle East region. The government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, whose new party is expected to emerge as the strongest in elections next year, is also increasingly worried about Washington's pro-democracy drive for the region. In its view, the U.S. campaign risks empowering Islamist groups that are ideologically even more hostile to Israel than the authoritarian regimes they are challenging

McCain Scores Victory Over Bush/Cheney Torture Policy

by William Fisher n Europe, torture and rendition refused to go away. They were a central theme in virtually all of the press appearances Rice made following her meetings with European leaders

Colombia Drug Industry Thrives Despite Billions Spent By U.S.

by Constanza Vieira Although Washington has poured more than $40 billion into anti-drug efforts in Colombia over the past 25 years, this country remains the world champion of cocaine and a major producer of heroin, while drug prices are lower than ever

Palestinian Suicide Bomb Sets Agenda For Israel March Election

by Peter Hirschberg What will be the impact of the first bombing on the 2006 election campaign? Will Labor Party leader Amir Peretz, who has been championing a social agenda, lose support? Will it benefit Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who left his Likud party to form a new centrist list? Or, will the hard-line Likud, which has accused Sharon of encouraging Palestinian militants with his Gaza pullout, be the real beneficiary?

Terror War A Bust In The Courts, Analysis Shows

by William Fisher Bush, his Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and many other senior administration officials insist that 'federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against more than 400 suspects, and more than half of those charged have been convicted.' But according to an analysis of the Justice Department's own records by the Washington Post, the numbers are misleading. The paper claimed that 39 people -- not 200, as officials have implied -- have been convicted of crimes related to terrorism or national security

Time For Israel To Come Clean On Its WMDs

By George Bisharat In a sudden attack of common sense, a Pentagon-commissioned study released in mid-November suggests an approach to nuclear nonproliferation in the Middle East that might actually be accepted by the people of the region. What is this breakthrough idea? That U.S. policies begin not with a country that currently lacks nuclear weapons -- Iran -- but rather with the one that by virtually all accounts already has them -- Israel

Can The Russians Ever Bury Lenin?

by Kester Kenn Klomegah A political storm over proposals to bury the embalmed remains of the leader of the Bolshevik revolution Vladimir Lenin shows no signs of subsiding. Inevitably, the debate centers not just on the man who led the Red Revolution, but on the burial of communism itself that Lenin came to symbolize

Hannity Scores With Dishonest Setups

by Steve Young I have long been a disciple of the 'Sean Hannity mistrusts his fans with the truth' notion. One that purports that if he actually gave them all the facts -- or any facts at all -- they wouldn't believe the way he wants them to. In the old days that might have been called 'lying.' Today they call it 'New Media.' Even when plying in the truth you rarely get more than 50 percent of it. And 50 percent of the truth is no truth at all

China's Pollution Disaster A Harbinger of Water Woes

by Wang Jiaquan The water crisis in Harbin resulted from an industrial blast that happened on Nov. 13, some 100 tons of toxic chemicals, including benzene, spilled into the Songhua river which serves as a major drinking water supply to Harbin downstream and wends its way further into Russia. In the initial panic, residents scrambled to find potable water. Sixteen thousand tons of bottled water were sold out -- the equivalent of the city's water consumption for 100 days in normal times

Hurricane Stan Will Deepen Latin America Poverty For Decades

by Diego Cevallos The immediate future for people hit by the storm likely holds even deeper poverty. And the local ecosystems, which suffered enormous damages, could take decades to heal, according to the assessments of some 30 experts participating in a United Nations-led study

Iraqi Kurds Claim Their Right To Oil

by Kathleen Ridolfo The new Iraqi Constitution is murky on the issue, and arguably does not ban regional governments from drilling for oil in their territories. The issue, if pursued by Shi'ite and Sunni Arabs, could prove to be the Iraqi government's first constitutional dilemma

Permafrost Meltdown Across The Arctic

Permafrost is losing its permanence across the Northern Hemisphere, altering ecosystems and damaging roads and buildings across Alaska, Canada, and Russia. Government scientists warned today that over half the area covered by this topmost layer of permafrost could thaw by 2050 and as much as 90 percent by 2100

Iraqi On Iraqi Torture #1 Issue After Election

by Brian Conley and Omar Abdullah Few in Iraq doubt that the interim government detains and tortures people. Influential Sunnis and people on the street alike have complained to the central government about secret prisons all over Iraq -- particularly in Baghdad

Waiting For Tookie To Die At The Gates Of San Quentin

by Norman Solomon An announcement came at 12:38AM; Stanley Tookie Williams was dead

NY Times Had No Business Keeping White House Secrets

by Norman Solomon When the New York Times front page broke the story of the National Security Agency's domestic spying, the newspaper's editors had good reason to feel proud. Or so it seemed. But there was a troubling backstory: The Times had kept the scoop under wraps for a long time

Bush Lifts Another Chapter From Nixon's Vietnam Playbook

by Norman Solomon What's on the horizon for 2006 is that the Bush administration will strive to put any real or imagined reduction of U.S. occupation troop levels in the media spotlight. Meanwhile, the Pentagon will use massive air power in Iraq

Saddam Charges Carefully Selected To Avoid Rumsfeld's Connection

by Norman Solomon The victims were Shiites -- 143 men and adolescent boys, according to the charges -- tortured and killed in the Iraqi town of Dujail after an assassination attempt against Saddam in early July of 1982. Donald Rumsfeld became the Reagan administration's Middle East special envoy 15 months later

Colin Powell: Still Craven After All These Years

by Norman Solomon Now, after so much clear evidence has emerged to discredit the entire U.S. war effort, Colin Powell still can't bring himself to stand up and account for his crucial role. Instead, he's leaving it to a former aide to pin blame on those who remain at the top of the Bush administration

Has Bush Committed High Crimes And Misdemeanors?

by Jim Lobe Recklessly and audaciously, George W. Bush is driving the nation whose laws he swore to uphold into a constitutional crisis. He has claimed the powers of a medieval monarch and defied the other two branches of government to deny him. Eventually, despite his party's monopoly of power, he may force the nation to choose between his continuing degradation of basic national values and the terrible remedy of impeachment

Poll: Arabs Don't Buy Bush Democracy Crusade

by Jim Lobe President Bush's efforts to persuade the Arab world that Washington promotes democratic reform in their countries has made hardly a dent in the views of the vast majority of Arabs, with the exception of Christians in Lebanon

Sunni-Secular Coalitions Reject Election Results

by Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed Concern is rising among these groups over Iranian domination. 'We ask almighty God to save us from being under the control of the Iranians,' 45-year-old Baghdad resident Nadham al-Doury told IPS. Al-Douri who joined thousands of others in a march after the sermon said the election results would be forged, and that the current leaders of Iraq were 'fascists'

New Bolivia President Vows To End U.S. Drug War In Country

by Jim Lobe Campaigning on a platform that promised the end of U.S.-financed coca eradication and of the so-called 'Washington Consensus' for foreign investment-based economic development, Morales reportedly took 51 percent of the vote in a crowded field, giving him the presidency and a mandate far beyond that of any other president since the end of military rule in Bolivia more than 20 years ago

U.S. Aid To Latin America Increasingly Flows Through Pentagon

by Jim Lobe U.S. aid in Latin America is becoming increasingly militarized, according to a new report, which warns that both the U.S. Congress and the State Department are losing control over Washington's assistance to the region as more of it is channeled through the Pentagon

Pentagon's Secret Plan To Spy On U.S. Muslims

by William Fisher The Senate Intelligence Committee, meeting in closed session, last month quietly approved a request from the Department of Defense (DOD) to allow it to conduct surveillance operations within American Muslim communities. The DOD said the cooperation of these communities could help fight insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan

Road To Haiti's Presidency Leads Through Miami, NYC

by Amy Bracken Bazin and other Haitian candidates are campaigning hard outside Haiti because they see Haitians living abroad as enormously influential. More than 80 percent of college-educated Haitians live overseas, and the vast majority of Haiti's annual income comes from Haitians abroad sending money back to friends and family

Fujimori's Family Skimmed Millions From Donations

by Angel Paez Anti-corruption authorities in Peru have discovered numerous secret bank accounts holding up to $4.5 million in the names of former Peruvian ambassador to Japan Victor Aritomi and his wife Rosa Fujimori, former president Alberto Fujimori's sister

NSA Wiretaps Included 2003 Spying On UN Security Council

by Norman Solomon Despite all the news accounts and punditry since the New York Times published its Dec. 16 bombshell about the National Security Agency's domestic spying, the media coverage has made virtually no mention of the fact that the Bush administration used the NSA to spy on UN diplomats in New York before the invasion of Iraq

Collapse Of Housing Bubble Just Part Of Bush's Woes

by Alexander Cockburn On another front, General Motors darkened Thanksgiving by announcing the shutdown of 12 plants with a loss of 30,000 jobs. Imagine what it's like to turn on the TV news in Springhill, Tennessee, and hear that 5,576 jobs are scheduled to go out the window

All Over But The Obituary

by Alexander Cockburn The strong vote for the Shiite religious parties, the editorial writer bravely continues, 'does not necessarily mean that Iraqis have abruptly turned fundamentalist.' Why not? Then, just like those leftists in 1978 thinking Khomeini had read Condorcet, he advises the Grand Ayatollah Sistani and the equally triumphant nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr that 'The legal rights of women, currently in limbo between civil and religious law, need reinforcement'

The Year Credibility Vanished

by Alexander Cockburn As Hitler did before him, Bush raves on about imagined victories. Spare a thought for the First Lady, who has to endure his demented and possibly drunken harangues over supper. The word around Washington is that he's drinking again. At this rate he'll be shooting the dog and ordering the First Lady to take poison, which I'm sure she'll have great pleasure in forwarding to her mother-in-law

Bush In Winter

by Alexander Cockburn You have to go back to the early 1970s, when a scandal-stained Nixon was on the verge of resignation, to find numbers lower than Bush's. Like Bush, Nixon had swept to triumphant reelection in 1972. Less than two years later, he turned the White House over to Vice President Ford and flew off into exile

All The News That's Fit To Buy

by Alexander Cockburn The Bush era has brought a robust simplicity to the business of news management: Where possible, buy journalists to turn out favorable stories. And, as far as hostiles are concerned, if you think you can get away with it, shoot them or blow them up

Fighting 'Em Over There So We Can Spy On You Over Here

by Steve Young The president made it a perfect three for three when he decided that while an ongoing criminal investigation of some people (Libby) kept him from commenting on an ongoing investigation (Fitzgerald's), he could comment on others (DeLay) during an ongoing criminal investigation (Earle's). While there are some cynics who might call that disingenuous or hypocritical, White House spokesperson Scott McClellan called it 'presidential prerogative'

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