ISSUE 143 TABLE OF CONTENTS
by Pratap Chatterjee Conveniently located between Iraq and Afghanistan, Dubai is the ideal hub for military contractors and a lucrative link in the commercial supply chain of goods and people between Afghanistan or Iraq and the rest of the world
by Michael Flynn If the month of January is a sign of Bush administration troubles to come in 2006, it could be a banner year for prosecutors hot on the trail of wrongdoing among the right's leading lights. As the month comes to a close, two legal cases involving key Bush supporters have already been resolved, and a passel of others threaten to blow open before year's end
by Brian Concannon Jr. The election deal gives a little something to everyone, and that's the problem. Elections are not supposed to make everyone happy; they are supposed to apportion political power according to majority vote, on the basis of set rules. In all likelihood, a correct tabulation of the votes would have given Mr. Preval a first round victory as exit polls and unofficial tabulations had predicted. Although the negotiated agreement reaches the same result as a correct tabulation would have reached, it does so by changing the rules instead of correcting the violations of the rules
by Michael Schwartz Though Bush administration officials and top U.S. military officers often, for propaganda purposes, refer to local residents as innocent victims of insurgent intimidation and terrorism, their disregard for the lives of civilians trapped inside such buildings is symptomatic of a very different belief: that most Sunni Iraqis willingly harbor the guerrillas and support their attacks -- that they are not unwilling shields for the guerrillas, but are actively shielding them. Moreover, this protection of the guerrillas is seen as a critical obstacle to our military success, requiring drastic punitive action
Analysis by Stephen Zunes Israel cut off negotiations with the Palestinians when right-wing prime minister Ariel Sharon came to office in February 2001, just one month after Israeli-Palestinian talks in Taba, Egypt came tantalisingly close to reaching a final peace agreement. The Israeli government, with apparent U.S. backing, has refused to resume negotiations ever since. Exit polls appear to indicate that if Palestinians had believed that re-electing the more moderate Fatah movement would have allowed for the resumption of peace talks, they would not have backed the hard-line Hamas
by Michael Kroll The case of Michael Morales is exactly what executive clemency is designed to address, especially because, unlike those 200 California inmates who have been released, there is no remedy for the execution of a man who does not qualify for execution under the law. The basis of his death sentence was a lie
by Alexander Cockburn Every era produces its techno-Panglosses, eager to guard America, and demanding torrents of public money to that end. In Reagantime it was the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), with missiles programmed to launch on warning that enemy warheads were plummeting into the Homeland. Long since discredited by one series of failed tests after another, this souvenir of Reagantime still marches expensively through the Defense Budget
by Stefania Bianchi So far in Europe, the potentially deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has been confirmed in Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Austria, Italy, Germany and the European part of Russia. Croatia, Slovenia and Ukraine are still investigating possible outbreaks. All affected countries instantly introduced the EU's defense measures, which involve a halt to poultry movement in the affected region
by Steve Young O'Reilly's Beavis didn't diminish the pure comic genius of his Buttheadwellian conviction that there was nothing amiss about a sitting vice-president waiting nearly twenty-four hours before revealing, through a non-governmental ranch owner, that he had shot a guy in the face
by Steve Young Sweet Jeebus, George, the last few days have been tough. Right after we back you up on condemning the NSA whistleblower for leaking national 'can you hear me now' secrets, Scooter admits that Dick told him to spread national secrets. Darn it, Mr. President, some of our listeners might just think that might be illegal or traitorous
by Steve Young If the far-left wackos in Hollywood could do a Diebold on the Oscar vote and truly push the liberal agenda, it wouldn't be a gay humanizing film that would take home the Golden Gal. It would be the true dark horse, 'Good Night, And Good Luck' -- a film with the subversive message that reminds us how the media behaved prior to the takeover by today's Lying Lords of Loud
by Amy Bracken As gunfire rings out in Cite Soleil, Haitian radio broadcasts a war of words. Armed residents of Cite Soleil say business leaders are backing a campaign of violence carried out by the UN Business leaders say the UN is willfully neglecting to control gangsters and kidnappers. And police and UN leaders accuse candidates in Haiti's upcoming presidential elections of backing gang violence
by Jim Lobe Consistent with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's passion for 'military transformation,' the DOD plans instead invest $6.6 billion in 2007 in enhancing the army's flexibility and ability to intervene quickly in global hotspots. While boosting the military's counter-terror and counter-insurgency capabilities, the Pentagon said it had no plans to drop big-ticket weapons systems that even its strongest proponents concede are less relevant to its 'long war'
by Brian Conley and Isam Rashid Iraqis live amid the excesses of the occupation, death squads, shootings and terrorist bombings -- but with street crime that often stalks them into their home
by Alvaro Vargas Llosa Two years ago, just as ten central and eastern European nations were about to join the EU, bringing the total number of members to 25, a continent-wide hysteria against 'Polish plumbers' broke out. Convinced that the free movement of labor -- a supposed pillar of the EU -- would bring about a flood of poor central and eastern European workers desperate to earn better salaries or apply for welfare benefits in the richer nations, western Europeans began to demonize Polish plumbers
by William Fisher Find illegal activity in the U.S. national security agency you work for. Report it to your superiors. Get rewarded by being demoted or having your security clearance revoked -- tantamount to losing your career -- while those whose conduct you've reported get promoted. This was the picture painted to a House of Representatives committee last week, as its members heard from five soldiers and civilians who say their livelihoods and reputations have been destroyed or placed in serious jeopardy by their attempts to expose and correct waste, fraud or abuse in their workplaces
by Bill Berkowitz The former attorney-general has founded a lobbying firm which, in a very short time, has managed to rake in a fair amount of money representing an assortment of corporate clients, several of whom stand to reap great profits from the president's war on terrorism
by William Fisher A U.S. federal court dismissed a lawsuit against the Bush administration brought by Ottawa engineer Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen who was detained by U.S. authorities as a suspected terrorist during a stopover in New York as he returned from a vacation in September 2002. He was held virtually incommunicado by U.S. officials, and then sent to Syria, where he said he was tortured and held in a tiny cell he likened to a 'grave' for nearly a year. He was never charged before Syria returned him to Canada
by Dahr Jamail Its foreign bureaus were bombed by U.S. warplanes, it is banned from reporting from four Middle East countries -- and Al-Jazeera is only growing in popularity
by Tito Drago A comedian on the Radio COPE program phoned Morales, posing as Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. In the conversation, broadcast by the station, the comic praised 'brother Hugo (Chavez, the president of Venezuela) and Fidel (Castro, president of Cuba),'offered the newly elected left-wing president-elect unconditional support, and ended with the statement 'Down with imperialism!'
by Bill Berkowitz Koch Industries is controlled by the Koch boys of Kansas -- smart, incredibly wealthy, and politically savvy and well-connected, having spent years funding their libertarian and free-market agenda through millions of dollars in contributions to far right causes, candidates and organizations in the U.S.
by Norman Solomon With sugar-plum visions of Iran's massive oil and natural-gas reserves dancing in their heads, the Washington neo-cons evidently harbor some farfetched hopes of bringing about the overthrow of the Iranian regime. But in the real world, an attack on Iran would strengthen its most extreme factions and fortify whatever interest it has in developing nuclear arms
by Jim Lobe Breaking with some of their colleagues in the Christian Right, a group of more than 85 U.S. evangelical Christian leaders called on Congress Feb. 8 to enact legislation that would reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, which most scientists believe contribute to global warming
by Jim Lobe Roberts, whose opinions are not considered to be very different from Alito's, had an easier time than Alito gaining confirmation primarily because he was replacing a fellow-right-winger, the late William Rehnquist, for whom he clerked at an earlier stage in his career. Roberts' ascension to the Court, therefore, did not change its ideological balance. That is not true of Alito, whose replacement of O'Connor marks a net gain for the right
by Molly Ivins The problem is not just keeping track of everything the Bushies are up to, but trying to evaluate the damage. For example, the man who has headed the Justice Department investigation into the dealings of corrupt Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff for the last two years has been removed from his job. The Bush team decided to put him on the federal bench, so the Abramoff investigation will be headed by someone less senior and less experienced
by Molly Ivins The war in Iraq costs the United States $1 billion per week, $251 billion so far. Bush originally said it would cost $70 billion. Before the war, he fired his top economic adviser, Larry Lindsay, who said it would cost $200 billion. Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel economist, now estimates the total cost between $1 trillion and $2 trillion. He includes lifetime care of the wounded, the economic value of destroyed and lost lives, and the opportunity cost of resources diverted to the war
by Molly Ivins This is a corporation, consequently its only interest is in making money. A corporation is like a shark, designed to do two things: kill and eat. Thousands of years of evolution lie behind the shark, where as the corporation has only a few hundred. But it is still perfectly evolved for its purpose. That means a corporation that makes money running port facilities does not have a stake in national security. It's not the corporation's fault any more than it's the shark's
Bush's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2007 includes proposals to sell nearly $1 billion worth of public lands to raise money for the federal treasury. If these budget provisions are approved by Congress, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will for the first time have mandatory sales targets to meet
by Alvaro Vargas Llosa If Aristide -- the former President who left the country in 2004 just as his palace was about to be assaulted by opposing thugs -- had planned it all, he couldn't have done it better. The international mission has failed and his own man, Rene Preval, who governed the country in between two Aristide administrations, is now the legitimate winner
by Jason Salzman Media outlets that cited the Heritage Foundation were given a more conservative rating; those that cited Children's Defense Fund were assigned a more liberal score. And it turned out that most of the national media lean left, with only FOX News and The Washington Times on the right. It sounds convincing, but the study was completely flawed
by Jim Lobe Two days after the bombing of one of Shia Islam's holiest shrines in Iraq, analysts and officials here are holding their breath, desperately hoping that a rapid descent into a sectarian civil war in Iraq can still be avoided, if not reversed
by Jim Lobe Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones noted in an article accompanying the poll results that of the six major conflicts in which the U.S. was engaged after World War II, only the Vietnam War provoked greater public opposition while the conflict was still taking place
by Amy Bracken Though observers reported no organized violence, there were four elections-related deaths and some injuries. Two individuals died after being swept up in pushing and shoving crowds outside voting centers in greater Port-au-Prince. Local radio reported one suffocated and one fainted. Later, police reacted to increasing tension in a crowd outside a voting center by shooting into the air. One police officer shot and killed a member of the crowd, and other members of the crowd reacted by killing the police with machetes
by M.B. Naqvi Revelations that the schools, known as madrassas, were linked to the July 7 bombings in London compelled Musharraf to order expulsion of all foreign students by Dec. 31. Three of the four men responsible for the bombings were British citizens of Pakistan descent
by Thalif Deen Perhaps one of the biggest single political nightmares for U.S. policy-makers is fast becoming a dreadful reality: What if you foster democratic elections all over the Middle East and only radical Islamists are voted into power?
by Praful Bidwai The decommissioned aircraft carrier contains asbestos, estimated at between 45 tons and 1,000 tons, and other toxic substances including PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and heavy metals like lead, cadmium and mercury. The French government recently sold the ship to a private company, SDIC, insisting that the vessel's dumping is permissible under the Basel Convention because it is 'war material.' Environmentalists in both France and India argued that such exceptions are impermissible under international law
Analysis by M B Naqvi While Bush is vocal about democracy, his definition differs from what independent and opposition politicians in Pakistan think democracy is. 'Musharraf in full military regalia has presided over the destinies of Pakistan for so long and the Americans have felt no discomfort'
by Emad Mekay In a replay of congressional efforts last year that foiled a bid by a Chinese company to buy a U.S. oil firm, a group of hawkish U.S. lawmakers, citing national security concerns, are trying to block a deal that gives a major Arab company control over a British firm that runs some U.S. ports
by Molly Ivins As long as the special interests pay to elect the pols, we will have government of the special interests, by the special interests and for the special interests. Pols will always dance with them what brung them. We have to fix the system so that when they are elected, they got no one to dance with but us, the people
by Molly Ivins Not that I accuse Harry Whittington of being an actual liberal -- only by Texas Republican standards, and that sets the bar about the height of a matchbook. Nevertheless, Whittington is seriously civilized, particularly on the issues of crime, punishment and prisons
by Molly Ivins Gonzales maintained the law is superseded by some unwritten constitutional power due the president during time of war and further that Congress had authorized warrantless spying when giving the president the authority to invade Afghanistan. Strange, so few who voted for invading Afghanistan recall having warrantless spying in mind
by Molly Ivins I like to think that Republicans are having fun. They're such cards. What a wheeze, what a jape. Talking about energy independence in the State of the Union Address! President Bush said, 'America is addicted to oil' and we will 'break this addiction.' Oh what a good trick to see if anyone thought he actually meant it
by Jim Lobe Under his 2007 budget request submitted to Congress Monday, Pentagon spending next year would rise to some $440 billion, not including another $120 billion that the administration is expected to ask for as a supplemental appropriation to fund U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through September, when fiscal 2006 ends.
by Brian Conley and Isam Rashid Two international journalist groups are criticizing the U.S. military for repeatedly detaining Iraqi journalists, usually without charges. At least one Iraqi journalist, Abdel Amir Younes Hussein, is still in detention. Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists have both made repeated appeals for Hussein to be released. He has been in detention more than 10 months
Analysis by Gareth Porter Had the normal policy been followed, it is very likely that all the women held by the United States would have been released by now. By delaying the releases of female detainees to strike a tough anti-terrorism pose, the administration has increased the risk to Jill Carroll's life
by Gareth Porter The United States and Iran were on a course to work closely together on the war against al Qaeda and its Taliban sponsors in Afghanistan in late 2001 and early 2002 -- until Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stepped in to scuttle that cooperation, according to officials who were involved at the time
by Michael Flynn Although the neo-conservatives have lost representation in government, it would be a mistake to think that just because of a minor embarrassment like a war gone terribly awry they have slunk into the shadows. In fact, their efforts to push their agenda have continued with similar fervor and energy that characterized their campaign to push for war in Iraq
by Stephen Zunes There has been widespread debate in your country regarding Denmark's role in provoking the reaction, ranging from the appropriateness of the cartoons themselves to the Danish government's support of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Whatever missteps may have occurred on your side of the Atlantic, however, it is hard to imagine that the extent of the violent reaction would have been nearly as severe as it was if not for the pent up grievances in the Islamic world resulting from many years of irresponsible U.S. policies. And for this, I can only offer my apologies
by William Fisher Last June, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called Guantanamo Bay prisoners 'terrorists, trainers, bomb makers, recruiters, financiers, (Osama bin Laden's) bodyguards, would-be suicide bombers, probably the 20th 9/11 hijacker.' Yet two recent reports, based on the Defense Department's own documentation, reach dramatically different conclusions
by Peter Dale Scott Long trumpeted as the solution to world hunger, some biotech supporters have scaled back their claims and now say the technology will make a substantial contribution to ending hunger. But just when or if that contribution will ever arrive is not clear. Despite billions of dollars invested in research by governments and industry over more than 20 years, only three crops -- cotton, maize and soy -- account for 95 percent of GE acreage. These three crops are either herbicide-resistant or contain Bt insecticide
by Jim Lobe Large majorities of Iraqis believe that the United States has no intention of ever withdrawing all its military forces from their country and that Washington's reconstruction efforts have been incompetent at best, according to a new survey. At the same time, however, only 35 percent of Iraqis -- most of them Sunni Arabs -- believe coalition forces should withdraw within six months
by Gustavo Gonzalez Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet's wife and grown children were charged with tax evasion and the use of false passports Jan. 23 in the Chilean capital
by William Fisher Four Muslim men who were detained without charge for months in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, eventually cleared of any connection to terrorism, and then deported to Egypt, have been allowed to return to the U.S. to pursue their class action civil lawsuit against the U.S. government
by Thalif Deen The 132-member Group of 77, which represents over two-thirds of the membership of the United Nations, rebuffed a U.S. claim that it has a right to virtually dictate the agenda on UN peacekeeping because it pays 27 percent of the budget
by Antoaneta Bezlova As global concern about climate change and rising carbon dioxide emissions grows, China -- the developing world's biggest polluter -- is sending confusing signals about its willingness to clean up energy production and tackle environmental pollution
by Stephen Leahy Washington's attempts to bring security to Iraq and Afghanistan are not only making life harder for local people, they are breeding more terrorists, warn international security experts. Under its anti-terrorism agenda, the U.S. has centralized power and security in post-conflict Iraq and Afghanistan, which ironically creates perfect conditions for terrorists and criminals
by Julio Godoy Leading French Muslims say the Danish newspaper cartoons that equate the prophet Mohammed with terrorism symbolize a growing European prejudice against the Islamic world
by Thalif Deen Bolton, who is currently presiding over the rotating monthly chair of the Security Council, is using his discretionary powers to summon an open meeting to review a 45-page report loaded with accusations of fraud and mismanagement in UN procurement. Bolton probably thinks the Security Council has the right to discuss the issue because most of the corruption is related to UN peacekeeping operations overseas. But 132 developing nations, an overwhelming majority of the 191 member states in the world body, beg to differ
by Jasmyne Cannick Mrs. King was one of very few voices in the African American civil rights community to embrace lesbians and gays, and she faced opposition even within her family. In 1998 her niece trekked across the country speaking at rallies against gay rights legislation, calling her organization 'King for America.' Bernice King made news in December 2004 when she participated in an anti-gay march in Atlanta with her mentor Bishop Long. Earlier in October she was quoted in Auckland, New Zealand, as saying, 'I know deep down in my sanctified soul that he (King) did not take a bullet for same-sex unions'
by Fawzia Sheikh Israel will withhold an estimated $45 - 55 million in tax transfers and customs duties it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The move is in response to Hamas's refusal to lay down weapons, recognize Israel's right to exist and embrace a dialogue of peace. Not only is Israel taking action, but international donors are holding closed-door meetings and speaking openly about halting foreign aid to a government that advocates the annihilation of its neighbor and supposed peace partner
by Thalif Deen A survey of more than 50,000 tsunami survivors in five Asian countries has revealed that most of them have been doubly devastated: losing their loved ones in the December 2004 natural disaster, and subsequently having their human rights abused by their own governments
by Stephen Leahy Construction on the controversial, billion-dollar Pascua-Lama gold mine project, which will require moving Andean glaciers on the Chile-Argentina border, may begin this year despite strong opposition from environmentalists
by Jim Lobe Despite reports of growing tensions and even occasional clashes between Islamists and nationalists, the predominantly Sunni insurgency in Iraq appears increasingly united and confident of victory, according to a new report
by Jim Lobe Egypt's own Muslim Brotherhood might have a role to play in future mediation efforts. The banned-but-tolerated Islamist group -- of which Hamas is a historical offshoot -- recently won 88 parliamentary seats in an unprecedented electoral performance in Egypt.
by Jalal Ghazi There's no question that most of the demonstrations throughout the Islamic world against the Danish cartoons of Mohammed are genuine; however, according to Arab media, there's strong evidence that the violent reactions in Gaza, Lebanon and Afghanistan were deliberately planned and provoked by politically motivated groups
by Jim Lobe Fukuyama's break with the neo-conservatives marks the latest -- albeit among the most spectacular -- fracture in the ongoing splintering of the Republican foreign policy elite that has included aggressive nationalists, such as Vice President Dick Cheney; the Christian Right; traditional realists in the mold of former President George H.W. Bush; as well as neo-conservatives
by Marty Logan One election candidate is dead, another is recovering from a gunshot wound and dozens more live in fear in army barracks across Nepal following nearly two weeks of daily skirmishes between armor-clad police and rock-throwing, tire-burning protesters. The violent unrest has filled jails and turned town centers into zones of fear -- certainly not what the future Nepal's king promised when he grabbed the reins of government one year ago
Families from earthquake areas who have reached Lahore and other major cities in Pakistan, have, over the past three months, been desperately seeking work. In cases where the family's main breadwinner has died or been injured, it is the children who must earn money. Sometimes, even when their father is alive, families no longer feel able to send children to school and have instead put them to work. The fact that hundreds of schools have yet to reopen, or are operating on an ad hoc basis in tents, fuels the trend
by Julio Godoy Some commentators and cartoonists have pointed out that European freedom of the press is not absolute as some editors pretend, and that tribunals often rule against journalists and artists. French Catholic associations 'bombard newspapers with petitions every time they believe journalists and cartoonists have offended Christian dogmas
by Bill Berkowitz As the Bush administration ratchets up its domestic spying capabilities, the FBI is collecting 'research' reports on direct-action environmental groups produced by right-wing think tanks
by Thalif Deen The United Nations, which is struggling to redeem its public image over charges of nepotism and mismanagement in the now-defunct oil-for-food program in Iraq, has admitted to another growing scandal relating to its procurement activities. The abuses relate mostly to UN supplies and services -- both in the department of management and the department of peacekeeping operations
by Bill Samii Ahmadinejad spoke out against what is arguably the most-popular television show in Iran: 'The Nights of Barareh,'a nightly comedy that is set some 70 years ago in a fictional village. Its clever writing addresses issues that viewers relate to, such as government corruption, bogus elections, and women's rights, and there is a grim-faced gendarme who censors the local newspaper. Even 'enrichment' comes up as a topic when a Westerner persuades the locals that he is able to enrich their chickpeas but, in fact, he only soaks them in water to increase their weight. The program also touches on social issues, with the village divided into upper and lower halves that resemble the class divisions of Tehran
by Robert Scheer Where would the Bush administration be without terrorism? Like the Cold War before it, the 'war on terror' is a conveniently sweeping rationale for all manner of irrational governance, such as the outrageous $2.77 trillion budget the president proposed
by Robert Scheer An Austrian court has sentenced crackpot British historian David Irving to three years' imprisonment for having denied the Holocaust 17 years ago should have alarmed free-speech advocates -- particularly at a time when Muslim fundamentalists are being lectured as to the freedom of expression that should be afforded cartoonists. In the event, however, a lack of noticeable outcry has exposed a longstanding double standard in the West about who is entitled to free speech and why
by Robert Scheer Condoleezza Rice is someone I knew to be a very bright scholar back in the 1980s, when we were both fellows in Stanford University's arms-control seminar. Yes, we differed on occasion, but I never had cause to doubt her ability to reason. Now, I do.
by Robert Scheer Enron's domination of those deregulated markets was made possible, to a large degree, through the work of the powerful Washington couple, Phil Gramm, then-Republican senator from Texas, and his wife Wendy, then-chair of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Perhaps predictably, neither Gramm has been charged with any crimes in connection with the Enron scandal, and both are barely mentioned in the two leading books on the scandal by New York Times business writers. But their antics, well documented by the leading public-interest watchdog group Public Citizen, are the key to understanding the Enron debacle
by Rene Ciria-Cruz There are no laws punishing bad taste, but journalists routinely don't write humorous articles or headlines about victims of natural catastrophes. They know better than to display their wit at the expense of victims of serious crimes. Who in the West criticizes such self-restraint as an erosion of freedom of expression and of the press?
by Pratap Chatterjee Citing a mountain of unpaid bills, the governments of Turkey and Saudi Arabia have shut off gasoline exports to Iraq. With its options dwindling and beleaguered Iraqis demanding fuel, Baghdad has begun to negotiate with its former arch-rival, Iran
by Joe Conason The State Department's most recent report on human trafficking in 2005 denounced the UAE. Busloads of workers are herded into the country annually under conditions resembling indenture, and planeloads of women are flown in for sexual exploitation. Even children are not exempt from the medieval labor market, with thousands of boys illegally imported to serve as child camel jockeys
by William Fisher Foreign policy and human rights experts appear to agree with a United Nations report calling on Washington to shut down its detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but most believe that simply closing it misses a larger point: What to do with the prisoners?
by Jim Lobe The U.S. intelligence community's top Middle East analyst from 2000 to 2005 has accused the Bush administration of distorting and politicizing intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war
by Jim Lobe While Bush, hobbled by public approval ratings far below the levels of recent presidents like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton at a comparable time in their second terms, stuck to his familiar, sweeping pro-democracy rhetoric in the first part of the speech -- devoted mainly to the terror war -- much of the rest was unusually modest both in tone, substance, and even delivery. 'This is the first State of the Union I can remember where the president ended the evening diminished in stature rather than enhanced,' wrote Ryan Lizza, a veteran political analyst for The New Republic
Analysis by Praful Bidwai A meeting between the Iranian and Russian governments in Moscow on Feb. 20 may be the last chance for diplomacy before international sanctions and other punitive measures against Tehran become inevitable
by Joe Conason Having established his credibility by improving Medicare and strengthening Social Security, George W. Bush is moving on to address America's health-insurance crisis. Still guided by the deep social and economic insights that brought us those earlier triumphs, he is promoting the same panacea he applies to almost every domestic problem: tax cuts favoring the wealthy
by M.B. Naqvi Anti-U.S. sentiment in Pakistan has been growing since January when U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan fired missiles across the border targeting top leaders of the al Qaeda organization, resulting in the death of 18 people, including women and children
by Fawzia Sheikh Some Muslim governments are taking advantage of the furor gripping the Muslim world over the cartoon illustrations of Prophet Mohammed, to sidestep calls for democracy in their own countries, some analysts say
Analysis by Jim Lobe 'What we are witnessing today has little to do with Western democratic values and everything to do with a European media that reflects and plays to an increasingly xenophobic and Islamophobic society,' wrote John Esposito, who teaches Middle East studies at Georgetown University. Citing a recent Gallup World Poll of opinions in predominantly Islamic countries, he noted that, when asked to describe what the West could do to improve relations with the Arab-Muslim world, 'by far the most frequent reply was that they should demonstrate more understanding and respect for Islam, show less prejudice, and not denigrate what Islam stands for'
by Sanjay Suri 'I don't want to sound too self-congratulatory, but there is a greater sensitivity and pragmatism here over things seen to be sacrilegious,' said editor of Granta magazine Ian Jack. 'The view here was that publishing the cartoons would mean just striking a posture, that would do no good and probably do quite a lot of harm'
by Yuru Chen Jyllands-Posten is Denmark's mainstream media; with its vast power of influence should come a greater sense of responsibility. But when the editors make such a costly mistake, they split hairs, arguing for their own sake. We feel pained and ashamed to be their colleagues in journalism
by Baradan Kuppusamy 'Equating Islam and Muslims with violence and terror is not new. It has been going on for a long time,' Muzaffar said. 'It explains to a great extent the explosion of violent fury in different parts of the Muslim world over the abusive cartoons. It is anger that is driven by more than their boundless love for Mohammed'
Saudi Arabia alone has pledged $573 million for rebuilding and rehabilitation in the quake-affected areas. Among others, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has given $500 million, Iran $200 million, Turkey $150 million, the UAE $100 million and another $100 million by Kuwait
by Stephen Leahy The UCS has compiled a compelling list of instances of political interference in research, including the removal of highly qualified scientists from advisory committees dealing with childhood lead poisoning, environmental and reproductive health, and drug abuse. Those scientists were then replaced by individuals associated with or working for industries subject to regulation. Funding has also been withheld from scientists who have been outspoken or pursue research that may contradict White House policy
by Alexander Cockburn I'd become so used to Nicholas Kristof's January visits to prostitutes in Cambodia that it was a something of a shock to find him this January in Calcutta's red light district instead. India has endured more than a decade of virtually unimaginable rural torment consequent upon imposition of the neo-liberal 'reforms,' editorially endorsed and endlessly hailed by New York Times reporters
by Norman Solomon Hours after Coretta Scott King died, President Bush led off the State of the Union address by praising her as 'a beloved, graceful, courageous woman who called America to its founding ideals and carried on a noble dream.' For good measure, at the end of his speech, Bush reverently invoked the name of her martyred husband, Martin Luther King Jr. The president is one of countless politicians who zealously oppose most of what King struggled for -- at the same time that they laud his name with syrupy words
by Alexander Cockburn The bulk of the president's speech was a series of defiant and sometimes incoherent raptures about the great tasks of American Empire. 'Sometimes,' Bush proclaimed, 't can seem that history is turning in a wide arc, toward an unknown shore.' What did this arc portend?
by Steve Young Here's how it works: Whenever Bill wants to rake someone across the coals without leaving his fingerprints on the rake, he sets it up as a poll to ask 'the folks.' He then uses these polls to pose a question -- the subject of which he's championed -- with a pre-determined answer. Then he uses the numbers to support his argument
by John Lasker As Washington's dependence on African oil intensifies, some analysts predict the region will increasingly play host to confrontations between U.S. forces deployed there and various insurgent groups, predominantly Islamic extremists
by Mohammed A. Salih The bombing of the Al-Askari Shia shrine and the wave of killings and attacks on Sunni mosques that followed have further endangered the fragile moves towards formation of a government
by Thalif Deen The United Arab Emirates (UAE), the center of a growing controversy over its proposed management of U.S. port terminals, is one of the world's most prolific arms buyers and a multi-billion-dollar military market both for the United States and Western Europe
Analysis by Emad Mekay Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld has signaled that he plans to intensify a campaign to influence global media coverage of the United States, a move that is likely to heighten the debate over press freedom and propaganda-free reportingPentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld has signaled that he plans to intensify a campaign to influence global media coverage of the United States, a move that is likely to heighten the debate over press freedom and propaganda-free reporting
by Tom Barry Rep. Tom Tancredo, who has represented Colorado's Sixth District since 1999, has in the last six years succeeded in rallying an anti-immigrant populist revolt that brings together the nativists, religious right, cultural supremacists, militia movement, and anti-immigration policy institutes with a new anti-immigration wing of the Republican Party
The Muslim Brotherhood runs 22 hospitals and numerous care centers for poor widows and orphans as well as training programs for the unemployed. While public services in Egypt are, for the most part, free of charge, quality tends to be low. For example, state-run schools are often so poor that families are forced to hire private tutors to ensure that their children pass public exams
by Jim Lobe The face-to-face survey of 944 military respondents, whose names and specific locations were withheld for security reasons, is the latest in a series of polls showing a continued erosion of support for the Iraq war, as well as for Bush himself. According to a New York Times-CBS poll released Tuesday, Bush's public-approval ratings have fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent -- down eight points from January, and lower even than the 35 percent he held in a CBS poll last October in the wake of Hurricane Katrina
by Larry Birns and Sabrina Starke MINUSTAH has made little effort to disarm the country, awash with an estimated 210,000 small arms, most of them illegal. The mission has also been charged with colluding with the interim government to marginalize anyone or anything connected to Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. An example of unremitting police brutality supported by MINUSTAH personnel occurred in the slum community of Bel Air in early July of 2005, and continued sporadically through the following October. The UN military used its peacekeeping force to control the outer perimeter of Bel Air, which allowed for Haitian National Police (HNP) units to drive through the local neighborhood killing and torching houses in order to intimidate its inhabitants
by Jim Lobe The founder and president of the Washington-based Center for Security Policy (CSP), a small think tank funded mainly by U.S. defense contractors, far-right foundations, and right-wing Zionists, Gaffney was among the first to seize on the government's approval of a Dubai company to manage terminals at six major U.S. ports and helped blow it up into a major embarrassment to Pres. George W. Bush
by Amy Bracken As more of the votes came in, Preval's lead sank below the 50 percent mark, infuriating supporters. Haiti's Constitution states that a candidate for president or Parliament must receive more than 50 percent of the vote or go to a run-off round. But among the few popular democratic elections in Haiti, there has never been a second round in the run for president
by William Fisher Noting that the FISA law has been amended five times since the Sept. 11 attacks 'to give it more flexibility,' Leahy and others asked Gonzales why the administration had not asked for additional amendments if they thought the law was inadequate. Gonzales cautioned against dealing with current threats through legislation; he said this could inhibit the president's ability to protect the country and result in leaks of confidential information
by William Fisher The reports detail an almost total failure in planning for and dealing with the devastating impacts of the disaster, massive waste in government procurement practices, widespread fraud by recipients of relief and absence of systems to monitor it, price gouging, and questionable no-bid contracts by companies that often did little actual work
Analysis by Fawzia Sheikh Both Fatah and Hamas have an interest to keep this mass of employees quiet, particularly since 60,000 of them, mainly Fatah supporters or members, are armed and work in the security and police force. So there are strong pressures on Hamas and on Fatah to collaborate
by Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed New footage of British soldiers beating up young Iraqi men in Amarah city in 2003, and the release of more photographs of atrocities by U.S. soldiers against Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib prison has spread outrage across Iraq. The timing of the new images is potent, in the wake of violence spreading through Iraq and much of the Muslim world over cartoons of Prophet Mohammed carried by a Danish newspaper and then other European publications
by Joe Conason For the unfortunate victim of Dick Cheney's quail-shooting misadventure, the experience of being blasted with birdshot and almost killed was all too real. For those of us lucky enough to be out of range, however, that incident may serve as a metaphor for the vice president's troubled tenure
by Norman Solomon When Brit Hume and Dick Cheney did their Fox trot, they were performing the kind of spectacle we've seen many times on television. Network correspondents and powerful politicians know the boundaries and the steps. Their footwork may look simple, but it's fancy and well-practiced. Contrary to pretense, the probing journalist doesn't probe too much, and the forthcoming politician merely hunkers down with a new twist
by Alexander Cockburn The 1997 lab scandals threw a shadow over the FBI's forensic procedures as a whole, and the criminal defense bar began to raise protests against prosecutorial use of latent fingerprint identification evidence, as produced by FBI procedures. Now, at last, in 2006, the FBI's current inspector general, Glenn Fine, has grudgingly administered what should properly be regarded as the deathblow to fingerprint evidence as used by the FBI and indeed by law enforcement generally
by Alexander Cockburn As Mary Lee Grant outlined in a very interesting piece in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, cattle ranching on these big spreads is not nearly as profitable as leasing them to hunters. Grant cites the Texas Department of Agriculture as saying that hunting brings about $1 billion annually to ranches across the state, and out of 200,000 farms and ranches statewide, 40,000 have leased their land to hunters
Albion Monitor Issue 143 (http://www.albionmonitor.com)
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