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ISSUE 151 TABLE OF CONTENTS

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The Immolation of Malachi Ritscher

by Andrew Lam In early November, as the Iraq war raged on, Malachi Ritscher set himself on fire in Chicago, drawing little media attention. In his suicide note, Ritscher, a man in his early 50s, wrote that his fellow Americans had become "more concerned with sports on television and ring-tones on cell phones than the future of the world." He set himself on fire on Chicago's Kennedy expressway, but his terrifying light didn't catch much media attention. What to make of such an act of protest? The few newspapers that reported it called it suicide. But is there another way to look at self-immolation? Is it an act of heroism or madness?


Iraq Closes Universities Following Worst Mass Kidnapping Since U.S. Invasion

In what was seen as the largest mass abduction since the beginning of the U.S. occupation in 2003, about 80 gunmen dressed as police commandos broke into the Ministry of Higher Education's scientific research directorate in downtown Baghdad, kidnapping up to 150 staff and visitors


Iraq's Healthcare System Rapidly Deteriorating

With escalating violence in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, doctors are increasingly the victims of attacks and kidnappings for ransom by criminal gangs or by insurgents. As a result, doctors are fleeing Iraq. Najji from the Iraqi Medical Association said that of the 34,000 Iraqi physicians registered prior to 2003, roughly half have fled the country


The Ghosts of Robert Gates

by Robert Parry Robert Gates, George W. Bush's choice to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary, is a trusted figure within the Bush Family's inner circle, but there are lingering questions about whether Gates is a trustworthy public official. The 63-year-old Gates has long faced accusations of collaborating with Islamic extremists in Iran, arming Saddam Hussein's dictatorship in Iraq, and politicizing U.S. intelligence to conform with the desires of policymakers -- three key areas that relate to his future job


Gaza's Teetering Tower of Debt

After nine months of an international trade embargo on the Palestinian National Authority, which has seen international aid cut off to the Hamas-led government because it has not recognized Israel or renounced violence, the economy of the occupied Palestinian territories is verging on collapse


The Bombshell of Public Law 109-364

by Alexander Cockburn At least when the Military Commissions Act was striding through Congress, the press did demurely note the fact, albeit without alarm sirens, that habeas corpus is headed toward a display case in the Smithsonian. The only story I've seen on the significance of Public Law 109-364 came from Frank Morales, on Uruknet, describing its license for the president to declare a 'public emergency' and station troops anywhere in America, taking control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to 'suppress public disorder'


The Bloodlettings We Choose to Ignore

by Alexander Cockburn To report in any detail on what's going on in Gaza means accusing the United States of active complicity in terrible crimes wrought by Israel, as it methodically lays waste a society of 1.5 million Palestinians. I was not at all surprised there was a sharp uptick in interest in Darfur at about the time of the Kerem Shalom attack and the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in Gaza in June of this year. By the time Israel's campaign of destroying Lebanon got under way this summer (a campaign intricately linked to the Palestine issue), Darfur was hotter still as a distracting topic


Head for the Exit, Now

by Alexander Cockburn Iraq is not on the 'edge of civil war.' It is in the midst of it. There is no Iraqi government. There are Sunni militias and Shia militias inflicting savagery on each other in the awful spiral of reprisal killings familiar from Northern Ireland and Lebanon in the 1970s. Iraq has become Chechnya, headed into that abyss from the day the United States invaded in 2003. It's been a steep price to inflict on the Iraqi people for the pleasure of seeing Saddam Hussein die abruptly at the end of a rope


Now What?

by Alexander Cockburn No one believes the Democrats are ever going to mess with the system, and that's not why the voters put them back in charge of Congress. They want America out of Iraq. Pronto, just like Rep. Jack Murtha said it should, this time last year


Dire Warnings About World Banking System

by Alexander Cockburn Now that the biennial democratic pretense here in the United States has run its course, can we talk about something serious? We can? Good. Hmmm. Ha! Here's a good one we can sink our teeth into for a few paragraphs: the distinct possibility that the world economic system could soon blow up in our faces. You say nobody mentioned this in Campaign 2006?


Your Election '06 Guide To Talk Radio Talkback

by Steve Young This Monday and late into Tuesday, the fertilizer-spreaders will be working full tilt to shovel out the White House/Karl Rove message. Your mission, if you wish to accept it, is to call everyone of them and in the 5 seconds they give you to speak before they lay down their talking point list, is to get to their truth of the matter


Talk Show Host Vacations Hurting Progress In Iraq

by Steve Young I know it's only been a few days, but even a day without the orange juice of truth the way I like it cannot be healthy for everything we've been fighting to fight for


Shame on You, Mr. Olbermann, For Making Fun of a Sick Man

by Steve Young Jung would likely find that O'Reilly's 'Journalist Complex' was triggered by the presence of any camera lens and/or at least one willing listener. Once in the grip of this complex, Bill O becomes disoriented and is unable to distinguish between Crate and Barrel, MoveOn.org, and Satan


Blood and Oil

by Steve Young 'Blood and Oil' screams to us of mistakes that continue to be made and of lessons from them that continue to be ignored. Too many dollars thrown down an oily drain. Too many heads of government and generals of men who think of futures sacrificed as only numbers to be tallied. Too much blood spilt in the name of oil. Whether be considered strategic or otherwise, it has to stop. It's all not only wrong, it's downright stupid


It Wasn't Iraq, It Was the Jokes About Iraq

by Steve Young This year Letterman and Stephanie Miller got it right. Brit Hume and Karl Rove got it wrong. Fox's 'The Simpsons' knew what they were talking about. Fox News didn't


Mexico's New President Takes Office Amid Rise in Social Violence, Drug Trafficking

by Diego Cevallos The Broad Progressive Front, a coalition of left-wing parties and members of Congress that support former presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, have announced that they too will hold demonstrations on that day. They are also threatening to prevent Calderon from being sworn in as president, but they have not said how they plan to do so


Bush: Stay the Course, Don't Ask For Help

Analysis by Jim Lobe Despite a growing and virtually universal consensus both here and abroad that the United States must engage Syria and Iran if it hopes to stabilize Iraq, President Bush appears determined to ignore Baghdad's two key neighbors as long as possible


Mexico Shuts the Door on GM Maize

by Diego Cevallos Mexico has moved to ban experimental fields of genetically modified (GM) maize. But the gateway into Mexico of transgenic maize remains ajar in the form of unlabeled grain imports


Litvinenko Murder Raises Question: Why Him, Why Now?

by Julie Johnson Russian media in the United States are divided over whether the Nov. 24 death-by-poison of writer and former Russian secret agent Alexander Litvinenko was government-backed or intended to frame President Vladimir Putin, though most agree Alexander Litvinenko is a curious target


Method To GOP Madness in Trent Lott Rehab

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson The Lott rehab seems exactly the wrong thing for the GOP to do to right its course after the wreck of midterm elections. But GOP leaders have something else in mind with Lott, and that gives a strong hint of just where the party is headed in Congress and how it will play the 2008 elections


Honduras Hires Private Cops in Effort to Quell Murders

by Thelma Mejia Custodio said Honduras is 'losing the battle against crime. The actions adopted so far have failed to bring results, and instead of designing a real public security policy, the government has simply carried out high-profile operations that are merely demonstrating its ineffectiveness.' While Operacion Trueno was being carried out, it was not only the number of murders that went up but also kidnappings


Quick Saddam Execution May Cheat Kurds of Genocide Trial

by Mohammed A. Salih As Saddam Hussein faces his second trial, this one over the killing of an estimated 180,000 Kurds in the late 1980s, people in Kurdistan are watching to see whether the death sentence in the first case will be carried out before there can be a verdict in the Kurds case


Assassination Renews Lebanon Crisis

The assassination of Pierre Gemayel, the Industry Minister, drove another nail into the coffin of the country's frail democracy. Gemayel, a scion of a prominent Maronite Christian family which heads the Phalange political party, was a member of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority


Radiation Link in Death of Putin Critic

Attention had focused on the two meetings Litvinenko held the day he fell ill. The first was with two Russians, including a fellow former colleague from the Russian security services. The second was with an Italian man who purported to have information regarding the recent murder of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya


Putin Critic Near Death After Poisoning in London

British police are investigating the near-fatal poisoning of Aleksandr Litvinenko, a former spy with Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB. Litvinenko became critically ill after meeting at a London restaurant with a source who said he had details regarding the October murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Litvinenko's supporters have accused the FSB of orchestrating the poisoning to silence the former spy, now an active critic of the Kremlin


U.S. Media Pushes 'Stay the Course'

by Norman Solomon The present situation is grimly instructive for anyone who might wonder how the Vietnam War could continue for years while opinion polls showed that most Americans were against it. Now, in the wake of midterm elections widely seen as a rebuke to the Iraq war, powerful media institutions are feverishly spinning against a pullout of U.S. troops


Repubs Deserved Defeat for Sleazy Campaign

by Joe Conason Republicans tend to talk about honor, integrity, morality and character in almost mystical terms, often attributing those qualities to themselves and their leaders. But the 2006 midterm elections concluded in a barrage of slanderous advertising, deceptive automated telephone calls and attempted voter intimidation designed to discourage participation


Iraq's Shadowy "Protection Force" Linked to Death Squads

by Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily The Facilities Protection Service (FPS) created after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 has become the principal source of death squads in Iraq, senior government leaders say


U.S. Accused of Massacre in Ramadi

by Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily A U.S. tank killed scores of civilians in Ramadi late Nov. 13, according to witnesses and doctors. Anger and frustration were evident at the hospitals and during the funerals in the following days. Iraqi doctors and witnesses at the scene of the attack said the barrage killed 35 civilians in their homes


Repubs Spinning Election Day in Advance

by Joe Conason Stricken with anxiety as the polls continue to indicate a Democratic resurgence, certain Republicans have already started spouting justifications and explanations. No matter what happens on Election Day, they say, the results must not be taken at face value -- because liberal Democrats can only prevail by pretending to be right-wing Republicans.


Mexico City Explosions are Dangerous Escalation in Oaxaca Crisis

by Louis E. V. Nevaer The governor of the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca is clinging to his post, bringing the months-long local conflict to boiling point. More than 15 people are dead, 5,000 police are unsuccessfully trying to quell the social protest, and there political rancour simmers nationwide


How Many Deaths Is the Oaxaca Governor Worth?

by Diego Cevallos The governor of the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca is clinging to his post, bringing the months-long local conflict to boiling point. More than 15 people are dead, 5,000 police are unsuccessfully trying to quell the social protest, and there political rancour simmers nationwide


U.S. Denounced at UN for Defending Israel Aggression

by Haider Rizvi Before and after the vote, speaker after speaker denounced the U.S. decision last week to veto the draft resolution as 'biased' and 'unjustified,' while describing Israeli military incursions into Palestinian towns and cities as 'state-terrorism' and 'blatant disregard for innocent human lives' that they said was 'unacceptable,' 'immoral,' and 'unlawful'


Farewell, My Rummy

by Molly Ivins There's been so much in print about how Daddy 41's people are back in the saddle. Unfortunately for us and for the world, the people from the first Bush administration who initially joined this administration were Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld. Not exactly the most diplomatic, forward-looking, helpful people to be guiding Dubya


Yeah, NOW They're all for Bipartisanship

by Molly Ivins Of all the viral members of the media who have been suggesting that the Dems cooperate with their political opponents, the one who rendered me almost unconscious with surprise was Newt Gingrich


Time for Media to Drop Right-Wing Talking Points

by Molly Ivins So after 12 years of tolerating lying, cheating and corruption, the press is prepared to lecture Democrats on how to behave with bipartisan manners


Crazy Right to the End

by Molly Ivins Right to the end, this insane conversation between reality and Not Reality. The president of the United States STILL says we are reducing terrorism by fighting in Iraq; STILL says we are creating democracy; STILL says we're preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and making Israel more secure; and, shoddiest of all, STILL not allowing that our fallen have died in vain


Dirty Politics Down to the Finish Line

by Molly Ivins If Kerry had been given as many breaks for misspeaking as George W. Bush has, he'd be a professor of grammar by now. And this all shows what the Bush regime has -- attacks on Kerry, Clinton, Kennedy, Pelosi, liberals! -- not any actual policies to help them


GOP Ineptitude and Some Advice for Dems

by Molly Ivins I realize for many Democrats it has been so long since we won, we have completely forgotten the etiquette. And I realize I'm taking a chance here -- there's nothing more dangerous than overconfidence -- but you have to practice for victory as well as defeat


Timing of Saddam Verdict Raises Questions in Mideast

by Emad Mekay It is not the first time legal maneuvering in the case seems to have been scheduled for maximum benefit to the Bush administration. In August, the trial recessed only to reconvene on Sept. 11. Access to the courtroom is controlled by the Americans, security is controlled by the Americans, and the Americans have custody over the defendants who must be produced before the trial can go forward, so whether they have the trial on day x or day y depends on the Americans giving their okay


Russia Now Top Arms Seller to Developing World

by Jim Lobe Russia's arms sales totaled $7 billion, or about one quarter of a $30 billion market last year, according to a new report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The United States, which has dominated the arms market for the past decade, retained its lead in the value of actual arms deliveries last year, according to the report


Iraq Scholars Targeted by Death Squads

by Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily Iraqi security forces have been accused of taking part in, or at least ignoring several mass kidnappings, which are widely believed to have been carried out by sectarian groups. The Sunni minority have blamed many of the kidnappings on armed groups from what are now the dominant Shiite political parties, who also control the Ministry of Interior. The higher education ministry is currently headed by a member of the main Sunni Arab political bloc


Active-Duty Troops Call For Iraq Pullout

by Aaron Glantz For the first time since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, active-duty members of the military are asking members of Congress to end the occupation of Iraq and bring U.S. soldiers home. More than 100 soldiers announced Wednesday that they are seeking protection under the Military Whistle-Blower Protection Act to file a protected communication to Congress without fear of reprisal


Bechtel Leaving Iraq Without Mission Accomplished

by Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily Bechtel, whose board members have close ties to the Bush administration, announced last week that it was done with trying to operate in the war-torn country. The company has received $2.3 billion of Iraqi reconstruction funds and U.S. taxpayer money, but is leaving without completing most of the tasks it had been paid for


Latin America Drug War Trumps Fighting Human Trafficking

by Diana Cariboni In countries like Mexico and Colombia, the power of the drug cartels has paralyzed the state's capacity to combat other transnational crimes like human trafficking


Truck Smog Means Asthma For Low-Income Residents Near Highways

by Viji Sundaram In West Contra Costa County, where racial and ethnic minorities make up more than 35 percent of the population, diesel pollution is 40 times higher per square mile than in the rest of California


How I Underestimated Thomas Friedman

by Norman Solomon Does Friedman's astronomical wealth invalidate what he writes? Of course not. But information about the extent of his wealth -- while not disclosed to readers of his columns and books -- provides context for how he is accustomed to moving through the world. And his outsized economic privileges become especially relevant when we consider that he's inclined to be glib and even flip as he advocates policies that give very low priority to reducing economic inequality


Texas Prisoner Cheats Executioner With Suicide

by Mark Weisenmiller When Texas death row inmate Michael Dewayne Johnson slit his throat with a homemade razor blade in the early morning hours of Oct. 19, he took a life that the state wanted to claim later that day. In doing so, he called attention to the stress endured by more than 3,300 inmates sitting in U.S. prisons for years as they await execution


After Years of Mad Choices, Bush Left With Only Sane Options

by Joe Conason The Bush administration's diplomatic quarantine of Iran and Syria has defeated our own purposes in the region. In the aftermath of 9/11, the Syrians worked with Western intelligence services against al Qaeda, which was rightly regarded by the Baathist government in Damascus as an enemy. In the months following the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Iranians secretly sought to open negotiations with the U.S. on a broad range of issues, from terrorism to proliferation to trade. Our own brand of 'rejectionism' only radicalized those regimes, notably with Ahmadinejad's election in 2005


Washington Press and Politicos Ignore Gates' Past

by Ivan Eland Gates' role in ignoring Congress's specific ban on assisting the Contras -- one of the most dangerous threats to constitutional government in American history -- should not be dismissed as merely old news. Apparently, the media and the Democrats are so relieved about getting rid of Rumsfeld that they appear to be doing just that


The Race For Pinochet's Gold

by Daniela Estrada Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet has $160 million worth of gold deposited in his name in a Hong Kong bank, according to information that the government of President Michelle Bachelet has passed on to the courts. Now, every minute counts to prevent the alleged fortune in gold from being hidden once again


Why O.J. Doesn't Go Away

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson Rupert Murdoch announced that the Fox network miscalculated when it planned a book and two-part interview in which O.J. Simpson talked about his apparently fictional account of how he would have butchered Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Forsaking over $3 million, Murdoch has cancelled plans to broadcast the interview


Ethanol and Other Biofuel Subsidies a Waste, Study Finds

by Jim Lobe Despite an explosion of private investment in the U.S. liquid biofuels industry, taxpayers are contributing about $7 billion a year in subsidies which could be better used for other energy- and environment-saving technologies, according to a major new report


Nicaragua Outlaws Abortion in Advance of Election

by Jose Adan Silva The decision by Nicaraguan legislators to hand down eight-year prison sentences to those who terminate a pregnancy to save a mother's life has astounded doctors, feminists, activists, diplomats and government officials alike


Most Iraq Food Imported as Farmers Struggle to Produce Crops Against Odds

by Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily Lack of security also has hampered farmer's productivity. 'How can one deliver any crops to Mr. Maliki's warehouses? Militias are taking firm positions there and so if you are Sunni, they will kill you and take your money. But if you are a Shi'ite, then they will only take your money and release you for ransom,' farmer Latif Hameed said in an interview


U.S, Iraqi Forces Becoming Major Force in Anbar Violence

by Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily The violence appears to be affecting the civilian population far more than it is stifling the resistance. The suffering of people in Falluja increases by the day, and the number of resistance snipers appears to be increasing in response to the U.S. use of snipers against civilians


Journalists Miss the Real Vietnam at APEC Summit

by Andrew Lam The Asia Pacific leaders meeting in Hanoi this weekend for the APEC summit allows the country to showcase its impressive economic growth to the world. But behind this growth are social and environmental problems that Vietnam doesn't know how to solve


Bush Brings Nothing to the Table in Pacific Rim Trade Summit

by Marwaan Macan-Markar The APEC summit comes at a time when questions are being raised about the fate of global free trade and the WTO following the collapse of the Doha Round of talks for a new set of rules for international trade. Also significant was the failure of the White House to win support Nov. 14 for a bill in the House of Representatives to grant APEC host Vietnam 'permanent normal trade relations' (PNTR) status. On Nov. 7 the Southeast Asian nation gained approval to become the 150th member of the WTO


Remembering the Real Ed Bradley

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson Bush and others reaffirmed him as a news icon, but said very little about Bradley beyond his professional reputation


"Accidental" Israeli Bombing Kills 18 in Gaza, Including 8 Children

"We were all sleeping. We had spent a very bad week during the occupation when we slept about three hours a night but after the Israelis left we felt we could finally sleep, deeply. I didn't hear the shelling but my brother woke me and we ran to the street where the shells hit. Some of the buildings they hit had up to 40 members of the same extended family living inside in separate apartments."


Bush's November Surprise

by Robert Scheer How convenient for Saddam Hussein to be convicted two days before the midterm election by a United States-elected and -directed court, providing President Bush with his much-needed November surprise. How irresponsible for the mass media to neglect to point out that the 'crimes against humanity' for which Hussein was convicted occurred 15 months before Donald Rumsfeld, then the special envoy to Iraq, met with Hussein in Baghdad to develop an alliance between the administration of Ronald Reagan and that of the murderous Iraqi dictator


Turning the Corner Into Madness

by Robert Scheer This time, we are led by a false warrior who insists on playing the simpleton, ignoring his prestigious education at Andover and Yale in favor of what he presumes are the prejudices of Middle America. Or is this giving Bush, the son of a president, too much credit?


Learning to Live With the Ayatollahs

by Robert Scheer Simply put, the neo-conservative geniuses who believed invading Iraq would bolster both U.S. and Israeli interests in fact have accomplished the exact opposite -- handing both military and public-relations victories to their sworn enemies. Similarly, the international movement to restrain the proliferation of nuclear weapons has been struck a possible deathblow, as a desperate United States may be forced to accommodate Iran's nuclear ambitions, just as it did those of Pakistan


Bush's Strange Vietnam Visit

by Joe Conason What may be remembered someday as one of the strangest moments of George W. Bush's presidency took place last week in Vietnam, when he chose to mention the American defeat there in the same breath as our failing occupation of Iraq. That comparison is often made by his critics, and often elicits irritated rebuttals from the White House


Bush Clueless in the Shadow of Ho Chi Minh

by Robert Scheer Bush seems not to have noticed that we succeeded in Vietnam precisely because we did quit the military occupation of that nation, permitting an ideology of freedom to overcome one of hate. Bush's rhetoric is frighteningly reminiscent of Richard Nixon's escalation and expansion of the Vietnam War in an attempt to buy an 'honorable' exit with the blood of millions of Southeast Asians and thousands of American soldiers. In the end, a decade of bitter fighting did not prevent an ignominious U.S. departure from Saigon


Murtha's no Lefty, but he's Right

by Robert Scheer Hoyer, and all too many Democrats in Congress, still are accepting or supporting the administration's obsessive insistence that occupying Iraq is the best way to prevent terror attacks. The pro-war wing of the Democratic Party -- which, sadly, still includes Sen. Joe Lieberman, who is threatening to blackmail Senate Democrats on the issue -- is yet clinging to the neo-conservative fantasy of a democratic, Israel-friendly Iraq that can serve indefinitely as a giant base for U.S. troops


Politics and Distrust Behind Muslim-West Rift, not Religion

by Mithre J. Sandrasagra Violence is fueled by fear and misunderstandings, economic inequality, wars by Western powers in Muslim countries and the Arab-Israeli conflict, according to Annan, not cultural and religious identity


Black Republican Candidates Face Grim Odds

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson Black Democrats still accurately capture the mood of fear and hostility the majority of blacks feel toward the Republicans. Even when black Democratic politicians stumble or are tainted with scandal, that won't guarantee they'll be knocked from their perch


Europe Hopes Election 06 Brought New Era of Reason

by Michael Winship This is no time to gloat. Okay, maybe gloat just a little, perform a modified Snoopy dance, congratulate one another for overcoming the advantages of incumbency and surviving a campaign of nonpareil viciousness, slime and perfidy. But, as Robert Redford's character in The Candidate says after he wins his seat in the U.S. Senate, 'What do we do now?'


Election '06 Rated XXX

by Michael Winship There's the National Republican Campaign Committee ad accusing New York State Democratic congressional candidate Michael Arcuri of spending tax dollars by calling a fantasy chat line from a New York City hotel. Apparently, an aide -- not even Arcuri himself -- was calling the state Division of Criminal Justice and misdialed the prefix code. The billing records are pretty clear. Cost to the state: $1.25. Humor value: priceless


Bush Seen as Irrelevant at Asian Summit

by Marwaan Macan-Markar If the commentaries in East Asian newspapers on the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on the weekend are a reflection of the region's mood, then President Bush's visit is seen as lacking in relevance. A wide arc of disapproval, from sections of the press stretching from Japan to the Philippines, Washington's strongest allies in the region, contrasts with the welcome Bush received in 2003, when he visited Bangkok for the APEC summit that year


Murtha no Democratic Party Beacon

by Joe Conason Until he won deserved gratitude last year by speaking out against the war, Murtha was best known as an old-fashioned dealmaker who specialized in trading votes for pork projects, and a reliable advocate of Pentagon extravagance. Conservative on social issues but sympathetic to labor, he was the kind of Democrat who often did business with Republicans when that served his narrow interests. More than once, his backroom maneuvering has raised ethical questions


Iraq Industry Another Casualty of War

by Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily About 80 percent of domestically manufactured goods were distributed prior to the invasion and occupation through the Shorja market in the center of Baghdad. The wholesale market is a bazaar along narrow roads where hundreds of small shop-owners display their merchandise. 'There is no Iraqi brand any more,' plastic products distributor Johar Aziz told IPS. 'Iraqi products florished during the quarter century before occupation, but now we only sell imported products of the lowest quality, and people have to buy them because there is no alternative'


Iraqi Resistance Starting in Elementary School

by Ali Al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail 'How can we teach them forgiveness when they see Americans killing their family members every day? Words cannot cover the stream of blood and these signs of destruction, and words cannot hide the daily raids they see'


India Slum Cleanup Threatens Millions of Jobs

by Bharat Dogra The livelihoods of at least two million workers have been affected by a crackdown on unauthorized commercial properties in the Indian capital that was violently opposed this past week by mobs rampaging through the streets and torching public buses and blocking traffic


Immigration Reform Surprise: Hard-Liners Lost, Pragmatists Won

by Frank Sharry Immigration restrictionists lost badly in the midterms, sending a message in favor of sober, pragmatic reforms


E-Voting Glitches a Minor Problem in Election 06

by Mark Weisenmiller While scattered reports of technical problems are still trickling in, there is no evidence so far that any involved deliberate hacking or tampering. However, other coercive and illegal tactics were apparently used to suppress voter turnout in some states


Iraq Suffers Worst Day of Killing Since U.S. Invasion

by Mohammed A. Salih The worst killings on a single day since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 sent Baghdad reeling Thursday, but they top a casualty toll that has been rising alarmingly. More than 150 people died in the Shiite Sadr City area of Baghdad in a spate of car bombings and mortar attacks


Iran Subsidizing Drivers With Ultra-Cheap Gas

by Kimia Sanati Iran is among the world's largest crude oil exporters, but domestic political pressures have compelled the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to squander oil revenues and pamper motorists with heavily subsidized, imported gasoline


U.S. Mega-Embassy in Iraq Being Built By Virtual Slave Labor

by David Phinney Owen also complained of poor sanitation, squalid living conditions and medical malpractice in the labor camps where several thousand low-paid migrant workers lived. Those workers, recruited on the global labor market from the Philippines, India, Pakistan and other poor South Asian countries, earned as little as $10 a day, he said


Israel, Palestine Wary as Ceasefire Begins

Analysis by Peter Hirschberg After five months of trying to outlast one another, Israelis and Palestinians have agreed to stop killing each other -- for now


Ally of Venezuela's Chavez Wins Ecuador Presidency

by Kintto Lucas 'The contracts signed with foreign oil companies must be revised, in order to increase our oil revenues, which can be invested in health, education and social development,' said president-elect Correa. He said that unlike in Bolivia, which had privatized its natural gas in the 1990s, Ecuador's oil 'has always belonged to the state, but the same old mafias have found a way to privatize its commercialization.' Because of that, of every five barrels extracted today, the private oil companies take four and leave us one, he added.


Bush Loses Major Evangelical Ally With Outing of Ted Haggard

by Bill Berkowitz Well-connected to the Bush administration, Haggard often met with officials at the White House. In 2004, Haggard was heavily involved in rallying the evangelical vote for the Republicans, the Wall Street Journal reported, and urged his followers to call their congressional representatives in support of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would ban same-sex marriages


Green-Card Holders Find Change of Address Makes You a Suspect

by Rashida Tlaib The House and Senate immigration bills passed in June 2006 proposed that legal permanent residents be labeled 'flight risks' if they fail to report a change of address a certain number of times. This particular provision is especially ironic since the former INS (now part of the Department of Homeland Security) publicly admitted failing to process millions of change of address reports by legal permanent residents


Who Is the Real Daniel Ortega? Asks Latin Press

by Elena Shore Spanish-language media in the U.S. and Nicaragua are asking whether former Sandinista rebel and newly elected Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is really a new man, or if his new image is just a mirage


The Sandinistas Are Back

by Jose Adan Silva They swore they would return. And today, 16 years after losing their grip on power in national elections, Nicaragua's Sandinistas appear to have made it back, according to the preliminary results from Sunday's elections


Big Oil Signs New Contracts With Bolivia Under Threat of Military Takeover

by Franz Chavez Bolivia's bargaining power grew after Oct. 19, when Argentine President Nestor Kirchner gave a strong boost to Morales' nationalization plan by signing a 20-year contract that more than tripled the amount of natural gas Bolivia sells to Argentina. Combined with the threat of military force to expropriate the assets of firms that refused to renegotiate their contracts gave the new leftist government the clout it needed to pressure 10 foreign oil companies to agree to new pacts


Hundreds of Orangutans Die in Indonesian Wildfires

Fires set to clear land in Indonesia have choked the country in a thick, smoky haze since mid-September and have killed hundreds of endangered orangutans, conservationists said today


Ocean Life on the Brink of No Return

by Stephen Leahy The world's oceans are already in a precarious state, hammered by extensive coastal pollution, climate change, over-fishing and the enormously wasteful practice of deep-sea trawling, in which heavily weighted nets dragged along the sea floor scoop up everything in their 100-metre-wide paths, including vast amounts of unwanted sea creatures, the so-called bycatch


Life as a Baghdad Street Seller, Dodging Bombs

Working in Iraq has never been more dangerous. Bakers, hairdressers and rubbish collectors are just some of the professions that have been singled out by death squads. As a street vendor, Fua'ad Amin, 48, faces danger every day in order to feed his family of nine


U.S. Unprepared For High Rates of Iraq Vets Seeking Help

by Conn Hallinan Upwards of 20,000 Americans have been wounded in Iraq, some of those so grotesquely that medicine has invented a new term to describe them -- polytrauma. An estimated 7,000 vets have severe brain and spinal injuries, and have required amputations. For the blind, brain damaged, and paralyzed, war is indeed hell


Agent Orange Linked to Prostate Problems

A toxic chemical contained in the herbicide Agent Orange affects male reproductive health by limiting the growth of the prostate gland and lowering testosterone levels, researchers have found in a study of more than 2,000 Vietnam War Air Force veterans


Saudi Arabia To Seal Off Iraq Border With Security Fence

Saudi Arabia says it will begin construction next year of a hi-tech security fence to seal off its border with Iraq against extremists. The fence which will cost billions of dollars -- will take six years to complete


U.S. at Risk of Losing All Mideast Influence

by Jim Lobe The passivity -- or obstinacy -- of the Bush administration in failing to revive any kind of Arab-Israeli peace process, particularly in the wake of last summer's war between Israel and Hezbollah or the ongoing deterioration of the Palestinian Authority, appears to have brought both Washington's image and influence in the region to an all-time low


GOP Could Learn from Arnold

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson That's quite a feat for a politician who seemed dead in the political water with voters and even deader with black voters after the initiatives he backed in last year's ill-fated and ill-timed special election went down to a crushing defeat. Schwarzenegger, however, read the political tea leaves, scrambled fast and re-burnished his image as a moderate, centrist Republican who could reach across the political aisles and do business with Democrats



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