ISSUE 163 TABLE OF CONTENTS
Like other parts of Iraq, Basra before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 was known for its mixed population and active nightlife with social and night clubs. Basra women had the right to choose their own lifestyle although it was considered a tribal society. But now vigilantes patrol the streets of Basra on motorbikes or in cars with dark-tinted windows and no license plates
Iraq's largest dam, which was built in 1980s on the Tigris River, hit the headlines on October 30 after a report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers detailing the potential erosion of the foundations. Apparently, it was built on a type of rock that dissolves when it comes into contact with water. According to the report, the dam could buckle under water pressure, drowning Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, and parts of the capital, Baghdad. The dam is a key component in the country's power grid, with four 200MW turbines
by Alexander Cockburn The CIA and the U.S. Army have been diligently recruiting American anthropologists to help them in the Terror War in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the activities of these embedded ethnographers are provoking increasing outrage in the profession
by Alexander Cockburn Politicians here still parrot Nancy Reagan's 'Just Say No' campaign against teen drug use. Barack Obama's in trouble for supposedly telling teens he too used bad drugs, including heroin. But the needle and the joint don't hold a candle to simple booze when the cohort, stretching from midteen high-schoolers through to college-age kids, is marinating itself into weekly oblivion. Another lost generation is in the making
by Alexander Cockburn Amid daily prophecies that President Bush will order an attack on Iran, there's mostly demure silence here about the fact that Venezuela and its president, Hugo Chavez, are facing their most serious crisis since Chavez nearly lost power and his life in the military coup of 2002
by Alexander Cockburn Why the strikes? President Sarkozy is set on destroying the French social welfare system, starting with the years you have to work to get a full pension, an increasingly unfamiliar concept to most in America, enjoying as they do lives of enterpreneurial vigor uncompromized by effete notions of enjoyment and ease in the sunset years
by Alexander Cockburn Hillary will almost certainly tack to safety out of this mini-typhoon. But the bigger problem is not going away. There's a solid slice of the flag-wagging, book-burning, Fortress America legions that will never, under any conditions, vote for Hillary Clinton a year from now
by Jim Lobe The 27-page report, entitled 'War at Any Price?,' concluded that the total economic costs incurred to date -- including 'hidden' expenses, such as higher oil prices, interest on borrowing, and the long-term care of injured soldiers -- are already about twice the $800 billion the Bush administration has asked Congress to appropriate through 2008.
by Steve Young Being an avid Monty Python fan I knew the expression, 'a wink is as good as a nod,' it was at that moment I knew exactly what my job was to be. I also knew 'Does she go? Nudge, Nudge,' and 'That parrot is dead,' and in case the President chose to use them, we would be on the same page
by Steve Young With the war veteran groups who have benefited the most and with the WWII members dying out, the surge of eligibles for dues-paying membership couldnŐt come a better time. And they donŐt have to look any further than the streets to find the new members
by Steve Young Want to save big dollars promoting an event? Have Bill O'Reilly despise what you're doing. Will Bill ever get it? Everything he wants the Folks to hate as much as he does turns to gold....for the object of his disaffection
by Steve Young Evolved from the reptilian mccarthy-goebbels sub-order, the O'Reillysaurus exists in a primeval ooze where its small brain, in contrast to its massive, fat head and even larger ego, is fraught with an all-consuming paranoia that finds a fast-approaching imaginary asteroid, intent on casting an lethal Ice Age over Fox News, Christianity and Factor Gear, hiding behind every secular-progressive tar-pit
by Steve Young Al Franken, who Bill has nothing but contempt for, has been on four USO Tours since Bush has been in office, including Afghanistan and Iraq. If you really had the troops in mind, Bill, and aren't making your appeal as just another macho scream for attention and an attempt to demean 'Hollywood,' you'd agree
by Ali al-Fadhily Despite the relatively low October numbers, 2007 is on pace to be the deadliest year on record for U.S. troops since the invasion of March 2003. At least 847 U.S. military personnel have been reported killed this year in Iraq, making it the second highest toll yet
by Tahir Qadiry Some 79 people were killed, including six parliamentarians, schoolchildren and teachers, in Baghlan province on Nov. 6 in a suicide attack, the bloodiest incident in six years. An Interior Ministry committee has been despatched to investigate the human bombing by Afghan President Hamid Karzai
by Ali al-Fadhily 'Now they [U.S.-backed Iraqi Government] are executing the Ex-Minister of Defense, Sultan Hashim Ahmed, who was very well known for being a professional general who led the Iraqi army against Iran,' Al-Ubaidi said, stressing that, 'This man represents a symbol for the Iraqi army that defended Iraq'
by Tito Drago The verdict confirmed that the Basque separatist group ETA had nothing to do with the blasts that tore apart four commuter trains during morning rush hour, but it failed to identify the masterminds behind the attacks
The roots of what happened lie with the fact that in 1999, in the Strait of Kerch at the Russian Port Kavkaz, a new floating oil-chemical port, was built, through which petroleum products, sulfur and fertilizers are transferred from small sized boats to those that hold many tons. With its shallow water, high winds, lack of any kind of natural shelter for the boats, and the possibility of the rapid formation of water spouts, an accident was waiting to happen
by Mohammad Ilyas Dayee Helmand's farmers are chopping down their pomegranate trees for the more lucrative opium plants, while blaming the government for failing to help them
by Abra Pollock Officers in Burma's military, known as the Tatmadaw, often kidnap adolescent boys as they work, play or shop in the market in order to meet recruiting goals, the report says
by Fawzia Sheikh Even as the Taliban attack the police force as an instrument of the perceived U.S.-controlled Afghan government, on other occasions the insurgent group conspires with them against Afghan civilians
by Ahmed Ali In Baqouba, there are three small bridges which connect the two sides of the city; two of them are used by the U.S. army and all the other people are obliged to use the third, so one may have to spend an hour to cross the bridge. The one bridge has a large number of checkpoints; there is one every 500 metres or less
by Thomas Peele, Josh Richman, A.C. Thompson, G.W. Schulz and Bob Butler An Antioch, California real estate broker with ties to Oakland's Bey family, and her husband, have since 2003 acquired nearly $2 million worth of East Bay properties through a string of deals tainted with allegations of deceit. The revelations about Esperanza Johnson and Antron Thurman come as authorities scrutinize the extensive real estate dealings of the Bey family and their bankrupt Your Black Muslim Bakery, including Johnson's role as the broker for an Oakland woman attempting to buy the bakery's headquarters. Johnson bore four of family patriarch Yusuf Ali Bey's dozens of children.
Analysis by Jacques N. Couvas Her visit to Ankara aims at convincing Turkey to abstain from crossing over to northern Iraq, which harbors about 3,000 armed PKK members who regularly launch subversive actions against Turkey
Analysis by Beena Sarwar Rumors of an emergency had been persisting for several days, but on Saturday evening private television news channels were taken off the air and the state-run Pakistan Television announced: 'The Chief of the Army Staff (Musharraf) has proclaimed state of emergency and issued provisional constitutional order (PCO).' According to various sources, judges of the higher judiciary were asked to take a new oath under the PCO -- which a bench of the Supreme Court rejected
by Miren Gutierrez Plugging into the nonprofit world is the key to ensuring that independent journalism survives the current epidemic of shrinking newsrooms, declining sales and the concentration of ownership, according to Chuck Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity
by Joe Conason Whatever the faults of the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, American policy has been just as flawed in recent years. President Bush has done worse than merely neglect the peace process. He has abandoned the traditional American role as honest broker by preferring ideology to pragmatism and by pandering to his hawkish supporters on the right
by Joe Conason Rarely does the endorsement of a presidential candidate make any national impression, especially when offered by a retired local politician. Former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean may well disprove that maxim, however, not so much because he chose John McCain the other day, but because he rejected Rudolph Giuliani
by Tom Jawetz Medical care for those in detention suffers from several fatal flaws, sometimes resulting in death for the detainee. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detains nearly 300,000 people each year - approximately one quarter of whom are identified as suffering from some chronic health condition
by Aaron Glantz The Army has been trying to launch a second prosecution, with Watada's attorneys arguing such a trial would violate the 5th Amendment, which prohibits citizens from being tried twice for the same crime
by Abid Aslam The U.S. economy will slow down and face increased inflation pressure in coming months, but it will likely be spared the crippling stagflation that occurred in the 1970s, the central bank chief predicted
by Beena Sarwar Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, both twice-elected former prime ministers, were among the candidates who filed nomination papers by Nov. 25. Bitter rivals in the past, they have over the past couple of years been dialoguing for a common cause: the removal of the army from politics in the country
by Diego Cevallos Doubt, mistrust and political friction have arisen over the so-called Merida Initiative, negotiated virtually in secret by the governments of Mexico and the United States. Although it is being touted as an anti-drug assistance program, it also includes measures for tighter border security and action against terrorism
by Antoaneta Bezlova Conscious of the need to burnish its international image ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, China has been more sparing in applying the death penalty this year -- but the country is far from abolishing capital punishment
by Diego Cevallos In many places people are complaining about not receiving timely aid, and about having to queue for hours to be given a parcel with tinned food, water, toilet paper, diapers and some medicines. Civil defense and military personnel in charge of distribution at the airport were not able to prevent those who collected the aid at the airport from taking it to places with a majority of PRD sympathizers
by Diego Cevallos Panic has taken hold of the six million Mexicans who live in the United States without residence permits, because of the ongoing crackdown on 'illegal aliens,' which has involved an increasing number of raids and deportations
by Abid Aslam More than one in 10 people in the United States go hungry, according to new official figures that suggest government food programs are falling short in the world's wealthiest country. Of the total, 12.63 million were children. Put another way, nearly one in five U.S. children either went without enough food during the course of the year or had food but could never take future meals for granted
by Jalal Ghazi By their very presence in Annapolis Arab states are signaling they are willing to normalize ties with Israel without receiving any concessions but even before the first speeches are made at the Middle East peace conference, the Palestinians are already on the losing end
by Bill Berkowitz Given the Bush administration's penchant for cronyism -- rewarding partisan political operatives with political appointments -- it was not surprising to see Manuel Miranda reappear. What was surprising -- particularly to several Democratic senators -- is that despite his unsavoury record regarding democratic practices, Miranda is now the director of the Office of Legislative Statecraft at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq
Traffic news on the radio in the West Bank is more likely to be about checkpoints and barriers than jams and accidents, as a complex system of controls and permits can make a short journey for work, family or medical reasons into a time-consuming marathon, according to a new UN report
by Joe Conason For now, the influence of sane and sensible officers appears to be ascending. Only a few days before Admiral Fallon spoke out, an Associated Press dispatch noted that American officials are quietly reducing our force profile in the Gulf region
by Joe Conason As Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton spar over Social Security, their argument has shed little light on America's most successful domestic program but has instead revealed unattractive aspects of both candidates. Clinton has proved herself again to be excessively elusive in explaining exactly what she believes and why -- while Obama has exhibited once more his own strange combination of naivete and opportunism
by Joe Conason For reasons that remain unclear, the minutes of his private testimony, marked /commission sensitive/unclassified,' were nevertheless to be locked away until the convenient date of December 2008. Nobody associated with the 9/11 Commission could explain how or why that decision had been made.
Although agriculture is a major means of income for about 80 percent of Afghans, donors and the government of Afghanistan have only spent $270 million on agricultural projects in the last six years, Oxfam's findings show. Owing to wasteful and ineffective aid totalling over $15 billion, millions of Afghans, particularly in rural areas, still face severe hardship comparable with sub-Saharan Africa
by Robert Scheer In response to calls from Rice and Bush, Musharraf did say something about holding elections as soon as he gets a new supreme court appointed that will back his claim to be president. Bush wrote the book on that one
by Robert Scheer Musharraf, treated ever so respectfully by George Bush throughout his administration, highlighted by his being the first Pakistani leader to visit Camp David, has turned out to be just another crummy dictator. But he was our dictator, kind of a modern, even Westernized one, who could stand up to all of those bearded Islamic terrorists.
by Robert Scheer Although Sharif can claim to be the true pro-democracy choice, given that he was the elected leader deposed by Musharraf's 1999 military coup, the United States is hoping to throw the deeply corrupt, but Westernized, Benazir Bhutto into the mix out of fear that Sharif is soft on Muslim fanatics in his own country as well as in the Taliban
by Robert Scheer The bin Laden boys only had an arsenal of $3 box knives, but Bush claimed Hussein had WMD. Sadly for the military-industrial complex, Hussein's army collapsed all too suddenly. But the insurgency, much of it fueled by the Shiites, who were ostensibly on our side, provided the occasion for pretending that we are in a war against a conventionally armed and imposing military enemy
by Robert Scheer Given that the overall defense budget is now double what it was when Bush's father presided over the end of the Cold War, at a time when we don't have a militarily sophisticated enemy in sight, you have to wonder how this president has managed to exceed Cold War spending levels. What has he gotten for the trillions wasted? Nothing, when it comes to capturing Osama bin Laden, bringing democracy to Iraq or preventing oil prices from tripling and enriching the ayatollahs of Iran, while messing up the American economy
by Stephen Leahy Emissions of greenhouse gases could increase a staggering 57 percent by 2030 if current trends continue, and with the strong growth of coal and oil energy use in India and China, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported
by J.R. Pegg The committee has held 20 hearings on climate change, Boxer added, and lawmakers are hardly unfamiliar with the concepts in the legislation, which was approved last week by a global warming subcommitee
by Jim Lobe Mukasey's refusal during his confirmation hearings to call waterboarding -- a technique in which the victims is made to experience all the sensations of drowning -- a form of torture and thus illegal under U.S. law prompted a number of Democratic senators to raise questions both about his judgment and willingness to stand up to hard-liners in the Bush administration who have favored the technique as a way of prying information from 'high-value' detainees
by Earl Ofari Hutchinson Prosecuting hate crimes is a hazy area, and that made it difficult for law officials to bring charges against those suspected of hanging a noose in the Jena schoolyard
by Abra Pollock Hardnosed sentencing policies that have caused the U.S. prison population to soar over the past three decades have done little to reduce crime, but have devastated low-income, minority communities, according to a report
by Charles Davis Joy Olson, executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America, says counter-drug training efforts by the United States in the 1990s have backfired, pointing to a number of reports that members of the violent Mexican paramilitary group 'Las Zetas,' said to be the enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel, received training at the U.S. School of Americas
by Jim Lobe Hard-liners associated with the American Enterprise Institute and Freedom's Watch, a bountifully funded campaign led by prominent backers of the Republican Jewish Coalition, among other like-minded groups, are mounting a concerted attack against next week's meeting which they fear could result in pressure on Israel to make territorial concessions. The attack, which comes amid steadily growing neo-conservative fears that the Bush administration is becoming increasingly 'realist' in its last year in office, is being directed primarily against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, rather than the president himself
by Ali al-Fadhily The Supreme Islamic Council in Iraq (SICI), and The Sadr Movement led by anti-occupation cleric Muqtada Al- Sadr are accusing each other of committing serious crimes against humanity in the southern parts of Iraq
by Humberto Marquez The neighboring countries of Colombia and Venezuela, whose governments have the most diametrically opposed ideologies in South America, have come within a whisker of breaking off relations after a harsh exchange of accusations between Presidents Alvaro Uribe and Hugo Chavez. Chavez's gravest words were his call to the generals to be on the alert, which sounds like confining all troops to barracks in readiness for action, and the Colombian military will take that in all seriousness
by Alex Jong Lee One month after the historic South-North Korean summit and less than a month before presidential elections in South Korea, students, activists, and academics are lamenting a trend towards conservatism and political apathy among the youth
by Michael Winship The heated opening fight between Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani over immigration included Romney referring to a worker from outside the U.S. as 'someone with a funny accent.' Duncan Hunter announced that he personally built the security fence between San Diego and Tijuana (THAT'S what he was doing all those weekends away from Congress). John McCain accused Ron Paul of being the kind of isolationist who caused World War II. Huckabee scored points by seeming the most sincere although he almost blew it with a glib, feckless response when asked what you-know-who would do about the death penalty: 'Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office.' Ugh
by Peter Hirschberg Israel has begun limiting fuel supplies to Gaza as part of punitive measures it is implementing in an attempt to stem the firing of rockets by militants from the coastal strip into Israel
by Thalif Deen According to the 14-page report, financial and technical assistance have so far come from more than a dozen countries, including Kuwait, Norway, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Monaco, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan and the United States. But Israel is conspicuously absent from the list of donors. To date, the report says, the government of Israel has yet to assume its responsibility for prompt and adequate compensation to the government of Lebanon.
by Khody Akhavi Despite its unhappiness with the recent developments, it appears the Bush administration, which once lauded the Pakistani leader as an ally in the Terror War, will continue to provide financial backing for counter-terrorism efforts in Pakistan
by Zofeen Ebrahim Shortly after Musharraf ordered the suspension of the constitution, curbs were imposed on the media through amendments in two ordinances. These bar them from printing or broadcasting 'anything which defames or brings into ridicule the head of state, or members of the armed forces, or executive, legislative or judicial organ of the state'
by Sandip Roy President Pervez Musharraf did not declare a state of emergency in Pakistan. It was Chief of Army Staff Musharraf who did so. The distinction matters, says the Pakistani American community. The cynical joke goes that while most states have an army, in Pakistan the army has a state
by William Fisher If volunteers could not be found for 48 remaining positions by mid-November, diplomats -- under threat of dismissal -- would be ordered to serve at the embassy in Baghdad and in so-called provincial reconstruction teams in outlying provinces. If carried out, it would be the largest diplomatic call-up since the Vietnam War era
Analysis by Jim Lobe The Shi'a-dominated central government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad, which has long been nervous about Petraeus' courtship of the Sunni insurgents and tribal militias -- renamed 'Concerned Local Citizen' (CLC) groups -- that have helped in the anti-al Qaeda fight. 'The Maliki government tends to see the CLC movement as a potential threat to (it),' according to Stephen Biddle, a defense expert at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations
When Israeli couple Rinat and Roman Gerber decided to get married, they knew their first stop would be a travel agency rather than their local synagogue or town hall. Although both consider themselves Jewish, they could not get married in Israel because the state only recognizes religious weddings. For Israeli Jews, that means conforming to Halacha -- Orthodox Jewish law -- which does not recognize Roman as Jewish because his mother is not Jewish
Analysis by Jim Lobe The stakes could not be higher. Not only is the Pakistani Army's cooperation considered essential to stabilizing Afghanistan against the Taliban and defeating al Qaeda, but the prospect that the worsening political crisis could fracture the military along regional lines is now looming as a worrisome possibility. Pakistan is believed to have some 50 nuclear weapons scattered around the country
by Anil Kalhan Musharraf's announcement makes clear the purpose of his extraconstitutional move to hold the constitution 'in abeyance' was not to prevent elections from ever taking place, or even necessarily to delay them very long. Rather, the point of Musharraf's imposition of martial law has been a more thoroughgoing 'laundering' of Pakistan's civil society institutions -- including the judiciary, media, and mainstream political parties -- in order to flush out any capacity they might have to serve as independent checks on his power
by Haider Rizvi Analysts believe Musharraf learned that the court planned to rule against him, and imposed a preemptive emergency rule -- ostensibly to crack down on religious extremists. However, reports coming from Pakistan suggest the first targets of police raids were not Taliban supporters or Muslim zealots, but members of the legal community and independent Human Rights Commission, as well as many secular and liberal democratic leaders and activists
Analysis by Gareth Porter Until late October, the accepted explanation about the Sept. 6 Israeli airstrike in Syria, constructed in a series of press leaks from U.S. officials, was that it was prompted by dramatic satellite intelligence that Syria was building a nuclear facility with help from North Korea. But new satellite evidence has discredited that narrative, suggesting a more plausible explanation for the strike: that it was a calculated effort by Israel and the United States to convince Iran that its nuclear facilities could be attacked as well
by Diego Cevallos Hit by torrential rains in the last 15 days, 80 percent of the southwestern Mexican state of Tabasco is under water, one million people have been left homeless and damages are estimated at five billion dollars. Recovery will take years. But environmentalists and experts say the disaster could have been mitigated
by Gareth Porter A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran has been held up for more than a year in an effort to force the intelligence community to remove dissenting judgments on the Iranian nuclear program, and thus make the document more supportive of Cheney's militarily aggressive policy toward Iran, according to accounts of the process provided by participants to two former CIA officers
by Jim Lobe Opponents of the treaty, who have mounted a high-volume campaign to depict the treaty as a potentially lethal threat to U.S. national sovereignty, had hoped that as many as eight senators would vote against it in the Committee
by Thalif Deen A majority of members of the Iraqi parliament -- 144 out of a total of 275 -- is demanding that any future renewals of the legislative mandate of the 160,000-strong MNF be duly authorized by parliament
Analysis by Gareth Porter Key to neo-conservative policy views on Iran until 2006 was the firm belief that one of the consequences of a successful display of U.S. military force in Iraq would be to shake the foundations of the Iran regime
by Rian Dundon China is rushing to get ready for the 2008 Summer Olympics. But for millions of Chinese in the interior of the country, far away from Beijing and the other cities on the east coast, the Olympics will have little relevance to their lives
by Gareth Porter The issue of releasing the five Iranians kidnapped by U.S. troops in Arbil in January has divided the Bush administration since last spring. In early April, after Iran released 15 British sailors and marines, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice argued that the Iranians should now be released, but Cheney insisted that the United States should hold on to them
by Ali al-Fadhily Arrests are being made after individuals are accused of being al-Qaeda members or of having links with Iran. Thousands have been detained for a year or more without any court procedures, while the police and the Awakening militias have executed many others
by Mark Weisenmiller Unbeknownst to residents, an underground leak had released beryllium into water wells in the village. And when the defense company Lockheed Martin Corp. bought the plant and discovered the problem in 2000, it failed to inform the people of Tallevast for another three years
Analysis by Khody Akhavi A recent Guardian newspaper profile on one of the U.S.-sponsored 'Ameriya Knights,' Abu Abed, is illuminating. Abed is one of a new breed of Sunni warlords who are being paid by the U.S. to fight al Qaeda in Iraq. While he is crucial to the U.S. strategy, his methods -- summary beatings and imprisonments -- exhibit all the signs of petty criminality
Back in Saddam Hussein's time, coffin maker Abdul-Wahab Khalil Mohammed used to sell one or two coffins a day at $5-10 each. Now he produces an average of 15 to 20 coffins a day and charges $50-75 for each one
by Ahmed Ali Companies and contractors submit their bids to the government committee. The committee as a whole is then supposed to examine the tenders according to the terms announced. But in Diyala province, contractors say the committee divides the projects among its members. 'Every committee member takes a number of projects, and makes deals with contractors. If the contractor does not pay them a bribe, he won't get the contract'
by Zoltan Dujisin The recent spill of more than 1,000-tons of fuel oil into the Black Sea could have severe long-term environmental consequences say ecologists, stressing that authorities are busy trading accusations instead of stepping up cleaning efforts
by Michael Deibert Pitched battles between police firing rubber bullets and tear gas, and masked and hooded rioters attacking with Molotov cocktails, bottles, and -- in a potentially lethal escalation of force -- firearms, continued Monday night. According to police officials, by Tuesday morning over 80 officers had been injured -- some seriously -- and at least 63 vehicles in Villiers-le-Bel and neighboring communities had been set aflame
by Julio Godoy Among the diseases that have become more frequent in Germany due to global warming, Maier mentioned borreliosis, the tick-borne meningoencephalitis, among other forms of encephalitis, some of Japanese origin. Maier indicated that the number of cases of borreliosis in Germany has risen in recent months. As for tick-borne meningoencephalitis, he said that cases of the disease have been identified as far north in Europe as in Norway and other Scandinavian countries
Albion Monitor Issue 163 (http://www.albionmonitor.com)
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