Monthly Archives: May 2004

156 posts

“Nearly a fourth of the homeless are veterans”

[ While the problem of homeless veterans pre-dates the current Administration, there is a particularly cruel distance between Bush’s rhetoric of support for the troops and our vets and the reality. –BL ] From the Ranks to the Street Nearly a fourth of the homeless are veterans. Reasons vary, but many fail to adjust to life’s randomness after the order of military service. May 29, 2004 | Los Angeles Times by Jocelyn Y. Stewart After the homecomings are over and the yellow ribbons packed away, many who once served in America’s armed forces may end up sleeping on sidewalks. This is […]

CIA-linked Iraq Prime Minister to Replace Chalabi as Point-Man?

by Brendan Lalor During the lead-up to war and the more intense phase of post-war searching for the phantom WMDs, Ahmed Chalabi was the point-man for the Administration on Iraq — the man who funneled phoney “intelligence” (from Iran) and led the New York Times‘ “stenographer,” Judith Miller on goose-chases in the desert. To get an idea of just how connected Chalabi is with Administration officials, take a look at the photo gallery. Now that Chalabi has fallen on hard times, it looks like the CIA-linked Iyad Allawi may be the Administration’s new candidate to fill those shoes. Signs are […]

The Paper Trail: Did Cheney Okay a Deal?

May 30, 2004 | TIME Magazine (Jun. 07, 2004 issue) By TIMOTHY J. BURGER AND ADAM ZAGORIN Vice President Dick Cheney was a guest on NBC’s Meet the Press last September when host Tim Russert brought up Halliburton. Citing the company’s role in rebuilding Iraq as well as Cheney’s prior service as Halliburton’s CEO, Russert asked, “Were you involved in any way in the awarding of those contracts?” Cheney’s reply: “Of course not, Tim … And as Vice President, I have absolutely no influence of, involvement of, knowledge of in any way, shape or form of contracts led by the […]

Medicare and Manna from Heaven for Corporations

Bad Medicine excerpted from February 2004 | Harper’s Magazine by Lewis H. Lapham In early December last year … President Bush signed the amendment to the Medicare legislation that delivers 40 million elderly and disabled American citizens into the custody of the good-hands people operating the nation’s insurance and pharmaceutical factories. The new authorization purports to reduce the cost of prescription drugs for every needful American, and the White House staff dressed up the photo op in Washington’s Constitution Hail to look like a scene of joyful thanksgiving–a vast throng of well-wishers, military band music, a bright blue banner emblazoned […]

Bush and Sharon: The Oil Connection

[ From the piece: a recent study by the University of Uppsala in Sweden suggests [oil] reserves may be far smaller than the 18 trillion barrels the industry presently projects. If the new figure of 3.5 trillion barrels is correct, sometime between 2010 and 2020, worldwide production will begin to decline…. With U.S. consumption projected to increase 1/3 over the next 20 years— two thirds of which will be imported by 2020—the name of the game is reserves…. Whoever controls these reserves essentially controls the world’s economy…. Israel may not have any oil, but it is the most powerful player […]

Scant Evidence Cited in Long Detention of Iraqis

[ According to a report completed last fall by the Army’s provost marshall, only some of which has been made public, Iraqis had been held for several months for nothing more than expressing “displeasure or ill will” toward the American occupying forces. According to the New York Times’ report, this appears to be in reference to Abu Ghraib, and in conflict with Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt’s claim that “If they were innocent, they wouldn’t be at Abu Ghraib.” … unless, of course, it is illegal to express displeasure toward occupying forces. –BL ] May 30, 2004 | New York Times by […]

‘Terrorist’ A Handy Term Because Flexible

FBI Sweep Nets 7 Animal Rights Activists 28 May 2004 | DemocracyNow! FBI agents have arrested seven animal rights advocates on domestic terrorism charges for taking part in a campaign to stop a British scientific firm called Huntingdon Life Sciences from conducting lab tests on animals. The FBI conducted a coordinated sweep across the country on Wednesday arresting individuals in the states of New York, New Jersey, Washington and California The government’s indictment charges the organization Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty targeted Huntingdon workers and shareholders, as well as companies that provide services to Huntingdon, by posting personal information about employees […]

Reserve recruiters’ tactic may skirt edge of deception

[ In Florida: The pitch was that if they joined the Army Reserve, they’d train one weekend a month and two weekends in the summer and maybe be sent over to Iraq at some future date. If they didn’t volunteer, they’d soon be deployed involuntarily. “There was miscommunication,” [deputy director of public affairs for the Army Reserve] Stromvall said, “If (they) had just said you might be called up, instead of you will be called up, we wouldn’t have a problem. But if people signed up for a unit based on bad information, we’re trying to correct that.” For all […]

Report: 1 of Every 75 U.S. Men in Prison

28 May 2004 | Assocoiated Press by Connie Cass WASHINGTON – America’s inmate population grew by 2.9 percent last year, to almost 2.1 million people, with one of every 75 men living in prison or jail. The inmate population continued its rise despite a fall in the crime rate and many states’ efforts to reduce some sentences, especially for low-level drug offenders. Incarceration Rates: We’re Number 1! (Number incarcerated per 100,000) US: 715 Russia: 584 Mexico: 169 England/Wales:143 Canada: 116 Australia: 114 Germany: 96 France: 95 Japan: 54 (Source: The Sentencing Project)

Bush Plan Eyes Cuts for Schools, Veterans

[ Documents show the Bush budget proposes to decrease funding for Homeland Security, Education, Veterans Affairs, the EPA, the National Institutes of Health, the Interior Department … but not the Defense Department. Once again, the Bush Republicans are cutting social spending while maintaining corporate welfare for members of the military-industrial-oil complex, like Halliburton and the weapons manufacturers. –BL ] May 27, 2004 | Associated Press by ALAN FRAM WASHINGTON – The Bush administration has told officials who oversee federal education, domestic security, veterans and other programs to prepare preliminary 2006 budgets that would cut spending after the presidential election, according to […]

Bush-Supporting Investors in Media Company Crack Down on Dissent

[ New York investment company Tweedy Browne, Fidelity Asset Management, Deutsche Asset Management all quickly called for the head of the Mirror’s editor. Here’s why. –BL ] Another fake 31 May 2004 | New Statesman (cover story) by John Pilger Shareholders wanted the Mirror editor out long before the allegedly bogus photos. Does anyone care that the BBC and other papers fall for the hoaxes of US and UK rulers? Piers Morgan was sacked as editor of the Daily Mirror because he ran the only popular newspaper in Britain to expose the “war on terror” as a fraud and the invasion […]

Thesis on Bush Administration’s 27 Rationales for War

Bush administration has used 27 rationales for war in Iraq, study says 10 May 2004 | News Bureau, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by Andrea Lynn CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — If it seems that there have been quite a few rationales for going to war in Iraq, that’s because there have been quite a few — 27, in fact, all floated between Sept. 12, 2001, and Oct. 11, 2002, according to a new study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. All but four of the rationales originated with the administration of President George W. Bush.

Israel lays claim to Palestine’s water

[ Control of water resources will arguably become more important than control of oil, perhaps even in the coming century. Israel is positioning itself accordingly … Palestinian water negotiators are deeply uneasy about the plans being drawn up on their behalf, especially if they involve abandoning claims to the water beneath their feet… Palestinians badly need more water. Under the Oslo agreement they have access to 57 cubic metres of water per person per year from all sources. Israel gets 246 cubic metres per head per year. And in the nearly 40 years that Israel has controlled the West Bank, […]

New Transcripts Point to U.S. Role in Chile Coup

[ Here’s more evidence for what we already knew: the U.S. helped foment a coup against the democratically elected, socialist Allende on 9/11 (1973) and install a dictator who killed thousands. –BL ] May 26, 2004 | Reuters by Pablo Bachelet WASHINGTON – Henry Kissinger told President Richard Nixon days after the 1973 coup in Chile the United States helped create the conditions for the ouster of socialist President Salvador Allende, newly declassified transcripts showed on Wednesday.

Prison Interrogations in Iraq Seen as Yielding Little Data on Rebels

[ Civilian and military intelligence officials report that “most of the prisoners held in the special cellblock that became the setting for the worst abuses at Abu Ghraib apparently were not linked to the insurgency.” –BL ] May 27, 2004 | New York Times by DOUGLAS JEHL and ERIC SCHMITT WASHINGTON, May 26 — The questioning of hundreds of Iraqi prisoners last fall in the newly established interrogation center at Abu Ghraib prison yielded very little valuable intelligence, according to civilian and military officials.

Global Population to Level Off?

[ Environmental author Bill McKibben argues that global population may peak within a generation: We’ve increased the population fourfold in that 150 years; the amount of food we grow has gone up faster still; the size of our economy has quite simply exploded. But now — now may be the special time. So special that in the Western world we might each of us consider, among many other things, having only one child — that is, reproducing at a rate as low as that at which human beings have ever voluntarily reproduced. Is this really necessary? Are we finally running […]

Are Justice Department Terror Warnings Political?

[ Is the Justice Department’s “extraordinary public announcement” of possibly impending terror attacks an attempt to create more fear in order to sway voters toward Bush? From the article: Although the U.S. intelligence community says it has been concerned for some time about the potential implications for the United States of the Madrid bombings, some U.S. counterterrorism officials told Newsweek they were aware of no sudden surge in ?chatter??intercepts of terrorists communications?or other indicators of a possible imminent attack…. Notably, the Department of Homeland Security did not participate in today’s announcement… After all, polls show that in voters’ minds Bush […]

“The U.S. has been practicing the craft of regime change for a long time”

Iran: Fifty years later August 18, 2003 by George Will Tehran, Iran, Aug. 19 — Iranians loyal to Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, including Tehran civilians, soldiers and rural tribesmen, swept Premier Mohammed Mossadegh out of power today in a revolution and apparently had seized at least temporary control of the country. —New York Times, Aug. 20, 1953 WASHINGTON — This anniversary reminds us that America is not new to the business of regime change. Fifty years ago U.S. and British intelligence services — the principal U.S. operative was Kermit Roosevelt, Teddy’s grandson — had a remarkably easy time overthrowing Iran’s […]

U.S. military holds dozens of Iraqis as bargaining chips to pressure wanted relatives

U.S. military arrests war’s ‘bargaining chips’ May 25, 2004 | Newsday by MOHAMAD BAZZI BAGHDAD, Iraq — U.S. troops wanted Jeanan Moayad’s father. When they couldn’t find him, they took her husband in his place. Dhafir Ibrahim has been in U.S. custody for nearly four months. Moayad insists that he is being held as a bargaining chip, and military officials have told her that he will be released when her father surrenders. Her father is a scientist and former Baath party member who fled to Jordan soon after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. “My husband is a hostage,” said […]

Occupation made world less safe, pro-war institute says

26 May 2004 | The Independent by Kim Sengupta The US and British occupation of Iraq has accelerated recruitment to the ranks of Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network and made the world a less safe place, according to a leading London-based think-tank. The assessment, by the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), states that the occupation has become “a potent global recruitment pretext” for al-Qa’ida, which now has more than 18,000 militants ready to strike Western targets. It claims that although half of al-Qa’ida’s 30 senior leaders and up to 2,000 rank-and-file members have been killed or captured, a rump […]

New York Times: we were wrong on Iraq

[ From the piece: One of the New York Times‘ star reporters, Judith Miller, is known to have relied heavily on Mr Chalabi for stories about Iraq’s purported weapons of mass destruction, although she was not named in today’s piece. –BL ]May 26, 2004 | The Guardian by Claire Cozens The New York Times today issued an extraordinary mea culpa over its coverage of Iraq, admitting it had been misled about the presence of weapons of mass destruction by sources including the controversial Iraqi leader Ahmad Chalabi. In a note to readers published today under the headline ‘The Times and Iraq’, […]

This Made Ashcroft Gag: Translator keeps blowing 9-11 whistle on FBI; U.S. Keeps shutting her up

May 25th, 2004 | Village Voice by James Ridgeway Details of a Florida drug case may well shed light on the claims of an FBI translator who says the agency covered up evidence warning of the 9-11 attack. Sibel Edmonds, the translator, said in an interview Monday with the Voice that the Florida case illustrates the issues and evidence she has been trying to make public for two years. Edmonds claimed to have translated testimony in criminal and counter-intelligence cases involving different FBI field offices, going back into the late 1990s. Much of this involved tracking money, she said. Among […]

Nevada Nuclear tests might resume

20 May 2004 | Deseret Morning News by Joe Bauman and Lee Davidson New projects planned for the Nevada Test Site are raising concern that nuclear bomb testing may resume there. Local and national military watchdogs say all indications are that President Bush, if re-elected, would begin testing some types of nuclear weapons before the end of the decade at the NTS, located about 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas and upwind of Utah.

Bush Ignores Sick 9/11 Firefighters & Cops

May 25, 2004 | Misleader.org Over the last month, President Bush has repeatedly recounted how he was inspired by "the courage of the firefighters and the police"1 in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. He recounted how, when standing atop a pile of rubble at Ground Zero, he was told by a firefighter, "Don't let me down."2 But more than two years later, he continues to ignore the needs of firefighters and police officers who are now suffering adverse health effects from their rescue efforts at Ground Zero. The situation has reached a head: yesterday, 1,700 cops and […]

Justice Dept Seeks To Classify Info on Sibel Edmonds

[ This follows-up a number of stories, especially one entitled, “Lawyers try to gag FBI worker over 9/11.” –BL ] 21 May 2004 | DemocracyNow! In Washington, the Justice Department has taken the unusual step of retroactively classifying information it gave to Congress in open session two years ago pertaining to the case of Sibel Edmonds. Edmonds is the former FBI translator who has charged on Democracy Now and other news programs that the FBI had information before Sept. 11 that indicated an Al Qaida attack was imminent. FBI officials gave Senate staffers two briefings in 2002 concerning Edmonds. Now they […]

Iran “Plays” U.S. Against Saddam in “Successful Intelligence Operation”

24 May 2004 | DemocracyNow! DIA: INC Used By Iranian Intelligence For Years Newsday is reporting that The Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that the U.S.-funded Iraqi National Congress led by Ahmad Chalabi has been used for years by Iranian intelligence to pass disinformation to the United States. One intelligence source told Newsday “Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through Chalabi by furnishing through his Information Collection Program information to provoke the United States into getting rid of Saddam Hussein.” Patrick Lang, the former head of DIA operations in the Middle East, described what Iran did as “one […]

Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia Sentenced to 1 Year For Desertion

[ This follows-up some earlier stories. –BL ] 24 May 2004 | DemocracyNow! Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia was sentenced to one year in prison Friday after a military jury convicted him on charges of desertion after he refused to return to fight in Iraq. Meija returned from Iraq in October on leave and then went into hiding. He gave himself up in March announcing that he didn’t want to fight in an “oil-driven war.” He also said that he witnessed the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

The Covert Kingdom: Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Texas

[ Joe Bageant provides an informative and chilling glimpse into the minds of the underestimated American Christian fundamentalists scarcely understood by most intellectual lefties influenced by the likes of Chomsky and Zinn. –BL ] 18 May 2004 | DissidentVoice.org by Joe Bageant Not long ago I pulled my car up alongside a tiny wooden church in the woods, a stark white frame box my family built in 1840. And as always, an honest-to-god chill went through me, for the ancestral ghosts presumably hovering over the graves there. From the wide open front door the Pentecostal preacher?s message echoed from within the […]

Iraq and the Problem of Peak Oil

26 Jan. 2004 | Current Concerns (English edition of Zeit Fragen) by F. William Engdahl Today, much of the world is convinced the Bush Administration did not wage war against Iraq and Saddam Hussein because of threat from weapons of mass destruction, nor from terror dangers. Still a puzzle, however, is why Washington would risk so much in terms of relations with its allies and the entire world, to occupy Iraq. There is compelling evidence that oil and geopolitics lie at the heart of the still-hidden reasons for the military action in Iraq. It is increasingly clear that the US […]

U.S. Military and Neocons Misinformed by their “Bible” on Arab Mind

[ Not only the neocons, but also the U.S. military consider Patai’s racist book, The Arab Mind, their “bible.” It appears to be rejected by true academics as hateful propaganda, and “Georgetown University once invited students to analyse it as ‘an example of bad, biased social science’.” –BL ] ‘Its best use is as a doorstop’ Brian Whitaker explains why a book packed with sweeping generalisations about Arabs carries so much weight with both neocons and military in the US May 24, 2004 | The Guardian by Brian Whitaker

U.S. Obfuscates Causes of Death

[ From the story: The US military claimed in the note that Dr Izmerly, a distinguished chemistry professor arrested after US tanks encircled his villa, had died of “brainstem compression.” [] The family commissioned an independent Iraqi autopsy. Its conclusion was unambiguous: Dr Izmerly had died because of a “sudden hit to the back of his head”, Faik Amin Baker, the director of Baghdad hospital’s forensic department, certified. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, a former commander of Iraq’s air defences, who died last November during interrogation at Qaim. [] The original US autopsy said he had died of a heart attack. It […]

‘Spray and slay’: are American troops out of control in Iraq?

by Brendan Lalor The U.S. military continues to deny it attacked a wedding party in western Iraq. As the Associated Press reports today: “We still don’t believe there was a wedding going on, or a wedding party going on, when we hit in the early morning hours. Could there have been some sort of celebration going on earlier? Certainly,” the [senior coalition] official said. Several hours of video footage obtained Sunday by Associated Press Television News showed a wedding party that survivors said was later attacked by U.S. planes. The dead included the cameraman, Yasser Shawkat Abdullah, hired to record […]

Ordinary Iraqis killed: 11,500 and not counting

[ From the piece: In Washington yesterday the pollen count was 12 for trees and grass. In Baghdad, no British or American authority – or, for that matter, an Iraqi one – could say how many civilians had died a violent death that day. –BL ] 23 May 2004 | The Independent by David Randall America and Britain have the statistical resources to compute with clinical accuracy the number of pollen grains floating in the air. Yet these two states say they cannot tell anyone how many Iraqi civilians have died in the 14 months since the Iraq conflict began in […]

Justice Department Memo Advocates Double Standards

[ From the article: After concluding that the laws of war did not apply to the conduct of the U.S. military, the [January, 2002 Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel] memo argued that President Bush could still put Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters on trial as war criminals for violating those same laws. Critics say the memos? disregard for the United States? treaty obligations and international law paved the way for the Pentagon to use increasingly aggressive interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay?including sleep deprivation, use of forced stress positions and environmental manipulation?that eventually were applied to detainees at the Abu […]

Putin’s Move Toward Kyoto Protocol Isolates Bush

[ The reprint below is excerpted from the full article. –BL ] US isolated as Russia moves to back Kyoto 23 May 2004 | The Independent by Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor President George Bush’s bid to stop international action to combat global warming faces failure this weekend, as he is left more isolated than ever before both at home and abroad. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin – who will effectively decide whether the Kyoto Protocol stands or falls – announced on Friday that his country would “rapidly move towards ratification” in the wake of a complex deal with the European Union. [A […]

Rumsfeld bans camera phones

May 23, 2004 | Agence France-Presse from correspondents in London MOBILE phones fitted with digital cameras have been banned in US army installations in Iraq on orders from Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, The Business newspaper reported today. Quoting a Pentagon source, the paper said the US Defence Department believes that some of the damning photos of US soldiers abusing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were taken with camera phones.

Working … And Poor

[ This Business Week cover story helps explode the myth that the poor are lazy do-nothings and, through anecdote and statistics, conveys the real hurdles that people near and below the poverty line face. Excerpts: Today more than 28 million people, about a quarter of the workforce between the ages of 18 and 64, earn less than $9.04 an hour, which translates into a full-time salary of $18,800 a year — the income that marks the federal poverty line for a family of four…. But most poor workers tend to marry people with similar backgrounds, leaving both to juggle jobs […]

Assist the Desperate Sudanese

[ The world community is largely distracted from the crisis in Sudan which has led to the deaths of five percent of children under age 5 in Darfur in the last three months. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reports insufficient international donations to address the crisis. You can assist through aid groups including Oxfam International and Medecins Sans Frontieres Thanks to Bill Bryant of OK-global for this update. –BL ] Aid Group Says Starvation Looms In Sudan’s Darfur Region May 21, 2004 | U.N. Wire Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres warned yesterday that the entire population of Sudan’s western Darfur […]

General Zinni Says It’s Time for Pentagon Heads to Roll

[ If you haven’t heard the buzz about General Zinni’s attack on the Administration for its Iraq blunder, he points the finger at neoconservatives like Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith; Former Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle; National Security Council member Eliot Abrams; and Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby. –BL ] Gen. Zinni: ‘They’ve Screwed Up’ May 21, 2004 | 60 Minutes (CBS News) Retired General Anthony Zinni is one of the most respected and outspoken military leaders of the past two decades. From 1997 to 2000, he was commander-in-chief of the […]

Christian Soldiers and Iraq

by Brendan Lalor It is interesting to note the diverse appeals to Christianity in Iraq: Decent folks: Whistle-blower specialist Joseph M. Darby, who informed authorities about abuses at Abu Ghraib, said, “The Christian in me says it’s wrong.” (New York Times, 22 May 2004) Ass holes: Abu Ghraib prisoner Ameed Saeed al-Sheikh reports, “They ordered me to curse Islam and because they started to hit my broken leg, I cursed my religion,” he said, referring to an injury he previously suffered in circumstances not made clear. “They ordered me to thank Jesus that I’m alive. And I did what they […]

Agri-giant Monsanto Wins Patent Case Against Farmer

[ Agri-giant Monsanto sued a Canadian farmer into whose fields its canola seed drifted by accident — and won. Although the Canadian Supreme Court did not award Monsanto the farmer’s profits, the precedent is set: “wherever a gene wanders, it’s under Monsanto’s control.” Worse, it appears the case leaves open the possibility that in future cases of accidental genetic drift, Monsanto might be entitled to profits. –BL ] Monsanto Wins Patent Case on Plant Genes May 22, 2004 | New York Times by BERNARD SIMON TORONTO, May 21 – In a case central to the international debate over the right to […]

Military: “Justifiable Homicides”?

[ Quite apart from the thousands of dead prisoners in the “war on terror” denied by the U.S. military, it admits that numerous prisoners have died in its custody, several of which it claims are “justifiable homicides.” From the article: Altogether, a senior military official said at a Pentagon briefing on Friday afternoon, 37 prisoners have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since August 2002, all but five in Iraq. Of these, 15 prisoner deaths have been determined by the Army to be cases of death by natural or undetermined causes, and 8 as justifiable homicides…. The Pentagon […]

U.S. Military Whistleblowers Face Retribution

[ Statistically, those who blow the whistle on abuse in the military face serious retribution by the military, despite the so-called Whitle-Blower Protection Act. –BL ] 21 May 2004 | National Public Radio NPR’s Daniel Zwerdling examines two cases of military whistleblowers who faced retribution for exposing wrongdoing. In the first case, an Army captain was sent to Haiti in 1994 to protect human rights, but when he tried to expose the fact that U.S. military was standing by while political dissidents were being killed, he was court-martialed and lost his job and benefits. In the second case, a young Navy […]

Major General Mattis: “I don’t have to apologise for the conduct of my men”

One incident. Forty dead. Two stories. What really happened? 21 May 2004 | The Independent by Justin Huggler in Baghdad A tiny bundle of blankets is unwrapped; inside is the body of a baby, its limbs smeared with dried blood. Then the mourners peel back the blanket further to reveal a second dead baby. Another blanket is opened; inside are the bodies of a mother and child. The child, six or seven years old, is lying against his or her mother, as if seeking comfort. But the child has no head.

“US soldiers started to shoot us, one by one”

Survivors describe wedding massacre as generals refuse to apologise May 21, 2004 | The Guardian by Rory McCarthy in Ramadi The wedding feast was finished and the women had just led the young bride and groom away to their marriage tent for the night when Haleema Shihab heard the first sounds of the fighter jets screeching through the sky above. It was 10.30pm in the remote village of Mukaradeeb by the Syrian border and the guests hurried back to their homes as the party ended. As sister-in-law of the groom, Mrs Shihab, 30, was to sleep with her husband and […]

Cheney Sings Wal-Mart’s Praises

[ Wal-Mart, America’s largest company, employer of 1.2 million, destroyer of small businesses, actually costs taxpayers a decent chunk of change: a Wal-Mart store with 200 employees costs the taxpayers approximately $420,750 per year in social service costs, because wages and benefits for Wal-Mart employees are so meager. How so? Consider, for instance, that The average Wal-Mart employee earns a little over $8 per hour, a wage that puts one well below the poverty level for a family of four. At that level of income, the Wal-Mart employee would qualify for food stamps; if like most of her co-workers she […]

Wallis Challenges Anti-Abortion Bishop on Iraq War

[ Left-leaning Evangelical Jim Wallis challenges Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, who announced that “Any Catholics who vote for candidates who stand for abortion, illicit stem cell research or euthanasia [place themselves outside full communion with the Church and so jeopardize their salvation]. It is for this reason that these Catholics, whether candidates for office or those who would vote for them, may not receive Holy Communion….” Wallis: As more and more lives continue to be lost in Iraq, and more and more of our resources are diverted to the war, will the bishop make a similar declaration about […]

Raiding Iraq’s Piggy Bank

[ This Andrew Cockburn piece explains how the Administration essentially circumvents Congress to make payments to Halliburton. Cockburn is “coauthor of Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein and has reported from Iraq for years.” –BL ] If the Bush administration is truly committed to the nation’s sovereignty, it should let Iraqis retake control of their own oil revenues. May 17, 2004 | Salon.com by Andrew Cockburn As the occupation of Iraq dissolves further into bloody chaos, the colonial overseers in Baghdad are keeping their eyes fixed on what is really important: Iraq’s money and how to keep it. […]

Campaign Double Standards: Kerry ”Missteps” Get Lavish Media Attention, While Bush Falsehoods Ignored

May 20, 2004 | FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting) Recent media coverage of Democratic presidential contender John Kerry has often focused on alleged gaffes or misstatements, ranging from convoluted explanations of his Senate voting record to whether or not he owns a sports utility vehicle. But while these relatively trivial aspects of John Kerry’s record have come under intense and prolonged media scrutiny, journalists have shown a reluctance to highlight much more significant falsehoods or “gaffes” by Kerry’s main rival, George W. Bush.

Bush Outsourced Fundraising & Voter Operations

[ In a story reminiscient of 2003’s “boxgate,” the Bush Administration is again caught deceiving the public about what its real economic vision means for American jobs. –BL ] May 21, 2004 | Misleader.org According to a new report, the Bush Administration has taken its strong support for outsourcing further than previously thought — opting to move key political operations offshore. India’s Hindustan Times reports that, during a 14 month period from 2002 to 2003 when the Republican Party was playing up patriotism, its fund-raising and vote-seeking campaign was performed in part by two call centers located in India1. According to […]

Bush PR team covers China stamp with ‘Made in U.S.A.’

22 Jan 2003 | NEW YORK TIMES ST. LOUIS, Jan. 22 — George W. Bush may extol the virtues of free trade, but today that did not extend to a Made in America presidential appearance in the heart of the Midwest. In an incident that reporters instantly called Boxgate, Mr. Bush gave a speech on his economic plan at a trucking company warehouse while surrounded by cardboard boxes — a tableau meant to project the image of a president at the epicenter of small-business America. The only problem was the cardboard boxes were stamped with “Made in China,” a mark […]

Anti-Muslim Brooklyn Prison Abuse Scandal

[ “Almost as soon as the World Trade Center crumbled,” the human rights violations of Arabs and Muslims began in the U.S. Here’s a story about the torture at “the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where 84 of the 762 Muslim immigrants who were detained after Sept. 11 were held.” From the piece: David Cole, professor of law at Georgetown University and author of Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism. In both America and Iraq, he says, “the approach was to sweep broadly, to pick people up on little or no evidence other than […]

Amnesty Opposes U.S. Request for Continued Exemption from International Criminal Court

[ In order to place itself beyond the reach of international law in the past, the U.S. has lobbied other nations, and threatened to pull military aid from those that do not support the U.S. position at the UN. –BL ] The UN vote is today 20 May 2004 | AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL Amnesty International is urging governments to oppose any effort to renew Security Council Resolution 1487 (2003), which renewed Resolution 1422 (2002). Resolution 1422, contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and other international law, sought to prevent the International Criminal Court from exercising jurisdiction for a one-year period […]

White House Policy To Facilitate Biblical Prophecy?

[ The Village Voice’s Rick Perlstein got his hands on an email he wasn’t supposed to see, revealing the way fundamentalists are in close contact on with the White House on Israeli-Palestinian issues. From the article: Most of all, apparently, we’re not supposed to know the National Security Council’s top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios…. The e-mailed meeting summary reveals NSC Near East and North African Affairs director Elliott Abrams sitting down with the Apostolic Congress [whose] members vociferously oppose the idea of a Palestinian […]

“I killed innocent people for our government”

[ Twelve-year marine, Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey, saw the reality of the Iraq war, and was discharged in December, 2003: Well, this particular vehicle we didn’t destroy completely, and one gentleman looked up at me and said: “Why did you kill my brother? We didn’t do anything wrong.” That hit me like a ton of bricks…. On the outskirts of Baghdad…. [t]hey were only holding a demonstration. Down at the end of the road, we saw some RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) lined up against the wall. That put us at ease because we thought: “Wow, if they were going to blow […]

Trial of Returned Soldier Turned Conscientious Objector Deserves Attention

by Brendan Lalor The court-martial of conscientious objector Staff Sgt Camilo Mejia deserves more attention. Mejia’s desertion trial is under way. His experience during his five months of service in Iraq, until October, 2003, turned him into a conscientious objector, he says. As The Mirror (20 May 2004) reports: Staff Sgt Camilo Mejia, 28, who deserted because he didn’t want to fight in an “oil-driven war,” was … court martialled in the US yesterday. He went AWOL for five months after going home to Florida on two weeks leave from Iraq. The BBC (20 May 2004) adds that he refused […]

“Justice Department” Attacks GreenPeace — and Loses

[ The case was triggered by an April 2002 protest in which two volunteers from a Greenpeace vessel boarded the APL Jade cargo ship, which was carrying the mahogany from Brazil toward the Port of Miami. Just a few months before, President George W Bush himself publicly committed Washington to help developing countries prevent illegal logging of mahogany, and the two activists who boarded the ship unfurled a banner that read, “President Bush, Stop Illegal Logging.” The two activists, as well as the four others in the Greenpeace boat, were arrested when they came into port, pleaded guilty to a […]

“The Covert Campaign To Rig Our Tax System to Benefit The Super Rich — And Cheat Everybody Else”

18 May 2004 | DemocracyNow! The income gap in the United States is greater than many imagine — the top 29,000 Americans have as much income as the bottom 96 million. And in recent years tax burden for the richest Americans — especially corporations — has been falling sharply while everyone else’s has risen. A study by the General Accounting Office found that almost two-thirds of America’s corporations paid no federal income taxes during the late 1990’s, when corporate profits were soaring. Nine out of 10 companies paid less than the equivalent of 5 percent of their total income. A […]

The Newsweek Expos?, “Roots of Torture”

by Brendan Lalor In case you’ve missed recent discussions about the Newsweek piece that complemented the recent important Seymour Hersh article printed here, here’s a note about it reported in a DemocracyNow! piece entitled, “Bush OK’d Relaxing Of Geneva Conventions in 2002”: Newsweek is … reporting that President Bush had decided by January of 2002 that the Geneva Conventions would not apply to members of the Taliban or Al Qaeda. Newsweek obtained a memo to the president from White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzales that read “As you have said, the war against terrorism is a new kind of war. […]

Bush Administration’s Ads Deemed Illegal “Propaganda”

White House’s Medicare Videos Are Ruled Illegal May 20, 2004 | New York Times by ROBERT PEAR WASHINGTON, May 19 – The General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress, said on Wednesday that the Bush administration had violated federal law by producing and disseminating television news segments that portray the new Medicare law as a boon to the elderly. The agency said the videos were a form of “covert propaganda” because the government was not identified as the source of the materials, broadcast by at least 40 television stations in 33 markets. The agency also expressed some concern about […]

See the Film Most Americans Have Never Seen: “Afghan Massacre”

excerpted from 20 May 2004 | DemocracyNow! [see the film by clicking here] … Afghan Massacre: The Convoy of Death … provides eyewitness testimony that U.S. troops were complicit in the massacre of thousands of Taliban prisoners during the Afghan War. According to eyewitnesses, after the seige of Kunduz, some three thousand prisoners were forced into sealed containers and loaded onto trucks for transport to Sheberghan prison. Eyewitnesses say when the prisoners began shouting for air, U.S.-allied Afghan soldiers fired directly into the truck, killing many of them. The rest suffered through an appalling road trip lasting up to four […]

Officer Says Army Tried to Curb Red Cross Visits to Prison in Iraq

May 19, 2004 | New York Times by DOUGLAS JEHL and ERIC SCHMITT WASHINGTON, May 18 — Army officials in Iraq responded late last year to a Red Cross report of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison by trying to curtail the international agency’s spot inspections of the prison, a senior Army officer who served in Iraq said Tuesday. After the International Committee of the Red Cross observed abuses in one cellblock on two unannounced inspections in October and complained in writing on Nov. 6, the military responded that inspectors should make appointments before visiting the cellblock. That area was the […]

Violent Occupation, Bush, and Sharon

by Brendan Lalor To develop a sense of how Israel’s violence toward Palestinians, and how continued U.S. support for Israel, are perceived in the Arab world, watch a few episodes of LinkTV’s MOSAIC, a daily digest of Middle East news broadcasts. Many Americans fail to see the relationship between Israel’s violent occupation of Palestinian territory and the U.S.’s violent occupation of Iraq. In fact, the same tax payers support both expressions of destructive hubris. Witness Israeli policy’s disregard for Palestinian civilians who live under the Israeli-imposed apartheid system (and compare U.S. policy’s disregard for Iraqi civilians over recent decades, especially […]

Bush praises Sharon’s pullout proposal

Erakat: Proposal is ‘severe blow to peace process’ 15 April 2004 | CNN WASHINGTON — President Bush endorsed an Israeli plan Wednesday to pull back from Gaza and part of the West Bank, but denied the United States was taking sides in the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At a White House news briefing following a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Bush said “realities on the ground” dictated that Israel should be able to keep some settlements in any future peace agreement. Bush praised Sharon for his withdrawal proposal. “These are historic and courageous actions,” Bush said. “If all parties […]

Born-Again Rapture

[ From the review: … it would be hard to overemphasize the awkwardness with which [LaHaye/Jenkins] blend[] folksy humour, treacly sentiment and religiously justified bloodbaths. The Left Behind books have been energetically condemned by mainstream reviewers in the United States — not least by more orthodox Christians, who have been as offended by LaHaye?s manglings of biblical tradition as they have by his uncompromising sectarian zeal. Nevertheless, the series?s visions of beleaguered yet plucky evangelists speaks powerfully to the many millions of believers whom secular as well as religious ideologues have been mobilizing since the late 1970s. President Bush — […]

U.S. denies report aircraft attacked an Iraq wedding

May 19, 2004 | NBC News BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraqi officials said a U.S. helicopter fired on a wedding party Wednesday in western Iraq, killing more than 40 people, including children. Senior Pentagon officials confirmed that approximately 40 were killed in an airstrike near the Syrian border, but they told NBC News that the incident involved an AC-130 warship — not a helicopter — and that the aircraft returned fire after coming under attack from militants. It was not immediately possible to reconcile the divergent accounts or even verify that both descriptions were of the same incident. Lt. Col. Ziyad […]

United Nations Security Council ignores ethnic cleansing in Sudan?s Darfur region

[ This article is one of the better recaps and analyses of the Sudan crisis. –BL ] 17 May 2004 | World Socialist Web Site by Brian Smith The ongoing conflict in Sudan?s Darfur region has increasingly taken the form of ethnic cleansing, with numerous reports of the direct targeting of civilian populations. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have just released reports revealing the extent of the atrocities. HRW believes that there can be ?no doubt about the Sudanese government’s culpability in crimes against humanity in Darfur.?

The Roots of Torture

The road to Abu Ghraib began after 9/11, when Washington wrote new rules to fight a new kind of war. A NEWSWEEK investigation Officials in Colin Powell’s State Department were ‘horrified’ by the Bush administration’s apparent willingness to ignore Geneva protocols Tough tactics: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pushed for a Gitmo style approach to prisoner interrogations in Iraq May 24, 2004 | Newsweek by John Barry, Michael Hirsh and Michael Isikoff It’s not easy to get a member of Congress to stop talking. Much less a room full of them. But as a small group of legislators watched the images […]

FACTORY BUSH TOUTED CLOSES

1,300 OHIOANS JOBLESS May 18, 2004 | THE DAILY MIS-LEAD Last April, President Bush visited a Timken Company manufacturing plant in Ohio to press for passage of new tax cuts that he said would spur the economy. During the speech Bush said that "the future of this company is bright and therefore, the future of employment is bright for the families that work here" (1). Less than a year after the tax cuts for the wealthy passed, that same factory is shutting down — putting about 1,300 people out of work (2) and inflicting a "devastating" blow to the Canton […]

Rewilding America: The Froggy Love-Tunnel Vision Quest

[ Chip Ward, ecological writer and activist and Assistant Director of the Salt Lake City Public Library System, presents a positive ecological vision of the future. As Tom Engelhardt points out, “this piece is … a set of Cliff Notes for the new book [Chip has] just published, Hope’s Horizon: Three Visions for Healing the American Land.” Thanks to Popi and Tom Natsoulas for passing this piece along. –BL ] May 13, 2004 | TomDispatch.com by Chip Ward Imagine America in 2104. From the air, what you see is a largely unbroken, green, and fluid realm with graceful and permeable natural […]

How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib

[ Below are excerpts from the latest Seymour Hersh article on Abu Ghraib. –BL ] by SEYMOUR M. HERSH 15 May 2004 | The New Yorker (May 24 issue) …. The success of the war was at risk; something had to be done to change the dynamic. The solution, endorsed by Rumsfeld and carried out by Stephen Cambone, was to get tough with those Iraqis in the Army prison system who were suspected of being insurgents. A key player was Major General Geoffrey Miller, the commander of the detention and interrogation center at Guant?namo, who had been summoned to Baghdad in […]

Situationist Ethics: The Stanford Prison Experiment doesn’t explain Abu Ghraib

[ This Saletan piece follows up an earlier one addressing the Stanford Prison Experiment. Saletan points out dynamics other than the guard-prisoner social structure that account for the Abu Ghraib abuses. Thanks to Alexandra Dadlez for the forward. –BL ] by William Saletan May 12, 2004 | Slate Are the American soldiers who abused Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib prison “a few who have betrayed our values,” as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claims? Or are they victims of a prison system guaranteed to produce atrocities? In recent days, the latter view has taken hold, buttressed by the Stanford Prison Experiment, a […]

A systematic process learned from Cold War

[ From the article: “The idea of [abuses at Abu Ghraib] being ‘a few bad apples’ won’t wash. It looks increasingly like a systematic process. And there have clearly been conscious attempts by psychologists to make the techniques culturally relative to a Muslim population,” [Sherman Carroll of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture in London] added, referring to reports of enforced nakedness, the simulation of oral sex, forced masturbation and naked human pyramids which seemed calculated particularly to offend followers of Islam. –BL ] by Paul Vallely 14 May 2004 | The Independent