Wednesday, April 30, 2003

The Other NATO

When Chretien's aide called Bush called a moron at the NATO summit a few months ago I think she spoke for millions but most especially the heads of state who were present at the meeting. I had the sense then that this push to attack Iraq and the implications of it would cause a rift that could not be healed, at least not easily and certainly not by the dunderheads in the Bush administration. Presently Murdoch's Times is reporting 'old' Europe's draft for a EU military presence as a blow to NATO, while the Independent reports it as a natural progression of old intentions and the timing of yesterday's meeting as an embarrassment for France and Germany.

I wonder if Blair privately would agree that Bush and his representatives have a lot to learn when it comes to diplomacy. So far he seems to be a willing player doing a balancing act between puppet and visionary who represents the best interests of his people. Bush sees himself in a red, white and blue vaccum protected by an intimidating military power and the gullible Americans he can convince with his lies to follow him [ in some cases] as he leads them into global isolation and great peril. He'll always be followed [or perhaps routed into action] by those Americans who think we should be pushing everyone else around.

This doesn't minimise the fact that Blair is very much in keeping with this new reorganisation of global boundaries and seems perfectly willing to take the abuse not only from the Bushies but his own people in order to get the job done. What he doesn't have is sound footing in his own government and I'll be interested to see what the next elections bring. I've about lost hope there will ever be a 'free' election in the U.S. again.

I asked a few people a while back what they thought [Americans] would do if the rest of the world told us to kiss off, because I think that is what will occur and we're seeing the first implementations of it. As well, I can't imagine that China doesn't think SARS is an American/CIA intervention [not that I necessarily agree] and its appearance will probably cement the ties they've been formulating with Russia, or that they're not very concerned with obvious attempts on the part of the US to utilise NATO as their own personal police force.

And while Blair might hope to ride this out and in the end position the UK as an equal partner in this US bid for world domination, certainly he's had a taste of what the real future holds with the rebuilding contracts thus far awarded going only to a few US companies. He will always be nothing more than a kissing cousin to these guys, as Australia it would seem has already figured out.

What should the people in Africa be thinking? That these worries are coming to the fore?

Update: Apparently Murdoch's publication is mirroring the Bushie's reaction.

The United States and NATO criticized the accord among countries recently derided as "old Europe" by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Both said NATO needed more and better weapons, not new command structures.

The four leaders insisted at a news conference that their initiative -- more symbolic than substantive -- was not anti-NATO or anti-American but aimed at strengthening the European pillar of the Atlantic Alliance.

"The aim is not to decouple European Union and Atlantic Alliance defense efforts. This contribution should enable European defense to make a quantitative leap forward," French President Jacques Chirac said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the four countries had created "some sort of a plan to develop some sort of a headquarters."

"What we need is not more headquarters. What we need is more capability and fleshing out the structure and the forces that are there with the equipment that they need," Powell said.
Is This A War Crime?

On Newsworld International yesterday afternoon a reporter interviewed one of the US troops present at the horrible scene in Fallujah.

According to him they fired only after being fired upon and were very careful about who they shot at.

However as the reporter informed us, there were no bullet holes present in the schoolhouse the troops had occupied, nor were any troops injured. As well, there was countless damage done in the direction the troops were firing, in fact a woman was shot while sitting in her house nearby.

As well, this soldier's account doesn't hold up considering the many people who required treatment in the aftermath. Some of the victims were very young children.

It appears to be a knee-jerk reaction and outright abuse of power. Whatever the outcome the people of Fallujah will never forgive the US for it.

Update: For the second time this week U.S. troops open fire on a group in Fallujah. They were protesting the previous shooting.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

The Sun Rises On Japanese, U.S. Neocons

Appearing in IHT/Asahi comes this opinion on the spread of neoconservative thinking in Japan. The author, Yoichi Funabashi, posed this question to Norman Podhoretz;

The war in Iraq is often referred to as the ``neocon war.'' But how do the neoconservatives themselves who advocated this war assess its outcome and what challenges do they see lying ahead?

Podhoretz waxed increduously that Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld aren't at all neocons but lifelong conservatives who have not been unduly influenced by this faction of ex-liberals. I'm not sure what this had to do with the question as it was presented. Is Podhoretz arguing that neoconservatives weren't in on the ground floor of this new vision for America or is he evading the question because he doesn't want to pre-emptively diminish the originality of whatever answer the administration might offer?

Podhoretz then gushes over the new marketing strategy culled from Eliot Cohen, Commentary magazine's former editor-in-chief which employs Podhoretz as its editor-at-large;

Cohen 'dubbed the U.S. war against Islamic radicals ``the fourth world war.'' By using this expression (``the third world war'' was the Cold War), Cohen intended to exhort Americans to brace themselves for many years of hostilities-and not just outright military conflict, but, like the Cold War, in a broader sense as well.

According to Podhoretz, James Woolsey, a former CIA director, praised his coinage and told him that he would also adopt it (which he almost abused it since then).

Podhoretz goes on to praise the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive strike as an important strategic concept and supports the 'domino theory' for spreading democracy through the Middle East citing Japan's economic and democratization model in Asia as creating the same desired affect.

Funabashi has noticed a hawkish trend among some of the students he lectures to in American universities and cites the following;

"it seems that some South Korean students at Columbia University are referring to certain Japanese students there as ``Japanese neocons.'' These are students who openly discuss the ``three scenarios'': constitutional revision and rearmament, support for the Japanese prewar policy of aggression in Asia and nuclear armament.

It was a Japanese student at the university's journalism school who told me about them.

``Actually, I think it would be more appropriate to call them neo-Nazis than neocons,'' he said."

Funabashi goes on to describe how this attitude may come to the fore in Japan's future dealings with North Korea and wonders;

What is difficult to understand is the way Japanese neocons view the United States and the Japan-U.S. alliance.

Are they trying to encourage the United States (and China) to do more to deter North Korea's nuclear armament by alluding to the possibility that Japan could choose to go nuclear? (An extension of the traditional practice of toeing the U.S. line.)

Or are they trying to forthrightly propose that Japan arm itself with nuclear weapons and maintain the Japan-U.S. alliance at the same time? If so, the move goes hand in hand with some neoconservatives in the United States, who tolerate Japan's nuclear armament on the assumption that North Korea possesses nuclear weapons-and possibly bearing in mind that China could also eventually become a threat. (An attempt to establish an alliance with the United States on equal terms.)

Or could they be using the Japan-U.S. neocon alliance simply as a front to plunge down the ``three-scenario'' path and shed the Japan-U.S. alliance altogether? (An attempt to achieve independence.)

Update 4/30: U.S. eyes Japan's help in possible N Korea blockade
U.S. Soldiers Fire on Iraqi Protesters

According to a Reuters report via Al-Jazeera 10 people were killed and 70 wounded. The television station stated the group had finished up evening prayers at a mosque and were answering a call to protest the continued U.S. presence in Iraq. While U.S. Central Command at the time of this report denied knowledge of the incident, Al-Jazeera said the troops opened fire after someone in the crowd threw a stone at them.

According to an AP report the troops opened fire after being shot at. Col. Arnold Bray of the 82nd Airborne Division stated only 7 people were hit, while residents were quoted as saying 15 were dead. This report doesn't mention a mosque gathering and instead describes the gathering as one consisting of students aged 5 to 20. It goes on to say the troops were stationed in a schoolhouse which was allegedly fired upon by the protesters.

Bray commented ``Ask them which kind of schoolboys carry AK-47s.''

Apparently Col. Bray doesn't visit Baghdad or read Reuters.

In a Shi'ite slum of Baghdad, Iraqi boys get drunk, pop pills and then play with the most popular toy in town -- the AK-47 assault rifle.

"They start firing in the air and then they shoot at each other right in the middle of the market," said Saad Batal, as vendors sell cucumbers, fish, guns and bullets at a crowded street.

"The Americans have to stop this. These kids are creating problems every day. All you hear is shooting at night."

Since U.S.-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein, Iraqis across Baghdad have been raiding military storehouses and looting everything from machineguns to night-vision binoculars.

The most recent report from Reuters is here. According to it Central Command in Qatar 'knows nothing', troops in Fallujah declined comments to Reuters, and senior officers in Baghdad 'had no news'.

Al-Jazeera and CNN television quoted U.S. troops saying they came under fire after asking the crowd to disperse and had to retaliate. Numerous local people said about 200 unarmed people had asked the Americans to leave the school so it could reopen.

"They opened fire on the protesters because they went out to demonstrate," Sunni Muslim cleric Kamal Shaker Mahmoud, who lives near the school, told Reuters.

"They are stealing our oil and they are slaughtering our people," Shuker Abdullah Hamid told Reuters as he helped bury a man he said was his cousin at a local cemetery.

The shooting in Falluja followed an attack on U.S. forces in the northern city of Mosul on Monday evening in which at least six Iraqi fighters were killed. At least 12 civilians were killed near Baghdad on Saturday when an Iraqi arms dump blew up, triggering protests about U.S. troops' handling of the weapons.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Blog Of The Day

The Guardian has had Life and War with Mikey 'Fatboy' Delgado as its blog of the day since last Thursday.

If you haven't checked it out yet what are you waiting for?

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Truth In Disclosure

Tapped has an example of the politicking being hammered into unsuspecting listener's ears via Clear Channel ghoulies that I posted about here.

So it is happening elsewhere and I suspect is now pandemic.

Urban radio rage

Rural America is lacking in this type of unique station that would enable kids to understand something isn't right.
Poor Little Johnny McCain

He's really outdone himself this time.

Hasn't been in the news lately so he throws out a few critical comments about the current crisis in North Korea just to remind you how 'independent' he is...

What exactly does he mean when he says;

"We're in a very serious situation. You could argue, in some ways, more serious than it was with Iraq."

Is this the same Sen. McCain who not only championed the Iraq Resolution but urged defeat of the Byrd/Kennedy Resolution on Iraq?

The reason I wonder is he seems to have this opinion;

'the Bush administration hasn't paid as much attention to problems in the North as it should'

...yet he doesn't bother to recall for his listening audience that the Byrd/Kennedy Resolution came about after we all discovered the Bush administration is choke-full of malignant liars and among numerous transgressions had kept some very important information from the Congress in order to facilitate passage of the Iraq Resolution.

I certainly remember it. It would be the fact that Mr. Bush and his cohorts;

'had detailed knowledge for more than a year about North Korea's program to covertly make uranium fuel for an atom bomb'

In addition, the administration had strong evidence, dating back to the Clinton presidency, that North Korea got help from Pakistan's top nuclear weapons scientist.

The Pakistanis appear to have given nuclear technology to North Korea in exchange for long-range ballistic missiles that could reach deep into the territory of its traditional foe, India. Bush administration officials pointed a finger at this in early June 2001, at a time when they were courting India. But since Sept. 11, when Pakistan became a key ally in the war on terrorism, they turned mum on the Pakistan connection.

But the Bush administration didn't just turn 'mum'. On September 22, 2001 CNN reported;

Bush has ordered the immediate lifting of sanctions against India and Pakistan, imposed in 1998 after the two countries tested nuclear weapons. (Full story)

Both nations have agreed to support the U.S. campaign against terror.

The sanctions included a ban on U.S. economic aid and a bar on selling or sharing so-called "dual use" technologies that had both civilian and nuclear-military uses.

And that's not all. On January 2, 2002 it was reported;

President Bush on Wednesday allowed U.S. companies to sell high-speed computers to countries such as Russia, China and India, easing a Cold War-era ban designed to halt the spread of nuclear arms. Computer makers may now export computers capable of complex 3D modeling, fluid dynamics calculations and other advanced applications to Pakistan, Vietnam and other "Tier 3" countries without specific permission from the government.

The Bush administration more than doubled the processor speed limit, from 85,000 millions of theoretical operations per second (Mtops) to 195,000 Mtops.

Now I'm just guessing, but if I was aware of this information then certainly the inimitable Sen. John McCain was even more so.

Why didn't these issues bother him? They bothered Byrd and Kennedy enough to at least attempt to solicit a more informed debate before giving a blank cheque for war to the president. Is it always so easy for McCain to abrogate Constitutional duties he swore to uphold when taking office? Certainly he was aware that many posited this;

The president's failure to tell Congress about North Korea before the vote on Iraq violated separation of powers.

And still he has the audacity to announce yet another bid for a privilege he's failed to honor in its highest tradition.

Poor little Johnny McCain. Slithering around down on sleazy street where the lazy bash Clinton, 3 years out of office, when they need a cheap boost in the polls.

And considering his failed memory on so many issues, I expect he'll need to be reminded of this statement often;

Although the United States cannot rule out military assault, the Arizona Republican and former Vietnam prisoner of war said war should be the last option exercised.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Leaked Document Exposes pro-Israel Lobby's Manipulation of U.S. Public

In this post I linked to an action taken by members of Congress that calls on the administration not to make demands of Israel in the framework of the 'roadmap for peace'.

So far in the American press there have been many reports wanting to blame Arafat for any delays thus far despite months of opposition from Sharon himself to any plan that would call for the dismantling of settlements among other things in the proposal.

Today the Electronic Intifada has published a document which exposes the efforts of the public relations firm The Luntz Research Companies and The Israel Project meant to be a guide for Israeli activists on how to sway opinion as this discussion continues.

Among the suggestions are these;

"Iraq colors all. Saddam is your best defense, even if he is dead. The worldview [of] Americans is entirely dominated by developments in Iraq. This is a unique opportunity for Israelis to deliver a message of support and unity at a time of great international anxiety and opposition from some of our European "allies." For a year - a SOLID YEAR - you should be invoking the name of Saddam Hussein and how Israel was always behind American efforts to rid the world of this ruthless dictator and liberate their people."

"The fact that Israel has remained relatively silent for the three months preceding the war and for the three weeks of the war was absolutely the correct strategy - and according to all the polling done, it worked. But as the military conflict comes to a close, it is now time for Israel to lay out its own "road map" for the future which includes unqualified support for America and unqualified commitment to an ongoing war against terrorism."

"It DOES NOT HELP when you compliment President Bush. When you want to identify with and align yourself with America, just say it. Don't use George Bush as a synonym for the United States. Even with the destruction of the Hussein regime and all the positive reactions from the Iraqi people, there still remains about 20% of America that opposes the Iraqi war, and they are overwhelmingly Democrat. That leaves about half the Democrats who support the war even if they don't support George Bush. You antagonize the latter half unnecessarily every time you compliment the President. Don't do it."

""SECURITY" sells. Security has become the key fundamental principle for all Americans. Security is the context by which you should explain Israeli need for loan guarantees and military aid, as well as why Israel can't just give up land. The settlements are our Achilles heel, and the best response (which is still quite weak) is the need for security that this buffer creates."

Download the document now [PDF format, 40K]
No Clear Proof Globalisation Helps The Poor

PDF file can be downloaded if you'd like to read the latest IMF report in full.

According to Soren Ambrose of 50 Years is Enough, the report 'shatters most of the IMF’s own arguments for structural adjustment.'

This Reuters article [Google cache] made its way around the web when it appeared in March and is a synopsis of sorts of the IMF report.

I'm revisiting it in light of Bush's recent announcement delivered by his new treasury secretary, John Snow.

" Iraq's citizens should not have to pay back the debts racked up by their former dictator. "

This is self-serving hypocrisy to the nth. Considering the administration's relentless obstruction of the same type of relief for other countries the deeper meaning of this action cuts deeply.
I Don't Like Aaron Brown

Let the lightning strike. MWO has been defending this alleged journalist and I can't see why. I'm aware that some time ago he said something considered 'brave' or the like and MWO readers sent him lots of thank-you letters, to which he responded with a condemnation of any site that would label his fellow 'journalists' whores. So it's admirable MWO continues to defend him but again, why?

I couldn't watch his war coverage. I thought it was drippingly supportive of the entire strike and I don't buy his 'well there's a war on we must cover it' explanation. You can hear his thoughts for yourself courtesy of Democracy Now's Amy Goodman by clicking this link. Real Player required. Linked from Ruminate This.

So sorry, MWO. You're great, Brown is not. And I'm definitely not a Kool Kid.

In that interview you'll hear Brown call Robert Fisk's questioning of CNN's editorial policies 'stupid' yet that doesn't really address the concerns Fisk and others have expressed about it. For instance CalPundit pointed to a SF Chronicle article that stated CNN was 'right on target about guessing the war's start date.' Today's LA Times points to remarks made by CNN news head Eason Jordan on Howard Kurtz's CNN show Reliable Sources;

Kurtz, who juggles two hats while covering media for the Washington Post and drawing a paycheck from CNN as regular host of "Reliable Sources," asked Jordan about government criticism of retired military men who had second-guessed aspects of U.S. invasion strategy during initial TV coverage of the war.

The essence of Jordan's reply to Kurtz was that he didn't understand the fuss because he had received clearance in advance. According to a CNN transcript of the program, he said: "I went to the Pentagon myself several times before the war started and met with important people there and said, for instance, at CNN, 'Here are the generals we're thinking of retaining to advise us on the air and off about the war.' And we got a big thumbs-up on all of them. That was important."

Important in what respect? CNN viewers were not about to learn, for time had run out. "OK, we've got to leave it there," said Kurtz.

Which was unfortunate, because Jordan had just revealed that he had asked the Pentagon, in effect, to vet and approve ex-military men that CNN hoped to use as analysts. That is getting cozy.

Yet Mr. Brown could only point to leftist irrationality and inablility to understand his 'simple' answers when asked questions concerning CNN's seeming ties to the Bush administration. Either he's in denial or a player. But something's not right.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Blogging around

Atrios has some interesting comments and links concerning Santorum.

Dominion is doing a masterful and entertaining job deconstructing Penn and Teller's recent show on environmental myths. I'm still looking for it on Showtime but haven't been able to find it.

Update 4/25: I was finally able to catch the show and 'bullshit' is an appropriate name for it. I find it offensive they would take on such a serious topic in such a skewed and sloppy way. Sure there are people in the environmental movement who aren't skilled speakers and others who aren't able to recognise the scientific name for H2O, but then there are those who could argue intelligently any of the 'points' Penn and Teller claimed to 'debunk'. Obviously they weren't keen on inviting any of those people onto their silly show.

There isn't anything of value I can add to Dominion's work. As for 'The Skeptical Environmentalist' his 15 minutes of fame didn't last long as his work was largely discredited by noted scientists around the world.

As the book's subtitle--Measuring the Real State of the World--indicates, Lomborg's intention was to reanalyze environmental data so that the public might make policy decisions based on the truest understanding of what science has determined. His conclusion, which he writes surprised even him, was that contrary to the gloomy predictions of degradation he calls "the litany," everything is getting better. Not that all is rosy, but the future for the environment is less dire than is supposed. Instead Lomborg accuses a pessimistic and dishonest cabal of environmental groups, institutions and the media of distorting scientists' actual findings. (A copy of the book's first chapter can be found at

The problem with Lomborg's conclusion is that the scientists themselves disavow it. Many spoke to us at Scientific American about their frustration at what they described as Lomborg's misrepresentation of their fields. His seemingly dispassionate outsider's view, they told us, is often marred by an incomplete use of the data or a misunderstanding of the underlying science. Even where his statistical analyses are valid, his interpretations are frequently off the mark--literally not seeing the state of the forests for the number of the trees, for example. And it is hard not to be struck by Lomborg's presumption that he has seen into the heart of the science more faithfully than have investigators who have devoted their lives to it; it is equally curious that he finds the same contrarian good news lurking in every diverse area of environmental science.

Equally as pathetic was their obvious intent to quell opposition to any curtailing of logging. I don't find their attitude to be truly representative of logic and research but more in line with the deregulation at the expense of the environment no matter what religion certain conservative and alleged libertarian minded people subscribe to.

Mother Jones covered the Bush plan to 'fight fire with logging' last year well worth a read. This article defines the pros and cons of a 'clear-cut drought solution' pretty well. This article explains 'the lousy economics of Bush's new forest policy', something you'd think a Libertarian would think worthy of debate. And this explains how Bush has forged ahead absent environmental review which is basically what Penn and Teller did on their show.

In other words they managed to become what they accused the environmental community of being; incompetent intellectuals who try to rally support for their cause with cheap gimmicks and sensational material.

Clear Skies is another nightmare left for another time.
Tell Congress: UN Should Have a Key Role in Iraq

Urge your representatives and senators to back Rep. Tauscher's (D-CA) efforts to have the UN play the major role in post-war Iraq.

Read the resolution here.

The Bush administration is threatening a battle with the Security Council if the subject is considered.
O'Reilly Boycott

Act Now! which is The Nation's activist blog, tells of Bill O'Reilly's attack on LA Times columnist and Nation contributing editor Robert Scheer.

Read about it and hopefully it will stir you to action. ActNow! has some suggestions;

Let the LA Times know how much you appreciate Scheer's work and their role in publishing it.

Ask your local paper to carry his syndicated column.

Stay informed about O'Reilly. Here are two blogs that make it easy;


O'Reilly exposed

And of course, boycott his sponsors.

Added a new graphic to the template from The Electronic Privacy Information Center [Epic]. If you'd like to add it to your site you can get the code here.

I read about it again today in this Village Voice piece by Chisun Lee, in which we're told that in the event we actually achieved red status the chart would be 'wiped from the virtual world', as Big Brother would be in control.

I'm always adding new links as well. It's tedious and I lose patience with it so it'll be a while before the list actually reflects everyone/thing I read a lot, if ever.

Speaking of links, CalPundit has a new home. Here's the new one.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Let's Take The Whole World On

Rumsfeld 'leaks' plans for regime change in North Korea.

Lugar calls for attack if NK doesn't 'drop nukes'.

Perle...well calling for a Syria Liberation Act hasn't satisfied him. He's also determined to punish Russia and France.

Washington has made clear that any historic deals with the former regime will not continue. Mr Perle reaffirmed that view in an interview in the Kommersant newspaper yesterday. “It is highly likely that all previous deals with Russia will be declared null and void,” he said.

Russia had made a mistake by joining forces with France and Germany, he said. “The Russian Government backed a loser. This will undoubtedly seriously damage Russian interests.”


Mr Perle kept his most scathing remarks yesterday for President Chirac of France. “Do you really think the new Iraqi Government is going to invite Jacques Chirac?” he said. “Chirac went too far in his aim of opposing the US and the coalition. I don’t think the majority of Americans are ready to forget that. Chirac had a choice: to come on to our side or Saddam Hussein’s. He chose Hussein.”

Am I missing something here? I thought the Iraqi people were to be making their own decisions. This 'new' Iraqi government Perle refers to seems to be drafting policy before it's representatives have been elected.

Update: Pentagon downplays Paris show

New Pentagon guidelines bar generals from attending the Paris Air Show in June and will cut in half the number of US military aircraft on display, a move that some defense industry specialists see as a swipe at France for its opposition to the US invasion of Iraq.
Radio Ghoul Harasses Gay Teens

Hesiod has all the info you need to protest the shock jock Jan Mickelson who works in Des Moines, IA and infuses the airwaves with Savage-like hate speech.

It's no surprise his station is owned by Clear Channel. I support sending him and his station manager a message but I doubt it will do much to discourage him from his 'mission'. Clear Channel is the real problem here and I wonder if this malignancy is being taken as seriously as it should.

I listen to one of their stations on my way to and from work to catch their latest propaganda. In my opinion it's even more odious than Mickelson's. This format is Top 40 rap and pop while the DJs offer-up disparaging comments about the various artists. They do this in a very matter-of-fact way as if ridiculing speech, grammar and lifestyle doesn't merit further discussion, it's 'just wrong'. When they're not putting down the artists whose music is the audience draw, they're hawking for the Bush administration and lending credence to whatever rhetoric is floating around at the moment. For instance yesterday they promoted an Osama bin Laden doll that talks, the message encouraging you to believe al-Qaeda is tied to Iraq. They thought this doll was so cute?! 'I'd buy one if I could' type of dialogue. Another thing they do is promote anything that's on FOX, especially American Idol.

Am I bothered for no reason? I really don't think so. It appears to me to be a concerted effort to use a type of music to draw kids in, gain their confidence, then use that power to shape their opinions.

Update 4/23: Apparently Monica Lewinsky's FOX show debuted Monday as the DJs I mentioned praised it and her yesterday morning. They also had someone impersonating Clinton's voice making some particularly stupid remarks one of which was directed towards Hillary. It would fit into a bigger marketing design, wouldn't it? Feature Lewinsky in a huge venue you control then have your offspring outlets use its newfound notoriety to remind everyone what a terrible character Clinton is.

I'm intensely curious if this kind of thing is going on in other towns and cities.
Waco Remembered

Dominion has posted some thoughts on Waco well worth a read.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Cut to the Chase

Monkey Media Report has yet another outstanding post, this one about Richard Armitage and his claim that Hezbollah should be considered the 'A-Team' terrorist group to take aim against.

Have you ever seen Richard Armitage? Picture Gert Frobe of Goldfinger fame. I happened to catch this pro-Israeli hawk explaining his budget requests to a Congressional committee on C-Span 2 and his presence is one that evokes thugs, spies and brutish things that go bump in the night.

Adam B. Kushner posting in Colombia Political Review's The Fillibuster laments that the following is 'horrible news';

Arafat is continuing to block Mahmoud Abbas (a.k.a. Abu Mazen), the Palestinian Authority's prime minister designate, from appointing Muhammad Dahlan to the post of minister of the interior. That ministry would oversee the Authority's security apparatus. Dahlan is a big-time reformer and former Gaza security chief. He is not, however, an Arafat loyalist. And that, by all accounts, is a very good thing.

Is it really so terrible? On a tip from a friend who possesses an amazing wealth of knowledge about the conflict there's been rumours about for years that Dahlan is a CIA stooge. Googling handily reveals the connection. So why is it this doesn't merit a mention in Kushner's analysis?

Considering the dark, unmentionable history and indelicate, complex maneuverings how is it he can so pristinely claim Arafat has no interest in securing a peace settlement? How is it he can so readily ignore the actions of people in our own legislature when they initiate actions like this?
No Profit for Profiteers

Katrina vanden Heuvel informs us in her weblog Editor's Cut of some proposals we should consider supporting if opposed to war profiteering in Iraq.

* Fund the rebuilding of postwar Iraq through a special 50 percent Excess Profit/"Windfall for War" tax on all contracts offered to US corporations.

* Support Rep. Rahm Emanuel's (D-IL) "American Parity Act," which seeks to balance America's investments in housing, education, health care and other domestic priorities with equal spending in the Iraq postwar reconstruction plan. (So far, the bill has 28 co-sponsors, including Reps. Hinchey, Lee, Schakowsky, McGovern, DeFazio, DeLauro and Woolsey.)

* And consider the idea offered by Robert Jervis of New York in a letter to The New York Times from April 14:

"The Bechtel Group and other American companies could make a great contribution to both Iraq and America by renouncing all profits from the rebuilding of Iraq. People all over the world believe that the United States fought the war to make money. Our companies have a unique opportunity to show that this is false."
It's All So Contrived

Hesiod commented yesterday about Bush spending Easter with the troops.

And of course the news was filled with stories about the seven POW's returning as well.

Welcome home. You're where you belong.

It is all so contrived. Certainly they could have been brought home sooner if it weren't for the Rove machine timing it to coincide with an important religious holiday.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Israel seeks pipeline for Iraqi oil

The Observer reports;

Plans to build a pipeline to siphon oil from newly conquered Iraq to Israel are being discussed between Washington, Tel Aviv and potential future government figures in Baghdad.

The plan envisages the reconstruction of an old pipeline, inactive since the end of the British mandate in Palestine in 1948, when the flow from Iraq's northern oilfields to Palestine was re-directed to Syria.

Now, its resurrection would transform economic power in the region, bringing revenue to the new US-dominated Iraq, cutting out Syria and solving Israel's energy crisis at a stroke.

It would also create an end less and easily accessible source of cheap Iraqi oil for the US guaranteed by reliable allies other than Saudi Arabia - a keystone of US foreign policy for decades and especially since 11 September 2001.


James Akins, a former US ambassador to the region and one of America's leading Arabists, said: 'There would be a fee for transit rights through Jordan, just as there would be fees for Israel from those using what would be the Haifa terminal.

'After all, this is a new world order now. This is what things look like particularly if we wipe out Syria. It just goes to show that it is all about oil, for the United States and its ally.'

Akins was ambassador to Saudi Arabia before he was fired after a series of conflicts with then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, father of the vision to pipe oil west from Iraq. In 1975, Kissinger signed what forms the basis for the Haifa project: a Memorandum of Understanding whereby the US would guarantee Israel's oil reserves and energy supply in times of crisis.

Saturday, April 19, 2003

"Unfortunately we killed the good guys"

Tens of thousands of Iraqis have lost their savings as a result of looting which has left the country without a single functioning bank. Millions face poverty in the absence of a government which can resume paying salaries to teachers, doctors, civil servants and factory workers.

According to the Independent article I linked in the headline, the U.S. waited until Thursday to deploy troops to protect banks from armed and dangerous looters, eight days after they had entered Baghdad centre.

Within hours of the marines' deployment at the bank, they shot dead three Iraqi men on the street with their tank's 7.62mm machine-guns. No one knows how many civilians have been shot by American soldiers in Baghdad in similar circumstances. The dead men were not connected with the people raiding the bank.

"Unfortunately, we killed the good guys," said Lieutenant Patrick Spencer, 35, of the US Marines 13/4 company, "We found that out later by looking at their ID. The marines on the guns are not at all happy about what happened."

Were these three men armed with rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47s, knives and welding torches? It seems to me that would have been a very easy way to distinguish them from the real criminals, and if not armed, why were they mowed-down?

Update 4/22: According to this Independent article the men worked for Chalabi.

INC and American sources say the US Marines opened fire because of a misunderstanding. The men in the car, five in all, did not realise they were being told by the American troops to leave the area. Three were killed; two injured and taken by the Americans for treatment.

The marines say they fired a warning shot at the car but the driver, apparently panicking, slewed off in a different direction – driving across in front of the bank. The US troops opened up, with the Abrams' 7.62mm guns. The US Army has apologised, conceding unhappily that – as one marine put it – they "shot the good guys".

Mr Chalabi's spokesman, Zaab Sethna, said yesterday: "We were very unhappy about it. It happened before the 11pm curfew. Our people were on their way home. We have made a big noise about it to the Americans."

Of course another explanation would be that Chalabi's men were in fact looting the bank and the Marines didn't realise it was a 'coalition' operation.
Lost Viruses?

Dangerous strains of cholera, black fever, HIV, polio and hepatitis may have been lost during the postwar looting of Iraq's key disease-control facility, ABCNEWS has learned. The U.S. military is worried they may be used as weapons.

In an exclusive report, ABCNEWS' Brian Ross revealed that scientists at Baghdad's Central Public Health Laboratory are worried that an unknown number of viruses have been stolen.

Scientists say looters took refrigerators full of the deadly viruses last Friday, but they're not sure what's actually missing.

"They are in containers, all of these things taken together, cholera, AIDS and black fever," chemist Rasa Al-Alaq said. "The viruses that are lost, we have no idea where they went."


The failure of the U.S. military to prevent the looting greatly concerned and angered the director of the lab.

"The Americans shouldn't just protect Ministry of Oil, they should protect all the general public health services," said Mounier Kuba, the lab's director.

The lab was inspected by the United Nations as recently as Dec. 30. No biological weapons were found, but the United States has been suspicious that the Ministry of Health was involved in an Iraqi biological weapons program.

"A building like this should have been known to intelligence and it should have been a high-category target to come and secure this building," said Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. diplomat who is now an ABCNEWS consultant.
"What Do You Mean The Contract's Void?"

The Economist has an illuminating article regarding the Bush administration's pre-attack planning for reconstruction and how the current contract negotiations will affect other countries who had past dealings with Iraq, such as Russia and France.

It also posits this;

There has been talk that a new American-backed administration in Iraq might try to revoke contracts entered into under the Saddam regime. However, that would fly in the face of international commercial law. “The government is an agent of the state and any new regime would be bound by contracts entered into by a previous government,” says Malcolm Forster, a lawyer with Freshfields, a London firm. Governments do try to revoke contracts, Mr Forster says, but to succeed they have to convince an international tribunal that the contract was entwined with a particular government policy, for example on national security—an argument that judges have little patience for. Even so-called “handshake” agreements are valid under English law, which is widely used in international contracts. However, here it is clearly more difficult to prove what was actually agreed (especially if many of the witnesses on one side have disappeared or been killed). Moreover, a new government could argue that such agreements were merely preliminary, rather than full contracts. If America has its way, Iraq’s interim administration will do just that.
Once A Thief?

Chalabi, a convicted in absentia embezzler who left Iraq when he was 12 years old, isn't being welcomed as a 'leader'. Whether or not he can explain away his problematic past he's being treated as a thief now, one who is working for the U.S..

As Ahmed Chalabi, the Pentagon's candidate for leader of Iraq, was being asked if he was a thief, the sound of gunfire interrupted the press conference. Mr Chalabi insisted his conviction for embezzling $60m (£38m) was all a plot.

Outside, one of his supporters, Haqi Ismail, sat in shock dabbing the graze on his nose from one of the eight bullets fired into his pick-up truck.


What did he think of the fact that the few people who have heard of him in Baghdad think he is a thief, he was asked. He responded: "This was an aggression committed against me by the Jordanian military at the behest of Saddam's regime. This issue has never been raised by the [Iraqi] people who have come to see me. I will clarify this issue very soon."

In an increasingly surreal atmosphere he refused to explain what the flag of his movement – yellow, green and blue with what looked like red cluster bombs in the middle – symbolised. It was being carried by the Free Iraqi Forces, he said. But who exactly were they? "They are brave volunteers who are part of the coalition forces. Just like the British they are under General Tommy Franks," he responded.

How did he explain that these volunteers have told journalists that they were in fact being paid around $300 a month by him, Mr Chalabi. "It is not $300, that is not the right figure," said Mr Chalabi looking rather alarmed, perhaps at the prospect that he was overpaying them by mistake.

Outside, Mr Ismail was examining bullet holes on the headrest of his seat. What did he think? "I think maybe some people do not like Mr Chalabi too much," he ventured.

According to The Telegraph;

The meeting is taking place even as Ahmad Chalabi, the returned Iraqi exile and favourite of the Pentagon, has set up offices in Baghdad. Mr Chalabi is seen in the Arab world as an outsider and lacking the forces on the ground needed to impose a brutal form of order on Iraq.

But there were signs of a softening towards him. The pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat reported that Jordan, where Mr Chalabi was sentenced in absentia to 22 years in jail for bank fraud in 1992, had changed legislation to allow the conviction to be lifted.

The meeting the Telegraph excerpt refers to was one attended by 'Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey - as well as Egypt and Bahrain, current chairman of the Arab League.'

Each country has its concerns leading to their call for a boycott of any U.S.-led administration of Iraq. But according to this Independent article those concerns aren't exactly on the front-burner of the Bush administration as Colin Powell has announced he is heading to Syria to 'read the riot act to the President, Bashar al-Assad, over the alleged shelter provided for members of the former Iraqi regime and pursuit of chemical weapons.'

Squawk Box is having technical difficulties. Considering it's Easter weekend I don't have much hope whatever problem they're having will be corrected soon.

I'm going to leave the links in my template anyway, the reason the page is loading 'with errors'.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Thousands Protest 'Occupation' In Baghdad

Update: The people have spoken.

At the Al-Hikma mosque Sheikh Mohammad Fartusi said the Shia would not accept a brand of democracy “that allows Iraqis to say what they want but gives them no say in their destiny.”

“This form of government would be worse than Saddam Hussein,” he said. He also urged the faithful to follow the Hawza in Najaf.

Lebanon’s top Shia cleric Sheikh Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah urged Iraqis on Friday to open their eyes to the US occupation and to rebuild Iraq without Washington or London’s supervision.

“We call on the oppressed good people of Iraq…to prevent the birth of a new dictator from inside and abroad and to open their eyes to the methods of the occupier,” said Fadlallah in his sermon.

“We trust you…to come together without American or British oversight to build a new Iraq that respects the people and gives them their rights,” he said.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

"I Don't Think We'll Discover Anything, Myself"

So says Donald Rumsfeld regarding WMD in Iraq.

"I think what will happen is we'll discover people who will tell us where to go find it. It is not like a treasure hunt where you just run around looking everywhere, hoping you find something."

He should be telling it to the ICC.

Update: This article quotes some global analysts who say the Bush administration should be embarrassed.

..former CIA station chief Ray Close, said: "I'm hoping they will be embarrassed into acknowledging a role for some independent body. And who could it be but the UN?"

They don't know these people well. Then again, it seems they do;

Retired CIA intelligence analyst and VIPS member Ray McGovern told AFP: "Some of my colleagues are virtually certain that there will be some weapons of mass destruction found, even though they might have to be planted.

"I'm just as sure that some few will be found, but not in an amount that by any stretch would justify the charge of a threat against the US or anyone else."

He added: "Even if the planting were discovered by and by, they'll say, 'ok, the weapons were planted -- fine.'"

Update 4/20: Apparently on the same day Rumsfeld made the previous announcement Hans Blix requested that the UN inspectors be allowed back into Iraq to add legitimacy to any 'discovery' of WMD. He also challenged Bush on his administration's claims that Syria is in possession of them.

"Whoever claims this should, in the interests of credibility, very quickly present the relevant proof," Blix said in an interview with the German weekly Der Spiegel. "For my part, I doubt that the Syrians would have been enthusiastic to serve as a depot of weapons of mass destruction for Baghdad."


The Bush administration, which blamed Blix for hampering its drive to win international support for war, has not invited U.N. inspectors to take part in disarming postwar Iraq. Instead, the United States has tried to hire away some inspectors and has deployed its own teams to search for weapons of mass destruction.

Blix said internationally backed inspections would have "considerably more credibility."

"The alliance came as liberator and occupier, and that can prove to be a disadvantage," he told the magazine. "If its experts now should really discover weapons of mass destruction, their authenticity might be called into question."

Reports on Iraqi weapons programs that the inspectors received from intelligence agencies were "pretty pathetic" and led to no discoveries of weapons of mass destruction, Blix said.

The chief nuclear weapons inspector, Mohamed ElBaradei, even received forged documents meant to persuade the inspectors that Iraq had nuclear weapons ambitions, Blix said. He gave no details.

Today [4/20] The Observer reports that the Bush administration is refusing Blix and the UN inspectors a role in Iraq. Could there be any more damning evidence their intentions are nefarious?

UK Government sources told The Observer the central question of verification of any finds of WMD would be left to a third country outside the coalition, such as the Netherlands. Discussions are under way to establish which country can offer the greatest expertise and is willing to take on the task of overseeing US and British operations.

It was revealed last week that a 1,000-strong Anglo-American task force was being prepared to search for WMDs at up to 150 sites across Iraq. Former UN weapons inspectors have been hired to help in the search, which has so far produced some pieces of evidence but no 'smoking gun'.

The Denver Post makes a sloppy case for those who may believe the Bushies simply need more time.

In it the former UN inspector Kay states:

Former chief U.N. weapons inspector David Kay knows what that frustration is like. In 1991-92, Kay's team searched much of Iraq's major military facilities without finding what a high-level defector later revealed was a large stock of anthrax, mustard gas and VX.

He must be referring to Gen. Hussein Kamel yet doesn't bother to mention the same 'high-level defector' also stated all WMD were destroyed. Wouldn't that explain the UN inspectors' failure to 'find them'?

The writer also states 'no one believes the Bush administration got it so wrong'. Who does he deem qualified to include in his assessment? It seems to me Hans Blix, for one, couldn't be more critical short of calling for judicial action.

And after all of it, even if the Bushies manage to plant their evidence or some kind of legitimate find were actually discovered, what would it 'prove'? It doesn't change the facts this kind of 'evidence' should have been uncovered before a pre-emptive strike so long as Saddam was cooperating with the UN inspectors.

It would not change the fact that this pre-emptive strike was a crime against humanity and the resultant occupation is an illegal one.
Embedded Photographer: "I Saw Marines Kill Civilians"

With my own eyes I saw about fifteen civilians killed in two days. I've gone through enough wars to know that it's always dirty, that civilians are always the first victims. But the way it was happening here, it was insane.
Secret life of TV cameraman

MURDERED Adelaide cameraman Paul Moran spent more than a decade trying to help destabilise the regime of Saddam Hussein, his family and friends have revealed.

His activities included working for an American public relations company contracted by the US Central Intelligence Agency to run propaganda campaigns against the dictatorship.

Mr Moran, 39, also used his experience as a freelance cameraman to train Iraqi dissidents in the use of hidden cameras to covertly film military activities. During workshops in Tehran, in Iran, he would show Iraqis opposed to Saddam how to use everyday items, such as bags of dates, to hide cameras.

This article came to mind while reading about the new sanctions the Bush administration is considering against Cuba.

In recent weeks, the Castro government has jailed nearly 100 government critics, independent journalists, human rights advocates and others, and sentenced many of them to lengthy prison terms. In addition, Havana last week executed three men who commandeered a ferry and sought to reach the United States, the third such hijacking attempt in a month.

I suspect that at least some of these people are more like Moran than what they claim. Should this treatment be considered acceptable in any case? No. Of course not. But for George Bush, executor of juveniles and the mentally retarded, jailer of thousands without due process, Mr. 'with me or against me' breaker of international laws and treaties, to be the one casting judgement is the height of absurdity.

Nathan Newman has links to a leftist solidarity statement condemning these recent actions by Castro.

Update 4/21: Max Sawicky has a post you may wish to read before signing.
Perle Liberation Act

Isn't it past time to put this parasite back into his cage?

I for one am tired of this non-selected maniac leading unthinkable policy change.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Register for Peace

Make sure your vote counts. Bev Harris continues to track computer voting irregularities.

And Public Citizen has a website for tracking the largest political donors.

Showdown in Texas

On May 3 join environmentalists, labor unions and peace activists at this historic event in Austin, Texas!
SARS Virus Identified

Nando Times reports that scientists have confirmed the identity of the virus causing SARS.

"The Koch's postulates have been fulfilled, so we can now say for certain that the new coronavirus is the cause of SARS," said Dr. Klaus Stohr, a World Health Organization virologist.

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong said a new genetic sequencing of the SARS virus proves conclusively that it came from animals.

But, the virus nonetheless is "something that is new to science," university microbiologist Malik Peiris said before the WHO findings were announced.

Asked about the possibility that the virus was man-made, Peiris said there was no chance of that.

"That whole genome is essentially new," he said. "Nature has been the terrorist throwing up this virus."

I doubt this will allay the fears of Americans who could be arrested and quarantined if even suspected of having it.
Other Hearts

The Iraq Peace Team has some new entries posted on Electronic Iraq.
Children Deserve Better Than Perpetual War

I watched a program on World Link called Good Kurds Bad Kurds and a segment depicting children being taught to march and recite slogans struck me as being incredibly sad. Yeah I know it's nothing new but when will it end?

The story of children being freed from an Iraqi prison was widely reported.

But I doubt this report on the IDF detaining Palestinian children will receive the same attention.

Until all causes are handled fairly, not manipulated as they benefit the ones with the most firepower, children will continue to suffer the sins of their fathers and act accordingly.
Rebuilding on the cheap: hoping others pick-up the slack

DC has earmarked $2.5 billion to rebuild Iraq, well below what will be needed to actually get the job done. According to this Times article the reasoning behind the low-ball figure is they're hoping other countries will cough-up the rest.

Caught a report on this issue on News International last night and the estimates are closer to $100 billion. Last week someone else noted the oil revenues won't begin to cover it.

So where is it going to come from? And why should other countries contribute when contract bidding is closed and then awarded to U.S. hand-picked companies?
"No, No USA"

Where is Rumsfeld when you need him? Isn't this also an example of people rejoicing in their 'freedom'?

Up to 300 Iraqis gathered outside the Palestine Hotel to express rage at what they said was the US failure to restore order after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.

For the first time, visibly angered US military officials sought to distance the media from the protest, moving reporters and cameras about 30 metres from the barbed-wired entrance to the hotel.

"We want you to pull back to the back of the hotel because they (the Iraqis) are only performing because the media are here," said a marines colonel who would not give his first name or title.

The crowd later moved to the nearby square where a statue of Saddam was toppled last Wednesday, signaling the end of the regime. The Iraqis chanted: "No, no, USA."

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Defining Freedom

So looting is okay with Donald Rumsfeld but stone throwing? For the second time U.S. troops have opened fire on people for doing so.

Update: The official line is that the Marines were 'under fire' a version the Iraqis are disputing.

They said a controversial Iraqi opposition leader, Mishaan al Jabouri, started speaking to the crowd and hailing the arrival of American forces in Mosul. "They began throwing stones," said Fateh Tata Abed, a 32-year-old man who was shot in the chest and arm. "And the American forces started shooting at us." A second man, Sadullah Ghanal, 39, gave roughly the same version of events. "After we threw stones at Mishaan Jabouri," he said, "the Americans started to fire on us." Doctors said all but one of the 26 casualties were men. Ghanal said he worked in the governate but was not in the building when he was shot. Abed, the second wounded man, said he was a soldier.

The one female casualty was an 11-year-old girl. Doctors displayed an X-ray showing a chunk of shrapnel embedded in her lung. Relatives said she had been on the roof of a nearby building when she was struck.
Looking for signs of the current template to edit but Blogger isn't cooperating. The one that's in the editor now probably wasn't a 'page' for more than a few minutes weeks ago. Strange how it's there now but not showing up.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Troops find 'suspicious lab', looters raid unguarded nuclear site

The Times reports Tommy Franks' claim to have found the 'smoking gun'. Yet no chemical or biological weapons were found with the laboratories. ...

They found 11 buried . . . large metal 20ft by 20ft vans, buried in the ground. They are dual-use chemical labs, biological and chemical labs . . . close to an artillery ammunition plant, which had empty shells.

“It is too early to tell if this is evidence of banned weapons programmes but clearly it was new equipment, a lot of money in the 2002/2003 time period spent in that camp, probably over $1 million-worth of capability in these 11 vans and we continue to develop the investigation with better expertise.”

In the meantime, Jeanne D'Arc points to a story in the LA Times that informs us lack of attention to security at Iraq's only sanctioned nuclear site was taken advantage of by looters who in the process of carrying off booty compromised nuclear seals.

Even if chemical weapons are found what would it 'prove' when you've invaded and occupied a country in a mere 3 weeks and a good amount of your casualties are the result of your own carelessness?

The depleted uranium bomblets, the now broken seals at this nuclear site are known causes for worry that should be addressed.

Update: US rejects Iraq DU clean-up

It says no clean-up is needed, because research shows DU has no long-term effects.

It says a 1990 study suggesting health risks to local people and veterans is out of date.

A United Nations study found DU contaminating air and water seven years after it was used.

Irresponsible or deliberate neglect?

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Who's Doing The Buying?

Jerry Bowles from Best of the Blogs writes about how looting of Iraq's national treasures was abetted by the military.

It brought to mind an article published in the Sunday Herald that stated;

FEARS that Iraq's heritage will face widespread looting at the end of the Gulf war have been heightened after a group of wealthy art dealers secured a high-level meeting with the US administration.

It has emerged that a coalition of antiquities collectors and arts lawyers, calling itself the American Council for Cultural Policy (ACCP), met with US defence and state department officials prior to the start of military action to offer its assistance in preserving the country's invaluable archaeological collections.

The group is known to consist of a number of influential dealers who favour a relaxation of Iraq's tight restrictions on the ownership and export of antiquities. Its treasurer, William Pearlstein, has described Iraq's laws as 'retentionist' and has said he would support a post-war government that would make it easier to have antiquities dispersed to the US.

Is this the reason Rumsfeld laughed off the criminal behavior and the military opened roads to facilitate it?

Update: Body and Soul's Jeanne D'Arc is doing an excellent job following this travesty and offers these links;

pfaffenBlog & Making Light
Here We Go Again

Bush elated by Iraq but sends Syria a warning

President George W. Bush expressed elation Sunday at the latest developments in the war on Iraq, but he also made a tough allegation against Syria, saying that there were chemical weapons in the country.

Atrios links to a statement made by Lawrence Eagleburger in which the former Secretary of State for Poppy Bush calls for the impeachment of Bush Jr. should his administration attack Syria and Iran.
Jan Schakowsky on Bush Betrayal of Veterans

Rep. Schakowsky has the numbers and states;

I join the Disabled American Veterans in asking, ''Is there is no honor left in the hallowed halls of our government that you choose to dishonor the sacrifices of our nation's heroes and rob our programs--health care and disability compensation--to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy?''
Life and War with Mikey 'Fatboy' Delgado

If you like Neal Pollack but long for a taste of the seedier side of the inane try this gritty UK blog. Be prepared. Laughter won't come easily as the realism it caricatures bites hard.
POWS Freed

Mac Diva has the story.
30,000 Marchers in DC

I attended the January 18th march in DC but couldn't this one due to work. I know many are wondering why demonstrate when the 'war' is almost over but I think they're more important now than ever. Syria next? I think so. The troops are in position and the momentum would be lost if they don't proceed now.

According to A.N.S.W.E.R.;

D.C. police forces carried out a series of unprovoked attacks against the demonstrators, using clubs and pepper spray as they assaulted people who were chanting "Stop the U.S. War Machine from Iraq to Korea to the Philippines."

Notice that when conservative-minded people face opposition they attempt to eradicate it. Intolerance breeds contempt spawns violence. This American Taliban mentality should be seated at the table not cordoning off the debate.

Has anyone in U.S. read history of Iraq?
Demos In 60 Countries Around the World [Photos]

Honor Rachel, End House Demolitions

Rachel Corrie Resolution

Rachel's grandmother recently sent a 'letter to the editor' to a paper I read. She was upset that news stories were stating that Rachel was attempting to protect the house of a known terrorist. Will her words be enough to convince some people that newspapers aren't entirely reliable? Sadly no.

I was a human shield - An Israeli writer in Rafah by Billie Moskona-Lerman speaks to the things people think they know and how they really are.
The New American Century

Thanks to BuzzFlash I discovered a feature on USA Today that is entirely cool. It lists recent and current bills Congress is hashing out and provides updates along with contact information.

While looking for confirmation that the House passed a version of Bush's 'kill overtime' idea I happened upon this statement from Rep. Dennis Cordoza, 1st-term Democrat from California.

The New American Century

Rep. Dennis Cardoza
Sen. Dianne Feinstein
Sen. Barbara Boxer

April 11, 2003

I am deeply disturbed by the plan laid out by some of the members of our administration on their "educational" website [The website's address is actually ]

I know I have already written to you about this site and how appalled I am about the views set out on this site but I am so deeply concerned that I have had nothing but form letter replies from you that it leads me to think you are not taking this issue seriously.

I do not believe that the American Dream is global dominance by the U.S. government. I can't believe that you would support a foreign policy like this. It concerns me greatly that no one is calling into question the views of this administration that the only way to insure American security is to topple governments and place U.S. interests in their place.

We can't take back what we have already done in Iraq. But we can make sure this goes no further. Keep our troops safe. Stand up for our values. Bring the troops home and don't allow this action to spread any farther!

Merced , CA
Dyncorp Does Iraq

The Observer reports that Dyncorp has been awarded the very lucrative contract for policing in post-attack Iraq. No surprise that the Bushies would turn to their favorite mercenary-for-hire group. They've been using them in covert operations for years. However some in the UK are questioning the propriety of hiring a firm that is plagued with scandals for such a delicate operation.

After listening for so long to 'Saddam and his sons rape women we must invade' it's more than ironic the 'new' Iraq will now be policed by a company that has faced charges of doing the same.

I empathise with anyone who is still shocked by the actions of this administration. They truly have no shame.

Update: Jeanne D'Arc has a must read post for anyone looking for a 'conservative paradise'...Look under April 13 as the links aren't working.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Dale Petroskey & the Cubs

Apologies to the Cubs but at work today a mate related his definition of CUBS: Completely useless by September.

One can only hope Petroskey is as well. If he is that would mean that Bush and his posse would be hunkering down in the dugout dodging fast balls and a very angry mob of disappointed fans.

BuzzFlash has the scoop on the dastardly Petroskey and his censoring of Tim Robbins' film Bull Durham at baseball's Hall of Fame.

How about Robbins for President....He's more intelligent than Reagan and a better actor as well. But then most actors are.

Update: Chicago Sun-Times sports writer Jay Mariotti is leading the charge. The feint at heart need not apply;

Unfortunately, I won't be visiting the Hall anytime soon. Nor should you.

We shouldn't because the president of the Hall, Dale Petroskey, is enforcing what appears to be a disturbing mandate of the Bush administration: Silence any and all anti-war dissent, particularly when voiced by high-profile entertainers. He should have no bigger agenda during the Iraqi conflict than to make sure the Hall doors are open at 9 each morning, so people who travel long distances to central New York can enjoy the exhibits, bond in the corridors of history and get away from Wolf Blitzer.

The other day, however, Petroskey abused his power. In what smacks of a blatant conflict of interest, given his former position as White House assistant press secretary under Ronald Reagan, he canceled a Hall-arranged 15th anniversary celebration of the classic baseball movie "Bull Durham" in the wake of anti-war commentary by the film's co-stars, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. Sounding like an army general more than a museum curator, Petroskey said the "very public criticism of President Bush . . . helps undermine the U.S. position, which ultimately could put our troops in even more danger."

How the opinions of movie stars could endanger the U.S. troops, who are staging the military equivalent of a 73-0 football rout, is beyond my functional analysis. If anything, Robbins and Sarandon are serving a positive role in boosting the spirits of soldiers, who report that "Bull Durham" is among the most popular movies during down time. Obviously, Petroskey is a Republican operative delivering an intimidating message, the same one heard by Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines last month after she condemned Bush during a London concert. "The message is, if anyone disagrees with this administration, you'll be punished," Robbins said. "That is a very unhealthy message at this time. We need to encourage dialogue, not suppress it."

Update: Tim Robbins' speech to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on April 15, 2003. I wonder if the politicians in DC will get the message.

Update 2: You can view Tim Robbins delivering this speech here.

Linked by Meria Heller
What Is Victory?

A statue is brought down by a crowd whose numbers included more American soldiers and international journalists than Iraqis yet somehow that image alone signifies victory for many.

The Defense Policy Board is a government-appointed group that advises the Pentagon. According to The Center for Public Integrity [ ] of its 30 members, 9 have ties to the defense industry. These companies have won more than $76 billion dollars in contracts from the U.S. government in the years 2001 and 2002. I’m sure these gentlemen whom you can read about in the article Advisors of Influence: Nine Members of the Defense Policy Board Have Ties to Defense Contractors would consider their lobbying efforts a victory.

George Schultz, chairman of the advisory board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, has been a strong advocate of regime change and reconstruction. He’s also on the board of directors of the Bechtel Group. Schultz was President of Bechtel until he became Secretary of State during the Reagan administration after which he returned to his company. In 1988 Bechtel oversaw a petrochemical plant in Iraq that was later alleged to be a site for developing chemical weapons, according to Congressional records, mustard gas. However that information wasn’t revisited in the recent Iraq Weapons Declaration as Bechtel was among those U.S. companies listed on the 8,000 pages the Bush administration tore out of it. In 1991 they assisted in the clean up of Kuwait until Schultz ordered them out and now in 2003 it is on the short list for primary contractor for the rebuilding of Iraq’s infrastructure. It will be interesting to observe if this reconstruction includes an Iraq to Jordan pipeline that was of great importance to Donald Rumsfeld [Aqaba] during that same period so much so that he overlooked Iraq‘s gassing of the Kurds in his efforts to cement the deal. Of course it’s difficult to determine since the bidding for these lucrative contracts is closed which I’m sure Mr. Schultz and Mr. Rumsfeld consider a victory.

Chevron Texaco stated this week it is ‘interested in any tender rights to develop Iraq’s abundant oil resources should a legitimate government be put in place’. Chevron Texaco is indeed familiar with Iraq’s vast resources. In 2002 alone the company loaded 44 million gallons of Iraqi crude through the 'Oil for Food' program. I’m sure Condoleezza Rice, its former Director, would consider their winning the new contract a victory.

Halliburton has a hand in much more than its construction and maintenance of cells in Guantanemo Bay. According to Corp Watch [ ] its employees ‘are working alongside US troops in Kuwait and Turkey under a package deal worth close to a billion dollars. According to US Army sources, they are building tent cities and providing logistical support for the war in Iraq in addition to other hot spots in the "war on terrorism." And of course Halliburton’s subdivision Kellogg, Brown, and Root was awarded the firefighting contract in yet another closed bid and without competition. According to an article on Common Dreams [] it ‘was open-ended, with no time limits and no dollar limits. It was also a "cost-plus" contract, meaning that the company is guaranteed to recover costs and then make a guaranteed profit on top of that. Its value is estimated at tens of millions of dollars.’ I’m sure Mr. Cheney considers this a victory for his ‘old’ company, especially since he continues to receive as much as $1 million a year in deferred compensation.

The Cambridge-based Autonomy Corporation, with Mr Richard Perle's help, is secretively selling advanced computer eavesdropping systems to intelligence agencies around the world. He recently vacated his seat at the head of the Defense Policy’s table for a less esteemed one on the board and continues to parlay his influence into personal profit while drumming up support for future conflicts. I’m sure Mr. Perle finds this situation to be a great victory.

In the meanwhile Paul Wolfowitz ferried in Ahmed Chalabi and a contingent of 500 INC backers signaling a Pentagon favored plan for the running of Iraq. Chalabi is a London based banker who is a favorite of this crowd despite his 1989 conviction for bank fraud in Jordan, from which he hurriedly fled after being tipped off about his indictment. He and his INC are often described as the "silk-suited, Rolex-wearing guys in London" with a history of being unreliable. Donald Rumsfeld has stated he may defy Congress and its backing of the State Dept. a solution that is favored by the CIA and Tony Blair as well. I’m sure Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Wolfowitz consider this a victory.

Only time will tell what the Iraqi people will call it.

Friday, April 11, 2003

Shock and Awe...Coming soon to a Playstation 2 near you...

The Guardian reports that Sony has patented the term Shock and Awe with the intents of developing a game. It's so reassuring to know these companies are working so diligently to safeguard the mental health of children everywhere by developing a product that will glorify the slaughter of innocent victims in the name of democracy.

Update: Matt Bivens of The Daily Outrage reports that Sony has 'bowed out' of its patent application.

Sony pulled off the application following criticism in some U.S. media that it tries to turn war into commercial profit.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Tax Cuts Still On the Table

According to the WP the newest round of tax cuts aren't dead yet, despite the news last week they'd been cut significantly by Congress. Well Bush did say he wanted them and we all know what to expect when he wants something.

The rationale is that with a 'victory' in Iraq the administration has the political capital to push the original through. But common sense should tell these great thinkers that with reconstruction there will be even less capital to go around.

Economics may as well be a foreign language to me. But I expect more from those writing new laws. Thankfully there are people like Max Sawicky who understand it all too well.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Okay I give in. I'm letting the dark side of this blog's template win. I can't figure out how to break-up the linking HTML and so the colors just never seemed right.
Coleman Insults Memory of Wellstone

That Paul Wellstone continues to intimidate the lowlife Norm Coleman isn't surprising. I hope his memory haunts him always and he learns something in the process.

Unfortunately people like Coleman rarely learn from the lessons life provides. Instead they take what they need and trash the rest spending time and money in contrivial pursuits like convincing others such attacks are justified.
Veterans Administration Targeted for Budget Cuts

This isn't news. The Bush administration has hit veterans at home while claiming to support our troops abroad for some time now. What I don't understand is the lack of outrage over this and previous actions.

I think it's hysterical blindness. In a letter to the editor in my local the other day a woman declared these reports simply weren't true. I wonder what it will take before these faithful realise they've been played for suckers.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Media Is A Powerful Weapon

It's been less than a week since I've visited my folks. During that relatively short period of time they've nearly converted completely from skeptical, reflective people into fist-pounding 'patriots'. It's unsettling to hear them spouting every piece of garbage the administration's thrown out during the desperate, grueling months leading up to this illegal nightmare.

It's surreal. Invasion of the body snatchers writ large. I want to wake up now. I mean it.

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Democracy, Whiskey & Sex

I watched some of Bill Maher's new HBO show Real Time tonight. Just a few observations.

First I've been surprised twice now by his choices of GOP guest commentators. I don't object to his selections necessarily but he never addresses the reasons they're at all interesting [at least to me].

For instance, Dana Rohrabacher. When he appeared Maher let him go on and on about how wonderful this Iraq invasion is but never once questioned him about allegations he's made in the past concerning the Taliban. Rohrabacher (R-CA) has repeatedly stated that the CIA secretly funded the Taliban and requested government records through the Freedom of Information Act since December of 1998. I would have liked to know if he'd ever received permission to view them. Maher also never bothered to ask him what government officials weren't interested in his Taliban liaison who was willing to provide Osama bin Laden's location.

Maher at the time of that show ridiculed the Iraq/al-Qaeda connection so I didn't understand his not questioning Rohrabacher on the topic since he's been one of the most controversial subjects in the matter.

Tonight he hosted Joe Scarborough of Lori Klausutis fame? This is a man so ignorant he needed to be reminded by Maher that Hitler was elected yet not only did Bill allow him to reiterate the Bushies' flimsy rationales for this Iraq invasion basically unchallenged he didn't ask one 'unanswered question' about the death of Klausutis.

Bill seems to have acquired a certain giddiness over the alleged liberation of Iraq. He had a t-shirt made with the slogan Democracy, Whiskey and Sex because when an Iraqi was asked recently what this invasion meant to him that was his reply and Maher thinks this is wonderful.

I find it confusing to say the least.

Does anyone think the Bushies intend to open taverns and build Planned Parenthood offices anytime soon in Iraq? Maybe the bars but come on. This administration is in the midst of dismantling programs that provide safe sex education and all it entails and the clueless Maher doesn't once remind the audience that the slogan is the antithesis of what this administration says it stands for and considering the rush of Christian proselytisers on their way to Iraq a contradiction I think was worth pursuing.

Oh well.

What 'brand' of democracy do you think the Bushies will install in Iraq?

Are we going to flood their 'market' with the glossy, sexy campaigns we use to sell products? Will we put sex shops on the corner, Playboy on the newsstands?

Friday, April 04, 2003

This Is A Very American/Un-American War

Linked from Mother Jones, this LA Times opinion piece written by Robert Scheer argues this war is an extension of American tyranny, though when the US terrorises it's called 'liberation'.

And he's most certainly right. But it should be read as a companion piece to this one in the Guardian by Jonathon Freedland in which he makes an equally valid argument. The sub-heading reads;

What has become of American values and idealism? All swept away in this thoroughly un-American war
White Man's Burden

In an interview for Haaretz conducted by Ari Shavit, Thomas Friedman made this statement;

Is the Iraq war the great neoconservative war? It's the war the neoconservatives wanted, Friedman says. It's the war the neoconservatives marketed. Those people had an idea to sell when September 11 came, and they sold it. Oh boy, did they sell it. So this is not a war that the masses demanded. This is a war of an elite. Friedman laughs: I could give you the names of 25 people (all of whom are at this moment within a five-block radius of this office) who, if you had exiled them to a desert island a year and a half ago, the Iraq war would not have happened.

It's never too late. To exile them, I mean.
'Where shall we go, to Baghdad?,' deported Tul Karm men ask IDF

I viewed a heartbreaking documentary on World Link TV last night about Palestine and the current state of affairs in Israel and the occupied territories.

It's an abomination. The Israeli settlements are not what I pictured. They are ugly, menacing fortresses which house suburban luxuries in the midst, no in the face, of cruelly administered and calculated poverty. They are even in the process of constructing a 'Jews Only' highway while continuing the long detainment of Palestinians attempting to make the shortest of journeys. Trips that should take less than half and hour are delayed up to 9 hours and sometimes overnight. People are subjected to daily searches and humiliation by a military that seems invisible to the world at large despite the egregious violations of human rights they inflict.

The excuse made for extra-judicial assasinations is they are 'accidents'. Anyone who can view these conditions and conclude the same is a monster.

I no longer wonder what the intentions of the United States and Israel are for these people. Deputy Sheriff indeed. If this model is but the first offspring from which Iraq proper will be cloned the United States as we know it will never survive the establishment of it. I can't imagine what it must be like to endure atrocities like watching helplessly as a home that's been in your family for 900 years is destroyed.