Thursday, December 30, 2004

Our Miser-in-Chief

from The New York Times
We hope Secretary of State Colin Powell was privately embarrassed when, two days into a catastrophic disaster that hit 12 of the world's poorer countries and will cost billions of dollars to meliorate, he held a press conference to say that America, the world's richest nation, would contribute $15 million. That's less than half of what Republicans plan to spend on the Bush inaugural festivities.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Closing Libraries in Steinbeck's Hometown

from CNN
Facing record deficits, the City Council voted December 14 to shut all three of Salinas' libraries, including the branches named after Steinbeck and labor leader Cesar Chavez. The blue-collar town of 150,000 could become the most populous U.S. city without a public library.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Praise for the "Chilean Model"

from The Social Security Network
José Piñera, Augusto Pinochet's former labor minister, has spent recent years in self-imposed exile at the Cato Institute extolling the virtues of the privatization of Chile's Social Security system. Last week, the New York Times op-ed page allotted him abundant space for his now familiar rap about why the United States should follow Chile's model of pushing workers to depend primarily on personal investment accounts for their retirement income. But notably, he provided no facts or figures about what the upshot has been in Chile since it began privatization in 1981.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Happy Holidays

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Survey: Some Americans Favor Restricted Rights for Citizen Muslims

from Cornell News
About 27 percent of respondents said that all Muslim Americans should be required to register their location with the federal government, and 26 percent said they think that mosques should be closely monitored by U.S. law enforcement agencies. Twenty-nine percent agreed that undercover law enforcement agents should infiltrate Muslim civic and volunteer organizations, in order to keep tabs on their activities and fund raising. About 22 percent said the federal government should profile citizens as potential threats based on the fact that they are Muslim or have Middle Eastern heritage. In all, about 44 percent said they believe that some curtailment of civil liberties is necessary for Muslim Americans...

The survey...showed a correlation between television news-viewing habits, a respondent's fear level and attitudes toward restrictions on civil liberties for all Americans. Respondents who paid a lot of attention to television news were more likely to favor restrictions on civil liberties, such as greater power for the government to monitor the Internet. Respondents who paid less attention to television news were less likely to support such measures. "The more attention paid to television news, the more you fear terrorism, and you are more likely to favor restrictions on civil liberties," says Nisbet.
The Most Challenged

Monday, December 13, 2004

Trade Myths

from Free Market Fantasies
...Here there's another scam that you should keep your eyes on. What's called 'trade' in economics is a very odd notion. So, for example, if Ford Motor Company moves parts from Indiana to Illinois for assembly and then moves them back to Indiana, that's not called trade. But if Ford Motor Company takes parts made in Indiana and moves them across the border to Mexico--where you can get much cheaper labor and you don't have to worry about pollution and so on--and they get reassembled in Mexico, and then get sent back to Illinois for valuation, that's called 'exports and imports.' It never had anything to do with the Mexican economy, or in fact any economy; it was all internal to the Ford Motor Company, but it's 'exports and imports.' So how big an element is all that? Well, about 50% of US trade. So about 50% of what's called 'US trade' is internal to individual corporations...

If agreements like GATT increase what's called 'trade,' what it actually does is increases investor rights. That is, it increases the power of transnational corporations. You have to look pretty closely to figure out what the effect is on trade in any meaningful sense. For example, it may increase cross-border operations, but decrease trade in a meaningful sense of trade--meaning something that's not under the control of a kind of corporate mercantilism.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Iraqi Blogger "Riverbend" Reflects Popular Outlook

from Juan Cole
The...posting brings up questions about the Iraqi brothers who run the IraqTheModel site. It points out that the views of the brothers are celebrated in the right-leaning weblogging world of the US, even though opinion polling shows that their views are far out of the mainstream of Iraqi opinion. It notes that their choice of internet service provider, in Abilene, Texas, is rather suspicious, and wonders whether they are getting some extra support from certain quarters.

Contrast all this to the young woman computer systems analyst in Baghdad, Riverbend, who is in her views closer to the Iraqi opinion polls, especially with regard to Sunni Arabs, but who is not being feted in Washington, DC.
Brother, Spare a Brigade?

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times goes a little Michael Moore* in his attempt to find new recruits for Iraq in this interactive feature.
Economic Miracles

from The New York Times
As Chile's strongman from 1973, when he overthrew Salvador Allende, an elected civilian president, to 1990, General Pinochet presided over a purge of political opponents and the creation of a police state. But he also laid the foundations for what has become Latin America's most stable and promising economy - all, as the general's supporters have claimed, without ever stealing a dime.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Inventing a Crisis

from The New York Times
There's nothing strange or mysterious about how Social Security works: it's just a government program supported by a dedicated tax on payroll earnings, just as highway maintenance is supported by a dedicated tax on gasoline...

But since the politics of privatization depend on convincing the public that there is a Social Security crisis, the privatizers have done their best to invent one.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Study: Laptops Raise Scrotal Temperature Several Degrees

from ABC
The bottom of a laptop can reach temperatures of over 100 degrees. Put it near the scrotum? Dr. Sheynkin and his colleagues did. They found that simply holding the legs together in a laptop support position for an hour raised the scrotal temperature by almost four degrees. Adding the laptop for that hour raised the temperature by five to six degrees.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Revolution and Reforms

from ZNet
It makes sense, in any system of domination and control, to try to change it as far as possible within the limits that the system permits. If you run up against limits that are impassable barriers, then it may be that the only way to proceed is conflict, struggle and revolutionary change. But there is no need for revolutionary change to work for improving safety and health regulations in factories, for example, because you can bring about these changes through parliamentary means. So you try to push it as far as you can.

People often do not even recognize the existence of systems of oppression and domination. They have to try to struggle to gain their rights within the systems in which they live before they even perceive that there is repression. Take a look at the women’s movement. One of the first steps in the development of the women’s movement was so-called “consciousness raising efforts”. Try to get women to perceive that it is not the natural state of the world for them to be dominated and controlled. My grandmother couldn’t join the women’s movement, since she didn’t feel any oppression, in some sense. That’s just the way life was, like the sun rises in the morning. Until people can realize that it is not like the sun rising, that it can be changed, that you don’t have to follow orders, that you don’t have to be beaten, until people can perceive that there is something wrong with that, until that is overcome, you can’t go on.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Young People Ask:

  • Will phone sex under Patriot II count as a threesome?

  • Friday, December 03, 2004


    Thursday, December 02, 2004

    Of Red and Blue

    from Tatler
    What is the meaning of blue states vs. red states? As this article in Fortune indicates, there is a strong correlation between the red & blue electoral map and the fiscal map showing the federal gravy train. Citizens of some states pay more in taxes than they receive back from the federal government through grants, benefits, and subsidies. The imbalance for California, for example, reached $50 billion in 2003. New York and Illinois are other "donor" states. Alabama is the biggest "winning" state, reaping in a net of $100 billion between 1991 and 2001. The "winner" states during the same period received nearly $1 trillion more in federal benefits than they paid in taxes. "The huge gaps are driven by higher average incomes in the "donor" states, plus subsidies for farms, oil, mining --- "extractive" industries that skew red....The heist is more impressive considering that the winners have only a third of the U.S. population."
    Cowardly Broadcasting System

    from Stregoneria
    An open letter to

    Dear CBS,

    The irony of juxtaposing your statement on diversity with your decision not to air the advertisement from the United Church of Christ is staggering. You seem to have no problem with giving hate-mongering Christians--those who misquote the Bible to condemn gays--plenty of airtime through inviting them to speak on your news programs, and selling their PACs advertising during the election season, but a simple advertisement that argues that perhaps Jesus wasn't a bigot is too controversial for you to air. How do you sleep at night?

    I have wrestled with myself today as to the type of letter I should write to you. I wanted to make it respectful, to tactfully suggest to you that you reconsider your opinion, but I'm tired. I'm tired of hate being promoted as a moral value in this country while loving one's neighbor is depicted as a perversion. You have clearly cast your lot with the hateful bigots in this country. May you enjoy their company.

    You can inform your other advertisers that there will be one less viewer for "CSI." My hope is that I'm not alone, and there will be economic consequences for you in refusing to run the ad.

    You are cowards. Plain and simple. There is no diplomatic way to say it; there are no euphemisms. You are the Cowardly Broadcasting System. At least you don't need to change your call letters.

    Lorraine Berry

    Letter will be sent to NBC later today.
    Sign the petition.

    Wednesday, December 01, 2004

    What Mandate?

    by Noam Chomsky
    Turning to other areas, overwhelming majorities of the public favor expansion of domestic programs: primarily health care (80%), but also aid to education and Social Security. Similar results have long been found in these studies (CCFR). Other mainstream polls report that 80% favor guaranteed health care even if it would raise taxes – in reality, a national health care system would probably reduce expenses considerably, avoiding the heavy costs of bureaucracy, supervision, paperwork, and so on, some of the factors that render the US privatized system the most inefficient in the industrial world.

    Public opinion has been similar for a long time, with numbers varying depending on how questions are asked. The facts are sometimes discussed in the press, with public preferences noted but dismissed as "politically impossible." That happened again on the eve of the 2004 elections. A few days before (Oct. 31), the NY Times reported that "there is so little political support for government intervention in the health care market in the United States that Senator John Kerry took pains in a recent presidential debate to say that his plan for expanding access to health insurance would not create a new government program" – what the majority want, so it appears. But it is "politically impossible" and has "[too] little political support," meaning that the insurance companies, HMOs, pharmaceutical industries, Wall Street, etc. , are opposed.
    Unionize Wal-Mart!

    from The Wall Street Journal
    In a move that has been unsuccessful elsewhere in the U.S., 17 workers at a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. automotive-service department have taken the first step to unionize at the world's largest retailer. The National Labor Relations Board planned a hearing tomorrow to consider the workers' request to be represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7. Union officials argue the workers in the Wal-Mart Tire & Lube Express are separate from the store and eligible for independent union representation. Wal-Mart officials disagree. "With approximately 400 associates in that particular facility, we feel that more than 17 associates should have a say on such an important matter," said Christi Gallagher, a spokeswoman for the Bentonville, Ark., company. Efforts to unionize Wal-Mart stores in the U.S. have failed, while in Canada, a government agency this year certified workers at a Quebec store as a union and told the two sides to negotiate. Wal-Mart has said it may have to close that store.
    Debate: Christian Morality

    from Meet The Press
    "I vote Christian. And I believe that he is pro-life, pro-family, pro-Israel, strong national defense, faith-based initiatives for the poor, et cetera. And George Bush fits the criteria for all of them. John Kerry met little or none of those criteria." -- Jerry Falwell
    No Bargaining Rights for Temporary Workers

    from The Washington Post
    Temporary workers will no longer be able to bargain for job benefits as part of a unit with permanent employees, the National Labor Relations Board has ruled, reversing a Clinton-era precedent.

    Saturday, November 27, 2004

    Close the School of the Americas

    from Sojourners
    The School of the Americas (SOA) - renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in 2001 - is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers located at Fort Benning, Georgia. During its 56 years of existence, the SOA has used U.S. tax dollars to train more than 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage war against their own countries' civilians. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, "disappeared," massacred, and forced into exile by those trained at this "School of Assassins."

    Please support HR 1258, a bill to close, investigate, and prevent another cosmetic remake of the SOA.

    Tuesday, November 23, 2004

    A "Spectator's Guide" to Social Security

    from The Wall Street Journal
    If there's no pain, there's no gain. To fix Social Security without raising taxes, benefits promised for the future must be cut. The president's Commission on Strengthening Social Security found a clever way of doing that. It proposed adjusting the initial benefit given to new recipients each year by the rate of price inflation, instead of by the rate of wage inflation. That enabled the commission to claim correctly that future recipients would receive exactly the same benefit, adjusted for inflation, that today's recipients receive.

    from The New York Times
    Dispensing with legislative niceties like holding hearings or full and open debate, President Bush and the Republican Congress have used the cover of a must-pass spending bill to mount a disgraceful sneak attack on women's health and freedom.

    Monday, November 22, 2004

    Election 2004: "Necks Elect Noose"

    from The Philadelphia Independent
    America is the greatest damned mass of foolish, ignorant peasantry the world has ever produced. Not once before in the human race's mutable existence has there been a nation of such monumental idiocy; and what's more astounding is that history has given these dopes self-determination. In the exercise of this self-determination, America (if we are not so skeptical but as to actually believe the tally) has chosen to let George W. Bush lead it for another four critical years, and we are at once given a demonstration of our extraordinary mass moronism, and of the stunning depth of our ancestors' genius.

    Sunday, November 21, 2004

    The Gospel According to Michael Moore

    by Richard Rohr, OFM
  • Every viewpoint is a view from a point, and that includes the viewpoint from the side of George Bush, from the side of Michael Moore, and I would like to propose a third: the viewpoint from the side of the poor and excluded in any system. If we are to be people transformed by the Biblical text, it is always from this deliberate bias that we must read reality...

  • From the very beginning and throughout the Bible, God’s privileged one is consistently the enslaved instead of the supposed free, the outsider instead of the insider, the sinner instead of the righteous, the wounded instead of the healthy, the lay instead of the clergy, the poor instead of the rich. I dare you to try to disprove that. It is the “theme of themes,” so consistent and so demanding, that it has been ignored and avoided throughout most of Christian and Jewish history.

  • The true Biblical text will always be a subtext in history.

  • The Right seems largely incapable of any self criticism, as we see personified in Rush Limbaugh, or George Bush who cannot think of any mistakes he made his first two years in office. That, of itself, puts their ideology totally outside the prophetic and Jesus tradition. The Right is usually the glorification of self interest, while frequently hiding behind the language of religion and patriotism.
  • Saturday, November 20, 2004


    Friday, November 19, 2004

    Abortions for the Religious Right

    commentary from
    Abortion is a serious moral issue, but the prospect of making abortion illegal is also a serious moral issue, and I think it's important to have no illusion about its effects. It's not going to stop abortions. What it will do is increase health risks to poor women who cannot afford to have the procedure done safely. Having said that, women will continue to do with their bodies what they want; they are their bodies after all.

    For any woman to face unwanted pregnancy is a tragedy no matter what way we want to look at it. There is no obvious solution besides trying to avoid the situation in the first place. But it happens, and has always happened. And women have always pursued abortion in response, legally or not. Roe Vs. Wade is important in guaranteeing that no woman has to lose more than she already is in pursuing an abortion--namely, her own life. I think a moral perspective on abortion dictates that we look not only at the objectionable acts we oppose but also at the practical effects of how we oppose them. I don't think any moral person would argue that losing both the mother and the child is an acceptable risk for trying to save the child.
    The Catholic Challenge

    from NOW with Bill Moyers
  • I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking. If all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed and why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.

  • [The Pope] said, if you read the text later, he said to the President, "Thank you very much for the medal, but you know that you and I disagree on this Iraq thing. I have told you three times." That's in the text.

  • The religion threw Galileo into house arrest for two or three years. Why? Not because of his science, that's silliness. Because of his theology. The theology taught that we were the center of the universe. We were God's rational and best creatures. When the little telescope, when he handed the Pope a telescope and said, "Look, we're not the center," they wouldn't even pick up the telescope. That's dogmatism. And that's what we have to be very careful of.
  • Thursday, November 18, 2004

    A Pre-Modern Presidency

    from The Boston Globe
    What is uniquely alarming in the United States today, among all the democracies and in our own history, is that a president of the United States is explicitly on the side of antimodernism. Never before has an American chief executive worked deliberately to foment a fundamentalist absolutism that is ultimately tribal, theocratic, antiscientific, and incompatible with pluralist democracy.
    Iraq Veteran Speaks Out Against War

    from The South Bend Tribune
    "The smell, the sight, it's something you never forget," Sarra told a packed lecture hall Tuesday night at the University of Notre Dame. "If people want to support this war and think it's a good thing, they need to take a second look."

    For Sarra, 32, one look was enough.

    After he shot an innocent Iraqi woman because he thought the package she was hiding was an explosive, he "freaked out." He began to question the war and wondered why U.S. soldiers, his buddies, were getting killed in Iraq.
    Donna Frye Upsets San Diego Mayoral Election

    from The London Times
    “Donna Frye is a populist, grassroots candidate, and she’s completely upset the race between the old male Republican guys,” Roger Hedgecock, a San Diego radio talk show host and a former Republican mayor, told USA Today. “No matter what happens, it looks like this thing is going to a lawsuit.”

    Republican legal challenges have failed: US District Judge Irma Gonzalez refused to stop the city from certifying the election results on the ground that “write-in” candidates — those, such as Mrs Frye, whose names have to be written on the ballot by voters — were not legitimate.
    Donna Frye still faces lawsuits; visit her webpage to help.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2004



    Vote and Die!

    from Twenty-nine Days
    Contrary to election night reporting, the youth vote was a real phenomenon, though the data indicates a reason the right wants you to think otherwise: "Under-30 voters came through in big numbers this year, with more than 20 million casting a ballot for president...[t]he turnout bested their 2000 showing by more than nine percentage points...[t]he AP's exit polls found that under-30s favored Kerry over Bush, 55 percent to 44 percent."
    Daily War News

    from Today In Iraq
    Bring ‘em on: Air strikes, artillery fire, ground fighting continue in Fallujah.

    Bring ‘em on: Heavy fighting breaks out in Baquba.

    Bring ‘em on: Insurgents attack police stations, ING base near Suwayrah, seven ING soldiers and police killed.

    Bring ‘em on: Heavy fighting continues in Ramadi.

    Bring ‘em on: Six ING soldiers killed as insurgents storm two police stations in Mosul.

    Bring ‘em on: Insurgents seize and destroy governor’s mansion in Mosul.

    Bring ‘em on: US air strikes reported near Baquba.

    Bring ‘em on: Oil wells ablaze near Kirkuk.

    Bring ‘em on: Insurgents destroy main highway bridge near Beiji.

    Bring ‘em on: Insurgents attack Polish embassy in Baghdad.

    Bring ‘em on: Central Baghdad hotels under rocket fire.
    The Offensive Tet

    from Whatever It Is, I'm Against It
    Speaking of the world seeing the strength, grace & decency of our country, I can’t help noticing that we haven’t heard a word from Rummy on the subject of the prisoner execution in Fallujah. Or from Bush. Or from anyone with a familiar name. That incident badly needs a name, to help ensure it doesn’t get swept under the rug. Pending somebody offering a better name, I suggest the alliterative Murder in the Mosque, with apologies to T.S. Eliot. Also, we still haven’t heard from any US member of Congress willing to go on record against the summary execution of wounded prisoners. There was a time when such a shooting bothered people just a little.
    Fun with Murderous Historical Revisionism!

    from Remain Calm
    Before the assault on Fallujah...

    "If they do not turn in al-Zarqawi and his group, we will carry out operations in Fallujah," [US-selected Iraqi "interim" Prime Minister Iyad] Allawi told the interim National Council on Wednesday. "We will not be lenient."

    After the assault on Fallujah

    "We never expected them to be there. We're not after Zarqawi. We're after insurgents in general," [Marine Major General Richard] Natonski[, who designed the ground attack,] said.
    Margaret Hassan

    from Under the Same Sun
    The reports are that Margaret Hassan may have been murdered. Watch the very politicians that spent their lives killing the people she tried desperately to save weep crocodile tears for her, as they read eulogies from teleprompters.

    I believe this picture of her that's been making the rounds dates from the sanctions era... [She] opposed those sanctions vociferously -- don't expect either Bush nor Blair, who supported those sanctions to mention that fact.
    Congressional Vote on Overtime This Week

    from the AFL-CIO
    This is urgent: Please urge your members of Congress to restore overtime pay.

    They have a chance to save overtime pay this week as they vote on 2005 spending bills. Some of those budget measures have amendments that would restore overtime pay for the 6 million workers who stand to lose it under President George W. Bush's overtime pay take-away.

    Your continued action to restore overtime pay is extremely important now. Help us make sure President Bush and his allies in Congress know the president's re-election doesn't mean he can cut our paychecks. We're going to keep fighting this overtime pay cut until we win.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2004

    "Self-Made" Rich Folks Owe the Rest of Us Big-Time

    from The Seattle Times
    Responsible Wealth ( says, "Everyone on the Forbes 400 owes their wealth partly to a taxpayer-financed inheritance of public research and contracts; public schools and universities; communications, transportation and other critical infrastructure; and myriad government institutions from the Federal Reserve and the courts to the Treasury, Defense and Commerce Departments."
    The Bush Zone

    by The Angry Arab
  • I am outraged by US war crimes in Fallujah, and am more outraged by the lack of outrage that I encounter here in the US, and the silence of the corrupt and tyrannical Arab governments (and I am not excluding any one government; I include them all: Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, Jordan, puppet Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Morocco, Yemen, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, etc). All are scared of the US government, and are willing to butcher their people to win points with Bush.

  • Whenever you hear the word "democracy" in relation with the Middle East, especially from the mouth of Israelis or Americans, place it between quotation marks. They mean something else by it.

  • NBC aired the report of the shooting of the injured and unarmed Iraqi man. But NBC had to preface it with a "context" report that all but justified the killing.

  • Somebody was talking about how the Arab world would receive a female secretary of state. Give me a break or a potato. I really hate it when some American male pontificates about sexism of Arab/Muslim men. I say: excuse me? You are giving lessons in feminism?

  • They talk about [the] "window of opportunity" now presented by the death of Arafat. What kind of bankrupt policy it is that is predicated on the death of one man?
  • U.N. Chief for Human Rights Raises Concern on Falluja

    from The New York Times
    The United Nations' high commissioner for human rights, Louise Arbour, said today that she was concerned that the rules of war intended to protect civilians and combatants had been violated in Falluja during the fighting between American-led forces and insurgents...

    The number of Iraqi casualties has not been officially announced. The Iraqi prime minister, Ayad Allawi, has said he does not believe any civilians were killed in the offensive, which has left more than 1,200 insurgents dead, according to a Reuters report.
    Teamster Pensions Fair Worse with Wall St. than the Mob

    from The New York Times
    Since 1982, under a consent decree with the federal government, the fund has been run by prominent Wall Street firms and monitored by a federal court and the Labor Department. There have been no more shadowy investments, no more loans to crime bosses. Yet in these expert hands, the aging fund has fallen into greater financial peril than when James R. Hoffa, who built the Teamsters into a national power, used it as a slush fund.

    Monday, November 15, 2004

    Saturday, November 13, 2004

    Progress in Falluja

    from Under the Same Sun
    Whoever is allowing the marines or any American soldiers "rest" on that "plush red carpet" with their shoes, uniforms and machines guns is insane. Does anyone understand anything about religious feelings in general or about Islam in particular? Have they spent even half a day watching a documentary or two about Islam and noticed that people carefully and respectfully take their shoes off before entering a mosque, where they will kneel and put their head on that carpet? (Those "plush red carpets", by the way, are prayer rugs, or"sajjade." And you don't step on them with your combat boots, especially inside a mosque, and smile for the cameras unless you really want to fight to the death with up to a billion people.)

    Friday, November 12, 2004

    Obstructing the Peace Process

    from Informed Comment
    In the weeks leading up to Palestinian President Yassir Arafat’s death American politicians and pundits have repeatedly called on the Palestinian people to use the opportunity of his passing to transform the intifada from a violent uprising into a non-violent, democratic and pragmatic program for achieving independence. This is very good advice, needless to say, except for one small problem: Palestinians have been trying to build such a movement for the last two decades, and the Israeli Government, IDF and American policy-makers have done everything possible to make sure it could not be heeded.
    Remembering Arafat, Without the Palestinians

    from The Angry Arab
    The New York Times devotes its op-ed page today to the death of Arafat. For the Israeli point of view, Benni Morris (who is now candid about his support for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians) writes, and Jimmy Carter writes the American perspective. For the Palestinian perspective, the New York Times has an article by the...Jordanian King, of all people. As if there is anybody who is more despised by Palestinians than the Jordanian royal family. There is also a sinister and nasty obituary of Arafat in the Times today by anti-Arab fanatic (and Iraqi WMD fabricator) Judith Miller.
    Bev Harris Wins Lawsuit Against Diebold

    from The San Francisco Chronicle
    Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced a $2.6 million settlement Wednesday with Texas-based Diebold Elections Systems, seeking to end a lawsuit that alleged the company made false claims about one of its electronic voting systems.
    Bloggers Spread "Dark Ideas" about Voting Problems

    from The New York Times
    The e-mail messages and Web postings had all the twitchy cloak-and-dagger thrust of a Hollywood blockbuster. "Evidence mounts that the vote may have been hacked," trumpeted a headline on the Web site "Fraud took place in the 2004 election through electronic voting machines," declared

    In the space of seven days, an online market of dark ideas surrounding last week's presidential election took root and multiplied.

    Thursday, November 11, 2004

    The Iron Law of Generosity

    from A Tiny Revolution
    The death of Yasser Arafat is a good time to bring up one of my favorite subjects: geopolitical generosity.

    After the peace talks at Camp David ended in 2000 without an agreement, everyone in the US media starting talking about how Arafat had inexplicably turned down Israel's "generous offer." For instance, here's Charles Krauthammer:

    At Camp David, Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians an astonishingly generous peace with dignity and statehood. Arafat not only turned it down, he refused even to make a counter offer!

    At the time, I didn't know exactly what had happened at Camp David. But hearing about Israeli generosity, I thought -- oh man, the poor Palestinians. That's because of what I call the Iron Law of Generosity: whenever one group of people talks about being "generous" to another, it means they're BEATING THE CRAP OUT OF THEM.

    Take Andrew Jackson. Here's what Jackson said in a famous address to Congress in 1830...
    Congressional Investigation on Voter Fraud

    from MoveOn
    Questions are swirling around whether the election was conducted honestly or not. We need to know--was it or wasn't it?

    If people were wrongly prevented from voting, or if legitimate votes were mis-counted or not counted at all, we need to know so the wrongdoers can be held accountable, and so we can prevent this from happening again.

    Members of Congress are demanding an investigation to answer this question. The decision on whether or not there will be an investigation could come as soon as Monday. Join us in supporting the call for one now, at:
    Video: Noam Chomsky on the Elections

    from Democracy Now
    You can’t ignore the election. It’s there. But it’s designed as a method of essentially marginalizing the population. There’s a huge propaganda campaign to get people to focus on these personalized extravaganzas, and make them think ‘That’s politics.” Well, it isn’t.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2004

    We Need 1,2,3 Voting Now!

    from USA Today (2001)
    Two California cities, Oakland and San Leandro, just adopted a better way for local elections, called ''instant runoff voting.'' Under it, voters rank the candidates 1, 2, 3 in order of preference. Voters thus could support both a Nader and a Gore, both a Buchanan and a Bush, or any other combination.

    If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the count is over and that candidate wins. If not, the last-place finisher is eliminated. Ballots cast for that candidate are counted for voters' next choice, until someone has a clear majority. Australia and Ireland have used the system for decades.
    When Christians Worship the Rich

    from The Philadelphia Weekly
    Among the hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who turned out last Tuesday to vote their opposition to George W. Bush's and his "moral" agenda, Tony Campolo is a uniquely credible voice. Like most of those blamed for putting the White House in Republican hands for another four years, Campolo is an evangelical Christian.
    "[Bush proposed cutting] 500,000 after-school slots for tutoring children in the city in order to nurture this tax relief for the rich. This is a moral issue. If we're gonna be concerned about biblical issues, we have to ask ourselves the question: Is it right to give money to the rich at the expense of services to the poor? And I'm dealing with the question of healthcare for the elderly. The Bible says we're supposed to take care of the elderly, and I find that in today's world we have people who are trying to choose between buying medicine and buying food. And this is no exaggeration. It's a moral issue. When the president of the United States promises to deliver, as he has, complete medical coverage for every man, woman and child in Iraq, I have to ask the question: Can't you provide complete medical coverage for every man, woman and child here in the States?"
    EPA "CHEERS" Study of Pesticide on Infants and Toddlers (for Cash and Camcorders)

    from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)
    EPA is paying families in Jacksonville, Florida (Duval County) who “spray or have pesticides sprayed inside your home routinely” to study the resulting chemical exposure in their infant children. The study, called the Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study or CHEERS, pays participating families $970 for participating throughout the entire two-year study period. Families who complete the study also get to keep the camcorder they are provided to record their babies’ behavior. In addition, families are given bibs, t-shirts and other promotional items. The families are recruited from public clinics and hospitals. EPA selects infants based upon pesticide residue levels detected in “a surface wipe sample in the primary room where the child spends time.”
    See also The Washington Post

    Ralph Nader Holds Press Conference in Washington, DC 1:00 PM, November 10, 2004
    Was Every Vote Counted Accurately?
    Nader/Camejo Goes Forward with Hand Recount in New Hampshire

    Washington, DC: Independent Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader will be holding a press conference at 1:00 in at 1616 P Street, NW, 7th Floor. The press conference will focus on widespread reports of voting problems that raise questions about vote counting. The United States needs to face up to serious shortcomings in its electoral process so that we can have trust in the results of the vote.

    Nader/Camejo has requested a hand recount of the vote in New Hampshire because of reports of anomalies favoring President Bush in towns that used the Diebold AccuVote optical scan machines. A hand recount will either rule out the possibility of machine error or show a discrepancy in the Diebold machine and the actual vote—either way voters need to know. To review the request for a hand recount in New Hampshire visit Similar inexplicable results have been found in other states, including Ohio. Nader has called on John Kerry to demand that every vote be counted accurately. His campaign has remained strangely silent on the matter.

    This election has highlighted the need for electoral reform including federal standards for federal offices and non-partisan administration of the elections from ballot access, through debate participation and to how the vote is cast and counted.

    Tuesday, November 09, 2004

    Ashcroft Resigns

    from The Associated Press
    Ashcroft, in a five-page, handwritten letter to Bush, said, "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved."
    The Organ Album Review

    Finally some American press for my friends in Canada.

    from The New York Times
    On "Grab That Gun" (Mint), Deborah Cohen's guitar melodies are as hooky and sad as Katie Sketch's vocals, forming an awkward reply to each chorus. Comparisons to the Smiths and Joy Division are easy, but Ms. Sketch's lyrics have a remarkable way of being aloof without sounding arrogant. Anchored by a pumping Hammond organ, the songs on "Grab That Gun" are often quirky and unconventional, a record for daydreaming about breaking hearts and basement suites in the winter. We wish we had had this intelligent and subtle music in high school, when we needed something to explain what we would be feeling through most of our 20's.
    CIA Official Defies Order to Stop Criticizing Agency

    from The Chicago Tribune
    A senior CIA counterterrorism official has defied orders to stop publicly criticizing the U.S. government's response to Al Qaeda, complaining that no one has been held accountable for failures that helped lead to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and warning that management problems continue to put Americans at risk.

    Michael Scheuer, a 22-year veteran of the CIA and former chief of its Osama bin Laden operation, acknowledged Monday that he might be putting his job in jeopardy by discussing details of a memo in which he cited 10 examples of the agency's failures against Al Qaeda.

    Monday, November 08, 2004

    In Defense of the Pro-Choice Republican

    from Planned Parenthood
    Right-wing conservatives are demanding that Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) be prevented from chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee because of published comments regarding likely anti-choice Supreme Court nominees. Specter remarked in a press conference on Wednesday that nominees who would attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade would be too conservative to be confirmed.
    Meanwhile, in Iraq...

    November 5, 2004
    Via fax: 603-271-6316

    To The Secretary of State of New Hampshire:

    The Nader/Camejo campaign requests a hand recount of the ballots in the presidential election in New Hampshire. Numerous voting rights activists have requested that we seek a recount of this vote.

    We have received reports of irregularities in the vote reported on the AccuVote Diebold Machines in comparison to exit polls and trends in voting in New Hampshire. These irregularities favor President George W. Bush by 5% to 15% over what was expected. Problems in these electronic voting machines and optical scanners are being reported in machines in a variety of states.

    We are requesting that the state undertake this recount or a statistically significant sample audit of these vote counts.

    We would like to make sure every vote counts and is counted accurately.


    Ralph Nader
    Have Nader Challenge the Votes!

    There is hope! Voters fraud has been exposed in Ohio and NH. Nader was on the ballot in both of those states. Although Kerry conceded, Nader can still challenge/contest the votes, call for a re-count and possible sway the election.

    There is evidence of MASSIVE fraud from republican districts. Check out Randy Rhodes' website from Air America radio - she goes more into it, but the fact is, if we can convince Nader to contest those votes, we may still have, if only slightly, a chance. Below is a sample email to send...draft your own if it suits you. Nader can be reached at: (email) OR(ph) 202-265-4000 OR (fax) 202-265-0183 OR PO Box 18002; Washington, DC 20026

    Dear Mr. Nader,
    I am writing to you concering voter fraud in Ohio and New Hampshire. Evidence is coming forth that Republican districts cheated by falsifying voter returns in these two states. Although John Kerry has conceded, you could still challenge those results and influence a very close and very crucial election.

    Please do not let your spirit of democracy, justice and truth die with this election. Chllenge the results in those states you were on the ballot!

    Sunday, November 07, 2004

    Why They Won, by Thomas Frank

    from The New York Times
    Like many such movements, this long-running conservative revolt is rife with contradictions. It is an uprising of the common people whose long-term economic effect has been to shower riches upon the already wealthy and degrade the lives of the very people who are rising up. It is a reaction against mass culture that refuses to call into question the basic institutions of corporate America that make mass culture what it is. It is a revolution that plans to overthrow the aristocrats by cutting their taxes.

    Friday, November 05, 2004

    Seeing Through the Great Divide

    I don't own a television, but from what I hear of the post-election coverage it's probably the best thing for my recovery. There is some patent nonsense being thrown around about what the election means and how America is deeply divided along party lines. A lot of the talk seems to have suddenly shifted to "moral values," something I don't remember hearing articulated before, at least in that way. My belief is that people are capable of coming to their own conclusions about what the election means, and that listening too closely to the "experts" has the effect of stultifying our impulse to do so. The news networks are highly concentrated conglomerates, closely linked to the political system, and they tend to reflect it in their programming. So if what you hear coming out of the four or five "official" news networks makes you feel like you're living in an alternate reality, it's only because you're still capable of independent thought, and what you hear does not match-up with what you see.

    Regarding the election, I think there are some common sense observations one can make. The first is that it was very close, and could easily have had a different outcome. Secondly, we have a deeply flawed voting system, unverifiable in large parts and highly inefficient in others. Thirdly, the "moral" dimension the election has taken after the fact should be considered closely in the light of professional politics, where morals have not traditionally fared so well.

    The idea that the country is divided is an indulgence taken by two parties who enjoy a monopoly over the political system, and who see America divided in their own image. The fact is that ordinary liberals and conservatives both perceive themselves in a pitched battle against entrenched elites, championing the little man against oppressive concentrations of power within the society. That strikes me as an overwhelming unity amongst ordinary people, who all suffer the same decline in real wages, benefits, and living standards regardless of their religious views or political beliefs, but who, thanks to the binary nature of the political process, attribute them to completely different things--a breakdown in values on the one hand, and a lack of regulation on the other. The actual elites--the ones within the Democratic and Republican parties, and their corporate backers--know this and play each constituency accordingly, and this election was largely a function of whose propaganda was more effective. That's not to say there aren't real policy differences between the parties, but rather that neither wants an actual shift of power from elites to the general population. That's something which can only come from below, by people recognizing the real, horizontal divide that separates their shared lot in life as increasingly impoverished liberals and conservatives vs. the ownership classes (both liberal and conservative, by the way) who run the country.

    Thursday, November 04, 2004

    Our Social Security Crisis: Bush

    If you want a sense of how our grief might serve us best in abbreviated form, President Bush announced today his intention to begin reforming Social Security through privatization, as part of the continued campaign to shift wealth from the population back to its rightful heirs. Social Security, probably the most successful government program in American history, is also one of the last remaining that directly benefits people. This concept--that tax money be used for people--is basically unacceptable in the contemporary political climate. Bush has sold his economic plan as one which frees America from the burden of taxes. From his perspective, this is not inaccurate: "America" means the owner and investor classes. According to this logic, things are going very well for "America," and there's great reason for optimism. The progressive income tax, all but dismantled last term, will be gone completely under Bush's "income-neutral" tax plans this term. Missile defense, that great tax-payer gift to defense contractors, will cost upwards of a trillion dollars. And now Social Security, the last great tax reserve outside Medicare dedicated to people is to be handed back to the captains of industry.

    Wednesday, November 03, 2004

    The Best Man Wins

    In his first term as president, George Bush killed nearly half as many Americans in Iraq as Osama bin Laden did in Manhattan. Yesterday, Americans re-elected him; maybe another term will give him a chance to make up the difference.
    What Would Frodo Do?


    Monday, November 01, 2004

    Election Predictions

    I'm calling the election for Kerry by a reasonable margin. My hunch is that the other camp has simply been out-mobilized.
    The October Surprise

    I have to say I'm somewhat alarmed that Osama bin Laden has a better plan for American security than either of the presidential candidates.

    Thursday, October 28, 2004

    Household Survey Projects 100,000 Iraqi Deaths

    from The Associated Press
    A survey of deaths in Iraqi households estimates that as many as 100,000 more people may have died throughout the country in the 18 months since the U.S.-led invasion than would be expected based on the death rate before the war.
    American Crew May Have Filmed Missing Weapons Post-Saddam

    from ABC NEWS
    A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew in Iraq shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein was in the area where tons of explosives disappeared, and may have videotaped some of those weapons.
    9/11 Families: Vote Kerry, Please

    from The New York Times
    The principal advocacy group for families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks blamed President Bush and a group of House Republicans on Wednesday for the failure of Congress to approve a bill to enact the recommendations of the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission and overhaul the nation's intelligence agencies.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2004

    Let Her Go

    "The Greatest Explosives Bonanza in History"

    from The New York Times
    The International Atomic Energy Agency publicly warned about the danger of these explosives before the war, and after the invasion it specifically told United States officials about the need to keep the explosives secured, European diplomats said in interviews last week. Administration officials say they cannot explain why the explosives were not safeguarded, beyond the fact that the occupation force was overwhelmed by the amount of munitions they found throughout the country.

    Monday, October 25, 2004

    Bush Vs. Kerry: An Iraqi's View

    from Baghdad Burning
    Some people associate the decision to go to war as a ‘strength’. How strong do you need to be to commit thousands of your countrymen and women to death on foreign soil? Especially while you and your loved ones sit safely watching at home. How strong do you need to be to give orders to bomb cities to rubble and use the most advanced military technology available against a country with a weak army and crumbling infrastructure?

    Wednesday, October 20, 2004

    A lot of what passes for political dialogue in this country is just blatant lying. The government has an advanced degree in it, as governments typically do. I suppose our system works so the politically active sector of the population focuses wholeheartedly on the (not subtle) lies of the other side, rarely questioning their own; there are only two choices, after all. In the meantime, the rest of the population (50%--maybe more?) doesn't even participate. That leaves us with relatively small numbers of very vocal liars dominating the American political system.
    Bush Campaign Endorsed by Iran

    from The Associated Press
    The head of Iran's security council said Tuesday that the re-election of President Bush was in Tehran's best interests, despite the administration's axis of evil label, accusations that Iran harbors al-Qaida terrorists and threats of sanctions over the country's nuclear ambitions.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2004

    Thursday, October 14, 2004

    Letters to Americans

    How wide is the gap between we Iraqis and America? For me, one of the benefits of this war is that it has brought American people here. We used to imagine the American through the movies: a superhuman, devoid of faults. But the war revealed the American to be simply an ordinary person, like all of us. He could be kind-hearted, peaceful and polite, or he could be vicious, aggressive and brutish. He could be intelligent and witty, or he could be unintelligent or average.

    Yet in my own personal experience here, I can truthfully say I have never encountered or heard of noble attitudes from American soldiers towards Iraqi people. I am sorry: I have wished to meet an understanding, tender soldier. I would have written something nice about him. But I never have.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2004

    Riverbend FAQ

    A lot of you have been asking about my background and the reason why my English is good. I am Iraqi- born in Iraq to Iraqi parents, but was raised abroad for several years as a child. I came back in my early teens and continued studying in English in Baghdad- reading any book I could get my hands on. Most of my friends are of different ethnicities, religions and nationalities. I am bilingual. There are thousands in Iraq like me- kids of diplomats, students, ex-patriots, etc.

    As to my connection with Western culture... you wouldn't believe how many young Iraqi people know so much about American/British/French pop culture. They know all about Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brad Pitt, Whitney Houston, McDonalds, and M.I.B.s... Iraqi tv stations were constantly showing bad copies of the latest Hollywood movies. (If it's any consolation, the Marines lived up to the Rambo/ Terminator reputation which preceded them.)

    But no matter what- I shall remain anonymous. I wouldn't feel free to write otherwise. I think Salam and Gee are incredibly brave... who knows, maybe one day I will be too. You know me as Riverbend, you share a very small part of my daily reality- I hope that will suffice.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2004

    Around the World with Oprah: Women at 30

    from Baghdad Burning
    So where does the valium fit in? Imagine through all of this commotion, an elderly aunt who is terrified of bombing. She was so afraid, she couldn't, and wouldn't, sit still. She stood pacing the hallway, cursing Bush, Blair and anyone involved with the war- and that was during her calmer moments. When she was feeling especially terrified, the curses and rampage would turn into a storm of weeping and desolation (during which she imagines she can't breathe)- we were all going to die. They would have to remove us from the rubble of our home. We'd burn alive. And so on. And so forth.

    During those fits of hysteria, my cousin would quietly, but firmly, hand her a valium and a glass of water. The aunt would accept both and in a matter of minutes, she'd grow calmer and a little bit more sane. This aunt wasn't addicted to valium, but it certainly came in handy during the more hectic moments of the war.
    Nuclear Material Missing in Iraq

    from BBC NEWS
    Satellite images show entire buildings have been dismantled without any record being made, said Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog.

    Sunday, October 10, 2004

    Iraq Disks Pose No Threat to Schools

    Some days ago, the media announced that a computer disk containing information about US schools was found in Iraq. The implication was that Al-Qaeda was in Iraq (which, without any time component, suggests they had been there pre-invasion), and that it was poised to attack US schools a la Beslan. And yet how quietly was the story laid to rest? So quietly that it took a person who trolls every media clearinghouse a day and a half to read that FBI Agent William Evanina said "There's no terrorism threat to these schools."

    Saturday, October 09, 2004

    Men of Mistakes

    from Talking Points Memo
    In the president’s world, accountability and punishment aren’t for the folks who make the mistakes. They’re for the people who recognize the mistakes or, God forbid, admit them. And when the president had a chance to come up with any mistakes he might have made in four years as president the one that instinctively popped into his mind were the times he’d appointed folks who turned out to be from the second category, rather than the first.

    Friday, October 08, 2004

    Arcata, CA Impeaches Bush

    from The Times-Standard
    Arcata is calling on Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to be impeached for having "planned, prepared, initiated and waged ... wars of aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq ... in violation of numerous international laws," including the U.N. Charter, Nuremberg Principles, the Geneva Accords and the U.S. Constitution.

    Wednesday, October 06, 2004

    Most Guantanamo Detainees to be Released

    from The Washington Post
    Most of the alleged al Qaeda and Taliban inmates at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are likely to be freed or sent to their home countries for further investigation because many pose little threat and are not providing much valuable intelligence, the facility's deputy commander has said.

    Tuesday, October 05, 2004

    Rumsfeld, Bremer Retract Iraq Confessions

    from CNN
    "A question I answered today at an appearance before the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) regarding ties between al Qaeda and Iraq regrettably was misunderstood. I have acknowledged since September 2002 that there were ties between al Qaeda and Iraq."

    - Donald Rumsfeld

    Monday, October 04, 2004

    Limited Time Only Blog

    Stunning political analysis of the 2004 Presidential Election from another member of the pop-band overlord:

    Ask him about how he played bass with The Violent Femmes over the weekend... dammit.

    Friday, October 01, 2004

    Bringing Back the Draft?

    commentary from
    I would favor a draft if it were a fair system. I don't think there's anything wrong with the idea that people contribute equally to something like the national defense. People will fight for things they believe in. If, however, people feel their leaders haven't provided the justification for war, they'll be less inclined to endorse it. If they feel it's immoral, they'll resist in the ways we saw during the Vietnam War, making it impossible for the government to pursue the war past a certain point (I think a fair draft could have ended it earlier). A draft presumes that everyone has a duty to defend their nation, but it also encourages popular opposition to misadventures that too frequently don't fall under that description.
    Admiring Laura Bush

    This afternoon a co-worker told me he shared John Kerry's admiration for First Lady Laura Bush. "Anyone who's stayed with that drunken fool for thirty years deserves admiration," he said.

    Monday, September 27, 2004

    Under Bush, Workers Pay More for Less Health Coverage

    U.S. workers are paying more for health insurance and receiving less than they were four years ago and the situation is particularly acute in several states important in the presidential race, said a consumer group that has been critical of President George W. Bush.
    Girl Blog from Iraq

    from Baghdad Burning
    I can't seem to decide what is worse--when Bush speaks in the name of Iraqi people, or when Allawi does. Yesterday's speech was particularly embarrassing. He stood there groveling in front of the congress--thanking them for the war, the occupation and the thousands of Iraqi lives lost... and he did it all on behalf of the Iraqi people. It was infuriating and for maybe the hundredth time this year, I felt rage. Yet another exile thanking the Bush administration for the catastrophe we're trying to cope with. Our politicians are outside of the country 90% of the time (by the way, if anyone has any news of our president Ghazi Ajeel Al Yawir, do let us know--where was he last seen or heard?), the security situation is a joke, the press are shutting down and pulling out and our beloved exiles are painting rosey pictures for the American public--you know--so everyone who voted for Bush can sleep at night.

    Sunday, September 26, 2004

    The World Wants Kerry

    from BBC NEWS
    A new poll in 35 countries suggests that people around the world would prefer Democratic challenger John Kerry as US president over George W Bush.

    Friday, September 24, 2004

    Ashcroft on Terror: 0 for 5,000

    from AlterNet
    With the latest Detroit convictions overturned, Ashcroft has not convicted a single person of terrorism since 9/11.
    On Government

    I don't think people should respect governments. Governments don't respect people. They're violent. Most of their violence is directed toward their own citizens--a heartbreaking discovery after paying into Social Security for so long. It's important not to identify too closely with them, for this reason.

    People, on the other hand, are much more deserving of our fealty. People are creative and dynamic--so much so that we don't even understand how they work or how they came into being. All cultures believe, in unique ways, that the very existence of people suggests even greater possibilities beyond our understanding. Because we don't know, and because people don't exist for very long, it seems prudent to celebrate and protect them. This is quite apart from the role of government, which protects possessions from people, takes possessions from people, and possesses people for protection. It's strange and sad that we would be drawn so willfully to this power--in the words of Foucault, "to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us."

    Thursday, September 23, 2004

    Put Away Your Hankies

    by Michael Moore
    If I hear one more person tell me how lousy a candidate Kerry is and how he can't win... Dammit, of COURSE he's a lousy candidate--he's a Democrat, for heavens sake! That party is so pathetic, they even lose the elections they win! What were you expecting, Bruce Springsteen heading up the ticket? Bruce would make a helluva president, but guys like him don't run--and neither do you or I. People like Kerry run.
    Safe for Democracy

    from The Week Magazine
    Belarus’ authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has proposed abolishing presidential term limits so he can remain in power. He has drafted a referendum on the subject, to be voted on during parliamentary elections next month. Lukashenka is in his second term, which under the country’s constitution would be his last. But he insists that, given the recent horrifying hostage crisis in neighboring Russia, Belarus needs stability above all else. “In the referendum you will vote for the security of the country, for the life and health of your children and grandchildren,” he said. Lukashenka has ruthlessly suppressed the political opposition, and international observers said the 2001 presidential election that gave him a second term was rigged.

    Monday, September 20, 2004

    Republicans Critical of Bush on Iraq

    from CNN International
    "The fact is, we're in trouble. We're in deep trouble in Iraq," said Hagel, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees.

    Sunday, September 19, 2004

    Liberals Will Ban Bibles, GOP Mailing Says

    from The Associated Press
    Campaign mail with a return address of the Republican National Committee warns West Virginia voters that the Bible will be prohibited and men will marry men if liberals win in November.

    Saturday, September 18, 2004

    9/11 Widows Group to Endorse Kerry

    from The Associated Press

    A group of activist Sept. 11 widows said Tuesday they will campaign for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, charging the Bush administration stonewalled their efforts to uncover intelligence failures leading up to the attacks and took the nation into a misguided war in Iraq.
    For My Conservative Friends: An Alternative Point of View

    from FrontPageMag
    Republicans always rant about big government, but government has grown under every single Republican administration since WWII and continues to grow under this one. We are a party of big government whether we want to admit it or not. Handouts will always be popular with their recipients. If you have a way to actually make Republicans reduce the size of government, I'm all for it, but until then, tell the truth.

    Friday, September 17, 2004

    The New Face of Public Television

    from FAIR
    A new public television program called The Journal Editorial Report, featuring writers and editors from the arch-conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page, will debut tonight on public television stations around the country. The show joins Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered, hosted by conservative CNN pundit Tucker Carlson, and a planned program featuring conservative commentator Michael Medved as part of what many see as politically motivated decisions to bring more right-wing voices to public television.
    White House Wants to Cut FAA Budget

    from The Associated Press
    The Bush administration wants to trim the Federal Aviation Administration's budget for buying new air traffic control equipment at a time when more planes are in the air.

    Thursday, September 16, 2004

    Pentagon Contracts w/ Another Lemon

    from The New York Times
    A Pentagon contractor that has been entrusted with handling the unsealed absentee ballots of military and civilian voters overseas was sued two years ago by a Tennessee business that accused it of fabricating information and other fraudulent behavior involving an overdue bill, according to federal court records.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2004

    Social Security: The Phony Crisis

    from Z Magazine
    ...The only “crisis” Social Security faces is posed by its enemies, who have created a phony one to provide the moral and intellectual basis for weakening and destroying a highly successful and completely viable system. It is Social Security’s very success that upsets ideologues of the market and their corporate backers, as an efficient and effective government-managed poverty reduction program suggests that marketization of everything may not be in the public interest and that the government can serve ordinary citizens well. If acknowledged, Social Security’s success might justify its extension to a program to universalize medical insurance and control medical costs by a national medical budget policy, highly desirable—even urgent—and widely used elsewhere, but threatening to powerful insurance and medical profession interests. Of course privatization of Social Security would be a huge bonanza to the securities industry, which has pumped money into the Cato Institute and elsewhere to foster claims of a crisis.
    Scott McClellan, Hardest Working Man in Show Business

    from The New York Times
    The White House asserted that progress was being made in Iraq. "You know, every step of the way in Iraq there have been pessimists and hand-wringers who said it can't be done," Scott McClellan, the chief White House spokesman, said at a news briefing. "And every step of the way, the Iraqi leadership and the Iraqi people have proven them wrong because they are determined to have a free and peaceful future."
    C.I.A. Unit on bin Laden Is Understaffed

    from The New York Times
    Three years after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency has fewer experienced case officers assigned to its headquarters unit dealing with Osama bin Laden than it did at the time of the attacks, despite repeated pleas from the unit's leaders for reinforcements, a senior C.I.A. officer with extensive counterterrorism experience has told Congress.
    See also:

    More Agents Track Castro Than Bin Laden

    Shifts From Bin Laden Hunt Evoke Questions

    Tuesday, September 14, 2004

    Hitler and the Native Americans

    from Z Magazine
    Hitler took note of Native Americans, indigenous people of the Americas, specifically within the area of the U.S. and Canada. He used the treatment of native people, the policies and processes that were imposed upon them, as a model for what he articulated as being Lebensraumpolitik, the politics of living space. In essence, Hitler took the notion of a drive from east to west, clearing the land as the invading population went and resettling it with Anglo-Saxon stock, primarily, as a model by which he drove from west to east into Russia, displacing, relocating, dramatically shifting or liquidating populations to clear the land and replace it with what he called "superior breeding stock," meaning Germanic peoples. It was essentially the same process, and he was very conscious of the fact that he was basing his policies in the prior experience of the Anglo-American population, or Nordic population, as he called it, in the area north of the Rio Grande River.
    Treasury Study Warned Against Bush Tax Plan

    from The Washington Post
    President Bush has vowed to make tax reform a centerpiece of a second term, but an internal Treasury Department study in late 2002 warned that any fundamental simplification of the nation's tax system would "produce windfall winners and losers," would likely lower taxes for the rich, and could have devastating political consequences for its champions.

    Monday, September 13, 2004

    Time to Consider Iraq Withdrawal

    from The London Financial Times
    The core question to be addressed is this: is the continuing presence of US military forces in Iraq part of the solution or part of the problem?
    Iraq War Poorly Planned, Unjustified, Badly Executed

    It astonishes me to hear people say that no comparison can be drawn between what’s happening in Iraq, and the failed "democratization" of Vietnam nearly 40 years ago. I believe the parallels are striking and unmistakable. For one thing, the Vietnam conflict ramped up in exactly the same fashion as Iraq, with an escalating involvement but never a clear plan of engagement or a plan for withdrawal.
    Sewer Socialism

    from The Los Angeles Times
    Missing today from national and local agendas is anything remotely resembling the progressivism that spurred the successful evolution of U.S. cities in the last century. Sometimes dubbed "sewer socialism," this program for development started at the municipal level and aimed to repair the legacy of the Industrial Revolution.

    Saturday, September 11, 2004

    Sympathy for Bin Laden

    commentary from
    I think a close examination of US foreign policy is in order if we want to understand why murderers like bin Laden enjoy wide sympathy in the Middle East--even among people who don't agree with his tactics. The US is perceived as propping up corrupt dictatorships throughout the region--regimes which ordinary Arabs suffer under daily. Generally, moves towards representative government are blocked by the US as being "anti-democratic," meaning they preclude access to markets and resources on behalf of American businesses and investors. A passing familiarity with American foreign policy reveals a very consistent record of undermining popular, democratic movements (Guatemala, Chile, Nicaragua, Cuba, Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, Haiti, El Salvador, the Philipines, etc., etc.) in favor of dictators who will protect US business interests in their countries at the expense of their own populations. The state department calls it "democracy" because it preserves private property rights for the people who matter.
    Ellsberg Calls for Disobedience in Government

    from The Associated Press
    Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department official who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, is urging government insiders to provide similar classified documents about the invasion of Iraq.

    Friday, September 10, 2004

    Costa Rica Politely Declines

    from Voice of America
    Costa Rica is asking the United States to remove the Central American country from a list of coalition members supporting the war in Iraq.

    Thursday, September 09, 2004

    Curse of the Lasting Perception

    from BBC NEWS
    The war wasn't necessary. It was successful for the Americans and they have the oil reserves now.

    I hope the Americans learnt a lesson from all of this and I hope they do not think that everything will be just fine now.

    It won't, because the people of Iraq and the whole world saw what happened. People have lots of hatred inside them now--which is not helpful for the future of the world.

    - 18 year old Ozgur Yazici, from Turkey
    Terror and the Elections

    commentary from
    ...I don't think Islamic radicals care very much about our elections; certainly not about our "democracy," which they, contrary to hating us for, probably don't even acknowledge as reality. These are things that have a much greater significance to American audiences than Muslim ones. No doubt the idea that anyone would hate you for your "greatness" is naturally appealing--even if it fails to explain why Bin Laden never targeted the US before we happened to open our first military base in his home country during the first Gulf War. Weren't we just as free and spectacular before Desert Storm as we were after?
    This is Your Life

    from The Washington Post

    President Bush failed to carry out a direct order from his superior in the Texas Air National Guard in May 1972 to undertake a medical examination that was necessary for him to remain a qualified pilot, according to documents made public yesterday.

    Wednesday, September 08, 2004

    Of Police and Protesters

    from The New York Times
    ...The story of exactly what came to pass between the New York Police Department and the nearly 2,000 people who were arrested last week continues to unfold, and the resulting narrative may affect history's view of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's performance during the Republican National Convention....

    Scores of protesters and their lawyers have relayed stories about people being separated from their medications, contracting rashes from the dirty floor and other maladies that they said went unaddressed for hours.
    Jackson Lambasts Corporate Consultants in Kerry Campaign; Press Coverage Disappears

    from Common Dreams
    Yesterday, on CNN's Inside Politics, Jesse Jackson delivered a blistering attack on the Kerry campaign for running away from the Democratic base and the issues it cares about. Jesse cited, among other things a daylong West Virginia Rainbow/labor "Invest in America" jobs rally at which Jesse spoke at yesterday, that he said drew 30,000 folks with a raft of entertainers like Willie Nelson and Judy Collins.. Jesse was furious that Kerry had ducked the rally, even though he was campaigning only 30 miles away. Jesse sneered at the inadequacy of the Kerry campaign's much-publicized "shakeup" and its whitebread, retread Clintonista imports, snarling that "it can't be just a vanilla shake."
    With Us or Against Us

    from BBC NEWS

    US Vice-President Dick Cheney has said a vote for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry could make a terror attack on the US more likely.

    Tuesday, September 07, 2004

    Meanwhile, in Iraq...

    Peace Activist a 'Danger to Israel'

    from The Guardian UK
    ...Last year, the 29-year-old legal secretary from Tel Aviv picked up a newspaper and read about Zakariya Zubeidi, the Jenin leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the group responsible for killing hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and shootings. Ms Fahima decided she would ask Mr Zubeidi why he killed Jews.
    Halliburton to lose contract

    BBC News
    The Pentagon plans to end a contract given to Halliburton to provide US troops in Iraq with logistical support, the Wall Street Journal reports.

    Sunday, September 05, 2004

    Palestinians weigh the non-violent option

    from Aljazeera

    Speaking to on Thursday, the director of Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem, Sami Awad, said the demand from Palestinians to learn how to practise passive resistance was greater than his six trainers could provide.
    Battered Activists Charged with Assault, Inciting a Riot inside RNC

    from Democracy Now!
    AMY GOODMAN: What did you do exactly?

    KRIS HERMES: Well, we sat on the floor in the New York delegation area and when Andrew Card began to speak, we blew whistles, stood up on the chairs, and chanted and held signs. There was a banner that was attempted to be unfurled, and then proceeded to be assaulted by Young Republicans.

    Saturday, September 04, 2004

    "The strategic adversary is fascism... the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us."

    - Michel Foucault
    Strange Bedfellows

    from Learning to Love Totalitarianism
    In the early days of the rise of corporations, conservatives were opposed to them because they undermined both individual liberty and competition in the marketplace. Those who today carry the banner of conservatism are a different sort entirely. They support a concentration of wealth and political control among a corporate elite, which is antithetical to freedom of the individual, a free market and democracy. The corporate state is closer to the formula of fascism than to democracy.
    Take a chance on me...

    from Slate
    For $2.4 trillion, guess what word—other than "a," "and," and "the"—occurs most frequently in the acceptance speech George W. Bush delivered tonight.

    The word is "will." It appears 76 times. This was a speech all about what Bush will do, and what will happen, if he becomes president.
    Rocket-Propelled Premiums

    The Washington Post
    As most Americans began the Labor Day holiday weekend, federal health officials held a late-afternoon briefing to announce that the 42 million disabled and elderly Medicare beneficiaries will be hit with the largest premium increase in 15 years.