December 2003 Articles











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December 31 - January 2

Looking Back on Year 2003
by Kim Petersen

The year 2003 was a tumultuous one. This is a partial look at 10 trends or events each for the good and the bad of the year. . . (full article)

Will the French Indict Cheney?
by Doug Ireland

Yet another sordid chapter in the murky annals of Halliburton might well lead to the indictment of Dick Cheney by a French court on charges of bribery, money-laundering and misuse of corporate assets. . . (full article)

Two Americas Ring in the New Year
by Holly Sklar

If poor Americans were a nation, the population would top Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming and the District of Columbia combined. That's using the Census Bureau's lowball poverty count of 35 million Americans. If the Forbes 400 richest Americans were a nation, they could celebrate New Year's together in a hotel ballroom. Don't look for "The Simple Life" rich kids Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. Their families don't come close to making the list. . . (full article)

What Will Happen in 2004? Safe Predictions for the New Year
and Years to Come
by Jerre Skog

Nostradamus was a man who could write a sentence in a way that could apply to an unlimited number of occasions, events, times and persons. If you really try, you can read anything into one of his prophesies. On the other hand Nostradamus was cunning. Most things he foretold were perfectly logical even if outrageous. And old Nosty was nothing if not a shrewd observer of human psychology. George W. Bush, Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney just aren't of that caliber. . .  So far not only the future but also the present and the past are either eluding the American ruling junta, or else their combined intellectual capacity -- OR their combined personal integrity -- is below allowing for the correct description of reality. We can expect to hear the comments from Bush "the Sillier" in 2004 to be on the same level as those in the year gone by. Not one digit correct! So, as a service to all those who want to know what will really happen next year (and further on), here's a short glimpse. . . (full article)

Indy Nader and the Greens
by Josh Frank

Right before the Christmas holiday Ralph Nader, the alleged spoiler of the 2000 elections, announced he would not run for president on the Green Party ticket. Nader sent a letter to the Green Party Steering Committee informing them that he may instead run as an independent. . . (full article)

Checkpoints Prove Useless Against Suicide Bombers in Iraq
by Robert Fisk

Baghdad: A severed arm with a hand still attached to it lay a few metres from the broken gates of the mayor's office in Karbala yesterday, a piece of humanity every bit as bloody as the story of the seventh-century Shia martyr Hussein, the golden dome of whose shrine could be seen through the smog to the east. They said the arm belonged to a police major - one of 11 cops killed in the four ferocious attacks on Saturday in this most holy of cities - but others claimed it belonged to the man who drove the truck-bomb right up to the gates. . . (full article)

The Exploitation of the American Soldier
Part I of II: Of Caste Drafts and Society's Complicity
by Manuel Valenzuela

The story of the American Soldier is much more than a propaganda-laced cover in Time magazine, designed to sell copies, make profits by exploiting patriotism, create acquiescence in BushCo’s preemptive warmongering and empire building policies and in fostering approval and support of a most ambiguous war campaign.  The story of the American Solider is much more than a picture of three soldiers posing in full battle gear, M-16’s in hand, ready to invade a “rogue nation,” destroy its infrastructure and kill its citizens. . . Hidden behind the illusory fantasy the corporate media portrays of noble fighting in tumultuous wars, lies a world of death, suffering and lifelong sacrifice, a world of psychological trauma and physical torture, a world of Veteran abandonment by the same government that has sent millions to kill and be killed, a world where America’s finest, along with their families, are swept underneath the rug of indifference and a world in which ethnicity, class structure and society’s deadly ills mix in a noxious concoction to form that most clandestine of military drafts that is based on poverty, lack of education and the caste one is born into. . . (full article)

The Greatest Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself
by Ivan Eland

One of the few roles for government on which most people of varying political stripes can agree is the defense of citizens -- including protection from terrorist attacks. So why is the U.S. government aiding the terrorists in terrorizing Americans? (full article)

Israel-Palestine: Is There Any Hope? Where To Look For It
by Ran HaCohen

There can be little doubt that something has changed in Israel's public discourse in the past two or three of months. Israel's rejectionism – the ideology of the Army, turned into a state dogma when, PM Barak, the Trojan horse, destroyed the Israeli peace camp from within, and then consolidated by Sharon – has been showing serious cracks. . . (full article)

December 29

Bogus Terror Threats and Bush's Police State
by Kurt Nimmo

Bomb Las Vegas, America's gambling Mecca and glittery playground built on desert sands by mobsters such as Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lanksy, and Frank Costello? Only al-Qaeda, we are assured, would contemplate such a depraved act -- and it stands to reason because those varmint Muslims hate our way of life. They are envious of our freedom to play the nickel slots and idle away carefree hours perched over blackjack tables -- or get no fuss, no muss marriages at Circus Circus. As it turns out, the ubiquitous al-Qaeda harbored no such plans to bomb Las Vegas -- or, for that matter, any other target in America over the most cherished and commercialized of holidays. Apparently, the whole thing was idle speculation on the part of the Washington Post. . . (full article)

Rhetorical Absurdities
by Kim Petersen

It seems a never-ending battle to refute the logically inane mutterings of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and some may well ask, “Why bother, the guy’s a lost cause?” Well, the cause isn’t Friedman but the wide readership enjoyed by him. He is a best-selling author; his books are even used, according to his website, in some universities and high schools; his articles are in wide syndication, including the local Chronicle-Herald; he evens appears on PBS’ “News Hour.” It is a televised forum in which to spout his vitriolic nonsense. For example, when discussing “the security fence [sic],” in Occupied Palestine, he opined that it represents “... a triumph of the notion that all we can hope for is a wall to divide us.” It was a foreclosure on peace, a foreclosure on anything approaching justice. Preeminent was the security of the occupiers although the fact that the occupation was filliping the security threat was unmentioned. Clearly he reveals his sympathies with his own words. And the words are important; just look at how a wall equates to a fence. I don’t recall anyone in the west ever referring to a Berlin Fence although it was less than half the average height of the Israeli Apartheid Wall and hundreds of kilometers shorter. . . (full article)



The Silencing of Dissent: How Do They Get Away With It?
by Paul Eisen


As the onslaught on the Palestinian people continues and the hundred-year conquest of Palestine enters what may be its final stages, efforts by the Israeli, Zionist and Jewish establishments to silence any remaining criticism of Israel and Zionism intensify. At the center of these efforts is the claim that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism. Critics of Israel are warned that whilst like any other democratic state, Israel is open to criticism of its policies, any criticism of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is, by definition, anti-Semitic. . . (full article)



California Ban On GloFish Ignites Debate Over ‘Frankenfish’
by Dan Bacher

The GloFish, a zebra fish genetically engineered to glow in the dark in aquariums, was approved for sale to the public by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on December 9. However, you won’t be able to purchase them in California when they become available in other states on January 5 because the State Fish and Game Commission ruled in December not to grant an exemption to its ban on genetically modified fish adopted earlier in the year. . . (full article)

"I Am Thy Father's Ghost": A Journey into Rupert Murdoch's Soul
by Alexander Cockburn

It has been astounding that a world-scale monster such as Rupert Murdoch has thus far fared well at the hands of his various profilists and biographers. Criticisms of him have either been too broad-brush to be useful, or too tempered with Waugh-derived facetiousness about press barons. Murdoch is far too fearsome an affront to any civilized values to escape with mere facetiousness. Now at last Murdoch is properly burdened with the chronicler he deserves. . . (full article)

December 27-28, 2003

Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth
by Michael Parenti

Throughout the ages there has prevailed a distressing symbiosis between religion and violence. The histories of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam are heavily laced with internecine vendettas, inquisitions, and wars. Again and again, religionists have claimed a divine mandate to terrorize and massacre heretics, infidels, and other sinners. Some people have argued that Buddhism is different, that it stands in marked contrast to the chronic violence of other religions. To be sure, as practiced by many in the United States, Buddhism is more a "spiritual" and psychological discipline than a theology in the usual sense. It offers meditative techniques and self-treatments that are said to promote "enlightenment" and harmony within oneself. But like any other belief system, Buddhism must be judged not only by its teachings but by the actual behavior of its proponents. . .
(full article)

White Terror
by Lorenzo Kibler

The Bush men decorate our holidays in Homeland Security yellow, orange and red, while demonizing Islamic green as the color of the most implacable foes of Western “civilization.” Yet official silence conspires to hide genocidal maniacs in our midst who have sworn to erase the Black presence from the landscape of the United States: White Terror. Tens of thousands of members of a racist legion operate openly in every corner of the nation – men, women, juveniles, extended families, cells, gangs, churches, clans, militias, border armies, all engaged in what they consider to be a war to the death against non-white America. George Bush and John Ashcroft don’t want you to hear about White Terror, understandably fearing that the lyrics of white supremacy strike the same racial chords as the Pirates’ own War on Terror theme, itself a rearrangement of the many martial tunes written throughout American history in praise of Manifest Destiny. Less than a decade ago Timothy McVeigh’s band of terrorists got carried away with the logic of America as a White Man’s Country, and may have cost the Republicans the White House in 1996. That’s why the homeland security colors didn’t change in May of this year, when federal agents arrested a white racist couple dealing in weapons of mass destruction in a small town near Tyler, Texas. The feds seized a cyanide bomb capable of unleashing a deadly poison cloud, chemicals and components for additional WMDs, gas masks, 100 conventional bombs, an arsenal of automatic weapons, silencers and half a million rounds of ammunition. . .
(full article)

The Unpardonable Lenny Bruce
by Norman Solomon

No doubt Lenny Bruce would have laughed with at least a tinge of bitterness if -- like millions of Americans -- he picked up a newspaper the day before Christmas 2003 and read that he’d been “pardoned” by the governor of New York for an obscenity conviction. In their own time, people who are stubbornly ahead of it usually get a lot more grief than accolades. And decades later -- in this case, 39 years after Bruce’s bust for a nightclub performance and 37 years after his death -- the belated praise from on high is predictably insufferable. . . (full article)

Lenny Bruce's Belated Pardon
by Marty Jezer

New York’s Governor George Pataki pardoned comedian Lenny Bruce this holiday season for an obscenity conviction that happened almost forty years ago. It was the first posthumous pardon in the history of New York State and Pataki, a Republican who has nothing politically to gain from the decision, deserves the public’s appreciation. But the humorist himself was unable to celebrate his vindication. He died, weighted down by his legal troubles, a broken, bankrupt and defeated man, believing passionately that the Bill of Rights would save him. . .
(full article)


From Joy to Despair: Iraqis Pay for Saddam's Capture
by Robert Fisk

Baghdad: Ali Salman Ali was the first victim of Saddam's capture, but he died on Christmas Day. As his father Salman Ghazi, 71, tells it, Ali must have been among the first of Iraq's Shia Muslims to scream his delight in the street after the former dictator emerged from his hole in the ground. "He shouted that the Americans had come to save us and liberated us from that terrible regime," Mr Ghazi said yesterday, his sun-blasted, lined face and dark eyes staring at my notebook. Behind me, the 12 cousins of Ali Salman Ali were heaving his cheap wooden coffin from the Baghdad mortuary on to the back of a rusting white pick-up with a cracked windscreen and a toy rabbit swinging from a chain over the mirror. . . (full article)

Iraq Through the American Looking Glass: Insurgents are Civilians, Tanks Crushing Civilians are Accidents, and Civilians Should Endure Heavy Doses of Fear and Violence
by Robert Fisk

Something very unpleasant is being let loose in Iraq. Just this week, a company commander in the US 1st Infantry Division in the north of the country admitted that, in order to elicit information about the guerrillas who are killing American troops, it was necessary to "instill fear" in the local villagers. An Iraqi interpreter working for the Americans had just taken an old lady from her home to frighten her daughters and grand-daughters into believing that she was being arrested. A battalion commander in the same area put the point even more baldly. "With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them," he said. He was speaking from a village that his men had surrounded with barbed wire, upon which was a sign, stating: "This fence is here for your protection. Do not approach or try to cross, or you will be shot." . . . (full article)

War Doesn’t Stop for Christmas
by Tommy Ates

Three soldiers Tuesday. One yesterday. Two today. We have to remember that war doesn’t stop for Christmas. Even though Christians are celebrating the holiday season, more American soldiers are paying the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq. Though the military seems to be announcing more victories against Iraqi insurgents, more Americans are wondering why the United States choose to fight this conflict, when seemingly the very real threat of Al Qaeda is still at our doorstep. The war within Iraq is noticeably different than the “war on terror” promised by the Bush administration. No matter how the story is written, the result remains the same...
(full article)

Mad Cows and the Market
by Seth Sandronsky

The recent news of mad cow disease in the U.S. was first reported in the nation’s mass media as a business story. Such coverage led with the countries that had refused imports of American beef. Stories also detailed how these import restrictions sank the stock prices of some U.S. corporations. The business growth of certain fast food outlets and restaurants was at-risk. There are also unclear health risks to people. On that note, cows are moved to the America market from foreign markets without controls, then mixed in with other cows. As a result, slaughtered cows infected with the brain-destroying disease can show up in an unclear number of hamburger patties. What is clear is that no cure for MCD exists.
(full article)

A New Year of Immense Promise
by Dennis Rahkonen

Humanity's full potential can never be realized so long as international affairs are self-servingly, exploitatively dominated by conservative, false-Christian, capitalist, white males from Europe and America. The corporate interests in whose behalf those men fervently serve have no respect for our planet's people's needs or aspirations. Humankind is, in fact, an abusable means toward an expedient end for these entrenched World Rulers. . . (full article)

Acton Institute Attacks Health Care Without Harm: Environmentally Conscious Religious Leaders are 'In Danger of Being Captured' by Enviro Orgs., Conservative Public Policy Group Charges
by Bill Berkowitz

Health Care Without Harm is a Washington, DC-based environmental group that has taken more than its share of heat from the chemical industry over its campaigns against the use of mercury in medical equipment, the incineration of highly toxic medical waste and the use of pesticides, cleaners and disinfectants. In recent weeks, a conservative religious public policy group has attacked not only the organization, but also religious leaders that support the group's campaign against the use of PVC, or vinyl plastic -- the most widely used plastic in medical devices -- which Health Care Without Harm maintains is "harmful to patients, the environment and public health." . . . (full article)

Dreaming of an Imperial Christmas
by Kim Petersen

In her annual Christmas message Queen Elizabeth has broken with the very foundation upon which her royalty survives: tradition. The televised message was broadcast in documentary style and was, foremost, a paean to imperialism, a harkening back to the good, old days of British Empire. . . The queen’s Christmas message was directed at the many servicemen and women away from home. It certainly wasn’t directed at ordinary Britons, the majority of who opposed the war. It couldn’t have been the hundreds-of-thousands who caused cancellations in the Bush agenda during his unwelcome visit in late November. The self-same visit, according to the Sunday Mirror, left her highness in a tizzy because of the costly damage done to the royal gardens at Buckingham Palace by the Bush entourage. Never mind the dying and downtrodden Iraqis. Those plants were supposedly rare varieties having nomenclatural ties to the monarchy, and some were reputedly planted by the queen and her mother themselves. Now they have been trampled down and to add insult to injury the queen’s flamingoes are “traumatized.” . . .
(full article)



Crumblecake and Fish
by Adam Engel


Christmas. Crumblecake and Fish. At least that's what I thought they said, though on the table was roast beef, chocolate cake and various pastries,  none of them crumbly.  No crumblecake. No fish. RelativeShe and RelativeHe had watched a show about Crumblecake and Fish  on some mainstream news show. Crumblecake and Fish is a  company that specializes in clothing meant for white people, RelativeHe explained. "What white people," I asked.  "How can you specialize in clothing for white people and not yellow or brown people?" "Well, yeah," both RelativeHe and RelativeShe agreed – especially since  RelativeShe is not white at all, but yellow or Korean or whatever you want to call this arbitrary junk genetic distinction between human hues. . . (full article)

December 24-26

"Rifle Shots" and Nuclear Proliferation
by Mina Hamilton

The news hit the front page of the New York Times: "Inquiry Suggests Pakistanis Sold Nuclear Secrets." The article on December 22, 2003 details how the "father" of the Pakistani bomb passed along nuclear secrets to North Korea and Iran. Buried deep in the text is this key fact: The leak originated at a uranium enrichment company in the Netherlands called Urenco. An even more crucial detail missing from the New York Times? Urenco is destined to receive a fat subsidy from the US taxpayers via the Energy Bill that succumbed to a bi-partisan filibuster in November 2003. Don't be fooled. The bill will be back in just a few weeks - in early 2004. . . (full article)

We Don't Do Scandals
by Ahmed Amr

A gruesome crime of passion is once again the center stage of a mass media frenzy. What is it about the Lacey Peterson affair that impels FOX and CNN to devote so many resources to covering every minute aspect of a case so devoid of even a grain of mystery? Man kills pregnant wife to pave the path to his lover. Body found. Alibis don’t stand scrutiny. Looks like conviction is a sure thing. End of story. Next passion crime will be reported on page 11 of the Sunday edition of the Tallahassee Evening Dispatch. . . With so many Peterson angles to cover, they also manage to avoid probing certain topics.  As the media titans have morphed into a virtual shadow government, they have developed an unhealthy appetite for burying real news. O J Simpson and Tracey Peterson are just convenient funerary tools of the trade. . . Consider the recent scandals that the media titans ‘forgot’ to cover. . . (full article)

Wolfie Was Wildly Off the Mark
by Ahmed Amr

Isn’t government work wonderful? No matter how badly you perform, your paycheck from Uncle Sam never gets lost in the mail. Just a brief review of the prophecies of the neo-con priesthood reveals a record that would send any private sector employee to the front of the unemployment line. As Paul Wolfowitz would put it, the neo-con ‘experts’ are always wildly off the mark. If ever there was a Keystone Cops imitation act, this is it. . . (full article)

Semantics of Empire
by M. Shahid Alam

We might glean a few insights about the semantics of the global order – and the reality it tries to mask – from the way in which the United States has framed the moral case against Saddam. Saddam’s unspeakable crime is that he has “tortured his own people.” He has “killed his own people.” He has “gassed his own people.” He has “poison-gassed his own people.” In all the accusations, Saddam stands inseparable from his own people. Rarely do his accusers charge that Saddam “tortured people,” “gassed people,” “gassed Iraqis,” or “killed Iraqis.” . . . It would appear that the indictment of Saddam gathers power, conviction, irrefutability, by adding the possessive, proprietary, emphatic ‘own’ to the people tortured, gassed or killed. What does the grammar of accusations say about the metrics of American values?  (full article)

Iraq: Not About Oil?
by Josh Frank

United States relations with Russia may be spicing up for the holiday season. On Monday, December 22, Russian officials offered to forgive $8 billion of Iraq's debt if the country reinstituted the oil contracts Russia had during Saddam's evil reign. The old Soviet Republic surely knows that the $8 billion will be made up in a matter of years, as profits from rich Iraqi oil fields pump into the lifeline of Russia’s weak economy. Welcome back to the global market Iraq. . . (full article)

Sacred Rage: Exploring the Motivations Behind Terrorism
by Baruch Kimmerling

Since 9/11, terror has become one of the most fashionable issues on both the American and the international agenda, and almost every publisher has rushed to publish a book written by one of the instantly created "experts on terrorism." These "merchants of fear," together with other interested political actors--such as the current leaders of the United States and Israel--thus unwittingly play directly into the hands of the terrorists, whose main objective is less to kill than to sow anxiety and panic. Ironically, from this perspective, Al Qaeda and the US Administration, as well as the Israeli right and Hamas, have a common aim: namely, to increase fear in order to recruit and manipulate their own people against their respective "other." . . . (full article)

Capitulation to Empire: Canadian Government’s Looming Support
for Son of Star Wars
by Kim Petersen

In the mid-1980s Canadians granted a landslide electoral victory to the oxymoronically-labeled Progressive Conservative (Tory) Party led by Brian Mulroney. Mulroney’s victory was, arguably, more attributable to disgust with the previous Liberal government than about any fondness for the Tory platform. Nevertheless, it signaled the start of a hard slide to the right. As Linda McQuaig details in her book, The Quick and the Dead: Brian Mulroney, Big Business and the Seduction of Canada, the Mulroney years saw a tax transfer from the general public to corporate Canada and the evisceration of Canada’s hitherto much vaunted social system. Concomitant with his business-friendly government was the pursuit of friendly -- others would say obsequious -- ties with the US. . .  Serving as the fiscally conservative finance minister in the Chrétien cabinet was the man who is now Canada’s prime minister, Paul Martin. . .  Martin is so right of Mulroney that, unlike his rightist counterpart, it appears that he will lead Canada into collaboration on the Son of Star Wars, otherwise called the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) project. . . (full article)



A Time For Truth On Depleted Uranium
by Steven Rosenfeld


The health impacts of depleted uranium (DU) munitions on soldiers who served in the Iraq and the Persian Gulf Wars will be studied by Congress' General Accounting Office, according to two congressmen who have requested a new investigation into whether the Pentagon has ignored the medical consequences of the armaments. . . (full article)


December 22-23, 2003

Top Book Choices for the Holiday and New Year:
Give the Gift of Knowledge and Help Dissident Voice Too!
by Sunil Sharma and Dissident Voice Contributing Writers

Well it's that time again. You know, the time we're expected to be even more mindlessly consumeristic than the rest of the year. But if you can't avoid the holiday consumer impulse, why not give the greatest gift of all: the gift of knowledge and imagination . . . Books! I and some of Dissident Voice's contributing writers offer here our book recommendations for the holiday season and New Year. . . (full article)



Announcing the P.U.-Litzer Prizes for 2003
by Norman Solomon

The P.U.-litzer Prizes were established more than a decade ago to give recognition to the stinkiest media performances of the year. As usual, I have conferred with Jeff Cohen, founder of the media watch group FAIR, to sift through the large volume of entries. In view of the many deserving competitors, we regret that only a few can win a P.U.-litzer. And now, the twelfth annual P.U.-litzer Prizes, for the foulest media performances of 2003 . . . (full article)

The Politics of Crying Wolf
by Paul de Rooij

A review of The Politics of Anti-Semitism, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair (AK Press, 2003). T
here has been a concerted effort in the United States to block critical debate about what is happening in Israel-Palestine, and a pervasive last-ditch attempt to stifle criticism of Israel by smearing those who dare to raise their voices.  This book is a collection of articles dealing with the means that the insidious slur of "anti-Semitism" has been used for political ends. . .
(full article)

Fear Factor Orange: Mind and Behavior Control in America
by Manuel Valenzuela

Like a bad flu, Fear Factor Orange has returned, after its prerequisite six month absence, just in time to instill fear into our Christmas cheer. Thanks to Tom Ridge and his Department of Homeland Insecurity we must face yet another season under cover of orange gloom. It is the Fear Factor, the instrument used by this administration that conditions us all to the coming usurpation of rights, freedoms and democracy and the introduction of the police state. It is the tool by which Bush inculcates his perceived leadership into our delirious brains, thereby assuring himself of our unwillingness to abandon the President-hero, the fighter of all evil, our Crusading Commander. . . (full article)

Selective Memory and False Doctrine
by Noam Chomsky

All people who have any concern for human rights, justice and integrity should be overjoyed by the capture of Saddam Hussein, and should be awaiting a fair trial for him by an international tribunal. An indictment of Saddam's atrocities would include not only his slaughter and gassing of Kurds in 1988 but also, rather crucially, his massacre of the Shiite rebels who might have overthrown him in 1991. At the time, Washington and its allies held the "strikingly unanimous view (that) whatever the sins of the Iraqi leader, he offered the West and the region a better hope for his country's stability than did those who have suffered his repression" . . .
(full article)

Iraq's Phantom "Insurgents"
by Robert Fisk


Schoolboy Issam Naim Hamid is the latest of America's famous "insurgents". In Samarra -­ for which read Fantasyville -­ he was shot in the back as he tried to protect himself with his parents in his home in the Al-Jeheriya district of the ancient Abbasid city. . . (full article)


The Two Troublemakers
by Kathy Kelly

Last evening, in Amman, we met with Fadi Elayyan and Jihad Tahboub, two Palestinian young men who were imprisoned for two months, without charge, by US Occupying forces who seized them, in Baghdad, on April 10, 2003. They are trying to help four of their companions who are still held by the US military, presumably in a prison compound at Umm Qasr, in southern Iraq. . . (full article)

Arnold’s Attack on Working People and "Wal-Martization"
by Seth Sandronsky


California’s GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a plan to reduce the state’s budget deficit, estimated to be $38 billion through the next two years. He is cutting social spending for working people. This is a strategy that also helps big businesses such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., set to expand its presence in Southern California. . .
(full article)



One China
by Kim Petersen


Not so long ago New York Times writer Jane Perlez considered that a "more benign view of China by its neighbors has emerged in the last year." Indeed some consider that China is now upstaging the US on the world stage. Heather Wokusch describes how, at the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty conference in Vienna, "China came off as a responsible, upstanding world citizen and the US came off as a detached oaf." In Cancun, at the WTO Ministerial Meeting, China came out in solidarity with the developing world. . . (full article)



Rush to Judgment: The Wen Ho Lee-ing of Capt. James Yee

by Bill Berkowitz

Shortly after the news broke, conservative columnist Mona Charon called him a spy; Michelle Malkin said there's "something terribly wrong" when a "Muslim chaplain can preach freely among al Qaeda and Taliban enemy combatants"; John Leo opined that "Muslim terrorists or their sympathizers may have already figured out how to penetrate" the detention center; and Frank Gaffney warned that proselytizing by Islamists may "give rise to a clandestine Fifth Column activities in this country and a whole new front in the War on Terror." Getting caught in the heat of the media spotlight isn't always satisfying for entertainers, sports stars and politicians whose comings and goings and ups and downs are charted by the 24/7 news cycle, let alone regular folks whose lives can be irrevocably disrupted. . .
(full article)


An American Foreign Policy Fable
by Mickey Z.


In the December 21, 2003 edition of the New York (com)Post, there's word that the U.S. "had uncovered a plot to kidnap [Iraq's] provisional leaders in the hopes of trading them for Saddam Hussein." This got me thinking about an earlier plot to rescue a murderous despot who once enjoyed U.S. support ...and also got me wondering just who the U.S. is collaborating with these days. Commonly referred to by the German press as "Hitler's favorite commando," Otto "Scarface" Skorzeny was six feet, four inches tall and 220 pounds with, says Christopher Simpson, "appropriately arrogant 'Aryan' features and a five-inch dueling scar down his left cheek,." It was Skorzeny that Hitler called upon to execute the daring rescue of Benito Mussolini when the dictator's enemies in Italy placed him under house arrest in 1943. . . (full article)

Demolishing the Myths of the Israel-Palestine Conflict
by Paul de Rooij

Review of Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict by Norman G. Finkelstein (Verso Books, Revised Edition, 2003). Ideologies are curious human constructs and can sometimes best be described as prickly organisms.  However, Zionism is in a category all its own: it is a very thorny creature with hordes of apologists rushing forth as soon as one of its central tenets is challenged; these agents spin yet more mythologies to envelop and defend the host.  No ideology can survive acceptance by its adherents that its origins are less than noble or that it mandates behavior incompatible with contemporary norms.  Disguising Zionism's origins and ongoing reality requires frequent innovations in historical engineering - to whitewash both the steadily worsening violence against the indigenous people of the area and the sordid episodes of mass dispossession and mass killing that are being exposed as more and more state archives are opened to examination. Zionism is an exceptional ideology, not least because its heavy mythological baggage is carried by plenty of willing porters. . . (full article)

Hard-line U.S. Foreign Policy: Symbolic Gain, Real Pain
by Ivan Eland

Lately, the Bush administration and its neo-conservative supporters have been crowing about how President Bush’s hard-line foreign policy caused Muammar Qaddafi to end his unconventional (biological, chemical and nuclear) weapons programs and open them to international inspections. They have also been implying that the tough U.S. policy will continue to make bad regimes capitulate. But the gains from Qaddafi’s abandonment of such programs are mostly symbolic. In contrast, the president’s aggressive foreign policy has made the danger of a terrorist attack greater than at any time since the attacks on September 11, 2001. . . (full article)

Pray to Play: Bush's Faith-Based National Parks
by Jeffrey St. Clair

The view from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, smogged up as it is these days, still retains the power to prompt even the most secular of visitors into transcendentalist reveries as they cast theirs eyes toward Shiva's Temple and Wotan's Throne. Now tourists at the federal park in northern Arizona will be greeted with scriptural passages affixed to park signs to help interpret the religious experience of gazing into God's mighty chasm. . . (full article)

Was Willie Horton Gay? Will George W. Bush Be the
Hate-Homosexuals Candidate?

by Harvey Wasserman

Few Americans now remember that George W. Bush's father was elected president in 1988 in one of the most racist campaigns ever staged in the United States. Now W. seems poised to follow in those tainted footsteps. But the "issue" this time won't be race, it'll be gay marriage. . . (full article)

December 20-21


The Jewish Choice: Human Equality or Israel?
by Susan Abulhawa

I gave a talk on Thursday to a group of bright students from Council Rock South High School. Of course, it was about the Palestine/Israel conflict. I knew that most of the students were Jewish and likely to have strong opinions, but I was not prepared, initially at least, for an onslaught before I had presented less than five minutes of my talk. . . (full article)

Senator Max Baucus, Thanks
by Josh Frank

At the naïve age of eighteen, while still in high school, I had the pleasure of flying across the country to Washington D.C. for a weeklong youth workshop on leadership and democracy. I remember the teary excitement I had knowing I was about to meet both of my Montana senators. Back then I was a proud registered Democrat, having joined the Party only two months prior—the prospect of rubbing shoulders with a veteran of my Party was sure to be the highlight of the trip. The swank décor of the hallways on the Hill mesmerized me as I winded through the legislative chambers. The bright carpet and gorgeous young interns meandering around the foyers made me think that perhaps politics had its subtle rewards. My intrepid journey from wing to wing led me to the bustling office of Montana Senator Max Baucus. . . (full article)

Shifting the Blame: Now it’s Mr. Chirac’s Fault
by Kim Petersen

The New York Times is attempting to turn reality on its head. Mr. Bush claims removing Mr. Hussein from power was justified even without the recovery of any weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Mr. Bush still apparently clings to the hope that such weapons will turn up. Nonetheless, US weapons inspectors, with carte blanche to search as they please, have so far come up empty-handed. This despite pre-invasion claims that the US government knows Mr. Hussein has WMD and furthermore knows where he has them. . . The New York Times’ own purveyor of absurdity, Thomas Friedman, has been elevating Mr. Bush to legendary presidential status of late and so it was time to go into damage control. In this Mr. Friedman pushes the envelope of absurdity even farther. Following Mr. Bush’s discomfiting time on the not-so-hot seat with [ABC News'] Ms. Sawyer, it seemed like a good time to deflect the blame for the Iraqi debacle elsewhere. . . (full article)

The Fog of War on Terror: What Does the US Attacks on the PKK Portend for Kurds in Turkey and Iraq, and for Regional Stability?
by Sacha Guney

Not so long ago, before the recent carnage in Istanbul, Richard Holbrooke (Bill Clinton’s ambassador to the United Nations) spoke out in the media and called the Bush administration’s request for a Turkish troop deployment in Iraq a “diplomatic fiasco.” Holbrooke may be far from a post in any administration and no one actually may have been paying any attention to what he had to say, but still, one shouldn’t dismiss the accuracy of this statement. If anything, it serves to draw attention to developments in the region that could surely pass unnoticed. . . At about the same time Holbrooke was criticizing Bush’s failure to secure Turkish soldiers for duty in Iraq, Turkey’s foreign minister Abdullah Gul announced on November 10th that American military forces had “clashed” with the PKK in Northern Iraq. As news from the new Iraq goes, this was a very unusual statement. We’ve heard of leftovers from the Saddam regime, Baath party holdouts, ill-defined insurgents or resistance fighters, looters, and of course, the hordes of foreign fighters that the US military has been fighting in Iraq since May 1st; but what is the US military doing engaging the PKK? (full article)

Mass Murderers and Double Standards of Justice
by Joseph Nevins

President Bush's promise that Saddam Hussein "will face the justice he denied to millions" took on a special meaning when I first read his words announcing the deposed Iraqi president's capture. I had just completed a friend's book manuscript on the events preceding the bloody seizure of power in Indonesia by General Suharto, a man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands. But unlike in the case of Hussein, Washington has no desire that Suharto and his accomplices be held accountable for their crimes. The reasons why, and the fact that the United States is in position to realize its desires, painfully illustrate the poverty and hypocrisy of international justice in practice. . . (full article)

Black is Indeed Beautiful: An Interview with Ernest Crichlow

by Adam Engel

Ernest Crichlow was born June 19, 1914, in Brooklyn, New York. He has been associated with many other artists, during his long, distinguished career including Charles Alston, Romare Beardon, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, and Charles White. He has taught and exhibited in many institutions, but has spent much of his life painting and teaching in Brooklyn, where he is considered a regional treasure. Also, he's one of the great American painters of the 20th Century... (full interview)

Jose Padilla: A Constitutional Challenge for Us All
by Brigid O'Neil

In a landmark victory for constitutional protections and the separation of powers in the post-9/11 era, a panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 2-1 ruling barring the president from declaring a U.S. citizen an “enemy combatant” without congressional authorization. In a decision likely to influence another case on enemy combatants before the Supreme Court case, the federal appeals court ordered the government to release U.S. citizen Jose Padilla from military custody in thirty days, with the option of transferring Padilla to civilian authorities for a criminal trial. The ruling marks a growing judicial backlash against unfettered presidential authority during a period of war. . . (full article)

Risky Business
by Naomi Klein

It's 8:40 am and the Sheraton Hotel ballroom thunders with the sound of plastic explosives pounding against metal. No, this is not the Sheraton in Baghdad, it's the one in Arlington, Virginia. And it's not a real terrorist attack, it's a hypothetical one. The screen at the front of the room is playing an advertisement for "bomb resistant waste receptacles": This trash can is so strong, we're told, it can contain a C4 blast. And its manufacturer is convinced that given half a chance, these babies would sell like hotcakes in Baghdad--at bus stations, Army barracks and, yes, upscale hotels. Available in Hunter Green, Fortuneberry Purple and Windswept Copper. This is ReBuilding Iraq 2, a gathering of 400 businesspeople itching to get a piece of the Iraqi reconstruction action. . . (full article)

The Evisceration of Democracy: The Corporate Leviathan and
the Emergence of the Fascist State

by Manuel Valenzuela

From California to Maine, the United States is teeming with good, decent and talented Americans whose potential is as unlimited as the vast expanse of the universe. Of all creeds, colors, ethnicities and religions, those lucky enough to call this great land home find themselves living in the wealthiest nation the world has ever seen. Through our hard work we can afford to live in expensive and monotonous cookie-cutter-loss-of-individuality homes made of plywood cut down from once-pristine forests in Brazil, Africa or Indonesia. We can afford two mammoth-sized gas-guzzling tank-SUVs thirsty for Latin American or Middle East oil. Merrily this holiday season we purchase and consume numerous durable and non-durable products made by developing nations’ low-wage slave labor we support through our extravagant demand. And, of course, we eagerly devour the abundance of mercury and pesticide-laced, preservative-filled, hormone-induced, chemically injected, fat and sugar covered, artificially flavored foods, products, fruits and vegetables that we see at grocery stores and restaurants that are humbly provided to us by, who else, corporations. . . (full article)

December 18-19

No More Mr. Nice Guy: Bush Gets Serious About Killing Iraqis
by Kurt Nimmo

When Robert Dreyfuss of the American Prospect asked an unspecified Bush neocon "strategist" how best to deal with the resistance in Iraq, the response he received was chilling, "It's time for 'no more Mr. Nice Guy.' All those people shouting, 'Down with America!' and dancing in the street when Americans are attacked? We have to kill them." . . . (full article)

British Intelligence Leaker Facing Prison Time For Exposing
U.S.-UN Surveillance Scandal
by Amy Goodman and Democracy Now!

Former British intelligence employee Katharine Gun is facing up to two years in prison for violating the Official Secrets Act when she disclosed a top-secret NSA memo in March outlining a U.S. surveillance operation directed at UN Security Council members ahead of the vote on Iraq. In the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, the British newspaper The Observer exposed a highly secret and aggressive surveillance operation directed at United Nations Security Council members by the U.S. ahead of the vote on Iraq. . . (full article, with info on how to help

Above the Law: How John Ashcroft Violated a Major Law and
Ended Up with a Wrist Slap

by Bonnie Tenneriello

Documents just released by the Federal Election Commission show that Attorney General John Ashcroft engaged in serious campaign finance violations during his 2000 Senate campaign. Ashcroft participated in a patently phony deal that allowed a political action committee he founded and controlled to transfer a highly valuable mailing list to his campaign committee. The donation of the list—which cost more than $1.7 million to create—flaunts campaign contribution limits. Yet a divided FEC just winked at the arrangement, slapped the committees with a small penalty, and let Ashcroft himself off scot-free. . . (full article)

A Cynic's Guide to the Top Stories of 2003
by Peter Kurth

As I sat down to write this review, I couldn’t decide which was the most important story of 2003 – the Bush administration’s illegal war against Iraq or the new charges of child-molestation against Michael Jackson. It was a toss-up, since each of them got the same amount of coverage in the press. . . (full article)

Seizing Saddam, Deregulating Americans
by Seth Sandronsky

In America’s big media, the seizure of Saddam Hussein has been spun in step with the Bush White House as a kind of domestic proof for the war on terror, and Iraq invasion and occupation. This official spin has had a large effect on the people of America, a recent NY Times/CBS News Poll found. “Mr. Bush's approval rating jumped to 58 percent after Mr. Hussein was captured, from 52 percent, and the number of Americans who disapproved of his performance fell to 33 percent, from 40 percent,” the NY Times of Dec. 17 reported. Clearly, the absence of anti-war news and views in the corporate communication system has roused some Americans to accept as legitimate the official version of U.S. foreign policy. . .
(full article)

Let Them Eat Ideology
by Naomi Klein

It was just what the spin doctors ordered: good clean images of Saddam Hussein nice and dirty, a triumphant end to a diplomatically disastrous week. In the days leading up to the capture, the White House found itself under fire from all sides — not just from its usual critics, but even from its most loyal cheerleaders in Washington’s neo-conservative think tanks. The charge? Grand Hypocrisy. . .
(full article)

The Tyrant with a Thousand Faces
by David Edwards and Media Lens

Reviewing the rise and fall of Saddam Hussein on the day of his capture by American troops, ITN’s Trevor Macdonald described yet again the gassing of civilians at Halabja in March 1988: “It was an atrocity met by a stony silence from the West who at that stage regarded the Iraqi president as a much needed ally in the Middle East.” (ITN News Special, December 14, 2003) In fact the British government’s view of the atrocity was expressed loud and clear in its doubling of export credits to Baghdad, which rose from £175 million in 1987 to £340 million in 1988. A UK Department of Trade and Industry press release of November 1988 described how “this substantial increase reflects the confidence of the British government in the long term strength of the Iraqi economy and the opportunities for an increased level of trade between our two countries following the ceasefire in the Gulf War”. . . Soon after Halabja, the US approved the export of virus cultures and a $1 billion contract to design and build a petrochemical plant that the Iraqis planned to use to produce mustard gas. Profits were the bottom line. Indeed “so powerful was the grip of the pro-Baghdad lobby on the administration of Republican President Ronald Reagan”, Dilip Hiro notes in the Observer, “that it got the White House to foil the Senate's attempt to penalize Iraq for its violation of the Geneva Protocol on Chemical Weapons to which it was a signatory”... (full article)

Father Bill O'Donnell, 1930-2003
Longtime Berkeley Priest; Dedicated Fighter for Peace, Social Justice, the Poor and the Oppressed
by Bill Berkowitz

On Monday, December 8, Father Bill O'Donnell, the longtime pastor at St. Joseph the Worker Church in Berkeley, California, died at his desk while preparing his homily for the upcoming Sunday service. Father Bill O'Donnell's life was devoted to "speaking truth to power" and he did it with a sparkle in his eye and a smile on his face. Father Bill, as he was known to the many thousands of people whose lives he touched and influenced, was an activist priest. He not only spoke out about human rights, peace and justice, solidarity with working men and women and service to the poor, but he continuously put his body on the line in support of these issues. . . (full article)

I Stand With Dick Cheney
by Marty Jezer

George Bush was rattling the right wing’s weapon of mass destruction the other day. It’s a biological weapon aimed at the Democrats and it’s called “gay marriage.” In an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, Mr. Bush said that he would support “whatever legal arrangements people want to make, they’re allowed to make, so long as it’s embraced by the state or at the state level.” Then, contradicting himself in order to appease core Republicans, he endorsed a constitutional amendment “which would honor marriage between a man and a woman.” In other words, gay marriage is an issue for the states to decide. But just in case they decide to allow gay marriage, he’d endorse a constitutional amendment to make it illegal. . . (full article)

December 16-17, 2003

The Battle for Life Itself: Review of Jeffrey St. Clair's Been Brown So Long It Looked Green to Me
by Standard Schaefer

A review of CounterPunch co-editor Jeff St. Clair's incredible new book on the bipartisan and corporate plunder of the environment, the degraded politics of the mainstream environmental movement, and the heroic battles on the ground to stop the pillaging you never hear about. . . (full article)

Iraq: Saddam as a Footnote
by Derek Seidman

For all intents and purposes, this weekend’s capturing of Saddam Hussein brought to an end a long and complicated relationship between the United States and the deposed leader, one ranging from conscious support for Hussein’s atrocities to a determined effort towards his removal as a barrier to US imperial ambitions. Yet behind all the sensationalism of the capture, this weekend also marked the end of a roughly two week period where several events occurred that further confirmed the true nature and dynamics of the current mission in Iraq. . . (full article)

The Democrats and Saddam: Spiteful, Dazed and Confused
by Josh Frank

Howard Dean like most Democrats has plenty of faults. From his ugly death penalty posture to his Israel fetish, Dean is surely far from ideal. But the governor's latest comments regarding the US capture of the bearded Saddam have been right on the mark. . . (full article)

"We Got Him"
by Felicity Arbuthnot

Adding to an endless list of imbecilic comments ( 'you're either with us, or with the terrorists', 'wanted dead or alive', 'bring 'em on ..' the latter, George W. Bush from the safety of Washington, effectively saying that young troops were delighted to die for Bechtel, Halliburton, Carlisle, oil, and Bush and his pals other interests, no matter how uninformed policies escalated increased resistance) we now have Viceroy Bremer (resplendent in suit and desert boots, who cowers in a fortified palace virtually twenty-four hours a day) adding to the list. 'We got him', he announced of the capture of Saddam Hussein. The subsequent baying of the US troops was reminiscent of wild west lynch mobs, when 'wanted dead or alive' posters were nailed to trees. The whoopings, bayings and facile comment flashed repeatedly round the globe, unfairly reinforcing for much of it, the impression that Americans are crass, simplistic, murderous, cowboys. Further, that Bremer, the US top terrorist 'Czar', should adopt and trigger such triumphalism, further humiliating the entire Islamic world, already largely explosive as a result of the Iraq invasion, is an act of near madness. . . (full article)

"Rat in a Hole" Obscures Reality: Democracy as a Conjuring Trick
by Jerre Skog

The capture of Saddam Hussein is a perfect illustration of the way relatively unimportant events are turned into seemingly spectacular public stunts attracting very wide attention and obscuring relevant facts in other areas. The way an illusionist might use a cascade of colourful scarves or flowers to draw attention away from his last mistake. But Saddam's importance is long gone and there is no reasonable proportion between the inflated media interest and the real significance of the capture. . . (full article)

After Saddam's Capture, War's Hard Truths Remain
by Rahul Mahajan and Robert Jensen

Saddam Hussein's capture and the hope he will be held accountable for crimes against the people of Iraq and neighboring states is welcome news, no matter what one's position on the U.S. invasion of Iraq. But this doesn't vindicate the U.S. invasion. It doesn't change the fact that the administration lied about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction or that Iraq is undergoing occupation, not liberation.
(full article)

Mad Dow Disease: Living Poisoned Daily
by Ra Ravishankar

What's common to Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein and Union Carbide? They all gassed humans. The first two acquired well deserved notoriety and have been brought to justice, but in yet another instance of corporate malfeasance going unpunished, the Union Carbide company (acquired by Dow Chemicals in 2001) has so far escaped unscathed. . . (full article)

Uncle Sam’s Guantanamo Prison: Outside the Rule of Law
by Brigid O'Neil

The latest news from Guantanamo Bay is beginning to sound like a modern-day Simpsons episode. After two years of imprisoning more than 600 alleged enemy combatants without charge or counsel in a Cuban prison camp, the Administration announced earlier this month that two detainees -- one a U.S. citizen -- would be permitted limited access to an attorney. As any Simpsons buff will tell you, it’s a classic Mr. Burns move: put on a show of improving work conditions at the nuclear power plant by dressing Homer in thermal underwear. While it might be an amusing tag line typical of the most noxious character in the Simpsons repertoire, it’s a sad metaphor for the U.S. government’s abysmal treatment of designated enemy combatants. . . (full article)

NIST Ignores Scientific Method for Voting Technology
by Lynn Landes

The conference was crawling with scientists. But, the scientific method was a no-show at last week's First NIST (National Institute for Science and Technology) Symposium on Building Trust and Confidence in Voting Systems in Gaithersburg, Maryland last week. There was no apparent interest in addressing a fundamental question: After 115 years of Americans using voting machines, are any of these contraptions (with or without paper printers) better, worse, or as good as hand-counted paper ballots for accuracy, usability, and vulnerability?
(full article)

David, Ralph, Cynthia and the 2004 Elections
by Ted Glick

For months I've been thinking about who I'm going to support for President. For me, it's not between Kucinich, Sharpton, Dean, Gephardt or another Democrat. It's between David Cobb, Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney, all possible Green Party Presidential candidates. . . (full article)

The Enemy Within: The NeoCon Hijacking of America
by Manuel Valenzuela

Deep in the halls of Washington a putrid wind of sweeping ideology festers, swirling like a hurricane from the Atlantic seaboard, becoming a tornado in the frozen tundras of the Midwest, an impenetrable and monstrous fire wall consuming vast tracts of open expanse in the West and a sweltering drought drying up the nation’s future. This phenomenon has engendered itself onto an American landscape that remains oblivious as to its dark and ominous designs for the country and the world. . . (full article)

It's Time to Overrule the Supreme Court
by Jeff Milchen

I’m two states removed from California, and I don’t know who I’d have supported in San Francisco’s recent runoff election for mayor. But I know this: democracy lost. . . (full article)

December 15, 2003

Challenging the Justification of Killing
by Kim Petersen

Information Clearing House has a video clip from a CNN Presents segment entitled "Fit To Kill." The video clip features the slaying of a wounded Iraqi lying prostrate on the ground "next to his gun." It is hard to discern any weapon near the man in the video; nevertheless, he was incapacitated and the marines kept firing at him. Next a bullet rips into the doomed man's body; it heaves one final time; the neck snaps back and flips forward, and his body slumps deathly limp. Whoops of merriment are plainly audible from the killers. It used to be that morality decreed that one should "never hit a man when he's down." The inescapable conclusion is either that this morality is no longer in effect or that these killers are behaving immorally. The killer of the wounded Iraqi is Sergeant Anthony Riddle. Interviewed by CNN correspondent Candy Crowley afterward, Mr. Riddle comes across as giddy. Whether this is due to nerves or not is difficult to distinguish. His words, however, ring falsely of bravado: "Like, man, you guys are dead now, you know. But it was a good feeling." . . . (full article)

Saddam's Capture Will Not Stop the Relentless Killings From Insurgents
by Robert Fisk in Baghdad

"Peace" and "reconciliation" were the patois of Downing Street and the White House yesterday. But all those hopes of a collapse of resistance are doomed. Saddam was neither the spiritual nor the political guide to the insurgency that is now claiming so many lives in Iraq - far more Iraqi than Western lives, one might add - and, however happy Messrs Bush and Blair may be at the capture of Saddam, the war goes on. . . (full article)

Future Uncertain as Saddam Unearthed
by Jim Lobe

US President George W. Bush celebrated a second victory in Iraq here Sunday with confirmation that occupation forces had captured fugitive former president Saddam Hussein on Saturday evening at a farmhouse outside Tikrit. But even the normally cocky U.S. commander-in-chief, who addressed the nation by television from the White House, stressed that the former Iraqi dictator's arrest will not mean a quick end to the occupation's armed resistance. . . (full article)

I Blame God
by Barbara Sumner Burstyn

Now I know I can be a little neurotic. We've been in Salt Lake City for six weeks and after the first week the shortness of breath did not go away. Finally I sought medical advice. We quickly ruled out all the usual reasons, before the helpful medic suggested I might be imagining it. I gave him a scornful look and went for a drive. Less than a mile from the city centre I drove past an oil refinery, then another and another. In total there are five oil refineries close to Salt Lake City, each one pumping virginal white plumes that turn tobacco-coloured as they smother the mountains that ring this city. Then it occurred to me. It was the pollution that was taking my breath away. It turns out that Salt Lake City, set against some of the most spectacular mountains you'll ever see, is one of the most polluted places in America. . . (full article)

Smoking Gun: Former British Intel Employee Faces Imprisonment
for Exposing American Spying on UN Diplomats

by Norman Solomon

Few Americans have heard of Katharine Gun, a former British intelligence employee facing charges that she violated the Official Secrets Act. So far, the American press has ignored her. But the case raises profound questions about democracy and the public's right to know on both sides of the Atlantic. Ms. Gun's legal peril began in Britain on March 2, when The Observer newspaper exposed a highly secret memorandum by a top U.S. National Security Agency official. Dated Jan. 31, the memo outlined surveillance of a half-dozen delegations with swing votes on the U.N. Security Council, noting a focus on "the whole gamut of information that could give U.S. policy-makers an edge in obtaining results favorable to U.S. goals" - support for war on Iraq. . . (full article)

Pretty Damned Evil: An Interview with Edward S. Herman
by Adam Engel

Adam Engel interviews Edward S. Herman, Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a contributor to Z Magazine. He is the author of numerous books including, The Global Media: The New Missionaries of Global Capitalism with Robert McChesney (Cassell, 1997), Triumph of the Market: Essays on Economics, Politics, and the Media (South End Press, 1995), and the recently re-issued Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media co-authored by Noam Chomsky (South End Press, 2002). They discuss the electoral system, the media, and more. . . (full article)

Jessica Lynch Captures Saddam: Ex-Dictator Demands
Back Pay From Baker
by Greg Palast

Former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein was taken into custody Saturday at 8:30p.m. Baghdad time. Various television executives, White House spin doctors and propaganda experts at the Pentagon are at this time wrestling with the question of whether to claim PFC Jessica Lynch seized the ex-potentate or that Saddam surrendered after close hand-to-hand combat with current Iraqi strongman Paul Bremer III. Ex-President Hussein himself told US military interrogators that he had surfaced after hearing of the appointment of his long-time associate James Baker III to settle Iraq's debts. "Hey, my homeboy Jim owes me big time," Mr. Hussein stated. He asserted that Baker and the prior Bush regime, "owe me my back pay. After all I did for these guys you'd think they'd have the decency to pay up." . . . (full article)

The Walls that Divide Us
by Manuel Valenzuela

Wall fortifications have historically been erected to protect the populace of a city or region from marauding and conquering aggressors. These monoliths of defense, protection and survival are as old as our civilization, a part of the human condition that lives on regardless of time, place and technology. Built, destroyed and rebuilt again, these man made creations evolved along with man. . . .The history of mankind has been marked by perpetual war, perpetual violence. It is a symptom of our disease; our animal urge for power, territory and control, our unyielding appetite for the shedding of human blood and the usurpation of wealth and land. Walls are but testament to our fear of each other. . . (full article)

Opening Statements: The Map is Not the Territory
by Jeffrey St. Clair

(An excerpt from Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: The Politics of Nature, Common Courage Press, 2003) Our house sits on the rim of a canyon sheathed in Douglas-fir. The creek down below is roaring this time of year. Chinook salmon still climb its torrents. Spawn and die. We find their carcasses, picked over by ravens. There are fewer dead salmon every year. This is not a good sign. Osprey twist in the air on bent wings nearly every morning, cruising over the creek bed for live fish. Year after year they rear new broods in the craggy top of a broken hemlock, the nest an inverted igloo of found material-a model of organic architecture. The creek flows into the mighty Clackamas River a couple of miles away. At the confluence is an old mill site. The ground is saturated in creosote and PCBs, leaching remorselessly into the water, the flesh of salmon, the blood of osprey. At least one cougar still prowls the canyon. Some nights we awaken to its eerie moaning. Dogs have gone missing. Big ones. But we hear the cat less often now. The city advances, glowing with light. The canyon is an island eroded by sprawl. . . (full article)

The Pentagon Invades Your Xbox: New and Powerful Form of Propaganda Aims to Indoctrinate Young Video Gamers
by Nick Turse

NEW YORK — In 1998, the band Rage Against the Machine decried "the thin line between entertainment and war." Today, even that thin line is in danger of vanishing. In a new twist on President Eisenhower's concept of a "military-industrial complex," a "military-entertainment complex" has sprung up to feed both the military's desire for high-tech training techniques and the entertainment industry's desire to bring out ever-more-realistic computer and video combat games. Through video games, the military and its partners in academia and the entertainment industry are creating an arm of media culture geared toward preparing young Americans for armed conflict. . . (full article)

New Labor Spirit Stirs In California Grocers
by Mark Harris

The more than 70,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers on strike against four supermarket chains in central and southern California are fighting for more than a fair and decent contract. They are fighting for more even than preserving the health benefits they’ve enjoyed for years. The strike against Safeway-owned Vons and Pavilions stores, which prompted an immediate employer lockout of workers at Kroger-owned Ralph’s and Albertsons stores, is quite simply about the future of work in the United States. It’s about whether the civilized notion that if you work for a living, you ought to be able to have a decent existence has any real meaning in today’s economy. . . (full article)

A Christmas Caring
by Michael Arvey

This December 2003, as Americans wrap presents with a coloratura of ribbons, carol through wintry neighborhoods bejeweled by lights, listen enraptured to Handel's ageless Messiah or attend a performance of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, Iraqis on the other side of the world watch U.S. infantrymen wrap their homes and villages in barbed wire, listen to the roar of destruction, and dodge and hide from democracy's crackling munitions, its ever-recurring hard-on for violence and its plundering for swag--how often have we witnessed this stage play? He who has land or oil has war (as this old saying goes, with a slight revision)... (full article)

Sacramento City Council Finalizes Adoption of Living Wage Ordinance
by Dan Bacher

The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday night gave its final approval to a living wage resolution, the result of a 4-1/2 year campaign by a broad coalition of labor, community and religious organizations. The resolution’s final draft provides for a “living wage” of $9.00 per hour with benefits or $10.50 per hour without benefits. Living wage advocates had pushed for $10.00 per hour with benefits and $12.84 without benefits. . . (full article)

December 13-14, 2003

The Same Old Racket in Iraq: Bush's Colonialism
Will Only Deepen Resistance
by Tariq Ali

Iraq remains a country of unbearable suffering, the sort that only soldiers and administrators acting on behalf of states and governments are capable of inflicting on their fellow humans. It is the first country where we can begin to study the impact of a 21st-century colonization. This takes place in an international context of globalization and neo-liberal hegemony. If the economy at home is determined by the primacy of consumption, speculation as the main hub of economic activity and no inviolate domains of public provision, only a crazed utopian could imagine that a colonized Iraq would be any different. . . (full article)

Halliburton and Timber: Dean Tidbits
by Josh Frank

The Pentagon has finally weighed in; Halliburton may have overcharged the US government $61 million dollars in gasoline from Iraq. At this point it’s not a matter of whether or not Halliburton gouged our wallets, it’s a matter of “how much” they ripped us off. And Dick Cheney’s old comrades aren’t the only greedy capitalists hoping to profit from the Iraq calamity. Thankfully, the Pentagon has caught onto Kellogg, Brown and Root’s latest scheme, and smashed it. The crooks would have overcharged US taxpayers $67 million dollars for cafeteria services in Iraq. Bush’s reaction? Only we can profit from this war! Of course our allies can reap the benefits of the smoldering battlefield as well. But France, Germany, Canada and Russia? Forget about it. Well how have the Democrats reacted to all this?
(full article)

Arial Sharon and the "Security Fence"
by Regan Boychuk

Since the Bush Administration dropped its opposition to Israel's construction of a series of barriers in the occupied West Bank, there is little left standing in the way of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally imposing his long-held vision of the two-state solution. In fact, what the Israeli government euphemistically refers to as a “security fence” fits perfectly with Sharon's conception of a Palestinian "state." . . .(full article)

In US, Jobs Market Blues
by Seth Sandronsky

Officially, job creation and economic growth are goals of the Bush White House. That might be news for many ordinary Americans of all ages and skin colors. Their daily experiences with the economy are largely absent in mass media... (full article)

Turkey Day Triumph or Wagging the Bird? Bush's Bump in the Polls from Baghdad Trip Can't Veil Rising US Casualties, Shot-Up Iraqi Civilians, and a Muddled Occupation
by Bill Berkowitz

Ever on the alert for photo-ops and re-election footage, Team Bush put the president on Air Force One and snuck him into Iraq to visit the troops at their base at the Baghdad International Airport on Thanksgiving Day. Displaying good humor, the president, like some modern-day Wizard of Oz, emerged from behind camouflage netting dressed in an Army workout jacket. He served up a few meals, ladled out some war-against-terrorism-rhetoric as thick as gravy, and took off for home. . . Alternet's David Livingstone claimed, "It was a propaganda coup of the first order, replete with adoring camera angles and wildly cheering multitudes, all conducted under a shroud of Stalinist press secrecy. Indeed, the administration and its media admirers seem to regard its very deceit of the public and the press a point of pride." . . . (full article)

The Geneva Accord: A Seriously Flawed Plan
by Phyllis Bennis

The "Geneva Accord" drafted and signed by Palestinian and Israeli negotiators acting in their private capacity has received extensive international attention. The Accord is apparently based on earlier discussions begun during the Taba talks of January 2000 that followed the failed Camp David summit; Taba broke down without an agreement when Bill Clinton was replaced by George Bush and when Labor's Ehud Barak by Likud's Ariel Sharon. Official Palestinian-Israeli talks have been largely non-existent during the years since. There are some positive features in the Geneva Accord missing from earlier "peace processes" including the Madrid, Oslo and Camp David approaches. . . However, the overall plan is seriously undermined by its failure to recognize military occupation as the fundamental cause of the conflict. And further, when evaluated from the vantage point of a commitment to human rights and international law as the necessary foundations for a just and comprehensive peace, the Accord is seriously flawed, and holds within it dangerous inadequacies. . . (full article)

The Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part 4 of 22
Annan and the Vocabulary of Deception
by B.J. Sabri

We ended part three by alleging that Annan is guilty of simplistic treatment of serious matters such as terrorism, genocide, and WMD. If this is true, how can we then corroborate such an audacious allegation against the secretary? (full article)

ABC Banishes Dennis Kucinich
by Al Giordano

ABC NEWS PULLS REPORTER OFF KUCINICH CAMPAIGN. That's the headline on a press release from the campaign of Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich on Wednesday: "The day after Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich took ABC debate moderator Ted Koppel to task for avoiding questions that would be useful to voters in favor of questions about endorsements, money, and polls, ABC pulled its fulltime "embedded" reporter from the Kucinich campaign, a reporter who had been given no warning that such a move was coming and who had discussed at length yesterday with the Kucinich campaign staff her plans and her needs for the coming months... This action by ABC, as well as Koppel's comments during the debate, can only serve to disempower Americans, communicating to them that someone other than they is deciding elections and that their votes don't mean much. This action also seems to conflict with the network's interest in boosting ratings and Koppel's expressed interest in making the debate exciting, given that Kucinich received the loudest applause of the evening..." Folks, this is serious. ABC -- a Commercial Media organization, that lives thanks to the First Amendment, and occupies airwaves that belong to you and me -- is trying to chill speech with this maneuver. . . (full article)



Kucinich Moves to 2nd Place in Alexa Candidate Website Activity
Rankings and California Democratic Council Vote
by Rob Kall


The same internet statistics that predicted within less than one percentage point the percentage Howard Dean won the the internet primary by shows Dennis Kucinich ahead of all the candidates except Howard Dean, who holds a strong lead on Kucinich as well. And in the California Democratic Council (CDC) Vote, Howard Dean took a commanding first place with 56.11 percent of the vote with Dennis Kucinich placing second with 17.19 percent and Wesley Clark with 14.48 percent. . . (full article)



Invasion of the Entryists
by George Monbiot


One of strangest aspects of modern politics is the dominance of former left-wingers who have swung to the right. The "neo-cons" pretty well run the White House and the Pentagon, the Labour party and key departments of the British government. But there is a group which has traveled even further, from the most distant fringes of the left to the extremities of the pro-corporate libertarian right. While its politics have swung around 180 degrees, its tactics - entering organizations and taking them over - appear unchanged. Research published for the first time today suggests that the members of this group have colonized a crucial section of the British establishment. . . (full article)

December 11-12, 2003

Breakthrough and Peril for the Green Party
by Norman Solomon

SAN FRANCISCO -- Up against the campaign of a wealthy businessman who outspent him nearly 10-to-1, a strong progressive candidate nearly won the runoff election last Tuesday to become this city’s mayor. Some national news stories depicted the strong showing for Matt Gonzalez as a big surprise. But it shouldn’t perplex anyone when vigorous grassroots organizing combines with a sound strategy to get breakthrough results. . . (full article)

The Sovereignty Shell Game: US Pretends to "Hand Over Power"
to the Iraqis
by Milan Rai

On November 16, the Washington Post hailed "a radical new plan for [Iraq’s] political transition that would end the U.S.-led occupation by July 1 and could facilitate a significant withdrawal of U.S. troops next year." In a "major revision" of US policy, "the new plan authorizes the creation of a provisional national assembly that would assume sovereignty and serve as Iraq’s interim government until a constitution is written and elections are held." Previously, the US had demanded that a constitution be drafted and elections held before a transfer of power, "a process that could have stretched into 2005." But "sovereignty" is not being transferred. The "radical new plan" is merely a change in the method of US domination. . . (full article)

Iraq Close to Civil War, Warn Iraqis

by Firas Al-Araqchi


Iraqi intellectuals living both inside Iraq and as members of the expatriate community in Europe and North America are warning that Iraq is perilously close to a civil war in light of recent events and decrees issued by both the US Civilian Provisional Authority (CPA) and the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC). . . (full article)



The Splendid Failure of Occupation: Part 3 of 22
Annan, the UN, and Other Stories
by B.J. Sabri


Having summarily pointed to the U.S. war on Iraq from understanding how Zionism formed a political state on Arab soil, we have to relate it to the current Iraqi situation inside the U.N. system where Israel rules unchallenged through its control of the United States, which is controlling the United Nations. However, other external sources allow Israel to pursue its agenda inside the U.N. undisturbed. . . (full article)


Terror in the Mirror: Denial, Projection, and the Israeli–Arab War
by James Brooks

To most Americans, terror is emblematic of the Israeli-Arab conflict. But what is “terror” to us? Following 9/11, we heard that Americans finally knew what terror meant to places like Israel. It was not acceptable to suggest that we finally knew what terror meant to places like Guatemala, or Iran, or Vietnam, or Chile, or Palestine, or dozens of other places where civilians have been terrorized by our military and intelligence, or by US-backed regimes using our training and equipment. Terrorism is a reprehensible war crime because it targets civilians. Not because it is ‘stateless’, not because people sometimes kill themselves in the act, but because it targets civilians. . . (full article)

Holiday Spirit at the UN
by Mickey Z.

While this is allegedly the time of year when humans allegedly show more kindness, you can always count on god's country and the Holy Land to keep things in cynical perspective. Over the past 25 years, the United States and Israel have a UN voting record in the month of December that effectively demonstrates their political philosophies and firmly establishes them as the two most hypocritical nations on the planet. . . (full article)


Observe Right to Unionize by Making it Reality
by Pat Youngblood and Robert Jensen

Fifty-five years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights set forth basic standards for what many hoped would be a new world emerging from the devastation of World War II and the horrors of colonialism. Among the rights articulated in that document is, "to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests." This was in line with U.S. law; the 1935 National Labor Relations Act declared it the nation's policy to encourage "the practice and procedure of collective bargaining" and protect "the exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection." Unfortunately, the principle on the books is not the typical workplace reality in the United States today. . . (full article)

The Stupefication of a Nation
Corporate Media Propaganda and its Weapons of Mass Distraction
by Manuel Valenzuela

Propaganda in this nation has never been more incessant than today. From the hundreds of lies, misrepresentations and deceits being told to us by both government and corporate media about battles, deaths, injuries, the resistance, security and the deteriorating state of the occupation of our quagmire in Iraq to the distortions and chicanery the Bush administration seemingly launches at us in wave after wave of lies to the purposeful distortion and omission by corporate media of the corrupt going-ons of the embarrassment and scandal that is the bordello called Congress, propaganda, it seems, has never been used so systematically and methodically. While the corporate Leviathan launches war against us its media merrily downplays or ignores its truth or consequences or our daily lives. With the growing power of the Leviathan becoming ever stronger, in essence becoming our government, we are witnessing propaganda, conditioning and manipulation on a scale never seen before. Our nation is being devastated by both government and business propaganda. As a result, we are being made brainless puppets attached to the willful strings of the powerful elite. What follows is an examination of this growing phenomenon and how it is affecting us all, our democracy and the direction this nation is headed in. . . (full article)

Winning Over Arabs Using Israeli Tactics
by Ivan Eland

The Bush administration’s recent “get tough” approach to the chaos in Iraq is predictable and will likely make things worse there in the long-term. With few good options left in Iraq -- few foreign countries will send troops to help with the American occupation, inserting more U.S. forces is politically unacceptable, and the newly created Iraqi security forces resemble the keystone cops -- the Bush administration’s escalation of the violence, in an attempt to quell the Iraqi insurgency before next year’s election, comes as no surprise. But such escalation will kill, wound or anger even more Iraqi civilians and thus make long-term stability in Iraq even more unlikely. . . (full article)

December 9-10, 2003

Newt Gingrich: Growing the Dictatorship in Iraq
by Kurt Nimmo

Yes, things are going haywire in Iraq -- but we can fix the problem, or so says one of the top slot neocons, Newt Gingrich. See, according to Newt, the problem is Bush didn't install an Iraqi dictator immediately after the invasion. Instead he sent over Paul Bremer and his crew who took up residence in one of Saddam's palaces. It looks bad, having all these white boys around calling the shots. Besides, they are really a bunch of screw-ups. So, as Newt explains, Bush needs to get an Iraqi in there soon as possible. Put an Arab face on the neocon Master Plan for Zionist domination of the Middle East. Maybe that way it will be more palatable to the Iraqis. Maybe that way not so many Americans will die. . . (full article)



Corporate Media Ignores US Hypocrisy on War Crimes
by Peter Phillips

During the first week of December 2003, US corporate media reported that American forensic teams are working to document some 41 mass graves in Iraq to support future war crime tribunals in that country. Broadly covered in the media, as well, was the conviction of General Stanislav Galic by a UN tribunal for war crimes committed by Bosnian Serb troops under his command during the siege of Sarajevo in 1992-94. These stories show how corporate media likes to give the impression that the US government is working diligently to root out evil doers around the world and to build democracy and freedom. This theme is part of a core ideological message in support of our recent wars on Panama, Serbia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Governmental spin transmitted by a willing US media establishes simplistic mythologies of good vs. evil often leaving out historical context, special transnational corporate interests, and prior strategic relationships with the dreaded evil ones. . . (full article)


Space Wars: Apocalypse Soon? Bogged Down on Earth, the US Looks to Space as Battleground of the Future
by Bill Berkowitz


October was a busy month for two U.S. Lieutenant Generals, and they weren't even in Iraq. Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin hit the headlines when it was discovered that he had been visiting fundamentalist Christian churches across the country delivering speeches sprinkled with anti-Muslim bigotry. Dressed in full military regalia, Lt. Gen. Boykin equated the "war on terrorism" with the "war against Satan," disparaged Islam, and claimed that President Bush was "appointed by God." While Lt. Gen. Boykin's remarks had an Apocalypse Now vibe to them, the other Lieutenant General -- Lt. Gen. Edward Anderson, a deputy commander of US Northern Command -- was more focused on Apocalypse Soon: He told an audience at a geospatial intelligence conference in New Orleans that war in space was, well, pretty much inevitable. . . (full article)



Al Gore, Dean and the Greens: Politicians as Usual

by Josh Frank


Now that he is free of Washington, Al Gore feels invigorated. Not that if he had been elected, America would have acted monumentally different than George W. Bush since 2000; but surely it is comforting for us to think so. Nonetheless, by the time your eyes scour this page, Gore will have endorsed Howard Dean for President of the United States, arguing all mayhem could have been averted had a Dem been in office. It really is the endorsement Dean has been looking for -- an insider, who’s ties to the Democratic elite will help boost his outsider image, and gain respect among affluent centrist Democrats. . . It is politics as usual. Gore is backing the governor because Dean is strongly leading vital primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire. The more conservatives that back Dean, the less the Democratic Party looks like wild-eyed progressives. And oh, dear no, they can’t stand the thought of that sort of label. . . (full article)



The Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part 2 of 22:
Can We Explain the War on Iraq by Reading Israel?
by B.J. Sabri

Depending on where one is standing, discussing the conjecture where Israel enters into the scene involving Iraq and the Middle East, and on top of that explaining the U.S. war objectives in Iraq is overwhelming. This is not because discussing them is inherently prohibitive or difficult, but essentially, because the subject of discussion is systematically, ideologically, culturally, and politically conditioned to the point that even the most adroit analyses have become pointless, irrelevant to reality that is proceeding on its own, and a tiring exercise in the art of intellectual frustration. Another aspect that makes our task even more daunting is comprehension. If we can barely understand the illiterate confabulations of George Bush, the mummified triplespeak of Don Rumsfeld, the childish justifications of Blair and Straw, and the pedantic lectures of “Proconsul” Minimus Paul Bremerus, how can we hope then to explain complex issues related to Israel, as well as a 13-year-old U.S. war on Iraq that culminated with its occupation? (full article)   

Talking Turkey
by Peter Kurth

I thought I’d heard everything until they confessed that even the turkey wasn’t real. I mean the turkey George W. Bush was carrying through the Army mess hall on Thanksgiving, during his “bold,” “courageous,” “secret,” “historic,” two-hour visit to the Baghdad airport — excuse me, “the war zone” in Iraq. It was bad enough when the White House lied for no reason, inventing an imaginary conversation between a British Airways pilot and Air Force One during Dubya's daring foray through the skies. This story was retracted only after a BA spokesman insisted it never happened; Bush, moreover, traveled to Iraq on a Gulfstream 5, not the presidential jumbo jet. But when I read about the turkey I nearly popped a vein. . . (full article)

Turning the World Wide Web Into a Tower of Politically Sanitized Babel
by Jack Ballinger


In the Forbes article "WSIS Discovers WWW And Wants In," the notion of some international "control" over the Internet is discussed. And while the impetus here is given as "commitment to build a people-centered, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge." the discussion seems to center on controls far removed from speech. And once a [forgive me, Al Gore] "controlling authority" is set in place, it tends to absorb power until checked. The old "Camel's nose" under the tent flap quickly becomes a herd of, in this case, regulator's. . . (full article)



Hall of Hoaxes

by Adam Engel


Took a brief but necessary vacation to visit the world famous City Museum Complex. The plaque outside The Hall of Hoaxes read, "Everything the City promised you, but never delivered. Everything the Nation promised you, but never delivered." Hyperbole, true, but what can one expect from The Hall of Hoaxes?
(full article)



Amazing Stuffed Monkey Claims to Rule The World
by Paul Dean


I know that a lot of you may find this story hard to believe, but I am prepared to swear to you all that every word of it is true. They say that the truth is stranger than any fiction. If current events and the political direction this country has taken in the last few years have not been enough to convince you of this, all I can tell you is . . . trust me. . . (full article)


America's Hidden Human Rights Problem: Freedom of Association
by Mark Weisbrot


"Unions -- the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend," reads a popular union T-shirt. It's true enough -- and we could add a sizeable list of other benefits that most people associate with social progress: employer-sponsored health insurance, pensions, and paid vacations. But unions in the United States find themselves increasingly having to fight for their very existence. This week, on International Human Rights Day (December 10) thousands of union members and their allies around the country will demonstrate for the right to organize. . . (full article)

The Invasion of the Killer Mud Snails: A New Threat To Salmon and Trout
by Dan Bacher

California’s fisheries, already beset by invasions of mitten crabs, northern pike and other exotic species that disrupt the aquatic food chain, are now threatened by the New Zealand Mud Snail. . . (full article)

December 8, 2003

Merry Terror Christmas
by Kim Petersen

When will it ever stop? On 6 December an American A-10 attack jet swooped in on the house of a "suspected member of the Taliban" in the southeastern province of Ghazni. This mere suspicion was justification enough for the a US jet to attack a civilian residence and in the end wind up killing nine children. The New York Times sought to diffuse the blame by entitling the article "Coalition Strike in Afghanistan Kills 9 Children." It wouldn't do to have the title more precisely read "American Strike in Afghanistan Kills 9 Children." Hey, but at least the Times had the balls to publish the story. . . (full article)

Sex, Lies, Murder, and Videotape
by Leilla Matsui

For the crime of being fat, Black and "behaving erratically," Cincinnati resident Nathaniel Jones learned too late the real meaning behind "three strikes and you're out."  Since his life appears to be of little importance, (biographical details of the 350 lb. man at the center of the latest controversy involving the Cincinnati police department are curiously lacking) the coroner's verdict of his "death by homicide" did not cause undue concern.  A recent FOX survey showed that 84% of respondents felt that the police had acted within their rights.  For them it seems, the city's uniformed Klansmen used "justifiable force" to subdue a belligerent suspect. End of story.  Never mind that Cincinnati's finest were defending themselves against an unarmed man who was unconscious at the time concerned restaurant workers had alerted them, thinking that he required some kind of medical assistance. . . (full article)

Fresh Food Fear
by Barbara Sumner Burstyn

An anonymous web poet describes fear as tasting like oil mixed with steel wool and topped with nails and tacks. But for increasing numbers of Americans, fear tastes like fresh fruit and vegetables. . . (full article)

Authoritarianism’s Footprint and the War Against Youth
by Henry A. Giroux

As the federal government is restructured as a result of right wing assaults by the Bush Administration, it has dramatically shifted its allegiance away from providing for people’s welfare, protecting the environment, and expanding the realm of public good. As a result of such a shift, the social contract that lies at the heart of a substantive democracy has been nullified -- a contract that provides for social provisions against life’s hazards, that ensures a decent education, health care, food, and housing for all, but especially for those who are marginalized by virtue of sickness, age, race, gender, class, and youth. As the social contract is shredded by Bush’s army of neo-liberal evangelicals, neo-conservative hard liners, and religious fundamentalists, government relies more heavily on its militarizing functions giving free reign to the principle of security at the expense of public service and endorsing property rights over human rights. . . (full article)

Black and White is Read All Over: An Interview with Tim Wise
by Adam Engel

Adam Engel interviews leading anti-racism activist and writer TimWise on Race, Language, Media, and Personal Experience vs. Media Reality. . .  (full article)

Tariq Ali vs. Christopher Hitchens on the Occupation of Iraq:
Postponed Liberation or Recolonization?
by Amy Goodman and Democracy Now!

It has been 8 months since the U.S. began its invasion of Iraq. In this time, U.S. forces have failed to produce any weapons of mass destruction in the country, the stated reason for going to war against Baghdad. According to the Pentagon's own figures, some 440 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. Thousands have been wounded. There are no solid estimates of the number of Iraqis who have been killed since the start of the invasion. November was the bloodiest month for U.S. forces in Iraq 79 soldiers died, 39 of them were killed in the downing of 4 military helicopters. Saddam Hussein remains at-large and the occupation forces face regular attacks throughout the country. Today, we take a look at the U.S. occupation of Iraq with two renowned authors: Tariq Ali, author of Bush in Babylon: The Recolonization of Iraq and Christopher Hitchens, journalist and author of A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq. . . (full article)

A Sunday in Samarra
by Jim Lobe

On one point, all sources appear to agree: what happened in the northern Sunni town of Samarra last Sunday could tell us a great deal about whether U.S. forces are likely to succeed or fail in pacifying and stabilizing Iraq. That there was a three-hour battle between U.S. soldiers and Iraqis is also not in question. The problem is that everything else about events there last Sunday is. . . (full article)


Toward a Critical Revolutionary Pedagogy:
An Interview with Peter McLaren
by Michael Pozo

Peter McLaren is a Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles. He is one of the leading practitioners of Critical Pedagogy in the U.S. as well as one of its leading advocates worldwide. McLaren began as an inner city schoolteacher in the Toronto, Canada area and later graduated with a Ph.D from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. His work focuses on developing and implementing critical pedagogy strategies into the classroom. His critical pedagogy is based on Marxist theories applied to curriculum development and instruction, and the development of pedagogical theory and practice based on critical multiculturalism, critical ethnography, and critical literacy. In short, critical pedagogy confronts both teacher and student with questions about how power plays a role in their learning experience and examines how it favors some and not others.
(full article)

The FBI Is Watching You (If You Disagree)
by Tommy Ates

Like Big Brother, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is waging war on political dissent. The report on FBI surveillance activities, regarding anti-war rallies in Washington and San Francisco (first, reported by The New York Times), surprises few anti-war activists, especially free speech supporters who knew Ashcroft’s drafting of the Patriot Act would be most effective in possible protest intimidation. What is troubling is the timing of the actions, particularly when the majority of Americans now doubt President Bush’s policy of preemption. Ashcroft’s sanction of such surveillance does more than simple attempts to diminish the opposition activities, rather the use of Gestapo “secret files” to gather information to eventually ‘silence’ the opposition itself. . . (full article)

Porky's Goes to Washington
by Michael Arvey

The 1981 film, Porky's, might stand as a forward-looking reflection, as well as a metaphorical consequence that even Aristotle would favor. In this coming-of-age howler of a teen flick (who could forget Ms. Balbricker, Coach Goodenough and Peewee?), a fraternity of randy boys from Angel Beach High, Florida, sojourn to Porky's--a den of iniquity hidden in the Everglades. After paying the proprietor, Porky, for a tryst with prostitutes, the boys, anxiously waiting on what turns out to be a trapdoor over a swamp, are dumped into the baptismal waters of dupedom. In the end, the boys return to Porky's to prosecute retribution by collapsing the establishment. Nothing to howl about today. Isn't it odd, the symmetry between our government and a puerile society, and the scene in the movie? (full article)

Other People's History
by Marty Jezer

The old political dictum “to the victor belong the spoils,” often applies to history as well as to political patronage. For one of the benefits of being a “victor” is the opportunity to shape the writing of history as an uncritical celebration: my country victorious, right and never wrong. Opposing this is the tradition of dissident history that seeks to uncover the motives of political leaders, deconstruct the meaning of their official proclamations and documents, and describe the world from non-elitist perspectives, e.g., from the standpoint of ordinary people or of the victims, the “losers” to other country’s “winners.” . . . (full article)



An Update on the Gay Couple From Jerusalem: Fuad and Ezra
by Neve Gordon

Hundreds of letters have been sent by readers to the Interior Minister and President calling on them to grant Fuad a Jerusalem residency card. From a phone conversation with the Interior Minister’s Office it appears as if the minister is in the process of reconsidering his original decision. This is precisely the time to increase the email campaign. Please read the original article and send a letter if you have not already done so. Also forward the original article to friends. Simultaneously, Israel’s President has been sending the following response to all those who sent email. We are posting after it a response from one of Fuad and Ezra’s supporters, which, we think, is the kind of response the President should receive... (full article)

December 4-5, 2003

Image and Reality in the Middle East: An Interview
with Norman Finkelstein 
by M. Junaid Alam

M. Junaid Alam, co-editor and webmaster of the new leftist journal for American youth, Left Hook, recently had the opportunity to interview Norman Finkelstein, prominent and outspoken critic of Israel and son of Nazi holocaust survivors. Mr. Finkelstein is a professor of Political Science at DePaul University in Chicago and the author of the authoritative and controversial books Imagine and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict and The Holocaust Industry. . . (full article)

Bush Ministry of Disinformation Editor Gets "Freedom" Medal
by Kurt Nimmo

There are two departments in the Bush Ministry of Disinformation: one for plebian lowbrows who don't like the read -- the Fox News Channel -- and another for effete reactionary highbrows who enjoy newspaper ink on their fingers -- the Wall Street Journal, or more appropriately the War Street Journal since the rag has repeatedly called for mass murder in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. It was no big surprise when Bush awarded former War Street Journal editor and now editor emeritus Robert Bartley with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which should, for the sake of accuracy, be renamed the Dictator Medal of Mindfuck, since that's what Bartley, a far rightwing ideologue, has done to the American people, or those who read the War Street Journal, anyway. . . (full article)

Dean and the Corporate Media Machine 
by Norman Solomon

Howard Dean is asking for media trouble. On Dec. 1, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination went where few national politicians have dared to go -- directly challenging the media conglomerates. Don’t get me wrong. Dean’s record in Vermont hardly reflects an inclination to take on corporate power. His obsession with balancing budgets and coddling big business often led him to comfort the already comfortable and afflict the afflicted. Low-income people suffered the consequences of inadequate social services. But let’s give the doctor-turned-politician some credit for a new direction. . . (full article)

Bombing and Blasting While Cutting and Running: 'Operation Iron Hammer' Aims to Keep Lid on Resistance Until After Election   
by Bill Berkowitz

I haven't seen any reports on how many civilian casualties may be caused by the United States' latest bomb-fest in Iraq, but I'm guessing that this mini "shock and awe" campaign -- also known as Operation Iron Hammer -- will not pass without dozens of innocents becoming "collateral damage." In the short run, Operation Iron Hammer may boost the morale of US troops, level a few buildings -- adding to the reconstruction costs -- and route a few resisters. In the long run, however, it may suffer the law of unintended consequences, driving thousands of young Iraqis to take action against the occupation. . . (full article)

Bush and Blair Are in Trouble
by John Pilger

Shortly before the disastrous Bush visit to Britain, Tony Blair was at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday. It was an unusual glimpse of a state killer whose effete respectability has gone. His perfunctory nod to "the glorious dead" came from a face bleak with guilt. As William Howard Russell of the Times wrote of another prime minister responsible for the carnage in the Crimea, "He carries himself like one with blood on his hands." Having shown his studied respect to the Queen, whose prerogative allowed him to commit his crime in Iraq, Blair hurried away. "Sneak home and pray you'll never know," wrote Siegfried Sassoon in 1917, "The hell where youth and laughter go." . . . (full article)

Civil Disobedience On Trial
by John Passacantando

While Attorney General John Ashcroft has toured America defending the PATRIOT Act and its encroachments on freedom, his Justice Department has extended this campaign by pressing disturbing criminal charges against Greenpeace. The case arose off the coast of South Florida when Greenpeace activists boarded a ship carrying wood unlawfully harvested from Brazil. They held a banner that said, "President Bush, Stop Illegal Logging." The government's action is unprecedented: prosecuting an entire organization for the free speech-related activities of its supporters. If the prosecution succeeds, peaceful public protest—an essential American tradition from colonial times to the civil rights movement and beyond—may become yet another casualty of Mr. Ashcroft’s attack on civil liberties. . . .
(full article)


London and Miami: A Tale of Cops in Two Cities  
by Alexander Cockburn

The climax of the big demonstrations against President Bush on his recent London jaunt was the toppling of a papier-mache statue of the commander in chief -- a reprise on the carefully staged pulling down of Saddam's statue in Baghdad earlier this year. If those London jokesters had tried this in Miami during the recent protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit, it's a pretty safe bet they would have been gassed, tasered with electric stun guns, battered with rubber bullets, arrested and charged with felony counts costing them thousands until a judge threw the charges out. Mainstream coverage of the protests has missed a very big story, which is Miami proved once again that these days, lawful political protest is a very dangerous business. . . (full artcle)

Signs of Economic Recovery Haven't Trickled Down 
by Mark Weisbrot


How's the economy doing? This is shaping up to be the number one question affecting President George W. Bush's re- election bid. If you turn on the TV or pick up the newspaper, it looks like the economy is picking up steam, roaring out of a long slump just in time for the election season. . . (full article)

Game Playing by "Free Trade" Rules
Results in from Indonesia and Dominican Republic
by Toni Solo

"I eat propaganda, With a side dish of promises. Guess who am I? That's me, the Indonesian worker!" That's what over 200 Indonesian factory workers sang as they demonstrated in front of the Indonesian Labor Ministry in January 1991. The workers, mostly women, were also protesting against army involvement in the settlement of industrial disputes. Right through the 1990s companies like Nike, Reebok and Adidas as well as many other North American and European companies earned extortionate profits by exploiting such workers, taking advantage of political repression of basic labor rights. Over a decade later, the politics may have changed but life for these maquila workers stays the same. . . (full article)

Automatons and Slaves: The Corporate Leviathan’s "Global Realization"  
by Manuel Valenzuela

The struggle humanity is now facing to escape the chains of slavery and serfdom presently being inflicted on us by corporate multinationals that is making automatons of us all is one that must be manifested to the masses; the billions of human beings that have not had the good fortune of being alerted and liberated through education. The brainwashing of humanity that begins at youth, through media channels that feed off our own human nature, and which continues until the grave through an ever expanding array of techniques, tools and technologies has created a society – stronger in the Western world but increasing throughout the globe – that is self-destructing yet remains ignorant to the coming decimation we are bringing onto ourselves. . . (full article)

Experts Returning from Iraq Criticize US Tactics 
by Jim Lobe

While electricity generation now exceeds pre-invasion levels, markets are plentiful, and virtually all school-aged children are back at their desks, the war for Iraqi "hearts and minds" remains very much up in the air, say independent analysts who have recently returned from that country. "This could go either way," Kenneth Pollack, a former Middle East analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), told an audience gathered at the Brookings Institution here Tuesday. "There's a great deal of good going on Iraq, but there's also a great deal of bad." Like many experts, Pollack, who supported last spring's invasion, is growing increasingly concerned that U.S. military tactics in trying to defeat resistance to the occupation might in fact be creating new enemies among the population. . . (full article)

Was Bush's Turkey Trip to Baghdad Aimed at Hillary Clinton? 
by Harvey Wasserman

The embedded corporate media is still crowing over the details of George W. Bush's Thanksgiving flight to Baghdad. The Shrub spinmeisters have branded it a "home run." But the global image of the smirking Texan carrying that turkey on a tray will now join the "greatest hits" album headlined by Bush's "Mission Accomplished" shot on the USS Lincoln, since which more than 100 US soldiers have died. . . Bush's Turkey Trot may have been aimed in part at upstaging New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who arrived in Baghdad the next day. . .
(full article)

The Splendid Failure of Occupation
Part 1 of 22: The Unraveling of the American Caliphate in Baghdad
by B.J. Sabri

The news that comes out of Iraq is uncontested. Briefly, U.S. hyper-imperialists whose forces are occupying Iraq with an Israeli Sharonian methodology, fascist mentality, and a Nazi modality, are splendidly failing to impose colonialism on Iraq, and with this failure, the grandiose project of Caliph Bush for a Mesopotamian conquest is gradually disintegrating, right from its ideological and military foundations. No matter how often and how intense the U.S. of Wolfowitz claims success, its impotence to subdue an Iraqi uprising in a revolutionary mode against occupation is now a shining reality. If the U.S. is not failing, how can you then explain its frantic behavior to find solutions, any solutions, to its occupation problems? How can you explain an occupation authority that continues to hide in “Saddam’s Palaces”, fortified to deter attack”? How can you explain a fearsome occupation force that continues to hide behind prefabricated concrete walls and razor wires? How can you explain the inability of the U.S. to find volunteers who could relieve them from the relentless pressure of the resistance? In the end, how can you explain the continuation of war after George Bush proclaimed it ended?
(full article)

December 2-3, 2003

Justice for Woody ... and Dean: Presidential Candidate OK'd
Whitewash of 2001 Police Murder

by John Kaminski

The presidential aspirations of Howard Dean face an interesting test Tuesday, Dec. 2, when outraged mourners from all over New England converge on Brattleboro, Vermont to remember a gentle but confused soul who was shot to death by local police while inside a church. The march also will protest Dean's exoneration of the killer cops while he was that state's governor. Seventeen of 18 eyewitnesses on that fateful day contradicted the official police version of events, yet then-Gov. Dean approved a report saying police acted responsibly, despite compelling testimony that the victim was shot while lying on the floor and then denied medical treatment that might have saved his life. . . (full article)

Born Again Republican  
by Adam Engel

True, there's some of that "if you can't beat 'em, annoy 'em" nastiness that was part of my decision to turn Republican. That's part of it. But there's so much more. Ever since I declared myself a Republican I've felt so. . . free. NOW I understand how those flag-waving "lower-class" Republicans working ninety hours a week with no benefits, no overtime, no nothing (except a heavy package containing the corpses of their children coming C.O.D. from Iraq) are always running around shouting about "Freedom." . . .(full article)

The Hidden Unseen War: The Reality of Bush’s Iraq
Part III: Failed Policy  
by Manuel Valenzuela

As Americans everywhere sit on their couches absorbed by the circus that is the daily corporate-media-driven soap opera of Joe millionaire, Survivor and the mutant called Michael, half a world away, lost among dunes and ancient rivers, our soldiers struggle to understand a populace that is slowly but surely turning against them. The significance and symbolism of two soldiers being shot while inside their vehicle, dragged out and beaten to a pulp with concrete bricks by gangs of young Iraqi adults must not be ignored. Neither must the brutal death of six Spanish soldiers in circumstances eerily similar to that of the two Americans. It is a most ominous sign of a coming chaos, of a failed Bush policy that threatens to tear Iraq apart at the seams.
(full article)

Tear Down That Wal-Mart 
by Mickey Z.

If any of you have connections to the folks who produce "The Simpsons," I have an idea for a great opening sequence. Marge hears that the local discount store is offering DVD players for $29 so she gets on line with a zillion others to wait for the store to open at 6:00 am. In fact, she's first in line. When the siren blares, Marge is trampled by the frenzied bargain-hunters behind her and is found lying unconscious on top of a DVD player. Marge is airlifted to the local hospital where, after she recovers from a seizure, she's told that the owner of the discount store has offered to put a DVD player on hold for her. All I didn't just make that scenario up. It actually happened to Patricia VanLester at an Orange City, Florida Wal-Mart SuperCenter on November 28, 2003. . . (full article)

Can It Ever Really End? 
by Sam Bahour

The world has finally come to its collective senses by explicitly acknowledging that Israel's 37-year military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem must come to an abrupt end in order for peace in the Middle East to have even a remote chance of success. With this belated awakening, a fair and frank question has come to the forefront. Will the Palestinians accept the end of the Israeli occupation as their cue to cease, once and for all, their five-decade struggle to correct the historic injustices done to them? (full article)

The Israeli Text and Context of the Geneva Accord  
by Shiko Behar and Michael Warschawski

The Geneva Accord, the latest unofficial framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace made public in mid-October 2003, has not become the basis for official negotiations. But the initiative has already been successful in one respect: it has uncorked as many vocal hopes as it has protests among Israelis and Palestinians, even though the Israeli government has rejected it and the Palestinian Authority (PA) has not formally endorsed it. . . As of the present time, the Geneva Accord is the most far-reaching draft document agreed upon by mainstream Palestinian and Israeli politicians. However, in a manner reminiscent of the Clinton-era initiatives, this seemingly bold document is inherently flawed. It is also being portrayed in misleading -- and ultimately self-defeating -- ways by its Israeli drafters. . . .
(full article)

Is Our Constitution Doomed? 
by Dennis Rahkonen

Interviewed in the December issue of Cigar Aficionado magazine, former Central Command head Gen. Tommy Franks expresses his belief that a successful terrorist attack on our country causing mass casualties could result in the U.S. Constitution being scrapped. A militarized government -- in essence a de facto junta -- might ensue. . . (full article)

Mr. President, A Few Questions . . . 
by Mina Hamilton

George, how much did your Turkey-in-Baghdad caper cost? I bet a pretty penny. The White House said your little dip in and out of Baghdad's International Airport took six weeks of planning. How many staffers labored night and day to lay the groundwork? What about the tons of extra security at notoriously unsafe Baghdad International Airport? What about the round-trip costs of Air Force One to and fro occupied Iraq? Who is paying? Out of which till did you grab the moolah?
(full article)

The Bottom of the Barrel: Oil is Running Out, But No One Wants
to Talk About It
by George Monbiot

The oil industry is buzzing. On Thursday, the government approved the development of the biggest deposit discovered in British territory for at least 10 years. Everywhere we are told that this is a "huge" find, which dispels the idea that North Sea oil is in terminal decline. You begin to recognize how serious the human predicament has become when you discover that this "huge" new field will supply the world with oil for five and a quarter days. Every generation has its taboo, and ours is this: that the resource upon which our lives have been built is running out. We don't talk about it because we cannot imagine it. This is a civilization in denial. (full article)

US Keeps its Iraqi Bases Covered  
by Jim Lobe

Now that the Bush administration has decided to sharply accelerate the transfer of full sovereignty to an Iraqi government, why does it not invite the United Nations to help with the transition? (full article)

Pew Poll on “Trade” Doesn’t Pass the Sniff Test 
by Norman Solomon

Drawing on poll numbers gathered last year, the influential Pew Research Center for the People and the Press waited until the recent trade summit in Miami to put out a report under headlines that proclaimed “Support for Free Trade” and “Miami Protests Do Not Reflect Popular Views.” But a much more fitting headline would have been: “Report Conclusions Do Not Reflect Actual Data.” . . .(full article)

Miami and the Class Conflict in America  
by Seth Sandronsky

The recent police attacks on folks protesting the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement (FTAA) meetings in Miami is a continuation of the U.S. class struggle.  This stage in the conflict reflects changes underway in the market economy, and resistance to it. . . (full article)

Corporations and Their Proxies Defeated in Miami,
But They Refuse to Give Up
by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

There was good news and bad news from inside the negotiations of the Ministerial meeting for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), held last week in Miami...
(full article)

The Year Democracy Ended  
by Bob Fitrakis

As the year ends, 2003 will be remembered by future historians as the year the pretense of democracy in the United States ended. Since the 1940s, conservatives have accepted the assumption of economist Joseph Schumpeter that democracy in a mass society existed of little more than the following: the adult population could vote; the votes were fairly counted; and the masses could choose between elites from one of two parties. With the most recent revelations about the 2000 Bush coup in Florida disclosed in the shocking stolen Diebold memos, the Bush family has signaled that an authoritarian right-wing dynasty is the future course for American politics. . . (full article)

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