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March 30

Another Whitehouse Whitewash
by Ralph Nader and Kevin Zeese

A commission appointed by President Bush to analyze intelligence failures will be releasing its report tomorrow, Thursday, March 31. According to The New York Times the report “includes a searing critique of how the C.I.A. and other agencies never properly assessed Saddam Hussein's political maneuverings or the possibility that he no longer had weapon stockpiles.” But despite its criticism the report really served to protect the Bush administration....
(full article)

“No Great Way To Die” – But the Generals Love Napalm
Exchange With the BBC's Director of News

by Media Lens

Traditionally, Western journalists give massive emphasis to acts of violence committed by official enemies of the West, while lightly passing over Western responsibility for often far more extreme violence. As Robert Fisk has noted: “The atrocities of yesterday -- the Beslan school massacre, the Bali bombings, the crimes against humanity of 11 September 2001, the gassings of Halabja -- can still fill us with horror and pity, although that sensitivity is heavily conditioned by the nature of the perpetrators. In an age where war has become a policy option rather than a last resort, where its legitimacy rather than its morality can be summed up on a sheet of A4 paper, we prefer to concentrate on the suffering caused by ‘them’ rather than ‘us’.” (Fisk, “When weeping for religious martyrs leads to the crucifixion of innocents,” The Independent, 26 March, 2005) By contrast, the journalist Dahr Jamail recently interviewed an Iraqi doctor from Fallujah who describes atrocities committed by US forces during their assault on that city last November. The doctor, now a refugee in Jordan and speaking on condition of anonymity, insists his testimony is backed up by video and photographic evidence. . . . On 15th February, Media Lens contacted the BBC’s director of news, Helen Boaden, and asked whether the BBC was investigating these specific allegations of US atrocities. Her response came via a BBC spokesperson....(full article)

Comic Relief From Feith While Bushies Lie Through Their Teeth
by Mark Drolette

It really is a shame neoconservative Douglas Feith, current undersecretary for policy for the Department of Defense (“Death Dealer, Level IV” on the federal government pay scale, I believe), is so dangerous, ‘cause the guy comes up with stuff that would otherwise be hilarious.  Feith, whom General Tommy R. Franks once called “the dumbest ******* guy on the planet” (no small achievement, considering Dubya also is an Earthling, probably), recently uttered this gem, according to the Los Angeles Times’ John Hendren: “[I] don't think that there's anything in our Constitution that says that the president should not protect the country unless he gets some non-American's participation or approval of that.”. . . . Feith’s wacky crack alludes to the Pentagons’ formal approval, per Hendren, of “provisions for launching preemptive strikes against nations thought to pose a threat to the United States.”....(full article)

Haiti Yesterday and Today: An Interview With Laura Flynn
by Derrick O'Keefe

Laura Flynn is the co-author of a new pamphlet on Haiti called “We Will Not Forget.” The report details the accomplishments and gains made by the Haitian people during the tenure of the Lavalas Party and Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was overthrown last year in a coup backed by the United States, France and Canada. Flynn recently spoke to Derrick O'Keefe of Seven Oaks about the occupation of Haiti, Aristide's legacy and the prospects for his return....(full interview)

Three Strikes for Empire
by Ivan Eland

Three seemingly unrelated recent events highlight the imperial nature of the Bush administration's foreign policy: U.S. F-16 sales to Pakistan, the creation of an office in the State Department to plan for future U.S. military interventions in developing nations and the indefinite detention in Guantanamo prison of a German man held on the basis of secret evidence that even U.S. intelligence disputes....(full article)

March 29

<< Urgent Alert >>
Nemagon Workers Are Dying
by Kristin McKay

Members of the Miami University Students for Peace and Justice group traveled to Nicaragua March 11th-20th on a Witness for Peace delegation to learn about United States foreign policy. While in Managua, the delegation visited a protest camp of several thousand banana and sugar cane farmers who have been lethally infected by the chemical Nemagon. Nemagon is a virulent pesticide used in banana and sugar cane plantations in Central America, the Caribbean, and the Philippines. Approximately 5000 protesters, who are living in makeshift tents of black plastic and sticks across the street from the National Assembly, say that they will not leave until their government has acted justly by recognizing the horrible conditions in which they've been left to die, covering their burgeoning medical costs, and discontinuing the use of all pesticides that contain Nemagon....
(full press release)

The Fundamentalist Christian Mind-Set and the
Problem it Presents for America

by Lee Salisbury

Fundamentalist Christians whether Falwell, Dobson, Robertson, or Bauer have all made their religion a political issue by seeking to impose their fundamentalist dogma through legislative mandate. So, they MUST BE CHALLENGED to defend their religion and tactics! (full article)

What Will Be the Sharon Legacy?
by Am Johal

As Israeli Arabs mark Land Day this week, Ariel Sharon's government announced what everybody already knew since last summer. The Israeli government is going to expand the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement bloc in the West Bank by 3,500 housing units. With other development measures in place, it will effectively separate the West Bank and leave any open corridor under Israeli control as well as redraw the boundaries of Jerusalem. Other policies such as the construction of the Separation Wall will continue unabated. Despite positive policy developments since the recent Palestinian elections and the death of Yasser Arafat, this recent announcement brought back the reality of the old days and the original playbook of the Israeli right: act unilaterally, expand the settlements, make a land grab and blame the Palestinians for everything....(full article)

Iraq: The Not-So-Proverbial Powder Keg
by Ken Sanders

It has been nearly two months since Iraqis voted in the much-lauded national elections for the new National Assembly. Two months and still no government. The closest the National Assembly came to forming a new government was at its opening session on March 16, 2005. That session started with mortar attacks and air-raid sirens and ended without a date to reconvene and without electing any officials. Several times party officials have set a date for the Assembly to reconvene. Each time, the date has passed without a meeting. The Assembly finally reconvened on March 29, 2005. Expectations for the meeting were low in light of reports that Kurdish and Shiite political leaders failed to reach an agreement on divvying up the government between them. The results of the meeting fell below those already low expectations when journalists were kicked out when the Assembly erupted in anger after the Kurds and Shiites failed to reach any agreement on the make-up of the government. What's behind all of the delays and haggling? (full article)

Terrorism and the New National Defense Strategy of the US
by Adam Williams

On March 18, the Pentagon released the new “National Defense Strategy of the United States of America,” (NDS) a sixteen page guide to US military policy outlining both the strategic objectives and the methods of attaining those objectives. While John Bolton’s new UN ambassadorship and “the U.S. withdrawal from the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for cases involving the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations,” on their own make the case for that the US remains in a unilateralist stance, Jim Lobe, writing for the Inter-Press Service, contends that the new document solidifies the continuation. Concentrating on the unilateralist aspects of the document misses the grim reality contained within. Unilateralism may be the means by which the strategic objectives presented can be met, but those means are not the objectives themselves....(full article)

Triumph of the Shill: Seeing The Century of the Self
by Christy Rodgers

Taking the long view, and trying to perceive how a particular set of phenomena impact society over an arc of time, seems to be a dying art in political analysis just about anywhere on the political spectrum these days. That’s why a documentary series released two years ago by the BBC called The Century of the Self deserves a much wider audience here than it seems to be getting, showing at little rep cinemas like San Francisco’s Roxie Theater, where I saw it recently. It is a four-part series tracing the progress of Sigmund Freud’s ideas about the human psyche, as they were first used by his nephew Edward Bernays to form the basis of the public relations industry, then later applied by American corporations to create lifestyle-based marketing, and most recently, by political strategists to create focus group-based campaign strategy in the U.S. and Britain. If this sounds dry or tedious, or anything less than absolutely central to an understanding of where we are as a society today, it isn’t. On the contrary, series producer Adam Curtis turns the social applications of Freudian (and anti-Freudian) psychology into the political story of our times, giving the bloody, chaotic and often contradictory 20th century an unexpectedly coherent through-line. It becomes clear that the ideological battle that most profoundly shaped American society over the last hundred years was not primarily left-right, or capitalist-socialist, but between two fundamentally different conceptions of human nature, one stressing collective identity and rationalism, the other, individualism and the dominance of a personal, irrational subconscious....
(full article)

Weapons Trade: Mixing Guns, Schools and the Messages We Give our Kids
by Susan Van Haitsma

One hour before 16-year-old Jeff Weise began shooting his classmates, I was standing in a high school hallway a thousand miles due south of Red Lake, Minnesota, staring at the image of another young man in a flak jacket brandishing an assault weapon. The US Navy recruiting poster, the largest item on a bulletin board labeled "Student Activities," was captioned with the slogan, "The Timid Need Not Apply." The slogan was printed in digital-style lettering -- an appeal, I expect, to the geeky and the gawky alike. According to reports, Jeff Weise was some of both. While I can't say whether the increased militarization of US high schools played a role in Weise's fateful decision to go on a killing spree, the mixed messages students receive in school about guns and killing are bound to influence this impressionable age group in significant and sometimes deadly ways....(full article)

The Battle for the Bodies of America’s Youth:
Army Admits it Will Miss More Recruiting Goals
as Counter-Recruitment Efforts Gear Up
by Kevin Zeese

Counter-recruitment has become a key battleground in the effort to stop the war in Iraq and prevent future military adventures by President Bush and a compliant Congress. Last week, the U.S. Army admitted that it expects to miss its recruiting goals this month and next and is working on a revised sales pitch appealing to the patriotism of parents. Nationwide demonstrations kicked off in Washington, DC two weeks ago including an event at an Army recruitment center and in many cities demonstrations were held outside of recruitment offices. The Army keeps saying it is planning no return of the draft, but more and more commentators are seeing the choice for the U.S. government might become withdraw from Iraq or enact a military draft.  The Army has already increased the “backdoor draft” announcing today that more people in the Individual Ready Reserve -- those no longer in uniform and not obligated to train -- are going to be called up for duty....(full article)

Is the End of the Iraq War-Occupation Near?
by Ralph Nader

The anti-war movement may finally find some concurrence inside part of the Bush administration. On March 28, columnist Robert Novak, who has a long history of credible reporting and strong contacts in the Bush administration, reported in The Chicago Sun-Times that there is “determination in the Bush administration to begin irreversible withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq this year.”  Novak gives credit primarily to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who he says “is expected to support administration officials who want to leave even if what is left behind does not constitute perfection.”....(full article)

Stop the Massacres in Iraq! Bring the Murderers Home!
by Alternative Press Review

The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has been met with steadily strengthening resistance. Amazingly, for a people who have long suffered under the curse of Western “influence,” even those Iraqis who are not participants in or supporters of direct attacks on the U.S./U.K. occupation forces and its mercenary adjuncts have one key demand: the end of occupation and the removal of all occupation forces....(full article)

Military Pollution: The Quintessential Universal Soldier
by Lucinda Marshall

As children, we were taught that the military protected us in times of war. We learned about soldiers being killed and wounded by 'the enemy', and how people died if they got shot or if a bomb landed on them. Sometimes innocent people got killed during a war, but the fact that most victims were civilians was carefully hidden from us by our elders. They knew that children are smart enough to understand that there is a big moral difference between killing other soldiers and killing ordinary people. That a significant number of deaths were caused not by a weapon's impact, but by its toxicity and by military pollution, was never mentioned. We did not learn that military toxins know no boundaries, that they don't just kill the enemy, they kill our military personnel and people living near military bases, that they pollute the water, land and air. We were not taught and still aren't told today that military toxins go anywhere and kill everything, that they are in fact the quintessential universal soldier....(full article)

Can a “Patriotic” Mob Take Over the Universities?
by Baruch Kimmerling

In the American academy, there is currently an organized campaign by some public figures to vilify prominent researchers and departments that are regarded as “anti-American” or even as “anti-Semitic” because their research and teaching are not in accordance with the views of the recent American administration. Universities are especially at risk if their faculty members are of Arab or -- even “worse” -- of Palestinian origin.  The recent scandalous decision of the New York City Department of Education to bar Rashid Khalidi, one of Columbia University’s finest scholars, from instructing public school teachers is an example of this effort. Indeed Khalidi, a first-rate academic and a genuine intellectual, has often spoken of both the discriminatory laws within Israel that favor Jews and of the oppression of Palestinians in the occupied territories, facts that no honest and informed person would contest. One the other hand, he has consistently condemned suicide bombings as "war crimes," while asserting the right of Palestinians to resist the occupation without harming Israeli civilians. Many Jewish intellectuals in Israel and around the world share these completely legitimate opinions....(full article)

The Selling-Out of the Antiwar Movement, Part II
The Howard Dean Doctrine: War Opposition a Political Move
by Joshua Frank

In April 9, 2003, Howard owarDean all but endorsed George W. Bush’s pre-emptive (preventive) doctrine. Though Dean didn’t join in the hawks’ celebration of Bush’s “liberation of Iraq” that day, he stressed the necessity of pressuring Iran and North Korea, saying he would not rule out the use of military force to do so. As Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe quoted Dean as saying on April 10, 2003, “Under no circumstances can we permit North Korea to have a nuclear program ... Nor, under any circumstances, can we allow Iran to have nuclear weapons.” By conceding that effective containment of such rogue states may necessitate the use of force, Dean endorsed a pre-emptive creed that has had the effect of isolating the United States from the international community.  It goes without saying that by embracing the doctrine, Dean’s foreign policy vision would not have reversed this trend....(full article)

Railroading Moussaoui
by Mike Whitney

The Supreme Court last week refused to interfere with the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in connection to the 9-11 attacks. The court’s rebuff of Moussaoui’s appeal remands his case to 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and deprives him of his 6th amendment rights. When Moussaoui’s case resumes, he will be barred from his fundamental right “for obtaining witnesses in his favor,” a right that could very well acquit him of the crimes for which he is being prosecuted. Once again, the Bill of Rights is being savaged in full view of the American public without a whimper of dissent. And once again, the Supreme Court is eviscerating basic Constitutional protections in the name of national security....(full article)

Bhagwati, Globalization and Hunger
by Devinder Sharma

Just before the failed Cancun WTO Ministerial in September 2003, there was a flurry of activity in establishment economic circles. Studies came out concluding that any drastic reduction in agricultural subsidies in the rich and developed countries would not make any appreciable impact on global commodity prices. The timing of the reports was crucial. The underlying premise was crystal clear. Prominent economists in the developed countries (and their clones in the developing countries) had ganged up to throw a protective ring around much of the US $320 billion agricultural subsidies that farmers (in reality the big transnational companies) in the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) were getting....(full article)

Water War Victory Offers Hopeful Picture of the Future
by Richard Joseph

There are certain human needs that are so basic, that in a civilized society, to be deprived of such is nothing less than criminal. One of these needs is water. In a democracy, if citizens are deprived of water, then that democracy must be taken back. Control must be returned to those whom the democracy is intended to serve: the people. This exact scenario occurred during April 2000 in the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. It is a success story, which led to victory for the masses in Cochabamba. This triumph is now referred to as “The Water War” and has inspired activists in social movements around the world....(full article)

The People's Bank in Mendoza, Argentina
by Benjamin Dangl

“The big question that everyone asks is, yes or no to globalization.  For me, this isn’t the question.  The real question is a good globalization versus a bad globalization.” Such was the perspective of Mohammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi economist who invented The Grameen Bank, or The People’s Bank. This bank involves lending small amounts of money to economically challenged people who want to start up their own community projects or businesses.  The transaction is based on trust and word of mouth; there are no signatures or paper work.  The idea is to infuse confidence into the lending process and empower the borrower. Yunus developed this lending process after observing that poor families, especially women, could not receive credit by using the traditional financial banking system.  He realized that many poor people were living in a viscous cycle that would not allow them to escape from poverty.  Many were creative and had a huge capacity to work and produce, but because of their poverty and a lack of credit, they were unable to rise above their situation....(full article)

Schiavo Case: Media Pander to the Right
by Jeff Cohen

Putting aside your view of the Schiavo story, it's clear that right-wing "pro-life" protesters scored a media coup in terms of attention and coverage.  On television, their voices and leaders have been front and center in the story -- their acts of civil disobedience widely broadcast.  Their presence has been used as a backdrop for the TV theater. Segments have often opened with on-the-scene reporters assessing the mood of the protesters, whether "hopeful" or "agitated" or "angry." At times, TV correspondents have seemed to be embedded with the protesters.  The good news is: Despite polls showing that the American people are overwhelmingly on the side of Terri Schiavo's husband, TV has nevertheless given sympathetic (and unprecedented) attention to the views of street demonstrators, even civil disobedients, representing a distinct minority of the public. The bad news is: For decades, such coverage has not been afforded to progressive demonstrators....(full article)

United States Government, 2005: If it Walks Like a Goose… (Part II)
by Mark Drolette

One would have to be a recent arrival from the planet Grornak (which is pretty far away -- at least a couple million miles or so), to not know George W. Bush has anointed himself -- or, rather, considered himself anointed by the Great Anointer -- the protector of some weird form of Christianity.  When asked once to name his favorite philosopher, Bush said, “Christ.”  I’ve often wished there’d immediately been a follow-up to determine if Dubya meant the purported Son of God, or Charles Manson during his messianic phase. ‘Cause if we’re talkin’ mass murder, George’s body count puts ol’ Charlie’s to shame. I’m going to take a flier here and wager I’m not the first to notice that lying a nation into war that, so far, is responsible for the deaths of around 100,000 humans (even if they are, ya know, only Muslims), doesn’t exactly keep with Christian principles, unless there’s some secret “Christians for Killing” cult of which I’m not aware.  The more cynical amongst us might even wonder if Bush’s use of the exceedingly incendiary term “crusade” shortly after 9/11 was a mistake, after all....(full article)

The Fashionable Politics of Face-Spiting
by Mark Drolette

My neighbor’s poodle died the other day.  It’s very sad, of course.  What’s worse is now I have to take my dog out back and shoot him. He’s not ill.  In fact, he’s in perfect health.  But because my neighbor has endured a loss, I must now similarly suffer.  (So must the dog, too, one could convincingly argue.) Lunacy, you say?  Bizarre?  A little mean, even? (full article)

Three Women -- The Roads They Travel
by Sheila Samples

Three women were released from captivity on Friday, March 4. Depending on your perspective, each could easily be considered a profile in courage. However, considering the disparate tabloid press coverage, apparently only one -- Martha Stewart -- deserves our attention. Courage has nothing to do with it. The envious and hostile media has been after Stewart for years, eager to see her get a comeuppance for thinking she could compete with corporate men in a corporate men's world and get away with it....(full article)

“Jesus Christ!”
by Peter Kurth

Did they say “cassia” or “cassis?”  Did they say alcohol or absinthe?  Did they say shotgun or revolver, suicide or resistance? Never mind:  Psalm 45, “A Song for the King's Marriage,” addressed “To the chief Musician upon Shoshan'nim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil, A Song of loves” (and not a word about “Jesus,” by the way):  “My heart is indicting a good matter…my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. … Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house …” You heard the man -- it’s the literal Word of God:  Forget thy father’s house.  Thy father has nothing to do with it anymore, and neither dost thy mother, thy brother Bobby, thy parents’ attorneys, the President of the United States, his shills in Congress, his brother Jeb, Randall Terry, Tom DeLay, the whores of the media or anyone but thy Husband, to whom thou art enslaved -- remember? -- for better or worse....(full article)

Fischer's Gambit, Accepted (by Iceland)
The Endgame of an American Chess Genius
by Mickey Z.

here is a certain allure when an icon vanishes at the peak of his fame. The myth of early death has elevated legends like Marilyn Monroe, Bruce Lee, and Jim Morrison to veritable sainthood. However, there is something even more tangible in this myth when a figure simply “walks away” from fame. Greta Garbo and J.D. Salinger made self-imposed exile their greatest career move. Like royalty in exile, Bobby Fischer is no less reclusive....(full article)

Public Transit is a Moveable Feast
by James Charles

Sure, I’ve read the articles about how we live in an on-demand, just-in-time world. Some grouse about the pitfalls of the trend, others talk in glowing terms about how technology allows us to do more, and more quickly. So, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw a news report citing a study showing that something like 20% of adults eat at least one meal a day while riding somewhere, and fully one-third of us eat some of our meals standing up. Apparently, we’re all in a hurry to do more, more quickly, including eating. Yet we didn’t need some exhaustive study to know this: Just hop on public transit: Buses, subways, commuter train passengers have turned them into a moveable feast: A clattering, jolting, squealing series of rancid coffee shops, greasy snack bars and foul-smelling sandwich wagons. The bus has become Meals On Wheels....(full article)

March 28

The Real Meaning of Red Lake
by Dan Raphael

At this late date, the attribution to the widely used “anti-depression” drug Prozac of a role in the recent murders in Red Lake, Minnesota, should not surprise. The young shooter had recently had an increase in the dosage of this drug, and its role in both incidents of violence and suicide -- especially among young people -- is well-documented. Despite bland assurances by the pharmaceutical firm manufacturing and marketing this emotional dynamite, there can be no “appropriate recommendation” for a drug that did not complete the clinical trials required by law, and that was approved by a panel primarily consisting of persons with ties to the very industry that produced it. All the more damning is the fact that this chemical -- the precise neurological function of which is not even understood by contemporary science -- performed barely better than a sugar placebo in some of its FDA trials. The by-now infamous rhapsodizing by the pharmaceutical industry’s de facto mouthpiece, Dr. Peter Kramer, takes on an unintended and ghoulish cast when set alongside the procession of murders (here, here, and here), suicides, physical dependence, and less well-documented human tragedies directly tied to the use of this “wonder drug.” What has become of a society that risks not only its mental health, but life itself in order to achieve drugged “happiness”?  There is a grim paradox in the pandemic prescription of drugs for “emotional problems” that used to be treated by human concern, companionship, talk, and love. Psychological suffering has not been banished in the manner suggested by Peter Kramer’s idiotic rhapsodizing; instead, it has simply been transformed into a disease mediated by corporate profits, trials, and official denials....(full article)

Bush Wants Pharma Trojan Horse Unleashed
by Evelyn J. Pringle

The New Freedom Commission was established by executive order on April 29, 2002.  At a speech in New Mexico that day, Bush said mental health centers and hospitals, homeless shelters, the justice and school systems have contact with individuals suffering from mental disorders but that too many Americans fall through the cracks of the current system and so he created the Commission to ensure “that the cracks are closed.” On July 22, 2003 the NFC recommended redesigning the mental health system in all fifty states and said in a press release, “Achieving this goal will require ... a greater focus on mental health care in institutions such as schools, child welfare programs, and the criminal and juvenile justice systems. The goal is integrated care that can screen, identify, and respond to problems early.” Despite a nearly 500% increase in mental health drugs being prescribed to children in the previous six years, the NFC recommended a plan of mandatory mental health screening for all public school students and follow-up treatment with drugs when needed. The fact is, this is nothing more than another elaborate profiteering scheme hatched by Bush and the pharmaceutical industry to convert the millions of people in public systems into customers for new psychiatric drugs in order to funnel more tax dollars to Pharma....(full article)

Don't Just Blame the Democrats

Progressives are Reaping the Harvest They Planted in 2004
by Kevin Zeese

Recently, progressives who supported the Democratic Party in 2004 are expressing dissatisfaction with how Democratic elected officials are voting on the funding of the Iraq war, minimizing bankruptcy protections for working families, weakening the right to file class action lawsuits against abusive corporations, and shying away from environmental protection as well as how the party leadership is moving away from fully protecting a women's right to choose. Progressives need to recognize they just can't blame the Democrats for this -- it is the liberal intelligentsia that led them down the path of supporting a candidate for president who opposed progressives on many important issues who deserve a large share of the blame. By giving their support to a candidate who openly disagreed with progressives, they sent a message that Democrats will get their vote for nothing -- in other words, progressives could be taken for granted....(full article)

Team Schiavo's Deep Pockets
by Bill Berkowitz

“Following the money” reveals a host of right wing organizations, many affiliated with the right wing Philanthropy Roundtable, abundantly funding the Terri Schiavo case....(full article)

Following the Terri Schiavo Donation Money
by Michael Hess

CNN among others have been giving heavy airtime to some “right to life” folks and organizations that generally get little coverage of their extremism. Randall Terry has made threatening overtures to sitting politicians over the Terri Schiavo drama, “there will be hell to pay”; and Pat Mahoney has bemoaned the “judicial activism” in this case. Much of the news coverage has delved into the emotional aspects of the case and it has made for tear-jerking drama on television. It is also a ready made commercial for those who seek money for so-called “right to life” causes. A quick search of the internet for donation sites related to the Terri Schiavo case has revealed the following....(full article)

March 26

America's Most Wanted Desperate Housewife
by Leilla Matsui

The feeding tube frenzy swirling around “America's Most Wanted Desperate Housewife,” Terri Schiavo, just goes to show how rightwing ideologues only spare their “compassion” for those who can't raise their voices and speak out against these unctuous vultures smothering them in false piety i.e.: aborted fetuses, murdered moppets, coma victims and dead Jesus. (Clearly, the Mel Gibson meat puppet version of Christ does a better job promoting the Republican agenda than the living, breathing, political agitator who scorned the wealthy and believed in taxes.) Similarly, these angels of death have made martyrs out of Jon Benet Ramsey, Laci Peterson and now Terri Schiavo -- people they had no interest in in life, but whom they now fetishize in death. Necrophilia has always been at the center of wingnut ideology, as evidenced by their preoccupations with the unborn and the undead. And no one personifies the rightwing death cult agenda more than Peggy Noonan, who has made a career insinuating herself with corpses: Ronald Reagan, the late Senator Paul Wellstone  (on whom she performed a post-mortem act of ventriloquism and had him criticizing his mourners for their “partisan” eulogies at his own funeral). Ms. Noonan now leads America's professional class of funeral mourners -- the paid strangers who will sob over an open coffin to give the impression that their intended victims merit these public convulsions of fake compassion....(full article)

Copyright (C) 2005 by John Chuckman

** Website of the Week:

March 25

Howard Dean a Leader?
The Selling-Out of the Antiwar Movement, Part One
by Joshua Frank

It was just over two years ago that I learned a little known “antiwar” Democrat from Vermont was planning to run for President. At a rally on the eve of Bush's Iraq invasion, a fellow protestor handed me a leaflet touting the now infamous Howard Dean, hoping that the propaganda would entice me to support his forthcoming candidacy. Of course, I was intrigued. Few other Democrats were speaking out against the imminent war on Iraq. Luckily, I ended up not taking the bait. Nevertheless many other activists unabashedly latched onto the Dean campaign in hopes he would represent their interests in Washington. Luckily for Howard, they all had credit cards and Internet access. But as the story goes, Dean was embarrassingly sacked during the primaries and his followers were told to traverse the pro-war Kerry trail instead....(full article)

Can the PDA Move the Democrats Left?
by Lance Selfa

In a recent fundraising appeal on behalf of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), Global Exchange and Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin urged support for the PDA’s effort to “take over and transform the Democratic Party.” But this is only the latest in a long line of attempts to “take over and transform the Democratic Party.” If history is any guide, the PDA’s attempt will end like all the others -- in failure....(full article)

How the Democratic Party Creates Conservatism
by M. Junaid Alam

The blurring of political distinctions between America’s two major political parties, achieved through Democratic acquiescence to Republican ideas on every major national question, has prompted some progressives to conclude that Democrats and Republicans are now essentially identical. This conflation is a dangerous error: it is too kind an evaluation of the Democratic Party. For to view Democrats as mere Republican clones is to discount the far more pernicious role they play in encouraging a politically conservative framework that traps and demoralizes many Americans into adopting right-wing positions in the first place....(full article)

UC Service Workers Strike Appears Imminent
by Matthew Cardinale

Over 7,300 service workers are bracing for a strike against the University of California, as negotiations between the AFSCME Local 3299 and University appear to be heading towards an impasse. After union members on nine campuses voted 92% statewide to authorize a strike on March 17, 2005, the Bargaining Committee and UC are participating in a state-mandated “fact-finding process.”  This process, which is estimated to conclude in late March, is followed by a ten-day renegotiation period. “If we don’t settle within that ten days, the Union is free to strike,” says Paul Worthman, Statewide Negotiator for AFSCME Local 3299 ( Worthman has been an organizer with various unions for 30 years. “And it doesn’t look good,” he adds, regarding the prospect of reaching middle ground with the University who he says is not showing willingness to “move.” Meanwhile, two UC Irvine Medical Center workers claim to have been wrongly harassed for wearing buttons and posting flyers supporting the strike on March 10, 2005, according to an affidavit obtained by the present columnist....(full article)

Little Reporting on Paranoia in High Places
by Norman Solomon

Journalists often refer to the Bush administration’s foreign policy as “unilateral” and “preemptive.” Liberal pundits like to complain that a “go-it-alone” approach has isolated the United States from former allies. But the standard American media lexicon has steered clear of a word that would be an apt description of the Bush world view. Paranoid. Early symptoms met with tremendous media applause in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Skepticism from reporters and dissent from pundits were sparse while President Bush quickly declared that governments were either on the side of the USA or “the terrorists.” Since then, the paranoiac scope of the administration’s articulated outlook has broadened while media acceptance has normalized it -- to the point that a remarkable new document from the Pentagon is raising few media eyebrows. Released on March 18 with a definitive title -- “The National Defense Strategy of the United States of America” -- the document spells out how the Bush administration sees the world. Consider this key statement: “Our strength as a nation state will continue to be challenged by those who employ a strategy of the weak using international fora, judicial processes, and terrorism.”(full article)

The Israeli Left is Opting for Suicide
by Tanya Reinhart

To judge by the political discourse, being a leftist in Israel today means supporting Ariel Sharon. Even when his government decides yet again to postpone the evacuation of the illegal outposts to an unknown future date, the pundits explain that the mere fact that he even raised the matter for discussion in the government is indicative of the seriousness of his intentions. Sharon will evacuate Gaza first, they say, and afterwards the outposts, and in the end maybe even the West Bank. And those who most believe that Sharon will dismantle settlements are the parties of the Left. On what basis? (full article)

Hypocrisy Abounding
by Kim Petersen

In the world of imperialism, hypocrisy abounds. The corporate media cover imperialist pronouncements calling on the invited Syrian forces to end their occupation of Lebanon (a country that treacherously came into existence because of a broken promise by France and Britain to its Arab allies in World War I) while ignoring the fact that the US is occupying Iraq and Afghanistan among others, and Zionists are occupying Palestine (also known as Israel), Syrian territory, and Lebanese territory. Simultaneously, Iran is being berated by the nuclear-armed US and Israel for pursuing a uranium-enrichment program. The double standard extends to the world of elementary school students. An essay written in Arabic by an elementary school student in Ottawa has raised the hackles of the Canadian media and Jewish establishment....(full article)

Cauldron of Bigotry
by Jason Miller

I remember a time when I felt exasperation when a New Yorker would ask me how Dorothy, Toto, and the tornadoes were.  Not anymore.   Somebody please razz me about being from the Land of Oz.  I need to hear that so I can forget that Kansas has become a hotbed of bigotry, homophobia, and Christian fundamentalism....(full article)

Democrats Do It Again and Again
by Ted Glick

Once again the Democratic Party has demonstrated how out of touch it is with the U.S. American people. Polls have shown that about 2/3 are against what the Republican-led Congress did by attempting to intervene in the Terry Schiavo case. If the Democrats were in touch with those they claim to be representing, and if they were willing to speak up clearly in support of their views, this latest example of despicable Republican opportunism could be backfiring on them the same way Bush's sputtering Social Security privatization campaign is. And how about all those House Democrats who voted for the $81 billion to continue the Iraq war, not even attempting to put any conditions on it? Back in October of 2002, because of a massive, grassroots pressure campaign, 135 of them voted no to the war authorization vote. 2½ years and tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths later, only 43 voted against another huge check for war and occupation. Two months ago, I will admit that I thought more was possible. A grassroots pressure effort had led to the successful challenging in Congress of the Ohio Electoral College vote on January 6th, and it seemed that this was a model for other issues. But the war vote is a clear indication that we are not going to make political progress on a range of different progressive issues unless we use a wide range of tactics. Strengthening the movement for an exit strategy for progressive Democrats has got to be a key one....(full article)

Another Missed Chance to Strengthen America
How Bush has let down the nation, yet again, by ignoring Red Lake

by Katherine Brengle

Silence. President George W. Bush has remained silent in the aftermath of the school shooting in Red Lake, Minnesota that claimed the lives of ten people, including the shooter, 16-year-old Jeff Weise. In April 1999, President Bill Clinton addressed the nation just hours after the Columbine High School massacre, sending his condolences to the families of those killed and injured, and to the country, which was in shock. Clinton continued to pay close attention to the case, discussing it again several days later in his regular radio address.  He gave the country time to heal, but stayed close to the issue, proposing new gun control laws and new security measures to keep America's schools as safe as possible. President Bush has the opportunity to bring Americans together on several key issues this week, such as the astounding proportion of Native American families living under the federal poverty line and how this contributes to the breakdown of the family unit and leads to psychological problems and unnecessary violence....(full article)

Turning Out the Lights on the Enlightenment
by Ken Sanders

The government's reaction to and intervention in the sad tale of Terri Schiavo is but the latest indication that the United States is gradually slipping farther and farther away from the moorings of the Enlightenment: rationality and empiricism over faith and religion. This dimming of the Enlightenment ideals upon which the U.S. was founded is spearheaded by Bush and the Republicans, who profess to be conservatives but behave like zealots....
(full article)

Terry Schiavo: Never Forget
by Patricia Goldsmith

The Terri Schiavo case is an example of radical Bush Republicanism at its very worst. In spite of the fact that virtually all polls show that a substantial majority of Americans disagree with the GOP on this one, don’t be fooled; Republicans are doing exactly what they set out to do. One striking feature of this new Republican Party is its absolute willingness -- even eagerness -- to take get their hands dirty in order to achieve the desired results....
(full article)

Life, Death and Hypocrisy
by Marty Jezer

This is a subject that I should not be writing about. The life and death situation of Terri Schiavo and the dispute between her husband and her family are tragic and also personal. It’s no business to you, me, President Bush nor the United States Congress. But to remain silent against what the Los Angeles Times has correctly called “a constitutional coup d’etat.” is to condone demagoguery, hypocrisy, and the trashing of principle, compassion and constitutional law. There is a legal process for settling life and death family disputes. That process has been utilized with admirable care and respect in the Schiavo case. Ms. Schiavo’s tragedy is now being exploited by right-wing Republicans for partisan gain. Have they no decency? Is there nothing sacred in the Republican Party’s quest for political power? (full article)

Appeals Court Nominee Thomas B. Griffith is a Poor Choice
by Gene C. Gerard

Last year, President Bush nominated Thomas B. Griffith to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals. Senate Democrats prevented a vote on his nomination. Consequently, President Bush re-nominated Mr. Griffith in February. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on his nomination on March 8, and is expected to vote on his confirmation in April. Senate Democrats were correct in not furthering his previous nomination. Mr. Griffith has a strong record of opposition to women’s rights, as regards public education. Additionally, he practiced law, both in the District of Columbia and in Utah, although he was not authorized to do so. Equally troubling, he gave false answers while under oath regarding his practice of the law....(full article)

March 22

Sunday in a Red State
by Joe Bageant

When I look at my brother, a kind man, an essentially brave and hardworking one, exemplary of all those things an American is supposed to be, I see that one of the biggest and most overlooked political events in America is how millions of people such as him and his flock were moved out of the apolitical camp into Christian activism. And how, despite all their claims of independence, these churches were so deeply shaped by modern zealots of the past thirty years. Yet the churches are unaware that the original source of their theological ideas is the dark, strange coterie of reconstructionist Christians, who want to stone homosexuals, kill disobedient children and build a theocratic state through the establishment of “Biblical Law” in America. . . Via Presbyterian oriented educators, the Baptist school headmasters and pastors, and the charismatic telecommunications system, the radicals have managed to shape hundreds of thousands of Pentecostals and charismatic Christians, as well as many fundamentalist Baptists, not merely as voters, but as ideological activists for a reconstructed “Biblical world view” in government, law, education, the arts and foreign policy....(full article)

Bush, Schiavo, and the Stench of Hypocrisy
by Ken Sanders

In the pre-dawn hours of March 21, 2005, and after being awakened to do so, President Bush signed into law the legally-questionable and politically-motivated bill entitled “An Act for the relief of the parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo.” The bill allowed the family of Terri Schiavo to file suit in federal court in the hopes that her life could be forcibly sustained. Upon signing the bill President Bush declared, “[W]here there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws, and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life.” An interesting statement from the man who, while Governor of Texas, presided over more executions of convicted felons than occurred in all the other States combined. A particularly hypocritical statement since, while Governor of Texas, Bush refused to grant clemency even in cases with serious questions and substantial doubts....(full article)

March 21

A Republic of Pickle Vendors
The devil does not live in the American heartland, he just shits here
by Joe Bageant

The business/owning class has always been institutionalized as the state and the custodians of the entire American social and political process. History as we learn it in school is the owning class’ version as they see it.  Despite what we were taught, America’s very Constitution is mainly a property rights document, and those with the most property are naturally ascendant at all times in this country. Generation after generation of this was bound to lead to dangerous hubris such as Bush’s “ownership society,” in which everyone has their own mobile home, credit card debt and a Dell…not to mention the reestablishment of debtor’s prisons and poor houses through “bankruptcy reform” and “Social Security reform.” How could it not have? So it’s no wonder that when faced by an honest-to-god resistance from parts of the world outside the self-serving scope of their own property-based system, whether it be Vietnam or the Middle East, or the global anti-Iraq War movement, they are nonplussed. Dickie and his elite set are absolutely goddamned baffled. They have not one scrap of experiential or intellectual wherewithal to grasp what is going on. (And to those who will surely say I am being an apologist for the rich, let me remind you that, as a bona fide inbred redneck, I am far more likely to shoot their feeble feckless asses than you are. It’s in my blood, though I manage to restrain myself.)....(full article)

The Wolfowitz Appointment: A Red Flag for the Coming Wars
by Mike Whitney

The nomination of Paul Wolfowitz to the World Bank has brought on the widespread gnashing of teeth among America’s liberals, but there’s no real reason for despair. The World Bank has never operated according to its mandate (to reduce poverty in the developing countries through financial assistance), so it’s better to have someone like Wolfowitz at the top-spot where the activities of the bank draw greater public scrutiny. His appointment will serve the same purpose as a warning label on medicine vial; cautioning needy third world states that overuse could be hazardous....(full article)

Supporting the Troops
by Ken Sanders

In a frame on my desk I have a statement that I came across on March 23, 2003. The invasion of Iraq had just begun and my brother, a sergeant in the Army, was over there, somewhere. My brother's reasons for joining the Army were his own, but he was my brother and I was sickened by the prospect of him killing and dying, particularly for a lie. That is why the following statement rang so true for me and why it still sits framed on my desk two years later....(full article)

Untrue Colors: Social Security in Black and White
by Seth Sandronsky

Can you fool all of the people all of the time? The politics of Social Security suggest not in 2005. Despite the Bush White House’s many calls of doom and gloom for the popular program, the fact that it is not broken now nor in danger of breaking soon is becoming stronger in the public mind, bombarded with the administration’s sales pitches to fix what is fine. Ordinary Americans are increasingly rejecting the GOP’s message, according to recent public opinion polls. But as a famous philosopher once said, it ain’t over until it’s over. Case in point is the White House targeting African Americans as a group who stand to benefit from changing Social Security from a program of social insurance to one of private investments in the stock market....(full article)

How We Made the US Deny Visa to Modi
by Angana Chatterji

Nishrin Hussain lives in the United States. She is the daughter of Ahsanhusain A. Jafri of Gujarat, former Member of Parliament, who was tortured, decapitated, and murdered in 2002. The events of Gujarat 2002 have placed Nishrin in exile. Zaheera Sheik, who experienced the trauma of her family’s murder and was present for the Best Bakery ordeal, was coerced and intimidated by the Sangh Parivar. Bilkis Yakoob Rasool (Bilkis Bano) of Randhikpur village was gang-raped. She was five months pregnant at the time of her rape and lost 14 family members, including her three-year-old child, mother, and two sisters. Since then, she has been forced to move 20 times due to threats against her. These and other women of Gujarat live and relive the violence of 2002, their families and futures devastated. Such realities compelled the formation of the Coalition Against Genocide (CAG). CAG was formed in February 2005 to protest the planned business visit to the US in March 2005 of Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, and demand accountability and justice in response to the Gujarat genocide....
(full article)

March 19

Hope in Red State America:
Lessons from the Big Sky Country (Part 2)

by Joshua Frank

Billings, Montana -- There is a lot to be said for nowhere. Snow is falling with the glimmer of the Crazy Mountains in the distance. A frigid wind cuts through my thin jacket. I notice that ice is beginning to form on the brim of my hat as I race to my warm car. My body heat has melted the fallen snow, and now the moisture is fast turning to ice. It was warm out earlier in the day and I thought I could get this little hike in before sunset, but this storm -- which will soon turn into a blizzard -- has darkened the Big Sky. Welcome to Montana. Some things rarely change out here, the unpredictability of the weather being one. There are, however, aspects of life in Montana that the public can help determine. The Red State label that the politicos have given to places like this is not etched in stone. Things can and do change....(full article)

Ready for Pentagon TV?
by James Charles

With the Pentagon launching its own cable network, thrilling new viewing opportunities are endless. James Charles reviews some of the Pentagon's upcoming lineup, guaranteed to shock and awe you....(full article)

Nightmare Vision of North America
by John Chuckman

John Manley, prominent Liberal politician in Canada, has shown a stunning lack of judgment in chairing a private group proposing a new security-economic regime for Canada, Mexico, and the United States. One hopes the proposal is not a feeler for something quietly supported by Paul Martin's government. We do know that Mr. Martin's goal of improving relations with George Bush has been a bit of a runaway train, gone off the tracks. The Prime Minister is almost certainly looking for ways to right the engine and fire up the boilers. I could dwell on the difficulty of anyone's improving relations with a man of Mr. Bush's remarkably unpleasant character. After all, Canada has produced no more affable or charming politician than former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, and Mr. Chretien it seems could not entirely disguise a sense of repulsion. I am sure he did not greatly miss his cancelled invitation to share charred cow, root beer, and sermons from the Book of Revelations down in Crawford, Texas. Of course, no matter how unpleasant the current President is, Canada must have a decent relationship with America. Geography dictates this, but so does Canada's basic national character. Canada does not make enemies, which is why so many Americans traveling in Europe and other places wear Maple Leaf patches on their backpacks or pins in their lapels....(full article)

Get Mercury Out Of Vaccines -- NOW!
by Evelyn J. Pringle

Mercury-based thimerosal, used as a preservative in childhood vaccines until recently, is now being blamed for a host of neurological problems, including autism, ADD, ADHD, and other learning disabilities. The number of children with these problems can vary greatly depending on who you listen to. Some experts say there are about 800,000 learning disabled children in the US, while others put the number as high as eight million, according to Dr. Jay Gordon. Dr. Gordon is a California pediatrician who has worked as a consultant for CBS on children's programming. He was ABC’s medical correspondent for the Home Show for five years and has appeared on Good Morning America to discuss vaccines. On his website, appropriately called Dr. Jay Gordon, he addresses many of the issues related to vaccine policies in the US. Granted, there are plenty of research studies to document the fact that some vaccines are necessary to protect against serious diseases. However, there is very little data to support the methods that are used to vaccinate children in the US....(full article)

Super-Sized Food Industry Targets Families
by Bill Berkowitz

Fast food, family values, the Christian right and the Bush Administration....
(full article)

North America's First Heroin Prescription Program Introduced in Canada
by Am Johal

Vancouver, Canada -- In February, Vancouver became the first city in North America to begin clinical trials for heroin prescription.  This step, which required an exemption of Section 56 of the Controlled Drug and Substances Act, came a year and a half after Vancouver had opened North America's first safe injection site. Dr. David Marsh, a UBC Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Healthcare and Epidemiology says, “Each research subject will be on either heroin or another approved treatment substitute such as methadone.”  According to him, Switzerland and Netherlands have already approved regular treatment with heroin maintenance as part of the continuum of care after over 20,000 patient years of research.  Marsh himself has worked for eight years in Canada to have the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI) study approved....(full article)

March 18

Global Bully Goes to Guatemala
by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

There's something profoundly disturbing -- sickening, really -- about watching a bully at work. You feel either complicit, or powerless, or both. The global bully, the United States, has just coerced Guatemala, its latest victim, into repealing an important law to lower the price of pharmaceuticals and promote generic competition. The U.S. ambassador to Guatemala acknowledged that the Guatemalan law was intended to advance public health objectives. But, no matter, he said -- U.S. commercial interests in the form of Big Pharma demanded that the law go. Here's how this went down, what it will mean, and what can be done:...(full article)

A Warning From Auschwitz
by Media Lens

Facing execution for his role in the murder of more than 1 million people, many of them children, Auschwitz commandant, Rudolf Hoess, reflected on his life and works: “Today, I deeply regret that I did not spend more time with my family.” (Hoess, “Auschwitz, The Nazis and the Final Solution,” BBC2, February 15, 2005) Hoess of course lies at the extreme end of the spectrum, but his inability to recognize the extraordinary horror of what he had done is by no means exceptional. Mike Wallace of CBS News interviewed a participant in the American massacre of Vietnamese women and children at My Lai. . . . One of the delusions promoted by our society is the idea that great destructiveness is most often rooted in great cruelty and hatred. In reality, evil is not merely banal, it is often free of any sense of being evil -- there may be no sense of moral responsibility for suffering at all....
(full article)

Taser Guns: Increase Police Aggression?
by Standard Schaefer

The rationale for Taser International’s stuns guns is that they are non-lethal and help cops subdue dangerous suspects with minimal force.  But reports show plenty of suspects have died almost immediately after being stunned. Not the least of these deaths was twenty-one year old Andrew Washington from Vallejo, California who on September 15, 2004 after trying to flee from the police, was shot repeatedly with 50,000 volts while his was body lying in a trickle of water....(full article)       

Hockey and Left Wing Politics
by Yves Engler

What is The Meaning of Hockey and why do Canadians care so much about the sport? What is the connection between union organizing and writing fiction? Will a novel about a former star hockey player going through male menopause be of interest to feminists? Can a hockey novel really replace the NHL playoffs? These and other questions are answered as Yves Engler interviews his father Gary Engler about the online serialized (free) version of his novel that began Wednesday March 2 on the web site. A new chapter will appear each Monday, Wednesday and Friday for sixteen weeks....(full interview)

Throwing Junkballs to the Snake Oil Salesman
by Mark W. Bradley

Mark Bradley attends an event featuring CA Congressman Dan Lungren (R) and gets the opportunity to pitch the kind of tough questions about the Republican drive to privatize Social Security that mainstream press stenographers fail to ask....(full article)

They Don't Shoot Donkeys Do They?
Prepping the Palm Sunday March against Occupation

by Greg Moses

In the few days before Palm Sunday, Hasam Jubran has a lot to do.  As co-director of the Peace and Reconciliation Department for the Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem, much work falls on his shoulders to make sure things go well when Palestinian children begin a peace march to Jerusalem.  First, there are the children themselves who thought up the idea. Then there are the adults from Palestine, Europe, and the USA who will carry the march into an Israeli checkpoint where delicate strategic decisions must be made.  And finally, who can forget the donkeys? (full article)

Feet to the Flames: Socialist Vazquez Takes Office in Uruguay
by Benjamin Dangl

On 1 March 2005, the night Tabare Vazquez was inaugurated as President of Uruguay, a sea of people, flags and drum brigades pressed through the streets of the capital, Montevideo. Fireworks pounded the air and car horns shrieked. The city bubbled with a cathartic happiness. In Uruguay, 30 per cent of the three million people live below the poverty line, 15 per cent are unemployed and economic activity staggers along at a level 20 per cent below what it was in 1990. The country has the highest proportion of people aged over 60 in Latin America: 15 per cent -- most of them young -- have left the country in search of work....(full article)

March 17

Washington’s Bipartisan Gift to the Bankers:
Making Bankruptcy a Life Sentence
by Alan Maass

The profit-hungry banks and credit card companies wrote the legislation themselves. And now, their friends in Washington have delivered. So-called bankruptcy “reform” legislation passed its final hurdle last week, winning approval in the Senate by a wide margin that included Republicans and Democrats. George W. Bush will soon sign it into law....(full article)

Why Iraq Withdrawal Makes Sense
by Norman Solomon

President Bush just told reporters that he has no intention of setting any timetable for withdrawal. “Our troops will come home when Iraq is capable of defending herself,” he said. Powerful pundits keep telling us that a swift pullout of U.S. troops would be irresponsible. And plenty of people have bought into that idea -- including quite a few progressives. Such acceptance is part of what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the madness of militarism.” Sometimes, an unspoken assumption among progressive activists is that the occupation of Iraq must be tolerated for tactical reasons -- while other issues, notably domestic ones, are more winnable on Capitol Hill. But this acceptance means going along with many of the devastating effects of a militarized society: from ravaged budgets for social programs to more authoritarian attitudes and violence in communities across the country....
(full article)


Two-Year Anniversary of Iraq War Kicks Off in Washington, DC
With Non-Violent Resistance and Active Non-Cooperation

by Kevin B. Zeese

Demonstrations against the Iraq War scheduled to occur in nearly 600 cities in all 50 states this weekend kicked off this Thursday across the street from the White House in Washington, DC as representatives of veterans groups and others signed a document pledging to encourage and support soldiers who, of their own conscience, refuse orders to fight in the Iraq War. The declaration violates United States Code 18, Section 2387, which makes support and encouragement of soldiers resisting their orders illegal, and which carries a maximum penalty of $10,000 or ten years in prison....
(full article)

Beware a Wolfowitz in Sheep's Clothing
Washington Backs Indonesian Military Again
by Joseph Nevins

When I saw Paul Wolfowitz’s smug grin in the January 17 issue of The New York Times, trouble was clearly on the horizon. The photo showed him in tsunami-stricken Indonesia, accompanying the country’s defense minister, Juwono Sudarsono. His visit was under the guise of humanitarianism. But as always with Wolfowitz and Indonesia, a more nefarious project is in the offing: strengthening Washington’s ties with the Indonesian military (TNI)....(full article)

Whitman's Crusade Could be Running on Empty
by Bill Berkowitz

Having failed to moderate the president's environmental agenda, what makes former EPA head Christine Todd Whitman think she can moderate the GOP?(full article)

“Economic Meltdown” -- Sorry, but We’re Toast
by Mike Whitney

Don’t look now, but Bush’s house-of-cards economy is about to come crashing to earth. Just yesterday the Commerce Department announced that the trade deficit soared to an all time high of $665 billion in 2004 -- a whopping 25% increase from the previous year. America’s gluttonous appetite for cheap foreign goods and its inability to produce more of what it consumes is quickening the country’s inevitable day of reckoning. Despite the rosy projections from the Bush clan and their friends in the media, the probability of an economic meltdown becomes more likely every day....
(full article)

Opponents of War:
Kevin Benderman, Alvin York, and the Voice of Conscience

by Joel T. Helfrich

As the generals of Europe sent their youth to die in the gaping furnace-mouths of Verdun and the Somme, a young man named Alvin York roamed the hills of Tennessee unaware that his government was making plans to send him to those same muddy fields. When the U.S. military drafted York in 1917, he refused to go to war and filed for status as a Conscientious Objector (CO). His application was unsuccessful. Draft boards, like military recruiters today, had trouble meeting their quotas and found any excuse to send men to Europe; CO review boards helped make that effort easier. His application for CO status refused, despite his protestations, he went to fight in the First World War and returned home to a hero’s welcome. York’s commonly known exploits as a “reluctant hero” were eventually immortalized by Gary Cooper, who won an Academy Award for Best Actor in the 1941 box-office hit Sergeant York. When put in its proper context, York’s life story helps shed light on the current Iraq War and the role that COs play in American society. If we learn about and demystify the dominant image of York, he can help us understand a man like Army Sergeant Kevin Benderman. In late 2004, Benderman applied for CO status and soon after refused to re-deploy with his unit to Iraq ( York’s story, like Benderman’s, communicates that a GI’s choice—and right—to seek the status of a CO needs to be understood, protected, and supported....
(full article)

Other Blood on Their Hands
by John Pilger

While apologists for Bush's and Blair's murderous adventure in Iraq see a “silver lining” in pseudo-events in the Middle East, real events in Colombia illuminate the universal nature of their “mission”. The latest tells a horrific story that, had it qualified as news, probably would have been reported as a tragedy whose victims “paid the price of cocaine paid with blood.” That was how the London Observer on 13 February represented the suffering of Colombia, which is typical of most of the American and European press, with a Foreign Office minister assuring us that Colombia's woes all could be blamed on drugs; and that the “Oxford-educated” president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, was “trying to rein rogue elements of the army”; moreover, the British government was helping him in his noble cause. As for America's colossal military involvement in Colombia, known as “Plan Colombia”, whose expenditure rates just behind the billions spent in Iraq and Israel, this was merely “controversial” and “aimed at eradicating the [drugs] trade…” As for Bill Rammell, the junior Foreign Office minister responsible, it seems, for most of the planet, The Observer reported that he had identified a moral issue in Colombia. For the English caring classes, said Busy Bill, snorting cocaine “should be as socially taboo as was drinking a bottle of South African wine during apartheid.”....(full article)

Harvard President Larry Summers on Deserving and Undeserving Humans
by Michael K. Smith

The Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences has voted 218-185 that it “lacks confidence” in President Larry Summers’ leadership, the first such vote in nearly 400 years at Harvard. The rebuke came in the wake of an uproar caused by comments he made in January suggesting that women are less capable of high scientific achievement than men. Long reputed to be brilliant, Summers is especially noted for bold defenses of dominant ideology. For example, as chief economist at the World Bank in 1992, he argued in a memo leaked to the Economist that African countries were “vastly underpolluted.” More specifically, he wrote that, “The economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.” His reasoning was that since premature death in low-wage countries entails less foregone earnings and lost productivity than elsewhere, “dirty industries” belong in the Third World. On the strength of such insights Summers was appointed Treasury Secretary by Bill Clinton....(full article)

Scoffing the Rule of Law
by Ken Sanders

President Bush, like his predecessors, likes to pontificate on the rule of law and celebrate America's deep respect therefore. Along similar lines, the U.S. rarely misses an opportunity to condemn “rogue” nations who flout international law and their treaty obligations. In fact, Bush & Co. condemned Iraq on that basis and continue to do so regarding Iran and North Korea, to name but a few. Nonetheless, and despite all of the lofty rhetoric about respecting the rule of law, last week the United States “withdrew” from the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice over certain diplomatic disputes. Specifically, the protocol from which the U.S. withdrew empowered the ICJ to hear cases brought on behalf of people detained in foreign countries who have been denied access to their country's consular officials....(full article)

President Bush’s Use of Pardons Isn’t Very Compassionate
by Gene C. Gerard

The White House announced last week that President Bush issued pardons to eight individuals. Their offenses included arson on an Indian reservation, disposing of stolen explosives, theft of government property, and bootlegging, among other crimes. During his first term, Mr. Bush issued a mere 31 pardons and sentence commutations. This is less than any modern president. In fact, you have to go back to Zachary Taylor, twelfth president of the United States, to find a similar number. President Taylor granted only 38 pardons, but it should also be noted that he served barely 18 months before his untimely death in 1850....(full article)

March 15

Fueling Imperialism: It’s the Crude, Dude
by Kim Petersen

Kim Petersen with an in depth review of Linda McQuaig's new book, It's the Crude, Dude: War, Big Oil and the Fight for the Planet....(full review)

Lebanon Searches for the Truth, American Pundits Spin Iraq
by Ahmed Amr

Lebanon -- A month after the assassination of Rafiq Al-Hariri, nearly one million Lebanese took to the streets of Beirut to demand accountability from those responsible for his murder. The demonstration -- by far the largest in Lebanese history -- drew a crowd that represented virtually every faction of this unique multi-cultural society. From the north and the south and from the mountains, hundreds of thousands streamed into the capital to demand “THE TRUTH.” Traffic jams prevented tens of thousands from further swelling the ranks of the crowd. Those who organized the event insisted that protesters fly only the Lebanese flag and carry signs and pictures honoring the memory of Rafiq Al-Hariri. The theme of the gathering was “Freedom, Sovereignty and Independence.” Christians, Muslims and Druze marched together in a show of national unity that is unprecedented in Lebanese history....
(full article)

John Bolton and the Road to Tehran
by Mike Whitney

The appointment of John Bolton tells the whole story. They’ll be no peace in the Middle East or at the United Nations. Negotiation isn’t even on Bolton’s resume. He’s been dispatched to the UN for one reason: to pave the way for an American attack on Iran; period!  His appointment puts a fierce Bush loyalist at the epicenter of international diplomacy where he can wage the rhetorical battles that will precede a June date with Tehran. We can set aside the foolish notion that Bush has changed his spots and become more conciliatory. With Bolton on the Security Council we can be sure that the lunatic neocon strategy will go forward and won’t be derailed by pleas for peace....(full article)

American Hypocracy* At Work: Agent Orange -- Thirty Years After
by Harold Williamson

The latest insult to our sensibilities by the U.S. Justice [sic] System occurred on March 10 when a federal judge dismissed a damage suit filed against American chemical companies in what is the first legal challenge in the U.S. court system on behalf of millions of Vietnamese victims suffering from the aftermath of some 80 million liters of Agent Orange that was dumped on them by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.  And because of sovereign immunity, the U. S. government has not been sued....(full article)

Restarting the Anti-War Movement
by Ralph Nader

The anti-Iraq war movement showed its power before the war putting millions of people in the streets.  We were years ahead of the growth of the anti-war movement of the Vietnam era. Now that the Iraq war and occupation have unfolded all of the predictions of the anti-war movement have come true -- Iraq is a quagmire, has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians and more than 1,500 U.S. troops, hundreds of billions of tax dollars are being spent resulting in cuts of many stateside domestic programs. U.S. corporate interests have invaded Iraq and the widespread corruption related to corporate business is being exposed. But yet, the anti-war movement with few exceptions chose not to have a demanding impact on the presidential election and John Kerry....(full article)

Freedom on the Lam
by Peter Kurth

My, isn’t freedom a wonderful thing?  Isn’t it great to see democracy on the march?  Taking a quick a look at just Sunday’ headlines, I read further:  “US helicopter opens fire in Mosul, wounds five civilians.” “Three Iraqi cops shot dead in Mosul.” “Eight killed in Iraq as hostage spared.”  (This was in Baghdad.)  And about that body count: “The death toll rose to 51 killed and 77 wounded from Thursday's suicide bomb attack on a Shiite funeral tent in the northern city of Mosul.” What, is someone counting? First it was 30, then 40, then 47 and now 51, with the injured approaching the 100 mark. Exactly what kind of injuries these people have sustained is not reported, but your imagination, if you have one, might envision arms, legs and other body parts defiling the corpse of whoever it was being buried in that “tent” (which happened to be erected in the courtyard of a mosque):  “US troops took 10 ‘very critical cases’ to a military medical facility at their base in the city.”....(full article)

Putting the “Mock” in Democracy
by Ken Sanders

Odds are, that, if asked, most Americans would define democracy as a government of, by, and for the people. Likewise, most Americans would consider America's “grand experiment” to be the shining example of democratic government, to be exported and worshiped worldwide. These are, after all, the fairy tales told to us in school. However, in order for a government to properly be of and by the people, the people, namely “we”, must have some idea of what our government is doing. Otherwise, while perhaps called a democracy, it becomes a government over the people and in which we have little, if any, say. Sadly, not only do we not have a clue about our government's actions, our government is systematically deeming more and more information about its activities improper for public consumption....(full article)

Is Anything an “Experience” When Everything Is?
It’s not enough anymore just to read a new book,
I must have a “reading experience”

by James Charles

Maybe it was because I slept in this weekend and missed the announcement, but when did everything become an “experience?” I read a newspaper article the other day that examined the growing length and complexity of restaurant menus. A half dozen restaurateurs and chefs used the words “dining experience” to describe what, to me, always has been simply “going out to eat.” I guess when you have a “dining experience,” it costs more than if you’re just going to a restaurant for dinner with some friends. Certainly, the tip is going to be larger so the waiter is going to enjoy a better “gratuity experience.” Then I began noticing how frequently the word is showing up where it never has appeared before, describing things in ways that never would occur to me....(full article)

March 14

Clearing the Way for the American Police State
by Mike Whitney

The recent rash of terror warnings shows just how shoddy mainstream journalism has really become. Every major news network in the country ran the very same story of the “alleged” communication between Osama bin Laden and terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al Zarqawi without producing a scintilla of corroborating evidence. They simply flooded the newswires, airwaves and TVs with unsubstantiated, Pentagon-inspired gibberish and left out any supporting facts. The clear intention was to give a boost to Bush’s flagging polling numbers, but the effort fell flat and the media’s credibility took another well-deserved hit....(full article)

A Red State Paradox (Part One)
Montana on the Cusp

by Joshua Frank

Billings, Montana -- It is sickening. Montana is not what it used to be. Small family-owned farms have been taken over by corporate behemoths. Public forests have been squandered and sold to the highest bidder. Racism is ever increasing. Poverty is rampant. Native Americans are being corralled onto even tighter plots of land. But however disheartening it all may seem, there are still voices of hope rumbling across the vast Big Sky....(full article)

Bush -- Labeling Kids Mentally Ill For Profit
by Evelyn J. Pringle

Citing recommendations by the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health (NFC), President Bush wants to launch a nationwide mental illness screening program in government institutions, including the public school system, for all students from kindergarten up to the 12th grade. . . . The truth is, this is nothing but another Bush profiteering scheme to implement a drug treatment program for use in the public institutions that will generate high volume sales of the relatively new, but inadequately tested, high-priced psychiatric drugs. If all goes as planned, the scheme will generate millions of new customers for the drug companies....(full article)

Over 55 in America? Get Back to Work!
by Seth Sandronsky

Who took one of every two new jobs created in the U.S. over the past 12 months? Give up? “Over the last year, workers over age 55 accounted for 918,000 of the 1,810,000 rise in employment shown in the (Labor Department’s) household survey,” says economist Dean Baker. “This is a very striking and relatively new development.”....(full article)

“Because We Are America!”
by Paul Street

Another interesting example of selective imperial legalism and stunning national arrogance in defiance of The Hague was presented for our consideration last week. Once again the primary victims are Central Americans. This time, however, they are caught within United States territory -- inside the nation's burgeoning state prisons and more specifically within our country's heavily populated and very disproportionately nonwhite death rows. The policy that “must” be defended in this case is capital punishment -- the state's right to kill....(full article)

March 10-11

Are We in World War IV?
by Tom Engelhardt

Throughout much of the Cold War, people feared above all else a global hot war, the third great one in a century of devastating world wars; and we crept up to it more than once -- most desperately, there can be no doubt, at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. For decades, the world was poised for that next world war; the two superpowers with their nuclear arsenals running to thousands of weapons (as they still do), a few hundred of which would have been civilization-busting, many hundreds of which might have been nuclear-winter inducing and life extinguishing; all of them cocked in their silos or loaded in the bomb-bays of Soviet or American planes, or stashed on the submarines that made up the unreachable third leg of the nuclear "tripod" and were primed for almost instantaneous action. World War III, which might have ended it all, could indeed have started, as the U.S. military feared for decades, with those Soviet tanks pouring through the Fulda Gap in Germany, and escalated from there to "theater," and finally intercontinental, ballistic missiles. It would have been a show. The last picture show, you might say. And, let's face it, it didn't happen....(full article)

E.P.A. Nominee Supports Testing of Chemicals on Human Subjects
by Gene C. Gerard

President Bush recently nominated Stephen L. Johnson, a 24-year veteran of the Environmental Protection Agency, to be the agency’s new administrator.  Mr. Johnson has been the acting administrator since January, and prior to that oversaw the EPA office handling pesticides and other toxic substances. In nominating Johnson, Mr. Bush described him as “a talented scientist” and having “good judgment and complete integrity.” Yet his record as the Assistant Administrator for Toxic Substances casts serious doubt on whether he is suited to lead the E.P.A., an agency directly affecting Americans’ health and many significant industries, including automobiles and agriculture. During President Bush’s first term, Johnson was a strong supporter of pesticide testing on humans....(full article)

Everyone Take Another Step To The Right
by James Charles

The only rational explanation for appointing John Bolton U.S. Ambassador to the UN is that George Bush secretly reads Chairman Mao, who wrote “make a noise in the east but strike in the west.” Or, maybe there’s cold logic to the appointment....(full article) Making Peace With the War in Iraq
by Norman Solomon

Sadly, it has come to this. Two years after the invasion of Iraq, the online powerhouse -- which built most of its member base with a strong antiwar message -- is not pushing for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq....(full article)

The Hawks in Liberals’ Clothing
Who Needs Neocons When There’s American Prospect?
by Lee Sustar

It’s a wonderfully concise statement of George W. Bush’s policy of pre-emptive war: “When facing a substantial, immediate, and provable threat, the United States has both the right and the obligation to strike preemptively and, if need be, unilaterally against terrorists or states that support them.” This passage isn’t from a briefing penned by a Pentagon neoconservative, however. It’s the central argument of an article by the editors of the liberal American Prospect magazine -- Paul Starr, Michael Tomasky and Robert Kuttner. The editors praise George W. Bush’s second inaugural address for “set[ting] out an attractive vision of the United States as a liberator of oppressed nations,” adding, “we anticipate that liberals in the future will have more occasion to quote Bush’s speech than conservatives will.”....
(full article)

Objectivity in Independent Media
Part 4: The Illusion of Objectivity
by Kim Petersen & B. J. Sabri

Final part of Petersen and Sabri's 4-part critique of an ostensibly progressive publication's claim to objectivity in reporting and analysis of the US occupation of Iraq....(full article)

Sibel Edmonds’ 2005 Spring Offensive:
FBI Shields Pakistan/Turkey Nuclear Weapons Development,
Drug Trade, Cheney, Rumsfeld

by John Stanton

With Sibel Edmonds once again in the news, and with media interest in her case increasing, it’s worth speculating, again* about her knowledge by attempting to connect some of the many dots found in a public record that stretches back into the Ford Administration and that culminates, in part, with Pakistan’s nuclear tests in 1998. The story has so many dots and cross currents that it’s easy to miss the more salient items. But it’s not too much of a stretch to say that the FBI’s interest in asserting a “State Secrets” privilege begins way back in 1972 at which time Pakistan decided to begin development of a nuclear weapons program that would culminate in the detonation of a nuclear weapon in 1998 (Turkey can’t be far behind in 2005), and successful US weapons sales of helicopters, fighter aircraft, missile guidance software, combat vehicles and parts to both Turkey and Pakistan over the same 1972 to 1998 timeframe whether and in spite of US arms strictures on sales of US weapons technology. In the seven years since 1998, matters have gotten worse....(full article)

Playing Now In The International Theater
by Michael K. Smith

For interested viewers, the following is an entertainment guide to U.S. conflicts and wars now playing at a theater near you.

Bonzo Goes To Babylon
In this gripping sequel to the classic Ronald Reagan series, George W. Bush stars as a catatonic Jesus-freak on a mission from God to save humanity from evildoers. Director Donald Rumsfeld has produced an absolutely harrowing, gore-filled account of Christian America recapturing the Holy Land in revenge for terrorist attacks on Washington and New York. Tense street battles interspersed with hilarious Pentagon briefings characterizing the U.S. slaughter as a humanitarian crusade make this one of the most entertaining films released in 2003. A talented supporting cast of neoconservative fanatics bent on “owning” outer space and reducing the earth to a Washington protectorate keeps the audience well entertained throughout. Their musings about “ending countries” and nuking enemies bring down the house time and again. Running time: 2 years. Rated X, as some of the corpses are not fully clothed. Presidential addresses in Bushspeak with English subtitles....(full listings)

Butt Prints in the Sand
by Sheila Samples

It's time. Before this obscene, gaping hole gets any deeper, it's time we convinced the media to stop digging. As someone once said...and said...and said -- time is not on our side. Storm clouds are gathering on the dashboard of our democracy. We must act, sooner rather than later -- before we are faced with sudden horror like we've never known before. I couldn't agree more, because when you consider the media horror show of the last four years, it could get hairy out there unless we wake up, stand up, and do something about it... It's time we told the media it's either them -- or us. We need to pass them by, boycott their advertisers, protest them -- shake them until their teeth rattle. It's time we realized there is no entity more to blame for the mess we're in nor for the needless loss of life than our shameless and treasonous media. The media is even more obscene than Bush and the glowering, power-mad warmongers who surround him in both his administration and in his Congress....(full article)

Proper Etiquette During a Holocaust
by Rosemarie Jackowski

Top 10 list of proper etiquette for red-blooded Americans in the age of Pox Americana....(full list)

Challenging the Language of Violence   
by Mike Whitney

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a straightforward territorial dispute obscured by decades of Israeli mythmaking. The language that surrounds the conflict has been purposefully crafted to condition the public into accepting perennial violence. Even a superficial evaluation of the euphemism “cycle of violence” indicates the political agenda of the people who created the expression. The term implies that the problem between the warring parties is insoluble; emerging from either historical exigencies or deep-seated ethnic hatred. Neither of these is true, but they support the rationale for endless hostilities....(full article)

Profits: Sole Reason for Blocking Importation of Cheap Drugs
by Evelyn J. Pringle

Dr Peter Rost has spent 20 years marketing pharmaceuticals. On Feb 16, 2005, he testified before a senate committee on health, education, labor and pensions, in support of the reimportation of cheaper drugs from other countries. Currently, Rost is a Vice President with the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. He explained to the committee that the views expressed were his own and did not reflect those of Pfizer. At one point during his career, Rost was responsible for an entire region in Europe where he gained personal experience with reimportation.  He observed first-hand how the free market works and thinks the industry is making a huge mistake in opposing drug importation....(full article)

The Secret Wars of Judi Bari is Mean-Spirited
and Loose with the Facts

by Bill Berkowitz

Kate Coleman and Encounter Books take on Bari, Earth First!, and the "dead-enders" of the environmental movement....(full article)

Fake Religion, Real Philosophy
by Dan Raphael

In human civilization, and in the individual life of every human being, behind every problem to be solved, there is a question of philosophy to be asked—and not only asked as we usually ask, but to be pondered and lived with as a reminder of something we have forgotten, something essential.  Our culture has generally tended to solve its problems without experiencing its questions.  That is our genius as a civilization, but it is also our pathology.  Now the pathology is overtaking the genius, and people are beginning to sense this everywhere....(full article)

Truth in Humor
by Harold Williamson

Nowadays there can be more truth in what fails to appear in the comics pages of the Chicago Tribune than what does appear elsewhere in that paper masquerading as news or sage editorial opinion. Humor just isn’t funny unless it reflects some semblance of truth, and for more than four years Aaron McGruder has authored some of the funniest scathing satire to ever to run in daily newspapers.  On Wednesday, March 2, the Chicago Tribune resumed running McGruder’s comic strip “The Boondocks” after the associate managing editor for features/lifestyles, Geoff Brown, decided to pull the previous Monday and Tuesday strips....(full article)

United States Government, 2005 (Part I): If it Walks like a Goose…
by Mark Drolette

Mark Drolette argues in detail that US democracy has been replaced by fascism....(full article)

It Was Fun Being a Baby Boomer --
Until We Realized How Old We’re Getting

by James Charles

But nothing stays the same. With Dylan renting his music for jingles, rumours are that other groups will update lyrics to old hits -- our hits -- to reflect our changing lives.... (full article)

Ending the Death Penalty for Juveniles Is Not Enough
by Ivan Eland

The most important aspect of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of executing juveniles was its consideration of evolving international views of “cruel and unusual punishment.” The court wisely noted the rising global tide of revulsion against governments killing their younger citizens, no matter what their crime, and ruled that juvenile death sentences in the United States are unconstitutional. Similarly, in the future, the court should heed burgeoning world condemnation of the U.S. death penalty for persons of any age....(full article)

March 9

Government-Approved Slaughter
by Walter Brasch

Almost every day, a dozen or so wild burros come down from the foothills of the Black Mountains of northwestern Arizona onto the main street of Oatman, a revitalized high desert mining town about 15 miles from where California, Nevada, and Arizona meet. No one remembers when the burros first came into the mountain town that is bisected by the hairpin curves and switchbacks of Old Route 66, but they do know burros have lived in the area for more than a century. However, it wasn’t until the tourists began visiting the town in the early 1970s that the burros made their regular visits, arriving each day on no set schedule, but usually leaving about 4:30–5 p.m. when the tourists leave. The townspeople provide love, concern, funds for veterinarian bills, and two water troughs for the burros who work the Main Street tourist industry. Sometimes the residents will brush the burros, but the burros themselves are adept at making sure the entire pack is clean and groomed. The tourists pet the burros, have their pictures taken with them, chat with them, and feed them carrots, available for $1 a bag from the Oatman General Store or any of a dozen other stores. The burros work for food. Once protected by federal law, the nation’s 3,000 wild burros and 33,000 wild horses, as well as 24,000 horses in short- and long-term sanctuaries, now face Congressionally-approved slaughter....(full article)

The Political Challenge of the 21st Century:
Building a Democratic, Humanist Socialism

by Derrick O'Keefe

In recent months, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has begun to explicitly advocate for socialism, marking a significant development for both the Bolivarian Revolution in that country and for the broader international movement. There is no doubt that the United States government understands the significance of the current direction of the process in Venezuela. An oil-rich country with a radical, anti-imperialist government which has received repeated, indisputable democratic mandates and now advocates for socialism, the government in Caracas poses the gravest ‘threat of a good example’ since the Cuban Revolution of 1959. As if taunting Uncle Sam for its historic failure to destroy and isolate Cuba completely, Chavez now flaunts his close friendship with Fidel Castro, inviting thousands of Cuban doctors to Venezuela, and sending oil at preferential prices to the energy-starved Caribbean island....(full article)

U.S. Supports EU Constitution: What's the Surprise?
by Matt Reichel

All observers seemed a bit surprised when George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice made endorsing statements of the EU constitution during their respective trips to the continent last month. Many on the Right took it as a blow to the stomach: how could the Bush administration betray core conservative values by endorsing a document designed to heighten European power at the expense of American hegemony? Liberals, meanwhile, just passively accepted the fact that perhaps Bush had finally done something principled: or that maybe he hadn’t even bothered to actually read the document before commenting. The fact of the matter, though, is that there is nothing at all surprising about this development. While the EU constitution will likely result in a stronger and more united Europe, it will also drown the continent in the Washington consensus. The core goal of the constitution’s framers is a neoliberal Europe where the interests of business run as free as they do on the other side of the Atlantic.....(full article)

Please Sir, Can I Have Some More?
How the Right-Wing Majority is Leaving Americans Out in the Cold

by Katherine Brengle

On Monday, Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), made another attempt to better the lives of working class Americans by raising the minimum wage to $7.25.  The federal minimum wage has remained stagnant at $5.15 since its last increase in 1996, while the value of a dollar has decreased by 23.51%.  Democrats proposed a 3-step increase, with the wage rising $.70 at a time over the next 26 months....(full article)

“The Tools of Tyrants”
Jose Padilla and the 10 Commandments

by Mike Whitney

It shouldn’t surprise us that the Supreme Court has decided to take a case about the public displaying of the 10 Commandments, but refused to hear the case of Jose Padilla, the alleged “dirty bomber”. On the one hand we have a hot-button cultural issue that is bound to divide the country along ideological lines. (good for Bush)  And, on the other we have the most significant case in the history of the court, casually pushed aside for a later date. Both cases reveal how deeply politicized the high court has become, and how (eventually) some of its members will have to be removed to restore confidence in the legitimacy of the institution....(full article)

Dark Ages, Reprise
How the Bush Administration is fighting a battle
against the women of the world, and winning
by Katehrine Brengle

While supporters of the Bush Administration and its policies continue to claim freedom and democracy around the world as the great legacy of the American state, they choose to ignore the ongoing and ferocious war on women and women's sexuality being waged by the United States government against half of its own population, and against half of the population of the world. We already have a massive movement against a woman's right to choose which has been escalating since the 1970s, and is still growing. The sickness is spreading inside the US, shown most recently in the FDA's refusal to approve the female sex-drive enhancer Intrinsa and this week's outrage -- the refusal of the Supreme Court to overturn an Alabama law banning the sale or distribution of sex toys. Internationally, the repercussions of this oppression are far more serious -- for now....
(full article)

Every Bloodbath Has a Silver Lining (Part One)
by Media Lens

In a remarkable article in last week’s Guardian entitled, “The war’s silver lining,” Jonathan Freedland wrote: “Tony Blair is not gloating. He could -- but he prefers to appear magnanimous in what he hopes is victory. In our Guardian interview yesterday, he was handed a perfect opportunity to crow. He was talking about what he called ‘the ripple of change’ now spreading through the Middle East, the slow, but noticeable movement towards democracy in a region where that commodity has long been in short supply. I asked him whether the stone in the water that had caused this ripple was the regime change in Iraq. He could have said yes, insisting that events had therefore proved him right and the opponents of the 2003 war badly wrong. But he did not. Instead he sidestepped the whole Iraq business... But if he had wanted to brag and claim credit -- boasting that the toppling of Saddam Hussein had set off a benign chain reaction -- he would have had plenty of evidence to call on.” (Freedland, “The war's silver lining -- We need to face up to the fact that the Iraq invasion has intensified pressure for democracy in the Middle East,” The Guardian, March 2, 2005) The prime minister -- more properly, the prime suspect -- could have insisted that opponents of an illegal war of aggression, one that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dead and injured, had been proved “badly wrong.” How so? Freedland explains....(full article)

Turkey Trot
by Peter Kurth

One of the advantages -- or disadvantages, depending on how you see it -- of writing a column about “the news” every other week, instead of every other day, is that you can't stay on top of the stories as they pour over you, “24/7”. A commentator and a reporter aren't the same thing, which leaves yours truly, each time a deadline comes around, wondering just where to land. This week I was lucky -- I've been too sick to care. For ten days, I've been ill with the worst winter cold and sinus infection since the Pope started hiring attorneys -- no disrespect to His Holiness, who, from what I hear, is now “breathing on his own,” after the emergency tracheotomy that saved his life last week. Granted, he still can't speak, but he did turn up at his hospital window on Sunday, in a “surprise appearance,” to wave and cough at the faithful at his weekly Angelus prayer and blessing....(full article)

March 5

International Women's Day: Honoring the Lives of
Women in Perilous Times

by Lucinda Marshall

On March 8 women in all corners of the world will join together to observe International Women's Day (IWD). A national holiday in some countries, IWD has become a day to celebrate women's achievements and to focus on the many problems that women face today. Indeed, the pandemic of threats to the welfare and livelihood of women in today's world is truly horrific....
(full article)

Progressivism and Free Speech for All
by Kim Petersen

There is a concerted right-wing effort to clamp down on liberal academics in the US. The attacks on M. Shahid Alam and Ward Churchill serve distinct notice that free-speech rights may be constitutionally protected on paper, but those rights are fragile. The assault on free speech is not confined to the US. Canadian security bills enacted following 9-11 have severely curtailed freedoms enjoyed by Canadians. Several Muslim Canadians have been rounded up along with one infamous historical revisionist. Sixty-five-year-old graphic artist Ernst Zündel, clad in an orange jumpsuit, sits on a pile of documents (because he is not allowed a chair) and sends off his last missives written with pencil stubs from his prison cell. He has just passed his second year of incarceration without charge. This prisoner is deemed to be a national security risk to Canada although he has no criminal record and is avowedly a Christian pacifist....(full article)

Protecting Campaign Coffers, Not Nature: The Trials of Max Baucus
by Joshua Frank

There is not much to admire about Montana Senator Max Baucus. Since his career began back in 1974, he has done little to earn the respect of his constituents. His convictions are hollow. His soul is vacant. Old Max is just another Washington bureaucrat driven by the almighty dollar. On February 25, Max invited himself to a meeting in Fernie, British Columbia to voice his opposition to a coal mine proposal of which he claims will “have no economic benefits only environmental consequences -- for Montana.” Needless to say he wasn’t welcome....(full article)

Is the Earth Really Finished?
Countering Despair with the Momentum of Hope
by Media Lens

Climate crisis is not a future risk. It is today’s reality. As Myles Allen, a climate scientist at Oxford University, warned recently: “The danger zone is not something we are going to reach in the middle of this century. We are in it now.” (Roger Highfield, “Screen saver weather trial predicts 10 deg rise in British temperatures,” Daily Telegraph, 31 January, 2005) Human-induced climate change has been killing people for decades. Climatologists estimate that global warming has led to the deaths of 150,000 people since 1970. (Meteorological Office, “Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change,” 1-3 February 2005, Table 2a. ‘Impacts on human systems due to temperature rise, precipitation change and increases in extreme events’, page 1; By 2050, as temperatures rise, scientists warn that three billion people will be under “water stress”, with tens of millions likely dying as a result. At such a desperate moment in the planet’s history, we could simply throw up our hands in despair, or we could try to reduce the likelihood of the worst predictions coming true. The corporate media has yet to examine its own role in setting up huge obstacles to the latter option of hope....(full article)

Common Sense is Anathema to Bible-believing Creationists
by Lee Salisbury

Is the public well served when clergy and legislators promote ideas defying logic and science and for which there is no better evidence or logic for than a literal Snow White or a literal Peter Pan? (full article)

Objectivity in Independent Media
Part 3: Language and Altered Reality
by Kim Petersen and B.J. Sabri

There is a glaring contradiction between what Power and Interest News Report (PINR) professes to be in theory, and what it is in practice. This contradiction is not limited to ideological bias and communication of disinformation, but also extends to the choice of terminology with the purpose to spread propaganda and distorted facts. Again, PINR, which proclaims itself “an analysis-based publication that seeks to, as objectively as possible, provide insight into various conflicts, regions and points of interest around the globe. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader,” is not that at all....(full article)

Hey, Look at Me, Everybody: I’m Evil! Who’s Next?
by Mark Drolette

I knew it was only a matter of time before I was publicly identified as a scourge to society, and now it has happened.  According to Arnold Schwarzenegger, I am evil. No one’s called me that since my first marriage, I don’t think.  Or was it my second?  Come to think of it, maybe it was both; I can never remember.  Oh well, it doesn’t really matter (sometimes a failing memory is a good thing); Arnie has certainly left no doubt where he stands, even if he needs lifts to do it.  (That’s a cheap crack, I know, but I’m wicked, remember?) The basis for my purported iniquity: I work as an analyst for the State of California and belong to the state’s largest public employees union, the California State Employees Association.  (Apparently, I am one of those lucky demons that doesn’t spontaneously combust in daylight.) Arnold leveled his charge during a speech at the recent GOP state convention.  Gary Delsohn of the Sacramento Bee reports: “Vowing to pass four broad government-overhaul measures at a special election later this year, Schwarzenegger said public employee labor unions and other foes are amassing $200 million to fight him.” (Part of Arnie’s grand plan to “help the people” is to gut the smooth-running state employees’ and teachers’ pension plans a la his Bushmaster’s Social Security privatizing scam.  The estimated tab for this irregular election is between $50 million and $70 million, which is some kind of special, all right.)....(full article)

Protecting a Regime With Blood on its Hands
by John Pilger

Almost eight years ago, the choir of British liberalism celebrated a new age. Tony Blair, wrote the liberal thinker Hugo Young, “wants to create a world none of us have known,” a world which “ideology has surrendered entirely to ‘values’ [and where] there are no sacred cows . . . no fossilized limits to the ground over which the mind might range in search of a better Britain.” Besotted minds ranged far. In a Tonier-than-thou piece for The Guardian, Martin Kettle hilariously declared Blair an honorary Australian. “He is not in awe of the past,” he wrote. “He is not intimidated by class. He is a meritocrat, a doer... He is simply happy making his own history.... It would be nice to think that one day these would be thought of as British characteristics, too.” Former Labour Party deputy leader Roy Hattersley described one of the most ideological regimes in modern British history as “untainted by dogma”; Blair was “taking the politics out of politics.” “Goodbye, xenophobia,” was the Observer's post-election front page, and “The Foreign Office says, Hello world, remember us?” The Blair government, said the paper, would push for “new worldwide rules on human rights" and implement “tough new limits on arms sales.” Let’s pause to consider the truth....(full article)

Selling Social Security Reform, Team Bush-Style
by Seth Sandronsky

President Bush’s push to sell Social Security reform to a wary U.S. public has shifted gears. The second leg of his sales effort has begun with a repeated warning that the popular program faces a crisis, plus a challenge to Democratic opponents to offer their alternative.  Bush, Vice President Cheney and Treasury Secretary Snow will canvass the nation for 60 days in 29 states to spread the idea of revamping Social Security. Team Bush’s main talking point is that the popular program faces a grave future without benefit cuts and private accounts.  Snow promised “to hit this hard” before speaking in Louisiana. It is an open secret that Team Bush’s case for reforming Social Security has been floundering....(full article)

Global Disparities: Of People and Pets
by M. Shahid Alam

We need a different approach to the measurement of global disparities. The disparities between the rich and poor people are now so large, one has to ask if these comparisons make sense any more. When 25 million of the richest people living in the United States enjoy nearly as much income as 2 billion of the world’s poorest people, one begins to wonder if the ‘people’ in the two groups are the same. It is likely that if knowledge of these comparisons became common, they could lead to the revival of old racist attitudes in the United States. Alternatively, they could induce feelings of deep despair among the world’s 2 billion poorest people. And this could turn them into recruits for al-Qaida. This is why I am proposing an alternative measure of global disparities. Instead of comparing X across people in poor and rich countries, I am suggesting that we make these comparisons for people in poor countries and mammalian pets in rich countries. In other words, economists at the World Bank, IMF, WTO and OECD should devote some of their resources to tracking how the economies of poor countries –- especially in Africa, Latin America and Asia –- are faring relative to the economies of pets in the rich countries....(full article)

Coming to a Church Near You
by William Fisher

When Al Qaida’s Human Resources department brings new folks on board, we can assume 99.9% of them will be radical Islamists. Fine, we expect it. When the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan is out recruiting, Henry Kissinger or Joe Lieberman or Barbra Streisand are not his most promising targets. He’s looking for W.A.S.P.s. No surprise here. And when Bob Jones University goes scouting for new blood, they’re not looking for Denzel Washington or Whoopi Goldberg. The Supreme Court ruled twenty years ago that the federal government could deny a religiously-run university tax benefits because the university imposed a racially discriminatory anti-miscegenation policy. Frankly, I don’t really care who gets hired by these discredited and disgraceful outfits. At least, not until I’m asked to help pay their salaries....(full article)

March 3

Crushing the UN for a Stronger America
by Mike Whitney

The Bush Administration has developed a straightforward plan to crush its enemies in the United Nations and remake the institution in its own image. The new strategy was decided on during the run up to the Iraq war when mutinous elements within the Security Council challenged the administration’s right to wage an unprovoked war with Iraq. America’s failed attempts at garnering the Security Council’s approval weakened its shrinking credibility and tested its ability to act unilaterally. Now, the administration has figured out a way to purge “allegedly” disloyal members of Kofi Annan’s personal staff and replace them with handpicked allies of the administration. This is part of a broader scheme to rebuild the UN from the ground up in a way that better serves American interests....(full article)

Encountering Hunter Thompson
by Jim Charles

The gonzo journalist who wrote about gonzo times influenced not just his readers but journalism as a whole. People don’t realize that a lot of news reporting today is merely Hunter Thompson on Ritalin....(full article)

Hunter S. Thompson and Constitutions
by Matt Reichel

I had planned to wake up early last Monday morning to finish up a journalistic piece on Spain’s EU constitution vote the previous day. All that I needed to do was add the raw data which was going to confirm my already stated opinions on how voter turnout would be bad, and most voters would admit to not even knowing what the constitution was all about. Unfortunately, before getting to the Spain story on BBC online, I saw that Hunter S. Thompson had decided to end his life. I’ve never been his biggest fan, but have always been close to people who nearly idolized him. Thus, I was a bit shaken, though I knew I wouldn’t mourn him, because that’s not what he wanted. This wasn’t someone losing out to depression and drugs: this was a storyteller who wanted to control his own ending. Thus, I spent 5 days celebrating the life and times of Hunter appropriately: much alcohol and the occasional drug usage in making hard thought reflection. Now I finally have the occasion to continue my rantings on things like Europe’s constitution: a document amounting to a Cinderella story based on lies and propaganda. What made Hunter special is that his purpose was to blur the line between fantasy and reality, for no other reason than that line is always blurred, and pretending it isn’t amounts to bad journalism. In a world full of bad journalism and neo-liberal fantasies about eternal peace and happiness, it’s a shame there aren’t more Hunter S. Thompsons....(full article)

Israel's Third Wall
by James Brooks

We’ve all heard that when they met at Sharm el-Sheikh on February 8, Mahmoud Abbas and Ariel Sharon agreed to “stop the violence in a historic agreement that signals the end of the Intifada.” But most of us did not hear about Ibrahim Abu Jazar from Rafah, who was fatally wounded by Israeli troops on February 9. During the following two-and-a-half weeks, the Israeli army observed the “cease fire” by killing seven more Palestinians, three of them children. People were still waiting to see this “cease fire” in Nablus, Salfit, Hebron, and other occupied places, when it was “suddenly shattered” by the bombing deaths of four Israelis in Tel Aviv on February 25. Even if the Israeli army had not mocked the Palestinians by repeatedly violating the “cease fire”, even if every militant in Palestine had accepted its terms, the agreement at Sharm el-Sheikh would not have stopped the violence. At best, it would have rendered it temporarily invisible to the television cameras. Gunpowder and TNT are merely symptoms of the ongoing violence in this war. They will continue to appear until the underlying disease is cured....(full article)

Ward Connerly’s Payback
by Seth Sandronsky

Ward Connerly has tried to end affirmative action programs in California. His Proposition 209 was passed by voters in 1996. Prop. 209 ended state government preferences based on race and gender. On February 16, Connerly received a payback for that and his more recent work: $250,000 from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation....(full article)

Iraq Veterans Against the War?
by Lou Plummer

Why pick a military town as the site for an antiwar rally? As a military veteran and a resident of Fayetteville, N.C. near Ft. Bragg, I can think of at least 50 reasons. Each of those reasons has a name and each were members of our community prior to their deaths in Iraq....(full article)

Military Policy on Gays is Costly and Dangerous
by Gene C. Gerard

The military spent over $200 million to recruit and train personnel to replace service members discharged over the last decade for being openly gay, according to a Congressional report that was just released. The report found that over 10,000 troops were discharged for violating the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that was instituted in 1993 under President Clinton. The policy allows military personnel to serve only if they do not disclose their homosexuality to anyone, including family members....(full article)

Murder of Dorothy Stang Places Brazil and Lula at a Crossroads
by Brian McAfee

An American nun Dorothy Stang who had lived in Brazil for 30 years and a naturalized Brazilian citizen was gunned down on a remote dirt road in the Amazon Jungle in the region where she lived and worked for 23 years, on February 12. Brazil's State of Para in the north of the country is a rugged and lawless region where loggers and ranchers are in an ongoing battle with the region's poor and environmentalists who seek a livelihood and to sustain the rain forests. She was killed by two gunmen hired by rancher Vitalmiro Moura while trying to halt illegal logging in an area that Moura coveted. The Amazon, the world's largest rain forest, has been reduced by 20% so far and the trend continues....(full article)

March 2

Beguiled to Sleep, Awakened by Thunder
by Dan Raphael

We American workers are more beguiled than we are oppressed.
These words in the first few pages of Curtis White’s book, The Middle Mind, simultaneously touch multiple strands that explain and characterize the current tenor of our society. Beguilement is aligned with mystification, wishes, dreams, fantasy, and imagination; it is the province of the deep hope of human beings to be happy and free. To the extent that the existing state of things—our society in all the complexity of its relationships—appears more beguiling than oppressive, the yearnings that lead and drive most people’s lives will be effectively harnessed to the status quo....(full article)

An Interview With Dahr Jamail on Occupied Iraq
by Derrick O'Keefe

Dahr Jamail, from Anchorage, Alaska, has spent a total of eight months in occupied Iraq as one of only a few independent US journalists in the country. Dahr uses the website and his popular mailing list to disseminate his dispatches. His dispatches are recognized as a vital media resource about occupied Iraq. Here is an interview with Jamail by Derrick O'Keefe of Seven Oaks Magazine in Canada....(full interview)

The Techno-Politics of the Indonesian Crisis:
An Opportunity Lost
by Songok Han Thornton

The Asian Crash of 1997 is often referred to as the Asian financial crisis, as if non-economic forces can be effectively bracketed out of consideration. This study holds, conversely, that such bracketing had a part in the making of the Crisis. A more comprehensive view of development, such as Amartya Sen’s, would allow us to see the Crash as the flip side of the so-called “Asian miracle.”  The real miracle was that corrupt and repressive regimes could pass themselves off for decades as engines of development. What is missed in the typical economic focus is the liberatory dimension of the Crash.  Notwithstanding its tremendous economic trauma, the Crash also opened the door for sweeping reform throughout the Pacific Rim. Unfortunately, the global institutions which rushed in to stanch the “financial crisis” not only did much to turn a recession into a depression, but also obstructed political development. What they actually stanched was the one positive effect of the Crash: the escape it afforded from developmental authoritarianism. This was especially the case in Indonesia, where pent-up reform energies held out the prospect of a developmental paradigm shift, if only the domestic reform dynamic could run its course unimpeded.  That of course was not to be. As in the previous “miracle” years, the new agents of political stasis would be Western educated technocrats and their affiliates. Once again this Trojan Horse was rolled in to guarantee the “stability” that was required for a “healthy investment climate.” From a broader developmental perspective, however, that stability was purchased at the price of political regression....(full article)

The Million Dollar Interview
by Mickey Z.

Mickey Z. talks to Mary Johnson about Clint Eastwood, Hunter Thompson, and the “right to die”....(full interview)

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