Political notes from 2003: January - April

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  • 30 April 2003 ()

    The electronic remote voting systems being tried in the UK, US and other countries are extremely vulnerable to fraud.

    For more information about the dangers of electronic voting, see http://www.fipr.org/eDemocracy/index.html.

    Postal voting used in the UK is already opening up avenues for fraud (which electronic voting will exacerbate).

    That article also points out the fundamental fallacy underlying the supposed reason for electronic voting. The reason for low turnout is that many voters see that none of the candidates will represent their interests against the powerful few.

    Even mechanical voting machines can functoin in a way that systematically loses votes for one party.

  • 30 April 2003 ()

    The US proposes to develop nuclear weapons for attacking bunkers.

    I get the feeling that Bush and Rumsfeld are not satisfied with nuclear deterrence--they want to actually use nuclear weapons. I am not the only one. The Bush policies have devastated the international diplomatic efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

  • 29 April 2003 ()

    Temporal-lobe epilepsy has been found to enhance religious feelings, and at least some religious visions are directly caused by it.

  • 29 April 2003 ()

    The US TV news service for Iraq is operated by a studio controlled by fundamentalist Christians.

  • 29 April 2003 ()

    Bush forces have searched the 90 most likely places to find some Iraqi biological or chemical weapons; they found none. Nonetheless, Bush continues to say some will be found.

    It is also interesting to note how Dubya's statement implies that the repeated Pentagon statements that "everything was going precisely according to plan" were falsehoods. They were speaking for effect, not telling the truth. What's interesting is that they feel that the idea that Saddam's forces could even force a small change of plans is too much weakness to admit. The arrogance, and the denial, are collossal.

  • 28 April 2003 ()

    Madonna posted fake songs on the Internet; the audio files which purported to contain her songs actually contained absurd messages that liken the sharing of music to attacking ships (piracy).

    People had a field day editing these songs into "cutups" that express the opposite view.

    Record companies treat musicians worse than you could imagine; and when you buy the typical commercial CD, the amount that the musicians get is zero. The few exceptions are musicians like Madonna that have been very successful for a long time have the chance and the clout to negotiate better contracts. If you buy a Madonna CD, she really does get some of the money. But she, unlike most musicians, doesn't need it.

  • 28 April 2003 ()

    All governments are supposed to help people fleeing persecution. Nowadays, governments (especially in Europe) treat asylum seekers cruelly in order to chase them away, while pretending that most asylum requests are phony

    A new study shows that most people seeking asylum in the UK are fleeing from dictatorships.

    Even as Blair was talking about how horrible Saddam Hussein was, refugees from Iraq were being denied asylum in the UK, which claimed they were only looking only for a better economy.

  • 28 April 2003 ()

    WHO made a report on health effects of eating sugar. Sugar companies don't like it and are trying to pressure WHO to change it.

    I don't think food companies should have any control over recommendations made by public bodies.

  • 28 April 2003 ()

    The city of Arcata, California, has voted to order its police not to cooperate with the USA PAT-RIOT Act.

    It has adopted an ordinance prohibiting "unconstitutional" cooperation with the act by the city's employees.

  • 28 April 2003 ()

    Companies are trying to pass a law in Ohio and other states to restrict the government from providing government information to the public. The aim is to force citizens to go through companies instead.

    The attitude seems to be that the government should not serve the public; that it exists to make people pay money to companies. If you live in Ohio or know someone there, please tell your legislators you object.

  • 28 April 2003 ()

    An interesting article on whether computers really need to be easier to use than they are now.

  • 26 April 2003 ()

    Journalists, actors and musicians in the US face the threat of being fired or otherwise punished if they criticize Bush.

    If we had a president who believed in freedom, he would be criticizing this.

  • 25 April 2003 ()

    Due to a toxic chemical plant in Sicily, 6% of local babies are born deformed.

    Meanwhile, it turns out the KGB tried to warn about the danger of the Chernobyl nuclear plant, which subsequently exploded, but its warnings were ignored.

  • 25 April 2003 ()

    Hans Blix, the chief of UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, says the US undermined his efforts to hunt for NBC weapons in Iraq. The rest of the security council, all but the US, want to send him back to Iraq to finish the job. Bush, of course, wants only his forces to search for Iraqi weapons.

    It is interesting that Bush spokesmen now warn that "Iraqi agents might have been able to destroy incriminating materials in the days of chaos that followed the taking of Baghdad". When the Bush forces chose not to stop the systematic arson that destroyed Iraqi government records, I suggested that their motive might be to create an excuse for the absence of any evidence of banned Iraqi weapons. Whether or not they made that calculation, they are now using the excuse.

    This all makes sense if Bush has known all along that there would be no evidence because there were no such weapons.

    Why does Bush now oppose the return of Blix and his inspectors? Perhaps the Bush forces intend to plant phony evidence.

  • 25 April 2003 ()

    A journalist writes, "I saw Marines Kill Civilians".

  • 25 April 2003 ()

    Iraqi Shiites are holding large protests because the Bush military government arrested one of their leaders. Other Shiite leaders are calling for sustained protests.

    This also reports that the Bush forces have persistently prevented an investigation of why their troops killed British journalist Terry Lloyd.

    They attacked three different groups of journalists in one day as they were taking Baghdad; for the attack on the Palestine Hotel, they made the excuse that someone was shooting at them from there, but this was proved false by the tape made by another journalist, which recorded no shots before the tank shot at the hotel. Putting the coverup alongside this pattern of known attacks on journalists, we have to suspect that the Bush forces may have deliberately killed Terry Lloyd.

  • 24 April 2003 ()

    Maher Hawash, a US citizen of Palestinian origin, was arrested by federal agents who refused to release him or to charge him with any crime.

    Due to public pressure, the government has not been able to toss him in a dungeon and throw away the key. A judge ruled that he cannot be held indefinitely, and gave the Bush regime a time limit.

  • 23 April 2003 ()

    Licensed to Kill, Inc., is incorporated in the state of Virginia for the explicit purpose of "the manufacture and marketing of tobacco products in a way that each year kills over 400,000 Americans and 4.5 million other persons worldwide."

  • 23 April 2003 ()

    Indian scientists genetically engineered a potato to produce more protein. Instead of patenting this, they will make it available (after tests) for farmers to grow and use freely.

    The article's author used the confusing and biased term "intellectual property"; please try to avoid doing that yourself. See this.

  • 23 April 2003 ()

    White House cultural advisers resigned because Bush failed to protect the National Museum of Iraq.

  • 20 April 2003 ()

    A summary of the situation in and regarding Iraq.

  • 20 April 2003 ()

    Americans face yet another attack on their freedom.

    The first target, as usual, is foreigners living in the US, but an attack on US citizens cannot be far behind.

  • 20 April 2003 ()

    One way to judge whether US and Bush forces have committed real war crimes is to compare their actions against the standards set by the US at Nuremberg.

  • 18 April 2003 ()

    US troops shot civilians in Mosul when they started yelling during a speech by Mashaan Al-Juburi, imposed by the Bush forces as "governor".

    The Bush forces said they were fired on first and that they did not fire on the crowd--but the dead and wounded in the crowd say that cannot be true.

    Similar events in the US include the Boston Massacre, which contributed to the American Revolution, and the massacre at Kent State, which contributed to the exit of US troops from Viet Nam.

    Mosul is in Kurdistan, which has been running since the first Gulf War under its own somewhat-democratic goverment, but they did not control Mosul (Saddam did). Bush promised Turkey that the Kurds would not control Mosul; which means, I suppose, that Mosul gets Bush-appointed rulers, who stay in power by shooting the public instead of by winning elections.

  • 18 April 2003 ()

    Although I do not advocate Christianity, I think it is interesting that the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem has decided that Bush and Blair, and their ministers of war, are not allowed entry.

  • 18 April 2003 ()

    Although the details of the cause of the Columbia disaster were probably a complex series of accidents, the deeper cause was cuts in the NASA budget, which had the shuttle program operating at the bare edge of safety. They created a situation ripe for disaster.

    A similar combination of circumstances led in the 1870s to famines in India and China that killed 30 to 50 million people. While the immediate cause of the famines was failure of the monsoon rains, related to El Niņo, the deeper cause, the reason the bad harvest caused so many deaths, was political: the British had forced these countries to participate in a system of world trade on disadvantageous terms. This weakened the systems that had cushioned the population from previous famines.

    In other words, forced globalization killed more people than Stalin or Mao.

  • 18 April 2003 ()

    There is evidence tying British army officers to protestant death squads that operated in Northern Ireland in the 80s.

  • 18 April 2003 ()

    Some 200-300 Iraqis in Baghdad protested the occupation of their country. The Bush forces tried to prevent media coverage of the protest, saying that media coverage encourages protests.

    The Bush forces had no objection to media coverage when a similar number of Iraqis cheered as Bush forces pulled down Saddam's statue. So it's not that they object to television; they merely want it to be one-sided and biased. Can people who don't believe in democracy and human rights possibly establish an Iraqi government that respects them?

    Meanwhile, 20,000 Iraqis protested in Naririya, saying "No to America, No to Saddam".

    One of the difficulties any Iraqi government will face is the existence of armed militias, Afghanistan-style.

    The US-selected Iraqi opposition leaders, meeting to discuss how to establish democracy in Iraq, considered many difficult issues.

    The main point that MacIntyre argues is a red herring. When says that "No one...can argue that democracy is suddenly unimportant or unexportable just because it is advocated by right-wing Republicans," he attacks a straw man. The real point is that Bush doesn't really support democracy in Iraq. It is just talk.

  • 18 April 2003 ()

    Despite the good news that unsubstantiated charges were dropped against two OCAP activists, three activists still face fabricated charges of "participating in a riot" in Montreal. The riot's only real participants were the rampaging police.

  • 18 April 2003 ()

    The history of Iraq for the past century is a struggle by great powers over control of Iraq's oil reserves.

  • 17 April 2003 ()

    The Bush forces have imposed a curfew on Baghdad, but they have not restored the electricity or water supplies that they destroyed, or tried to identify Saddam's torturers. They said it would take "forensic tests" to see if their bombs had killed Saddam Hussein, but they did not even bother to dig out the bodies.

    And there is evidence that people are being paid to burn government buildings, substantiating the suspicion I voiced earlier this week. I wonder why? Is Bush trying to create an excuse for failing to find the supposed weapons of mass distruction that were the supposed reason for the war? Is he destroying evidence of the past collusion between Saddam Hussein and the US government?

  • 16 April 2003 ()

    Belgium has changed the law that enabled victims of mass murder to sue officials such as Ariel Sharon and Henry Kissinger for their responsibility in the acts.

    The law now exempts officials in governments with democratic credentials. Does engineering consent within one country make mass murder excusable?

  • 16 April 2003 ()

    The murder of a bouncer in a New York bar should not be a reason to change the law on using tobacco in bars.

    Tobacco is dangerous drug, but prohibiting it entirely would be unjust (and would do more harm than good). People should be free to smoke tobacco, like the less dangerous marijuana, in their homes or outdoors. However, prohibiting tobacco smoking in bars, especially those where music is played, might greatly reduce the fraction of adults who become heavy users. Many young people go there and experience social pressure to use tobacco.

  • 16 April 2003 ()

    Blair says that Bush has no plans to invade Syria.

    When Blair talks about what Bush will do, he often engages in persistent wishful thinking. We cannot believe what he says. However, the lack of even UK support for another attack may do something to restrain Dubya.

    Or perhaps he is simply lying.

  • 16 April 2003 ()

    Amnesty International has accused the Bush forces in Iraq of protecting Iraqi oil and neglecting its responsibility to protect Iraqi people.

  • 16 April 2003 ()

    As chaos and violence swallow Baghdad, Bush and his men call it liberation. Iraqis increasingly disagree.

    The Bush invasion is increasing the hostility among the ethnic groups in Iraq.

    These ethnic divisions go back a long ways, but were stirred up by the former US-backed strongman in Iraq, Saddam Hussein.

  • 16 April 2003 ()

    Naomi Klein argues that conquering Iraq is Dubya's new method of introducing corporate-dominated "free" trade, bypassing the need for messy negotiations. However, Noam Chomsky has a partly different view.

  • 16 April 2003 ()

    Why Bush will not do what it takes to bring peace to Palestine.

  • 16 April 2003 ()

    The Bush forces dropped bombs in Iraq that are full of poison gas--but that's ok, since they explode it after poisoning people with it.

  • 16 April 2003 ()

    The National Museum of Iraq held priceless relics from the dawn of civilization. Now they have been destroyed by looters who seem to have smashed more than they stole.

    Reading this article filled me with anguish. The destruction of history is an immense tragedy because nothing can ever replace it.

    The history in that museum was your history and my history, the history of the people whose great invention, writing, we are using now. The museum was smashed by poor, uneducated Iraqis, who did not value their people's history. Poor, uneducated Americans who did not value their people's history (which also began in Iraq) didn't bother to prevent it. Rich, maleducated Americans, who care nothing for anyone's history, gave them no orders to intervene. People around the world condemn the Bush forces for failing to protect the museum.

    The destruction of the museum was followed by the burning of the national archives.

    These archives went back just a few hundred years; they don't cover ancient civilization, merely the history of Iraq since Ottoman times. Some records were deposited there during Saddam Hussein's rule, and when Robert Fisk asks "Why," I have to wonder if Bush did this to destroy records of something that George I did, before the first Gulf War, when he still supported Saddam Hussein.

  • 16 April 2003 ()

    Officials involved in planning the war for Bush are in many cases connected with companies such as Bechtel that expect to profit from it.

  • 13 April 2003 ()

    Remember when Republicans stood for "fiscal responsibility"? That was an excuse for one part of their goal: to cut spending on programs that benefit ordinary citizens. When it comes to spending on the rich, or cutting their taxes, they forget all about "fiscal responsibility".

    Reportedly quoted from a speech in Congress on CSPAN:

    Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Sherman).

    Mr. SHERMAN. Mr. Speaker, we are united in our prayers for the success and safety of our men and women in combat. The powers that be have brought to this floor a highly divisive budget resolution. This budget resolution is designed to enrich the rich at the expense of economic growth for all America. It means larger budget deficits, higher interest rates, larger trade deficits. It will take capital out of the private sector and away from business investments while underinvesting in education and infrastructure.

    But I rise to address another point, another flaw in this budget resolution; and I will do so with an analogy to a credit card advertisement that we are all familiar with.

    Allowing corporations to get out of paying American taxes just by renting a hotel room in the Bahamas, $4 billion; ending taxes on all dividends, $385 billion; ending the estate tax even on the largest estates, $662 billion; knowing Members can pass the entire cost of all of this to future generations, priceless. RepubliCard, it is everything the super rich want it to be.

    Also available, the new Deficit Express Card soon with a $4.2 trillion credit limit. The Deficit Express Card, do not leave the House without it.

  • 13 April 2003 ()

    An Israeli soldier deliberately shot international monitor Tom Hurndall in the head, for no reason, says another international monitor who witnessed the attack. Hurndall is now a breathing corpse.

    Perhaps the Israeli government has told soldiers not to worry about killing the international monitors. Or perhaps the Israeli government's non-reaction to the killing of Rachel Corrie consitutes a tacit ok for any more killings. That way would be safer, more deniable--but ethically there's no difference. Soldiers or police who are controlling a people who oppose them can easily come to hate them and be glad to have an opportunity to hurt or kill. Whatever government they work for has the moral responsibility to make it clear this is not going to be tolerated.

    A week ago I spoke with someone in California who had recently seen a driver deliberately run over a protester. A San Francisco policewoman who watched it happen said she did not care. She apparently already has come to hate the people in her own city, when they protest.

  • 13 April 2003 ()

    Don't be fooled by a toppling statue.

  • 13 April 2003 ()

    Trying to explain to Arabs that it's not that Americans hate Arabs, just that Americans are extremely credulous.

  • 13 April 2003 ()

    The Santa Cruz, CA, library assiduously destroys its records every day to prevent the US government from doing blanket surveillance on its patrons.

  • 13 April 2003 ()

    Activists in San Francisco protested a software company which is developing surveillance technology. The company has Richard Perle on its board; Perle recently resigned from the Defense Policy Board because his other corrupt business connections were causing too much scandal.

  • 13 April 2003 ()

    An Australian has literally patented the wheel, as a demonstration of the absurdly low standards of the Australian patent office (and other patent offices).

    The article unfortunately describes patent law as an "intellectual property law". The term "intellectual property" is fashionable but misleading; by lumping together patents, copyrights, trademarks and various other laws, it encourages people to think about them all at once in a simplistic fashion. I urge you not to use that term.

  • 12 April 2003 ()

    The World Water Forum did not go according to plan for the multinational water companies that thought they controlled it.

    However, the outcome still was not very good.

    The EU goverments are pressuring poor countries to allow European companies to privatize their drinking water supplies. Many Europeans don't like this, and it is becoming a scandal.

  • 12 April 2003 ()

    It's like undertakers burning down a house, then squabbling about who gets to make the coffins.

  • 11 April 2003 ()

    Thai police are systematically murdering thousands of Thais, usually people they believe are using marijuana or other illegal drugs.

    Some of the victims are unsavoury characters who might have deserved to be convicted of a crime. Others are not. None of them had a trial.

  • 11 April 2003 ()

    Tariq Ayoub, the Al Jazeera journalist killed by the Bush forces, described by a Western colleague.

  • 11 April 2003 ()

    Assuming the Bush forces finish the conquest of Iraq, what to do with it will be a harder problem.

    On March 24 I wrote,

    Saddam Hussein being a dictator, and one who kills often, it would be worth hundreds of lives--even innocent people's lives--to overthrow him, if only we could be confident that the people of Iraq wanted to be liberated (who knows?) and that the replacement would really be much better. But anyone appointed by Dubya is unlikely to be much better. We can get a good idea of the sort of ruler that the US is likely to impose by looking at the last ruler the US supported in Iraq. His name: Saddam Hussein.

    Many Iraqis now seem to be glad to get rid of Saddam Hussein. Whether the replacement imposed by Bush will be better is yet to be seen. His two nominees to rule Iraq are an American arms dealer (Garner) and a former Iraqi who left Iraq in 1956. If Iraqis don't like those rulers, will the new regime use the support of Bush to build up a repressive system to stay in power?

    Will Bush give Iraq real democracy where citizens have real rights, Bush-style fake democracy where rights are just facades, or Saddam-style dictatorship? His words, of course, say the first. The actions are pointing toward one of the other two.

  • 11 April 2003 ()

    In Serbia, members of a major political opposition party, led by Kostunica, have been arrested and accused of plotting with gangsters the assassination of Djindjic.

    Serbians have told me that the politicians are all corrupt. It's not implausible that Kostunica's party was involved with gangsters. Djindjic also was widely accused of being involved with gangs, and shortly after the assassination, police arrested an anarchist merely for saying that "a criminal was killed by other criminals". So it is not implausible that Djindjic's party is using this excuse to frame supporters of Kostunica.

  • 11 April 2003 ()

    School kids in the UK got a practical lesson in democracy--and in tyranny--as they literally escaped from lock-up in school in order to practice civil disobedience to protest the war.

  • 10 April 2003 ()

    Journalists have counted 1000 Iraqi civilians killed mostly by Bush forces. The total must be much larger. Thousands of civilians have been wounded in the fighting in Baghdad.

    I will make a prediction: that the Bush military government in Iraq will impede attempts to identify and count the civilian casualties, so that Americans won't think about them.

  • 10 April 2003 ()

    Remember the Iraqi chemical weapons suits that Rumsfeld said were proof that Iraq had and would use chemical weapons? This article reports that Rumsfeld himself said the US might use chemical weapons in Iraq.

  • 10 April 2003 ()

    Israeli fighters often assassinate terrorist suspects rather than trying to arrest them, and they often kill bystanders in the process. It almost doesn't count as news any more. This time, they fired second time at the crowd who gathered after the first attack.

    It reminds me of a terrorist tactic: explode a second bomb a few minutes after the first, so as to target those who come to the scene of the explosion.

    Almost 1% of the Palestinian population has been killed by Israeli attacks. Something like half the Palestinian population has experienced prison-like curfew conditions for weeks on end.

  • 10 April 2003 ()

    Looking beyond Iraq: the US may try to take control of other oil-producing countries, to defend US economic domination from the competition that the euro poses for the dollar.

  • 10 April 2003 ()

    A brief introduction to the modern history of the Middle East.

  • 10 April 2003 ()

    As the Bush forces crow about military victories, let's not let their attacks on journalists be buried under happy-talk news.

    This article by an angry journalist also provides information about a longer series of attacks on independent journalists in Iraq.

    As Bush forces take control, we must be concerned that they will exclude from Iraq any journalists that might criticize Bush policy. I've heard that Kate Adie was excluded from Iraq by the Bush forces before the war.

  • 10 April 2003 ()

    Holding Iraq when its people want the Bush forces out may be much harder than conquering it. The US intervention in Afghanistan--which I supported at the time-- is going badly now.

    Bush won't be so quick to ignore Iraq and its oil. What is more likely in Iraq is that, Bush forces will do whatever is "necessary" to make sure the new "democratic" regime remains in power--including supporting a new strongman who will act like the last US-supported strongman in Iraq (Saddam Hussein).

  • 10 April 2003 ()

    Everyone concerned with freedom in the US should learn about the bill known as "son of patriot" that the Bush administration is drawing up.

    They plan to cancel people's citizenship if they participate in protests, punish use of encryption, prohibit witnesses from saying what their testimony was, collect everyone's credit records just by asking (i.e. total information awareness). And many other things. A law professor wrote this article.

    Nowadays you may have trouble finding out if your spouse has been arrested without charges. But if you do find out, you can tell the ACLU or the press. This bill would make it a crime to tell. The government would have official power to disappear people, and prohibit all mention of what has happened to them. Americans would have to look to overseas to find out what has happened to their missing family members, or for information about what the government is doing.

    The bill attaches conditions to some these powers, but as the article explains, the conditions are easy to satisfy. We've already seen that Bush's men are happy to stretch the law quite far to do what they want. They are already doing some of these things, even though the legality of them is questionable. They would run right over the conditions.

  • 9 April 2003 ()

    On April 8, Bush forces made several separate attacks on journalists in Baghdad, killing several. This appears to have been a deliberate attempt to silence independent reporting on the war--in particular, on the civilian casualties caused by the Bush forces' attack on Iraq.

    The Bush forces did what they typically do: cite false excuses, such as that someone in the Palestine Hotel was shooting at them. Bush convinced most Americans that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks just by saying so repeatedly for a year. He probably figures now that he can get away with any lie just by sticking to it.

    Reuters' chief said that "US troops...have known all along that this hotel is the main base for almost all foreign journalists in Baghdad."

    Yesterday I referred to an article suggesting that the mafia was a good model for understanding what the Bush forces say. This incident provides a perfect example. On the radio today, a Bush spokesperson was quoted as saying that the war zone is a dangerous place for journalists to be, and warning journalists to leave (i.e., stop covering the war). Just like our image of a mafia protection racket, the Bush forces present threats in the guise of warnings.

  • 9 April 2003 ()

    Imposing democracy by force is difficult and problematical-- even when you sincerely try.

    This problem may not be a concern for Bush. Talking about democracy is a lot easier than practicing it.

  • 8 April 2003 ()

    If Bush forces deprive Iraqi civilians of access to safe water, that is a war crime.

    Bush said that if Iraqis "take innocent life, if they destroy infrastructure, they will be held accountable as war criminals." Shouldn't the same standard apply to Bush?

  • 8 April 2003 ()

    Nine of the 30 members of the Defense Policy Board have known ties to large military contractors.

    The board's charter is to provide independent, informed advice; but it can't be independent of the wishes of those contractors.

  • 8 April 2003 ()

    To understand the real meaning of what Bush and Blair and their people say, model them on Al Capone.

    The model is not lost on Israeli militants, who cite Bush as justification for both actual and proposed brutality and censorship.

  • 8 April 2003 ()

    If Bush forces have military victory in Iraq, that won't excuse the lies they have told.

  • 8 April 2003 ()

    Chimps and gorillas are now in critical danger. Their population has been cut in half in 20 years.

  • 7 April 2003 ()

    Israeli fighters in a tank shot one of the an international witnesses. Fortunately not fatally.

    It looks like Israeli forces are trying to nerve themselves to kill the international witnesses at will.

  • 7 April 2003 ()

    Gloucestershire police in the UK are twisting an "anti-terrorism" law into an excuse to harrass protesters. They search the protesters over and over--not that they expect to find anything.

  • 7 April 2003 ()

    The US has historically been an advocate of "rule of law" and of multilateral solutions to global problems. The Bush regime has largely turned its back on this approach. For a thorough account of how the US has disregarded, undermined or blocked various treaties, see this [pdf].

  • 7 April 2003 ()

    Mia Couto, elsewhere described as Mozambique's leading writer, condemns the Bush regime's hypocritical policies, towards Africa, Iraq, "terrorism", and the rest of the world.

  • 6 April 2003 ()

    When the army goes to war in our name but without our concurrence, what are we entitled to feel and to hope for?

    I've been thinking for a while about how to respond to the argument that we have a duty as Americans to "support our troops" now that they are at war. My conclusion is that they are not "our troops" any more--not if "us" means "US". These troops were previously the US armed forces, but since Bush took over the US government and sent them to Iraq, they are now the Bush armed forces. They aren't ours now. They are not fighting for their country when they fight his private war.

    The support that these troops deserve, above all, is to be once again our troops--which means we must replace Bush as their commander with someone who stands for the American values of freedom and democracy. Until we achieve this, nothing else we might do truly gives them support.

    So when people tell you that "we" should support "our" troops, respond that the way to support them is to take away Bush's power to misuse them.

  • 6 April 2003 ()

    Some 25 neoconservatives are the architects of Bush's war against Iraq.

  • 6 April 2003 ()

    Outside the US, the irregular tactics of Saddam's fighters are being widely applauded.

    I do not entirely agree with the views of that article. Even in a guerrilla war, forcing civilians to be shields for fighting is wrong. I cannot condone this for Iraqi forces any more than I condone it for Israeli forces. Faking surrender is also wrong, since it undermines the idea of surrender; it can put the other side in a position where it dare not accept the surrender of defeated soldiers, but must kill them instead; the end result is inhumane.

    However, the Saddam forces are not the only ones that are using tactics that are inherently inhumane and unacceptable. The Bush forces are using depleted uranium and cluster bombs, which will kill civilians long after the war is over. They are bringing in too little food to feed the civilian population; they are bombing electrical plants, which makes the water supply stop functioning. Even before Bush took power, the US kept essential medicine out of Iraq for years, causing hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. I don't believe that one of these wrongs justifies the other, but on the balance, the greater evil falls on the Bush side.

  • 5 April 2003 ()

    Homeland Security Agents are stealing information from libraries that they don't want the public to see.

  • 5 April 2003 ()

    Bush forces are already bring US-style freedom of the press to Iraq. They Iraq imprisoned two Portuguese journalists, battered them, and starved them for days, for no reason they can imagine. It's just like the way police treat journalists in the US.

  • 5 April 2003 ()

    Statememnts about the war from the Bush and Blair regimes are so predictably dishonest that we can actually have fun with it.

    When Robert Fisk presented evidence that a US missile destroyed a market in Baghdad, the response from the Blair regime was denial and attack, and when US forces were reported to have taken Baghdad's airport, Robert Fisk went there and found no sign of them.

  • 5 April 2003 ()

    Israeli fighters arrested every man in Tulkarm, then released most of them miles away with no food, telling them not to go home for three days.

  • 5 April 2003 ()

    Arundhati Roy writes about the war.

  • 4 April 2003 ()

    A setback for Berlusconi: he tried to pass a law in Italy to legitimize his ownership of the three main TV channels, but parts of his own governing coalition refused to support it.

  • 4 April 2003 ()

    Blair wants to be able to revoke the citizenship of an immigrant merely for "acting against the UK's vital interests", an expression that could easily include criticizing or thwarting government policy.

    For instance, helping people in another country to organize to oppose privatization of their water supply could easily be labeled as "acting against the UK's vital interests".

  • 4 April 2003 ()

    Cluster bombs dropped by the Bush forces are killing civilians in Iraq. Like landmines, the bomblets remain dangerous to civilians even after the battle is over--especially to children, who tend to think they are interesting.

  • 4 April 2003 ()

    Even inside the Bush regime there is opposition to the plan to set up a US military government in Iraq.

    However, it seems that both of the factions in the regime are planning a government for Iraq that is dominated by Americans.

  • 3 April 2003 ()

    The reports of an uprising in Basra were based on a little inconclusive information, dressed to look like more than it was. Here's an analysis of the dressing-up process.

  • 3 April 2003 ()

    The Global Political Restaurant today serves only three dishes: Imperialism, Terrorism and Dictatorship. Sooner or later you'll have to eat them all.

  • 3 April 2003 ()

    The hypocrisy of Bush, and Blair's persistent willful blindness, are turning voters in Pakistan towards the extremists who have hated the west for a long time.

    Note that Pakistan actually has nuclear weapons (whereas Iraq is merely suspected of wanting them). Note also that the fundamentalists who gain strength in reaction to Bush are the same ones that seek to oppress women and unbelievers.

    The Bush regime's policy may also be spurring the development of nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea.

  • 3 April 2003 (police attack)

    Police attacked protesters in Cleveland, then claimed (as police often do) that the protesters attacked them.

  • 3 April 2003 (now)

    "It is only when we admit that we all will rot, and nothing comes after, that we will truly value our lives."

  • 3 April 2003 (condemnation)

    When Bush forces bomb civilians, they try to deflect the outrage by saying that "It could have been an enemy missile which was fired at our aircraft and missed." They did this last week when civilians in a Baghdad market were killed, figuring that if they can cast even a tiny doubt on who was responsible, it would weaken world condemnation.

    But the missile has now been identified as US-made.

    But suppose it had been an Iraqi missile--would that really change the ethical responsibility? The Iraqi forces are simply defending their country from foreign invaders; if they accidently kill some of their people with unintended "friendly fire", that's the invader's fault.

    If Iraqis wanted to be liberated, if they really felt that the Bush forces were their rescuers and Saddam's forces were occupiers, that would reverse the logic; then Saddam would be ethically responsible for the deaths in that market, regardless of who fired the missile. But all real evidence says that Iraqis do not want this. Only Bush and his cronies say they do.

    Meanwhile, not all the claims of harm to civilians by Bush forces are really valid.

  • 3 April 2003 (secret plan)

    While Tony Blair pretends to be influencing Bush to let the UN establish a new government in Iraq, the Bush regime already has a secret plan for how to rule Iraq.

  • 3 April 2003 (don't support Bush)

    Various countries are cutting their support for Bush and his war, or denying that they had ever supported it.

  • 3 April 2003 (7 civilians killed)

    Bush forces in Iraq killed 7 unarmed civilians in a car. They were probably afraid the car contained suicide bombers.

    There is a sinister side to the use of suicide bombing in Iraq. Saddam Hussein must calculate that this will lead to killings of unarmed civilians by the Bush forces, and thus spur Iraqi hatred for the invaders. I doubt that either Hussein or Bush sincerely mourns these Iraqi civilians, but since their deaths will tend to benefit Hussein and hurt Bush, we can expect Bush to pretend to care.

  • 3 April 2003 (soldiers punished)

    British soldiers, who were fighting in the Bush forces in Iraq, are being punished for expressing dismay at the number of civilians being killed there.

  • 2 April 2003 (Peter Arnett fired)

    NBC gave in to pressure from Bush and fired reporter Peter Arnett.

    The excuse for the pressure was, it appears, that Arnett gave an interview to Iraqi TV. But why shouldn't he? The real reason appears to be that he presented Americans with a side of the war that Bush does not want them to have.

    Arnett is going to work for a newspaper in the UK, where such censorship is not as strong.

  • 2 April 2003 (Civilians condemn Bush)

    Civilians in Basra condemn the Bush forces as well as Saddam Hussein's rule.

    Meanwhile, Dubya's lieutenants, in the US and the UK, are desperately insisting that nothing's wrong, and all the surprises they have encountered have not altered their decisions in the slightest.

    When you think about it, that is strange. It's intelligent and normal for general who encounters a surprise to change his plans, so why should these generals try so hard to deny they have changed anything? I think it's because they seek to present an image of unchallengeable superiority. The idea of even a partial or temporary reverse for the US is supposed to be unthinkable; therefore, when it happens, they cannot admit it.

  • 1 April 2003 (police post)

    Israeli fighters attacked a Palestinian police post, then kept the ambulance away while two Palestinian policemen slowly bled to death.

    Because of the police conduct described in other notes, I have a low opinion of police in general. But the death penalty is too extreme, for police or anyone else.

  • 1 April 2003 (international law)

    A respected judge says that the US invasion of Iraq puts international law (such as the Geneva convention) at risk. If the superpower ignores these treaties, others will feel entitled to do likewise.

    Imagine that Saddam starts treating captured US soldiers exactly as the prisoners Bush holds in Guantanamo Bay are treated. Would Bush treat his prisoners humanely in exchange for similar conduct by Saddam? Or would Bush denounce this as a "war crime"--the crime of doing what only Bush is allowed to do?

    I hope Bush has the sense to start treating prisoners humanely according to the Geneva convention now, and foreclose that option for Saddam.

    Meanwhile, the former head of the Pentagon's depleted uranium munitions project denounces use of depleted uranium weapons as a war crime, because they poison the land.

  • 1 April 2003 (corrupt)

    The ex-general Bush chose to be the ruler of Iraq is also an arms dealer, making money from the war.

    In the first Gulf War, before the word "patriot" was tainted by association with a law to attack our freedom, the army tried to use the Patriot missile to intercept and destroy Iraqi Scud missiles. People thought at the time that this was working, but later analysis showed that the Patriot missile had not really done anything to the Scuds.

  • 1 April 2003 (information ignored)

    A news report says Bush was misled by members of his cabinet who said that the war in Iraq would be a walkover, and that warnings from intelligence agencies were kept away from him.

    Bush even had warning that Iraq would use suicide bombers, but apparently ignored it. As Bush proposes new laws to give the government agencies more power to collect information from and about us, he's clearly aiming where the enemy is not.

    What we really need are laws against officials that refuse to listen to the information that these agencies collect.

  • [March 31, 2003]

    Some countries are jealous about being left out of the "axis of evil".

  • [March 31, 2003]

    The bluefin tuna population off the US East Coast is under 1/10 of what it was in 1970, so fishing is restricted. But the restrictions are not working to protect the tuna's numbers, because tuna move between the US shores and Europe.

  • [March 30, 2003]

    A secret police unit in Serbia has been disbanded after its members were accused of selling drugs and murdering the Prime Minister of Serbia.

  • [March 30, 2003]

    A reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle has been suspended because he was arrested with 1400 others at an anti-war protest.

  • [March 30, 2003]

    Oil workers in Colombia are planning a general strike, fighting against privatization plans.

    88 members of the oil workers' union have been assassinated in recent years.

  • [March 30, 2003]

    Bombardment by Bush forces cut off the supply of drinking water in Basra, so much of the populace is fleeing in desperation.

    Meanwhile, Al Jazeera's reporter in Basra shows how civilians there are being killed by these bombardments.

  • [March 30, 2003]

    Police in Colombia are attacking shanty-towns whose inhabitants have nowhere to go.

  • [March 29, 2003]

    Bush is Acting Like a Judicially-Selected Dictator.

    Some people seem to think that Bush won the election because of Nader, but this isn't true. Bush did not win the election--in particular, not in Florida--and the reason he came even close to winning there was because his Katherine Harris arranged to stop tens of thousands of blacks from voting.

  • [March 29, 2003]

    3 million protestors opposed the war in Spain on March 22.

  • [March 29, 2003]

    The Al-Jazeera web site has been down for days because of of a barrage of spam coming from Americans who object to its coverage of unpleasant facts about the war.

  • [March 29, 2003]

    The higher the US officials, the less honest they are about the situation in Iraq.

    Opposition to the war, in the US and the UK, is even more important now than it was before the war started--because this is the only thing holding the administration back from bombarding cities and killing civilians by the thousands. And if Bush wins, he will be tempted to let Iraq turn to chaos and call it "success", as in Afghanistan.

  • [March 29, 2003]

    In yet another attack on civil liberties, the UK plans to take DNA samples from everyone who is arrested. This provides a fairly straightforward way to produce a national DNA registry for improves surveillance of all citizens. After all, it's easy to arrest people; it's not unusual to be arrested just for being near a protest.

    A similar proposal is just one of the dangerous provisions of "Son of patriot", which is Dubya's plan for the next attack on freedom in the US.

  • [March 27, 2003]

    A TV reporter was arrested in DC just for filming the police arresting the driver of a truck.

  • [March 27, 2003]

    Robert Fisk says that Iraqi officials are giving more information about the war than the US, and in general the Iraqi information is accurate.

  • [March 27, 2003]

    The New World Order means, "The Anglo-Saxons Are Coming".

  • [March 26, 2003]

    Halliburton, Cheney's former oil company (which still pays him), has got a big contract for rebuilding Iraq after the Bush-Cheney administration destroys it.

    Meanwhile Dubya's choice for the man to rule Iraq for the US, supposing the US conquers Iraq, has links to a right-wing group connected with Cheney and with Israel.

  • [March 26, 2003]

    The WTO and the US war machine.

  • [March 26, 2003]

    As Secy of Defense Rumsfeld criticizes Iraq for violating the Geneva convention on treatment of prisoners, let's not forget the US violations he is personally responsible for.

  • [March 26, 2003]

    Salmon farms in Scotland are passing diseases to wild salmon, whose numbers are in sharp decline.

  • [March 25, 2003]

    A media company is paying for pro-war rallies in the US.

  • [March 25, 2003]

    OCAP members organized a protest campaign by high-schoolers in Ontario against a new standardized test. When the test was leaked before it was used, members of OCAP were threatened with imprisonment.

  • [March 25, 2003]

    If they elected a monkey as President of the United States, Tony Blair would ingratiate himself and do its bidding...

    Considering the photos of Curious George, I monkey as president might not be such a big difference.

  • [March 24, 2003]

    Uri Avnery's thoughts about the war.

  • [March 24, 2003]

    The islamist government of Kelantan, in Malaysia, has taken a small step towards respect for human rights. Instead of banning traditional art forms, now it only censors them for unislamic elements.

  • [March 24, 2003]

    Benetton plans to insert radio tracking chips in all its clothing.

    These chips are not designed for tracking individuals, but they can be used for that purpose easily enough. They contain unique identifying numbers. Once a centralized tracking agency finds out which numbers are in your clothing, it can identify you every time you pass by a scanner. Connecting the numbers with you is easy if you buy clothes by credit card, but they can also build the data base in other ways. This won't be terribly effective if only Benetton uses the chips--but if the system works well for them, it could be adopted by all companies in five years time.

    It would be useful to develop a reliable method of frying these chips with ordinary household equipment. I wonder if a microwave oven can do it.

    I think it would be useful for the public to put pressure on Benetton to permanently deactivate the tracking chip when they sell a garment. If you return the garment, they can attach a new one.

  • [March 24, 2003]

    Robert Fisk reports on how the war looks in Baghdad.

    I'm glad to learn that the US is not bombing facilities such as the water and electrical supply. Even if this is only for reasons of calculation, it could spare millions of civilians much suffering.

    Saddam Hussein being a dictator, and one who kills often, it would be worth hundreds of lives--even innocent people's lives--to overthrow him, if only we could be confident that the people of Iraq wanted to be liberated (who knows?) and that the replacement would really be much better. But anyone appointed by Dubya is unlikely to be much better. We can get a good idea of the sort of ruler that the US is likely to impose by looking at the last ruler the US supported in Iraq. His name: Saddam Hussein.

    Beyond the issue of this war is the threat posed by unchecked US power. Bush convinced Americans to support war against Iraq with a series of repeated falsehoods claiming that Iraq was behind the 9/11 attacks. (All real evidence says Iraq had nothing to do with them.) If he could do this once, why not again? Is there any country the US could not create an excuse to attack?

    What demands will the US seek to impose on a world through fear of US attack? A simple look at Dubya's business associates suggest they will be designed to benefit the Enrons of the world.

  • [March 23, 2003]

    Antiwar protests continue, as even Americans resist the idea that they should support war merely because there is one.

    It's possible that the fighting against Saddam Hussein's forces will be over quickly, but what happens afterward is another story. A newspaper I saw today reported that an administration figure (perhaps Rumsfeld but I don't remember) said things would go in Iraq after the war would go as they have in Afghanistan. Things in Afghanistan are not going well.

    See also Dubya's War Glossary.

    We will surely hear calls to support the war in the name of "supporting the troops". When leaders say this, they are hiding behind their subordinates. But Bush can't hide from us this easily. His campaign stole the election by stopping tens of thousands of citizens of Florida from voting at all, and he should resign.

    Meanwhile, one of the ways this war will hurt the US is through its tremendous cost. Since the war is being fought for the sake of oil companies, it seems to me that whoever succeeds Bush should make the oil companies pay the full cost of the war.

    Another cost to the US will be the tremendous antiamerican sentiment around the world. In some sense the oil companies should bear that cost, too--and people can make this happen. Imagine if everyone around the world were to buy smaller cars, or electric cars, and renewable electric plants, all because they hate the oil companies for having their pet president start a war. Wouldn't that be great? If you hate Bush, build a windmill. Eventually we may see Bush fighting windmills like Don Quixote.

  • [March 22, 2003]

    Advice for consumers on how to resist being influenced by advertising.

  • [March 22, 2003]

    A warning to Brits (and Americans): don't be drawn into blindly "supporting our troops". Intelligent, thoughtful support is not blind.

  • [March 21, 2003]

    Before Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer operator, she wrote a series of emails to her family that explain the cruelties that she hoped to prevent with her presence.

  • [March 20, 2003]

    Police arrested nonviolent antiwar protestors in San Francisco.

    There is evidence that the city has appointed a special police squad to investigate and arrest protestors.

  • [March 20, 2003]

    Ethiopia faces famine again. The cause: overpopulation.

    Aid for Ethopia has to include birth control, or the population will be limited by famine.

  • [March 19, 2003]

    Witnesses say that Rachel Corrie was deliberately killed by the driver of an Israeli bulldozer.

  • [March 19, 2003]

    Normally when I cite someone else's writing, I reference his site which shows who wrote it. I cannot do that here: if I publish the name of the Serbian who sent me this letter, I would be putting him in danger.

    There are 318 prisoners in Serbia now. A number of them doesn't have relation with murder of Djindjic, but the same persons are passing extreme torture. It is very interesting that this information can be seen in Serbian (http://www.b92.net/news/indexs.php?order=hrono&dd=16&mm=03&yyyy=2003) but not in English at the main Serbian information agency, B92. Of course, even in Serbian, there are no information about torture...

    Through that time no one can publish anything about the present situation which includes political proscription and police brutality. A lot of people had experience with police torture, some of them with police brutality, and, also, some of them with masked gendarmes (special police forces) in military uniforms and military weapons.

    In descriptive words: If I send this letter to media I'll be instantly arrested!

    Anarchist leader Ratibor Trivunac was arrested for writing that Djindjic was "a criminal killed by other criminals", although he clearly had nothing to do with the killing. He has been freed since.

  • [March 19, 2003]

    Carlos Fuentes presents arguments for Mexico to resist US pressure and not support the US war resolution.

    I don't think we know whether the Mexican government resisted.

  • [March 17, 2003]

    A lawsuit threat from US Foodservice has silenced a site where people had posted criticism of it.

    If we want freedom of the press to cover criticism of a corporation, we need laws that effectively protect web sites from harrassment lawsuits.

  • [March 17, 2003]

    CAPPS II, the new system to collect and correlate many kinds of personal information about all airline passengers, is running into criticism in the Senate.

  • [March 16, 2003]

    Israeli fighters trying to destroy a Palestinian house killed an American woman who was there trying to protect the house from demolition.

  • [March 16, 2003]

    Like Dubya, Terry Jones (formerly of Monty Python) is losing patience with his neighbors.

  • [March 16, 2003]

    After Congressman Hansen criticized the IRS and other agencies, the US government began a campaign to convict him of crimes that were fabricated. He was eventually vindicated by the Supreme Court, after spending years in prison and suffering torture that mutilated his feet and destroyed his teeth.

    One torture method is carried out under the pretense of moving the prisoner from one prison to another, strapped to a seat for hours in the back of a truck. As soon as he arrives in the new prison, he is moved again. Hansen was moved all around the country in this way. Sometimes prisoners die from this.

    I found this report almost incredible even given my distrust for the US government, so I looked for additional references before posting it. See this.

    The persecution of Congressman Hansen took place across decades, under both Republican and Democratic presidents.

  • [March 16, 2003]

    An economic system out of control--how global business concentration drives the world towards unsustainable practices.

  • [March 16, 2003]

    Palestinians and Israelis are concerned that Sharon may use the US attack on Iraq as cover for even worse repression against Palestinians.

    Israel's is making large numbers of Palestinians homeless, and seeks to and cutting them off from all income. It seems the plan is to make it impossible for Palestinians to live, as a means of ethnic cleansing.

  • [March 16, 2003]

    When Israeli fighters destroyed the house of a family of a dead terrorist, they also destroyed the housing of 7 other families, and killed the mother of one of them.

    Many people will be especially horrified by the killing of a pregnant woman. I disagree--in a world menaced by overpopulation, having children is no virtue. Killing that pregnant woman was no worse than killing you or me would have been.

  • [March 16, 2003]

    Public libraries are starting to warn the public about how the PAT-RIOT authorizes the government to secretly spy on everyone.

    Note that these provisions of the PAT-RIOT act are not limited to bookstores and libraries. They apply to all business records, including your credit card purchases and your telephone calls. An article in the New York Times, about a year ago, revealed that the FBI is collecting phone records for whole neighborhoods as a block.

    Even your past and present whereabouts are an open book to the FBI if you carry a cell phone, since the system records its location at all times whenever the phone has power (not just when you make a call). I generally don't use my credit card for retail purchases, and I refuse to carry a cell phone.

    Why call it the PAT-RIOT act? The "PATRIOT" in the law's name is not really a word; it is an acronym, the initials of seven other words. Thus, splitting it is not really changing the name of the bill, just clarifying its presentation.

    See http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/ for more information about how the PAT-RIOT act attacks your freedom.

  • [March 14, 2003]

    Some studies report that growing certain GM crops is good for wildlife, probably because of the reduction in pesticide use.

    I don't agree with the people who think that genetically modified crops are intrinsically wrong. I am suspicious of the global businesses that develop them--suspicious that they will rush them into use too fast for their safety to be assured, and suspicious that due to patents or terminator technology these crops will hurt the social conditions of farming.

  • [March 14, 2003]

    A participant in drafting a new constitution for the EU says it is developing into a threat to democracy.

    The EU is already too remote from the public, too susceptible to making directives that are imposed on a public that has no way to resist or change them. If it is to be beneficial for the people of Europe, it must become more democratic.

  • [March 14, 2003]

    The DOD is trying again to get a blanket exemption from environmental protection laws, so it can pollute at will.

  • [March 14, 2003]

    Israeli fighters with bulldozers destroyed an apartment building because Palestinian fighters had entered it to fire at the Israelis. The Palestinians who lived in the building, who did not participate in the fighting, are now homeless.

    An analogous policy of punishing the people in the neighborhood where an attack occurred was used by the Nazis in occupied countries.

  • [March 14, 2003]

    Why Terrorists Hate America.

  • [March 13, 2003]

    Jimmy Carter rejects the Bush regime's plans to attack Iraq.

    Carter is no pacifist, and when Iranian religious fanatics took the US embassy staff hostage, he sent US troops to rescue them. (The troops messed it up.) His opposition to this war is thoughtful.

  • [March 13, 2003]

    The Boy Scouts of America are running into protests for expelling Atheists.

    I believe I recall that the Girl Scouts do not have such a policy, and neither do scouting organizations in Canada. This problem is unique to the BSA.

  • [March 12, 2003]

    Repression of dissent in the US: police start a fight with students at a peaceful protest, a journalist records this, then the journalist gets arrested.

  • [March 12, 2003]

    Palestinians and Israelis expect Sharon to use the expected US-Iraq war as the cover and excuse for massive crimes.

  • [March 11, 2003]

    How Israeli troops attacked a team of medics who were trying to aid a wounded man.

    Such attacks are not unusual.

  • [March 11, 2003]

    I reported on Susan Barclay's success in resisting first extralegal deportation and then legal deportation from Israel. Now she is being threatened with deportation again.

    Look closely at the grounds that were reportedly offered for her deportation: "taking part in violent demonstrations" (i.e. someone else was violent, but Susan Barclay wasn't), and "gathering information on the activities of Israeli officers to release to the world" (i.e., reporting on war crimes). The first is otherwise known as guilt by association, while the second is a matter of suppressing information about injustice. For the sake of freedom in Israel, as well as just treatment of the Palestinians for whom Barclay serves as a witness, the Israeli judge should reject these charges as grounds for deporting anyone.

  • [March 10, 2003]

    Edward Said, who denounced Saddam Hussein back when Kuwait and the US were supporting him, demolishes Bush's supposed intention to bring democracy to Iraq--and various other lies.

  • [March 10, 2003]

    If you are blacklisted by the new US system for labeling air travelers as a security risk, there will be no way you can try to clear your name, no way to even confirm that you are on the list.

    If our government officials were always fair and honest, and never made a mistake, only real terrorists would be on the list. Then perhaps it would be ok if there is no way to clear your name. But have you ever heard of a government whose officials are always fair, and never make mistakes?

  • [March 10, 2003]

    Will Bush hand Iraq over to a religious fanatic?

    It might seem crazy, but the US has done it before. The fanatics of the Taliban and Al Qa'ida were trained by the US before they became our enemies.

  • [March 10, 2003]

    The filtering programs that US law requires libraries to install on their internet browser terminals "to block porn" actually block a lot more than porn. For instance, they make image searching nearly impossible.

  • [March 10, 2003]

    Majority Senate Leader Frist has an Iraq war poll on his website. Right now the majority of the respondents are pro-war. So spread the word to go to his website and respond to the poll, and change the percentages.

  • [March 10, 2003]

    It's common for Israeli troops to kill Palestinians and say, when confronted, "We were shooting at militants attacking us" or "Palestinian fighters killed them."

    Now a killing has been caught on video: an Israeli tank shot its gun at a Palestinian fireman who was putting out a fire. The video shows that no one near him was fighting the Israelis.

    What is most interesting is to see that the Israeli army's excuses bear no relation to reality. They are not just slightly wrong, they are complete lies.

    Meanwhile, the nonviolent international witnesses recently prevented Israeli forces from destroying a medical clinic.

  • [March 9, 2003]

    The US is torturing prisoners in Afghanistan.

    These are Al Qa'ida prisoners--or at least, suspected of being members of Al Qa'ida. (Not all suspicions are true.) But other suspects are brutalized in the US (Rodney King is perhaps the most famous). Soon people suspected of wearing a peace shirt in a mall may be tortured too.

  • [March 9, 2003]

    A US citizen faces a year in prison for walking in a mall wearing a shirt advocating peace.

    It reminds me of the woman in Lhasa, Tibet, who was attacked last year by Chinese police for wearing a shirt with the face of Phil Silvers (the police thought it was the Dalai Lama). They did not arrest her, they just took off her shirt, forcing her to go half-naked till she could find something else to put on.

    Thus, both the US and China forcibly suppress dissent--the Chinese regime openly, while the US pretends to stand for freedom. The US approach is clearly more brutal. Being forced to run through the streets half-naked may feel humiliating, but being imprisoned for a year is a much greater injury.

  • [March 8, 2003]

    Assassinations, shadowing and death threats continue against union organizations in Colombia.

  • [March 7, 2003]

    Sharon's plans for Palestine amount to taking the Palestinians' land and imprisoning them in small Bantustans--or should we say, ghettos?

  • [March 6, 2003]

    The US has already started the attack against Iraq, from the air. Doing this without any fanfare suggests that Bush wants to slide into war unnoticed--typical behavior for a government with something to hide.

    Meanwhile, Turkey's parliament refused to vote to allow the US to attack Iraq from Turkish territory.

    The 4 March Wall Street Journal has an editorial lecturing Turkey on this "mistake". Why "mistake"? Because the US offered a lot of money to buy Turkish support, and Turkey refused to be bought. A fall in stock prices in Turkey supposedly proves the error of this decision. The idea that business is more important than lives and ethics is not stated explicitly, but rather taken for granted at every point. If you're not for sale, kiddo, you're making a terrible mistake passing up this one-time never-to-be-repeated offer. Perhaps Turkey was less than enthusiastic about getting into an open battle with the Iraqi Kurds, who say that they would fight any Turkish forces that try to occupy their territory, as the US suggested Turkey should do.

    It might be a bit embarrassing to the US to go to war and see two of its allies immediately begin to fight each other. But Dubya and the WSJ won't feel embarrassed--they will simply refuse to acknowledge the problem.

  • [March 6, 2003]

    Greg Palast reports on the leaked, secret FBI document that told agents not to investigate the bin Laden family and their connections with terrorism.

  • [March 6, 2003]

    Israeli agents tried to deport Susan Barclay, one of the international volunteers to protect human rights in Palestine, disregarding the fact that she had a court hearing coming up about whether she should be deported.

    Susan defied the agents, convinced the plane's crew to refuse to take her, and eventually arrived at her hearing. The court decided not to deport her. What's most interesting, though, is the lack of respect that these agents have for their own court decisions.

  • [March 6, 2003]

    Demolition of Palestinian housing is continuing at a high rate. Sometimes Israeli soldiers destroy houses in which suicide bombers live. This is collective punishment, in violation of treaties to protect the population of occupied countries.

    The Israeli soldiers don't usually check who is in neighboring houses, and often people are killed in them.

    Sometimes houses are demolitshed because Israel says the houses were built without permits. They were--because Israel almost never gives Palestinians building permits. In effect, this is a legalistic excuse to punish a whole people.

  • [March 6, 2003]

    Is the US government lying about the arrest of Al-Qa'ida "mastermind" Khalid Sheikh Muhammad?

    Ahmed Quddus was arrested in that raid, and his family says that nobody was arrested with Ahmed. Perhaps Bush is keeping arrests secret so he can announce them when he needs a PR boost.

    I sure wish we had a government that we could trust to tell us the truth about fighting terrorism. Kucinich in 2004?

  • [March 5, 2003]

    A US bombing raid in Afghanistan killed 17 civilians last month.

    This is part of a pattern of low-intensity war against the Taliban. In this war it is always the US and allies that kill the civilians, and then tend to deny that it occurred. The consequences of this for the US in Afghanistan will not be good.

    Meanwhile, depleted uranium in munitions ranging from anti-tank shells to bunker-buster bombs is suspected of causing the increase in birth defects found in Afghanistan a year after the US invasion.

    US troops are in danger from using DU munitions too. They are safe to handle before they are fired, but once they explode and burn, the uranium is dispersed into the air and the water and becomes easy to ingest.

    With this problem, even allies faced with outright enemy invasion will have to think twice before asking the US to chase the invaders out. If the price of liberating your country is birth defects and cancers forever, is it worth paying?

  • [March 5, 2003]

    John Kiesling resigned from the US diplomatic service to protest Bush administration policies, saying that "Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America's most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson."

  • [March 4, 2003]

    Police in Atlanta are always at the ready to protect businesses like Taco Bell from the danger of...being criticized by leaflets. Even if it take stretching the law to do it.

    Policemen's attitude towards laws is like Humpty Dumpty: "The law means what I say it means, no more, no less."

  • [March 4, 2003]

    Venezuelan President Chavez has arrested the leaders of the general strike that lasted through December and January.

    I do not support the strikers, who were generally the wealthiest Venezuelans and wanted the country to return to the US-dominated "new world order" and to policies that enrich them at the expense of the many. The US is suspected of instigating a coup against Chavez a year ago, and may well have instigated the general strike too.

    But a strike is not a coup--it is a legitimate exercize of people's freedom. Chavez does wrong arresting people for leading the general strike. The strike failed; that should be enough.

  • [March 3, 2003]

    Antiwar protestors were arrested in Minneapolis just for handing out leaflets.

    I don't know what the law actually says about this--but either the police stretched the law and abused their power, or our society has gone too far in cutting down the public space where citizens can express their views. Either one is unacceptable.

  • [March 3, 2003]

    Microsoft's gift to the next Enron: software designed to save documents so that only authorized people inside a corporation can read them--and even they can't transmit the text to anyone else. Future would-be whistleblowers will find that the whistle makes no sound.

  • [March 3, 2003]

    Fanatics of various faiths, including Bush (Christian), Sharon (Jewish) and the Taliban (Muslim), are spreading so much hate and distrust that even groups that are dedicate to peace and understanding feel the strain among their members.

  • [March 3, 2003]

    The Algerian government has "disappeared" at least 7,000 people in its civil war against Islamists. The Islamists were expected to win an election, so the government canceled the election.

    The Islamists would probably have imposed Islamic law, which tramples human rights (especially those of women, but also those of men). However, the Algerian government's response has been no better.

    Those disappeared in Algeria may have been murdered, or they may still be alive in prison. There is no way to know. Those who are disappeared in the US by the Bush administration are probably still alive, but they may be kept in prison all their lives.

    In one respect, the Bush regime proposes to go one better than the Algerian regime. The Algerian regime won't give any information about what happened to the disappeared people, but it doesn't arrest Yassine Ourad for saying that his father was arrested. Bush would make that a crime.

  • [March 3, 2003]

    Bush proclaims that the US will make a "sustained commitment" to Iraq and turn it into a model democracy.

    Looking at how the Bush regime operates in the US--not counting votes, arresting people without trial--we have to wonder if a Bush-designed Iraqi regime would be much of a democracy. But there's already evidence that must lead us to disbelieve Bush's talk of a "sustained commitment" for anything except oil. He has repeatedly spoken the same way about Afghanistan, but his actions don't match. The US is failing to help Afghanistan rebuild.

    Oppressed people in other countries will see their hopes for freedom dashed by the deals that Bush is making to buy the support of various countries.

  • [March 2, 2003]

    Religious extremists in the US used the cold war as an excuse to get the US government to endorse religion explicitly--on money, and in the pledge of allegiance. Now Europe is considering the question for its new constitution. Fortunately, the plan is running into resistance.

  • [March 1, 2003]

    Court secrecy orders are a growing menace in the UK.

    This is part of a general trend for the government to operate in secrecy, in the US, the UK, and around the world. We are familiar with Bush's decision to resist all FOIA requests as much as possible.

    Among the many attacks on freedom in the Bush administrations "Son of PATRIOT" bill is a provision that would prohibit grand jury witnesses from reporting what their testimony was. Even worse, if you find out that someone has been imprisoned without charges, it would be a crime for you to tell the public about it. People will be prohibited from telling the public that their husbands or brothers have been imprisoned without trial.

  • [March 1, 2003]

    The UN found out in 1995 that Iraq had destroyed its chemical and biological weapons--but kept the plans for producing them.

    (It is virtually impossible to wipe out all copies of plans.)

    For more details of what Hussein Kamel told the UN inspectors, see this.

  • [March 1, 2003]

    The contradictions of Israeli policy towards Palestinians put them in a "Catch-2002".

    This article also discusses the political developments among the Palestinians that led to the present resistance.

  • [March 1, 2003]

    Smoking marijuana can cause a kind of emphysema.

    If you want to be as healthy as possible, you should avoid using marijuana very often, for this and other reasons. But we must be prepared to reject the double standard that prohibitionists will use to misinterpret this report.

    The article estimates that one unfiltered marijuana cigarette delivers about four times as much tar as one tobacco cigarette. Heavy tobacco smokers smoke 40 to 80 cigarettes per day, and a substantial fraction of tobacco smokers use that much. To get an equivalent amount of tar from marijuana, you would have to smoke 10 marijuana cigarettes per day. Hardly anyone uses that much marijuana; in fact, one marijuana cigarette per day is pretty heavy use.

    One reason for this discrepancy is that tobacco is physically addictive--withdrawal causes physical problems--while marijuana is not.

    Taken in context, this report reaffirms what we already knew: that marijuana is safer than tobacco, and prohibition of marijuana is irrational and destructive.

  • [February 28, 2003]

    RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, opposes an attack on Iraq.

    RAWA previously opposed the Taliban, and before them the warlords, and before them the Communists, because none of them respected human rights for women (or for men).

  • [February 28, 2003]

    When Palestinians randomly kill Israeli civilians, the Palestinians are called terrorists. When the Israeli army randomly kills Palestinians, it gives us to believe that the Palestinians are terrorists (and that were killed fighting the Israeli army). Often they are actually civilians who were killed randomly while going about their lives.

  • [February 27, 2003]

    General Wiranto, former head of the Indonesian armed forces, has been indicted by a UN war crimes tribunal. The Indonesian army and associated paramilitary groups waged a bloody terror campaign to try to prevent East Timor from becoming independent, and Wiranto was its head at the time.

    The Bush administration wants to resume US aid to the Indonesian military, which continues using repressive measures in Aceh.

  • [February 26, 2003]

    Jeb Bush wants to close the State Library of Florida.

    Looks like it runs in the Bush family to try to stop public from getting information from the government.

  • [February 26, 2003]

    HP's temporary workers are suing HP for forcing them to work overtime without pay. (Microsoft did the same thing and was sued.)

  • [February 26, 2003]

    CNN's rules for slanting the news, and how they let the Israeli government block news about Palestine.

  • [February 26, 2003]

    The UK plans to cut carbon dioxide emission by 60%, and do it without building nuclear reactors. The reduction will take 50 years.

  • [February 26, 2003]

    Plan Colombia is supposed to be part of the "war on drugs", which would be bad enough; but it's actually worse.

  • [February 26, 2003]

    Israeli Prime Minister Sharon has formed a new coalition that will continue policies of aggression and repression towards Palestinians.

    However, the Labor party refused to participate, and will now be able to criticize the brutality of Sharon's policies.

    When Sharon is no longer Prime Minister he faces prosecution in Belgium for war crimes in Lebanon that the Israeli Army cooperated with. Israel treats this Belgian decision with outrage, yet it reflects Israel's own treatment of the perpetrators of mass murder.

  • [February 26, 2003]

    An Indian woman who is a Canadian citizen was attacked by crazed INS agents as she was returning from India to Canada via Kuwait and Chicago. They did not let her speak to the Canadian Consulate before destroying her passport and forcing her to go back to Kuwait.

    She got off in Kuwait and got help from Canadian authorities, who helped her return to Canada.

    Even supposing there was some reason not to let this harmless woman into the US--which I do not believe--the INS agents surely could have let her go to her adopted home country right nearby. Their actions bespeak the arrogance of power, the wish to seize an opportunity to crush a handy helpless victim.

  • [February 26, 2003]

    The ACLU and others have asked the Supreme Court to limit government surveillance and overturn the decision of a secret surveillance court.

  • [February 26, 2003]

    Some economists argue that copyright and patents fail to promote the progress that they supposedly exist to promote.

    This article takes a narrowly economic view of its subject, measuring social alternatives only by what goods are available for what price, assuming that you the citizen are a mere consumer and place no value on your freedom in itself. It also uses the misleading term "intellectual property", which is misleading because it lumps copyrights and patents together. The article also lumps them together, which it can get away with because it ignores the (different) social issues that copyrights and patents raise.

    Despite those flaws, it is significant. If one can judge copyright to be harmful even on narrow economic terms, disregarding the ethical wrong of stopping people from sharing, it can only be more harmful once we consider the ethics as well.

  • [February 26, 2003]

    Parts of the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress are starting to withdraw support for a war with Iraq.

  • [February 25, 2003]

    "The oceans, once mistakenly thought to be inexhaustible, clearly are not." Scientists call for banning of longline fishing, gillnetting and bottom trawling, which are wiping out many species of fish, as well as sea birds and sea turtles.

    The world's fishing fleets are now so efficient and numerous that operating them at full capacity is unsustainable.

  • [February 25, 2003]

    Saddam Hussein is presenting the Feb 15 anti-war protests as if they were support for him and Iraq.

    This is surely not what the protesters intended. I oppose attacking Iraq under the present circumstances, but that isn't because I think Saddam Hussein deserves to be the ruler. If there were a popular resistance movement aiming to create a democracy, I would support it.

    But we can hardly trust Bush to establish democracy or civil liberties in Iraq when he does not respect them in his own country. For a picture of what we could expect, look at Afghanistan, where the problems are tremendous and the US is not providing much help.

  • [February 24, 2003]

    Should Europe try to "catch up" with the US economically--is that really a desirable goal? Here's an article that starts by assuming that it is. I've posted a link to it so I can point out why its basic assumptions are wrong.

    The article starts by assuming that the US has an "economic lead" over Europe. In what sense is that true? Certainly not in the prosperity of its citizens. The median income in the US has barely kept up with inflation, and the poorest are poorer now than in 1980. Certainly not in the quality of life of its citizens--we have to work more hours than we did then, almost an entire month per year more than in 1970. Meanwhile, tens of millions of Americans can't afford to see a doctor if they get sick.

    If the US has a "lead" in any sense, it could only be in transferring wealth from the general public to the rich. The US has been doing that very effectively, ever since Reagan promised us a "trickle-down" that never occurred.

    Anyone who wants his country to follow the US "lead" is trying to lead his country to disaster. So when the article concludes by proposing that Europe should solve its demographic problem by competing with the US to enrich the few whose skills are most in demand, I have to think that he started from this conclusion and sought an opportunity to justify it. He argues that there is no choice, but there is a choice. Instead of trying to outdo the US in harshness, Europe could begin speaking directly to Americans about how harsh and self-destructive our system is--both for us and for the rest of the world. Then maybe the US and Europe could compete to make their economic systems better for people generally.

  • [February 24, 2003]

    Did Enron make the US vulnerable to terrorism?

    The Sep 11 highjackers were not working for Enron, but apparently it was Enron's ties with both the Taliban and the Bush administration that opened the way for them.

    Whistleblower John Loftus reports that Vice President Cheney, trying to protect sensitive negotiations between Enron and the Taliban, told the FBI not to allow investigation of people connected with the Taliban--including, for instance, the Al Qa'ida terrorists that were planning the September 11 attacks.

    The Bush administration now proposes to "protect" Americans from terrorism with a further attack on our freedom. They want to cancel US citizenship of for people who are suspected of association with terrorism--even through participation in protests. http://writ.findlaw.com/ramasastry/20030217.html,

    You could argue that the executives of Enron, by asking Cheney to block investigation of terrorist threats, were aiding terrorism and deserve some sort of punishment. Perhaps Cheney deserves punishment too for complying with their request. But canceling their US citizenship goes much too far. No one's citizenship should ever be canceled because of crimes, even the most serious of crimes.

    Of course, we know that this law would not be used against those in high places who have really aided terrorism. It would be used to threaten people who oppose them. Perhaps they will choose a protest that Representative Kucinich participated in, label one of its sponsors as a terrorist organization, cancel his citizenship, and stop him from running for president.

    If Bush and Cheney were serious about protecting us from terrorism, they could do it best by resigning from office. Then they would no longer pose a risk to our security or a threat to our freedom.

  • [February 23, 2003]

    The Spanish government closed a Basque newspaper [*], arresting its editor.

    Supposedly the newspaper is accused of "alerting ETA to police raids." How did they do that, I wonder? By publishing articles?

  • [February 23, 2003]

    Peter Tatchell will try to rescue Zimbabwe from dictatorship by arresting its dictator.

    I had not heard of Peter Tatchell before this article, but from what I can see there, I admire his views.

  • [February 22, 2003]

    Bush is following the advice of Nazi Hermann Goering in whipping up Americans to want war.

  • [February 22, 2003]

    A court in France found Yahoo innocent of charges of promoting Nazism. It had links to sites selling Nazi memorabilia.

    I don't like Nazism one bit, but it is important not to restrict public expression of political views.

  • [February 22, 2003]

    The UK has been designing cruel policies towards people seeking asylum, in order to discourage them from coming. The UK High Court ruled that these policies violate the European Convention on Human Rights.

  • [February 21, 2003]

    The prologue of Bertrand Russell's autobiography describes his priorities in life. I recommend paying attention.

    When people say what goals their work is intended to serve, it is instructive to compare those stated goals with Bertrand Russell's goals.

  • [February 20, 2003]

    Fashion designers and arms dealers: both merchants of death.

    I've always looked at designer logos on clothing as a mark of stupidity--evidence that someone was foolish enough to be led by the nose by fashion and snobbery. If enough of us express this opinion, we can weaken the influence of fashion manipulation.

  • [February 18, 2003]

    Representative Kucinich is seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

    He criticizes the USA PAT-RIOT Act for its attacks on civil liberties. Maybe I will support him, after I learn more about him.

  • [February 18, 2003]

    UK Prime Minister Blair has shown total contempt for the British people by forcing them into a war that they oppose. Since a million protestors in London had no effect on him, now Britons plan a civil disobedience campaign to oppose British participation in the war.

  • [February 17, 2003]

    I suppose the peace rallies of Feb 15 are not news to anyone reading this site, but I think I can't let them go unmentioned.

  • [February 17, 2003]

    Compare these two Colin Powell quotes:

    "We cannot let Usama bin Laden pretend that he is doing it in the name of helping the Iraqi people or the Palestinian people. He doesn't care one whit about them. He has not given a dollar toward them. He has never spoken out for them.

    From the 13th paragraph.

    February 11, 2003 Powell testified before the Senate Budget Committee and said, "Once again he [bin Laden] speaks to the people of Iraq and talks about their struggle and how he is in partnership with Iraq. This nexus between terrorists and states that are developing weapons of mass destruction can no longer be looked away from and ignored." The quote is about halfway down; search for the word "nexus" to find it. See this for more analysis.

    It has been pointed out that these two quotations are not precisely opposites. You can make them fit, if you assume that Saddam Hussein helps Osama bin Laden but Osama bin Laden never helps Saddam Hussein. However, it would not be like Saddam Hussein to do that.

  • [February 17, 2003]

    Bolivians are rising up against a government that represents the US and corporations, not them.

  • [February 14, 2003]

    Rabbi Michael Lerner was barred from speaking at an anti-war rally by an antisemitic cosponsor of the rally.

    Lerner, who describes himself as "pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian", urges people to participate in the anti-war rally nonetheless

  • [February 13, 2003]

    A new Iraq war would be very dangerous to children in Iraq.

    Since over half the Iraqi population are children, that means Iraq is having a very high birth rate. I wonder how this compares with its birth rate before the Gulf war, and I wonder whether it is partly because birth control is not available there--or else why.

  • [February 13, 2003]

    The UK is considering a mandatory surveillance and tracking system for all private cars. It would record the location of every car in the country--while it is driving, at least.

    Of course, the excuse for this Orwellian measure is just to collect a tax and reduce congestion. But that is silly--the gas tax does approximately the same job, including charging more per mile in central London and in rush hour, since cars burn a lot more gas per mile. As so often happens, some minor goal serves as the excuse for the government to attack your freedom.

    They say there will be "strict controls" to protect your privacy. But not from the police if they think you are a dissident.

    The advocates of this plan say it is impossible to build enough train and bus capacity to solve the problem. But if they don't want people to drive, they had better provide some other transportation method.

  • [February 13, 2003]

    Dubya's repeated claims that Iraq is connected with Al Qa'ida have brainwashed most Americans into thinking that the Sep 11 attacks were committed by Iraqis.

    It is sad to admit that lies are stronger than the truth.

  • [February 11, 2003]

    An American nurse who was arrested in Indonesia for volunteering to give medical care to Acehnese has now been freed.

  • [February 11, 2003]

    Reservists in the UK, where people are strongly opposed to war with Iraq, are refusing call-up in large numbers.

  • [February 10, 2003]

    Bush is planning a law that makes the PAT-RIOT act even worse. Part of the plan is to cancel the US citizenship of citizens who participate in organizations that the government calls "terrorist".

    The government can label a group as "terrorist" just by saying so. Therefore, this adds up to the ability to cancel your citizenship at any time--provided you belong to a group. They might even be able to invent the group.

    But even if they had to make a case to prove that a group is terrorist, canceling the citizenship of anyone is still an outrage.

    The bill would also legalize the government's secrecy about people who have been secretly arrested; that is, disappeared.

  • [February 9, 2003]

    A British intelligence report, made just a few weeks ago, reported no links between Iraq and Al Qa'ida.

  • [February 9, 2003]

    Andy Higginbottom, whose reports about murder of union leaders in Colombia have sometimes been linked to here, is now receiving death threats himself.

    Hundreds of former members of revolutionary guerilla armies, which made peace with the government several years ago and turned to political action, have also been murdered in Colombia, and it looks like things are going to get even worse.

  • [February 9, 2003]

    The Israelis began "attacking terrorists" in Hebron by destroying the vegetable market, giving the merchants no chance to rescue either their stalls or the vegetables.

    They are also destroying houses by the dozen, ostensibly because they were "built without permission"; but since Palestinians can never get permission to build, this legal excuse is a dishonest Kafkaesque facade for removing people who are "in the way".

  • [February 9, 2003]

    Iraqis may hate Saddam, but a US conquest of Iraq will not strengthen those in the middle east who want democracy.

  • [February 7, 2003]

    James Watson proposes the frightening policy of taking the DNA fingerprint of everyone--and trusting the government to control access to the information.

    Our governments say that they try to protect us and serve our interests. Perhaps Dr. Watson believes this is true. If we had democratic governments that listened to the concerns of citizens who are not rich, if the police were honest and did not bend and break the law to attack dissidents, perhaps his proposal would be a good idea.

  • [February 7, 2003]

    Robert Fisk is skeptical about the evidence regarding Iraq.

  • [February 7, 2003]

    The Australian Senate voted to condemn the Australian government's preparations to participate in a war against Iraq.

  • [February 7, 2003]

    Song: We are Americans.

  • [February 7, 2003]

    Israeli soldiers destroyed a Palestinian home, killing an elderly woman who was still inside it.

    Israeli forces have a systematic practice of demolishing Palestinian homes. This only occasionally turns into murder, but it is always a form of collective punishment (i.e. punishment of the innocent), violating international treaties about how to treat people in occupied territory.

  • [February 7, 2003]

    A Colonel who talked too much & Gush Shalom

  • [February 7, 2003]

    Confronting the Empire, a statement by Arundhati Roy

  • [February 7, 2003]

    The hero of "West Wing", derided by Conservatives, has a foreign policy so right-wing that a British columnist finds it frightening.

  • [February 7, 2003]

    The European Parliament is convicted 16 years ago on the testimony of police informers. New evidence, including evidence that the police ignored other suspects, was rapidly being found. The judge, faced with the danger that evidence would show that the state was wrong, decided to press ahead with the execution so and forestall the danger.

    The article mentions additional evidence that Elliott wasn't the murderer. It also points out that the judge had made statements to the media showing prejudice against Elliott. Isn't this exactly what the first judge in the Microsoft antitrust trial was reprimanded for? Apparently Microsoft's money is held to deserve greater respect from the legal system than a man's life.

  • [February 7, 2003]

    While the US prepares to attack Iraq, pretending that Al Qa'ida is there, the real Al Qa'ida is having a resurgence in Afghanistan. It is not just fighting Americans, but women also.

    Maybe Bush should fight Al Qa'ida where it is, instead of where it ain't.

  • [February 4, 2003]

    Greek police are harrassing an Anarchist for various crimes in Italy that she was already exonerated for.

  • [February 4, 2003]

    For 20 years, globalization has replaced well-paid US jobs with low-paid foreign jobs; but some good jobs could not be moved. Digital technology is changing that.

    Soon the only jobs left in the US will be those that require physical proximity to clients in the US--a few doctors and teachers, and a lot of McJobs. These will remain in the US as long as the US has a customer base for them. But falling wages will eat into that customer base.

    When the US going down meets India coming up, the result will be more like India today than like the US today.

  • [February 4, 2003]

    Adversarial wealth and synergic wealth.

  • [February 4, 2003]

    Be on the lookout for trumped-up excuses for invading Iraq; it won't be the first time.

  • [February 3, 2003]

    The Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday, Feb. 4, on the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has traditionally been a gateway to a Supreme Court appointment. Email your Senators TODAY to oppose this nominee, AND call your Senators at 202-224-3121 to urge them to block the confirmation of Miguel Estrada.

  • [February 3, 2003]

    Public libraries in the US are carefully deleting information about what books you read and where you surf on the internet, to protect your privacy from a marauding Federal government.

  • [February 3, 2003]

    The UN estimates that half a million Iraqi civilians will need medical care because of a war. And it will be hard for them to get any care in Iraq at war.

    Part of the reason would be that the US plans to attack facilities such as electrical supply. In a war like this one, attacking the power supply would not be a military necessity. Command facilities surely have their own generators, and neither tanks nor snipers need electricity to fight. This would be a measure aimed at the civilian population.

  • [February 1, 2003]

    Bush's polarization of Europe on the issue of Iraq joins many other harmful consequences of his relentless push for war.

  • [February 1, 2003]

    The Iranian religious leaders have released a famous dissident religious leader from arrest.

  • [January 31, 2003]

    5000 children die each month in Iraq because the UN sanctions committee does not allow Iraq to buy medicine (though the US pretends Iraq can buy all it wants).

    Some of the sicknesses are caused by the radioactive uranium released by exploding US shells that were filled with uranium 238. These "depleted uranium" shells were developed because the density of the uranium is effective for penetrating armor, not with the intention of poisoning the surrounding countryside. But the poisoning does occur, and now that it is clear to see, we must not use these shells again, not even when war is justified.

    Another type of armor-piercing shell might be a little less effective, but the world's strongest army could make do with it. And if the US sets an example of renouncing these shells, perhaps other countries would do likewise.

  • [January 31, 2003]

    Kevin Annett faces arrest in Canada for speaking out about murder, forced sterilization, land expropriation, and even Tuskegee-style medical experiments without consent, all carried out on Native Americans by the Canadian government together with major churches.

    To silence Annett, a judge convicted him of defamation merely for quoting the sworn testimony of witnesses in court. The court did not bother to send Annett a summons to notify him that there was a lawsuit against him. The whole proceedings should be invalid, but Annett nonetheless faces arrest.

  • [January 31, 2003]

    The Labor party in the UK threatens to deny firefighters the right to strike, unless they voluntarily don't use it.

    The Labor Party pretends to defend the rights of labor, and still gets much of its support from unions. Let's hope they wise up and stop.

  • [January 31, 2003]

    A British mother who was convicted of murdering her two babies was exonerated after evidence showed that the natural death of both babies was not, after all, so terribly unlikely.

    What is significant here is that the pathologist failed to pass along vital information that would have exonerated her to start with. This systematic flaw in the system will no doubt produce other miscarriages of justice, and not all of them will be corrected. Accidents will happen with any system, but when they result from a systematic flaw, they are not really accidents.

  • [January 31, 2003]

    Greenpeace Southeast Asia is switching to the free software GNU/Linux operating system. They recognize that this is a way to uphold freedom, as well as a way to save money.

    GNU/Linux is a variant of the GNU operating system, in which Linux is used as one component.

  • [January 31, 2003]

    According to Human Rights Watch, the state government of Gujarat, India actively encouraged the 2002 massacres of Muslims in that state.

  • [January 31, 2003]

    Bush is stacking the government's science advisory committees with people that will support his political agenda or help business.

    This is a continuation of his policies toward various international bodies, described in previous notes.

  • [January 31, 2003]

    Natural forces of freezing and thawing move stones into complex and patterns of many kinds. Some people had assumed these must have been made deliberately by conscious beings.

    If you think that "I don't see how it could have happened naturally" is sufficient basis to conclude that "It must not be natural", your own occasional ignorance (we are all ignorant of some things) will systematically lead you to posit supernatural causes for natural events. Recognizing this, you should reject that inference. It's usually more plausible that we are ignorant of some natural phenomenon than that anything supernatural exists.

  • [January 30, 2003]

    A campaign for freedom of the press opposes a ruling in part of Germany that requires all ISPs to block access to certain "hate speech" web sites.

  • [January 30, 2003]

    Admiration, and some critical suggestions, for the anti-globalization movement.

  • [January 30, 2003]

    Two anarchist prisoners in the US are being punished harshly just for receiving moral support mail from anarchists.

  • [January 30, 2003]

    Bulgarian workers brought into Israel are treated almost like slaves. "They kick the workers in the head until they bleed".

  • [January 30, 2003]

    Municipally owned cable systems are serving the public much better than privately owned cable.

    It is no surprise that public ownership is better, since it is rare that customers for privately owned cable systems have any competition to choose from.

  • [January 29, 2003]

    The UN weapons inspectors reported that Iraq is not fully cooperating with them (although it has let them look wherever they wish to look).

    The report gives some credibility to the claim that Iraq is hiding biological and chemical weapons, but does not prove it. The US government now says it will release its secret evidence to prove this. However, Bush and Blair have told us several times that they were about to show real proof--and after a long drumroll, they showed us inconclusive information that we already knew.

    The US is considering a war strategy that ought to terrify every American.

  • [January 26, 2003]

    Children in India's silk factories work, in effect, as slaves.

  • [January 26, 2003]

    There are signs that the US plans to attack Iraq in just a week.

  • [January 26, 2003]

    You don't have to commit, aid, or even intend any sort of harm to others in order to be guilty of "terrorism" in the UK. Mere suspicion legally counts as guilt.

    Section 57 of the UK Terrorism Act says, "A person commits an offence if he possesses an article in circumstances which give rise to a reasonable suspicion that his possession is for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation, or instigation of an act of terrorism."

    The act proceeds to say that if you can "prove" that the article was "not for a purposes connected...with terrorism", that is considered a defense. But how would you prove the absence of a certain purpose in your mind? That is impossible; even if you didn't entertain a particular purpose, you conceivably might have done so. Trying to use this defense would be sheerest Kafka.

    Of course, if you are convicted of the crime of having been suspected, the government spokespeople (and much of the press) will talk about you asserting that you really were planning an act of violence. This subsequent explicit lie will serve to justify the implicit lie embodied in the law itself.

    What this shows is that a system of laws can be a fancy dressing for arbitrary rule. UK citizens should stop being distracted by the occasional terrorist and direct their attention to putting a check on the lawlessness of government.

  • [January 26, 2003]

    An organization of US veterans asks US soldiers not to fight in Iraq.

  • [January 25, 2003]

    The US is starting to wake from the trance that Bush put on it after 9/11.

  • [January 25, 2003]

    The Independent reports that Bush has decided to call the whole process of weapons inspections in Iraq a failure -- perhaps because the inspectors have not found the weapons that the US wants us to believe are there.

    It is clear that either the inspectors are unable to verify the facts, or the US is lying. In principle, either one could be true. But if the US has really told them where to find the weapons, how could they fail?

    Bush says that any Iraqi officers that ordered the use of "weapons of mass destruction" against US troops would be tried as war criminals. The US always said it was ready to use weapons of mass destruction against the Soviet army if it invaded Europe. This looks like a double standard to me.

  • [January 24, 2003]

    What militant Islam looks like to someone who saw it from the inside.

  • [January 24, 2003]

    Israeli soldiers destroyed the market next to the Palestinian town of Nazlat Issa, saying the market was built without building permits. (It is essentially impossible for Palestinians to get building permits from Israel.)

    The villagers built the new market because Israelis set up a checkpoint that prevents people from going to the old market inside the village.

  • [January 24, 2003]

    Tony Blair, while insisting that the UK (and presumably the US) will attack Iraq with or without UN support, admits that there is no link between Iraq and Al Qa'ida.

    In effect, this admits that Bush was lying all the time when he claimed they were connected.

  • [January 23, 2003]

    The son of a former head of state asks for your help, and your money, to secure control of oil assets that are under the control of a hostile regime. Sound familiar?

  • [January 23, 2003]

    Opposition MPs are being tortured in Zimbabwe.

  • [January 23, 2003]

    Neoclassical economics teaches that people are completely selfish and models the "rational" consequences of such selfishness--usually assuming additionally that people make decisions based on full knowledge of their options. Both assumptions are absurd.

    Heterodox economists who question these assumptions are under attack at many universities.

    The absurdity of neoclassical economics is widely taught as truth; why is that? I think because it is convenient for companies and their owners, that are acting selfishly and seek to avoid criticism for it, and for governments that suck up to them, such as by cutting taxes for the rich while cutting and privatizing services for the poor.

    Note also how department chair Jensen speaks of "industry standards" for economics departments, in effect referring to universities as an "industry". It's no surprise that many of university administrators see things that way, but any university that considers its activities primarily in that light has lost sight of its proper mission and ought to lose its tax exemption next.

  • [January 21, 2003]

    The United States of America Has Gone Mad, by John le Carre

  • [January 21, 2003]

    What does the US establishment hope to gain from the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americans), also known as ALCA?

  • [January 21, 2003]

    Two Chinese labor leaders were convicted of "subverting state power" for leading workers to demand back wages owed to them.

    This is what the US government closes its eyes to by encouraging trade with China.

  • [January 21, 2003]

    Representative Kucinich gave a memorable speech when he was sworn in for his current term in Congress.

  • [January 20, 2003]

    Yoni Ben-Artzi, a consciencious objector in Israel, is being imprisoned indefinetely without trial, and needs people's support.

  • [January 17, 2003]

    An amateur photographer in Denver was arrested for taking photos of the hotel where Vice President Cheney was staying. When he tried to use his one phone call to talk to the press, he was cut off.

    The police said he would not get his camera back, and did not even give him a receipt for it. They say they are holding it as "evidence". This is a transparent excuse to punish him with confiscation of his property. It indicates the cavalier attitude that the police adopt towards the law: it is an excuse for power, not a limitation on what they can do.

    We see that Cheney (and Bush) hurt Americans not only through their decisions, but also by randomly crushing people as they move through our neighborhoods.

  • [January 17, 2003]

    Berlusconi, il ducino, is threatening the magistrates who have prosecuted corruption in Italy.

    There are many accusations that Berlusconi is corrupt and that he cooperates with the Mafia. (His party has all the parliamentary seats in Sicily.)

  • [January 17, 2003]

    The conflict between the Bolivian government and coca growers is heating up. US government pressure is the reason why the Bolivian government is so intransigent on this issue.

  • [January 17, 2003]

    Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians seriously tried to carry out the Oslo peace process.

  • [January 17, 2003]

    When people go to the UK seeking political asylum, the system often treats them so badly that they must become prostitutes, and may be homeless. But now that one asylum seeker was connected with terrorism, there is pressure to make the system even more cruel, for all of them.

  • [January 17, 2003]

    In the 1960s, the last time Brazil had a leftist president, the CIA engineered a coup. A murderous military government took over the country. A group of Brazilians including Fernando Gabeira kidnaped the US ambassador in order to get other dissidents released from prison.

    Today Brazil is a democracy again, and Fernando Gabeira is a member of the Brazilian congress. But he was not allowed into the US to attend the 1998 opening of a film of his book about those events. The US still considers him a terrorist. Will the CIA terrorists who overthrew democracy in Brazil ever be punished?

    Gabeira is still in the Brazilian congress as of January 2003.

  • [January 17, 2003]

    1300 men have been arrested in the UK for downloading "child pornography" on the Internet. "Child pornography" was once the excuse of choice for increased surveillance and censorship of the Internet, before terrorism came conveniently to hand.

    The arrested men are described as "suspected paedophiles", a cleverly ambiguous term. Just what are they suspected of? Is it that they do or did something with real children? If so, the downloaded pictures are not evidence of it. Or is it only that they might feel an attraction to children? If so, then they stand accused of nothing but a mental inclination: thoughtcrime. The term conceals either one injustice or another, and thus obscures them both.

    When pressed, the authorities will say these men are to be punished for possession of forbidden pictures, not for anything else. But if that were sincere, why make ambiguous accusations of something else? The prohibition of these pictures is really an excuse to lock people up who are condemned for their thoughts.

    There are more serious crimes than sex with children--murder, for example. Perhaps people who have thought about murder should be imprisoned too. With the help of the USA PAT-RIOT Act, the police could examine bookstore records and arrest everyone who has bought a mystery novel, on the grounds that he or she might have an inclination to murder someone someday.

    I'm glad I always pay cash for books.

  • [January 17, 2003]

    The India-Pakistan arms race perpetuates poverty.

  • [January 17, 2003]

    Vietnamese who posted criticism of the government on the Internet have been sentenced to long prison terms.

  • [January 17, 2003]

    The harsh attitude towards men who are attracted to children, manifested in the systematic attempts to arrest people for merely looking at pictures, could be perversely making it more likely they will try to have sex with children.

    It won't be the first time that a harsh government approach to a social problem backfires and makes the problem worse.

  • [January 17, 2003]

    Polar bears are headed for extinction in about a century, because of global warming. Although few of us will live to see it happen (barring great advances in medicine), preventing the extinction will have to be done now.

  • [January 17, 2003]

    Law professor Francis Boyle argues that Bush should be impeached, that his plan to go to war against Iraq merely because it might develop weapons violates the principles established at the Nuremberg war crimes trials.

  • [January 17, 2003]

    Thousands of people are stating their opposition to Blair's proposal for a national ID card in the UK.

  • [January 15, 2003]

    In a UK-sponsored conference on planning for a Palestinian state, the Palestinian delegates are participating by video conference, since Israel would not let them travel.

    It occurs to me that part of the reason why this conference is occurring is that Blair hopes it will divert Arab hostility in the case of war with Iraq.

  • [January 15, 2003]

    Blair says the US and UK may attack Iraq without UN support. As he and Bush have done several times before, he says that there will be evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, but does not show us any.

  • [January 13, 2003]

    Football, American style, amazingly could provide a paradigm for fairness among Americans for whom caring about fairness seems absurd.

  • [January 12, 2003]

    The US empire and the British empire: are they to be admired?

  • [January 12, 2003]

    Dubya insists that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, and dismisses the contrary reports of UN weapons inspectors as insignificant. Meanwhile, the US has been slow to help the inspectors find the supposed weapons.

  • [January 12, 2003]

    Beer companies buy the support of the Congressional Black Caucus.

    (Lots of other companies buy the support of other parts of congress.)

  • [January 10, 2003]

    Anti-war train operators in the UK have refused to drive trains carrying arms to be sent to Iraq.

  • [January 10, 2003]

    The prejudice against prostitutes allows people to murder them with impunity, as long as it's done one by one.

    This article was written in the UK, but the attitude is basically the same in the US.

  • [January 10, 2003]

    As the US prattles about Iraq's possible "weapons of mass destruction, mass murder is happening in the Congo. Thousands of machetes are sufficient weapons of mass destruction there.

    I don't know enough about the situation to try to suggest how the slaughter could be stopped, but I am pretty sure the US could do it if it were willing to spend 1/10 what it plans to spend in Iraq.

  • [January 10, 2003]

    A US government agency has a list of around 1000 americans who are not allowed to fly. Supposedly they are on the list because they are potential terrorists, but the list includes political dissidents who believe in complete nonviolence as a matter of conscience.

    They don't give you a trial before putting you on the list, they won't necessarily confirm that you are on the list, and there is nothing you can do to get off the list. It's pure Kafka--or should I say, pure Dubya.

    One of the people who was blocked from flying is a Green party leader. He was shown a government document labeling the Green party as a terrorist threat. I have supported several Green Party candidates recently. I wonder if they will put me on the list.

  • [January 7, 2003]

    The Israeli army is steadily destroying certain areas of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. They attack in a regular pattern, so the people who live in the next homes to be destroyed flee in advance. As a result, they are not generally being killed. That doesn't make it acceptable to deliberately destroy whole neighborhoods.

    (You have to read a fair ways through the page to come to this material.)

  • [January 7, 2003]

    Global warming is causing species to move their territories northward at three miles a year.

    But not all species can move--they can run into mountains, rivers, valleys, deserts, oceans, and various other changes in terrain that they can't cope with. The result: extinction for some species, which can have repercussions for others.

    There are tree species whose fruit evolved to be eaten by animals now extinct for thousands of years. For some, the result is that the trees cannot spread from the areas they now live in. For some, there are no new seedlings, only a decreasing number of old trees.

  • [January 3, 2003]

    The 10 worst corporations of 2002 (only two of them are on the list for financial deceit).

  • [January 2, 2003]

    Angie Zeltzer photographed an Israeli settler attacking a Palestinian, and then was attacked in turn. The settler is now on trial, and Zeltzer is there to testify--but the government is trying to stop her testimony by deporting her.

    It appears that no principle of justice or democracy is safe in Israel under the current government.

    More recent reports say that the settler was given a plea bargain and the Israeli Supreme Court approved Zeltzer's deportation as a "security threat". What kind of government declares someone a "security threat" for trying to document a crime?

  • [January 1, 2003]

    Is it legitimate for police to pick through your trash without a warrant? A team of journalists gave the officials who advocate this a taste of their own medicine.

    In the era of the USA P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act, whether police can paw through your trash may seem trivial, but I think that fighting for any aspect of the rights of citizens will strengthen our resolve to defend all our rights from those who are trying too officiously to protect us. I think that people in general should be free to pick through the trash looking for useful things to use. But it could make sense to have more restrictive rules for the police.

  • [January 1, 2003]

    If You're Happy And You Know It, Bomb Iraq.

  • [January 1, 2003]

    I won't draw any specific conclusion from this article about how North Korea sees its situation vis-a-vis the US.

  • [January 1, 2003]

    Activists of OCAP are going on trial for being among the victims of a police riot that attacked their protest rally.

  • [January 1, 2003]

    When Ashcroft was a senator, he criticized the Clinton administration's plans to increase surveillance. The criticism was justified--but that same Ashcroft is now presiding over a much greater assault on our freedom.


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