Political notes from 2003: March - June

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  • 28 June 2003 ()

    Just as reports were circulating that Hamas might agree to a truce, Israeli forces used rockets to attack a Hamas activist, killing several bystanders.

  • 28 June 2003 ()

    Dubya's nominee to run the DEA flees from woman in wheelchair.

  • 28 June 2003 ()

    Police in the UK have been criticized by a judge for bugging conversations between suspects and their lawyers.

    In the US, on the other hand, Bush gave orders to do this.

  • 28 June 2003 ()

    Dubya has nominated another caveman for a federal appeals court. Refreshingly, the Democratic Party is organizing opposition.

    The nominee is quoted as saying that if the choice of a sexual partner were protected by the Constitution, "prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, possession of child pornography, and even incest and pedophilia" also would be. He is probably mistaken, legally--but that is unfortunate. All of these acts should be legal as long as no one is coerced. They are illegal only because of prejudice and narrowmindedness.

    Some rules might be called for when these acts directly affect other people's interests. For incest, contraception could be mandatory to avoid risk of inbreeding. For prostitution, a license should be required to ensure prostitutes get regular medical check-ups, and they should have training and support in insisting on use of condoms. This will be an advance in public health, compared with the situation today.

    For necrophilia, it might be necessary to ask the next of kin for permission if the decedent's will did not authorize it. Necrophilia would be my second choice for what should be done with my corpse, the first being scientific or medical use. Once my dead body is no longer of any use to me, it may as well be of some use to someone. Besides, I often enjoy rhinophytonecrophilia (nasal sex with dead plants).

  • 28 June 2003 ()

    A large study reports that Marijuana has no major long-term effects on the brain.

  • 26 June 2003 ()

    The UK government is accused of building a DNA database by stealth.

    Meanwhile, they recently proposed to enter all newborn babies in their DNA database as a matter of course. I guess babies are not terribly concerned about governmemt surveillance.

  • 26 June 2003 ()

    Bush dominates a nation of victims using the same sort of verbal abuse that other bullies use.

    I had not noticed these specifics myself, but I had noticed that the tone of what Bush says is often hectoring and cruel. Other nations need to start defying Bush's bullying--not just quietly, but publicly, so that they can stir up defiance elsewhere. Quiet resistance may win a specific battle but does not tend to stiffen others' resistance.

  • 25 June 2003 ()

    A former WTO negotiator says, "Free market trade policies hurt the poor. The IMF and World Bank orthodoxy is increasing global poverty."

  • 25 June 2003 ()

    Superweeds evolve resistance to Roundup, casting doubt on whether the expensive Roundup-resistant GM seeds will really do what they are supposed to do.

  • 25 June 2003 ()

    Bush made the EPA censor a report to omit discussion of global warming.

  • 24 June 2003 ()

    Another American has been secretly arrested as part of Dubya's war on human rights. This time he supposedly had a trial-- a secret trial.

    A secret trial is a sham trial. Even in trials that meet all the usual standards of fairness, dishonest authorities can often railroad innocent people--they suppress evidence, they buy testimony from convicts, etc. But the defense lawyer and public scrutiny can act as a check on injustice. The government's story of what happened in this secret trial cannot be verified. Did he really plead guilty, or did they just decide to pretend he did?

  • 24 June 2003 ()

    Global fishing has reduced the number of large predatory fish by 90% in a few decades--and the few that remain are small. The world's fish populations are in great danger.

  • 24 June 2003 ()

    Burma has put its elected president, Aung San Suu Kyi, in prison again. They used a mob attack on her followers as the excuse.

  • 24 June 2003 ()

    An Israeli writer explains the distorted language that is used to disguise the realities of the occupation of Palestine.

    Israel has been steadily taking away the Palestinians' water resources. The checkpoints and walls that block travel make it hard for many Palestinians to obtain the little water available to them.

    The Israeli water minister says it's all the fault of Palestinians who tap Israeli pipes and drill illegal wells. This is transparently absurd--what else should they do, when their water has been stolen?

  • 24 June 2003 ()

    UK MP Galloway, who strongly opposed war with Iraq, was accused by two newspapers of being on Saddam's payroll. One of them has now apologized, after determining that the documentary evidence against him was forged.

  • 24 June 2003 ()

    Sharon made a show of fake toughness in dismantling a one-house illegal settler outpost. The army made the job look difficult on TV by not trying its usual effective methods.

    The only way to end the violence is to end the occupation that crushes all Palestinians.

  • 24 June 2003 ()

    UNOCAL is being sued in the US for its use of the Burmese military government to impose brutal security for UNOCAL's pipeline in Burma.

  • 24 June 2003 ()

    A BBC camera team was ejected from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and some of its recordings were erased.

  • 23 June 2003 ()

    To prove how cruel it is, the Blair regime plans to imprison people for 14 years for having a party where someone smokes pot.

    The tyrannical nature of this law lies in its attempt to conscript people as enforcers and punish them for failing to restrict others.

  • 22 June 2003 ()

    The new head of the Republican National Committee is a corporate lobbyist who worked for Enron. Later, after the collapse of Enron, he lobbied against regulation of accountants to make similar fraud less likely.

  • 22 June 2003 ()

    A British official warns of chaos in Iraq; troops may have to stay for 4 years, and reconstruction efforts are inadequate.

  • 22 June 2003 ()

    A part of Pakistan has adopted the injustice of Islamic law.

  • 22 June 2003 ()

    Senator Levin accused the CIA of sandbagging UN weapons inspectors with bad intelligence.

  • 21 June 2003 ()

    Bush is now citing the looting of Iraqi ministries as the excuse for why the Bush forces have not found any of the supposed WMDs.

    One has to wonder why Bush didn't order his forces to prevent the looting, which continued systematically for some days.

  • 21 June 2003 ()

    The UK proposes to offer gay couples a legal relationship equivalent to marriage.

    It is not formally considered "marriage", so these relationships may not be recognized by other countries.

  • 21 June 2003 ()

    UK ministers accuse Blair of lying about Iraqi weapons.

    One of these ministers called it an "honorable deception", apparently meaning to say that it is honorable to lie to the public to stir up a war if it is the way to suck up to a great power. A strange idea of honor, that.

  • 19 June 2003 ()

    Senator Hatch advocates "destroying the computers" of people who share music on the internet.

    It is no accident that harsh and tyrannical measures are proposed for this, because the goal is completely wrong to begin with. Sharing music on the internet is not wrong and it should be legal. It does not even hurt musicians (except for a few rich ones who will do fine anyway, because most musicians get zero money when you buy their CDs.

    Music sharing perhaps hurts the record companies, the companies that mistreat both the musicans and the listeners. If so, that is another argument in its favor.

  • 19 June 2003 ()

    The US took a step away from being a free society, as a US appeals court approved Dubya's secret arrests which were carried out en masse after September 11.

  • 19 June 2003 ()

    Protests in Iran against the religious government continue.

  • 18 June 2003 ()

    46 people are being freed from prison in Texas because it was determined that charges brought against them were fabricated by a dishonest cop.

    The point that struck me most is that so many people pled guilty to false charges that had no evidence to support them. They must have believed that defending themselves in court was not a real option. They may figure that the system is biased against them. Their court-appointed lawyers may have told them not even to think about it, and may have assumed their clients were guilty.

  • 18 June 2003 ()

    A UK citizen is in jail in Japan and faces a long sentence for drug smuggling. He was pressured to sign a statement he could not even read, which turned out to be a confession. The court refused to listen to evidence that could have proved he was duped by a traveling companion.

    Another article said he was pressured to sign the confession through being kept in solitary confinement for months.

    Sentences like this for people who really smuggle drugs are part of the harm done by prohibition of drugs. Conviction through an unfair trial is icing on the cake.

  • 18 June 2003 ()

    The parents of Tom Hurndall, who was shot and turned into a vegetable by Israeli troops while he was protecting unarmed Palestinians, met with the British foreign secretary, putting him under pressure to reject the phony Israeli description of how they shot Hurndall.

  • 18 June 2003 ()

    Iranians are protesting because the French government raided an Iranian opposition group and confiscated its funds. One protester in London set himself on fire.

    Aren't the People's Mujaheddin freedom fighters? When did they become "terrorists"? Just goes to show, one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist.

  • 17 June 2003 ()

    A Bush forces helicopter was shot down by opposition in Iraq.

    One Bush commander reports having "made significant progress" in restoring security. In Vietnam they typically said that too, whether it was true or not.

    The invasion of Iraq provided the occasion for some nuclear waste materials to disappear. Some were taken by people who lived in the area and who now may be getting sick from it. Some may be in the hands of careful thieves who might now pass it on to terrorists.

  • 17 June 2003 ()

    An Israeli newspaper reports Bush put a certain amount of pressure on Sharon to cooperate with the Palestinians.

    But it came to nothing, as we all know. Sharon's attacks started a renewed cycle of violence.

  • 17 June 2003 ()

    Chomsky discusses the implications of the Iraq war.

  • 17 June 2003 ()

    The Colombian government, along with its widespread paramilitary terrorism (in which US-trained officers play a big role), is now trying to crush the unions of state employees.

  • 16 June 2003 ()

    A detailed report on the failure of Bush's search for the fabled Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

    The exaggeration of the Iraqi threat follows a pattern of US exaggeration of the military capabilities of adversaries. For instance, Paul Wolfowitz (an important Bush advisor) exaggerated Soviet military capabilities too.

  • 16 June 2003 ()

    If catching Osama bin Laden doesn't really matter, if catching Saddam Hussein doesn't really matter, if the supposed Iraqi weapons of mass distruction don't really matter, is there anything left that matters?

  • 16 June 2003 ()

    The principal characteristics of fascism--so you can rate the government of your country.

  • 15 June 2003 ()

    The UN extended a special exception for the US, that US troops are immune from prosecution for war crimes.

    Given the belligerence of the US, US troops are particularly likely to engage in war crimes--for instance, dropping cluster bombs on inhabited areas in Iraq.

  • 15 June 2003 ()

    Barbershop wisdom says that Bush is in trouble on Iraq. Perhaps he will never be elected president.

    The Democratic Party is accusing Republicans of blocking an investigation of the basis for the statements that Bush made to justify the attack.

  • 15 June 2003 ()

    The UK government claims that satellite surveillance of all cars will be the only way to prevent road congestion. There is another way: build trains instead of highways, leading to subsequent development that encourages train travel instead of car travel. But instead of doing this, the UK government is planning expensive new highways that go through areas that don't want them.

  • 15 June 2003 ()

    A Palestinian argues that Palestinians should abandon the idea of a separate state, and instead use nonviolent resistance to demand equal rights. I'm not entirely convinced, but it is worth thinking about.

    Part of his argument is that the Israel will never allow a Palestinian state to control its own resources. It seems valid that Palestinian state would indeed be doomed to poverty if Isreal keeps control of all the water, for instance. However, one possible conclusion is simply that establishing a Palestinian state must involve giving it control over the water resources of the occupied territories.

    Also, in order for nonviolent protest to do any good, there needs to be a government that isn't prepared to crush it with brutaliy. Israel has not hesitated to use violence against unarmed civilians and has closed off Palestinian areas to both foreign and Israeli witnesses and reporters.

  • 15 June 2003 ()

    An EPA report says that violation of the Clean Water Act are common and fines for violations are tiny.

  • 15 June 2003 ()

    A large fraction of humanity, in both rich and poor countries, gets its water supplies from underground aquifers. A UN report says that these aquifers are being depleted rapidly.

  • 14 June 2003 ()

    Wolfowitz admits that the evanescent Iraqi weapons of mass distruction were just a convenient excuse for war.

    As explained in previous notes, Wolfowitz and other Bush advisors belong to a clique that has been pushing for years for a US attack on Iraq.

  • 14 June 2003 ()

    The AAA lobbies for road building, and against pollution control and car safety requirements.

    There is an alternative called www.betterworldclub.com which doesn't do this.

  • 14 June 2003 ()

    The Blair government has effectively admitted distorting intelligence reports to deceive the public.

    I find a fallacy in the article's argument that, because people urged continuing arms inspections rather than war, we cannot attach any significance to the failure of the Bush forces to find any Iraqi weapons of mass distruction. The arms inspectors were limited in the number of sites they could visit per day, and had to deal with Saddam; Bush can send as many inspectors as he wants to, and Saddam is no longer in control. And whereas Bush did not give the UN inspectors useful information, his own forces presumably have the advantage of the great US intelligence.

  • 14 June 2003 ()

    Sharon plans to dismantle a number settler "outposts"--typically uninhabited trailers placed on a site to indicate the intent to establish a settlement later. This seems to be the full extent of his "concessions" to the Palestinians for peace: a retraction of some, but not all, future possible seizure of their land.

    The settlers have announced they will just make more outposts to replace those that are removed.

  • 14 June 2003 ()

    Prison guards are on trial in the US for attacking prisoners.

  • 13 June 2003 ()

    Dozens of nonviolent protesters at the School of the Americas (officially renamed WHISC) have been sentenced to months in prison.

    The School of the Americas is the US training institution for torture and terrorism.

    Nowadays murderers trained there are very active in Colombia.

    Monbiot compares Afghanistan's support for Al Qa'ida with US support for the School of the Americas. We who supported the war against the Taliban could hardly criticize a South American power for attacking the School of the Americas now. This hypothetical South American power would not even need to adopt a bellicose foreign policy like Bush's, which calls for attacking any country that might perhaps be a threat. The US has already sponsored terrorism in their region and is continuing to do so.

  • 12 June 2003 ()

    Iraqis are protesting Bush rule every day.

    Another article about related events shows that Bush has given up on having Iraqis select a provisional government. Now Bush's temporary administration is going to do that.

  • 12 June 2003 ()

    Ed Rosenthal, the medical marijuana grower convicted under federal law by a jury that was kept in the dark about the facts, was sentenced to just one day in prison.

    While this will relieve the guilt of the jury members, most of whom publicly apologized for what they were tricked into doing, it does not remove the danger that other juries will be tricked the same way.

    If you are on the jury in the trial of someone who grows pot, remember: the purpose of the jury is to stop the government from imprisoning people when the public is against it. No matter what the law says, you can vote to acquit the person. And if his "crime" is growing pot, that's exactly what you ought to do.

  • 12 June 2003 ()

    Religious fanatics in the US are opposing Palestinian statehood on grounds of biblical prophecy. It would be amusing if not for the fact that Dubya is closely tied to these fanatics.

  • 12 June 2003 ()

    Anglo American, the mining company, is being sued for involvement with paramilitary killings in Colombia.

  • 12 June 2003 ()

    The record companies, acting through their instrument the RIAA, threatened a bogus lawsuit against a student for developing a program that might, among other things, be used to copy music. They stole his entire life savings.

    Some people are taking up a collection for the student, but I don't think that is the right way to help. I agree with comments some have made that we should contribute to legal battle against the record companies, not towards paying tribute to them.

    The record companies treat musicians like dirt: when you buy the typical commercial CD, the amount of money that goes to the musicians is zero. The record companies poison music by stuffing it with hype. So don't believe them when they claim to be acting for the benefit of musicians or music--sharing music is not wrong. (See www.digitalspeech.org and www.publicknowledge.org.)

    Remember that the record companies are everyone's enemies. Don't buy corrupt CDs!

  • 12 June 2003 ()

    Abas Amini, an Iranian asylum-seeker in the UK, a dissident who faced torture if he went home, sewed his eyes, lips and ears shut to call attention to his case. He was ultimately granted asylum--but he remains on hunger strike on behalf of other refugees.

    Note especially how the government spokesman denies that Amini's protest had any influence on the decision. For government bureaucrats, imposing their rules (whether just or not) is the highest value. To be influenced by anything else--whether it be public opinion, justice, or human decency--is the ultimate defeat.

  • 10 June 2003 ()

    There were large protests against the meeting of the G8 in Geneva.

  • 10 June 2003 ()

    Australian protesters against marijuana prohibition have been sentenced to long prison terms.

  • 9 June 2003 ()

    The Australian government is pushing a law to let the government arbitrarily declare any organization "terrorist" and then imprison its members. People who simply repeat what the organization said could be imprisoned as well.

  • 8 June 2003 ()

    How the neoconservatives planned for the opportunity that Bush and 9/11 gave them--and how to criticize their work in a way that can persuade conservatives to oppose Bush.

  • 8 June 2003 ()

    15 years ago, millions of Americans in manufacturing jobs discovered those jobs were gone forever. Now the same thing is happening in software and many other technology fields. These jobs are moving to poor countries where people are paid much less.

    I am not quick to make predictions about the future, but I think this marks the end of the days when most Americans were middle-class. Henceforth most Americans will be working-class and struggling.

    I'd like to repeat that I do not see this issue from a nationalist point of view. I have no objection to people in India or Russia's having programming jobs, any more than I object to buying things made by people in Mexico or China. However, when moving jobs to another country is just an excuse to cut pay, then I object.

    Keep in mind that these changes are not natural phenomena; they are no accident. The US governments has been pushing for this sort of change for many years.

  • 8 June 2003 ()

    UN weapons inspector Hans Blix questions whether we can depend on the report of weapons inspectors working for Bush; he also says that US intelligence help, which the US gave him only after a few months had gone by, was worthless.

    The most amazing thing in this article is the statement by commentator Max Boot that the apparent worthlessness of US intelligence about Iraq "actually makes the case for preventive war that much stronger." He's saying that merely not knowing what a country is doing is reason to attack it.

    Bush only proposed to attack countries for developing armed forces that might someday challenge US power. Boot proposes to attack countries whenever it isn't certain they aren't doing that.

  • 8 June 2003 ()

    A close aide to Berlusconi gave the mafia a protection deal.

    This could be why his party won all the seats in Sicily.

  • 8 June 2003 ()

    Mugabe's forces continue to use violence to suppress protests in Zimbabwe, but the opposition stands firm.

    Troops went so far as to force workers to get on the train to go to work. But even the police are abandoning Mugabe.

  • 8 June 2003 ()

    An ABC News story reports that "officials" admit that the talk about Saddam's weapons was just an excuse for a war they sought for other reasons. Supposedly the purpose was to discourage terrorists.

    If that was truly the purpose, it is likely to backfire, as the war itself created hatred for the US around the world and especially in Arab countries. Resistance against US occupation in Iraq continues.

    Veteran US intelligence agents are now accusing Bush of "cooking the intelligence".

    An article on CNN suggests that Bush lied to the public about Iraqi weapons and distorted intelligence reports about Iraq when talking to Congress; and asserts that this would be grounds for impeachment.

    I take issue with a few points in the article. One is the statement that Enron was not Bush's doing. There is reason to suspect that the administration aided Enron in various ways, whether or not it knew specifically about the fraudulent accounting. Another, more important, is the idea that people should give the President the benefit of the doubt in what he says. Various presidents, of both parties, show a pattern of lying to the public, and this president also stole the election.

    I doubt that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would vote for impeachment even if Bush were to admit that he lied. Impeachment nowadays is reserved for Democrats who lie about their private lives.

    Meanwhile, there are reports that Cheney pressured the CIA to distort its findings. He too should be impeached.

    Meanwhile, Tony Blair is trying to blame "rogue spies" in the UK intelligence service for the accusation that he manipulated their findings. I guess anyone who admits this would be a "rogue" from Blair's point of view.

    Blair's spokesman argues, in effect, that Blair has so much ex officio credibility that accusations from lesser men are never reason to doubt his word. This resembles the argument I criticized above. In any case, it is not just people but also facts that weigh in on the issue.

    And a UK official accused Blair and Bush of going for the oil.

    There is increasing demand for a public inquiry into Blair's conduct. Perhaps both of these liars will fall from power due to their lies.

    There is pressure on Australian Prime Minister Howard as well.

    And an Australian intelligence analyst resigned in protest because of the distortion he saw was going on.

  • 7 June 2003 ()

    The AFL-CIO accuses Comcast of trying to intimidate workers who are planning to form a union.

  • 7 June 2003 ()

    An Anarchist prisoner in Oregon is being treated cruelly after he convinced the state government it had to overturn a prohibition on his receiving anarchist publications. It appears the prison system is punishing him for winning a legal battle with them.

    The cruelty includes "losing" his property and denying him medical care.

  • 7 June 2003 ()

    Interesting Bush quotes:

  • 7 June 2003 ()

    Blair continues to insist that falsified Iraqi evidence was real.

    Apparently he thinks that he can get away with any lie as long as he never admits it was a lie.

  • 7 June 2003 ()

    The House of Representatives votes to exempt the DOD from some environmental laws--something that the DOD does not really need, but Bush wants. The Senate voted against. The decision rests with a conference committee.

  • 7 June 2003 ()

    Charles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the UK, has denounced Tony Blair for lying about the supposed Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

  • 7 June 2003 ()

    The government of Zimbabwe is arresting opposition leaders for holding protests. All protests have been banned.

    In other articles I've read that the Zimbabwe opposition called for a national strike and closure of businesses, that it was very effective, and that the government is forcing shop owners to open their shops.

    Note that "draconian security laws allowing the government to ban any gathering" also exist, practically speaking, in the US. Protests are often banned.

  • 7 June 2003 ()

    The reports of a former soldier who escaped from North Korea.

  • 6 June 2003 ()

    The roadmap for peace seems to have induced both Sharon and Abu Mazen to make substantial concessions.

  • 5 June 2003 ()

    Blair is under pressure for lying about supposed Iraqi weapons of mass distruction. People in the UK are realizing that they went to war because they were lied to.

  • 5 June 2003 ()

    Record companies are suing Streamcast for making internal preparations to launch an internet broadcasting service. The motive appears to be that they lost another lawsuit against Streamcast over its peer to peer software.

    Record companies treat most musicians like dirt, then, in the name of those same musicans, demand power to impose copy restriction on the public. Making and selling records is not wrong, but today's record companies deserve to be eliminated.

  • 5 June 2003 ()

    A leading Scottish lawyer calls for legalization of all drugs.

    I don't advocate full legalization of addictive drugs. Perhaps it is better for doctors to prescribe them to anyone who is addicted--that would wipe out the profits of the sellers, and take the crushing burden of the law off of users, without letting businesses sell and advertise them.

  • 5 June 2003 ()

    Bush puts the duh in double-you.

  • 4 June 2003 ()

    A Bush supporter has made a fictional movie about September 11, falsely portraying Bush as attempting, at least in spirit, to oppose the terrorist attacks.

    For comparison here's what Bush really did on that day.

  • 4 June 2003 ()

    The spymasters in the CIA are angry at Bush, because he distorted their intelligence reports about Iraq so as to fabricate an excuse for war.

  • 4 June 2003 ()

    What De Toqueville had to say about Dubya.

  • 4 June 2003 ()

    Friends become enemies, as the US arranges regime change after regime change.

  • 4 June 2003 ()

    In Honduras, loggers have made death threats against environmental activists.

  • 4 June 2003 ()

    Reports in the British Medical Journal explain how big drug companies use their money to distort medical research, and manipulate journals, govrnments, doctors, and patients.

    For the BMJ articles, see this and this.

  • 3 June 2003 ()

    The UK government knew that its use of cluster bombs in inhabited areas was a war crime.

  • 3 June 2003 ()

    Part of the reason that the FCC is planning to betray the public interest to give concessions to big media companies could be that media companies give lots of favors to the FCC commissioners and staff.

    They may also figure that the public mostly gets its news through those same media companies--which means the unfavorable coverage of this change will be limited. Media concentration in the US has gone so far that we need to do more than just resist further changes. The US needs to break up its media conglomerates.

  • 3 June 2003 ()

    Sean Penn explains his opposition to Dubya's invasion of Iraq.

    The Bush regime is making absurd accusations against Iran much like those made previously against Iraq. This suggests that Dubya is planning another war.

  • 2 June 2003 ()

    Yitzhak Frankenthal, whose son was killed in a fight with Palestinians, calls on the Israeli right wing to make peace, rather than cause more deaths for the sake of the occupation.

  • 2 June 2003 ()

    Indonesian soldiers recently arrested and shot 18 unarmed men and boys in Aceh.

  • 1 June 2003 ()

    Exxon-Mobil is being sued for hiring the Indonesian Army as mercenaries to terrorize citizens in Aceh.

  • 29 May 2003 ()

    The UK is trying out a system that automatically stops cars from going faster than the speed limit.

    The system's intended purpose is bad enough, but the implementation is even worse. It is based on keeping track of the car's position at all times. The system could easily remember your movements permanently, and the police could check.

    They say the system is not going to be mandatory for all cars, but we can hardly trust them not to change their minds.

  • 29 May 2003 ()

    Trainspotters--railway buffs who photograph trains and record which ones go where-- are being treated in the UK as potential terrorists.

    This anti-terrorism measure, like many, reflects idiotic paranoia. If terrorists ever want to attack a train, they don't need to take photos conspicuously in a train station to do it.

    But it would make no sense for terrorists to attack a long-distance train, when a bomb could kill a lot more people in the London Underground. This security measure is like locking the window while the door is wide open.

  • 29 May 2003 ()

    Blair is accused of breaking a promise not to tap the phones of members of Parliament.

  • 29 May 2003 ()

    The story of Hiba, 19, a suicide bomber.

    You can look at this as an illustration of how religion can drive people crazy, or as an example of desperation produced by oppression.

  • 29 May 2003 ()

    Bush plans to execute prisoners in Guantanamo Bay (without giving them fair trials, of course).

    The purpose of such executions would be to terrorize opponents of the empire--justice plays no part. For this purpose, trials are unnecessary. Punishing someone falsely accused would be just as effective for terror as punishing someone actually guilty. Punishing people simply for being enemies of the US would be...capital.

  • 28 May 2003 ()

    Bush's war on women is being carried out quietly, without demanding legislation, but it is devastating.

  • 28 May 2003 ()

    The Indian government says it cannot afford to provide drinking water to the public, but it has money to subsidize the water megacorporations in privatization.

  • 28 May 2003 ()

    Dubya's cuts in spending for the poor are starting to really hurt Americans.

  • 26 May 2003 ()

    A fact-finding mission to investigate the consequences of the BP pipeline deal was constantly shadowed by Turkish police, and sometimes arrested. They did not dare inverview local inhabitants for fear those would be punished for talking to them.

  • 26 May 2003 ()

    Senator Byrd is one of the few US legislators to persistently oppose the invasion of Iraq and denounce Dubya's lies. Here's a moving speech.

  • 25 May 2003 ()

    The Pentagon is developing a radar system to identify people by their pattern of body motions.

    This system is Big Brother's dream, a system that can be deployed eventually on every street corner to record everyone's movements. (It may take five years to be cheap enough for quantity deployment.) Put this together with the statement that TIA (formerly Total Information Awareness) will only use "lawfully acquired" data, and you see that that statement is no reassurance at all. If the US government deploys this system, it will certainly deem the data to be "lawfully acquired".

    Characteristically, the developers said what engineers always say when they have switched off their consciences: "How this is used is not my department".

  • 25 May 2003 ()

    The UK is planning a censorship law that would prohibit "giving a (so-called) child anything that relates to sexual activity or contains a reference to such activity". This clearly includes most novels that you can buy in an ordinary book store.

    As usual, the term "child" is used as a form of deception, since it includes teenagers of an age at which a large fraction of people are sexually active nowadays. People we would not normally call children.

    The law would also prohibit "encouraging a (so-called) child to take part in sexual activity." I think that everyone age 14 or above ought to take part in sex, though not indiscriminately. (Some people are ready earlier.) It is unnatural for humans to abstain from sex past puberty, and while I wouldn't try to pressure anyone to participate, I certainly encourage everyone to do so.

    This web site is currently hosted in the UK. If the law is adopted, will my web site be a crime? I will have to talk with the people who host the site about whether I should move it to another country.

    (The hosting company responded that I don't need to move.)

  • 25 May 2003 ()

    A UN envoy reports that Israel has violated treaties by systematically destroying Palestinian housing and other facilities.

  • 25 May 2003 ()

    Amnesty International has denounced a pipeline deal to build a pipeline through Turkey to the Caspian Sea.

    It's not that the pipeline is bad in itself. Rather, British Petrolium has exacted a heavy price for deigning to do business in Turkey, a price measured not just in money but in human rights. The deal sets aside European human rights principles and gives BP special privileges. It also indemnifies BP against whatever costs it may incur due to protection of the rights of anyone else, in effect placing BP above the citizens of Turkey.

    NAFTA does this, and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas does the same, which is why it must be rejected entirely.

  • 25 May 2003 ()

    Sharon talks about willingness to make peace, when someone wants to hear that, but he does (and says) the opposite.

    This resembles what Israel for a long time accused the PLO of doing: saying it was willing to make peace, while elsewhere calling for the destruction of Israel and expulsion of the Jews. The Israeli policy is to say it is willing to make peace, while in fact engineering the expulsion of the Palestinians.

  • 25 May 2003 ()

    The UN security council caved in and gave Bush more or less what he wants in Iraq.

    Far from saving the UN from irrelevance, this means the UN is drifting towards uselessness. The only possible utility today for an international body is to resist the US empire and protect the rights of the general world public.

  • 24 May 2003 ()

    The governor of Maryland signed a medical marijuana bill, defying pressure from the Drug Czar. Let's hope this czar's brutal regime will come to an end soon.

  • 24 May 2003 ()

    The accusations against the activists arrested in the infamous "scuola Diaz" raid were dropped because the activists did not resist the police.

    A BBC video of a journalist being beaten up by the police was handed to the judges dealing with the case against the police.

  • 23 May 2003 ()

    Colin Powell said that Saddam had biological weapons factories in railroad cars, but the Bush forces (as of May 11) had not even bothered to ask Iraqi railroad personnell about them.

    Perhaps they knew there was nothing to look for.

  • 23 May 2003 ()

    An FBI agent in a car deliberately drove it into Steven Hatfill, who was taking a picture of him. Instead of arresting the FBI agent, the DC police then gave Hatfill a ticket.

    Steven Hatfill is suspected of being involved in the anthrax attacks of 2001, but there is no proof. Tomorrow the suspect could be you. You need not actually do anything wrong to be suspected.

    When the police can commit violence against suspects with impunity, when the victim is punished and the perpetrator is not even arrested, they are far more dangerous than anthrax.

  • 23 May 2003 ()

    Bush is Top Gun when it comes to destroying jobs in the US. More generally, Republican presidents are much worse than Democrats when it comes to creating jobs.

    I should note that the jobs created during Clinton's presidency were mostly McJobs, aside from the ones in the .com bubble. That is because of business-driven globalization.

  • 23 May 2003 ()

    The US army recognizes the danger of depleted uranium ammunition to the point of telling troops to stay away from targets that were hit with them. By contrast, Iraqi civilians are given no protection at all.

    Any country that thinks of the US as an ally that would come to its aid against an attack had better be concerned about the fallout damage that US "conventional" weapons might cause to the population in the course of "defending" it.

  • 23 May 2003 ()

    A profile of Canadian journalist Barrie Zwicker, who seriously examines the evidence that Bush was involved in some sort of conspiracy about 9/11.

    Michele Landsberg wrote a follow-up about a response to that article.

  • 23 May 2003 ()

    The Pentagon is trying to continue with Total Information Awareness, but to protect us from surveillance, it is changing the name.

    They say that this system "will only analyze legally acquired information". This is hardly any limitation, since the USA PAT RIOT act made it easy for the government to legally acquire commercial records about individuals on a wholesale basis.

    Moreover, the US and the UK have a long-standing deal where each one spies on the citizens of the other and then they trade. This way they can superficially comply with laws such as the one prohibiting the CIA to spy within the US, while actually making a mockery of it.

  • 23 May 2003 ()

    The UK, with the goal of preventing prostitution, has adopted a policy that certain people can be arrested merely for being on a street. It is now a crime for a certain citizen to go anywhere on foot.

    In theory she is not subject to house arrest. She could travel by taxi, if she can get between the taxi and the destination before the police see her. But she probably cannot afford to actually do this. In effect, this is a sentence of house arrest, but pretending not to be one.

    I wonder how she is supposed to get food to eat. Even if she can get money to buy some, she can't go to the store.

  • 23 May 2003 ()

    A commentator suggests that US interventionism means, paradoxically, that Israel will cease to be important to the US.

    However, this argument may fall down if the the religious fanatics who control the US government care more about their fanaticism than about power politics.

  • 22 May 2003 ()

    Time To Question the U.S. Role In Saudi Arabia.

  • 22 May 2003 ()

    The nuclear "arms reduction" treaty proposed by Bush and Putin is so weak that it is a sham.

  • 20 May 2003 ()

    Amnesty International's observers have rejected Israeli demands to sign documents saying that Israel has no responsibility for killings and destruction committed by its army. As a result, its observers have been excluded from Gaza.

  • 20 May 2003 ()

    Hundreds of civilians have been killed in Baghdad since the end of combat there, by other Iraqis.

    The Bush forces are not directly responsible for the individual killings, since they did not do or order these killings. However, the Bush invasion and the subsequent failure to establish order are responsible for them overall.

  • 20 May 2003 ()

    US bank lobbyists made a deal in 1996 to "temporarily" prohibit states from giving greater protection for individuals' financial records. Ralph Nader warns that now they're trying to cheat on the deal by making this permanent.

  • 20 May 2003 ()

    Links to varios pages about the state of emergency in Serbia.

  • 19 May 2003 ()

    Israel now hardly hesitates to murder foreigners who nonviolently try to prevent atrocities, or even reporters who try to cover them. The reason is that other governments support Israel against the Palestinians--and support Isreal so strongly that they treat their own citizens as enemies if they get in Israel's way.

  • 19 May 2003 ()

    The FCC is charging ahead with rule changes that would increase corporate control over mass media in the US.

    The US coverage of the war shows that US broadcasters are already under tight control. But there is always room for this sort of thing to get worse.

  • 19 May 2003 ()

    The recent terrorist bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco demonstrate that the war in Iraq had little effect in terms of fighting terrorism. It may have made things worse--it may have boosted Islamist fanatics, by taking away the only competing secular alternative for Arab resistance to US power.

    Meanwhile, 300,000 Iraqi children now face death from malnutrition.

    Some supporters of the war argued that it was a way to lift the burden of sanctions from Iraqi children. In fact the sanctions system was supposed to allow import of the food and medicine they needed, but the US persistently distorted the workings of the system in order to block them; hence the burden on Iraqi children.

  • 18 May 2003 ()

    Israel has quietly stopped imprisoning reservists who refuse to serve in the occupied territories.

    These refuseniks generally remain willing to fight if Israel were attacked militarily, but they are unwilling to participate in oppressing helpless civilians.

  • 18 May 2003 ()

    Mobile phones with video capability are already putting the principle of the secret ballot at risk. The Mafia is using them to buy votes.

  • 18 May 2003 ()

    Activist Roberto Verzola is on hunger strike to oppose the use of genetically modified corn in the Philippines.

    I'm not totally opposed to genetically modified crops; in proper circumstances, and if properly tested, they may someday be able to help billions of poor people to live better.

    However, it would take years to do careful testing, and corporations refuse to take the time. Meanwhile, when these seeds are priced beyond the resources of poor people, they can only be of use to agribusiness. The effect on billions of poor tends to be harmful, since they can neither compete with agribusiness nor buy its products.

  • 18 May 2003 ()

    Supposed "lifting" of "closure" in occupied Palestine, Israeli policy continues to impose constant cruelty.

    The cruelty, which officials often refuse to acknowledge, bears no relation to maintaining security. The victims are not chosen because of any suspicion that they did or will attack anyone. The policy makes sense only as a tool for ethnic cleansing: a plan to force Palestinians into exile by making their lives permanent hell.

  • 18 May 2003 ()

    This article provides background information on the political views of Shiites in Iraq.

    What I've read elsewhere accords with this. For instance, the assumption of power in Iran by Shiite cleric Khomeini, far from being in accord with Shiite tradition, actually turned it upside down.

  • 17 May 2003 ()

    Police in Croatia arrested anti-globalization protesters for chanting slogans.

  • 16 May 2003 ()

    An interesting profile of Laura Gordon, a Jew who visited Israel and then Gaza, and joined the International Solidarity Movement because of what she saw.

  • 15 May 2003 ()

    The Bush forces are blocking the return of UN weapons inspectors to Iraq.

  • 15 May 2003 ()

    In a conversation between Iraqi citizens and US students, the Iraqis overwhelmingly took the position that the US is an occupier, not their liberator.

  • 14 May 2003 ()

    Commentary on Israel's attacks on the International Solidarity Movement.

  • 14 May 2003 ()

    A month after Bush conquered Iraq, Baghdad is still in a state of looting and violence. They have not repaired the water system, so cholera is spreading.

  • 14 May 2003 ()

    The teams searching in Iraq for weapons of mass distruction are planning to give up, with still no evidence found.

    The article indicates a pattern of mishandling of this search by the Bush forces. It is either a case of extreme incompetence, or perhaps Bush decided to let these sites be looted in order to create an excuse for the expected failure to find anything.

  • 14 May 2003 ()

    The Bush roadmap for peace between Israel and Palestine is running into a severe obstacle at the outset, about whether Palestinian refugees have the right to return.

    Two articles about the issue: here and here.

  • 14 May 2003 ()

    Henry Norr, a reporter fired by the San Francisco Chronicle for participating in an anti-war protest, remains defiant.

    He and his union are going to fight the decision.

  • 14 May 2003 ()

    Israel is systematically arresting the ISM "human shield" activists who have witnessed Israeli government violence against Palestinians and often nonviolently blocked it with their bodies.

    The article mentions that foreigners are now prohibited from entering Gaza without Israeli government permission. It does not mention that Israeli citizens were already prohibited. The result is that nobody but Palestinians can be in Gaza without Israeli permission.

    The areas where atrocities are committed, including the area of Rafah where all the houses are being demolished, the area where Rachel Corrie was crushed by a bulldozer protecting one, have been declared "closed military zones". In other words, the Army has a "no witnesses" policy.

    When the Israeli government says that ISM activists interfere with army actions, that is true in a way. The ISM's nonviolent resistance tactics have often blocked acts of violence against unarmed people. But when the army says it "fears" that more ISM activists may be killed by the army, that is completely dishonest. "I'm afraid I may kill you if you get in my way" expresses menace, not concern.

    Palestinians have sometimes lied about the magnitude of Israeli violence; the Israeli government points to those instances as an excuse to deny all reports of atrocities that come from Palestinians. Foreigners have provided an independent witness to events. Now there will be no witness for whatever the Israeli army chooses to do. It will be in a position to murder people by the dozens and bulldoze houses by the score every day, and call the reports lies. Their plan is to turn Palestine into a black hole from which news cannot escape.

    People have sometimes criticized the Palestinians for failing to try nonviolent resistance. In fact, they are trying it; the International Solidarity Movement is a nonviolent resistance movement organized and carried out by Palestinians and foreigners together. If Israel uses repression to crush nonviolent Palestinian resistance, that also crushes the justification for criticizing Palestinians for using violence.

  • 14 May 2003 ()

    The whole US is rushing to adopt the vulnerable system which Bush used in Florida to block many Blacks from voting.

  • 11 May 2003 ()

    Dubya wants to spend billions of taxpayer's dollars on building nuclear power plants. (Utilities don't want to build them with their own money.)

  • 10 May 2003 ()

    A European Union report says that European governments have responded to 9/11 with hasty and unnecessary elimination of civil liberties.

    (I first saw this article in the Independent.)

  • 10 May 2003 ()

    Here's more information about Dubya's obstruction of the investigation into the 9/11 attacks.

    Another article goes into more details of what is known and what answers Bush is hiding.

  • 9 May 2003 ()

    A sociological report on how people resist surveillance.

  • 9 May 2003 ()

    At Kent State University, at a protest marking the anniversary of the 1970 massacre of students by US troops, police went on a spree of arrests against peaceful protesters.

  • 7 May 2003 ()

    The City of Chicago has to pay a million dollars for encouraging off-duty cops to beat up citizens.

    In other words, the reason unjustifiable police violence is so common is that the government system systematically condones and encourages it.

  • 6 May 2003 ()

    The "smoking dolphin" shows the harm that "free trade" treaties do to environmental protection.

    The harmful effects are no accident. They come directly from a rule that countries cannot treat physically identical goods (in this case, tuna) differently according to the manner in which they were caught, harvested or processed. Treaties that prohibit environmental protection requirements, or public health requirements, or fair labor standards requirements, must be overturned.

  • 5 May 2003 ()

    Bush continues to obstruct release of information about why his administration failed to prevent the 9/11 attacks. Naturally, the reason given for this obstruction is "national security."

  • 5 May 2003 ()

    Read Dubya's resume.

  • 4 May 2003 ()

    When US troops shot peaceful protesters in Falluja, Iraq, they also killed someone who was just passing by. Now his nephew speaks of joining Al Qa'ida for revenge.

    Joining Al Qa'ida was nearly impossible for Iraqis while Saddam Hussein's grip was in place, but it will be very difficult for a US military government to prevent them. They would need to set up an indigenous dictator who would have to build up a machine of repression much like Saddam's.

    I will not say that Bush has intended all along to replace Saddam with another Saddam. Perhaps he expects that a less brutal tyranny will suffice to keep Iraq in line. But I think that won't actually work, and when it fails, I think Bush will turn to a new Saddam on the grounds that it is the only way to keep the resistance in check. (The same excuse was probably used to justify the first Saddam.)

    Meanwhile, an Arab journalist reports that Palestinians regard the newly published "road map" as a failure before it starts.

  • 3 May 2003 ()

    The US government criticized Israel for killing civilians in its attacks against Palestinians.

  • 3 May 2003 ()

    A US student articulately reports on the pro-war bias of the classes in her school.

    It calls to mind the racist and militarist attitudes tought by schools in Japan through the end of World War II, and the poisonous attitude taught by US-funded school textbooks in Afghanistan.

  • 3 May 2003 ()

    A couple of US citizens who made the mistake of eating in an Indian restaurant in New York were threatened with being arrested and kept incommunicado.

    That's the PAT-RIOT act for you. And note how the taxi driver, also a US citizen, was afraid that he would be punished if anyone stood up for his rights.

  • 2 May 2003 ()

    On the unnecessary state of emergency in Serbia, and how the assassination of the president was used as an excuse to crack down on people that the government did not like.

    When US President Kennedy was assassinated, the US did not arrest dissidents, ban strikes, etc.

  • 1 May 2003 ()

    Bush forces shot protesters in Iraq, and made the standard excuse that someone was shooting at them. But there were no bulletholes in the building that was behind them.

    (I heard subsequently on the radio that this happened a second time, with troops shooting at people who were protesting the first shootings.)

  • 1 May 2003 ()

    Bush's plans for democracy in Iraq don't seem to include letting the Iraqi people decide their own copyright laws. US record companies think they are going to make the decision.

  • 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.


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