John -- AI: USA: The Guantanamo scandal continues

Topic(s): "War on Terror"
Date Posted: 05.31.03

By dismissing Amnesty International's concerns about the hundreds of detainees held in the US Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay as "without merit", the White House is at the same time rejecting much wider international disquiet, Amnesty International said today.

"Since the transfers to Guantánamo began 17 months ago, numerous international, regional and national bodies, including governments and courts, have expressed deep concern about the situation of the detainees," Amnesty International said.

"Is that opinion all without merit?"

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Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 05.31.03


A six-page manifesto of religious Zionist dissidents was published in
Israel's largest paper, Yediot Aharanot, and in Ha'aretz on May 9.
Religious Zionists are the ideological bulwark of the settler movment,
and the 170 signatories to the manifesto have been the subjects of
further interviews in Israel. The Manifesto reads, in part:

"The fact that Israel maintains its rule over more than three million
people against their will, denying their basic rights, raises difficult
moral issues. Already for more than three decades it denies Israel the
possibility of seriously dealing with basic existential problems such
as the relations between religion and state, the education of the
young, the gap between rich and poor and other issues defining the life
of Jews in their own country. All these issues have disappeared from
the view of the leaders and rabbis of Religious Zionism, who raise the
single flag of settlement in Judea and Samaria and are captives of the
pseudo-religious view...that [views] settlement as the be-all and end-
all. Few scholars dare to look reality in the face, and their voice is
hardly heard.

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John -- The case for war is blown apart

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.29.03

From the Independent
By Ben Russell and Andy McSmith in Kuwait City
29 May 2003

Tony Blair stood accused last night of misleading Parliament and the British people over Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, and his claims that the threat posed by Iraq justified war.

Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, seized on a "breathtaking" statement by the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, that Iraq's weapons may have been destroyed before the war, and anger boiled over among MPs who said the admission undermined the legal and political justification for war.

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Rene -- Baghdad gets Independent Media Center + Int'l Campaign for Labor Rights

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.27.03


A dozen Iraqis "unconnected with either the previous Baathist regime or with the successor American government" have come together to launch a Baghdad Independent Media Center website and bilingual Arabic-English newspaper , Al-Muajaha (The Witness)--despite very little money, limited equipment and unreliable electricity and phone service. In their mission statement, they say: "Al-Muajaha is an independent Iraqi newspaper representing all levels of Iraqi society. We aim to help the world understand Iraq, and to help Iraq understand the world. For decades, almost all governments in the world, including our own, abused and terribly ignored the basic humanity of the Iraqi people, Al-Muajaha aims to provide an open forum for all Iraqis to freely debate current issues, and in so doing educate themselves and the world. We aim to support the legitimate desires of the Iraqi people by providing a voice for them that reach the world, and we hope to promote understanding of the fundamental equality of all peoples and nations under both human and divine law." ...


INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR LABOR RIGHTS IN IRAQ The International Liaison Committee for a Workers' International (ILC) has called a June 15 conference in Geneva in Defense of Conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO), to be attended by leaders of unions and federations from more than 40 countries. The first point on the agenda is a proposal to launch an international campaign for labor rights in Iraq. ...

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Avi -- The Apartheid Wall

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 05.27.03

The Apartheid Wall

Only alert readers may have noticed that the Israeli-biased American "Road Map to Peace", already being imposed on the Palestinians, has not even been accepted by Israel's rejectionist government. Asked about it, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that accepting or not accepting it "didn't really matter" – when Israel is concerned, to be sure; I have a hunch that had the Palestinians declined to accept it, the American reaction would have been quite different.

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Avi -- The scent of racism

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 05.27.03

From Ha'aretz:

The scent of racism

By Gideon Levy

Shock is the proper reaction to the remark of cabinet Minister Gideon Ezra, who explained last week that Arabs should be used as security guards in Israel because only they have "the sense of smell needed to smell other Arabs, more so than guards who are immigrants from the former Soviet Union."

If anyone in Europe dared to say something similar about Jews, the world would be outraged, and rightly so. Another possibility is to ignore what Ezra said: What's the relevance of a low-life utterance from a marginal minister whose level of speech only casts a gloomy light on the institution he came from, the Shin Bet security service, and on his current place at the cabinet table?

On second thought, though, we should be thankful to Ezra: He has provided an apt description of the reality in which we live. We do in fact "sniff out" Arabs, all of whom are suspect in our eyes solely because of their ethnic origins.

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John -- Rich: There's No Exit From the Matrix

Topic(s): Media
Date Posted: 05.27.03

May 25, 2003
There's No Exit From the Matrix
Frank Rich

The Matrix Reloaded" is so dull, so literally ruled by Laurence Fishburne's trance-inducing Morpheus, that I had to reload the "Matrix" DVD to remember why I had been taken with all those streaming digits the first time around. But never mind. You can't argue with a $135.8 million four-day opening, which in itself validated the movie's premise.

It's the conceit of the "Matrix" films that most of mankind is plugged into a virtual-reality program conjured up by all-powerful machines to tease our brains while they loot our bodies for bioelectric power. AOL Time Warner, the powerful machine behind the films, pulled off a comparable feat by plugging the country into its merchandising program for "The Matrix Reloaded" to loot our wallets.

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John -- AI: Rights Groups Decry Increased Harassment

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 05.27.03

News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International

On May 21, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom said that "most human rights offices in the West Bank and Gaza strip provide shelter for Palestinian terrorists."

This comment has no basis in fact and constitutes a further threat to the work of independent human rights organizations and workers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. "We fear that such unsupported allegations are intended to intimidate local and international human rights defenders, and to prevent them from carrying out their daily work," the organizations said.

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Aniruddha -- U.S. Senator Byrd: "The Truth Will Emerge"

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.26.03

May 21, 2003

"Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again, - -
The eternal years of God are hers;
But Error, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies among his worshippers."

Truth has a way of asserting itself despite all attempts to obscure it. Distortion only serves to derail it for a time. No matter to what lengths we humans may go to obfuscate facts or delude our fellows, truth has a way of squeezing out through the cracks, eventually.

But the danger is that at some point it may no longer matter. The danger is that damage is done before the truth is widely realized. The reality is that, sometimes, it is easier to ignore uncomfortable facts and go along with whatever distortion is currently in vogue. We see a lot of this today in politics. I see a lot of it -- more than I would ever have believed -- right on this Senate Floor.

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Jeffrey -- Imperial Ambition

Topic(s): Interviews
Date Posted: 05.26.03

An Interview with Noam Chomsky by David Barsamian

David Barsamian: What are the regional implications of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq?

Noam Chomsky: I think not only the region but the world in general perceives it correctly as a kind of an easy test case to try to establish a norm for use of military force, which was declared in general terms last September. Last September, the National Security Strategy of the United States of America was issued. It presented a somewhat novel and unusually extreme doctrine on the use of force in the world. And it’s hard not to notice that the drumbeat for war in Iraq coincided with that. It also coincided with the onset of the congressional campaign. All these are tied together.

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John -- Reporting on Private Lynch

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.23.03

From Mother Jones

The New York Times has been busy with the Jayson Blair scandal, lately, but maybe they should be paying attention to larger issues. One of Blair's fabrications related to Private Jessica Lynch -- Blair made up interviews and described tobacco fields around a house he had never seen. But that was a minor detail in the Lynch saga. Scores of other reporters, editors and producers helped generate the storm of hype around Lynch's dramatic rescue.

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Rene -- Remains of Toxic Bullets Litter Iraq

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.22.03

"There is not really any danger, at least that we know about, for the people
of Iraq," said Lt. Col. Michael Sigmon, deputy surgeon for the US Army's V
Corps, told journalists in Baghdad last week. He asserted that children
playing with expended tank shells would have to eat and then practically
suffocate on DU residue to cause harm.

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Rene -- Greek bishop is accused of hiring hit-man to kill Patriarch

Topic(s): Greece
Date Posted: 05.22.03

What would 16Beaver articles merged with the Enquirer read like? Here is a possible answer! -rg

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John -- In Latin America, the Cult of Revolution Wanes

Topic(s): Cuba
Date Posted: 05.21.03

From the NYTimes

May 18, 2003

BUENOS AIRES — More than 100 Latin American intellectuals published a vigorous protest last month after Cuba sentenced 75 dissidents to long prison terms and executed three men who had hijacked a ferry and tried to flee to the United States.

"We appeal to the conscience of the world to avoid a new trampling of the principles that guide" civilization, their manifesto read.

But the group, which included the writers Gabriel García Márquez, Ariel Dorfman, Eduardo Galeano and Luisa Valenzuela, was not objecting to Mr. Castro's actions. Instead, citing "our moral authority," it supported Mr. Castro's argument that Cuba, like Iraq, "is the object of harassment that could be the pretext for an invasion" by the United States.

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John -- Let's hear it for Belgium

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.20.03

An attempt to try Tommy Franks for war crimes in a Belgian court has outraged the US

George Monbiot
Tuesday May 20, 2003
The Guardian

Belgium is becoming an interesting country. In the course of a week, it has managed to upset both liberal opinion in Europe - by granting the far-right Vlaams Blok 18 parliamentary seats - and illiberal opinion in the US. On Wednesday, a human rights lawyer filed a case with the federal prosecutors whose purpose is to arraign Thomas Franks, the commander of the American troops in Iraq, for crimes against humanity. This may be the only judicial means, anywhere on earth, of holding the US government to account for its actions.
The case has been filed in Belgium, on behalf of 17 Iraqis and two Jordanians, because Belgium has a law permitting foreigners to be tried for war crimes, irrespective of where they were committed. The suit has little chance of success, for the law was hastily amended by the government at the beginning of this month. But the fact that the plaintiffs had no choice but to seek redress in Belgium speaks volumes about the realities of Tony Blair's vision for a world order led by the US, built on democracy and justice.

Franks appears to have a case to answer. The charges fall into four categories: the use of cluster bombs; the killing of civilians by other means; attacks on the infrastructure essential for public health; and the failure to prevent the looting of hospitals. There is plenty of supporting evidence.

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Rene -- Chomsky -- IRAQ AS TRIAL RUN

Topic(s): Interviews
Date Posted: 05.20.03

So the United States is telling the countries of the world: if you are
defenceless, we are going to attack you when we want, but if you have a
deterrent, we will back off, because we only attack defenceless
targets. In other words, it is telling countries that they had better
develop a terrorist network and weapons of mass destruction or some
other credible deterrent; if not, they are vulnerable to "preventive

For that reason alone, this war is likely to lead to the proliferation
of both terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

[Continue Reading]

John -- Will the FCC Help Big Media Get Even Bigger?

Topic(s): Media
Date Posted: 05.20.03

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and activism

Will the FCC Help Big Media Get Even Bigger?

May 20, 2003

A majority of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) intends to
ratify a sweeping plan to weaken or eliminate rules that limit the size
and power of media companies. Among other things, the FCC's three
Republican commissioners hope to revoke the newspaper-broadcast
cross-ownership rule, which prevents a company from owning a newspaper and
a TV station in the same market, and to significantly increase the number
of TV stations one company can own.

While FCC chair Michael Powell has the votes to pass the plan, the
decision to vote on the matter by June 2 could still be challenged to
allow for more public education and debate. Several senators have asked
for a delay in the process, and a measure to that end was introduced on
May 9 in the House of Representatives (Reuters, 5/13/03). The two
Democratic FCC commissioners, Michael Copps and Kenneth Adelstein, also
oppose the deregulation, and requested on May 13 that the Commission
postpone its planned vote. Powell rejected their request.

[Continue Reading]

Naeem -- Arundhati Roy: Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy -- (Buy One, Get One Free)

Topic(s): "War on Terror"
Date Posted: 05.18.03

Arundhati Roy

Presented in New York City at The Riverside Church
May 13, 2003

Copyright 2003 by Arundhati Roy

Sponsored by the Center for Economic and Social Rights

For permission to use or reprint, contact:

In these times, when we have to race to keep abreast of the speed at which our freedoms are being snatched from us, and when few can afford the luxury of retreating from the streets for a while in order to return with an exquisite, fully formed political thesis replete with footnotes and references, what profound gift can I offer you tonight?

As we lurch from crisis to crisis, beamed directly into our brains by satellite TV, we have to think on our feet. On the move. We enter histories through the rubble of war. Ruined cities, parched fields, shrinking forests, and dying rivers are our archives. Craters left by daisy cutters, our libraries.

So what can I offer you tonight? Some uncomfortable thoughts about money, war, empire, racism, and democracy. Some worries that flit around my brain like a family of persistent moths that keep me awake at night.

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John -- U.S. to get war crimes suit against Franks

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.17.03

Belgium to Send General Franks Iraq Lawsuit to US
Sat May 17,10:38 AM ET Add Top Stories - Reuters to My Yahoo!

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium's Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said on Saturday he would send a war crimes lawsuit filed in Belgium against the commander of U.S.-led forces in Iraq (news - web sites) to the United States next week.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this week by 19 Iraqis against U.S. General Tommy Franks and a U.S. Marine colonel over the use of cluster bombs and alleged U.S. attacks on ambulances and civilians during the war in Iraq.

[Continue Reading]


Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.12.03

The reconstruction of Iraqi museums and archives has been handed over to a British general overseeing six British experts. According to the Nordic Association of Conservators no one has asked the Iraqis to join in the reconstruction efforts. Following the UNESCO meeting in Paris, representatives from Denmark decided to not support the efforts of the British and Americans.

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Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 05.10.03

As of Thursday, May 8, humanitarian organizations working within the Gaza Strip, Occupied Palestine began receiving a new declaration created by the Israeli military. This document (included below) demands signature of all international groups working within the Gaza Strip and any internationals attempting to enter the Gaza Strip. In addition to stipulations of not holding the Israeli Government responsible for the death of internationals, the declaration specifically states that the individual signing can have no connection to the International Solidarity Movement(ISM).

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Rene -- Brezhnev, Bush and Baghdad

Topic(s): US Analysis
Date Posted: 05.10.03

George Orwell was right: "All propaganda lies even when it tells the
truth." As much as newspeak was a signature of the Kremlin, it is an
equally apt description of today's White House. Its resolute war
message is similar to Brezhnev's insistence on the superiority of
socialism: Both lack public debate and are handled top-down.

[Continue Reading]

John -- More Richard Perle Revelations

Topic(s): Internal Affairs
Date Posted: 05.07.03

Consulting and Policy Overlap
Advisor Perle has given seminars on ways to profit from possible conflicts discussed by defense board he sits on.
By Ken Silverstein and Chuck Neubauer
Times Staff Writers

May 7, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Last February, the Defense Policy Board, a group of outside advisors to the Pentagon, received a classified presentation from the super-secret Defense Intelligence Agency on the crises in North Korea and Iraq.

Three weeks later, the then-chairman of the board, Richard N. Perle, offered a briefing of his own at an investment seminar on ways to profit from possible conflicts with both countries.

Perle and his fellow advisors also heard a classified address about high-tech military communications systems at the same closed-door session in February. He runs a venture capital firm that has been exploring investments in that very area.

The disclosures in recently released board agendas and investment documents are the latest illustrations of how Perle's private consulting and investment interests overlap with his role on the board, which advises the secretary of Defense.

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Rene -- The Clinton Top 100: Where Are They Now?

Topic(s): US Analysis
Date Posted: 05.06.03

Two years after they left the federal government and one year after a ban that limited their lobbying activities expired, more than half of the top one hundred Clinton White House officials went on to represent, work for or advise businesses and entities in areas they regulated while they were in office, a Center for Public Integrity survey has found.

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Rene -- CPJ Names World's Worst Places To Be A Journalist

Topic(s): Civil Rights
Date Posted: 05.06.03

"In these countries where press freedom is under attack, journalists endure
violent assaults, crackdowns by authoritarian regimes, danger from military
operations, and harsh financial reprisals designed to bankrupt independent

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John -- Krugman: Man on Horseback

Topic(s): US Analysis
Date Posted: 05.06.03


Gen. Georges Boulanger cut a fine figure; he looked splendid in uniform, and magnificent on horseback. So his handlers made sure that he appeared in uniform, astride a horse, as often as possible.

It worked: Boulanger became immensely popular. If he hadn't lost his nerve on the night of the attempted putsch, French democracy might have ended in 1889.

We do things differently here — or we used to. Has "man on horseback" politics come to America?

Some background: the Constitution declares the president commander in chief of the armed forces to make it clear that civilians, not the military, hold ultimate authority. That's why American presidents traditionally make a point of avoiding military affectations. Dwight Eisenhower was a victorious general and John Kennedy a genuine war hero, but while in office neither wore anything that resembled military garb.

Given that history, George Bush's "Top Gun" act aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln — c'mon, guys, it wasn't about honoring the troops, it was about showing the president in a flight suit — was as scary as it was funny.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Bin Laden + Bechtel Link

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.02.03

When the contract was awarded, two weeks ago, the Administration did not
mention that the bin Laden family has an ongoing relationship with
Bechtel. The bin Ladens have a ten- million-dollar stake in the Fremont
Group, a San Francisco-based company formerly called Bechtel Investments,
which was until 1986 a subsidiary of Bechtel. The Fremont Group?s Web
site, which makes no mention of the bin Ladens, notes that ?though
now independent, Fremont enjoys a close relationship with Bechtel.?

[Continue Reading]

John -- Greenpeace Launches Anti-Nuclear Parody

Topic(s): Nuclear Proliferation
Date Posted: 05.01.03

Greenpeace Launches Anti-Nuclear Parody
Wed Apr 30, 7:58 PM ET

click here for a PDF version of the cards

By JONATHAN FOWLER, Associated Press Writer

GENEVA - In a play on the deck of cards distributed to U.S. troops in Iraq (news - web sites), anti-nuclear campaigners on Wednesday issued their own most-wanted list — with President Bush (news - web sites) replacing Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) as the ace of spades.

"It's an exact copy (of the U.S. deck) in terms of the design and layout," said William Peden, spokesman for the disarmament campaign at Greenpeace.

But while the U.S. cards were meant to help soldiers capture America's most-wanted Iraqi leaders, the Greenpeace deck is meant to focus attention on the dangers posed by nuclear arsenals, Peden told The Associated Press.

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