John -- Japanese-Americans Relive Barbed Era

Topic(s): World War II
Date Posted: 06.30.03

From the NYTimes:

June 30, 2003
Japanese-Americans Relive Barbed Era

HUNT, Idaho, June 29 — After six decades, memories of life at an internment camp deep in a desolate wasteland of southern Idaho were foggy and fragmented, all but the most searing images diluted by time.

Those who were interned here could remember the railroad tracks and the day the train, with all its window shades drawn and armed guards on every car, pulled into the middle of nowhere to deposit them in this strange place. It was the Minidoka Relocation Center, which housed 13,000 Japanese-Americans rounded up from their homes in Idaho, Oregon and Washington and sent here in World War II.

Almost everyone remembered the canal, where a 10-year-old boy drowned and a desperate woman interned at the camp took her own life. And no one, even those who were young children, could forget the winter cold, the summer heat or the dust storms — the wooden barracks covered with tar paper kept none of that out.

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John -- Said: A Road Map to Where?

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 06.27.03

From The London Review of Books:

A Road Map to Where?

Edward Said

Early in May, on his visit to Israel and the Occupied Territories, Colin Powell met with Mahmoud Abbas, the new Palestinian Prime Minister, and separately with a small group of civil society activists, including Hanan Ashrawi and Mostapha Barghuti. According to Barghuti, Powell expressed surprise and mild consternation at the computerised maps of the settlements, the eight-metre-high wall, and the dozens of Israeli Army checkpoints that have made life so difficult and the future so bleak for Palestinians. Powell's view of Palestinian reality is, to say the least, defective, despite his august position, but he did ask for materials to take away with him and, more important, he reassured the Palestinians that the same effort put in by Bush on Iraq was now going into implementing the 'road map'. Much the same point was made in the last days of May by Bush himself in the course of interviews he gave to the Arab media, although as usual, he stressed generalities rather than anything specific. He met the Palestinian and Israeli leaders in Jordan, after seeing the major Arab rulers, excluding Syria's Bashar al-Assad, of course. All this is part of what now looks like a major American push forward. That Ariel Sharon has accepted the road map (although with enough reservations to undercut this acceptance) seems to augur well for a viable Palestinian state.

Bush's vision (the word strikes a weird dreamy note in what is meant to be a hard-headed, definitive peace plan) is supposed to be realised by the restructuring of the Palestinian Authority, the elimination of all violence and incitement against Israelis, and the installation of a government that meets the requirements of Israel and the so-called Quartet (the US, UN, EU and Russia) responsible for the plan. Israel for its part undertakes to improve the humanitarian situation, by easing restrictions and lifting curfews, though where and when are not specified. Phase One is also supposed to see the dismantling of 60 hilltop settlements (the so-called 'illegal outpost settlements' established since Sharon came to power in March 2001), though nothing is said about removing the others, which account for about 200,000 settlers on the West Bank and Gaza, to say nothing of the 200,000 more in annexed East Jerusalem. Phase Two, described as a transition, is focused rather oddly on the 'option of creating an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders and attributes of sovereignty' - none is specified - and is to culminate in an international conference to approve and then 'create' a Palestinian state, once again with 'provisional borders'. Phase Three is to end the conflict completely, also by way of an international conference whose job will be to settle the thorniest issues of all: refugees, settlements, Jerusalem, borders. Israel's role in all this is to co-operate: the real onus is placed on the Palestinians, who must keep coming up with the goods while the military occupation remains more or less in place, though eased in the main areas invaded during the spring of 2002. No monitoring element is envisioned, and the misleading symmetry of the plan's structure leaves Israel very much in charge of what - if anything - will happen next. As for Palestinian human rights, at present not so much ignored as suppressed, no specific rectification is written into the plan: apparently it is up to Israel whether to continue as before or not.

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Ayreen -- Kristeva -- Interview

Topic(s): Interviews
Date Posted: 06.26.03

Q: When did you start getting interested in the notion of the "feminine"? Was it with the exploration of the notion of “chora”or the female voice in linguistics and semiology? Or rather, from that point on how have you arrived at the so-called feminist studies and writing understood in terms of their sociological and/or aesthetic significance?

J.Kristeva: It is very difficult to trace back my interest in the "feminine". I suppose that at the very moment in which I started asking questions about myself the question of the “feminine” had already been formulated in my mind, so one could say perhaps it started in the period of my adolescence when I became interested in literature which necessarily asks questions about the sexual differences. But, you are right, in my theoretical work, this question is raised in a more succinct manner, perhaps also more discreet one, but which was nevertheless very intense

It must be said that this question is related to the notion of "chora" which directs us back to the archaic state of language . This state is known to a child who is in a state of osmosis with his/her mother during which language manifests itself as co-lalia , a melodic alliteration that precedes the introduction of signs within a syntactic order. The period during which I started developing this notion was that of the writing of my Ph.D on the avant-garde of the 19th century (MallarmŤ and Lautreeamont) and I had understood how much of that, what we call hermiticism in literature, is connected to the rehabilitation, more or less conscious, of that archaic language. By the way, I was also at that time undergoing an analysis myself, and so became convinced that what we have discussed was really true.

Q: Is it difficult to "abandon" or at least to set aside one's mother tongue and write in another language ?

Kristeva: No, I haven't had the impression that I had abandoned my mother tongue by coming to France because I had learnt French when I was four or five and had been bilingual. It is true though that the transition from one mother tongue to the other is a real matricide particularly when one ends up expressing himself only in this second language and one’s rapport to the first one remains extremely limited, which is my case, but it didn’t happen with me in that era (of coming to France). It was quite a gradual change.

Q: Given the fact that you have written a lot about the importance of the so-called "sick" states of mind, could you tell us whether they are related in any way to Art ? Would you see Art as the means of healing them or do you see it as an independent entity? Is Art a sort of "love" for you (the way Freud would have it) and a sort of human cure?

Kristeva: It has always shocked commentators when I affirm my agreement with the ancient Greeks who viewed art as catharsis or purification and I would add that it is a sort of sublimation for the "borderline" states, in the broadest sense of the term, that is, it comprises those characterized by fragility. If we analyze contemporary art, we get the impression that two types of fragility are examined by contemporary artists. On one hand, we have perversion, that is, all sorts of sexual transgressions. To this effect, it is enough to just browse through contemporary books or simply look at the "culture" pages of "LibŤration" which review exhibitions to see that the form and the content of the experience serve as means of overcoming these states. They testify to the existence of these states, as well as that of a certain desire to make them public, or even share them with others, that is, to take them out of their closet which is a soothing action after all despite its commercial aspect since one turns a "shameful thing" into something positive. So you see, here we have something that transcends the notion of "cure" and is at times something gratifying.

Some think that these works are scandal-oriented, others think that they rejoice in ugliness , yes, certainly there are elements of such orientations in them, but, on the other hand, the existence of these works is also a research -- often in a very specific manner -- on the anticipation of difficulty of living.


Q: I believe that one could read your book "The Intimate Revolt" in the light of your dialogue with Hannah Arendt. In fact, she was the one who has spoken of the misery of human beings who are not allowed to have "contemplative" ( read creative) life and who are thus condemned to lead an "active" life, that is, to have a miserable job. Is it the problem of our times that there exist such individuals who revolt against the fact that they cannot realize themselves? That is, who are angst-ridden and end up revolting against themselves?

Kristeva: I believe that you were right to make such assumptions about my eventual dialogue with Hannah Arendt -- I have been reading her work for quite a while and I'd say, in all modesty, that a lot of my writing, consciously or unconsciously, is tied to her thought . The idea of "revolt" was an effort to put myself in relationship with what we hear as "her own thinking" which, following Heidegger's, opposes and relativizes calculative reasoning. As she was very attentive to the work of Heidegger, she conceived of thinking as an inquiry, as an interrogatory process and opposed herself to the calculative framework which structures and characterizes contemporary behavior. My work has found itself a bit within this horizon but I also derived my experience from the psychoanalytical approach which relativizes everyone's identity as well as his/her past. Moreover, I derived my experience from literary works, such as Proust's "Recherche de temps perdu;" for instance, from his flexing of language, metaphors and the syntax. I tried to rethink the mental disposition which helps us carry on, the one which is not a mere repetition of a cliche, something which is like an act of rebirth, that is, rebirth which our thinking re-examines together with our interior life as well as the very opening of the inquiry. This is what I take "revolt" to be. So, it is neither an expression of simple existential anguish nor contesting a socio-political order, but re-establishment of things which we start again. And, in this sense, revolt which engulfs the psychic space is a form of life, be it the state of being in love, or an act of aesthetic creation or a project that could imply a very modest activity but which allows you to re-examine your past, that is, to interrogate it and renew it. And I believe that we have very few occasions in our daily lives which are quite standardized and banalized to work in that direction. The work that we do implies usually a repetition, the accomplishment of a given task. The type of mental functioning which I call "revolt" is something that we lack and it is very dangerous because if it is lacking, we risk confronting two prospective pitfalls: one of them is 'somatization' when the psychic space closes itself off and the conflict manifests itself as bodily illness or, in the other situation, we get into violence, vandalism and wars. So, Vive la RŤvolte !

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Ayreen -- Spivak -- Rhetoric and Cultural Explanation

Topic(s): Interviews
Date Posted: 06.25.03

Q.The term rhetoric has a long history of multiple definitions. Aristotle defined it as the ?art of persuasion,? Isocrates described it as ?effective communication,? and Nietzsche, Derrida, de Man and others have written about rhetoric as a tropological activity. How do you conceptualize rhetoric, both as an activity and as a discipline?

A. I see rhetoric as I see most other important master words in the tradition of poststructuralist nominalism. Foucault says in The History of Sexuality that in order to think power one must become a nominalist; power is a name that one lends to a complex network of relationships. In Paul de Man?s Resistance to Theory, rhetoric is the name for the residue of indeterminacy which escapes the system. In this reading, the idea that rhetoric is tropology is not adequate to the notion that it is the name of what escapes even an exhaustive system of tropological analysis. In Derrida it would be very hard to find a definition of rhetoric that calls it a tropological activity. I think that in Derrida there is no concerted, or organized, use of the word rhetoric as there is in de Man. Derrida does not consistently use any master word that enables one to put together a body of definitions as something to be applied. I think the word rhetoric serves in the same way or does not serve in the same way in Derrida?s writing. I think Derrida uses the word rhetoric when he?s actually dealing with Greek material, but not otherwise. As for the discipline, I cannot say very much because I don?t know much about its performance. I?ve been involved in the teaching of comparative literature, English, and, of late, cultural studies. I can?t really comment on what goes on in the discipline of rhetoric.

Q.You are probably best known as a cultural critic. Would you give us a working definition of what you mean by cultural criticism?

A. Cultural criticism, which I am going to rephrase a little and call a ?study of cultural politics,? involves itself, as I understand it, with the way in which cultural explanations are generated. It seems to me that culture is a word which is now being used to give a sense of why large groups of people behave in certain ways. In other words, culture is being used as a description of collective agency, and these descriptions are almost always generated in order to manage various kinds of crises. So, a study of cultural politics is a study of the politics of the production of cultural explanations that are used in the academy, outside the academy, in global politics, in metropolitan politics, in national politics of various kinds, migrant poli≠tics of various kinds, articulations of majority and minority, domination/ exploitation, a very wide field of managing various kinds of crises that are coming up in order to give people who act within these crises a certain way of describing what the position is. This is what we are trying to look at in the new version of ??cultural studies.?

Q. Your work seems to raise questions about the relationship between cultural criticism and historicism, both ?old? and ?new.? What are some distinctions that might be drawn between cultural criticism and histori≠cism? This is an important questions in rhetoric and composition studies because of recent attention to the problematics of historiography and the role of cultural studies in the teaching of writing.

A.Historicism is something that is studied within the project of cultural studies because the production of historical narrative is an activity within the production of cultural explanations; and, in fact, explaining cultural phenomena in terms of produced historical narrative falls within the scope of the study of cultural politics of which I?m speaking. And I think it would be correct to say that all of my efforts in the study of cultural politics have, in fact, been within what I have just described.

Q. You speak of ?crisis management.? Is there a particular rhetoric involved in crisis management, or do rhetorical formulations always depend upon the contingencies of each particular crisis?

A. It depends upon various kinds of crisis. I don?t think there is a specific kind of discourse used to manage all crises.

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Rene -- 'I just pulled the trigger'

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 06.25.03

'I just pulled the trigger'
By Bob Graham,

Evening Standard, in Baghdad
19 June 2003

At first glance they appear to be the archetypal Band Of Brothers of
Hollywood myth, brave and honest men united in common purpose.

But a closer look at these American GIs, sweltering in the heat of
an unwelcoming Iraq, reveals the glazed eyes and limp expressions of
those who have witnessed a war they do not understand and have begun
to resent. By their own admission these American soldiers have killed
civilians without hesitation, shot wounded fighters and left others
to die in agony.

What they told me, in a series of extraordinary interviews, will
make uncomfortable reading for US and British politicians and senior
military staff desperate to prevent the liberation of Iraq turning
into a quagmire of Vietnam proportions, where the behaviour of troops
feeds the hatred of an occupied people.

Specialist Anthony Castillo: "If civilians were there, they were
considered the enemy"

Sergeant First Class John Meadows revealed the mindset that has led to
hundreds of innocent Iraqi civilians being killed alongside fighters
deliberately dressed in civilian clothes. "You can't distinguish
between who's trying to kill you and who's not," he said. "Like, the
only way to get through s*** like that was to concentrate on getting
through it by killing as many people as you can, people you know are
trying to kill you. Killing them first and getting home."

These GIs, from Bravo Company of the 3/15th US Infantry Division,
are caught in an impossible situation. More than 40 of their number
have been killed by hostile forces since 1 May - when President
Bush declared major military operations were over - and the number of
hit-and-run attacks is on the increase. They face a resentful civilian
population and, hiding among it, a number of guerrilla fighters still
loyal to the old regime. A lone Iraqi sniper nicknamed The Hunter
is believed to have claimed his sixth American victim this week in
a suburb of Baghdad.

The man, said to be a former member of the Republican Guard Special
Forces, has developed a cult status among some Iraqis. One Baghdad
resident, Assad al Amari, said: "He is fighting for Iraq on his
own. There will be many more Americans killed because they cannot
stop The Hunter. He will be given the protection of people who will
let him use their homes for his shooting."

In this hostile atmosphere the men of Bravo Company are asked to
maintain order, yet at the same time win hearts and minds. It is not
a dilemma they feel able to resolve. They spoke to me - dressed in
uniforms they have worn for the past six weeks - at their base in
Fallujah. Here US troops killed 18 demonstrators at a pro-Saddam
rally soon after the war and now face local fighters bent on revenge.

Their attitude to these dangers is summed up by Specialist (Corporal)
Michael Richardson, 22. "There was no dilemma when it came to shooting
people who were not in uniform, I just pulled the trigger. It was up
close and personal the whole time, there wasn't a big distance. If
they were there, they were enemy, whether in uniform or not. Some were,
some weren't."

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Rene -- Powerless Iraqis rail against ignorant, air-conditioned US occupation force

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 06.25.03

Powerless Iraqis rail against ignorant, air-conditioned US occupation force
By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad

The Independent/UK
22 June 2003

As temperatures reached a scorching 45C (113F) in Baghdad last week
people in al-Thawra, a sprawling working-class slum, unearthed hidden
rifles and threatened to kill the manager of the local electrical
sub-station if he did not resume power supplies.

"Some had guns and others threw stones at us, but I told them this
was just a sub- station and we aren't receiving any electricity,"
said Bassim Arman, the harassed-looking manager. "Now I have to close
down anyway, because employees are too frightened to come to work."

Electricity is vital to life in the Iraqi capital where the temperature
can soar as high as 60C (140F) at the height of summer. Without
it there is no air-conditioning, no refrigerators to prevent food
rotting and no light in a city terrified by looters. The failure
to get the electrical system working has become a symbol for Iraqis
in the capital of the general failure of the American occupation to
provide living conditions even at the miserable level they enjoyed
under Saddam Hussein.

Asked about Baghdad's lack of electricity at an air-conditioned
press conference, Paul Bremer, the American head of the occupation
authority, looking cool in a dark suit and quiet purple tie, simply
asserted that, with a few exceptions, Baghdad was now receiving 20
hours of electricity a day. "It simply isn't true," said one Iraqi,
shaking his head in disbelief after listening to Mr Bremer. "Everybody
in Baghdad knows it."

Few Iraqis mourn the fall of Saddam but there is a growing, at times
almost visceral, hatred of the occupation. "They can take our oil,
but at least they should let us have electricity and water," said
Tha'ar Abdul Qader, a worker at the Central Teaching Hospital for
Children, the main door of which can only be entered by walking
through a fast-flowing stream of raw sewage.

Attacks on American troops are still sporadic and not organised
centrally, but when one American soldier was shot dead and another
wounded by gunmen in a passing car near al-Doura power station,
passers-by unanimously said they approved of the attack.

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Rene -- Guerilla War in Iraq

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 06.25.03

From the folks at Strategic Forecasting Inc. !, 18 June 2003, by Dr. George Friedman



The United States is now clearly involved in a guerrilla war in
the Sunni regions of Iraq. As a result, U.S. forces are engaging
in counterinsurgency operations, which historically have proven
most difficult and trying -- for both American forces and
American politics. Suppressing a guerrilla operation without
alienating the indigenous population represents an extreme
challenge to the United States that at this point does not appear
avoidable -- and the seriousness of which does not appear to be
broadly understood.


The United States currently is involved in an extended, low-
intensity conflict in Iraq. More precisely, it is involved in a
guerrilla war in the Sunni areas of the country, including much
of Baghdad proper as well an arc that runs from due west to the
north. The almost daily guerrilla attacks against U.S. forces
have resulted in nearly 50 deaths since U.S. President George W.
Bush declared the end of major military operations; they also
have tied down a substantial number of troops in
counterinsurgency operations, two of which (Operations Peninsula
Freedom and Desert Scorpion) have been launched already.

The war is not strategically insignificant, even though the level
of intensity is relatively low at this point. Guerrilla warfare
can have a disproportionate effect strategically, even when it
can be tactically and operationally managed.

There are two reasons for this. The first is that it violates the
principles of economy of force: The quantity of force required to
contain a guerrilla operation is inherently disproportionate
because the guerrilla force is dispersed over a large geographic
area, and its stealth and mobility requires a much larger force
to contain. Second, guerrilla war generates political realities
that affect the strategic level of war. Because of the nature of
counterinsurgency operations, guerrillas can generate a
simultaneous perception of weakness and brutality, regardless of
the intentions of the conventional forces. Since guerrillas
choose the time and place of their own attacks and use mobility
to evade counterattacks, the guerrilla appears to be outfighting
the regular forces. Even when they are merely holding their own
or even losing, their continued operation generates a sense of
power for the guerrillas and weakness for the counterguerrilla

The nature of counterinsurgency requires that guerrillas be
distinguished from the general population. This is
extraordinarily difficult, particularly when the troops trying to
make the distinction are foreign, untrained in the local language
and therefore culturally incapable of making the subtle
distinctions needed for surgical identification. The result is
the processing of large numbers of noncombatants in the search
for a handful of guerrillas. Another result is the massive
intrusion of force into a civilian community that may start out
as neutral or even friendly, but which over time becomes hostile
-- not only because of the constant intrusions, but also because
of the inevitable mistakes committed by troops who are trying to
make sense of what appears to them an incoherent situation.

There is another level on which the guerrilla war intersects
strategy. The United States invaded Iraq in order to be perceived
as a decisive military power and to set the stage for military
operations elsewhere. Guerrilla warfare inevitably undermines the
regional perception of U.S. power -- justly or not -- while
creating the impression that the United States is limited in what
it can do in the region militarily.

Thus, the United States is in a tough spot. It cannot withdraw
from Iraq and therefore must fight. But it must fight in such a
way that avoids four things:

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Dasa -- US Congress pushes+Special Forces prepare

Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 06.25.03

Bush pressed to pursue 'regime change' in Iran
By Guy Dinmore in Washington

-Sam Brownback, Republican senator for Kansas, told the Financial Times he
had support at a high level from the Pentagon for a bill to support
peaceful regime change in Iran and that he would consider expanding his
proposed Iran Democracy Act to include funding for covert operations.
"There was a substantial group in the government that was pushing to engage
with the reformists in Iran," the senator said, referring to officials in
the State Department. "Now they are coming to the view that we should
confront aggressively the regime in Iran." -More than $50m would be
provided to support opposition Iranian groups and broadcasters adopting
this goal. Mr Brownback said it was possible that a provision for covert
operations would also be included.

Conservative US Republicans, backed by some Democrats, are seizing on
anti-government protests in Tehran as an opportunity to press the Bush
administration to adopt "regime change" in Iran as official policy.

Sam Brownback, Republican senator for Kansas, told the Financial Times he
had support at a high level from the Pentagon for a bill to support
peaceful regime change in Iran and that he would consider expanding his
proposed Iran Democracy Act to include funding for covert operations.

Mr Brownback said a week of anti-government demonstrations in Tehran had
contributed to a shift in the Bush administration's thinking on how to
reshape its Iran policy, which is under review.

"There was a substantial group in the government that was pushing to engage
with the reformists in Iran," the senator said, referring to officials in
the State Department. "Now they are coming to the view that we should
confront aggressively the regime in Iran."

Mr Brownback said the administration had not taken a stand on his
legislation, proposed six weeks ago. Asked about the view of the Pentagon,
he said he had not contacted Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, but that
his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, was "generally supportive".

President George W. Bush on Sunday declared his support for the Tehran
protesters, but a source close to the White House said the administration
was reluctant to adopt a "regime change" approach to Iran, which remains
alongside North Korea in the Bush administration's "axis of evil".

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Rene -- Police Arrest Members Of Iran's Armed Opposition, But Why Now?

Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 06.25.03

RFE/RL France: Police Arrest Members Of Iran's Armed Opposition, But
Why Now?

By Charles Recknagel

The French police have rounded up some 160 members of Iran's armed
opposition, the People's Mujahedin. The move has surprised some
observers because for the past 20 years the group has been free to
operate in France and many other European countries, as well as the
United States.

Prague, 18 June 2003 (RFE/RL) -- When the French police cracked down
on the People's Mujahedin this week, they did so in force.

Some 1,300 police and national security officers took part in a broad
sweep yesterday of the organization's offices in over a dozen
locations in the greater Paris area. Some of the raids saw masked riot
police equipped with automatic weapons storming houses while
helicopters circled overhead. By day's end some 160 people were in

The raids were conducted according to a court order which accused the
People's Mujahedin of "criminal association aimed at preparing
terrorism acts" and of "financing a terrorist enterprise." The
People's Mujahedin -- also known by its Persian-language name as the
Mujahedin-e-Khalq -- is the main armed Iranian opposition group and
the military wing of an umbrella exile opposition party, the National
Council of the Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

A French police spokesman told RFE/RL's Radio Farda yesterday that the
officers found no explosives in the Mujahedin's offices but did
uncover plenty of cash -- $1.38 million in $100 notes and also 150,000

The police also confiscated boxes of files and paperwork for a court
investigation into the group's activities and possible criminal trials
of some members.

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said the decision was taken
to dismantle the organization because it was trying, in his words, to
set up a "base camp" in France. He provided no details.

The arrests immediately sparked protests by angry Mujahedin members
and sympathizers in London. There, a crowd of some 50 protested
outside the French consulate yesterday, with one man setting himself
alight. Police said the 38-year-old man's injuries were critical but
not life-threatening.

Analysts say it is not yet clear why Paris decided this week to
finally move against the Mujahedin. The European Union put the group
on its list of banned terrorist organizations in 2002 over its routine
infiltration into Iran to assassinate officials. Washington also
considers the Mujahedin to be terrorists. But until now the Iranian
armed opposition's fund-raising and organizational activities have
been widely tolerated in the West, in part due to support from
conservative politicians who oppose the Islamic Republic.

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Rene -- Iran is no Iraq and the US should leave it well alone

Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 06.25.03

Iran is no Iraq and the US should leave it well alone
Amir Taheri
A discontented generation could provide the answer that the hawks are seeking

The Times/UK
June 18, 2003

The words `regime change' are being uttered again. Washington hawks
concerned about Iran's nuclear capacity are urging the overthrow of
its Islamist Government. These hawks confuse Iran with Saddam
Hussein's Iraq. Iraq was a mere torture chamber for a brutal
dictator. Unlike in Iraq, there is no need for a military
confrontation in Iran, a country with a well-developed opposition,
which allows a lively debate between hardliners and moderates, and has
a strong chance of democratisation without US intervention. Iran
resembles a double-headed eagle, trying to fly in opposite directions
at the same time. One head represents the Khomeinist revolution, with
its forlorn ambition of exporting a bankrupt ideology and creating an
Islamic superpower to confront the American `Great Satan' and
establish Islam as the only faith of mankind.

The other head represents the Iranian nation-state, one of the oldest
in the world, that has little interest in Islamic piety, let alone
militancy. For instance Tehran, with a population of 12 million, has
just over 700 mosques, compared with 2,600 in Riyadh, the Saudi
capital, with two million inhabitants. A poll conducted by a
state-owned company in Tehran in February revealed that 70 per cent of
Iranians had a favourable view of the US (which is thus more popular
in Iran than in Britain, let alone in France and Germany).

More than 60 per cent of Iran's population of 70 million is aged under
30 and cannot clearly remember life before the Islamist revolution of
1979. The country is unable to provide the educational, leisure and
job opportunities its discontented youth needs. In terms of disposable
individual income the average Iranian today is 50 per cent poorer than
in 1977. A report by the International Monetary Fund on brain-drain
puts it at No 1 among 91 developing nations. Each year up to 180,000
highly educated Iranians emigrate, mostly to North America, and there
are more Iranian doctors in Canada than in Iran. Youth unemployment
hovers around 30 per cent. This discontented generation, yearning for
a more liberal and open society, should give the US cause for hope of
evolutionary regime change.

For the past eight days, thousands of students have been protesting
against the regime in Iran. Starting in Tehran University, the
movement has spread to campuses in other cities. It has also attracted
some middle-class support, while industrial workers in a number of
cities have held walkouts in solidarity.

The Khomeinist Establishment is no longer strong enough to crush its
opponents, as it routinely did throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The
armed and police forces have made it clear that they will not shoot
anti-regime demonstrators and the regime's hired thugs, known as the
Followers of the Party of God (Ansar Hezbollah), are not numerous
enough or confident enough to beat opponents and disperse
demonstrations. Yet Iran is not on the verge of a second revolution or
civil war, as some commentators suggest. The volcano, hissing
menacingly, is unlikely soon to erupt.

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Rene -- When Iranian American Media Shout, Iran Listens

Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 06.25.03

When Iranian American Media Shout, Iran Listens

News Feature, Sandip Roy,

Pacific News Service, Jun 19, 2003

Editor's Note: Members of Iranian American media, accused of
fomenting recent unrest in Iran, say they're no stooges of the
U.S. government. But most agree that, with the help of technology
like the Internet, the Iranian community in America is affecting
policy in its home country.

Hossein Hedjazi, host of Radio Iran in Los Angeles, risked being called
"un-American" for criticizing the government after it detained hundreds
of Iranian immigrants as they registered with U.S. authorities last
December. But Iranian American media like his are now being called
a tool of the same American government, because of the way they are
covering the student protests rocking Iran.

"We've always been called the agent of the Islamic republic -- now
they are calling us agents of the CIA," says Hedjazi. Even if that
charge is overblown, the community may now actually be shaping events
back in Iran instead of just covering them.

"The role (U.S.-based Iranian media) have played in the recent uprising
has been phenomenal," says Hedjazi. "Those people back home have no
way to know what's going on. But the minute the stations go on air and
say go to this street at this time, the people follow the guidelines."

"Technology fostered all this -- the Web, Internet radio, satellite
television," says Mehdi Zokaei, publisher and editor of Javanan
International Weekly. "None of this would have been possible five
or 10 years ago." Zokaei moved the paper to Los Angeles after the
Islamic Revolution made it impossible to publish in Iran. The largest
concentration of Iranians outside of Iran live in Southern California.

Thanks to the Internet, papers such as Javanan can be read in
Iran. Zokaei says the Tehran government is "scared, not just of the
Americans, but of the proliferation of Iranian Americans."

Zia Atabay, a former Iranian pop star, and his Los Angeles satellite
channel National Iranian Television (NITV) may be Public Enemy No. 1 in
Iran. "The Iranian government is spending millions of dollars buying
equipment to jam my signal," Atabay says. But he also says Iranians
risk jail sentences and worse to call his shows on their cell phones.

But Atabay does not think that Iranian American media are the leaders
of any revolution in Iran. "This movement doesn't have leadership, like
(Martin Luther) King or Che Guevara. This is a people's movement. Young
people don't listen to me. I'm just following what they are doing."

Zokaei, however, thinks that Iranian Americans enjoy a certain street
credibility among Iranians that others may not. "People won't listen
to Americans, but they listen to Iranian American media because these
are people who were there once upon a time."

The other reason Iranian American media finds an audience back home
is that they provide an outlet for the frustrations of many ordinary
Iranians. "Since 2000, more than 100 newspapers and magazines were
closed in Iran by the order of (Supreme Leader) Khamenei, who recently
ordered the filtering of Iranian Web sites," says Shahbaz Taheri,
editor of the San Jose monthly Pezhvak of Persia.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Of Human Bondage

Topic(s): Human Rights
Date Posted: 06.25.03

Transitions on Line
June 23 2003

Of Human Bondage
Week in Review: 17 - 23 June 2003

At the root of the problem of human trafficking is the feminization
of poverty.

If U.S. estimates are correct, we may be reaching the point when as
many people worldwide have been enslaved since the fall of communism
as were shipped from Africa to Europe and the Americas. Some estimates
put the number of Africans "trafficked" over 450 years at 12 million;
a U.S. government estimate suggests that--worldwide--roughly 800,000 to
900,000 people a year are now trafficked across international borders,
to become laborers, prostitutes, beggars, and organ donors.

Whatever the (in)accuracy of these estimates, the dimensions of the
trade are staggering. But while in Europe asylum policy is always
a headline news issue--as it was this week at the EU's summit in
Thessaloniki--the issue of human trafficking is still relegated mainly
to features.

To make the suffering of victims news, rather than merely material
for features on human misery, we need a government or two that is
willing to treat the issue as a priority. Fortunately, the United
States seems to be taking on the role.

The United States, which began three years ago to produce an annual
report called "Trafficking in Persons" partly to shame governments
into action, believes its pressure is forcing change. Ten countries
received a better rating this year, including Armenia, Belarus,
Russia, and Tajikistan.

This year it is threatening to add penalties to shame, by sanctioning
countries that fail to comply with "minimum standards." It is an
important gesture. Similarly, its promise to focus more on the demand
side of the business, such as sex tourism, could help.

So too could the examples that it cites of how to break the "supply
chain"--on how to spot and capture traffickers and how to break their
links with local officials.

Many of these efforts to break the supply chain, though, require the
cooperation of victims and--despite a "minimum standard" that calls
on governments to protect victims, treat them as victims rather than
criminals, and provide them "with legal alternatives to their removal
to countries where they would face retribution or hardship"--many
Western countries have policies that effectively discourage victims
from coming forward.

[Continue Reading]

John -- Halliburton, Principal Beneficiary of Iraq's Reconstruction

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 06.24.03,5987,3234--324654-,00.html

By Eric Leser
Le Monde

Friday 20 June 2003

Iraqi oil production is supposed to start up again Sunday June 22. Iraqi reconstruction constitutes veritable manna from heaven for numerous American companies, in particular, Halliburton and Bechtel. Halliburton specializes in petroleum engineering, but one of its subsidiaries, KBR, is charged with logistics for American troops on overseas' missions. Halliburton has obtained more than $600 million in total in contracts, while the total sum approved by Congress for reconstruction and humanitarian aid in Iraq is $2.4 billion. This reconstruction under the American aegis has forced the United Nations to end its "oil against food" program, from which many companies, particularly Russian, French and Chinese ones, derived advantage.

From our correspondent in New York

March 8, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), a Halliburton subsidiary a contract for $ 71.3 million (61 million Euros) to put Iraqi oil installations back in working order.

[Continue Reading]

Emily -- Levy -- End the fake evacuations

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 06.23.03

End the fake evacuations
By Gideon Levy

The operation to evacuate the West Bank outposts
undertaken by Ariel Sharon's government is a farce
that is bad for the peace process. It would be
better to stop this charade as soon as possible,
because its damage is immeasurably greater than
any good it might be doing.

The only ones gaining from this
absurd eviction performance is
the prime minister, the right
wing and the settlers. The
losers are the Palestinians and
mainly, the peace process. The
Americans, who are full
partners to this deceit, should
also pull themselves together
and realize that this absurdity

is no good for peace.

If I were a Palestinian I'd hasten to declare -
no, thank you. This is neither evacuation nor a
confidence-building measure; it is a deception
with a heavy price. This is not the evacuation
of real settlements and more importantly, not
the evacuation of settlers. This is a farce in
which all the actors understand the rules and
are playing their role on the stage only to
accumulate more power and more sympathy, rather
than advance any political process.

The first one to gain from this false spectacle
is of course the prime minister. Half the
nation is again tempted to believe that here is
"a new Sharon," a "complex" and "fascinating"
figure which has undergone "a historic change,"
an Israeli de Gaulle, the only one who could
make peace.

Sharon has evacuated a few caravans and evicted
a few dozen radical settlers from one point to
another in the occupied territories, and
already he is enjoying the best of all worlds.
His one hand appears to be evacuating while the
other is assassinating.

His only goal - pleasing the American
administration - is achieved in full at zero
cost. The right wing is a little angry, but it
is clear to it too that this is all
make-believe - the right wing knows full well
that Sharon will never evacuate a proper
settlement. Thus the prime minister can go back
to being the evil old Sharon, who orders the
assassination of Hamas leaders in the middle of
an international political effort to achieve a
cease-fire agreement with them.

Thus, in exchange for the pseudo-evacuation, the
Palestinians got 24 people killed in three
days, in a series of assassinations whose harm
to peace far surpasses the good of the fake
evacuations. If these are the first of the
"painful concessions" Sharon had talked about,
it is not clear at all on whom the pain is
being inflicted.

The outposts' evacuation is good for the
settlers, too. They have paid nothing, but
already they are once again the victims, the
robbed, the usurped. The sound of their
wailings and whinings for every rusty caravan
moved from its place is especially cynical.
They know that the louder they holler, the
smaller the price they will be asked to pay in
the future and public sympathy toward them will
grow. This has always been their way - let out
a wail, never mind about what, and extort the

[Continue Reading]

John -- Signals From Nowhere

Topic(s): Media
Date Posted: 06.22.03

June 22, 2003
Signals From Nowhere

used to take a long road trip every year or two, usually in the middle of the summer, with no fixed schedule or specific destination, just a vague intention to try new foods and admire the changing scenery. And though I always took along an atlas, I rarely used it. I navigated by radio.

You used to be able to do that in America: chart your course by the accents, news and songs streaming in from the nearest AM transmitter. A drawling update on midday cattle prices meant I was in Wyoming or Nebraska. A guttural rant about city-hall corruption told me I'd reach Chicago within the hour. A soaring, rhythmic sermon on fornication -- Welcome to Alabama. The music, too. Texas swing in the Southwest oil country. Polka in North Dakota. Nonstop Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull in the Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs. What's more, the invisible people who introduced the songs gave the impression that they listened to them at home. They were locals, with local tastes.

I felt like a modern Walt Whitman on those drives. When I turned on the radio, I heard America singing, even in the dumb banter of ''morning zoo'' hosts. But then last summer, rolling down a highway somewhere between Montana and Wisconsin, something new happened. I lost my way, and the radio couldn't help me find it. I twirled the dial, but the music and the announcers all sounded alike, drained, disconnected from geography, reshuffling the same pop playlists and canned bad jokes.

[Continue Reading]

John -- Media Silent on Clark's 9/11 Comments

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 06.20.03

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting

Media Silent on Clark's 9/11 Comments:
Gen. says White House pushed Saddam link without evidence

June 20, 2003

Sunday morning talk shows like ABC's This Week or Fox News Sunday often make news for days afterward. Since prominent government officials dominate the guest lists of the programs, it is not unusual for the Monday editions of major newspapers to report on interviews done by the Sunday chat shows.

But the June 15 edition of NBC's Meet the Press was unusual for the buzz that it didn't generate. Former General Wesley Clark told anchor Tim Russert that Bush administration officials had engaged in a campaign to implicate Saddam Hussein in the September 11 attacks-- starting that very day. Clark said that he'd been called on September 11 and urged to link Baghdad to the terror attacks, but declined to do so because of a lack of evidence.

Here is a transcript of the exchange:

[Continue Reading]

Mubbashir -- The Luntz Research Companies & The Israel Project

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 06.20.03

Download PDF
The Luntz Research Companies & The Israel Project ? April 2003 1
The world has changed. The words, themes and messages on behalf of Israel must include and embrace the new reality of a post-Saddam world.
In the past, we have urged a lower profile for Israel out of a fear that the American people would blame Israel for what was happening in the rest of the Middle East. Now is the time to link American success in dealing with terrorism and dictators from a position of strength to Israel?s ongoing efforts to eradicate terrorism on and within its borders. In the current political environment, you have little to lose and a lot to gain by aligning with America. With all the anti- Americanism across the globe and all the protests and demonstrations, we are looking for allies that share our commitment to security and an end to terrorism and are prepared to say so. Israel is a just such an ally.

The fact that Israel has remained relatively silent for the three
months preceding the war and for the three weeks of the war was
absolutely the correct strategy ? and according to all the polling
done, it worked. But as the military conflict comes to a close, it is
now time for Israel to lay out its own ?road map? for the future
which includes unqualified support for America and unqualified
commitment to an ongoing war against terrorism.

[Continue Reading]

David -- Are You David Nelson?

Topic(s): "War on Terror"
Date Posted: 06.18.03

This is by no means the best article on this, but a Google News search will give you a couple dozen better articles on this very bizarre screw-up.

Alana Darveaux
Are You David Nelson?

Terrorist attacks on the US are causing flying troubles for "David Nelsons" across the country.

The name, David Nelson, is on a top-secret terrorist list. People with that name are having to undergo extra security checks at airports.

There are almost 200 David Nelsons in the state of Texas. Here in Lubbock, there are three David Nelsons listed in the phone book. One is a former city councilman and an attorney.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Former Aide Takes Aim at War on Terror

Topic(s): "War on Terror"
Date Posted: 06.18.03

Former Aide Takes Aim at War on Terror
By Laura Blumenfeld
The Washington Post

Monday 16 June 2003

Five days before the war began in Iraq, as President Bush prepared to raise the terrorism threat level to orange, a top White House counterterrorism adviser unlocked the steel door to his office, an intelligence vault secured by an electronic keypad, a combination lock and an alarm. He sat down and turned to his inbox.

"Things were dicey," said Rand Beers, recalling the stack of classified reports about plots to shoot, bomb, burn and poison Americans. He stared at the color-coded threats for five minutes. Then he called his wife: I'm quitting.
Beers's resignation surprised Washington, but what he did next was even more astounding. Eight weeks after leaving the Bush White House, he volunteered as national security adviser for Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), a Democratic candidate for president, in a campaign to oust his former boss. All of which points to a question: What does this intelligence insider know?

"The administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure," said Beers, who until now has remained largely silent about leaving his National Security Council job as special assistant to the president for combating terrorism. "As an insider, I saw the things that weren't being done. And the longer I sat and watched, the more concerned I became, until I got up and walked out."

No single issue has defined the Bush presidency more than fighting terrorism. And no issue has both animated and intimidated Democrats. Into this tricky intersection of terrorism, policy and politics steps Beers, a lifelong bureaucrat, unassuming and tight-lipped until now. He is an unlikely insurgent. He served on the NSC under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and the current Bush. The oath of office hangs on the wall by his bed; he tears up when he watches "The West Wing." Yet Beers decided that he wanted out, and he is offering a rare glimpse in.

"Counterterrorism is like a team sport. The game is deadly. There has to be offense and defense," Beers said. "The Bush administration is primarily offense, and not into teamwork."

In a series of interviews, Beers, 60, critiqued Bush's war on terrorism. He is a man in transition, alternately reluctant about and empowered by his criticism of the government. After 35 years of issuing measured statements from inside intelligence circles, he speaks more like a public servant than a public figure. Much of what he knows is classified and cannot be discussed. Nevertheless, Beers will say that the administration is "underestimating the enemy." It has failed to address the root causes of terror, he said. "The difficult, long-term issues both at home and abroad have been avoided, neglected or shortchanged and generally underfunded."

The focus on Iraq has robbed domestic security of manpower, brainpower and money, he said. The Iraq war created fissures in the United States' counterterrorism alliances, he said, and could breed a new generation of al Qaeda recruits. Many of his government colleagues, he said, thought Iraq was an "ill-conceived and poorly executed strategy."

"I continue to be puzzled by it," said Beers, who did not oppose the war but thought it should have been fought with a broader coalition. "Why was it such a policy priority?" The official rationale was the search for weapons of mass destruction, he said, "although the evidence was pretty qualified, if you listened carefully."

He thinks the war in Afghanistan was a job begun, then abandoned. Rather than destroying al Qaeda terrorists, the fighting only dispersed them. The flow of aid has been slow and the U.S. military presence is too small, he said. "Terrorists move around the country with ease. We don't even know what's going on. Osama bin Laden could be almost anywhere in Afghanistan," he said.

[Continue Reading]

Naeem -- 4 articles

Topic(s): Civil Rights
Date Posted: 06.18.03

1. Tales of Despair From GuantŠnamo
2. Asylum Seekers Suffer Psychological Setbacks
3. Patriot Act of 2001 Casts Wide Net
4. Hundreds of 9/11 detainees rights violated

[Continue Reading]

Avi -- The Complex Art of Simulation

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 06.18.03

Tanya Reinhart
Yediot Aharonot, June 6, 2003
Translated from Hebrew by Bryan Atinsky; quotes expanded.

[The article went to Print a few hours before Israel's attempted assassination of Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Abdel Aziz Rantisi.]

The Israeli public discourse has been storming around "Sharon's revolutionary change of mind". The extensive debate on his psyche focuses on the question whether he has changed from the inside, or whether it is all just U.S. pressure. Either way, Sharon has turned suddenly into the beloved leader of the Israeli "peace camp". The right wing is furious and the peace camp celebrates, yet both sides agree on the substance of what they perceive has occurred: Sharon?s Israel has already taken the fatal historical step, and gave up on the occupation. - ?In Akaba, the State of Palestine was founded?! - declared the headline of Yediot Aharonot on June 5. This is because, following in the tradition of Oslo, the mere declaration of a willingness to give away something at some future time, is by itself the most painful and crucial of concessions. As stated by Abraham Burg in his excited address of appreciation to Sharon, "even if you will regret this later; even if you will not stand the pressure of your own party, you already made your contribution, because you said occupation, you said evacuation, you said peace, you started to believe" (Yideot Aharonot, June 5, 2003 ).

In the Israeli consciousness, it is not the test of actions that matters, but the test of words - the complex art of the simulation of peace, which so eased our conscience during Oslo. In this perception, Bush and Sharon are the indubitable proponents of world peace. Who would stop to notice what actually occurs in the real world?

From May onward we began to hear that

"Hamas leaders openly declared their willingness this weekend to enter a temporary cease-fire (hudna) with Israel, for the first time since the establishment of the movement in 1987. If such a cease-fire is attained, it would mean a cessation of terror attacks against civilians in Israel. A senior Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, who usually represents movement hardliners, said on Friday: 'The Hamas movement is prepared to stop terror against Israeli civilians if Israel stops killing Palestinian civilians ... We have told (Palestinian Authority Prime Minister) Abu Mazen in our meetings that there is an opportunity to stop targeting Israeli civilians if the Israelis stop assassinations and raids and stop brutalizing Palestinian civlilians" (Ha'aretz, Arnon Regular, May 25, 2003).

What could be more suitable for a new peace initiative then starting with a period of some calm - quiet for the Israelis without terror, quiet for the Palestinians without the constant presence of the IDF in their midst? Not in Sharon's view, who repeatedly rejected this proposal. On the eve of the Aqaba summit, the headline in Ha?aretz declared: ?The prime minister: A Palestinian ceasefire is not enough?; and the text continued to explain that

"in his meeting with U.S. president George Bush at the Aqaba summit, prime-minister Ariel Sharon will seek the U.S. backing of his demand that the Palestinian authority will use forceful [military] means against the terror organizations and their infrastructure in the territories, as a precondition for any diplomatic advance. Sharon will tell Bush that it is not acceptable to settle just for agreements between the Palestinian organizations to a cease fire (Hudna)? In return Sharon will promise Bush that Israel will evacuate illegal outposts in the West bank ? (Ha?aretz Hebrew edition, Aluf Ben, June 2, 2003). (1)
In other words, until the Palestinian organizations willingly begin to kill one another, the IDF will continue to do this job for them.

In the plans of Sharon and the army, the situation in the territories will remain precisely where it stands today: IDF soldiers present everywhere, demolishing, killing, abusing, and causing starvation. Each week, another piece of Palestinian land is stolen under the auspices of the Separation Wall project. Even during the week of the peace summits, when in the world of simulation the headlines heralded an easing of the closure, the IDF made sure to clarify that nothing would change. On the contrary, the restrictions over Palestinian movement were increased. (Ha?aretz, June 3, 2003, see (2) below). The diabolical aspect of this plan is that from now on, only the Palestinians will be accused of whatever happens. Since the Aqaba summit, Palestinians shouldn?t show any resistance to the IDF, because in the Israelis? perception, Israel has already fulfilled its part of the bargain when Sharon declared that he has had enough of the occupation, and will even evacuate a number of outposts (most of which are empty). Now it is the turn of the Palestinian Authority to fulfill its part of the generous agreement and to prove that it is capable of controlling terror, even without any change in the situation on the ground.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Protests Straining Society, Relations With The U.S.

Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 06.18.03

By Mark Baker

A recent wave of anti-government protests in Iran is continuing, as
police and hard-line vigilante groups seek to suppress students and
their supporters. The demonstrations -- now in their sixth day -- are
putting pressure on both conservative elements and President Mohammad
Khatami's reformist government. The protests are also straining ties
with the United States.

Prague, 16 June 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Anti-regime protests are continuing
in Iran for a sixth day. Reports say the protests, mostly centered in
the capital Tehran, have now spread to other cities, including
Isfahan, Shiraz, Ahvaz, and Mashad.

Last night, cars and people clogged streets near the main campus of
Tehran University. Protesters called for the release of political
prisoners and the resignation of President Mohammad Khatami.

Police and hard-line vigilante groups later cracked down on the
protesters. Some 30 people were reportedly arrested on charges of
hooliganism, bringing the number of people who have been detained in
the past week to more than 140.

A correspondent from RFE/RL's Radio Farda interviewed a young woman
who lives near where the protests took place.

"Last night the noise was extremely loud," she said. "I think [the
demonstrations] continued until midnight or one o'clock in the
morning. The law enforcement forces were there. They were beating
people as if they wanted to beat them to death. I heard shooting. I
think the [vigilantes] were also there. We couldn't sleep until one
o'clock because of the noise."

The protests, at times involving thousands of people, are aimed at
both Iran's hard-line Islamic regime and the reformist group centered
around Khatami. Many demonstrators say the reformers have not gone far
enough in promoting democratic change.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Ayatollah tells vigilantes to cool it as student protests continue

Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 06.18.03

The Guardian
Friday June 13, 2003

Iran's conservative supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appealed
to hardline vigilantes yesterday not to take the law into their own
hands after a second night of anti-regime student protests in Tehran.

The vigilantes, an offshoot of the revolutionary guards who helped
to create the clergy-run system in 1979, had arrived on motorbikes
to back up police, and taunt and attack students at the start of
protests on Tuesday.

Their actions provoked a bigger student gathering on Wednesday evening
at a university dormitory, where violence had erupted between police
and protesters four years ago. While some students in the 3,000-strong
crowd denounced the leading moderate, President Mohammed Khatami,
others chanted "Death to Khamenei".

One Reuters reporter claimed that students had seized three
plainclothes Islamic militiamen after they entered the campus during

"They had walkie-talkies, chains, gas spray, and their pockets were
full of stones," a student said.

In a clear sign that the establishment is worried that protests could
get out of hand, the ayatollah went on television yesterday to urge
caution on the vigilantes and blame the US for stirring up trouble.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Iran Internet use at risk from conservatives

Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 06.18.03

FEATURE-Iran Internet use at risk from conservatives

By Firouz Sedarat

TEHRAN, June 16 (Reuters) - The diary of a former prostitute is one of the
hottest Web sites in Iran, a strict Islamic society where the Internet is
coveted for the access it gives users to a forbidden world.

The anonymous author, who presents herself as a 24-year-old former sex
worker, says she does not want to just titillate readers in the conservative country which bans sex and romance outside marriage.

"Some may see my writings as an erotic film, but others might learn something
useful from them. It's like a knife that can be used to kill or to peel a
cucumber," she says on her site (

Her site and other unabashed online diaries offer a rare insight into the
mindset of Iranian youth who have grown up under strict social rules since the
1979 Islamic revolution.

The new generation has been using the Internet to express themselves and
satisfy their hunger for knowledge about taboo subjects, ranging from sex to
Western-style entertainment or politics.

[Continue Reading]

John -- War may have killed 10,000 civilians, researchers say

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 06.13.03,2763,976392,00.html

Simon Jeffery
Friday June 13, 2003
The Guardian

At least 5,000 civilians may have been killed during the invasion of Iraq, an independent research group has claimed. As more evidence is collated, it says, the figure could reach 10,000.
Iraq Body Count (IBC), a volunteer group of British and US academics and researchers, compiled statistics on civilian casualties from media reports and estimated that between 5,000 and 7,000 civilians died in the conflict.

Its latest report compares those figures with 14 other counts, most of them taken in Iraq, which, it says, bear out its findings.

Researchers from several groups have visited hospitals and mortuaries in Iraq and interviewed relatives of the dead; some are conducting surveys in the main cities.

Three completed studies suggest that between 1,700 and 2,356 civilians died in the battle for Baghdad alone.

John Sloboda, professor of psychology at Keele University and an IBC report author, said the studies in Iraq backed up his group's figures. "One of the things we have been criticised for is quoting journalists who are quoting other people. But what we are now finding is that whenever the teams go into Iraq and do a detailed check of the data we had through the press, not only is our data accurate but [it is] often on the low side.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- A latte - and a rifle to go

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 06.09.03

A latte - and a rifle to go

Baghdad's cafes are busy but there's no clean water. Galleries are
opening, but visitors are armed. Patients freed from the bombed
psychiatric hospital are returning there - because they feel it's
safe. In this powerful dispatch, we reveal the reality of daily life
in an upside-down city.

Euan Ferguson

Can dust smell? A daft question, but it was instructive, going
through my notebook afterwards, to come across a dispiriting little
paragraph of jottings made at the end of my first night in Baghdad.
Sitting in about the safest place in the city, outside the Palestine
Hotel, which American tanks are now stringently guarding rather than
shelling, and musing on the decision by the adjoining Sheraton to
forgo that chain's usual dull corporate anonymity for a wholly new
theme excitingly reliant on linoleum and fear and cockroaches, I
watched as the full moon of Arabia competed in vain with the high
romance of CNN's satellite dishes, and made a list.
I called it 'Smells of Baghdad', and this is what it said. 'Diesel.
Burning rubbish. Non-burning rubbish, rubbish just very busy getting
on with stinking. Shit. Dust, all over the trees. NB can dust smell?
Nothing green, nothing growing. Cheap chemical disinfectant. Old
sweat, goaty old sweat. Petrol. More dust.'

[Continue Reading]


Topic(s): Resistance?
Date Posted: 06.07.03

by David Graeber
(from NYC indymedia,

Revolutionary thinkers have been saying that the age of vanguardism is over for most of a century now. Outside of a handful of tiny sectarian groups, it's almost impossible to find a radical intellectuals seriously believe that their role should be to determine the correct historical analysis of the world situation, so as to lead the masses along in the one true revolutionary direction. But (rather like the idea of progress itself, to which it's obviously connected), it seems much easier to renounce the principle than to shake the accompanying habits of thought. Vanguardist, even, sectarian attitudes have become deeply ingrained in academic radicalism it's hard to say what it would mean to think outside them.

The depth of the problem first really struck me when I first became acquainted with the consensus modes of decision-making employed in North American anarchist and anarchist-inspired political movements, which, in turn, bore a lot of similarities to the style of political decision-making current where I had done my anthropological fieldwork in rural Madagascar. There's enormous variation among different styles and forms of consensus but one thing almost all the North American variants have in common is that they are organized in conscious opposition to the style of organization and, especially, of debate typical of the classical sectarian Marxist group. Where the latter are invariably organized around some Master Theoretician, who offers a comprehensive analysis of the world situation and, often, of human history as a whole, but very little theoretical reflection on more immediate questions of organization and practice, anarchist-inspired groups tend to operate on the assumption that no one could, or probably should, ever convert another person completely to one's own point of view, that decision-making structures are ways of managing diversity, and therefore, that one should concentrate instead on maintaining egalitarian process and considering immediate questions of action in the present. One of the fundamental principles of political debate, for instance, is that one is obliged to give other participants the benefit of the doubt for honesty and good intentions, whatever else one might think of their arguments. In part too this emerges from the style of debate consensus decision-making encourages: where voting encourages one to reduce one's opponents positions to a hostile caricature, or whatever it takes to defeat them, a consensus process is built on a principle of compromise and creativity where one is constantly changing proposals around until one can come up with something everyone can at least live with; therefore, the incentive is always to put the best possible construction on other's arguments.

[Continue Reading]

Kevin -- Why I stood up for Bobby Sands

Topic(s): Ireland
Date Posted: 06.07.03

Expulsion would be an odd reward for telling hard truths
by John McDonnell

The search for weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq has deflected attention from the continuing
search for peace in Northern Ireland. As each
day passes without a solution to the political
impasse, the danger of a drift back to violence

The next breakthrough in the peace process needs
to offer the prospect of a lasting solution, but
this will only come with a dramatic change in
how we confront the trauma experienced over
Northern Ireland. On all sides we have to start
telling each other some hard truths. Painful,
even dangerous it may be, but avoiding this
massive leap in conflict resolution would mean
that even if we can get past the current impasse
we would only be back here again in another few months.

[Continue Reading]

Kevin -- Cockburn -- Jacques Derrida: Talking Out Of Both Sides of His Mouth

Topic(s): Derrida
Date Posted: 06.07.03

This weekend the noted French philosopher Jacques Derrida will be
getting an honorary doctorate from Hebrew University. Philosophers are
notoriously agile at squaring moral and political circles, a necessary
skill in Derrida's case, since his name can also be found on the Birzeit
Appeal, signed by scores of prominent writers and academics round the
world, protesting the Israeli military and civil authorities for
deliberately paralysing all Palestinian institutions of higher learning
in the occupied territories, most notably Birzeit.

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Rene -- Naomi Klein -- Rescuing Private Lynch, Forgetting Rachel Corrie

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 06.07.03

Jessica Lynch and Rachel Corrie could have passed for sisters. Two
all-American blondes, two destinies forever changed in a Middle East
war zone. Private Jessica Lynch, the soldier, was born in Palestine,
West Virginia. Rachel Corrie, the activist, died in Israeli-occupied

Corrie was four years older than 19-year-old Lynch. Her body was
crushed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza seven days before Lynch was
taken into Iraqi custody on March 23. Before she went to Iraq, Lynch
organized a pen-pal program with a local kindergarten. Before Corrie
left for Gaza, she organized a pen-pal program between kids in her
hometown of Olympia, Washington, and children in Rafah.

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Rene -- Naomi Klein -- Downsizing in Disguise

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 06.06.03

Lookout by Naomi Klein
Downsizing in Disguise

[from the June 23, 2003 issue]

The streets of Baghdad are a swamp of crime and uncollected garbage. Battered local businesses are going bankrupt, unable to compete with cheap imports. Unemployment is soaring and thousands of laid-off state workers are protesting in the streets.

In other words, Iraq looks like every other country that has undergone rapid-fire "structural adjustments" prescribed by Washington, from Russia's infamous "shock therapy" in the early 1990s to Argentina's disastrous "surgery without anesthetic." Except that Iraq's "reconstruction" makes those wrenching reforms look like spa treatments.

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Judith -- Amnina Lawal set to be stoned on 3rd June

Topic(s): Nigeria
Date Posted: 06.02.03

Hi everyone,

I imagine that you may have already signed this petition, but in case you haven't I thought I would pass it to you all --
if that is possible, could you send this out to your email list. Time is running out for this woman.

Many thanks --
Judith Barry

[Continue Reading]

Emily -- The Venice Biennale's Palestine Problem

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 06.01.03

IF the title of this year's Venice Biennale, "Dreams and Conflicts," sounds like the name of a documentary on Middle East politics, well, you don't have to point that out to the man who came up with it. Francesco Bonami, the Chicago-based Italian curator who is the director of the 50th Biennale, has learned a sharp lesson over the last year about how, when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian divide, those words are practically synonymous.

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