Avi -- An immoral army

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 12.31.03 An immoral army By Roman Bronfman Shaul Mofaz is by all means worthy of admiration for the series of positions he held during his long period of military service. In his last position in uniform, Mofaz will be remembered mainly... [Continue Reading]


Dario Fo: An Italian Playwright Cuts Prime Minister Down to Size

Topic(s): Europe
Date Posted: 12.31.03

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/31/arts/theater/31FO.html

By JASON HOROWITZ

ROME, Dec. 30 — Dario Fo's scathing satires on authority and establishment have carried the playwright to the heights of Italian letters, a pinnacle capped with a Nobel Prize. But in his new play he aims at his favorite target, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, from a considerably more modest stature.

From about two and a half feet tall, to be exact.

Mr. Fo recently spent more than half of a sold-out performance here of his play "The Two-Headed Anomaly" portraying Mr. Berlusconi as a sort of tyrannical dwarf.

[Continue Reading]


Garrett -- Halliburton Contracts in Iraq: The Struggle to Manage Costs

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 12.29.03

Halliburton Contracts in Iraq: The Struggle to Manage Costs

By JEFF GERTH and DON VAN NATTA Jr.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 — The Qarmat Ali water treatment plant in southern Iraq is crucial to keeping the oil flowing from the region's petroleum-rich fields. So when American engineers found the antiquated plant barely operating earlier this year, there was no question that repairing it was important to the rebuilding of Iraq. Setting the price for the repairs was another matter.
In July, the Halliburton Company estimated that the overhaul would cost $75.7 million, according to confidential documents that the company submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers. But in early September, the Bush administration asked Congress for $125 million to do the job — a 40 percent price increase in just six weeks.
The initial price was based on "drive-by estimating," said Richard V. Dowling, a spokesman for the corps, which oversees the contract. The second was a result of a more complete assessment. "The best I can lamely fall back on is to say that estimates change," said Mr. Dowling, who is based in Baghdad. "This is not business as usual."

[Continue Reading]


Your Body, Your Superfund Site

Topic(s): Health
Date Posted: 12.29.03

http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,61753,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_3

Associated Press

Story location: http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,61753,00.html

08:31 AM Dec. 28, 2003 PT

SAN FRANCISCO -- Davis Baltz shops for organic food and otherwise tries to live as healthy as he can. So he was shocked to learn that the pollutants collecting inside his body sounded much like a Superfund cleanup site: pesticides, flame retardants and other nasty, man-made chemicals turned up in a recent test.

"What that told me is that no matter what I tried to do, the plumes of chemicals that we are passing in and out of everyday give us exposure," said Baltz, who works for Commonweal, an environmental group in Bolinas, Calif. Commonweal and the Washington-based Environmental Working Group funded tests for Baltz and eight others at $5,000 apiece.

[Continue Reading]


117 Palestinians killed, hundreds injured during media's "relative calm"

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 12.28.03

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article2301.shtml

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 26 December 2003

On December 25, an Israeli assassination squad killed five Palestinians in Gaza, and injured fifteen. Three of the dead were civilians. A short time later, a Palestinian blew himself up at a bus stop in the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikva, killing four Israelis, three of whom were confirmed by Ha'aretz to be soldiers.

Many leading media organizations were quick to declare that these two incidents marked the end of a period of "relative calm" or "lull" in Israeli-Palestinian violence, that had supposedly lasted since the last Palestinian suicide attack in Haifa on 4 October.

In fact, the period since 4 October has been one of intense Israeli violence, in which 117 Palestinians were killed, including 23 children. At the same time, Israel destroyed almost five hundred Palestinian homes throughout the Occupied Territories.

[Continue Reading]


The day after the shooting of peace activists: A lot of fury, a lot of attention

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 12.28.03

International release, Tel-Aviv, 27 December 2003 -- We just come back from a fiery demonstration -- in protest at yesterday's shooting at peace activists. Especially, the story of the seriously-wounded Gil Na'amati continues to make headlines. The 22-year-old kibbutznik had to be raced to hospital after he lost consciousness because of his heavy bleeding.

[Continue Reading]


Israeli Protester's Wounding by Soldiers Prompts a Debate

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 12.28.03

http://www.nytimes.com/

By GREG MYRE
Published: December 28, 2003

JERUSALEM, Dec. 28 — At first glance, the confrontation on Friday along Israel's separation barrier seemed unremarkable.

About 20 protesters shook the chain-link fence, and some then took out pliers to cut it. After calling out warnings and firing shots into the air, Israeli troops shot at the legs of the protesters with live ammunition, the military admits. One man was hit in both legs and seriously wounded.

The surprise was that the man, Gil Naamati, is a 22-year-old Israeli who had just completed three years of military service as a combat soldier.

The soldiers apparently did not realize that Israelis were among the demonstrators. In a statement, the military said soldiers shot at the man "who led the rioters." A woman was also lightly wounded, a 26-year-old American, Anne Farina.

[Continue Reading]


Klein: It's greed, not ideology, that rules the White House

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 12.23.03

Why the US wants Iraq's debts cancelled - and Argentina's paid in full

Naomi Klein
Tuesday December 23, 2003
The Guardian

Contrary to predictions, the doors of Old Europe weren't slammed in James Baker's face as he asked forgiveness for Iraq's foreign debt last week. Germany and France appear to have signed on, and Russia is softening.
In the days leading up to Baker's drop-the-debt tour, there was virtual consensus that the former US secretary of state had been sabotaged by deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz, whose move to shut out "non-coalition" partners from reconstruction contracts in Iraq of $18.6bn seemed designed to make Baker look a hypocrite.

[Continue Reading]


Rick MacArthur: Mammon mania driving down New York

Topic(s): New York
Date Posted: 12.22.03

By John R. MacArthur

NEW YORK

MAYBE IT WAS the marvelously smart, politically raucous and smoke-filled dinner party I attended in Paris this fall; maybe the announcement that a Home Depot would open next summer in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's new smokeless corporate headquarters, on Third Avenue.

But something has finally jarred me into a sad realization: that New York's 70-year reign as the international capital of cosmopolitan life -- as the city set apart from all other great cities in its stunning audacity and sophistication -- may have come to an end. How do I arrive at this seemingly arbitrary conclusion, with its seemingly arbitrary dates? In part my criteria are symbolic, in part factual.

[Continue Reading]


Ali on Babylon

Topic(s): Interviews
Date Posted: 12.21.03

Interview with exiled Pakistani historian Tariq Ali


For four decades, the extraordinarily eloquent exiled Pakistani historian Tariq Ali has written nonfiction, novels, plays, and even an opera challenging injustices of Islamic and Western cultures alike. His latest book is Bush in Babylon: The Recolonization of Iraq (Verso, $20.00). Last week, I interviewed him, via phone and e-mail, at his home in London.

[Continue Reading]


Truthout -- Moore -- Letters the Troops Have Sent Me

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 12.21.03

Letters the Troops Have Sent Me
By Michael Moore
MichaelMoore.com

Friday 19 December 2003

Dear Friends,

As we approach the holidays, I've been thinking a lot about our kids who are in the armed forces serving in Iraq. I've received hundreds of letters from our troops in Iraq -- and they are telling me something very different from what we are seeing on the evening news.

What they are saying to me, often eloquently and in heart-wrenching words, is that they were lied to -- and this war has nothing to do with the security of the United States of America.

I've written back and spoken on the phone to many of them and I've asked a few of them if it would be OK if I posted their letters on my website and they've said yes. They do so at great personal risk (as they may face disciplinary measures for exercising their right to free speech). I thank them for their bravery.

[Continue Reading]


Rene -- Plunder goes on across Afghanistan as looters grow ever bolder

Topic(s): Afghanistan
Date Posted: 12.19.03

Plunder goes on across Afghanistan as looters grow ever bolder

Trade in antiquities worth up to #18bn as thieves excavate sites

James Astill in Bazy-Kheil
Saturday December 13, 2003
The Guardian

It was meant to be a rare success story. According to the Afghan
minister of culture, the small mound of soft yellow earth at
Bazy-Kheil, 20 miles east of Kabul, was one of the country's few
protected archaeological sites. But as Mohammed Zakir, one of
Afghanistan's five archaeologists, puffed to the top, he saw something
was badly wrong.

A fresh rectangular pit had been cut into the side of the
seventh-century Buddhist stupa. "That's nothing... it's a hunter's
hiding hole," one of the soldiers in attendance insisted. "He's
lying," Mr Zakir groaned.

Looters discovered Bazy-Kheil two years ago as the global trade in
Afghan antiquities gathered pace. A local warlord promptly banned
government officials from visiting the site, as his troops plundered
its treasures. Then he relented, handing in 13 seventh-century buddhas
and promising to plunder no more.

But, to Mr Zakir, the evidence of that freshly dug pit was damning.

"Even these soldiers are thieves," he said bitterly. "They pretend to
be guarding this site, but when we leave they can take up their
shovels."

[Continue Reading]


Rene -- A funny sort of democracy

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 12.18.03

A funny sort of democracy
By Neil Clark

New Statesman
11/17/2003

It is well documented that a cabal of Likud-supporting American
neoconservatives played an important role in bringing about this
year's illegal war against Iraq. What is less well known is the link
the group has with the billionaire oligarchs in Russia and how they
are trying to use the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky to harden US
policy towards Moscow. Richard Perle's gang of regime-changers and
advocates of total war are taking advantage of their disproportionate
influence in the western media to portray the arrest of the billionaire
businessman as a major international scandal and evidence that
Vladimir Putin, a man whose elevation to power they largely welcomed
three years ago, is now the new Stalin. Perle's interest in Russia
goes back a long way. As for most Likudniks of his generation, the
Soviet Union was the "evil empire" - not so much for its clampdowns
on western-style freedoms, but for the support it gave to secular Arab
regimes and its sponsorship of Palestinian liberation movements. Perle
helped draft the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment which, to the chagrin
of supporters of d?tente, made US-Soviet trade deals dependent on
the Soviets facilitating Jewish emigration. In the 20 years that
followed, more than a million Russian Jews left for Israel, boosting
the electoral prospects of Likud and the far right. This also produced
new settlements in the occupied territories, which did much to provoke
today's troubles.

[Continue Reading]


Rene -- Swiss "Officially" Recognize Armenian genocide

Topic(s): Armenian Genocide
Date Posted: 12.17.03

3 Articles on the Subject:

a.
Turkey fumes at Swiss recognition of "so-called" Armenian genocide

Agence France Presse
December 16, 2003 Tuesday 1:46 PM Eastern Time

ANKARA, Dec 16 -- Turkey on Tuesday condemned the Swiss parliament for
recognizing as genocide the killings of Armenians under the Ottoman
Empire during World War I and warned that the move would lead to
consequences.

"We strongly condemn and reject the decision adopted by the lower
house of the Swiss parliament on the so-called Armenian genocide,"
the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

It added without elaborating that Switzerland would "bear
responsibility for the negative consequences" triggered by the
decision which the statement said was taken without consideration
for bilateral ties.

[Continue Reading]


Garrett -- Hussein's Capture Is Yesterday's News

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 12.17.03

Christopher Scheer is a staff writer for AlterNet and co-author of "The Five
Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq."

Hussein's Capture Is Yesterday's News

Christopher Scheer, AlterNet
December 14, 2003

It is terrific news that Saddam Hussein, that human monster, is now under
arrest and will be brought before a court. There seems little doubt that he
meets the criteria for an international war criminal, and while I'd think it
much wiser to send him to The Hague, it's difficult to argue that he
deserves more than whatever made-to-order court the U.S. decides is
appropriate for its old super-creepy ally.

As President Bush said in his brief speech Sunday, "For the vast majority of
Iraqi citizens who wish to live as free men and women, this event brings
further assurance that the torture chambers and the secret police are gone
forever." I heartily hope this is true.

That said, it's time to return to Earth and reality. The TV talking heads
tell us that the 2004 elections and the future of Iraq were decided this
morning when Hussein was found in a hole. In my humble opinion, that's
perhaps the stupidest comment since Paris Hilton speculated that
Wal-Mart is a store that sells walls. Catching Saddam was a mop-up
operation, rather like the slaying of his sons a few months back. The guy
was already done-for; once a dictator falls from his perch, the wolves --
his own or others -- ensure that he will never again be alpha male in that
pack. All the issues surrounding the occupation of Iraq will be with us
tomorrow morning, and the day after that, and the day after that.

As far as I can tell, catching Saddam is not going to fix Iraq's economy,
build a functioning democracy, prevent a Sunni-Shiite civil war, or bring
back the Americans and Iraqis who have died and will continue to die at the
checkpoints, home invasions and while driving their Humvees down the
nation's roads. Humiliating Hussein with public dental examinations will
hopefully reassure some Iraqis that peace is on the way, but while it would
be nice if his old cronies who may be involved in the insurgency would lay
down their arms, I wouldn't hold my breath.

[Continue Reading]


Rene -- The Hidden Holocaust

Topic(s): Armenian Genocide
Date Posted: 12.16.03

San Francisco Chronicle, CA
Dec 15 2003

The hidden holocaust

Ruth Rosen

IMAGINE IF a producer from National Public Radio invited a scholar to
speak about his new book on the Jewish Holocaust and then, to provide
"balance," included another guest known for denying that the Nazis
murdered 6 million Jews.

Inconceivable, right?

Yet this is analogous to what happened to Peter Balakian, a professor
of American Studies at Colgate University and author of "The Burning
Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response" (HarperCollins,
2003) -- a gripping and evocative account of the 1915 genocide of
more than a million Armenian people at the hands of the Ottoman
Turks.

As soon as his book appeared on the New York Times bestseller list,
Balakian received a flood of invitations to speak about what some
have called "the hidden holocaust."

One NPR producer, however, insisted on inviting another guest to
present the Turkish "perspective" that no genocide ever occurred.
Balakian declined the invitation.

Unfortunately,much of the American media still thinks that the
Armenian genocide is subject to debate. Until recently, many American
newspapers wrote about the "alleged" Armenian genocide or felt
obliged to give equal weight to Turkey's denial of this grotesque
crime.

[Continue Reading]


Rene -- Tariq Ali -- The same old racket in Iraq

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 12.16.03

The same old racket in Iraq

To the victors, the spoils: Bush's colonialism will only deepen resistance

Tariq Ali
Saturday December 13, 2003
The Guardian

Iraq remains a country of unbearable suffering, the sort that only
soldiers and administrators acting on behalf of states and governments
are capable of inflicting on their fellow humans. It is the first
country where we can begin to study the impact of a 21st-century
colonisation. This takes place in an international context of
globalisation and neo-liberal hegemony. If the economy at home is
determined by the primacy of consumption, speculation as the main hub
of economic activity and no inviolate domains of public provision,
only a crazed utopian could imagine that a colonised Iraq would be any
different.

The state facilities that were so carefully targeted with bombs and
shells have now to be reconstructed, but this time under the aegis of
private firms, preferably American, though Blair and Berlusconi, and
perhaps plucky Poland too, will not be forgotten at handouts
time. Meanwhile, Dick Cheney's old firm, Halliburton, awarded a
contract (without any competition) to rebuild Iraq's oil industry, is
happily boosting profits by charging the US government $2.64 a gallon
for the fuel it trucks into Iraq from Kuwait. The normal price per
gallon in the region is 71 cents, but since the US taxpayer is footing
the bill, nobody cares.

[Continue Reading]


Debate: Tariq Ali vs. Christopher Hitchens

Topic(s): 
Date Posted: 12.16.03

It has been 8 months since the U.S. began its invasion of Iraq. In this time, U.S. forces have failed to produce any weapons of mass destruction in the country˜the stated reason for going to war against Baghdad.

According to the Pentagon's own figures, some 440 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. Thousands have been wounded. There are no solid estimates of the number of Iraqis who have been killed since the start of the invasion. November was the bloodiest month for U.S. forces in Iraq 79 soldiers died, 39 of them were killed in the downing of 4 military helicopters. Saddam Hussein remains at-large and the occupation forces face regular attacks throughout the country.

Today, we take a look at the U.S. occupation of Iraq with two renowned authors: Tariq Ali, author of Bush in Babylon: The Recolonization of Iraq and Christopher Hitchens, jounalist and author of A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq.

[Continue Reading]


Occupied Territory

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 12.15.03

From Mother Jones

http://www.motherjones.com/news/dailymojo/2003/12/12_510.html

Occupied Territory
The U.S. is looking to Israel for clues to running its occupation. Bad idea.

November/December 2003 Issue

By all accounts the American liberation of Iraq is not going well. Attacks on U.S. troops have spread beyond the Sunni Triangle and have become increasingly sophisticated. Pressure is growing from all sides for a change in tack.

As Seymour Hersh points out in the New Yorker, the one thing that most observers and participants agree upon is the need for a new approach in Iraq. One former Pentagon official told Hirsch that the world's most sophisticated army is getting whipped in Iraq because American forces lack reliable military intelligence.

[Continue Reading]


SEYMOUR HERSH: MOVING TARGETS

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 12.15.03

http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?031215fa_fact

by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
Will the counter-insurgency plan in Iraq repeat the mistakes of Vietnam?
Issue of 2003-12-15


The Bush Administration has authorized a major escalation of the Special Forces covert war in Iraq. In interviews over the past month, American officials and former officials said that the main target was a hard-core group of Baathists who are believed to be behind much of the underground insurgency against the soldiers of the United States and its allies. A new Special Forces group, designated Task Force 121, has been assembled from Army Delta Force members, Navy seals, and C.I.A. paramilitary operatives, with many additional personnel ordered to report by January. Its highest priority is the neutralization of the Baathist insurgents, by capture or assassination.

[Continue Reading]


Michael Moore: We Finally Got Our Frankenstein... and He Was In a Spider Hole!

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 12.15.03

by Michael Moore

December 14, 2003


Thank God Saddam is finally back in American hands! He must have really missed us. Man, he sure looked bad! But, at least he got a free dental exam today. That's something most Americans can't get.

America used to like Saddam. We LOVED Saddam. We funded him. We armed him. We helped him gas Iranian troops.

But then he screwed up. He invaded the dictatorship of Kuwait and, in doing so, did the worst thing imaginable -- he threatened an even BETTER friend of ours: the dictatorship of Saudi Arabia, and its vast oil reserves.  The Bushes and the Saudi royal family were and are close business partners, and Saddam, back in 1990, committed a royal blunder by getting a little too close to their wealthy holdings. Things went downhill for Saddam from there.

[Continue Reading]


Rene -- Zizek -- Bring me my Philips Mental Jacket

Topic(s): 
Date Posted: 12.13.03

Bring me my Philips Mental Jacket
Slavoj Zizek welcomes the prospect of biogenetic intervention

Do we today have an available bioethics? Yes, we do, a bad one: what the Germans call Bindestrich-Ethik, or 'hyphen-ethics', where what gets lost in the hyphenation is ethics as such. The problem is not that a universal ethics is being dissolved into a multitude of specialised ones (bioethics, business ethics, medical ethics and so on) but that particular scientific breakthroughs are immediately set against humanist 'values', leading to complaints that biogenetics, for example, threatens our sense of dignity and autonomy.

The main consequence of the current breakthroughs in biogenetics is that natural organisms have become objects open to manipulation. Nature, human and inhuman, is 'desubstantialised', deprived of its impenetrable density, of what Heidegger called 'earth'. If biogenetics is able to reduce the human psyche to an object of manipulation, it is evidence of what Heidegger perceived as the 'danger' inherent in modern technology. By reducing a human being to a natural object whose properties can be altered, what we lose is not (only) humanity but nature itself. In this sense, Francis Fukuyama is right in Our Posthuman Future: the notion of humanity relies on the belief that we possess an inherited 'human nature', that we are born with an unfathomable dimension of ourselves.*

[Continue Reading]


Ay -- Stunt fools hypermarket shoppers

Topic(s): Art World Stuff
Date Posted: 12.13.03

Stunt fools hypermarket shoppers

Phony ad campaign for grand opening a film student project

Film students Filip Remunda, left, and Vit Klusak fooled 1,000 people into coming to a nonexistent mall.
By Petra Pasternak
Staff Writer, The Prague Post
(June 19, 2003)


A TV for 500 Kc ($19). Mineral water for 2.60 Kc. Sounds too good to be true? More than 1,000 people didn't think so. Lured by a massive ad campaign promising a surprise for everyone, they showed up with shopping bags at the grand opening of a new hypermarket, Cesky Sen ("Czech Dream").

It was a sunny Saturday, and the eager shoppers flooded the grassy plain in Letnany, making their way at a gallop toward the store. Except that there was no store. Instead, the shoppers came upon an 8-meter-high (26-foot) by 80-meter-wide scaffolding covered by a banner bearing the logo of the nonexistent hypermarket. The fabric billowed slightly in the wind.

When informed that there was no real hypermarket as promised in the ads, some people laughed; others shook their fists.

And that was the point: How would people react in the moment that their expectations, built up by advertising, collided with reality?

[Continue Reading]


Rene -- Fighting The Power: Paul Devlin's Electrifying Doc "Power Trip"

Topic(s): Georgia
Date Posted: 12.13.03

Fighting The Power: Paul Devlin's Electrifying Doc "Power Trip"

indieWIRE.com
12/11/2003

By Adam Hart

It's a little unbelievable that one of the most entertaining, bracing
documentaries of 2003 -- Paul Devlin's "Power Trip" is about
electricity. In Tblisi, one of the larger cities in the former Soviet
Republic of Georgia, the struggle to get electricity to the people has
taken on absurd, bizarre dimensions. The population, still accustomed to
Communist-era public works systems, obstinately refuses to start paying
for something they've always gotten for free (and one only needs to take
a look at, say, Seattle's recent overwhelming rejection of a ten-cent
Espresso tax to realize that this is hardly a localized tendency), but
the American-based multinational AES has been making its best efforts to
rebuild one of the city's most important infrastructures. The Georgian
people's slow adjustment, and their justifiable anger and impatience
directed towards the company holding their electricity in its hands is
both comical (in the absurdly brilliant maneuvers around the system to
continue getting free power) and harrowing (near riots have broken out
during blackouts).

[Continue Reading]


Rene -- 'Made in Israel' Crackdowns in Iraq Won't Work by Helena Cobban

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 12.13.03

'Made in Israel' Crackdowns in Iraq Won't Work by Helena Cobban

Thursday, December 11, 2003
Christian Science Monitor


In recent weeks, many US military units in Iraq have turned from
trying to win Iraqi "hearts and minds" to a "get tough" policy that
explicitly copies many moves from the playbook used by the Israel
Defense Forces (IDF) in the West Bank and Gaza. These moves include
demolition of homes of suspects, imposition of stifling movement
controls and other collective punishments on civilians, and the
frequent use of excessive force. Tactics like these are unethical
under any moral code, and illegal under the Fourth Geneva
Convention. In addition, their adoption is shortsighted. In Israel
itself, many leading strategic thinkers now openly admit that the
IDF's three-year-long pursuit of these tactics has still not
"convinced" the Palestinians to end their defiance of Israel's
will. (It is also tragic that US commanders moved to these
antihumanitarian and antidemocratic measures at the same time
President Bush issued his call for the spread of democracy throughout
the Arab world.) In Israel, criticism of the country's get-tough
policies toward Palestinians has been voiced by four former heads of
the country's Shin Bet security agency - and also by Gen. Moshe Yaalon
who, as sitting IDF chief of staff, is the man in charge of
implementing all the IDF's policies. In late October, Mr. Yaalon
voiced a rare public criticism of the civilian leaders whose mandate
he is sworn to follow. He told reporters that the IDF's unrelenting
use of tough tactics in the occupied territories, "increases hatred
for Israel and strengthens the terror organizations." He added, "In
our tactical decisions, we are operating contrary to our strategic
interest." In the US military, several planners and commanders have
been taking lessons in tactics from the IDF. In July, for example,
Brig. Gen. Michael Vane, a deputy chief of staff at the US Army
Training and Doctrine Command, wrote in a letter to Army Magazine that
he had recently traveled to Israel "to glean lessons learned from
their counterterrorist operations in urban areas."

[Continue Reading]


Rene -- Eco -- Fourteen ways of looking at a blackshirt

Topic(s): Fascism
Date Posted: 12.12.03

Fourteen ways of looking at a blackshirt
Umberto Eco, New York Review of Books, excerpted with permission in the
Utne Reader, Nov./Dec. 1995, no. 72, pps. 57-59

In spite of some fuzziness regarding the difference between various
historical forms of fascism, I t hink it is possible to outline a list of
features that are typical of what I wold like to call Ur-Fascism, or
eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many
of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of
despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to
allow fascism to coagulate around it.

1.

The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the *cult of tradition*.
Traditionalism is of course much older than fascism. Not only was it
typical of counterrevolutionary Catholic thought after the French
revolution, but it was born in the late Hellenistic era, as a reaction to
classical Greek rationalism. In the Mediterranean basin, people of
different religions (most of the faiths indulgently accepted by the
Roman pantheon) started dreaming of a reelation received at the dawn of
human history. This reelation, according to the traditionalist mystique,
had remained for a long time concealed under the veil of forgotten
languages -- in Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the Celtic runes, in the scrolls
of the little-known religions of Asia.

[Continue Reading]


Salwa -- Origins of the Middle East crisis: Who caused the Palestinian Diaspora?

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 12.10.03

George Bisharat is a law professor at the University
of California's Hastings College of Law in San
Francisco. This article first appeared in The
Sacromento Bee on 30 November 2003. Reprinted with
permission.


Origins of the Middle East crisis: Who caused the
Palestinian Diaspora?
George Bisharat, The Electronic Intifada, 3 December
2003

In early October, I meandered the shores of Lake
Geneva, Switzerland with easy-laughing Mahmoud. We
were bleary-eyed from international travel, and from
many hours of animated discussions at our conference.

Scholars, lawyers and activists had converged to
explore ways to implement the rights of Palestinians
to return to and regain their homes, seized by Israel
in 1948. This fate had befallen Villa Harun ar-Rashid,
the Jerusalem home of my late grandfather, Hanna
Ibrahim Bisharat. We had been inspired by accounts of
successful campaigns for housing restitution for
refugees and other dispossessed peoples in Bosnia,
South Africa and Rwanda.

The sky was leaden, the wind off the slate lake
bracing. But the fountain at the end of the lake
lofted exuberant white plumes of water toward the
heavens, and seemed to elevate with them our hopes and
dreams for a more just and peaceful future.

[Continue Reading]


U.S. Bars Iraq Contracts for Nations That Opposed War

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 12.09.03

By DOUGLAS JEHL

Published: December 9, 2003

ASHINGTON, Dec. 9 — The Pentagon has barred French, German and Russian companies from competing for $18.6 billion in contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq, saying the step "is necessary for the protection of the essential security interests of the United States."

[Continue Reading]


Avi -- Levy -- Trying to hide the dark backyard

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 12.08.03

Trying to hide the dark backyard

By Gideon Levy

How many Israelis have actually seen the separation fence? How many have given any thought to its significance? Every foreign visitor interested in what is happening in the region makes visiting the fence a priority and world media constantly point their cameras at it - half a dozen foreign documentaries have already been shot along it. But most Israelis have never seen it.

This ambitious strategic project that is going to make fundamental changes to the land, the landscape and relations between the peoples, is passing through us with an amazing combination of utter indifference and astonishing ignorance. Since the start of the settlement enterprise, which also took place with eyes deliberately closed in national blindness, there has not been a venture that with such speed created a new reality without any real discussion of its significance. Even environmental activists haven't piped up about how it is ripping up the landscape.

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Rene -- The False Hope of the Geneva Accord

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 12.08.03

The False Hope of the Geneva Accord
Ali Abunimah, The Chicago Tribune, 3 December 2003

Al-Khader, 19 November 2003. Israeli soldiers arrest a boy from Al-Khader village after the Israeli army imposed the curfew on the village after two soldiers were killed at the tunnel road checkpoint by an armed Palestinian. (Musa Al-Shaer)


The medium-term future for Israelis and Palestinians remains bleak, but in the long run peace will be created.

It has been almost two months since the last deadly attack on Israeli civilians by a Palestinian suicide bomber and there are currently intense diplomatic efforts, principally by Egypt, to turn this hiatus into a new global cease-fire by Palestinian factions.

Such efforts are in jeopardy, however, because while Israelis have seen a dramatic drop in attacks, Palestinians continue to suffer daily.

Since the last suicide attack, the Israeli army has killed more than 70 Palestinians, the vast majority civilians, among them 17 children.

This carnage prompted Israeli journalist Gideon Levy to observe in a Nov. 30 column in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz that, "Quietly, far from the public eye, Israeli soldiers continue killing Palestinians. Hardly a day goes by without casualties, some innocent civilians, and the stories of their violent deaths never reach the Israeli consciousness or awareness."

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Rene -- A very Georgian coup

Topic(s): Georgia
Date Posted: 12.08.03

A very Georgian coup

The people are the biggest losers in the 'democratic revolution'

Charlotte Keatley
Saturday December 6, 2003
The Guardian

Since the non-violent revolution in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, two
weeks ago, hand grenades have been detonated outside opposition party
offices; a bomb blew in the windows of state TV while the Russian
ambassador was on air; the United Georgian bank was robbed and a
kidnap attempt made on the chairman; a former National Democratic
party leader received a volley of bullets through her window; and a
Russian embassy official was attacked in his home. Having ignored
Georgia during its 12-year struggle to create democracy, much of the
media gave the ousting of president Eduard Shevardnadze by the young
hero Mikhail Saakashvili the fairytale treatment, then dropped it from
the news. The demonstrations in Tbilisi built up over three
weeks. People gathered in protest against the rigged
elections. Saakashvili urged crowds on to the streets each
night. Friends told me they were alarmed at his rhetoric, too redolent
of Zviad Gamsakhurdia - the first president, elected in 1991 - whose
term ended in 1992 when he was ousted in a civil war. Yet even my most
rational friends had become implicit supporters of Saakashvili by the
final weekend of Shevardnadze's rule.

It was the country's St George's day when Saakashvili splintered open
the doors of parliament and yelled at the old dragon,
Shevardnadze. This was a brilliant piece of timing. Using the
Georgians' love of their mythic culture, Saakashvili became a hero,
seducing not only the people but the international community into
believing that this was a people's uprising. My friends were
euphoric. Even now, they seem to have accepted a one-party state as
the best outcome.

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Kissinger approved Argentinian 'dirty war'

Topic(s): US Analysis
Date Posted: 12.07.03

Kissinger approved Argentinian 'dirty war'

Declassified US files expose 1970s backing for junta

Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles
Saturday December 6, 2003
The Guardian

Henry Kissinger gave his approval to the "dirty war" in Argentina in
the 1970s in which up to 30,000 people were killed, according to newly
declassified US state department documents. Mr Kissinger, who was
America's secretary of state, is shown to have urged the Argentinian
military regime to act before the US Congress resumed session, and
told it that Washington would not cause it "unnecessary difficulties".

The revelations are likely to further damage Mr Kissinger's
reputation. He has already been implicated in war crimes committed
during his term in office, notably in connection with the 1973 Chilean
coup.

The material, obtained by the Washington-based National Security
Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, consists of two
memorandums of conversations that took place in October 1976 with the
visiting Argentinian foreign minister, Admiral César Augusto
Guzzetti. At the time the US Congress, concerned about allegations of
widespread human rights abuses, was poised to approve sanctions
against the military regime.

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Rene -- Badiou -- Highly Speculative Reasoning on the Concept of Democracy*

Topic(s): Democracy
Date Posted: 12.07.03

Highly Speculative Reasoning on the Concept of Democracy*

Alain Badiou

translated by Jorge Jauregui


The word "democracy" is today the main organizer of consensus. What the word is assumed to embrace is the downfall of Eastern Socialists States, the supposed well being of our countries as well as Western humanitarian crusades.

Actually the word "democracy" is inferred from what I term "authoritarian opinion." It is somehow prohibited not to be a democrat. Accordingly, it furthers that the human kind longs for democracy, and all subjectivity suspected of not being democratic is deemed pathological. At its best it infers a forbearing reeducation, at its worst the right of meddling democratic marines and paratroopers.

Democracy thus inscribing itself in polls and consensus necessarily arouses the philosopher’s critical suspicions. For philosophy, since Plato, means breaking with opinion polls. Philosophy is supposed to scrutinize everything that is spontaneously considered as "normal." If democracy designates a normal state of collective organization, or political will, then the philosopher will ask for the norm of this normality to be examined. He will not allow for the word to function within the frame of an authoritarian opinion. For the philosopher everything consensual becomes suspicious.

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Rene -- Obituary: Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali Hardline cleric known as the `hanging judge' of Iran

Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 12.04.03

Obituary: Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali Hardline cleric known as the `hanging
judge' of Iran

The Independent - United Kingdom
Nov 29, 2003

BY ADEL DARWISH


AFTER THE establishment in 1979 of a fundamentalist Islamic republic
in Iran under the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Iranian army
occupied three Kurdish-Iranian towns for supporting the Democratic
Party of Iranian Kurdistan, condemned by Khomeini as "un-
Islamic". The hardline cleric Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali set up his
Islamic revolutionary court to weed out "counter-revolutionaries" in
the town of Saghez.

Learning that a Kurdish defendant who was born in Orumiyeh had lost a
hand to a grenade explosion during the Tehran uprising, Khalkhali
asked what he was doing in Saghez.

"I am a guest at a social get- together, your honour," replied the
defendant.

"That fits together very well," Khalkhali said candidly, "Born in
Orumiyeh, participated in the Tehran uprising, executed in
Saghez. Kill him! Next!"

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Daniel -- Bottom of the barrel

Topic(s): Oil
Date Posted: 12.04.03

Bottom of the barrel

The world is running out of oil - so why do politicians refuse to talk about it?

George Monbiot
Tuesday December 2, 2003
The Guardian

The oil industry is buzzing. On Thursday, the government approved the development of the biggest deposit discovered in British territory for at least 10 years. Everywhere we are told that this is a "huge" find, which dispels the idea that North Sea oil is in terminal decline. You begin to recognise how serious the human predicament has become when you discover that this "huge" new field will supply the world with oil for five and a quarter days.
Every generation has its taboo, and ours is this: that the resource upon which our lives have been built is running out. We don't talk about it because we cannot imagine it. This is a civilisation in denial.

Oil itself won't disappear, but extracting what remains is becoming ever more difficult and expensive. The discovery of new reserves peaked in the 1960s. Every year we use four times as much oil as we find. All the big strikes appear to have been made long ago: the 400m barrels in the new North Sea field would have been considered piffling in the 1970s. Our future supplies depend on the discovery of small new deposits and the better exploitation of big old ones. No one with expertise in the field is in any doubt that the global production of oil will peak before long.

The only question is how long. The most optimistic projections are the ones produced by the US department of energy, which claims that this will not take place until 2037. But the US energy information agency has admitted that the government's figures have been fudged: it has based its projections for oil supply on the projections for oil demand, perhaps in order not to sow panic in the financial markets.

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Group Launches Registry of AIDS Artists

Topic(s): AIDS
Date Posted: 12.01.03

By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK - A New York arts group has unveiled an Internet list of hundreds of writers, actors, designers and others to help memorialize the lives and catalog the works of artists felled by AIDS (news - web sites).

The Alliance for the Arts' Estate Project for Artists with AIDS combed through academic research, magazine articles and obituaries to compile the national registry, which includes such famous names as movie star Rock Hudson (news) and choreographer Alvin Ailey as well as hundreds of virtually unknown artists who died of the disease.

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