Rene -- Afghanistan, the war the world forgot

Topic(s): Afghanistan
Date Posted: 05.29.04

Afghanistan, the war the world forgot
By Colin Brown and Kim Sengupta

The Independent/UK
25 May 2004

'We've got to make sure this time that we do it properly'
Tony Blair, 5 April, 2002

'It's a basket case. It's a forgotten country'
Eric Illsley, Labour member of Foreign Affairs Select Committee, yesterday

Three years after the overthrow of the Taliban and George Bush's declaration
of victory in the first conflict in the war on terror, Afghanistan is a nation
on the edge of anarchy.

A devastating indictment of the Allies' failure to help reconstruct the
country in the wake of the 2001 conflict is to be delivered in a parliamentary

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Rene -- Fisk -- Follow Torture Trail at Abu Ghraib

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.28.04

Follow Torture Trail at Abu Ghraib
by Robert Fisk

Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
I can't wait to see Abu Ghraib prison reduced to rubble by the
Americans -- at the request of the new Iraqi government, of course. It
will be turned to dust in order to destroy a symbol of Saddam Hussein's
brutality. That's what President Bush tells us. So the rewriting of
history still goes on.

Last August, I was invited to Abu Ghraib -- by my favorite
U.S. Gen. Janis Karpinski, no less -- to see the million-dollar
U.S. refurbishment of this vile place. Squeaky clean cells and
toothpaste tubes and fresh pairs of pants for the "terrorist"
inmates. But now, suddenly, the whole kit and caboodle is no longer
an American torture center. It's still an Iraqi torture center and
thus worthy of demolition.

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Vivek -- NYT admits bad journalism

Topic(s): Internal Affairs
Date Posted: 05.26.04

May 26, 2004

The Times and Iraq

Over the last year this newspaper has shone the bright light of
hindsight on decisions that led the United States into Iraq. We have
examined the failings of American and allied intelligence, especially on
the issue of Iraq's weapons and possible Iraqi connections to
international terrorists. We have studied the allegations of official
gullibility and hype. It is past time we turned the same light on ourselves.

In doing so -- reviewing hundreds of articles written during the prelude
to war and into the early stages of the occupation -- we found an
enormous amount of journalism that we are proud of. In most cases, what
we reported was an accurate reflection of the state of our knowledge at
the time, much of it painstakingly extracted from intelligence agencies
that were themselves dependent on sketchy information. And where those
articles included incomplete information or pointed in a wrong
direction, they were later overtaken by more and stronger information.
That is how news coverage normally unfolds.

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Topic(s): Civil Liberties
Date Posted: 05.26.04

Feds Unable to Distinguish Art from Bioterrorism
Grieving Artist Denied Access to Deceased Wife's Body


Steve Kurtz was already suffering from one tragedy when he called 911
early in the morning to tell them his wife had suffered a cardiac arrest
and died in her sleep. The police arrived and, cranked up on the rhetoric
of the "War on Terror," decided Kurtz's art supplies were actually
bioterrorism weapons.

Thus began an Orwellian stream of events in which FBI agents abducted
Kurtz without charges, sealed off his entire block, and confiscated his
computers, manuscripts, art supplies... and even his wife's body.

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Naeem -- 'Fahrenheit 9/11' Wins Top Prize at Cannes

Topic(s): Art/Politics
Date Posted: 05.23.04

'Fahrenheit 9/11' Wins Top Prize at Cannes

ANNES, France, May 22 - At the awards ceremony that wrapped up the 57th Cannes Film Festival on Saturday night, the jury gave "Fahrenheit 9/11," Michael
Moore's stinging critique of the Bush administration's foreign policies, the Palme d'Or, the festival's top prize and one of the most coveted honors in
international cinema.

The announcement, made by jury president Quentin Tarantino, met with enthusiastic cheers from the audience in the Grand Théâtre Lumière, where Mr.
Moore's film had received what many thought was the longest standing ovation ever at Cannes when it was screened here last Monday. "What have you done?" Mr. Moore asked Mr. Tarantino as he accepted the prize, looking both overwhelmed and amused. "You just did this to mess with me, didn't you?"

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Rene -- 'US soldiers started to shoot us, one by one'

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.21.04

'US soldiers started to shoot us, one by one'

Survivors describe wedding massacre as generals refuse to apologise

Rory McCarthy in Ramadi
Friday May 21, 2004
The Guardian

The wedding feast was finished and the women had just led the young
bride and groom away to their marriage tent for the night when Haleema
Shihab heard the first sounds of the fighter jets screeching through
the sky above. It was 10.30pm in the remote village of Mukaradeeb
by the Syrian border and the guests hurried back to their homes as
the party ended. As sister-in-law of the groom, Mrs Shihab, 30, was
to sleep with her husband and children in the house of the wedding
party, the Rakat family villa. She was one of the few in the house
who survived the night.

"The bombing started at 3am," she said yesterday from her bed in
the emergency ward at Ramadi general hospital, 60 miles west of
Baghdad. "We went out of the house and the American soldiers started
to shoot us. They were shooting low on the ground and targeting us
one by one," she said. She ran with her youngest child in her arms
and her two young boys, Ali and Hamza, close behind. As she crossed
the fields a shell exploded close to her, fracturing her legs and
knocking her to the ground.

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Rene -- Cold War guards return to haunt Berlin landmark

Topic(s): Berlin
Date Posted: 05.21.04

Cold War guards return to haunt Berlin landmark
By David Crossland

05/18/04 21:04 ET

BERLIN, May 19 (Reuters) - Visitors to Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin's Cold War
border crossing, have been startled to find it manned by menacing East
German border guards bellowing orders through loudspeakers and offering to search cars.

Strutting up and down the street with visa stamps at the ready, they could
be mistaken for unemployed Communist coppers pining for the Berlin Wall and
determined to relive the past.

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Avi -- 'Help us free our boys'

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 05.21.04

'Help us free our boys'

By Lily Galili

Two weeks ago, the refusenik movement in Israel received an unexpected expression of support from Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, who openly spoke of his understanding and sympathy for conscientious objectors of all sorts. It provided an ideological shot of encouragement to refuseniks and their supporters. The parents of the five refuseniks now serving jail terms in civilian prisons for their refusal to serve in the Israel Defense Forces will use Mazuz's statement in an upcoming publicity campaign prior to a June 15 hearing to discuss lightening the prison sentence. The attorney general's statement is quoted in a flyer appearing under the headline "Free the boys."

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Avi --An old refrain that stabs at the heart

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 05.21.04

An old refrain that stabs at the heart

By Meron Benvenisti

The sights of Rafah are too difficult to bear - trails of refugees alongside carts laden with bedding and the meager contents of their homes; children dragging suitcases larger than themselves; women draped in black kneeling in mourning on piles of rubble. And in the memories of some of us, whose number if dwindling, arise similar scenes that have been a part of our lives, as a sort of refrain that stabs at the heart and gnaws at the conscience, time after time, for over half a century - the procession of refugees from Lod to Ramallah in the heat of July 1948; the convoys of banished residents of Yalu and Beit Nuba, Emmaus and Qalqilyah in June 1967; the refugees of Jericho climbing on the ruins of the Allenby Bridge after the Six-Day War.

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Kevin -- The Kings of Pain

Date Posted: 05.18.04

May15, 2004

The Kings of Pain

United Kingdom, United States and Israel


A little publicized piece by Ali Abunimah in Lebanon's Daily Star titled "Israeli
link possible in US torture techniques: In exchange for interrogation training, did
Washington award security contracts?" should be getting a lot more attention. While
it is doubtful that the Pentagon and its defense contractors would need to barter
with Israel to get their interrogation techniques (they've had them for decades),
the Abunimah article provides a gold-mine worth of resources establishing, yet
again, the inseparable and often damaging linkage between US and Israeli interests
in the Middle East and Central Asia. Reading through some of the resource material
cited by Abunimah, it is difficult to figure out where US foreign and defense policy
ends and Israel's begins. But more on that later.

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Rene -- Brian Holmes -- Liar's Poker

Topic(s): Art/Politics
Date Posted: 05.09.04

Liar's Poker

Representation of Politics/Politics of Representation

Brian Holmes

Basically, what I have to say here is simple: when people talk about politics in an artistic frame, they're lying. Indeed, the lies they tell are often painfully obvious, and worse is the moment when you realize that some will go forever unchallenged and take on, not the semblance of truth, but the reliability of convention. In a period like ours when the relationship to politics is one of the legitimating arguments for the very existence of public art, the tissue of lies that surrounds one when entering a museum can become so dense that it's like falling into an ancient cellar full of spider webs, and choking on them as you struggle to breathe. Now, the mere mention of this reality will make even my friends and allies in the artistic establishment rather nervous; but it is a reality nonetheless. And like most of the political realities in our democratic age, it has directly to do with the question of representation.

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Rene -- Think Again: Al Qaeda

Topic(s): Global Polities
Date Posted: 05.09.04

"Capturing or Killing Bin Laden Will Deal a Severe Blow to Al Qaeda"

Wrong. Even for militants with identifiable ties to bin Laden, the
death of the "sheik" will make little difference in their ability to
recruit people. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently
acknowledged as much when he questioned in an internal Pentagon memo
whether it was possible to kill militants faster than radical clerics
and religious schools could create them. In practical terms, bin Laden
now has only a very limited ability to commission acts of terror, and
his involvement is restricted to the broad strategic direction of
largely autonomous cells and groups. Most intelligence analysts now
consider him largely peripheral.

This turn of events should surprise no one. Islamic militancy predates
bin Laden's activities. He was barely involved in the Islamic violence
of the early 1990s in Algeria, Egypt, Bosnia, and Kashmir. His links
to the 1993 World Trade Center attack were tangential. There were no
al Qaeda training camps during the early 1990s, although camps run by
other groups churned out thousands of highly trained fanatics. Even
when bin Laden was based in Afghanistan in the late 1990s, it was
often Islamic groups and individuals who sought him out for help in
finding resources for preconceived attacks, not vice versa. These
days, Islamic groups can go to other individuals, such as Jordanian
activist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who set up his al Tauhid group in
competition with bin Laden (rather than, as is frequently claimed, in
alliance with him) to obtain funds, expertise, or other logistical

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Zeeshan -- How to Get Out of Iraq

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.09.04


How to Get Out of Iraq

[from the May 24, 2004 issue]

As the situation in Iraq goes from bad to worse, many
Americans who opposed the war, including Nation
editors and writers, understand that the country must
find a way to extricate itself from the disaster they
predicted. There is, however, no agreement or even
clarity about such an exit strategy. Nor is any
leadership on this crucial issue coming from the Bush
Administration or as yet, alas, from the presumptive
Democratic candidate, Senator John Kerry. With a sense
of obligation and urgency, The Nation, has asked a
range of writers, both regular and new contributors to
the magazine, for their ideas on America's way out of
Iraq. Some responded with short essays, while others
were interviewed by contributing writer Scott Sherman,
who transcribed and edited their remarks. We hope that
what follows is the beginning toward a necessary end.
And we invite readers to respond; we will publish an
exchange in an upcoming issue. --The Editors

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Kevin -- Lying in Wait

Topic(s): Resistance?
Date Posted: 05.06.04

The Nation
April 19, 2004

Lying in Wait
by David Graeber

It is a little-known fact that no one at an anti-globalization
protest in the United States has ever thrown a Molotov cocktail. Nor
is there reason to believe global justice activists have planted
bombs, pelted cops with bags of excrement or ripped up sidewalks to
pummel them with chunks of concrete, thrown acid in policemen's faces
or shot at them with wrist-rockets or water pistols full of urine or
bleach. Certainly, none have ever been arrested for doing so. Yet
somehow, every time there is a major mobilization, police and
government officials begin warning the public that this is exactly
what they should expect. Every one of these claims was broached in
discussions of the protests against the Summit of the Americas in
Miami in November and used to justify extreme police tactics, and we
can expect to be hearing them again in the months before the
Republican convention protests in New York.

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When One Man's Video Art Is Another's Copyright Crime

Topic(s): Intellectual Property
Date Posted: 05.06.04


Published: May 6, 2004

Jon Routson's exhibition of videos at the Team Gallery in Chelsea is a kind of last hurrah, a farewell performance. It is also a small eddy in the increasingly roiled waters where art meets the United States' rapidly expanding copyright laws.

A 34-year-old video artist living in Baltimore, Mr. Routson has a very particular method of art-making, which will soon be illegal in Maryland, as it already is in the District of Columbia and five other states, including New York and California. Like the appropriation artists of the early 1980's, who rephotographed existing photographs as a way of commenting on society, Mr. Routson makes movies of other people's movies.

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Rosalinda -- Washington fields mercenary army in Iraq

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.05.04

World Socialist Web Site

Washington fields mercenary army in Iraq
By Harvey Thompson 5 May 2004

The killing and mutilation of four private security guards in Fallujah, on March 31, not only gave the US military the pretext to conduct the most brutal and sustained assault on Iraqis to date in its year long occupation of their country. It also revealed a large body of mercenaries operating throughout Iraq.

According to recent estimates there are around 15,000 private bodyguards and security personnel operating inside Iraq, of which at least 6,000 are believed to be armed—making them the second biggest military presence after the US Army. The number is set to increase even further—in what is being described as an Iraqi Klondike—after the so-called handover of sovereignty to the Iraqi Governing Council on June 30.

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Topic(s): Resistance?
Date Posted: 05.05.04

May 5, 2004

Speaker applauded for lambasting Bush

At the Heritage Foundation's annual Resource Bank meeting in Chicago last
Friday, protesters masquerading as a right-wing think tank took the stage
and announced that in light of Bush's shortcomings, they were nominating
former Reagan Attorney-General Ed Meese for president.

The audience applauded for nearly ten seconds. Meese, eating at a table
just feet away from the podium where Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men made
the announcement, grimaced and shook his head in surprise.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Moore: Disney blocking film about Bush

Topic(s): Censorship
Date Posted: 05.05.04

Wednesday, May 5th, 2004
Disney Has Blocked the Distribution of My New Film... by Michael Moore


I would have hoped by now that I would be able to put my work out to the public without having to experience the profound censorship obstacles I often seem to encounter.

Yesterday I was told that Disney, the studio that owns Miramax, has officially decided to prohibit our producer, Miramax, from distributing my new film, "Fahrenheit 9/11." The reason? According to today's (May 5) New York Times (ed. note-- articles is posted below), it might "endanger" millions of dollars of tax breaks Disney receives from the state of Florida because the film will "anger" the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush. The story is on page one of the Times and you can read it here (Disney Forbidding Distribution of Film That Criticizes Bush).

[Continue Reading]

Avi -- Hass -- A choice between work or family

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 05.05.04

A choice between work or family

By Amira Hass
Dr. Ibrahim Ashur, a native of Haifa, is an anesthesiologist who works in Be'er Sheva. His wife, a native of Gaza, lives in Gaza with their children. Their request for "family reunification" has yet to receive final approval, even though their children are registered on his Israel identity card. In other words, his wife is not presently entitled to live with him in Be'er Sheva. They can only see each other in Gaza, and therefore, are dependent on Israel's Coordination and Liaison Office (CLO) in the Gaza Strip, which issues, or does not issue, entry permits to Israelis with family in Gaza.
Immediately after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in May 1994, the IDF banned the entry of Israelis into the Gaza Strip. Israeli Arabs, and especially those with relatives there, were permitted to enter the area under restrictive conditions, and every entry required prior coordination. During the intifada the system was disrupted, and Israelis with family in Gaza were often denied entry.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Amnesty urges action in West Sudan

Topic(s): Sudan
Date Posted: 05.05.04

Amnesty urges action in West Sudan

May 01 2004 at 01:30PM

Cairo - Rights group Amnesty International said fighting was persisting in West Sudan despite a ceasefire between the government and rebels, and said time was running out to avert a humanitarian disaster before the rainy season.

The Sudanese government and two main rebel factions in the impoverished Darfur region signed a truce on April 8 to allow urgent aid to reach about one million people affected by the conflict.

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Rene -- Fisk -- The Good Guys Who Can Do No Wrong

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.05.04

The Good Guys Who Can Do No Wrong


Why are we surprised at their racism, their brutality, their sheer callousness towards Arabs? Those American soldiers in Saddam's old prison at Abu Ghraib, those young British squaddies in Basra came -- as soldiers often come -- from towns and cities where race hatred has a home: Tennessee and Lancashire.

How many of "our" lads are ex--jailbirds themselves? How many support the British National Party? Muslims, Arabs, "cloth heads", "rag heads", "terrorists", "evil". You can see how the semantics break down.

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Topic(s): Resistance?
Date Posted: 05.05.04

Speaker applauded for lambasting Bush

At the Heritage Foundation's annual Resource Bank meeting in Chicago last
Friday, protesters masquerading as a right-wing think tank took the stage
and announced that in light of Bush's shortcomings, they were nominating
former Reagan Attorney-General Ed Meese for president.

The audience applauded for nearly ten seconds. Meese, eating at a table
just feet away from the podium where Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men made
the announcement, grimaced and shook his head in surprise.

[Continue Reading]


Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 05.04.04


ON APRIL 26, 2004

Everything I say here is based on my love of Israel and my wish to protect her and the life of all those in Israel. My name is Yonatan Shapira, and I have taken part in the Occupation for the past ten years as an officer in the Israeli Defence Forces, as an Air Force helicopter pilot.

It seems to me that it took me far too long to understand that both my great love for flying and the warm family that is the Israeli Air Force -- which spoilt me so well -- stopped me from seeing and understanding the reality I live in. Things also closing my eyes were the one-sided history lessons, the laundering of words, the lessons about the purity of arms and human dignity, and the songs of peace and bereavement that I love so much. And my eyes were also closed by a stubborn faith that above me, in the top ranks and the leadership of the country, sat people of morality pursuing peace. This was really the case. I didn‚t see the awfully simple fact that we have occupied millions of people and that for nearly 40 years they have been controlled by us ˆ the master race.

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Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 05.04.04


Iran loses faith in clerics
Change elusive in rigid society

By Kim Barker
Tribune foreign correspondent
Published May 2, 2004

QOM, Iran -- A NOTE FROM THE EDITORS: Twenty-five years ago, the
Iranian people toppled the Shah of Iran, seized the American Embassy in
Tehran and established an Islamic republic, a unique form of government
that they thought would rid them of their problems. The fourth part of
this Tribune series on Islam looks at how even some esteemed ayatollahs
are having second thoughts about the wisdom of a government controlled
by clerics--something sought by many factions in the struggle for the
soul of Islam.

The mob shouted for his blood. They called him a traitor; they yelled,
"Death to Montazeri."

The target of their wrath? The Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri.

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Rene -- Inside the Cells of Abu Ghraib

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.04.04

Inside the Cells of Abu Ghraib
The CIA Privatized Torture

Damn video and digital cameras.

If not for the availability of these electronic devices, it is possible the world would have never viewed -- to its collective disgust -- the images of the hideous events that took place in the murky depths of the Abu Ghraib military prison.

It's safe to say US Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski -- who commanded the 800th Military Police Brigade in Baghdad and will likely be held responsible for what happened inside Abu Ghraib -- regrets such devices ever existed.

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Rene -- How to Stop the War -- Demostrate Against John Kerry

Topic(s): Resistance?
Date Posted: 05.04.04

How to Stop the War -- Demostrate Against John Kerry


With the launching of the new fiercely partisan and influential liberal radio network nationwide, Air America, John Kerry seems poised to whisk the presidential nomination for the Democratic Party and could even win simply because he is not Bush.

According to an unnamed former Bush official, "Kerry might wage a more effective war on terror than Bush because he was likely to take a more complex approach, looking at broader threats while coupling military force with "soft power" such as alliance building and a battle for hearts and minds" (Reuters, 05/03/04 "Bush or Kerry, 'War on Terror' Unlikely to Change").

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Rene -- A year on from 'Mission Accomplished', an Army in Disgrace, a Policy in Tatters and the Real Prospect of Defeat

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.04.04

A year on from 'Mission Accomplished', an Army in Disgrace, a Policy in
Tatters and the Real Prospect of Defeat

Against the odds, America has earned the hatred of ordinary Iraqis. In
Baghdad Patrick Cockburn sees the battle for hearts and minds
comprehensively lost.

by Patrick Cockburn
Sunday, May 2, 2004

Wisps of gray smoke were still rising from the wreckage of four
Humvees caught by the blast of a bomb which had just killed two US
soldiers and wounded another five. It seemed they had been caught in a

When the soldiers smashed their way into an old brick house in the
Waziriya district of Baghdad last week, they were raiding what they
had been told was an insurgent bomb factory, only for it to erupt as
they came through the door. The reaction of local people, as soon as
the surviving American soldiers had departed, was to start a
spontaneous street party.

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Rene -- Iranian workers protest over privatisation plans

Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 05.04.04

Iranian workers protest over privatisation plans

By Amir Paivar

TEHRAN, April 30 (Reuters) - Thousands of banner-wielding Iranian
workers rallied in Tehran on Friday, marking Labour Day with sharp
criticism of the Islamic Republic's ambitious privatisation plans.

President Mohammad Khatami's reformist government has tried to
reinvigorate the lumbering state economy through privatisations,
sparking fears of redundancies in sectors ranging from petrochemicals
to textiles.

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Rene -- Iran's mullahs reimposed death sentence on Aghajari

Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 05.04.04

Persian Journal
May 3rd, 2004 - 22:21:54

Iran's mullahs reimposed death sentence on Aghajari
May 3, 2004, 21:43 Associated Press

An Iranian court reimposed a death sentence Monday against a
university professor who criticized clerical rule, a judicial official
told The Associated Press.

The original sentence handed down to Hashem Aghajari in November 2002
infuriated students and led to some of the biggest demonstrations in

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Iranian women protest over polygamy in Iran

Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 05.04.04

Persian Journal

Iranian women protest over polygamy in Iran
AP May 1, 2004, 06:29

A group of some 250 Iranians, mostly women, gather on April 28, 2004
in Tehran, to protest against the state-run television for airing a
series of programmes which promoted polygamy. The demonstrators
protested that the hard-line Islamic state is trampling women's

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Naomi Klein -- Mutiny in Iraq

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.03.04

Mutiny in Iraq

by Naomi Klein
May 17, 2004
The Nation

Can we please stop calling it a quagmire? The United States isn't
mired in a bog or a marsh in Iraq (quagmire's literal meaning); it is
free-falling offa cliff. The only question now is: Who will follow the
Bush clan off this precipice, and who will refuse to jump?

More and more are, thankfully, choosing the second option. The last
month of inflammatory US aggression in Iraq has inspired what can only
be described as a mutiny: Waves of soldiers, workers and politicians
under the command of the US occupation authority are suddenly refusing
to follow orders and abandoning their posts. First Spain announced it
would withdraw its troops, then Honduras, Dominican Republic,
Nicaragua and Kazakhstan. South Korean and Bulgarian troops were
pulled back to their bases, while New Zealand is withdrawing its
engineers. El Salvador, Norway, the Netherlands and Thailand will
likely benext.

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Excerpt From CNN Interview With Seymour Hersh

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.03.04

BLITZER: CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Gaza for us.

Thanks, Paula. We'll be checking back with you.

Let's move back to the situation in Iraq now. By now, you've probably seen the photographs that aired last week that prompted an international outrage over the treatment of some Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.

We have more now. Extensive allegations of abuse are being detailed in the brand new issue of The New Yorker magazine. Joining us, the author of that article, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Seymour Hersh.

Sy, thanks very much for joining us.

You got a copy of this report that a general, Antonio Taguba, put together for the Pentagon, in which he reported, and I'm quoting now, "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses" at the Abu Ghraib prison a few months back. Who's responsible? What happened?

SEYMOUR HERSH, NEW YORKER MAGAZINE: Well, first of all, he's reporting events that took place that we don't have photographs of. So clearly what we have photographs of, those kind activities had been going on for a long time.

BLITZER: So, you're saying it's not just one isolated incident. This is more widespread. Is that what you're saying?

HERSH: Well, what we talked about was sort of a systemic failure. What he was saying was that this has been investigated. The high command in Iraq knew as of late last summer there were problems there. There's been -- his was the third investigation, and his only began after the photographs surfaced.

So, once those photographs got into play, I think the high command here in Iraq and also in Washington realized they had a problem that was out of control. So he goes in, does his study. A- plus study, the guy would have been a great journalist. It's a terrific report.

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Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.02.04

From the New Yorker


American soldiers brutalized Iraqis. How far up does the responsibility go?

Issue of 2004-05-10
Posted 2004-04-30

In the era of Saddam Hussein, Abu Ghraib, twenty miles west of Baghdad, was one of the world’s most notorious prisons, with torture, weekly executions, and vile living conditions. As many as fifty thousand men and women—no accurate count is possible—were jammed into Abu Ghraib at one time, in twelve-by-twelve-foot cells that were little more than human holding pits.

In the looting that followed the regime’s collapse, last April, the huge prison complex, by then deserted, was stripped of everything that could be removed, including doors, windows, and bricks. The coalition authorities had the floors tiled, cells cleaned and repaired, and toilets, showers, and a new medical center added. Abu Ghraib was now a U.S. military prison. Most of the prisoners, however—by the fall there were several thousand, including women and teen-agers—were civilians, many of whom had been picked up in random military sweeps and at highway checkpoints. They fell into three loosely defined categories: common criminals; security detainees suspected of “crimes against the coalition”; and a small number of suspected “high-value” leaders of the insurgency against the coalition forces.

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AMNESTY: Iraq: Torture not isolated -- independent investigations vital

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.02.04

AI INDEX: MDE 14/017/2004 30 April 2004

AI Index: MDE 14/017/2004 (Public)
News Service No: 111
30 April 2004

Iraq: Torture not isolated -- independent investigations vital
There is a real crisis of leadership in Iraq -- with double standards and double speak on human rights, Amnesty International said today.

"The latest evidence of torture and ill-treatment emerging from Abu Ghraib prison will exacerbate an already fragile situation. The prison was notorious under Saddam Hussein -- it should not be allowed to become so again. Iraq has lived under the shadow of torture for far too long. The Coalition leadership must send a clear signal that torture will not be tolerated under any circumstances and that the Iraqi people can now live free of such brutal and degrading practices," Amnesty International said.

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Rene -- Zinn -- What Do We Do Now?

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.02.04

Published in the June, 2004 issue of The Progressive
What Do We Do Now?

by Howard Zinn

It seems very hard for some people--especially those in high places, but also those striving for high places--to grasp a simple truth: The United States does not belong in Iraq. It is not our country. Our presence is causing death, suffering, destruction, and so large sections of the population are rising against us. Our military is then reacting with indiscriminate force, bombing and shooting and rounding up people simply on "suspicion."

Amnesty International, a year after the invasion, reported: "Scores of unarmed people have been killed due to excessive or unnecessary use of lethal force by coalition forces during public demonstrations, at checkpoints, and in house raids. Thousands of people have been detained [estimates range from 8,500 to 15,000], often under harsh conditions, and subjected to prolonged and often unacknowledged detention. Many have been tortured or ill-treated, and some have died in custody."

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Rene -- Soldiers on Hire - Part 2

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 05.02.04

Soldiers on Hire - Part 2

by Huck Gutman

Private Military Firms (PMFs) allow placing many of the costs of the Iraq occupation “off budget.” In the USA, as in all democracies, funding for government activities is ultimately in the hands of the people, through their elected representatives in legislative bodies.

But the 20,000 international PMF employees in Iraq (equal to over 15 per cent of the official US military presence of 130,000 soldiers) are off budget. They are not listed as military defense. Instead, they are paid out of the money budgeted for Iraqi reconstruction. Recent government estimates are that as much as one quarter of the $18 billion budgeted for reconstruction will be paid to those who perform military operations of one sort or another. That means money dedicated to rebuilding schools and hospitals will, instead, fill the coffers of private firms that supply guards, analysts, security, convoy protection.

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Rene -- No Past? No! with Sergio Bologna

Topic(s): Interviews
Date Posted: 05.02.04

No Past? No!

An Interview with the Italian Analyst of Post-Fordism, Sergio Bologna
Klaus Ronneberger / Georg Schöllhammer 

The social upheavals of the past two decades have invalidated conventional professional and class identities. Traditional forms and resources of a collective solidarity arising from the common experience of work under alienated conditions are vanishing. Social resistance is having a hard time finding an answer to the new and flexible strategies of post-Fordian capitalism. While some want to rescue the national welfare state to counter the tyranny of the market, others feel that new forms of independence have been created along with the changed balance of power within society. From this point of view, union-oriented labor and social policies have few chances of being popular with »Arbeitskraftunternehmer« [people who act as entrepreneurs of their own labor. Tr.].

Sergio Bologna, one of the most important European analysts of this change, has given us the most comprehensive study to date of the circumstances and perspectives inherent in this form of work in his book on the »new self-employed« in North Italy. In the following interview, Bologna outlines the genesis of the »class« of the »new self-employed,« not only as the consequence of economic strategies and technological developments, but also as a reaction to subtle forms of in-house resistance and post-modern patterns of socialization.

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Rene -- Paolo Virno -- Virtuosity and Revolution

Topic(s): Multitudes
Date Posted: 05.01.04

Virtuosity and Revolution

Nothing appears so enigmatic today as the question of what it means to act. This issue seems both enigmatic and out of reach--up in the heavens, one might say. If nobody asks me what political action is, I seem to know; but if I have to explain it to somebody who asks, this presumed knowledge evaporates into incoherence. And yet what notion is more familiar in people's everyday speech than action? Why has the obvious become clothed in mystery? Why is it so puzzling?

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Rene -- Negri + Callinicos -- Multitude or Working Class?

Date Posted: 05.01.04

Antonio Negri, Alex Callinicos: Multitude or Working Class?

Submitted by fls on Fri, 01/02/2004 - 14:39. Transitions of labor
We all agree to the fact that we want to fight capital and renew the world. But I think this ain’t conceivable as a poetical process. Because the name »multitude« is not a poetical notion, but a class concept. When I talk about multitude as a class concept, I talk about the fact that workers today work in the same and in different ways compared to those they worked some centuries ago. The working class and its class composition are quite different in the distinct periods that followed each other since the beginning of the industrial age.

The organisation of labour has indeed damned changed from the 18th century ‘til now, as well as the political and technical class composition; and also the way the class builds up its class consciousness is extremely different. If we use the concept of working class and the concept of organisation of labour homogeneously and uniquely we’ll be mistaken profoundly.

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Rene -- Agamben -- What is a People?

Topic(s): Multitudes
Date Posted: 05.01.04

What is a People?

Any interpretation of the political meaning of the term _people_ ought to start from the peculiar fact that in modern European languages this term always indicates also the poor, the underprivileged, and the excluded. The same term names the constitutive political subject as well as the class that is excluded - de facto, if not de jure - from politics.

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Rene -- Marizio Lazzarato interviews Paolo Virno for the french magazin Multitudes.

Topic(s): Multitudes
Date Posted: 05.01.04

Marizio Lazzarato interviews Paolo Virno for the french magazin Multitudes.

Maurizio Lazzarato: Could you define the similarities and the differences between the notion of ‘multitude’ as it’s been conceived in the history of philosophy and the use that we make of it today? Is there continuity of rupture between the concept of ‘multitude’ and the concept of ‘working class’? Can the two concepts be integrated or do they refer to two ‘different politics’?

Paolo Virno: There are some analogies and many differences between the contemporary multitude and the multitude studied by the political philosophers of C17th.

At the dawn of modernity the ‘many’ coincided with the citizens of city state republics that preceded the birth of large Nation States. Those ‘many’ made use of the ‘right of resistance’, the ius resistentiae. Such right does not mean in the banal sense, legitimate defence: it is something more complex and refined. The ‘right of resistance’ consists in asserting the prerogatives of a singular, of a local community, of a craft guild, against the central power, whilst preserving forms of life that have already been affirmed, and protecting already entrenched habits. Thus it entails the defence of something positive: it is a conservative violence (in the good and noble sense of the term). Perhaps the ius resistentiae, i.e. the right to protect something that already exists and seems to deserve to last, is what brings most together the C17th multitudo and the post-fordist multitude. Also for the latter, it is surely not a question of ‘seizing the power’, of building a new State or a new monopoly of political decision but rather of defending plural experiences, embryos of non-state public sphere and innovative forms of life. Not civil war, but ius resistentiae.

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