Monday, June 30, 2003

From Yahoo via the Wiskey Bar

...The shaky relationship between occupier and occupied came to the fore in a confrontation Sunday morning in Fallujah, a restive town west of Baghdad that's seen a number of attacks on U.S. troops since the Americans shot and killed 20 protesters during demonstration in April.

A shouting match broke out when an Iraqi civilian, Jamal Shalal Habib al-Mahemdi, accused a U.S. soldier of stealing $600 from his car.

The soldier tried to wave the man on, but, at the behest of bystanders, his superior officer, Sgt. James A. Phillips, searched his pockets and found the money. Phillips then returned the bills to al-Mahemdi, who waved them above his head and cursed the soldier.

It was not clear if the soldier, whose name was not immediately available, would be disciplined. Maj. Sean Gibson, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said he had not heard of the incident but was sure it would be investigated.

The incident was witnessed by an Associated Press photographer. ...

Who Lost the WMD?
As the weapons hunt intensifies, so does the finger pointing. A preview of the coming battle

Meeting last month at a sweltering U.S. base outside Doha, Qatar, with his top Iraq commanders, President Bush skipped quickly past the niceties and went straight to his chief political obsession: Where are the weapons of mass destruction? Turning to his Baghdad proconsul, Paul Bremer, Bush asked, "Are you in charge of finding WMD?" Bremer said no, he was not. Bush then put the same question to his military commander, General Tommy Franks. But Franks said it wasn't his job either. A little exasperated, Bush asked, So who is in charge of finding WMD? After aides conferred for a moment, someone volunteered the name of Stephen Cambone, a little-known deputy to Donald Rumsfeld, back in Washington. Pause. "Who?" Bush asked....

Killing for the Prince of Peace Dept:

Christian Coalition founder and religious broadcaster Pat Robertson criticized the Road Map's goal of returning to Palestinians land currently under Israeli military occupation in recent comments on his 700 Club television broadcast. According to Robertson's website,, he said, "I am telling you, ladies and gentlemen, this is suicide. If the United States -- and I want you to hear me very clearly -- if the United States takes a role in ripping half of Jerusalem away from Israel and giving it to Yasser Arafat and a group of terrorists, we are going to see the wrath of God fall on this nation [in a way] that will make tornadoes look like a Sunday school picnic."

Robertson called the other sponsors of the Road Map "enemies of Israel," and said if American leaders "ally ourselves with the enemies of Israel, we will be standing against God Almighty. And that's a place I don't want us to be."

QUESTION: Last night on the news I watched coverage from around the world of people protesting the war and calling for peace. Do you ever recall so many nations demonstrating for peace? I couldn't help but think of the Bible description of people saying, 'Peace and safety and then sudden destruction fell upon them.' What do you think of this worldwide demonstrating?

PAT ROBERTSON: I think more particularly in the second Psalm the kings of the earth are aligned against the Lord and against His anointed. They are against Israel. They are against Christianity. They are against Jesus.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Army feud exposed by documentary

Brendan Mcginty Exclusive

A BRITISH Army Colonel has branded US Marines in Iraq as "idiots" and "stupid".

The outburst, to be shown on a TV documentary tonight, will fuel the simmering fued between the coalition forces.

Colonel Steve Cox, dubbed The Mayor of Umm Qasr, made the remarks after learning US Marines had arrested three innocent Iraqi civilians....

Saturday, June 28, 2003

The Servile State Revisited

I am haunted by an observation of the philosopher David Hume, which I must quote approximately from memory: “To the philosophic eye, nothing is more surprising than the ease with which the many are ruled by the few.”

Consider my little dog Zipper, a Shetland sheepdog. She is a bright, sweet little thing, but no watchdog. She is afraid of other animals, even squirrels; she has never been in a fight, even with other small dogs. Yet she has been genetically endowed, through centuries of breeding, with authority over sheep.

Now Zipper has never even seen a sheep. I vaguely hope to buy her one someday, circumstances permitting. But dogs of her breed and size have been herding sheep in Scotland for ages. If she saw it done, I suppose she would quickly pick up the knack.

To me this is a fascinating fact. A whole flock of sheep will obey a single small, yapping dog. “There thou might’st behold the great image of authority,” says King Lear: “A dog’s obeyed in office.” Maybe this is where Hume got his idea. The sheep could easily ignore, or even overpower, the dog, but they don’t.

Aren’t men really the same way?...

Friday, June 27, 2003

When Donald Met Saddam

Video Clip: "Shaking Hands with the enemy," Iraqi President Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, in Baghdad on December 20, 1983. ...

Americans don't mind being conned

An empire doesn't have citizens, it has subjects. Subjects don't expect to challenge the emperor or even to be told the facts. ...

10 Appalling Lies We Were Told About Iraq

By Christopher Scheer, AlterNet
June 27, 2003

"The Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and atomic weapons."
– George Bush, Oct. 7, 2002, in a speech in Cincinnati.

...The mainstream press, after an astonishing two years of cowardice, is belatedly drawing attention to the unconscionable level of administrative deception. They seem surprised to find that when it comes to Iraq, the Bush administration isn't prone to the occasional lie of expediency but, in fact, almost never told the truth.

What follows are just the most outrageous and significant of the dozens of outright lies uttered by Bush and his top officials over the past year in what amounts to a systematic campaign to scare the bejeezus out of everybody: ...

Road Map in the Back Seat?

By Al Kamen

Friday, June 27, 2003; Page A27

Imagine our surprise Wednesday to read in the Israeli paper Haaretz (online), that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Abu Mazen, meeting recently with militants to enlist their support for a truce with Israel, said that, when they met in Aqaba, President Bush had told him this: " God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam [ Hussein], which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."

So who needs to find WMD or a link with al Qaeda when the orders come from The Highest Authority?...

Ashcroft in Conference
'Let's Not Let Them Get Johnnie Cochran on the Phone'
June 27th, 2003 12:30 PM

In the hours and days immediately following [the September 11] attacks, Attorney General John Ashcroft . . . directed that FBI and INS agents question anyone they could find with a Muslim-sounding name . . . in some areas . . . they simply looked for names in the phone book. . . . . Anyone who could be held, even on a minor violation of law or immigration rules, was held under a three-pronged strategy, fashioned by Ashcroft and a close circle of Justice Department deputies including criminal division chief Michael Chertoff, that was intended to exert maximum pressure on these detainees . . . —From a summary of Ashcroft strategy sessions contained, in further detail, in Steven Brill's After: How America Confronted the September 12 Era (Simon & Schuster) ...

Space impact 'saved Christianity'
By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor

Did a meteor over central Italy in AD 312 change the course of Roman and Christian history?

A team of geologists believes it has found the incoming space rock's impact crater, and dating suggests its formation coincided with the celestial vision said to have converted a future Roman emperor to Christianity.

It was just before a decisive battle for control of Rome and the empire that Constantine saw a blazing light cross the sky and attributed his subsequent victory to divine help from a Christian God.

Constantine went on to consolidate his grip on power and ordered that persecution of Christians cease and their religion receive official status. ...

We're All Gonna Die!

But it won't be from germ warfare, runaway nanobots, or shifting magnetic poles. A skeptical guide to Doomsday.

By Gregg Easterbrook

Omigod, Earth's core is about to explode, destroying the planet and everything on it! That is, unless a gigantic asteroid strikes first. Or an advanced physics experiment goes haywire, negating space-time in a runaway chain reaction. Or the sun's distant companion star, Nemesis, sends an untimely barrage of comets our way. Or ...

Unprovoked murder? The culture clash in Iraq and the growing resistance

...Amara is a tough town, filled with hard men. They say they gave the British a chance, welcomed them. But they weren't giving up their guns. They didn't give them up to Saddam and they weren't going to surrender them to the British. They'd fought Saddam to the point that he drained their marshes so they would have no place to hide.

In less than two days, we have 10 dead, 16 wounded and 2 missing and possibly kidnapped. In addition, the power has been blown in Baghdad, the water no longer works, and the average temperature is 110 degrees.
Meanwhile, the lights are on at the Presidential Palace as Jerry Bremer labors away in air conditioned opulance.

Is it a pattern of resistance? Maybe. But the complaints about US and British behavior, the cultural misunderstandings between the occupier and the occupied is what is driving the killing. The British act like Amara, a den of smugglers, will turn over their kin for defending their faith and honor. There was no misunderstanding on their part. The British disrespected them and they paid for it.

The coalition has misjudged the Iraqi people and their awareness. They treat them like Afghans, isolated from the world, and they are not. They are no more isolated or religious as your average Texan. They know the world well enough to know the CPA is ruining their lives. Who wants to swelter and drink dirty water? Freedom doesn't eliminate cholera.

The lack of Arabic speakers, the ignorance of basic religious and local customs, the force being used is leading to disaster. ...


...Roman slaves had a great deal of what, today, we would call freedom; they were free to fornicate, to indulge in every sort of vice, to bring children into the world without benefit of marriage, all the better to serve the tastes of their masters, which, by the time of the Imperial era, had become quite decadent. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but by the time the stern republican virtues of yeoman farmers gave way to the Rome of Petronius, the muscular young republic had long since morphed into a monstrously bloated and misshapen empire. As to which is cause, and which effect, I'll leave it to the sociologists to decide. Suffice to note the connection, and wonder what it portends.

Speaking of decadence, is it just a coincidence that the same news channel that is the most belligerently pro-war and pro-Bush is the same network that broadcasts the sleaziest entertainment? The War Party is hoping that we're all too preoccupied with living out our personal Satyricons to notice what's happening in the world – and on the home front.

For all their moral posturing, the neoconservative faction of the War Party is better served by hedonism. The more people tune out, and turn to purely personal affairs, the more the neocons can lie about nonexistent "weapons of mass destruction" and get away with it. Americans are just not paying attention: large numbers believe the Iraqis used WMDs during the recent war, a number roughly equivalent to those who fail to distinguish between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

The link between personal morality and the life and health of the American republic is subtle, yet unmistakable. As the neo-pagan ethic takes hold in the cultural arena, a neo-imperial policy is proclaimed by an American President. The Roman pattern is being repeated. The Bush Doctrine of preemption, as capricious and brimming with hubris as Caligula's edict proclaiming himself a god, is the sort of outrage that simply would not have been possible in an earlier, and better world. Nor would the depredations of the Patriot Act and its successor. ...

There is, of course, no reason why the new totalitarianisms should resemble the old. Government by clubs and firing squads, by artificial famine, mass imprisonment and mass deportation, is not merely inhumane (nobody cares much about that nowadays); it is demonstrably inefficient and, in an age of advanced technology, inefficiency is the sin against the Holy Ghost. A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors, and school teachers.
-- Aldous Huxley

Thursday, June 26, 2003

My America vs. the Empire


...We are the America that suffers in wartime: we do the dying, the paying of taxes, we supply the million unfortunate sons (and now daughters) who are sent hither and yon in what amounts to a vast government uprooting of the populace. Militarism and empire are the enemies of small-town America, not only because some native sons come home in bodybags but also for the desolating fact that many never come home at all. They are scattered to the winds, sent out--by force or enticement of state--in the great American diaspora, never to return to the places that gave them nurture.

War kills the provinces. It drains them of cultural life as surely as it takes the lives of 18-year-old boys. Almost every healthy, vigorous cultural current of the 1930s, from the flowering of Iowa poetry to North Dakota cornhusking tournaments to the renaissance of Upstate New York fiction, was terminated by U.S. entry into the Second World War. Vietnam, like any drawn-out war or occupation, disrupted normal courtship patterns on the homefront: the difference between republic and empire might be restated as the difference between taking the girl next door to the Sadie Hawkins Dance and paying a Saigon whore in chocolate bars and the Yankee dollar....

Facile contemners of President Bush deride him as a "Texas cowboy." If only he were. Alas, President of the World Bush is a deracinated preppie, an Andover yell leader who blamed his first defeat for public office, in a 1978 congressional race, on "provincialism." It seems that the real cowboys were unimpressed by a naughty boarding-school cheerleader who was unable to pronounce correctly the name of the largest city in the district. ...

Will Rogers, an American of the old school, once said, "America has a great habit of always talking about protecting American Interests in some foreign country. Protect 'em here at Home! There is more American Interests right here than anywhere." ...

American Traveler International Apology Shirt

I was preparing for an international trip, and I thought, "what can I do tell as many people as possible in other countries that many Americans vehemently disagree with the policies of our own government?" So I made this shirt, and various wonderful people translated it into all of the official UN languages, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish, and Russian. Buy one for your own international travels. A domestic version (US$16), without English, is also available for those who want to make a statement, but not to monolingual locals. ...

Good Kills?

The law of war says the lives of civilians are worth more than the lives of soldiers. By David Bosco AS THE U.S.S. ABRAHAM LINCOLN STEAMED HOME from the war in Iraq, President Bush lauded the crew for their part in waging a precise and humane war. "With new tactics and precision weapons," the president declared from the carrier's deck, "we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians. No device of man can remove the tragedy from war, yet it is a great advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent."

Without mentioning the "law of war"—the well-worn collection of treaties and protocols designed to restrain fighting forces—Bush drew on one of its central principles: the preeminent value of the lives of civilians. But the president skipped over an uncomfortable moral question embedded within the law: What about soldiers who are forced to fight for an evil regime? What if many of the enemy troops are not among "the guilty"?...

At the same time, it's not clear how the law of war could recognize the moral claim of these coerced conscripts, however compelling. The law must be agnostic about the motivations of the parties to be effective. It can treat targets only as lawful or unlawful, not as guilty or innocent. Viewed through the leveling lens of the law, an Iraqi television facility is equivalent to the offices of The New York Times. A civilian, however implicated in brutality, has to remain off limits—while a conscript fighting for Saddam with a gun to his head is fair game. ...

Simple solution for safer peanuts revealed
10:47 26 June 03 news service

There is a simple way to produce safer peanuts that are less likely to trigger life-threatening allergic reactions - the problem is that they might not taste so good after the processing.

In the US alone, an estimated 1.5 million people suffer from nut allergies. But now food engineers have discovered that the maturation, curing and roasting of peanuts increases their allergen content, so by tweaking these processes the nut industry may be able to make them safer....

A chip off the old block?

What do Fascism's belligerent founding father and our own democratically elected Prime Minister have in common? A great deal more than you might imagine, according to Nicholas Farrell, the author of a major new biography of Benito Mussolini.....

When, during the second Bill Clinton presidency, Blair and Clinton started holding summits on the Third Way, they really were verging on the truly Fascist. The Fascist Third Way between capitalism and communism aimed to abolish class war and replace it with class collaboration. This meant the promotion of the productive elements in society from whatever class and the abolition of the parasitical elements from whatever class.

The means by which the Fascists attempted to impose their Third Way was the corporate state. This did not involve the nationalisation of the workplace as in Marxist-inspired solutions, but its incorporation. Shareholders, whether in the form of the state or private individuals, still owned the means of production. Both workers and bosses, however, were members of the corporations that ran enterprises, with the state acting as referee if the need arose.

The Fascist corporate state was never really tried. But one finds traces of its corporatist ideas in Blair's Government. The Prime Minister has quickly but quietly dropped the phrase "Third Way" from the vocabulary. But he talks, with mounting frenzy, of "public-private partnerships".

I assume that Clinton and Blair were unaware of the Fascist origins of their much-talked-about crusade for a Third Way. Otherwise, surely they would have run a mile before associating themselves with such a phrase. But the similarities between Blair and Mussolini do not just end there.

Take their respective attitudes to war. Like Blair, who was a member of CND, Mussolini started out as a pacifist and led anti-war demonstrations. He even went to jail for six months after an anti-war demonstration in 1911 in which he was responsible for criminal damage to trains and railway lines at Forli, the provincial capital near his birthplace.

But it was war (the issue being whether or not Italy should enter the First World War) that caused Mussolini to abandon the Socialist Party. The socialists wanted no truck with what they saw as a bourgeois war. Mussolini, on the other hand, like Lenin, realised its revolutionary potential....

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Burned Iraqi Children Turned Away
Mon Jun 23, 5:44 PM ET

By DONNA ABU-NASR, Associated Press Writer

BALAD, Iraq - On a scorching afternoon, while on duty at an Army airfield, Sgt. David J. Borell was approached by an Iraqi who pleaded for help for his three children, burned when they set fire to a bag containing explosive powder left over from war in Iraq (news - web sites).

Borell immediately called for assistance. But the two Army doctors who arrived about an hour later refused to help the children because their injuries were not life-threatening and had not been inflicted by U.S. troops.

Now the two girls and a boy are covered with scabs and the boy cannot use his right leg. And Borell is shattered. ...

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Man uses strict faith as defense

A woman given a ticket for breast-feeding her daughter while driving on the Ohio Turnpike last month could have gone on her merry way with a slap on the wrist and a $100 fine.

At least that was the offer from the Portage County Prosecutor's Office on May 9, the day after a trucker called 911 to report that he had seen the woman driving her car with a baby in her lap.

The woman's husband, however, is trying to make a federal case out of it -- literally -- by claiming she is not the real defendant.

He said he is.

He made that claim, citing Mosaic law from the Old Testament and writings from the days of the Founding Fathers because of the couple's ``deeply held spiritual beliefs'' that the husband is ``the sole head of the family'' and the only one who can punish the wife for a public act.

He said he would go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to prove his position....

A man that would expect to train lobsters to fly in a year is called a lunatic; but a man that thinks men can be turned into angels by an election is a reformer and remains at large.
-- Finley Peter Dunne

Monday, June 23, 2003

Chinese Christians arrested

The authorities in China have arrested 12 members of an underground Christian church, officials said on Thursday.

At least eight of those arrested face imprisonment in a labour camp on charges of engaging in "feudalistic superstition". ...

Studies shatter myth about abuse

By Karen S. Peterson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — It is not just men who hit women. Women hit men, too. And the latest research shows that ignoring the role women play in domestic violence does both women and men a disservice. ...

The number of women who hit first or hit back is "much greater than has been generally assumed," Capaldi says. She says she is surprised by the frequency of aggressive acts by women and by the number of men who are afraid of partners who assault them. ...

Savant for a Day

In a concrete basement at the University of Sydney, I sat in a chair waiting to have my brain altered by an electromagnetic pulse. My forehead was connected, by a series of electrodes, to a machine that looked something like an old-fashioned beauty-salon hair dryer and was sunnily described to me as a ''Danish-made transcranial magnetic stimulator.'' This was not just any old Danish-made transcranial magnetic stimulator, however; this was the Medtronic Mag Pro, and it was being operated by Allan Snyder, one of the world's most remarkable scientists of human cognition.

Nonetheless, the anticipation of electricity being beamed into my frontal lobes (and the consent form I had just signed) made me a bit nervous. Snyder found that amusing. ''Oh, relax now!'' he said in the thick local accent he has acquired since moving here from America. ''I've done it on myself a hundred times. This is Australia. Legally, it's far more difficult to damage people in Australia than it is in the United States.''

''Damage?'' I groaned. ...

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Warehousing our children

An apparent shift toward more institutional care of foster kids has some child-welfare advocates worried that America is straining against 100 years of research.

By Mary Wiltenburg | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

..."The orphanage never really went away," says child welfare expert Richard Wexler. "It sort of metamorphosed" into the system of shelters, group homes, residential treatment centers, and residential educational academies that provide the bulk of institutional foster care in the US today. "But they couldn't change the facts: Institutional care is bad for kids."

Mr. Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform (NCCPR), is among a growing number of analysts drawing attention to what he calls a "back to the orphanage" movement now under way. The population of American foster children in institutional settings is quietly growing, they say - not due to any concerted social or legal effort, just a pieced-together system that affords comparatively few services to families in need but offers fiscal incentives to take children away....

Saturday, June 21, 2003

U.S. Troops Frustrated in Iraq
Soldiers Say They Are Ill-Prepared For Peacekeeping

By Daniel Williams and Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, June 20, 2003; Page A16

BAGHDAD -- Facing daily assaults from a well-armed resistance, U.S. troops in volatile central Iraq say they are growing frustrated and disillusioned with their role as postwar peacekeepers.

In conversations in a half-dozen towns across central Iraq, soldiers complained that they have been insufficiently equipped for peacekeeping and too thinly deployed in areas where they are under attack from fighters evidently loyal to deposed president Saddam Hussein. Others questioned whether the armed opposition to the U.S. presence in Iraq may be deeper and more organized than military commanders have acknowledged.

"What are we getting into here?" asked a sergeant with the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division who is stationed near Baqubah, a city 30 miles northeast of Baghdad. "The war is supposed to be over, but every day we hear of another soldier getting killed. Is it worth it? Saddam isn't in power anymore. The locals want us to leave. Why are we still here?"...

ACLU membership among Republicans up since Sept. 11, 2001
Chicago Tribune

WASHINGTON - (KRT) - Membership in the American Civil Liberties Union and similar groups has soared since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, an increase that is especially noteworthy because the ACLU appears to be making significant headway among conservatives, who have traditionally despised the organization.

The ACLU has signed up such prominent conservatives as former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), a firebrand whom liberals loved to hate when he was in Congress. It has formed lobbying alliances with right-leaning groups from the American Conservative Union to the Eagle Forum to Americans for Tax Reform.

"You name it, we've gone into bed with them," said ACLU spokeswoman Emily Whitfield....

Friday, June 20, 2003

U.S. prison population largest in world
The Baltimore Sun

With a record-setting 2 million people now locked up in American jails and prisons, the United States has overtaken Russia and has a higher percentage of its citizens behind bars than any other country....

...the United States has three times more prisoners than Iran, four times more than Poland, five times more than Tanzania and seven times more than Germany....

Skilled Workers -- or Indentured Servants?

... Nowadays, however, the weak economy has sparked an outbreak of abusive treatment among the legions of white-collar employees who flocked to the U.S. on perfectly valid visas during the late-1990s boom. Usually, theirs are cases of employers who don't pay full salary or benefits. Often, like Kutty, the employers are immigrants, too, so they know how the system works.

Indeed, labor law violations involving workers on H1-B visas, which are designed for skilled employees, have jumped more than fivefold since 1998, according to the Labor Dept. Back-pay awards for such employees have soared by more than ten times.

LESS WILLING TO QUIT. In response, agency officials have stepped up H1-B investigations. They agree there could be thousands of H1-B workers who don't file complaints because they fear the loss of their visa. "We take very seriously this fear about coming to the government to complain," says D. Mark Wilson, deputy head of the Labor Dept.'s Employment Standards Administration, which enforces labor laws.

The spreading problems stem from the stagnant economy, officials say, which is driving some companies to cut costs by unscrupulous means. At the same time, the scarcity of jobs has left many skilled immigrants more dependent on their employers and less willing to quit if trouble starts.

The abuses have been particularly widespread in high tech, which used H1-Bs to bring in tens of thousands of programmers and other professionals when companies were desperate for help during the boom. But with the jobless rate among computer scientists and mathematicians at 6%, vs. a mere 0.7% in early 1998, many workers are more vulnerable.

SEARCHING FOR SPONSORS. Experts point out that the U.S. work-visa system gives employers tremendous power over immigrants. More than a million people are employed in the U.S. under visas for skilled workers. While the rules for each visa type differ, all require immigrants to get a U.S. employer to sponsor them. So if employers yank their sponsorship -- which they can do for almost any reason imaginable -- the immigrant often must return home and try to find another sponsor -- an arduous task.

"They don't have the usual rights that U.S. workers have," says Eileen Appelbaum, a professor of labor economics at Rutgers University. "You're essentially an indentured servant." ...

Occupational hazards
by Brendan O'Neill

...In response to the seeming contradiction between increasing instability and America's standoffish approach, some have demanded a tougher occupation, along the lines of what US forces did in Germany after the Second World War. Commentators have reminisced about 'the most successful instances of occupation and reconstruction the USA has had - in Japan and Germany'. President Bush himself has cited America's German experience, claiming that just as America 'left constitutions and parliaments' in Germany, so it will in Iraq.

...But in postwar Germany, unlike in postwar Iraq, there was something to build on. Germany was a major capitalist state, one of the most powerful nations on Earth. It had an economy and political structures. It had an elite (including many of the old Nazis) who, after a bit of redemocratisatising, could be posted into positions of power. Iraq, by contrast, is a weak and largely artificial state, created by colonialists who drew lines in the sand, and sustained for decades by outside interference, oil revenues and a heavy dose of repression. Chasing out the Ba'ath Party officials - who dominated every aspect of Iraqi society for over 30 years - has left it a hollow state, a world away from postwar Germany....

US troops 'shoot civilians'
By Bob Graham, Evening Standard, in Baghdad
19 June 2003
American soldiers in Iraq today make the astonishing admission that they regularly kill civilians.

In a series of disturbing interviews which throws light on the chaos gripping the country, GIs also confess to leaving wounded Iraqi fighters to die, and even to shooting injured enemy...

The soldiers are furious that their commanders have reneged on promises to send them home as soon as the war was won and are now forcing them into the role of peacekeepers....

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Dave Matheny: Guns don't have power to cloud minds, April 20, 2003

...Does the presence of a gun incline a person to use it? I could just tell you
it doesn't, but you might believe the results of a vast experiment better. The
experiment involved half a million Americans, mostly male, in their late teens
and early 20s, away from home, stressed out, with plenty of alcohol and drugs
around, more than half of them carrying machine guns. Sounds like Armageddon,

No, sounds like American forces in Vietnam, where a majority of the troops
carried M-16s. They got into fights, of course, but the fights were conducted
with fists, feet, elbows, whatever -- but almost never with guns. Ask any
Vietnam vet about the rarity of gunfights among the troops.

Actually, all our wars have been such experiments. But starting with World War
II, though, the guns were semiautomatics -- held to be very evil guns in
today's media -- moving into fully automatic assault rifles (good heavens)
since the 1960s. Even in Iraq: Apart from one soldier's alleged use of a gun
and hand grenades against fellow troops in the present Gulf war, there have
been no reports of American troops using their guns against each other.

Even in the Old West, when everybody had shoot in' irons, gunfights were pretty
goldurn rare, Hollywood notwithstanding. ...

Domestic Disputes
Bad social science and bad legal policy.

By Eugene Volokh

...What the University of Pennsylvania study found was a statistical correlation: Gun ownership is correlated with gun deaths. But that two things are correlated doesn't prove that one causes the other. The sex-crime rate is correlated over time with the use of air conditioning, but not because air conditioning causes sex crime; rather, both rise during the summer months. Likewise, whether someone in your home has been to the hospital recently is correlated with death in your home, but not because hospital care tends to kill people (though sometimes it does). Rather, both hospital stays and deaths often have a common cause: serious illness.

It turns out that a hugely disproportionate fraction of homicide victims are themselves criminals — criminals do dangerous things, and deal with dangerous people. In a recent San Francisco study, two-thirds of all gun-homicide victims (and one-third of all gun suicides) were found to have had arrest records, and other studies of gun-homicide victims yield similar results. And criminals, especially drug dealers and gang members, are particularly likely to own guns; most gun owners aren't criminals, but many criminals are gun owners. So even if gun ownership and gun homicide are correlated, both may be caused by a common factor: Hardcore criminals are especially likely to own guns — and to be killed by guns.

Social scientists have long recognized that correlation doesn't prove causation, because the two correlated things may actually be caused by a third thing. That's why sound social science requires that scientists use statistical tools that control for a wide variety of such "confounding factors."

This particular study in fact tried to control for various factors. Before controlling for those factors, the study actually found that gun-homicide victims were slightly less likely to own guns than the nonvictims were. The correlation between gun ownership and gun homicide arose when the study controlled for sex, race, age, marital status, education, income, veteran status, region, population of area of residence, and whether the person lived alone.

The study, however, completely failed to control for what might well be the most important factors: whether the household contained violent criminals, gang members, drug dealers, and the like. These are the very factors that might cause both gun ownership and gun death. And because the study didn't control for them, it says nothing about whether gun ownership really "increases the odds" that a law-abiding citizen will be killed. The study's results could easily flow simply from the huge set of homicide victims who are themselves criminals....

I saw the lite?
Joel Miller: Was biblical wine weaker wine?

While RazorMouth has published fewer articles in praise of wine and beer of late, a recent question regarding the potency of biblical booze from an RM reader deserves attention.

While still a common practice in some circles, fewer Christians (at least it seems so here on the West Coast) support their prohibitionist and abstentionist positions by saying wine in Bible times was nonintoxicating—i.e., basically just unfermented juice.

Satirist P.J. O'Rourke takes a swipe at this tactic in his 1988 book, Holidays in Hell, recounting a visit to Jim and Tammy Bakker's Heritage USA theme park. At the onsite bookstore he found "a weighty tome arguing that every time the New Testament says 'wine' it really means 'grape juice.'" Later he says, "I almost don't have the heart to make fun of these folks. It's like hunting dairy cows with a high-powered rifle and scope." Fortunately, his opportunities to pull the trigger are dwindling....

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Bill O'Reilly is evil:

...So all over the country, we have people posting the most vile stuff imaginable, hiding behind high tech capabilities. Sometimes the violators are punished, but most are not. We have now have teenagers ruining the reputations of their peers in schools on the Internet. Ideologues accusing public officials of the worst things imaginable. And creeps gossiping about celebrities in the crudest of ways.

The Internet has become a sewer of slander and libel, an unpatrolled polluted waterway, where just about anything goes. For example, the guy who raped and murdered a 10-year old in Massachusetts says he got the idea from the NAMBLA Web site that he accessed from the Boston public library. The ACLU's defending NAMBLA in that civil lawsuit.

Talking Points noted with interest the hue and cry that went up from some quarters about the FCC changing the rules and allowing big corporations to own even more media properties. But big corporations are big targets. If they misbehave, they can be sued for big bucks. These small time hit and run operators on the net, however, can traffic in perversity and falsehoods all day long with impunity. It's almost impossible to rein them in.

So which is the bigger threat to America? The big companies or the criminals at the computer? Interesting question. ...

Monday, June 16, 2003

John Ross’ Speech

Throughout the country, people are talking about the horrendous gun bans in Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. “It’s inevitable, America is next, we’re doomed,” is the message. It’s easy to be a doomsayer. If you’re wrong, no one minds. One of the riskiest things you can do is to say that things are good.

I don’t want to trivialize the serious implications of these human rights violations in other countries and our own, but it’s time to say out loud something that’s been absent from the discussion.


Patriot Act of 2001 casts wide net

By Frank J. Murray

Long-sought details have begun to emerge from the Justice Department on how anti-terrorist provisions of the USA Patriot Act were applied in nonterror investigations, just as battle lines are being drawn on proposed new powers in a Patriot Act II.

Overall, the policy now allows evidence to be used for prosecuting common criminals even when obtained under extraordinary anti-terrorism powers and information-sharing between intelligence agencies and the FBI. ...

Scott Peterson's Pen Pals


June 16, 2003 -- Slay suspect Scott Peterson has won a legion of female admirers who deluge him with encouraging letters as he awaits trial for allegedly murdering his wife and unborn son, it was reported yesterday.

Peterson's California jail cell is literally littered with supportive letters from women - including one who's doing hard time for killing her husband, the Modesto Bee reports. ...

I wondered if the love Hedges suggests as an alternate path to life than war-making was a new idea for him or is part of his religious legacy flowering again? ... I do hope he will be able to share more of his thinking on what he sees as the path that turns away from war, why he called it love.
ayohn3 5/23/03 9:21am

Chris Hedges: Love is the only antidote to war, not love in the abstract but love in the particular. This does not mean that we can, through love, eradicate war. But love protects us from the contagion and euphoria of war, for in the love of the other we find a wholeness and a completeness that gives us meaning and more importantly happiness. We do not, if we have love, need to seek this outside of our relationships. Love protects us from the cruelty of war. It protects us from the racism and intolerance and drive to dehumanize the other that comes with blind patriotism. When we can see love in others, even our enemy, that is like our own, we can forgive. And in forgiveness we can create a new narrative, one that saves us from the cycle of violence. I do not see love, however, as an alternative to war. I am not a pacifist. I see it as a protection from the contagion of war and from hate and from the lust of war, all those forces that can stunt and destroy a civilized society in wartime.

What is your definition of love?
bdhpoet 5/20/03 7:49pm

Chris Hedges: God

Many misinformed on Iraq, 9/11
Polls show many Americans have facts about Iraqi weapon finds, 9/11 hijackers wrong
Knight Ridder Newspapers

Many misinformed on Iraq, 9/11

Washington A third of the American public believes U.S. forces found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, according to a recent poll. And 22 percent said Iraq actually used chemical or biological weapons in the war.

Before the war, half of those polled in a survey said Iraqis were among the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001.

The facts:

- Such weapons have not been found in Iraq, and were never used.

- Most of the Sept. 11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. None was Iraqi.....

Bullfighter is software that runs in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, within Microsoft Office 2000 or XP. It works a lot like the spelling and grammar checker in those applications, but focuses on jargon and readability. Download it for free, or order a CD-ROM/book package. Then install it.

Take the Bullfighter challenge for 30 days. That red and black bull icon on your Word and PowerPoint toolbar could change your life. Unless you believe in expressions like 'value-based paradigm shift' or in multi-syllabic sentences that run on for ages, you owe it to your loved ones and co-workers to try.

The documents you save could be your own.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

Church sued for $2 million over dramatic youth service
by Anna C. Irwin
of The Daily Times Staff

...The suit claims the girl suffered personal injuries as the result of ``a dangerous, cult-like event that was unlawfully and deceptively conceived, sponsored, promoted and supervised by Forest Hill Baptist Church, its pastor, its deacons, its youth director and several of its members.''

Forest Hill Pastor Harry Sherrer said the event referred to in the suit was designed to help young people in the church learn more about and better understand the persecution of Christians in other parts of the world....

Friday, June 13, 2003

US turns to the Taliban
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

06/13/03:: (Asia Times) KARACHI - Such is the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, compounded by the return to the country of a large number of former Afghan communist refugees, that United States and Pakistani intelligence officials have met with Taliban leaders in an effort to devise a political solution to prevent the country from being further ripped apart....

Am I still An Unpatriotic Traitor?
By Ed Hanratty

June 13, 2003: (Democratic Underground) When I spoke against the threat of war, that's what you called me. You told me I had forgotten about the tragic events of September 11th. You told me I was encouraging another attack. You told me I was sympathizing with terrorists. But you never proved a link between Iraq and September 11th. In fact, the only concrete link you've ever proven was the money trail from the Saudi Royal Family to Al Qaeda. But it's okay, if the President chooses to ignore the Saudi's culpability, good little Americans should lockstep behind him....

“Civil disobedience. . . is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.
Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates
of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been
killed because of this obedience. . Our problem is that people are obedient all
over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity and war and
cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of
petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country.
That's our problem."

Why Do Divorce Laws Marginalize Men?

Ask a buddy at work. Ask your neighbor. Even a relative will probably have heard of one. And the stories are always the same: she took his house, his car, and his kids. She made more money than him and he still had to pay alimony. She accused him of physical abuse and the courts didn't even ask for evidence.
It seems that no matter who you talk to these days, someone knows of a man who came out of a divorce robbed and humiliated. And there is no end to how harrowing such stories get.

In America, men are forced to pay around 40% of their income to ex-wives, regardless of wrongdoing on the woman's parts (often called "no-fault" alimony). She could commit adultery and beat her husband or kids, and none of it will influence the court's decision....

Meet 'The Family'

By Anthony Lappé, Guerrilla News Network
June 13, 2003

It sounded like a reality show on the PAX network: Six conservative politicians living in a DC townhouse owned by a fundamentalist Christian organization. What happens when you stop being polite and start finding Jesus? ...

Ageism hits Generation X?
By Ryan Dilley
BBC News Online

It's well known that ageism blights the careers of those who grew up listening to Elvis and the Beatles. But a new survey suggests workers from the Nirvana generation - those aged just 35 - may be suffering age discrimination too.

At 35, many workers feel they are at last making some progress up the slippery career pole; that they have won the respect of their managers; and that they still have their best working years ahead of them.

Actually they're viewed as being past it. Over the hill. Deadwood.

This is the disturbing finding suggested by a survey of ageism in UK workplaces by recruitment firm Maturity Works. ...

WMD: Intelligence without brains
Alan Reynolds

...What about biological weapons (BW)? The summary said "Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW agents and is capable of quickly producing and weaponizing a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery by bombs, missiles (and) aerial sprayers ..." As with CW, to be capable of making BW is not the same as having a stockpile anybody will ever find. What Iraq had, the report explains later, is "the capability to convert quickly legitimate vaccine and biopesticide plants to biological warfare (BW) and it may have already done so." Any country producing chlorine, pesticides or castor oil could thus be accused of plotting to produce precursors for WMD.

Even if Iraq actually had "some" BW, packing such living organisms into bombs or missiles would be an excellent way of killing the biological agents and little else. Besides, Iraq had only "a small force of extended-range Scud-type missiles and an undetermined number of launchers and warhead." So the CIA had to come up with some hypothetical "aerial sprayers" to dispense the hypothetical biological weapons Iraq was "capable of" producing.

"Before the Gulf war," said the CIA, "the Iraqis successfully experimented with aircraft-mounted spray tanks capable of releasing up to 2,000 liters of anthrax simulant over a target area." To be capable of releasing simulated anthrax is not the same as being capable of killing anyone that way. Most biological agents can't survive exposure to sunlight. Anthrax sprayed from aircraft would have to be mixed with water, which evaporates quickly, and only particles of an extremely precise size stand a chance of being inhaled in lethal quantities even at close range (like an envelope), much less after floating around in the wind.

"Before the Gulf War," said the CIA, "Baghdad attempted to convert a MiG-21 into an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)." One attempt, and it failed. In the summary, however, the CIA reported that "Iraq maintains ... several development programs, including for a UAV that most analysts believe probably is intended to deliver biological warfare agents."

That doesn't say Iraq has a UAV, only a program. In the opening summary, however, the report said, "Baghdad's UAV's ... could threaten ... the United States if brought close to, or into, the U.S. Homeland." This was as close as the report (and Powell) ever came to making Iraq appear to be a clear and present danger to the U.S. homeland. Yet the CIA did not really claim to have evidence that Iraq had even a single UAV. Little wonder we didn't find one. ...

Why the world would be better off if Saddam were still in power
Matthew Parris

What would you have done? Would you have left Saddam Hussein in power? The inquiry, familiar to all of us who opposed the war, is put in a finger-stabbing sort of way — as though that clinched it; as though the answer is so obvious that the peaceniks can only stammer. Just ask them what they would have done and watch them squirm!

Elsewhere, the tactic is more typical of left-wing polemicists than of the Right. ‘How could you stand by and see...?’ is a favourite way of arguing for state intervention (and taxpayers’ money) for any amount of expensive interference with nature. Any Tory with guts learns to summon them when reminded of dying patients, hungry jobseekers, sinking industries, failing railways or freezing pensioners, and asked, ‘What would you do?’ We answer ‘nothing’ and duck the flying eggs. But when it comes to what should be done about Saddam, we who answer ‘nothing’ face the missiles from the Right, newly converted to the Something Ought To Be Done brigade. On Iraq, neoconservatives deploy the gambit much as a warrior confronts a pacifist by demanding to know what he would do if somebody tried to rape his sister.

I cannot answer the rape question for pacifists, not being one. But as someone certain that the invasion of Iraq was a blunder, perhaps I should say what I would I have done.....

The Etymology of Profanity

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

CHICAGO ( -- Weeks after Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq collapsed,
there are still no signs of his alleged weapons of mass destruction. Before
the invasion of Iraq by the United States, the Bush administration claimed
that they had specific intelligence proving that Iraq was in possession of
weapons of mass destruction. For example, on October 7, 2002, the President
stated in a speech in Ohio: "The Iraqi regime ... possesses and produces
chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons." The
President continued, "Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding
facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past."

U.S. - UK Kill More Civilians In Iraq Than were Murdered On 9/11

The Little Coder's Predicament

Okay, then, children of the modern age (where we live in a world so tied together with wires that Pangaea ain't goin' nowhere!), you tell me if this is a predicament or not.

In the 1980s, you could look up from your Commodore 64, hours after purchasing it, with a glossy feeling of empowerment, achieved by the pattern of notes spewing from the speaker grille in an endless loop. You were part of the movement to help machines sing! You were a programmer! The Atari 800 people had BASIC. They know what I'm talking about. And the TI-994A guys don't need to say a word, because the TI could say it for them!

The old machines don't compare to the desktops of today, or to the consoles of today. But, sadly, current versions of Windows have no immediately accessible programming languages. And what's a kid going to do with Visual Basic? Build a modal dialog? Forget coding for XBox. Requires registration in the XBox Developer Program. Otherwise, you gotta crack the sucker open. GameCube? GameBoy? Playstation 2? ...

73-Year-Old Woman Says Officer Threw Her To Ground
Police Say Woman Resisted, Called Officer Liar, Devil

They are photos of what happened when she was pulled over by Lauderhill police. A bystander snapped several photos of Ursula Gachette, 73, being pulled over at Northwest 56th Street and Oakland Park Boulevard last week...

Pentagon report found 'no reliable evidence' of WMD in Iraq
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington

07 June 2003

A report by the Pentagon's intelligence agency concluded last year there was "no reliable evidence" to prove Saddam Hussein had developed chemical weapons - further undermining claims from Washington and London that the Iraqi regime presented a genuine threat to the West.

A leaked copy of the report by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) reveals that, despite extensive analysis, experts were unable definitively to conclude Iraq was either stockpiling or producing weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The report's contents will add to the considerable pressure Tony Blair and President George Bush face as their pre-war claims come under intense scrutiny.

"There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons, or whether Iraq has - or will - establish its chemical warfare agent production facilities," a summary page of the DIA report said. The report does not suggest Iraq did not have WMD. Indeed, it concludes that Iraq "probably" has such stockpiles. But its language is far more circumspect than that of senior Bush administration officials and the President himself, who insisted Iraq not only had large stocks of WMD but it was capable of delivering them in weapons....

Culling Alert: FR honcho baits trap for another purge of "undesirables"

My horror at PoW sex abuse pics


THE young mum who uncovered the Iraqi PoW sex snaps scandal said last night: “I felt sick to the stomach at those pictures.”...

Jobs Squeeze for Indian Workers

By Michelle Delio

02:00 AM Jun. 06, 2003 PT

U.S. companies such as IBM, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and PeopleSoft are already exploring countries with even cheaper sources of technical labor, says a report from research firm IDC. The new destinations include Romania, Russia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

As a result, India, which some have blamed for the loss of American jobs, may soon lose jobs itself....

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Reservists pay steep price for service
Mon Jun 9, 7:33 AM ET
Add Top Stories - USA TODAY to My Yahoo!

Sandra Block USA TODAY

Thousands of citizen soldiers charged with rebuilding Iraq (news - web sites) face an even more daunting prospect when they return home: repairing the damage to their careers and personal finances.

For some, the task could take years. More than a third of military reservists and National Guard members suffer a cut in pay when they're called to active duty. Long term, the cost of military service is even greater: Small businesses collapse. Raises and bonuses disappear. Clients defect to competitors.....

Gecko-Inspired Adhesive Sticks It to Traditional Tape

Move over, Spider-Man, soon the rest of us may be able to scale walls and cling to ceilings, too. Researchers have developed a supersticky adhesive modeled on the gecko foot that grips even the slipperiest surfaces.

Scholars have long marveled at the superlative climbing abilities of gecko lizards. But only recently have scientists figured out how the creatures manage their gravity-defying feats. As it turns out, the sole of the gecko foot is covered with millions of submicron hairs that apparently stick the animal to the substrate by way of intermolecular van der Waals forces. ...

Best invention ever: your toothbrush

Not computers, not cars -- or so a survey concludes. The MIT professor behind it tells why the little things still matter most. ...

The modern rites of courtship

...Most religious institutions appear to have conceded love and romance to the secular powers that be.

"So many faith communities are totally oriented to married couples and those with children and they can't seem to catch up with the demographic realities that single people face today," said Whitehead. "Meanwhile, in the sexual free-for-all of our age, it is the conservative, the more traditional singles -- especially the women -- who are going to get ditched. They are in the most vulnerable position, because the whole club and bar dating scene is just not going to work for them. The last thing they need is for churches to abandon them."

This void is a modern phenomenon. For centuries, said Whitehead, the rites of courtship took place in the context of three great institutions -- the extended family, the school and the church. Religious leaders played a vital role in shaping the relationships that were later blessed at their altars.

"But today, all three institutions are increasingly remote from where people are in their adult life course when they begin to seriously look for a mate," she said....

No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons


...No Escape is a wrenching book to read. It's also one of the most in-depth, authoritative, and comprehensive books written on the subject of prisoner rape. The book provides a review of the conditions that contribute to prisoner rape--including the growth of the American prison population in the last 20 years, the privatization of the prison industry, and the crippling of prisoners' legal rights through the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996.

No Escape also reviews some of the realities of prisoner rape that are misunderstood by the public: that victims tend to be nonviolent offenders, young people, and first-timers; that victims are sometimes subjected to repeated abuse that can last for years; and that rape victims contract diseases like HIV and often suffer from crippling depression and post-traumatic stress disorder....

Ashcroft is Coming! Ashcroft is Coming!
One Way or Another He's Gonna Getcha


...Nonetheless, things are getting a little boring around the Justice Department, what with the nude statues draped and all, and some of John's best buddies gone.

So, this week, John brought together some of his favorite prosecutors from around the country and hauled out boxes of files. Old files. Old surveillance files. Maybe on you and me.

And John said to his disciples, charge these people. I don't care with what. They must have done something or we wouldn't have a file on them....

...This week, Ashcroft told his prosecutors to start reviewing 25 years of telephone and e-mail wiretaps and results from secret searches--in files on 4.500 people-- and decide whether they can file criminal charges under anti-terrorist laws.

The wiretaps and searches were performed on "suspected" spies and terrorists-suspected, as in no probable cause, but mere suspicion-- under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. With permission from a super-secret U.S. spy court, the FBI has used such warrants to break into homes, offices and hotel rooms to install hidden cameras, copy computer files and eavesdrop on telephones. Agents also have intercepted e-mails and pried into safe deposit boxes.

Criminal prosecutors previously were not entitled to the contents of intelligence files, which were limited under Justice Department policies to government espionage and counterterrorism experts. But a court ruling this year by the appellate branch of the secret court lowered that wall, allowing the review of old surveillance. The efforts of a trial FISA judge to curtail Ashcroft's runaway snooping was met not only with resistance by the appeals court, but the court gave Ashcroft more than a win. Yo, John, they said. Didn't you know that you could go back and use past searches to prosecute those new laws you wrote into the PATRIOT ACT?...

The Largest Covert Operation in CIA History
By Chalmers Johnson

The Central Intelligence Agency has an almost unblemished record of screwing up every "secret" armed intervention it ever undertook. From the overthrow of the Iranian government in 1953 through the Bay of Pigs, the failed attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro of Cuba and Patrice Lumumba of the Republic of Congo, the Phoenix Program in Vietnam, the "secret war" in Laos, aid to the Greek colonels who seized power in 1967, the 1973 killing of Salvador Allende in Chile and Ronald Reagan's Iran-contra war against Nicaragua, there is not a single instance in which the agency's activities did not prove acutely embarrassing to the United States. The CIA continues to get away with this primarily because its budget and operations have always been secret and Congress is normally too indifferent to its constitutional functions to rein in a rogue bureaucracy. Therefore the tale of a purported CIA success story should be of some interest.

According to the author of the newly released Charlie Wilson's War, the exception to CIA incompetence was the arming between 1979 and 1988 of thousands of Afghan moujahedeen ("freedom fighters"). The agency flooded Afghanistan with an astonishing array of extremely dangerous weapons and "unapologetically mov[ed] to equip and train cadres of high tech holy warriors in the art of waging a war of urban terror against a modern superpower," in this case, the USSR....

However, he never mentions that the "tens of thousands of fanatical Muslim fundamentalists" the CIA armed are some of the same people who in 1996 killed 19 American airmen at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998; blew a hole in the side of the U.S. destroyer Cole in Aden harbor in 2000; and on Sept. 11, 2001, flew hijacked airliners into New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Today, the world awaits what is almost certain to happen soon at some airport -- a terrorist firing a U.S. Stinger low-level surface-to-air missile (manufactured at one time by General Dynamics in Rancho Cucamonga) into an American jumbo jet. The CIA supplied thousands of them to the moujahedeen and trained them to be experts in their use. If the CIA's activities in Afghanistan are a "success story," then Enron should be considered a model of corporate behavior....

Apocalypse soon

Evangelicals in the US believe there is a biblical basis for opposing the Middle East road map

Giles Fraser
Monday June 9, 2003
The Guardian

Just as new life is being breathed into the peace process, religious groups throughout the US are whipping up hostility to the road map. The aim of the Christian-Jewish "interfaith Zionist leadership summit" held in Washington last month was "to oppose rewarding murderous Palestinian terrorism with statehood". Attending the conference were some of the most influential figures of the Christian right; behind them a whole infrastructure of churches, radio stations and bible college courses teaching "middle-east history".

Since the late 19th century, an increasing number of fundamentalists have come to believe that the second coming of Christ is bound up with the political geography of Israel. Forget about the pre-1967 boundaries; for them the boundaries that count are the ones shown on maps at the back of the Bible.

The acceptance of the state of Israel by the UN in 1949 brought much excitement to those who believed the second coming was being prepared for. A similar reaction greeted the Six Day war in 1967. The displacement of Palestinians mattered little compared with the fulfilment of biblical prophecy....

According to the most influential of the Christian Zionists, Hal Lindsey, the valley from Galilee to Eilat will flow with blood and "144,000 Jews would bow down before Jesus and be saved, but the rest of Jewry would perish in the mother of all holocausts". These lunatic ravings would matter little were they not so influential. Lindsey's book, The Late Great Planet Earth, has sold nearly 20m copies in English and another 30m-plus worldwide. ...

The diocese of Jerusalem runs hospitals in Gaza and Nablus. It's in places like these that the real work of Christian ministry is conducted. By contrast, US evangelicals oppose the peace process and swarm into Iraq to convert its people to Jesus. ...

Many Americans Unaware WMD Have Not Been Found

41% said they believed that the US has found such weapons.
06/09/03: (PIPA) A striking finding in the new Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) Knowledge Networks poll is that many Americans are unaware that weapons of mass destruction have not been found in Iraq. While 59% of those polled correctly said the US has not found Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, 41% said they believed that the US has found such weapons (34%) or were unsure (7%)....

Among those who approved of the decision to go to war and were not just supporting the president (53% of the sample), a majority of 52% said the US has found weapons of mass destruction (48%) or did not know (4%).

Among Republicans who said they follow international affairs very closely -- and thus may also be more exposed to headlines reporting promising leads -- an even larger percentage -- 55% --said weapons have been found, with just 45% saying they have not.

Another widespread misperception is that Iraq actually used chemical or biological weapons in the war. Twenty-two percent held this misperception, with 9% being unsure, while 69% correctly said that Iraq had not used such weapons....

Text of the Rockford College graduation speech by Chris Hedges

...Because we no longer understand war, we no longer understand that it can all go horribly wrong. We no longer understand that war begins by calling for the annihilation of others but ends if we do not know when to make or maintain peace with self-annihilation. We flirt, given the potency of modern weapons, with our own destruction.

The seduction of war is insidious because so much of what we are told about it is true -- it does create a feeling of comradeship which obliterates our alienation and makes us, for perhaps the only time of our life, feel we belong.

War allows us to rise above our small stations in life; we find nobility in a cause and feelings of selflessness and even bliss. And at a time of soaring deficits and financial scandals and the very deterioration of our domestic fabric, war is a fine diversion. War for those who enter into combat has a dark beauty, filled with the monstrous and the grotesque. The Bible calls it the lust of the eye and warns believers against it. War gives us a distorted sense of self; it gives us meaning. ...

In wartime when we feel threatened, we no longer face death alone but as a group, and this makes death easier to bear. We ennoble self-sacrifice for the other, for the comrade; in short we begin to worship death. And this is what the god of war demands of us. ...

CIA had doubts on Iraq link to al-Qaida

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Tuesday June 10, 2003
The Guardian

The debunking of the Bush administration's pre-war certainties on Iraq gathered pace yesterday when it emerged that the CIA knew for months that a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida was highly unlikely.

As President George Bush was forced for the second time in days to defend the decision to go to war, a new set of leaks from CIA officials suggested a tendency in the White House to suppress or ignore intelligence findings which did not shore up the case for war. ...

U.S. hunt for Iraqi banned weapons slows
Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. military units assigned to track down Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have run out of places to look and are getting time off or being assigned to other duties, even as pressure mounts on President Bush to explain why no banned arms have been found.

After nearly three months of fruitless searches, weapons hunters say they are now waiting for a large team of Pentagon intelligence experts to take over the effort, relying more on leads from interviews and documents.

"It doesn't appear there are any more targets at this time," said Lt. Col. Keith Harrington, whose team has been cut by more than 30 percent. "We're hanging around with no missions in the foreseeable future."

Over the past week, his and several other teams have been taken off assignment completely. Rather than visit suspected weapons sites, they are brushing up on target practice and catching up on letters home....

The slowdown comes after checks of more than 230 sites - drawn from a master intelligence list compiled before the war - turned up none of the chemical or biological weapons the Bush administration said it went after Saddam Hussein to destroy....

Monday, June 09, 2003

Spiritual Abuse Within the Church

...there is a lust for power in the hearts of many in Christian leadership. When this is combined with pride, an insecurity that needs to control, and a constituency that is willing to follow blindly, the conditions are all present for an abusive leadership and cultic church to emerge. It is not a new problem. When the mother of James and John asked Jesus to give her sons places of honor in his coming Kingdom, Jesus used the opportunity to warn his disciples about such sinful attitudes:

Jesus called them together and said,

You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave ­ just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.
(Matt. 20:25-28 NIV)....

Couple walk out of own wedding on religious grounds

A Romanian couple walked out of their own wedding on religious grounds, after the groom's father offered wine to the guests.

Evangelical Christians Aurel and Simona Sandu had warned their parents they would not attend the ceremony if the guests were served alcohol or if "profane music" was played....

Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.
-- Frederic Bastiat

DEA Uses RAVE Act Threats to Block Montana NORML/SSDP Benefit

An agent of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) used threats of RAVE Act prosecutions to intimidate the owners of a Billings, Montana, venue into a canceling a combined benefit for the Montana chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws ( and Students for Sensible Drug Policy ( last week.

The RAVE Act, now known officially as the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act, championed by Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), was ostensibly aimed at so-called raves, the large electronic music concerts often associated with open drug use, but was so broadly written that opponents argued it could be applied against any event or venue where owners or organizers did not take sufficiently repressive steps to prevent drug use. Opposition to the bill stalled it in the Senate last year, but this year Biden stealthily inserted it into the enormously popular Amber Alert Bill, which passed last month and was signed into law by President Bush.

While the Billings event was advertised as a benefit concert for two local groups interested in drug law reform -- not as a drug-taking orgy -- it still attracted the attention of the DEA. On May 30, the day the event was set to take place, a Billings-based DEA agent showed up at the Eagle Lodge, which had booked the concert. Waving a copy of the RAVE Act in one hand, the agent warned that the lodge could face a fine of $250,000 if someone smoked a joint during the benefit, according to Eagle Lodge manager Kelly, who asked that her last name not be used.

"He freaked me out," Kelly told DRCNet. "He didn't tell us we couldn't have the event, but he showed me the law and told us what could happen if we did. I talked to our trustees, they talked to our lawyers, and our lawyers said not to risk it, so we canceled,"...

The Propaganda Remix Project

Conservative Conundrum
by Sheldon Richman, June 9, 2003

Conservatives become more inscrutable every day. They spend half their time praising the federal government for its miracles in Iraq (and, if they get their way, in Iran) and the other half of their time ridiculing the Democrats for thinking that the same federal government can provide medical insurance for everyone.

Sean Hannity, the hottest conservative property these days on radio and cable television, did just this one evening in May on his Fox television program. First, he raved about the government’s efficacy in Iraq; then he bashed the Democrats for thinking that the government, “which never gets anything right,” can become everyone’s health insurer.

Which is it, conservatives? ...

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
Sunday June 8, 2003
The Observer

...How, for instance, can the Americans still be failing, weeks after the fall of Baghdad, to keep any kind of electricity running for more than about an hour at a time, leaving the streets insanely, medievally dark? What are the aid agencies playing at and why, while we're at it, when it's about 40 in the shade, have the mad Koreans just sent a few tons of winter blankets? How hot will it have to get - and it hits 60 and above in July - before, still painfully short of clean water, normal Baghdadis take to the streets and finally do what Saddam wanted - go for the occupying troops with the many thousands of guns now looted from Baathist armouries?

And didn't anyone realise that, if you can surgically take out almost every ministry (the oil building was left strangely untouched), it might be an idea to have a vague plan to put something in their place?...

...Baghdad has turned into Afghanistan faster than Afghanistan. As I write this, the UN weapons inspectors are going back in to see whether the looting of the city's main nuclear power station has given Baghdad a radioactive water supply. Could this really imaginably be, in the minds of those who went to war for even the best intentions, the preferred legacy? A land where all the children smell of petrol? A land fit only for flies?

Friday, June 06, 2003

So, so wrong

Dealing (with) dope
Joel Miller on what the Bible says about drugs


Near the beginning of Jonah: A VeggiTales Movie, Archibald Asparagus, playing the prophet-turned-whale snack, sings a song that is supposedly a message from the Lord. Along with clear moral teaching from Scripture, the divine ditty also includes something close to a cartoon-hour public service announcement on TV: "Don't do drugs, stay in school. …"

While undoubtedly good advice, most believers will know that the Pentateuch says nothing about kids staying in school. Probably most believers will, however, assume that the Bible does say something about doing drugs. It does, true, but because Christians sometimes think more culturally than scripturally about issues, it's not quite what many assume.

In their book Mind Siege, Tim LaHaye and David Noebel write, "efforts to legalize the recreational use of drugs … must continue to be vigorously opposed." Why? "Drugs destroy the body, impair the mind, and twist an individual's morals." While those are certainly bad things, they are irrelevant as far as what Scripture says about drugs and the law or what Christians' attitude toward legalization should be....

Single on Sunday Morning

...One of the problems regarding singles ministries that I've observed is that the demographics of singles in the church have changed but the church's paradigm hasn't. Basically, the church usually views its singles as young people in or just out of college on the track to getting married. The fact is that people are staying single longer and many are single again at a later age. ...

Some people may take issue with this, but another problem is that singles groups often become the church's place for the special needs and ultra-needy people. Face it, the church is a hospital of sorts and welcomes people with all types of problems. Often people with greater physical, mental, or emotional challenges have a lower probability for marriage. Those people often end up in the singles group. This adds a very difficult dynamic for leadership with no training and few resources. Our church had a woman who was a paranoid-schizophrenic. Some people in the church were actually afraid of her, yet they sent her to the singles group and basically told us, "Be warm and friendly." We already had several people in our group with mental and physical challenges. It was impossible to provide teaching and socials that would meet the needs of those folks at the same time as the bank president and the airline pilot....

The Self-Castration of the Libertarian Hawks
by Gary North

...Before the war, I watched in amazement at libertarians and fellow travelers who got on board Bush's war wagon. They were adamant: Iraq constituted a military threat to the United States. They would not consider the possibility that the CIA was wrong, that the President had resorted to deception, that the Administration's use of data out of a decade-old term paper and faked data from Africa to bolster its case for war were all signs of the same old same old: big government gobbling up other people's wealth wherever it can. The traditional suspicion of libertarians regarding the official pronouncements of the state simply disappeared from the hawks' thinking. ...

...They will not be back. I suspect that they will no longer carry libertarian placards. They have joined the ranks of the military interventionists, and, for better or worse, they will not return. To return would be a public announcement: "We always said that government surrounds the truth with a bodyguard of lies, especially in wartime, but we forgot. George Bush was just too eloquent. He has a mind like a steel trap."

We should not expect them to display their former systematic hostility to the state in areas other than war, either. Once someone has put his trust in the lying state to the degree that he violates the principle of non-aggression that he once held dear, he will no longer hold that principle equally dear. This will affect his thinking in other areas. Like the bite of the vampire in the Dracula movies, the state's deception in wartime creates mirror-avoiding drones out of libertarian war hawks. ...

Baldness hope as birds get teeth

LONDON, England -- Scientists have grown chicken embryos with teeth which may lead to a breakthrough against baldness.

"Look at the past 25 years we went downhill, and if people don't realize it, they don't have their fucking eyes on ... In 1960, when I came out of prison as an ex-convict, I had more freedom under parolee supervision than there's available to an average citizen in America right now... God almighty, what have we done to each other?"
--Merle Haggard

More from the Mother Jones article:

..."The issue is the disproportional power relationship," says Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that works to promote a positive image of Muslims. "They use their resources to coerce people to do what they want them to do." Hooper remembers reviewing a proposal by a Christian agency to send veterinarians to help impoverished Fulani cattle herders in West Africa. But the plan had a caveat: "You don't get the veterinarian unless you take the missionary," he says. "When people are in desperate circumstances, they'll do things they otherwise wouldn't do."

Robert Macpherson, security director for the aid group care, remembers serving as a U.S. Marine in Somalia during the early 1990s, when some 200 organizations were working to stave off famine in the war-ravaged country. "It was dangerous, dangerous, dangerous," he recalls. Evangelicals only made matters worse, he says, by showing up at food-distribution sites and handing out Christian literature, giving the impression that food aid was contingent on conversion to Christianity. "The next thing we know, they got themselves in the middle of a riot," Macpherson recalls. Angered by the missionaries, Somalis climbed over one another to steal food and set trucks on fire. "They were desperate," he says. "They were dying. This was an emergency."...

...For Donna Derr, the honesty issue is not an abstract one. She's the associate director of international emergency response for Church World Service, which provides aid in more than 80 countries while barring outright proselytizing. From her perspective, Christian evangelizing-particularly by missionaries who masquerade as humanitarian workers-makes it harder for legitimate aid organizations to relieve poverty, malnutrition, and disease. "Groups that have the need to proselytize color us all with the same brush," says Derr. As a result, she says, it's harder to win the trust of those communities her group is trying to serve. She recalls one Southeast Asian nation where rural families suffer from debilitating diseases. "It was difficult to get the local governments to allow us to come in," Derr says, "because they had somebody in the past who tried to start a Christian church. They'd say, 'Oh, your name is Church World Service. You're going to do the same thing.'" In other cases, she adds, evangelicals provoked so much resentment "that the other groups doing aid had to pull out, simply because it was too dangerous." ...

U.S. 'negation' policy in space raises concerns abroad

By Loring Wirbel

EE Times
May 22, 2003 (1:26 p.m. ET)

While much of the talk around the Pentagon these days focuses on "transformation" of the military, some of the United States' closest allies worry about another buzzword being used in subtler ways at the National Reconnaissance Office: "negation."

The nation's largest intelligence agency by budget and in control of all U.S. spy satellites, NRO is talking openly with the U.S. Air Force Space Command about actively denying the use of space for intelligence purposes to any other nation at any time, not just adversaries, but even longtime allies, according to NRO director Peter Teets.

At the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs in early April, Teets proposed that U.S. resources from military, civilian and commercial satellites be combined to provide "persistence in total situational awareness, for the benefit of this nation's war fighters." If allies don't like the new paradigm of space dominance, said Air Force secretary James Roche, they'll just have to learn to accept it. The allies, he told the symposium, will have "no veto power."...

...After the administration renounced the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty last year, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made it clear that the abrogation of treaty constraints in the use of radar and tracking devices was not just for the benefit of fielding a missile-defense system, but to build better unilateral networks to manage the planet from space....

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Question of the Day

Surfing the blogs and reading the usual suspects in the usual propaganda outlets, I get the impression that the war hawks have settled on a response to the WMD snipe hunt fiasco and the broken promise of democracy fiasco. This is to respond to every bit of bad news -- and every new sign of the administration's bad faith -- by snarling the question: "Well, would you have left Saddam in power?"

This is the right-wing question de jour because they believe it puts opponents of the war in an impossible position. Say "yes," and it doesn't matter what else you say, the attack machine has you in its cross hairs. Say "no," and the obvious response is "so what you are bitching about?"

It's a clever tactic -- in a cheap, Mayberry Machiavelli sort of way. The kind of thing Grover Norquist and his storm troopers might think up at their little lunches and pass along to the RNC and its mouthpieces at Fox News.

But it's only a short-term fix, because the mess in Iraq is now the sole property of George W. Bush and the U.S. military. Saddam is gone, if not forgotten, and constantly reminding the world of his evil ways can only obscure the utter incompetence of our Iraq adventure for so long....

"It stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master."
-- Ayn Rand

This Victory May Haunt Us
Winning still requires getting bloody.

Wednesday, November 14, 2001 12:01 a.m. EST

...This is not a war being won with American blood and guts. It is being won with the blood and guts of the Northern Alliance, helped by copious quantities of American ordnance and a handful of American advisers. After Sept. 11, President Bush promised that this would not be another bloodless, push-button war, but that is precisely what it has been.

...The longer term danger is that the war in Afghanistan will do nothing to dispel the widespread impression that Americans are fat, indolent, and unwilling to fight the barbarians on their own terms. We got into this mess in the first place because of the widespread impression--born in Beirut in 1983, seemingly confirmed in Mogadishu in 1993--that Americans are incapable of suffering casualties stoically. This "bodybag syndrome" is our greatest strategic weakness; it is no doubt why Osama bin Laden dared to send his holy warriors to our shores to kill thousands of our countrymen.

...The low-risk manner in which we have conducted the Afghan campaign so far can only add credence to this "bodybag" myth. It is, of course, a rightful cause for celebration that not a single American life has been lost to enemy fire on the road to Kabul, but it can only be a cause of worry that we have not shown a willingness to conduct ground operations in earnest. Our bombing campaign reveals great technical and logistical prowess, but it does not show that we have the determination to stick a bayonet in the guts of our enemy.

The Stealth Crusade

Inside one Southern university, Christian missionaries are being trained to go undercover in the Muslim world and win converts for Jesus. Their stated goal: to wipe out Islam.
by Barry Yeoman May/June 2002

...Indeed, evangelical leaders encourage missionaries to continue proselytizing, even though converts might be tortured or killed. "Missionaries need maturity and spiritual toughness so that when the fruits of their witness are required to walk through the fire, the missionary does not automatically attempt to rescue them," the Southern Baptist study urges. "Persecution is Biblically and historically normative for the emerging church; it cannot be avoided or eliminated.... To avoid persecution is to hamper the growth of the kingdom of God."

In the end, say evangelicals, the earthly suffering of Christians pales before the eternal hell to which Muslims are sentenced. "It's hard for me to say, 'I have a passport out of here if things get out of hand, but you have to stay here and take it,'" says Raymond Weiss, a former missionary in Bahrain. "But that's what Jesus says: Sometimes it will be fathers and mothers against each other for his sake." ...